The tenth year of prophethood: The year of Grief- the passing away of Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her- and Abu Talib…
Muslim joy over being relieved of the idolater boycott did not last long, as the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- uncle Abu Talib, the protector of Muslims who took great pains in safeguarding them, passed away shortly thereafter.
On many occasions, the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- would insist his uncle to accept Islam, only on each occasion to have Abu Talib reply, “I know you speak the truth. But if I accept, even the women of Quraysh would condemn me!”
Having accepted the truth of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- in his conscience, he was however held back by his ego.
Even on his deathbed, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- urged him to give up his soul to the Almighty in a state of belief:
“Please uncle…Just say the word so Allah will grant you eternal happiness!”
He was prevented by Abu Jahl, who was there paying a visit. As the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- repeated the words of shahadah to his uncle, Abu Jahl spoke over him, saying, “Don’t you forget that you are in the religion of your ancestors!”
The last words of Abu Talib to the Messenger of Allah eventually were:
“I am breathing my last, in the religion of old. I would have accepted your words, only if I knew Quraysh would not think I changed my religion from fear of death!” (Bukhari, Janaiz 81, Manaqibu’l-Ansar 40; Ibn Saad, I, 122-123)
To these words, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- replied, with a glimmer of hope, “Still, I will always pray for your forgiveness.”
He left his uncle’s house in grief.
The last promise the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- made to his uncle sparked the following Revelation:
“Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases…” (al-Qasas, 56) (Muslim, Iman, 41-42)
Guidance is a Divine light that leads to the straight path. It only reaches those whose hearts are inclined to the Truth.
“…and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).” (ar-Rad, 27)
Thus others can at best only act as a means. Guidance does not come solely through the efforts of a person, even if the person is a prophet. Despite all the efforts of the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, guidance did not come to Abu Talib, simply because, even though he knew what was right, he chose not to turn to the Truth and allowed himself to fall victim to his ego.
Only thirteen days had passed since the saddening death of Abu Talib when the companion, the great support and the lifelong partner of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- and the noblest of all women Khadijat’ul-Qubra also breathed her last. For the Muslims, one grief had followed another. With a heart set in sorrow and eyes welled with tears, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- placed his wife in her resting-place with his own hands.
Throughout her life, Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her- served as a reliable advisor and a source of comfort for the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- in the way of Islam. Her passing away touched the Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- so much that he mourned, “Of the two disasters that have befallen this ummah (meaning the deaths of his uncle and wife), I do not know over which one I should grieve over more.” (Yakubi, II, 35; Taberi, Tarih, II, 229)
Because of these two sorrowful losses, the tenth year of the Meccan period came to be known as the Year of Grief.
The losses of his uncle and wife now meant that the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- no longer had an outward support and refuge. His spiritual world was now reserved to the Almighty only. After all, it was Allah alone on whom one could rely and in whom one could trust, in the absolute sense. Besides, by losing his father, mother and grandfather at an early age, the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had already been nurtured by the Almighty.
Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her- was an exceptionally virtuous woman. On one occasion, the Archangel Jibril came to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- to say:
“Khadijah is on her way to you, with a bowl of food in her hand. When she comes, pass her the peace and blessings of her Lord and mine, and give her the good news of a palace made of pearl, awaiting her in paradise where there shall be no noise or fatigue!” (Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 20)
To this greeting, Khadijah responded by exclaiming:
“Allah Himself is Peace; it is from Him that peace comes, so peace unto Jibril as well! And may the peace, mercy and blessings of the Almighty be upon you, the Messenger of Allah!”
Throughout his remaining years, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- never forgot his blessed wife, showing the greatest display of loyalty to her memory.
Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- explains:
“I have never envied another wife of the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- more than I have envied Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her-. What’s more, I had never seen her. But the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- would always mention her name. Like whenever he had a sheep slaughtered, he would more often than not send some parts of the meat to Khadijah’s friends. On one time, unable to hold myself I said, ‘As if there was nobody left on Earth except Khadijah!’
In reply, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- began mentioning each of her virtues, and added, ‘She was also the mother of my children.’
That was when I said to myself I will never speak ill of her again.” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar 20; Adab 73; Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahabah 74-76)
Hala bint Khuwaylid, Khadijah’s -Allah be well-pleased with her- sister, once asked permission to see the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-. At that instant, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- remembered the voice of Khadijah -Allah be well-pleased with her-, and he remarked excitedly:
“O Allah! This is Khadijah’s sister, Hala bint Khuwaylid!”
Seeing the excitement, Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her-, again, could not contain herself:
“Why do you keep mentioning the name of an old Qurayshi woman who is now long dead? Allah has given you better in her place!” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 20)
It was herself that Aisha -Allah be well-pleased with her- was implying with the word ‘better’. Deeming her words inappropriate, the Messenger of Allah responded:
“No, Allah has not given me better. She believed me when no one else did. She trusted me when everybody else was calling me a liar. She gave me her all when everybody else backed away. And through her, Allah blessed me with children.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 118)
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