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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan


IN the early period of Islam, there are many events that showcase the exemplary character of the Muslims. Of these, I find a few moments in Islamic history very rare. The words that were said in these moments cannot be said again in history.

The first such moment is about the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet had migrated in secret from Makkah to Madinah. He was hiding in the Cave of Thawr with his Companion Abu Bakr. Meanwhile the Quraysh search party scoured the area south of Makkah where the Prophet and Abu Bakr where hiding. They came upon the mouth of the cave, and had they looked down while standing at the edge of the cave, they would have surely found the men they were hunting.

With the Quraysh so close to discovering their hiding place, Abu Bakr became very tense about the Prophet’s safety. The Prophet reassured him, “How can you be apprehensive about the two with whom is a third, the third being God Himself?”

This is not some plain statement. These words express the Prophet’s utmost trust in the help of God.

The second moment is about the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The people at large were greatly perturbed. It was at this time Abu Bakr came riding his horse from his dwelling place. He got down from it, entered the Mosque and did not speak with anybody and went directly to the Prophet, who was covered with a marked blanket. Abu Bakr uncovered his face. He knelt down and kissed him and then started weeping and said, “My father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O God’s Prophet! God will not combine two deaths on you. You have died the death which was written for you.”

Then he went out and said, “Whoever worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped God, then God is Alive and shall never die.”

These words show the quality of differentiation that a believer shows between God and His servants.

The third moment shows the emotional turmoil Umar underwent when he heard the news of the Prophet’s death. He refused to believe that the Prophet had died. He stood at the gates of the Prophet’s mosque with his sword in his hand.

Abu Bakr told him to sit down but Umar refused. Abu Bakr again told him to sit down but Umar again refused. Then Abu Bakr left him alone and addressed the gathering. Among the things he said, he also recited this verse of the Quran: Muhammad is only a messenger. Messengers have passed away before him. If he should die, or be killed, will you turn back on your heels? Those who turn on their heels do not harm the Lord in the least. God will reward the grateful. (3: 144)

The effect of Abu Bakr’s address was electrical in character. 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 later said:

“By God when I heard Abu Bakr recite these words I was dumbfounded so that my legs would not bear my weight, and I fell to the ground knowing that the Holy Prophet was indeed dead.”

A person’s character is expressed through his words. The words of a true believer radiate with trust in God, realization of the greatness of God, acceptance of reality and a keen sense of the mission that he has to follow.

This is a statement of recognition of truth, even if it is against one’s own wish. The fourth moment is that of the Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz, also known as Umar II. One of his governors, Jarrah bin Abdullah, said he did not want to encourage people embracing Islam. His reason was that if a large number of people became Muslims, the amount of money collected in the form of taxes will be reduced, and the government finances will be affected tremendously. It must be noted here that this tax exempted the followers of others faiths to join the army and it was the responsibility of Muslim rulers to provide them security and safety.

Umar bin Abdul Aziz replied: God Almighty sent the Prophet Muhammad as a guide to humanity, not as a collector of taxes. This profound statement is an expression of the complete realization of the responsibility of the believers to communicate the Word of God on the one hand and realization of the true mission of the Prophet on the other.

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