It was a “Breaking News”, he had died. “I can’t believe this…tell me it is not true…how true is this…NO! He mustn’t die” were words that followed the report of the death of an ex-Governor. The news was to be confirmed by the family a week after.
When the news of Ajimobi’s death broke out, people’s reaction to it led me to remember what happened between ‘Umar (RA) and Abu Bakr (RA) after the death of the prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) which filled my eyes with tears.
Shortly after returning from his last pilgrimage, the Prophet fell sick. During this period, he addressed the people and said,
“There is a servant whose Lord has given him an option between this life and the next nigh unto the Lord and the servant has chosen the latter. O People it has reached me that you are afraid of the approaching death of your Prophet. Has any previous Prophet lived forever among those to whom he was sent so that I would live forever among you? Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go sooner or later.”
The Prophet’s health did not improve, the companions, wives, and other Muslims were extremely worried. That generation of Muslims are the best of Muslims to have lived and that will ever live. Despite their piety, knowledge of Islam, and fear of Allah, the thought of the Prophet’s death shook them. Eventually, the Prophet gave up the ghost. InnaliLlahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’uun (From ALlah we come and to Him is our return).
The people gathered in the mosque in groups. There was an air of uneasiness, sorrow, silent grief, fear, anxiety, in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet was dead, There were suppressed sobs and sighs, Many people were weeping, What would happen to the Muslims when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to be no longer in their midst was the thought that disturbed everyone. The people turned their eyes towards Aisha’s quarters hoping that the door of the chamber would open any moment and the Holy Prophet would emerge with his face radiating divine light.
At the mosque’s courtyard was ‘Umar, that gallant companion of the prophet who would later be Caliph. He had a great love for the Prophet (peace be upon him). Moving amongst the people, he said,
“Who says that the Prophet is dead. I testify that he is alive and has gone to Allah like Moses, and would return to us after some time“.
Abu Bakr (RA) stood among the people, with a face betrayed by grief and sorrow, he said’
“Listen to me, ye people. Those of you who worshipped Muhammad know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad know that He is alive and would live forever.”
There was a dead silence, the people were shocked, Abu Bakr went on to recite verses of the Qur’an,
“Muhammad is but a Messenger, Messengers of God have passed away before him. What, if he dies or is killed? Will you turn back upon your heels? And whosoever turns back upon his heels Will by no means do harm to Allah, And Allah will reward the thankful.” Abu Bakr added:
“Muhammad the Great Prophet was a mortal; From Allah he came, and to Allah he has returned.”
It appeared as though the people did not know that this verse of the Holy Quran had come down until Abu Bakr had recited it that day. Umar said:
“By God when I heard Abu Bakr recite these words I was dumbfounded so that my legs would not bear me, and I fell to the ground knowing that the Holy Prophet was indeed dead.”
I discarded the idea to write this piece but decided to when I saw the video of people who were wailing at Ajimobi’s gate. In Islam, grieving over the loss of our loved ones is permissible but loud wailing (bewailing refers to mourning in a loud voice), shrieking, beating the chest and cheeks, tearing hair or clothes, breaking objects, scratching faces or speaking phrases that make a Muslim lose faith are impermissible.
My eyes were filled with tears because I looked at people’s reactions towards an ex-governor and imagined how the companions of the Prophet must have felt when the news of the Prophet’s death broke out.
Death is a certainty. We all shall die – the constituted and unconstituted authority, the death we run from shall overcome us. Lastly, I have always loved Luqman’s advice to his son,
“…enjoin on people all that is good and forbid them from all that is evil… (31:17)
…and bear with patience whatever befalls you… (31:17)
And turn not your face away from men with pride… (31:18)
…nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster. (31:18)
And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking… (Quran 31:19)
…and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of the asses. (31:19)”
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman