The Prophet’s (SAW) death was a significant point in Islamic history which affected the hearts of many both in his time, and our time.
Three months after performing his first and final pilgrimage, the Prophet (SAW) began to experience a severe headache followed by a high fever. This illness began to take its toll on the Prophet, making him very frail and weak.
As the days passed, his sickness got worse and worse. However, three days before it reached its most severe state, the Prophet (SAW) asked his wives: “Where shall I stay tomorrow, where shall I stay?” Immediately they understood what he wanted and allowed him to stay wherever he desired. He moved to Aisha’s (RAA) room leaning – while he was walking – on al-Fadl bin al-Abbas and Ali bin Abi Talib. With bandages wrapped around his head, he slowly dragged his feet to her bed. It was there that the Prophet (SAW) spent the last week of his life.
During that period, Aisha (RAA) used to recite al-Mu’awwidhat (Chapters 113 and 114 of the Qur’an) and other supplications which he had already taught her.
Once the Prophet (SAW) knew the severity of his illness, he took it upon himself to visit the graves of the martyrs that fought in the largest Islamic battle in history, the battle of Uhud. He sent them his Salaams, followed by his assurance that he knew that he would be joining them in the near future. Directly after, he visited his fellow companions with tearful eyes. Worried, the Companions (RAA) asked their Prophet (SAW) as to why he was crying. The Prophet (SAW) answered back “I miss my brothers.” Confused, the Sahaba answered back “Aren’t we your brothers?” The Prophet (SAW) replied “My brothers are those who are going to come after me and follow me.”
As the sickness worsened, the Companions (RAA) would help carry the Prophet (SAW) to the Mother of the Believers Aisha’s (RAA) house after meeting them. When they saw how weak the Prophet (SAW) appeared, they began to cry in sorrow because of the condition of their beloved Prophet (SAW). Once the prophet began to hear from his wife Aisha (RAA) that his followers were concerned with his condition, he was surprised and asked to be carried to the masjid where he took that as an opportunity to present what is known as his last sermon. The Prophet (SAW) had been so weakened that it took seven splashes of water to awaken him and give him the energy to present himself to his followers. He (SAW) was carried to the top of the pulpit to give his final sermon.
In this speech the Prophet (SAW) ensured that his last words were words that could be lived by, spreading his da’wah in a manner for him to complete his role as the messenger of Allah, emphasising the importance of prayer and treating women with kindness. He further made supplication for Allah (SWT) to protect his followers and keep them on the straight path. He then stated: “Allah, the Great, has given a slave of His the opportunity to make a choice between whatever he desires of Allah’s provisions in this world, and what He keeps for him in the world, but he has opted for the latter.”
Finally, before the Prophet (SAW) stepped down from the pulpit for the last time he requested for his people to pray for him, and not only those who were with him at that moment, but from those who came after him.
As the Prophet (SAW) arrived to his home, Abu Bakr’s son Abdul Rahman came in to visit him. In his hand was a miswak, and although the Prophet (SAW) was too weak to ask for it, Aisha (RAA) had understood his facial expression and helped fulfill the prophet’s (SAW) needs. She took the miswak and put it in his mouth, but he could not use it because of the lack of saliva in his mouth. Because of that, Aisha took it from the Prophet (SAW) and moistened it with her own saliva, then gave it back to the Prophet (SAW) so it was easier for him to use.
Afterwards, the Prophet (SAW) called for his daughter Fatimah. When she came in to see him, she began to cry at such a distressing sight. Prior to his illness, the Prophet (SAW) would always kiss his daughter between her eyes, but instead he told her to lean close to tell her something that had made her back away and cry even more. He then signalled for her to lean over once again, and whispered something else to her which made her laugh. Aisha (RAA) later asked her what the Prophet (SAW) had said that had caused her to cry and laugh to which Fatimah replied “The first time he disclosed to me that he would not recover from his illness and I wept. Then he told me that I would be the first of his family to join him, so I laughed.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, 2/638]
He gave Fatimah glad tidings that she would become the lady of all women of the world [Rahmat-ul-lil’alameen, 1/282]. Fatimah witnessed the great pain that afflicted her father, so she said: “What great pain my father is in!” To these words, the Prophet (SAW) remarked:
“He will not suffer any more when today is over.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, 2/641]
The Prophet (SAW) asked everyone to leave him with his wife, Aisha (RAA) , and as she leaned over, he slept on her chest. Then, he held his hand to the sky and said that he wanted to be with Allah (SWT) . Aisha knew he was being talked to by angel Gabriel (peace be upon him).
As Gabriel came down on the Prophet (SAW) , he informed him that the Angel of Death is at the door asking for his permission to come to him. He has never asked for anyone’s permission before, and so the Prophet (SAW) said, let him come in. The Angel of Death came in and said Assalam to the Prophet (SAW) . He said, “Allah (SWT) sent me to you to let you choose between staying here on Earth or being with Allah (SWT) .” The prophet chose to be with his creator, Allah (SWT) . The Angel of Death stood at his head and said, “Oh, beautiful soul, soul of Mohammad (SAW) , come out to your satisfied lord.” Aisha (RAA) had said that the Prophet’s (SAW) hand fell and she felt his head get heavy in her chest; knowing that he died.
She didn’t know what to do so she resorted to opening her house door, which was right in front of the Mosque where everyone was gathered, and yelled out that the Prophet (SAW) had died. Soon after, the Mosque exploded with tears, and everyone began to cry.
The Companions (RAA) started crying and walking around aimlessly, their hearts full of sorrow. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RAA) was hit with such grief that he held his sword, threatening to cut off the head of whoever says the Prophet (SAW) died. He was reminded that the Prophet (SAW) went to meet Allah (SWT) just as Moses (RAA) went to meet Him (SWT) .
Abu Bakr announced to the people: “Whoever worshiped Muhammad, know that Mohammad is dead. And whoever worshipped Allah, know that Allah is never going to die.”
Upon hearing this, Umar ibn Al-Khattab dropped his sword and ran to be alone and cry over the loss of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) .
Once the Prophet (SAW) passed away, there was disagreement as to where he was to be buried. Abu Bakr said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘A dead Prophet is buried where he dies.’” So Abu Talhah lifted the bed on which he died, dug underneath and cut the ground to make the tomb.
The death of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the greatest grief that Muslims have ever had to endure. He was the only one of God’s messengers who was sent to deliver the message of Allah to all of humanity rather than one group of people, which is why he is the Prophet. No man in the history of the world has had as great an impact as Muhammad (SAW) , and no Muslim has lived since his lifetime who has not kept him in their mind and heart. Today, 1.6 billion Muslims in every corner of the world pray for him at least five times a day, and this great population of believers all started with one man.
Though his death marked the end of the greatest time in Islam, it was only the beginning of a religion that would create the most virtuous leaders who ever lived, lead humanity towards the light of knowledge and discovery, and change the face of the world forever.