The event of Safar 28, 11 Hijrah
By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
“Muhammad is but a Prophet; (other) prophets have passed before him. If he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels? Anyone who turns back on his heels will not harm Allah in any way, and Allah will reward the grateful.” (Holy Qur’an 3:144)
God Almighty revealed the above ayah during the crucial Battle of Ohod in 3 AH when most of the Muslim combatants except for a very few steadfast ones – such as the Prophet’s cousin Imam Ali (AS) and his uncle Hamza (AS) who was eventually martyred that day – broke ranks and fled when the infidel leader Khalid bin Waleed ambushed them from behind the mountain pass.
Some of these fugitives from the battlefield divulged the disbelief concealed in their hearts by saying that if Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has been killed – as rumours were rife that day – then it is better to renounce Islam and return to the freewheeling days of idolatry and immersion in sins, by making peace with the pagans.
Today on the eve of the Day of Grief, when the Last and Greatest of Divine Messengers, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), left the mortal world, we have to ponder deeply on this ayah, especially in view of the catastrophic events that occurred in Medina immediately after his passing away, even while his shroud had not yet been soiled in the grave.
We now understand why the Creator chose to preserve for posterity in the glorious pages of the Holy Qur'an, the thoughts and words of apostasy of some of the Prophet’s companions, warning them that their lack of faith was to their own everlasting detriment, while Divine Grace will always be with the faithful.
As the most Excellent Exemplar to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) had conveyed the universal message of Islam in the most beautiful manner, not just to his contemporaries in Arabia and the world – through his famous epistles to the ruling heads of other lands – but to all posterity till the end of time.
He did not leave anything incomplete or ambiguous. So perfectly did he accomplish his mission that not even the denial of pen and paper to him in the closing days of his life by one of his insubordinate companions who feared he might write a political will in favour of the person he did not like, could diminish the glory of Islam.
This particular companion, as is evident from the books of hadith and history written by all denominations of Islam, including our Sunni brethren, made the blasphemous remark of calling the Prophet "delirious", despite the fact that God says the Prophet does not err nor goes astray and neither does he speak out of desire, but it is revelation revealed (Holy Qur’an 53:2-5).
Rather than referring to the scandalous event of Saqifa Bani Sa'dah where the hypocrisy of this and some of the Prophet's other companions came out into the open and thus created the greatest discord in Islam, I mean to say without mincing words, that if not for the immortal proclamation at Ghadeer-Khom of Imam Ali (AS) as vicegerent preceded by the famous Hadith ath-Thaqalayn in which the Prophet made it clear that salvation of Muslims lies in adherence to the Book of God (the Holy Qur'an) and his progeny the Ahl al-Bayt, Islam would have met the fate of the missions of the past prophets.
Thus, the poignant event of Safar 28 that dealt a grievous blow to the heart of the Apple of the Prophet's eyes – daughter Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA) – as the “Mercy unto the creation” breathed his last with his immediate family, including his two little grandsons Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS) gathered around him, is a time of reflection of facts.
As Imam Ali (AS), who performed the last rites of his cousin and father-in-law – while those Sahaba (companions) whom the Prophet had ordered to leave his presence because of their disobedience of his instructions in his last moments, jockeyed at Saqifa for usurpation of political power – says: “When the Prophet (SAWA) passed away his head was on my chest, and his (last) breath blew over my palms and I passed it over my face. I performed his (funeral) ablution, may Allah bless him and his progeny, and the angels helped me. The house and the courtyard were full of them (angels). One party of them was descending and the other was ascending. My ears continually caught their humming voice as they invoked Allah’s blessings on him, till we laid him to rest in his grave. Thus, who can have greater rights with him than I during his life or after his departure?”
Therefore, it is not only an insult to the Prophet but rejection of the clear commandments of God when certain vested interests accuse him of leaving the world without naming his vicegerent, and praise what they call the ‘democratic’ spirit of the hitherto idolatrous and ignorant Arabs in choosing a political successor (caliph) after him, while these same political successors left no stone unturned in tormenting, persecuting and martyring his progeny the Ahl al-Bayt; love and affection for whom is an article of faith (Holy Qur’an 42:23).
The fact that on the 39th anniversary of the Prophet’s departure his beloved elder grandson was martyred through a fatal dose of poison by an heir of Saqifa (Mua’waiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, who as late as 8 AH till the surrender of Mecca to Muslims, was an open enemy of Islam), is ample proof of who the righteous successors of the Prophet are?
It is an irony of Islamic history that Imam Hasan (AS) was denied burial beside his beloved grandfather and arrows were shot at his coffin by infidels masquerading as Muslims such as Marwan ibn Hakam (later to be an Omayyid caliph).
No doubt, eleven years later, the Prophet’s younger grandson Imam Husain (AS), felt the necessity of giving his lifeblood at the Tragedy of Karbala for salvaging Islam and the Sunnah (practice) and Seerah (behaviour) of his grandfather – which the companions of the Prophet that ran away from the battlefield of Ohad had so criminally trampled and distorted.