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Life of the prophet - Final - Eshaam Palmer

This part of the series, which is also the last part, deals with Islam at one of its zenith periods. The Prophet (pbuh) takes part in the final pilgrimage and delivers his famous sermon on the mount. However, as with any other mortal, Muhammad (pbuh) fell ill and the consequences of this illness is dealt with in detail.

Introduction of Zakat

With the growth and development of the Islamic community in Makka, came the need for increased expenditure for the welfare of its inhabitants. To overcome this shortage of money, the Prophet (pbuh) introduced the system of zakat as a form of taxation. As he was getting older, the Prophet (pbuh) decided that Tabuk would be. his last campaign against the enemies of Islam. The Muslims were by now a numerically large and militarily strong group, capable of effectively dealing with their many adversaries.

Ibrahim, the Prophet's son
When Muhammad's son was just over a year old, he decided to live in Madinah on a more permanent basis. He spent many joyous hours playing with his son, who was a mirror-image of him. His daughter Fatimah was his only other surviving child, since his sons al Qasim and al Tahir had died earlier whilst still young, and his other daughters had also passed on. Hence his intensive relationship with these two last surviving children. The Prophet (pbuh) had with his own hands buried all his deceased children. However, Ibrahim became ill and his mother took him to a date orchard to recover. His health deteriorated rapidly and when the Prophet (pbuh) arrived to visit him on an occasion, Ibrahim died in his arms. This death devastated the Prophet (pbuh) and he cried bitterly as he uttered the following words: V Ibrahim, were the truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you ever more than we do now." Shortly thereafter, Abu Bakr performed his first pilgrimage to Makka.

First large group on pilgrimage
A few years later, Abu Bakr led a large group of Muslims on pilgrimage, as the Prophet (pbuh) decided not to lead them on this occasion. Because the Muslims were still outnumbered by their enemies in Makka, the Prophet (pbuh) sent Ali ibn Abu Talib to join them in Makka and to address the Muslims whilst they were on Arafat. Whilst on Arafat, Ali ibn Abu Talib recited the opening verses of Surah al Taubah to the attending pilgrims. The essence of this message was that henceforth idol worshippers would not enter paradise and could not perform the pilgrimage.

Muhammad's last pilgrimage
After this event, a sense of peace and tranquility descended on the Arabian Peninsula, and the Prophet (pbuh) informed his followers that no one was to unsheathe their sword, except under circumstances in which they defended their community or religion from aggression. During this period Muhammad (pbuh) prepared to undertake a full pilgrimage, which was to be his final one. The Prophet (pbuh) did not as yet perform a full pilgrimage (haj), although he twice performed the lesser pilgrimage (umrah). When the Muslim population got to hear of this impending pilgrimage to be led by the Prophet (pbuh), they came in their thousands to join. From all over the Arabian Peninsula Muslims came to join this group, which eventually numbered over 100,000. Because of the large number of people that came to Madinah to join the pilgrimage, a temporary tent city was built. The Muslims gathered in love and brotherhood in the realisation that the manner of performing haj would be expounded and given substance during this event.In the 10th year of the Hiirah, the group commenced their journey to Makka after staying the night at Dhu al Hulayfah, following on the Prophet's example, everyone exchanged their garments for two pieces of white unsewn cloth for the upper and lower body. Once so dressed, and in order to express unity and equality amongst the Muslims, the Prophet (pbuh) looked up to the heavens and uttered the fol¬lowing words: "At your service, 0 God! At your service! You have no associates! At your service, 0 God! Praise be to God! Thanks be to God. At your service, 0 God! You have no associates, 0 God! At your service, 0 God!'. Whilst chanting this prayer, the multitude marched forward to Makka. Along the way they stopped to pray at every mosque in anticipation of the great day on Arafat.

Muhammad (pbuh) enters Makka
On reaching Sarif, a point about half-way to Makka, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered those persons not in possession of sacrificial animals to perform umrah, and those with such animals to perform haj. When they reached the Ka'bah, the Prophet (pbuh) walked to the Black Stone and kissed it, whereafter he circumambulated the Ka'bah seven times, performing the first three at a faster pace, almost trotting. After kissing the Black Stone again the Prophet (pbuh) went on to perform the say between Safa and Marwah. The Prophet (pbuh) then announced that those with sacrificial animals should slaughter them. Many of those accompanying the Prophet (pbuh), including his daughter Fatimah and some of his wives, did not bring along sacrificial animals and had to be satisfied with performing umrah only. When the eighth day of Dhu al Hijjah dawned, the Prophet (pbuh) and his followers spent the day and night in Mina. On the morning Muhammad (pbuh) mounted his camel and traveled to Arafat whilst the Muslims followed and recited the taibiyyah and takbir in unison. In order to protect them from the blazing heat, they erected tents on the plain of Arafat. The Prophet (pbuh) stood and prayed to Allah, and then turned to his followers and delivered the last sermon. After the sermon, the Prophet (pbuh) prayed Thu'r and Asr in conjunction and concluded with the following words: "Today I have completed for you your religion, and granted you the last of my blessings. Today I have accepted for you Islam as your religion." When Abu Bakr heard this prayer, he realised that the Prophet's life on earth was coming to an end.

Petting the symbol of Satan
The Prophet (pbuh) and his followers spent the night at Muzdalifah after leaving Arafat, and thereafter pelted the symbol of Satan with pebbles. Muhammad (pbuh) then sacrificed 63 camels, one for each year of his life, shaved his head and declared the haj over and completed. They returned to Madinah secure in the knowledge that Islam was spreading beyond the Arabian Peninsula to other parts of the world. There was relative peace as Islam's enemies finally realised that they were not going to destroy it. Islam was by now established in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia and Turkey. Muhammad (pbuh), and when his only surviving child, Fatimah entered the room to visit him, he would kiss her and cry whilst doing so because he knew that soon he would not be able to hold and kiss his beloved daughter. The Prophet (pbuh) instructed Aisha that all his remaining possessions, which were not many, should be given to the poor.

Fatimah, the loving daughter
Fatimah always remained close to the Prophet (pbuh) in order to comfort and care for him. Whilst Fatimah was attending to the Prophet (pbuh) one day, he whispered something in her ear, which made her cry, immediately he again whispered in her ear, after which she smiled happily. Later she related to Muhammad's companions that when the Prophet (pbuh) whispered to her that his current illness would be the cause of his death and that it would be soon, she cried bitterly. However, he then told her that she would be the first member of his family to join him after death, after which she smiled happily at the thought of joining her father after his death. At one stage it appeared as if the Prophet (pbuh) was recovering, and his companions all went back to their own homes, happily thinking that Muhammad (pbuh) was finally recovering from his illness.

Events on 8 June
On 8 June, after a visit to the mosque, the Prophet (pbuh) lay down to rest. Whilst Aisha was assisting him, Muhammad brushed his teeth. The Prophet (pbuh) who was in intense pain, lay down again, and whilst his head was on Aisha's lap, uttered the words "0, God, help me overcome the agonies of death." As Aisha took his head in her arms and placed it against her so that he could hear her heart beat, he breathed his last breath and died in her arms. Aisha put Muhammad's head on the pillow sat back to contemplate this most sad and significant death.

Umar's disbelief in the death

Umar refused to believe that the Prophet (pbuh) had died, but that like Moses, he had gone to his Lord. Many of the Muslims agreed with Umar that the Prophet (pbuh) did not die. This disbelief by so many Muslims caused confusion and anguish amongst the people. Generally the sentiment amongst the Muslims was that they did not want to believe that their beloved Prophet (pbuh) had died. When Abu Bakr heard of the confusion he went to Aisha's house to see the body of the Prophet (pbuh). He bent down to kiss his face and said, "How wholesome you are, whether alive or dead!" Although Muhammad (pbuh) had been dead for almost two days, his face looked serene and tranquil and his body emitted a wonderful odour. Now that he was sure the Prophet (pbuh) was dead, he walked to the mosque where Umar was telling still more people that Muhammad (pbuh) was not dead. Abu Bakr told Umar to remain silent and called the people to listen to him. Abu Bakr said to the crowd "0 men, if you have been worshipping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshipping God, then know that God is living and never dies." Thereafter Abu Bakr recited the following verse: "Muhammad is but a prophet before whom many prophets have come and gone. Should he die or be killed, will you abjure your faith? Know that whoever abjures his faith will cause no harm to God, but God will surely reward those who are grateful to him." (Surah 3, verse 144). On hearing these words and remembering the verse that he read to them forecasting the Prophet's death, Umar and the crowd fell to the ground weeping, realising that they will not be able to enjoy the company and leadership of Muhammad (pbuh) again.

Burial of the Prophet (pbuh)
It was decided that the Prophet (pbuh) would be buried in Madinah, in the vicinity where he died. Madinah was chosen above Makka, there where the Prophet (pbuh) was born, because it was the city that gave him shelter and assistants at the time he needed it most. The inhabitants  of Madinah showed love and affection for the Prophet (pbuh) when he fled there in an attempt to escape the dangers of the Quraish who wanted nothing less than to kill him. His close family, Ali ibn Abu Talib, Abbas ibn Abd Cal Muttalib, fad Quthan (last two were the sons of Abbas ibn Abd al Muttalib, uncle of the Prophet (pbuh)), and Usamah ibn Zayd, performed the ghusl on Muhammad's body. The Muslim community paid their last respects to the Prophet (pbuh) and salaah was performed for him. Muhammad (pbuh) was buried in the room where he lived his last few days, two days after he had died. When Abu Bakr and Umar died, they were buried close to the Prophet (pbuh).

Abu Bakr elected leader
Shortly after the Prophet's burial, the Al Ansar and Al Muhajirin elected Abu Bakr leader of the Muslims, after being nominated by Umar. They stated that they were convinced that Abu Bakr should be the leader since the Prophet (pbuh) also chose Abu Bakr to lead the prayers when he was not fit to do so. The Muslims accepted Abu Bakr's election generally.

Thus lived and died the greatest human being Allah has placed on earth. He left the world as he had entered it, without worldly possessions. However, the legacy he left behind was a way of life for all people to follow. He left in his legacy, the Quran and Sunnah, as guidance for all time. The world will never again be graced with the honour of a person of the calibre of Muhammad (pbuh). May Allah grant Muhammad (pbuh), his family and companions, the highest place in paradise.

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