The Prophet becomes ill
After the battle of Tabouk, the Prophet always felt that there was a danger coming from the Roman Empire and that he was about to fight them; therefore he got ready for the war and ordered the Muslims; Muhajirun and Ansar, 17 to encamp out of Medina under the leadership of Usamah ibn Zayd.
Some of the great companions, like Abu-Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, were specially ordered to join the camp but the Prophet was suddenly attacked by fever and had to be confined to bed.
The commandership of Usamah was insupportable to some great companions because he was a young man of twenty years old but his prudence and wisdom was confirmed by the Prophet. The social positions in Islam depended upon prudence and personal ingenuity and not on eldership and seniority.
In spite of the Prophet’s insistence on them to set out to Syria they did not do. It seemed that some secret hands interfered to stop the movement of the army because as soon as they knew that the Prophet was bedridden, they all left the camp with the pretext of visiting him.
As it was said before that the Prophet did not present Imam Ali as his successor for fear of people's mischief until a verse to be revealed that God would guarantee his security.
He anticipated that some of his companions might put obstacles in the way of Imam Ali; hereon he ordered them strictly to set out towards Syria. But a few politicians would not obey him under various pretexts. They even tried to make the Prophet change his mind with regard to Imam Ali (s). The future events would justify this matter.
One day when some of the believers gathered around his bed, the Prophet, after pondering, said to his companions: “Bring me an inkpot with a piece of paper to write you a decree. If you keep to it, you will never go astray after me at all.”
Umar, who became a caliph later on, said: “Illness has overcome him and he is just raving. The Holy Qur’an is sufficient to us.” 18
Then a quarrel happened among the companions. Some of them said that it was necessary to bring a piece of paper and an inkpot but the others, who were on Umar’s side, refused.
It is too indecent to mention the words that were exchanged among them. It was enough that some bad words were heard by the Prophet that he turned his face away from his companions.
The Prophet, in order to put an end to this jangle, decided to go to the mosque to say to the people orally about the decree he ordered them to write.
He got at the mosque infirmly as he had leaned on the shoulders of Imam Ali (s) and his cousin al-Al-Fadhl ibn al-Abbas and his feet were draggling on the earth.
The people were impatiently waiting for hearing his last words.
After praising God he said: “I leave two great and dear things among you; the Holy Qur’an and my family. If you keep to them, you will never go astray.” 19
It was mentioned by al-Asqalani that the Prophet turned his face to his followers, who had formed a circle around his bed and said; “My death is coming soon and I just leave two profound things among you; the first is the Qur’an and the second is my family.” Then he raised Ali’s hand and said: “Ali (s) keeps to the Qur’an and the Qur’an will never be separated from him.” (They are correlative with each other).
While the Prophet was sick he advised people to keep to prayers and recommended them to be fair dealing with the slaves and their rights. Then he added that his traditions and Sunnah should not be forgotten after him and the Muslims, when having problems and difficulties, should turn to his family. Obeying his family was obligatory for the Muslims. Then he continued: “They (his family) are the wisest among all of you and be careful not to try to teach them anything. Know that Ali (s) will be my successor after my death.” 20
At last he sought after Ali (s) and whispered to him for a while and then he went to the better world while his blessed head was in Ali’s lap. 21
Later on Imam Ali (s) said: “The Prophet, at the last moments of his life, whispered and taught me one thousand chapters of science; each one of them contained one thousand chapters. The above mentioned matters indicated that Imam Ali (s) was well-qualified for the task of the caliphate.
The generalities of the Qur’an just explain precepts and religious jurisprudence in general and ordinary people cannot interpret them easily. The Prophet said: “Ali is the best and the wisest of you all and he is the best of you in judgment. Rejecting his sayings means rejecting my sayings. Refuting my sayings means denying God's precepts.” 22
17. Muhajirun: the first Muslims, who emigrated from Mecca to Medina at the beginning of the Islamic mission. Ansar: the people of Medina, who believed in the Prophet and assisted him and his companions.
18. Refer to al-Bukhari's Sahih, vol.12 p.p.178, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj's book al-Wassiyya, Ahmad's Musnad, vol.1 p.p.122, Imam al-Ghazaly in his Sirrul Aalameen, ibn Hajar in his Sawa'iq and many others.
19. Refer to Muslim's Sahih, vol.7 p.p.122, at-Tarmithi's Sunan, vol.2 p.p.307, an-Nassa'ie's Khassa'iss, Ahmad's Musnad, vol.1,3,4,5 p.p.14, 26, 59, 182 and many others Sunni scholars.
20. Refer to al-Bayhaqi's Manaqib, al-Khawarizmi's Manaqib and ibnul Maghazili's Manaqib.
21. Refer to al-Hakim an-Nayshaboori's Manaqib vol.3 p.p.139, Ahmad ibn Hanbal's Musnad vol.3 and Abu Na'eem al-Isfahani's Hilyatul awliya'.
22. Refer to Ahmad's Musnad, al-Khawarizmi's Manaqib and sayyid Ali al-Hamadani's Mawaddatul Qurba.
Adopted from the book : "Imam Ali (a.s.); Sunshine of Civilized Islam" by : "Muhammad Huseyn Tahmasebi"
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