The Journey to Allâh, the Sublime Symptoms of Farewell: When the Call to Islam grew complete and the new faith dominated the whole situation. The Messenger of Allâh started to develop certain symptoms that bespoke of leave-taking. They could be perceived through his statements and deeds: In Ramadan in the tenth year of Al-Hijra he secluded himself for twenty days in contrast to ten, previously. The archangel Gabriel reviewed the Qur’ân twice with him. His words in the Farewell Pilgrimage (i.e. Al-Wida‘): "I do not know whether I will ever meet you at this place once again after this current year." The revelation of An-Nasr Chapter amid At-Tashreeq Days. So when it was sent down on him, he realized that it was the parting time and that Surah was an announcement of his approaching death. On the early days of Safar in the eleventh year of Al-Hijra, the Prophet went out to Uhud and observed a farewell prayer to the martyrs. It looked like saying goodbye to both the dead and the living alike. He then ascended the pulpit and addressed the people saying: "I am to precede you and I have been made witness upon you. By Allâh, you will meet me at the ‘Fountain’ very soon. I have been given the keys of worldly treasures. By Allâh, I do not fear for you that you will turn polytheists after me. But I do fear that acquisition of worldly riches should entice you to strike one another’s neck." One day, at midnight he went to Al-Baqee‘ cemetry, and implored Allâh to forgive the martyrs of Islam. He said: "Peace be upon you tomb-dwellers! May that morning that dawns upon you be more relieving than that which dawn upon the living. Afflictions are approaching them like cloudy lumps of a dark night — the last of which follows the first. The last one is bearing more evil than the first." He comforted them saying: "We will follow you." The Start of the Disease: On Monday the twenty-ninth of Safar in the eleventh year of Al-Hijra, he participated in funeral rites in Al-Baqee‘. On the way back he had a headache, his temperature rose so high that the heat effect could be felt over his headband. He led the Muslims in prayer for eleven days though he was sick. The total number of his sick days were either thirteen or fourteen. The Last Week: When his sickness grew severe he asked his wives: "Where shall I stay tomorrow?" "Where shall I stay?" They understood what he wanted. So they allowed him to stay wherever he wished. He moved to ‘Aishah’s room leaning — while he was walking — on Al-Fadl bin Al-‘Abbas and ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. Head banded as he was, he dragged his feet till he came into her abode. It was there that he spent the last week of his life. During that period, ‘Aishah used to recite Al-Mu‘awwidhat (Chapters 113 and 114 of the Qur’ân) and other supplications which he had already taught her. Five days before death: On Wednesday, five days before he died the Prophet’s temperature rose so high signalling the severeness of his disease. He fainted and suffered from pain. "Pour out on me seven Qirab (water skin pots) of various water wells so that I may go out to meet people and talk to them." So they seated him in a container (usually used for washing) and poured out water on him till he said: "That is enough. That is enough." Then he felt well enough to enter the Mosque. He entered it band-headed, sat on the pulpit and made a speech to the people who were gathering together around him. He said: "The curse of Allâh falls upon the Jews and Christians for they have made their Prophets’ tombs places of worship." Then he said: "Do not make my tomb a worshipped idol." Then he offered himself and invited the people to repay any injuries he might have inflicted on them, saying: "He whom I have ever lashed his back, I offer him my back so that he may avenge himself on me. He whom I have ever blasphemed his honour, here I am offering my honour so that he may avenge himself." Then he descended, and performed the noon prayer. Again he returned to the pulpit and sat on it. He resumed his first speech about enmity and some other things. A man then said: "You owe me three Dirhams." The Prophet said: "Fadl, pay him the money." He went on saying: "I admonish you to be good to Al-Ansar (the Helpers). They are my family and with them I found shelter. They have acquitted themselves credibly of the responsibility that fell upon them and now there remains what you have to do. You should fully acknowledge and appreciate the favour that they have shown, and should overlook their faults." In another version: "The number of believers would increase, but the number of Helpers would decrease to the extent that they would be among men as salt in the food. So he who from among you occupies a position of responsibility and is powerful enough to do harm or good to the people, he should fully acknowledge and appreciate the favour that these benefactors have shown and overlook their faults." And said: "Allâh, the Great, has given a slave of His the opportunity to make a choice between whatever he desires of Allâh’s provisions in this world, and what He keeps for him in the world, but he has opted for the latter." Abu Sa‘îd Al-Khudri said: "Upon hearing that, Abu Bakr cried and said: ‘We sacrifice our fathers and mothers for your sake.’ We wondered why Abu Bakr said such a thing. People said: ‘Look at that old man! The Messenger of Allâh says about a slave of Allâh who was granted the right between the best fortunes of this world and the bounty of Allâh in the Hereafter, but he says: We sacrifice our fathers and mothers for your sake!’ It was later on that we realized what he had aimed at. The Messenger of Allâh was the slave informed to choose. We also acknowledged that Abu Bakr was the most learned among us." Then the Messenger of Allâh said: "The fellow I feel most secure in his company is Abu Bakr. If I were to make friendship with any other one than Allâh, I would have Abu Bakr a bosom friend of mine. For him I feel affection and brotherhood of Islam. No gate shall be kept open in the Mosque except that of Abu Bakr’s." Four days before his death: On Thursday, four days before the death of the Messenger of Allâh , he said to people — though he was suffering from a severe pain: "Come here. I will cause you to write something so that you will never fall into error." Upon this ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said: "The Prophet of Allâh is suffering from acute pain and you have the Qur’ân with you; the Book of Allâh is sufficient unto you." Others however wanted the writing to be made. When Muhammad heard them debating over it, he ordered them to go away and leave him alone. That day he recommended three things: 1. Jews, Christians and polytheists should be expelled out of Arabia. 2. He recommended that delegations should be honoured and entertained, in a way similar to the one he used to do. 3. As for the third — the narrator said that he had forgotten it. It could have been adherence to the Holy Book and the Sunnah. It was likely to be the accomplishment and the mobilization of Osamah’s army, or it could have been performance of prayers and being attentive to slaves. In spite of the strain of disease and suffering from pain, the Prophet used to lead all the prayers till that Thursday — four days before he died. On that day he led the sunset prayer and recited: # "By the winds (or angels or the Messengers of Allâh) sent forth one after another." [77:1] In the evening he grew so sick that he could not overcome the strain of disease or go out to enter the Mosque. ‘Aishah said: The Prophet asked: "Have the people performed the prayer?" "No. They haven’t. They are waiting for you." "Put some water in the washing pot." Said he. We did what he ordered. So he washed and wanted to stand up, but he fainted. When he came round he asked again "Have the people prayed?" Then the same sequence of events took place again and again for the second and the third times from the time he washed to the time he fainted after his attempts to stand up. Therefore he sent to Abu Bakr to lead the prayer himself. Abu Bakr then led the prayer during those days. They were seventeen prayers in the lifetime of Muhammad . Three or four times ‘Aishah talked to the Prophet to exempt Abu Bakr from leadership in prayer lest people should despair of him, but he refused and said: "You (women) are like the women who tried to entice Joseph (Yusuf) into immorality. Convey my request to Abu Bakr to lead the prayer."