The 28th of the month of Safar the day when the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger departed from the mortal world, leaving the Ummah, especially his Ahl al-Bayt or immediate family, in profound grief.
Before we present you a special feature in this regard, we invite you to listen to ayah 144 of Surah Aal-e Imran of the holy Qur’an in which God Almighty says:
“Muḥammad is but a Prophet; [other] prophets have passed before him. If he dies or is slain, will you turn back on your heels (towards paganism)? Anyone who turns back on his heels will not harm Allah in the least, and soon Allah will reward the grateful.”
This ayah was revealed by God Almighty in 3 AH, that is 8 years before he left the mortal world, when during the Battle of Ohad that was imposed by the pagan Arabs of Mecca, many of the Prophet’s companions fled the battlefield on the assumption that the person who had enlightened them with Islam had died.
God Almighty reprimands the Prophet’s companions, and means to say that if faith is not firmly embedded in their hearts, the danger of apostasy looms large.
Today we are commemorating the passing away of Prophet Muhammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). He breathed his last on the 28th of Safar in the year 11 AH after having diligently accomplished the universal mission of Islam entrusted to him by God Almighty. It means no other prophet would come after him since he had clarified in detail for the benefit of all mankind, including the generations to come after him, all aspects of the divine commandments pertaining to the various social, individual, spiritual, cultural, hygienic, economic, political, scientific, environmental, and all other needs of the human society.
No wonder, as books of hadith and history of all Muslim denominations unanimously testify the Prophet had foretold about his death during his Farewell Hajj Pilgrimage, when on 9th Zil-Hijjah during his sermon from atop Jabal ar-Rahma or Mount Mercy on the Plain of Arafah, he pronounced the famous words, known as Hadith Thaqalayn:
“I have been informed (by God) about my imminent death, and I am leaving behind among you Two Weighty Things (Thaqalayn), the Book of Allah (holy Qur’an) and my progeny the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray, for the two never separate from each other even when they return to me at the Fountain (of Kowthar on the Day of Judgement).”
Then on the 18th of Zilhijja, two months and ten days before his passing away, the Prophet on divine commandment proclaimed Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb as his vicegerent, in order to ensure that the affairs of the Ummah would function smoothly and all other societies, whether Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, Shamanists, polytheists, atheists, etc. would be enlightened by the teachings of Islam.
Thus, Safar 28 is one of the most tragic days in the history of Islam and mankind. It is the day on which a group of Muslims ignored the Prophet’s instructions and in doing so, violated the commandments of God regarding succession to the Seal of Messengers, while his divinely-designated heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb was busy in performing the last rites of God’s Messenger.
According to “Khasa’es of Nasa’i”, which is an authoritative book of our Sunni brethren, compiled over a thousand years ago, Umm Salamah, a wife of the Prophet has been narrated as saying:
“By Allah, the closest person [to the Prophet] at the time of the Prophet’s death was (Imam) Ali. Early on the morning of the day when he was going to die, the Prophet called Ali who had been sent out on some errand. He asked for Ali three times before his return. Ali came before sunrise. So, thinking that the Prophet needed some privacy with Ali, we came out. I was the last to be out; therefore, I sat closer to the door than the other women. I saw that Ali lowered his head towards the Prophet and the Prophet kept whispering into his ears (for quite sometime). Thus, Ali is the only person who was near the Prophet till the last.”
It is worth noting that 23 years earlier when God had entrusted Prophet Muhammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) with the universal message of Islam at Cave Hera on Mount Noor, no one was present that night except Ali, the 10-year old son of his uncle and guardian, Abu Taleb.
And when the Prophet publicly proclaimed his message of Islam by testifying to the Oneness of Allah and received blank looks from the polytheist Arabs (his future companions), it was this very same Ali ibn Abi Taleb who stood up to testify the mission of the Messenger of God, saying: “la ilaha il-Allah, Muhammadan-Rasoul-Allah” which means: “There is no deity except Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah.”
Later Imam Ali married the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter Hazrat Fatema Zahra (peace upon her) and become the father of Two Infallible Sons, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain (peace upon them).
In view of these undeniable facts, It was but natural for the Prophet to breathe his last with his head resting on the lap of his dearest cousin, ward, son-in-law, and divinely-decreed vicegerent.
Thus, as the closest person to Prophet Muhammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), throughout the ups and downs of his 23-year mission, Imam Ali , washed and prepared for burial the body of his cousin and father-in-law, as he was commanded.
While washing the Prophet’s body, the Imam sorrowfully said: May my father and mother be sacrificed for you O Messenger of Allah! By your departure (from the earth), the things that have ceased that did not end with the death of any other person, are prophethood, divine revelation, and the news from the heaven; If you had not enjoined us with patience and forbidden impatience, we would have exhausted our tears for you, until our conditions become worsened.
What was Imam Ali complaining about? The victor of many a crucial battle imposed on the Prophet by the Arab infidels (or the future Muslims) and the only person who accompanied the Prophet to the decisive field of Mubahela for the triumphant debate with the Christians, was now facing a crucial test.
Alas, no sooner had the Prophet left the world calamities descended upon his Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt, and the first casualty was his Infallible Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra , who was mortally injured when a group of her father’s companions battered the burning door of her house upon her, breaking her ribs, and demanding that Imam Ali give pledge of allegiance to the regime which had seized political power in Medina.
This is the sad history of Islam, and the emergence of terrorism amongst Muslims. The Prophet strove to establish peace, justice and equity in the society, but what did those that wrongly styled themselves as the political heirs of the Prophet do? They mistreated his Ahl al-Bayt, and the result was the tragic martyrdom of the Prophet’s younger grandson, Imam Husain in Karbala fifty years later.
Safar 28 also happens to be the martyrdom anniversary of the Prophet’s elder grandson and 2nd Infallible Heir, Imam Hasan Mujtaba , who was martyred through poisoning and his coffin showered with arrows in 50 AH.