We have gone more than half way through the month of Rabiul Awwal. Mawlidul Rasul has been much talked about and discussed. Today I pick up one of my treasured books, The Life of Muhammad by Muhammad Husein Haykal.
The page immediately inside the front cover bears my signature and the date the book was purchased, KL 14/2/95, making it 17 years ago today, KT 14/2/12.
Purchased in KL on 14-2.1995
As I flip through the book and I reach Chapter 31 (page 504), The Prophet’s Burial. On the second page of this chapter I had some notes scribbled in pencil. Reading that I can barely hold back my tears. The scene was that of a total chaos, women crying near hysterical and others shocked and stupefied.
Umar, on hearing the sad news went straight to Muhammad’s bed, uncovered him and looked at his face for a while. He perceived its motionless and deathlike appearance as a coma from which he believed Muhammad would soon emerge. He found it hard to accept the truth of a great man he had so admired and worked for. So at the mosque he was proclaiming at the top of his voice, “Some hypocrites are pretending that the Prophet of God – May God’s peace and blessing be upon him – has died. By God I swear that he did not die ……. By God, the Prophet of God will return ……. Any man who dares to perpetrate a false rumour such as Muhammad’s death shall have his arms and legs cut off by this hand.”
Abu Bakr hearing the same news returned and noticed Umar addressing the crowd. He did not stop to listen to Umar but went straight to Muhammad’s body, uncovered his face and kissed it, saying, “How wholesome you are, whether alive or dead!” He then held the Prophet’s head in his hand and looked closely at the face which showed no sign whatever of death’s attack. Laying it down again, he said, “What would I not have sacrificed for you! …..”- such devotion.
Abu Bakr then returned to the mosque. Aproaching close to Umar he said, “Softly, O Umar! Keep silent!” He then went to address the crowd. After praising and thanking God, Abu Bakr delivered a brief address. “ O men, if you have been worshiping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshiping God, then know that God is living and never dies." He then recited the following Quranic verse ( among the verses most dear toPakcik) :
Part of verse 144 - surah Al Imran
I have written above only the first half of the verse 144 from Surah Al Imran. Muhammad Asad gave us the following interpretation:
“ And Muhammad is only an apostle; all the (other) apostles have passed away before him; if, then, he dies or is slain, will you turn about on your heels? ….” He completed the other half of the verse.
Abubakr’s short speech, particularly the verse, worked like magic. The crowd listened to the verse as if they had never heard it before, now fully understood the stark truth. So that was that. The inevitable had to be accepted.
So what does that scene above tell us?
Hadn't the great Prophet done enough ?
Do we simply keep on celebrating his maulid, without giving a thought what his life stood for?
And shouldn't we spare a moment to reflect over what the greatest man on earth had done for mankind?
“ What would I not have sacrificed for you! …..” ? - Abu Bakr's lament.
Have we nothing at all to sacrifice, in our own separate little way, in honour of what he did for mankind?
Sall Allah alaihi wasallam.
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