By Umer Sultan
News spread across the town and the business transactions came to halt. People ran towards the Mosque not knowing what to do. Life came to an end, sadness became widespread. A community left without an Imam, a city left without a statesman, and a nation left leaderless. Everyone was in shock, the calamity had befallen, God had summoned one of His beloved creation back, the Messenger of Allah Muhammad Arabi (Peace be upon him) had passed away.
Companion of Prophet Muhammad were in shock. Some took the corner of the Mosque in silent and in grief. Others were in confusion what would be the futher- the way forward of the Ummah. Hazrat Umar Al Khattab
was so stunned that he almost lost consciousness and stood before people addressing them:
“Some of the hypocrites claim that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) died. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) did not die, but went to his Lord in the same way as Moses bin ‘Imran did. He stayed away for forty nights, but finally came back though they said he had been dead. By Allâh, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) will come back and he will cut off the hands and legs of those who claim his death.”
Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddique
then entered the Mosque, went straight to the house of Hazrat Aisha
(wife of Prophet Muhammad saw), uncovered the Prophet’s face and “tended down, kissed him and cried.” Then Abu Bakar said “I sacrifice my father and mother for your sake. Allâh, verily, will not cause you to die twice. You have just experienced the death that Allâh had ordained.
Abu Bakar then went out and found Umar Khattab talking to people and said “Umar, be seated.” Umar Khattab refused and people parted Umar and came to Abu Bakar and then Abu Bakar (R.A.) gave his historical sermon. He said:
“And now, he who worships Muhammad (Peace be upon him) Muhammad is dead now. But he who worships Allâh, He is Ever Living and He never dies. Allâh says: ‘Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allâh, and Allâh will give reward to those who are grateful.’” [Quran 3:1]
This short speech by Abu Bakar brought the core message of the deceased Messenger of God back among the people as a reminder. Ibn ‘Abbas
said: “By Allâh, it sounded as if people had never heard such a Qur’ânic verse till Abu Bakr recited it as a reminder. So people started reciting it till there was no man who did not recite it.
Abu Bakar’s speech had a great impact on the consiousness of Umar Khattab. Ibn Al-Musaiyab said that ‘Umar had said: “By Allâh, as soon as I heard Abu Bakr say it, I fell down to the ground. I felt as if my legs had been unable to carry me so I collapsed when I heard him say it. Only then did I realize that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had really died.”
The death of the Prophet of God was indeed a shock to the community, and the reaction of various companions of Prophet Muhammad was natural too. Even though they knew fully well that one day prophet will depart this world and they will be all by themselves, they still thought that Muhammad did not die. However, the golden words of Abu Bakar- If you worship Muhammad then know that he is dead but if you believe in God then know that he lives forever- made the companions of the Prophet Muhammad realize that they indeed believed in God and worshipped only Him.
This was the essence of Islamic monotheism that people should not only believe in One God but also ask only Him and no One Else for help and sustainance, as only Allah has the power over all things. He is the Creater and Sustainer of the this Universe, He is All Powerful, the Magnificient. To Him belongs the Heavens and the Earth and the whole universe and thus worship is due to Him alone.
Its pity that today, after 1400 years of interaction with other cultures and traditions, this monotheism is under attack once again. It is not out of the shock of the love of Prophet’s death but it is mainly due to ignorance and the lack of understanding of the Islamic creed and the message that was given to all the Prophets from Prophet Adam
to Muhammad (May Allah have mercy on all of them).
It doesn’t matter what firqa
(sect) one belongs to or what madhab
(school of thought) one affiliates with. Islam is after is and will remain to be what was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by God in His speech The Quran and the Sunnah
of Prophet that was divinely inspired.
Today we see some Muslims acting very much like Christians. What difference does it make whether a Christian asks Prophet Jesus for something when in need and a Muslim ask Prophet Muhammad or even saints and some companions of Prophet Muhammad in times of need. Is God not sufficient for them (Muslims)? Do they think that God is not All Powerful, when Allah Himself stated in the Quran that He is all Powerful. Do they think that the first and second generation of Muslims prayed to the Messenger of Allah instead of Allah?
Time after time in Quran Allah says that pray only Me and no one else, that worship is only due to the Creater of the Universe and no one else. Do people not think that God was the one who created Muhammad and to Him Muhammad belonged?
Allah says in Quran clearly:
Say: “My Lord has commanded justice; and that you set your whole selves (to Him) at every time and place of prayer, and call upon Him, making your devotion sincere as in His sight:such as He created you in the beginning, so shall you return.” Quran 7:29, Abdullah Yusuf Translation.
Every day over 10 times a Muslim recites in “…Thee do we worship and Thine aid we seek…
” in Surah Fatiha- the opening chapter of Quran asking Allah for aid, if one prays 5 daily obligatory Salah
Why do we see some Muslims, even educated Muslims asking saints, companions and even prophets for aid? Islam is a simple religion with simple believes. People tried to find middle grounds between the religion of Islam and the dominant traditions and believes surrounding them in the past. Slowly and gradually they changed and innovated and got involved in Bidah
unknowingly. After a generation or so it become a custom and tradition and after another generation or two it become a belief and a sect. What once might have started with a good intention, or at the expence of ignorant masses (as was in the case of South Asia) it became a different school of thought very far from the very teachings of Prophet Muhammad, affirming to very old Jahiliyya
tradition that the Last Messenger and the Seal of the Prophethood was sent to resist and demolish.
Today we see in South Asia (and probably other places as well), ignorant Muslims and mostly illetrate Muslims, praying and prostrating at the graves of Saints, which saints would have never approved such acts of kufr if they would have been alive. Those saints spent their lives in dedication and in the service of Islam. Their teachings today are being neglected but their shrines have become the scene of sadness and disgrace.
Not only that but some people believe that when Prophet was acended to heavens by the will of Allah on the occasion of Miraj
, “the noor of Muhammad and the Noor of Allah combined and the angels couldn’t differnciate between who is who
.” Some people even go further in their believes and in praising the Messenger of Allah when Prophet said that “Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Apostle.
” Narrated by Umar (Bukhari)
Some Muslims today ask Muhammad to intercede to Allah for them. They think that Prophet Muhammad is physically present and hears every thing, which in Urdu its called “Hazir Nazir.” The opening senario and the golden speech of Abu Bakar in this article is evident that Prophet did indeed passed away and that if you worship Allah then know that God lives for ever. Only God is to be worshipped and only He can be asked for forgiveness and aid as Allah commands in Quran.
According to the Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi, translated by Hamza Yusuf
, Imam Al Tahawi
said “The Prophet’s Intercession that God deferred for them is true, as narrated in the traditions
.” (Pg 58). In notes it elaborates:
“The intercession (al-shafa’ah) of the Prophet SAW is twofold: His first petitioning is for the entire human race, in order to relieve them of the momentous anxiety of the first stage of the Day of Judgement. His second Intercession is for the disobedient among his community; he will pray, asking God to treat His servants mercifully. God promised the Prophet that his prayer will be granted due to his praiseworthy station (maqam mahmud~Quran 17:79).” [Hamza Yusuf]*
So the intercession is for the hereafter not for this world. In this world the right thing to do is to ask God for help, to worship Allah, and believe that Muhammad is His slave and the Apostle and know that if you worhsip Muhammad than he is dead, which means he can’t see you or physically be present in your company. But if you worship God, then God lives for ever and He is present everywhere, in fact closer to your heart.
The Translation of Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali