from the Ihya ‘ulum al-dinBook XL: The Remembrance of Death and The Afterlife, by Imam al-Ghazali, trans. Shaykh T. J. Winter. The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge: 1995.

Page 48:
…It is a favourable sign that his tongue should be pronouncing the words of the Testimony. Said Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, ‘The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “Rehearse to your dying [the words] ‘There is no deity save God’.”’ And in a version related by Hudhayfa [the Prophet continued as follows], ‘For truly this effaces one’s previous sins’.*19

Said ‘Uthman, ‘The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “Whoever perishes knowing that there is no deity save God shall enter into Heaven”.’*A*20

Said ‘Ubayd Allah [in place of ‘knowing that there is no deity save God’]: ‘While uttering the Testimony’.

Said ‘Uthman, ‘When the dying man nears death you should repeat “there is no deity save God” to him, for no bondsman shall end his life therewith without it becoming his traveling provisions to Heaven.’

Said ‘Umar (may God be pleased with him), ‘Be present with your dying ones, and cause them to remember, for they see what you do not; and prompt them to say, “there is no deity save God”.’

Said Abu Hurayra, ‘I heard the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) say, “The Angel of Death once came to a dying man. Having looked into his heart and found nothing therein, he parted his beard and found the tip of his tongue adhering to his palate as he said, ‘There is no deity save God.’ For this utterance of pure single-heartedness he was forgiven his sins”.’*21

A: This Tradition is often cited in defence of the Ash’arite doctrine of justification by faith, and is typically accompanied by a word of qualification on the part of the theologians; for example al-Nawawi (quoting the Qadi ‘Iyad’s commentary on the Sahih of Muslim): ‘Even if such a man is not forgiven and is punished, he must ultimately be taken out of Hell and brought into Heaven’. (Nawawi, sharh, I. 219.) See also the last chapter of the present work.

Page 68:
…Said ‘A’isha (may God be pleased with her), ‘When the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) died, the people were thunderstruck, and a great wailing rose up, as the angels covered him with a garment of mine. The people differed amongst themselves: some denied his death, others were struck dumb and did not speak for a long while, whereas others became delirious and babbled without meaning. Others retained their reason, but there still others who were unable even to walk. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was among those who denied his death; ‘Ali was one of those unable to walk, while ‘Uthman was of those who had been struck dumb.

‘Then ‘Umar went out to the people and declared, “The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has not died! God (Great and Glorious is He!) shall most certainly bring him back. May the hands and feet be struck from those hypocrites who desire the Emissary of God’s death (may God bless him and grant him peace). For God (Great and Glorious is He!) has only taken him for a meeting, as He did for Moses, and he shall yet come to you.” And according to another account he said, “O people! Restrain your tongues from speaking [thus] of the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace), for truly he has not passed away. By God, I shall attack with this sword of mine anyone who says that the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has died!”

‘As for ‘Ali, he was unable to walk, and remained in the house. And as for ‘Uthman, he spoke to no-one, and would be taken by the hand and led here and there. There was no-one amongst the Muslims in a state comparable to that of Abu Bakr and al-‘Abbas, for God (Great and Glorious is He!) had succoured them both with guidance and good sense. The people paid attention to the speech of Abu Bakr alone until al-‘Abbas came and said, “By God, besides Whom is no other deity! The Emissary of God (may god bless him and grant him peace) has tasted death. While still among you he had declared, ‘You will die, and they will die. Then, on the Day of Arising before your Lord you will dispute’.”*28….

Page 80 & Pages 81-83:
‘Amr ibn Maymun said, ‘On the day that ‘Umar was struck down I was standing [ in prayer] behind him, there being only ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas between us. He walked between the rows, and, whenever he saw any irregularity, said, “Straighten out!” until at last he saw no further unevenness and went out in front, A saying “God is Most Great!” It was his custom to recite the chapter of Joseph, or The Bees, *B or some such text in the first rak’a so that the people had time to gather.

‘No sooner had he begun the prayer when I heard him say, “He has slain me!” or “The dog has bitten me!” when Abu Lu’lu’a stabbed him. The foreigner ran amok with a two-pointed dagger, stabbing all he passed on his left and his right until he had stabbed thirteen men, of whom nine died (seven, according to another account). Upon seeing this, one of the Muslims threw a cloak over him, and the foreigner, seeing that he was captured, took his own life.

‘‘Umar took hold of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf and put him in front. Those who were behind ‘Umar saw what I saw, but those who were at the back of the Mosque did not know what was the matter, only that the had lost ‘Umar’s voice. “Glory be to God!” *D they said, “Glory be to God!” ‘Abd al-Rahman led them in a brief prayer, and when they had left ‘Umar said, “O Ibn ‘Abbas! See who it is who has slain me.” He disappeared for a while, and then came back and announced, “The servant-boy of al-Mughira ibn Shu’ba.” “May God slay him!” said ‘Umar. “I had ordered that he be treated well.” Then he said, “God be praised for not making my death be at the hands of a Muslim. *A It was you and your father who wanted there to be many foreigners at Medina. Al-‘Abbas was the one who had the most of them, as slaves.” “If you wish, I will act,” said Ibn ‘Abbas, meaning, “If you wish, I will put them to death.” “After they have spoken your language, prayed in the direction you pray, and followed the rites of pilgrimage that you follow?” he asked.

‘He was then carried to his house, and we set of with him. It was as though the people had never been afflicted by any disaster before that day. One man said, “I am afraid for him,” while another said, “There is no danger.” Some grape juice *B was brought from which ‘Umar drank, but it came out from his belly; then they brought some milk, but when he drank this it too came out from his belly, and they knew that he would die.

‘We went in to visit him with the people, who lavished praises on him. A young man came forward and said, “Rejoice, O Commander of the Faithful, at good news from God (Great and Glorious is He!). Yours was companionship with the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) and such precedence in Islam as you have known. Then you were given to rule, and ruled with justice, until martyrdom came to you.” “I only hope that that will balance out,” he said, “and count neither for nor against me”. And when the speaker had turned to leave, his waist-wrapper [izar] was to be seen trailing along the ground. ‘Umar asked that he be brought back, and then said to him, “O my nephew! Raise up your garment somewhat, for that will make it last longer and shows more piety to your Lord.” *C Then he said, “O ‘Abd Allah! Look to my outstanding debts.” They calculated them, and found that they amounted to eighty-six thousand [dirhams], or thereabouts. “If the wealth of the family of ‘Umar will cover them,” he said, “then pay them from my walth. If not, then ask the tribe of ‘Adi ibn Ka’b. *A Should their wealth be insufficient, then ask among Quraysh. Do not go beyond them to anyone else, but pay back this money for me.

‘“Go to ‘Aisha, the Mother of the Believers, and say to her that ‘Umar sends her his salutations. Do not say, ‘Commander of the Faithful,’ for today I am no longer their commander. Say, ‘‘Umar ibn al-Khattab seeks leave to be buried beside his two companions’.”

‘And so ‘Abd Allah went, and gave his greetings, and asked leave to enter. When he entered he found her sitting down and weeping. “‘Umar ibn al-Khattab sends his greetings to you”, he said, “and seeks leave to be buried with his two companions”. “I had wanted to have that place for myself,” she said, “but today I will certainly put him first.”

‘When he returned, someone said, “Here is ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar, who has returned.” “Lift me up,” ‘Umar said, and a man supported his weight. “What news do you bring?” “That which you have longed for, O Commander of the Faithful! She has given her consent.” “God be praised!” he said. “Nothing was more important to me than that. Now when I have passed away, carry me thence, greet her, and say, ‘‘Umar seeks your leave to enter.’ If she grants it me, then take me in; and should she send me back, then take me on to the cemetery of the Muslims.”

‘At this, Hafsa, Mother of the Believers came, with the women veiling her. When we saw her we rose to our feet. She made her way over to ‘Umar’s house, where she wept awhile. Then she asked the men to let her enter, and she went inside, where we heard her weeping.

‘“Give us your final injunction, O Commander of the Faithful,” they said, “and appoint your successor!” “I see none with more right to this affair”, he said, “than those people with whom the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) was satisfied when he passed away.” And he named ‘Ali, ‘Uthman, al-Zubayr, Talha, Sa’d [ibn Abi Waqqas] and ‘Abd al-Rahman [ibn ‘Awf]. “Let ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar be a witness to this, although he shall have no share in rulership; it shall be a consolation for him. *A Should the government pass into the hands of Sa’d, then so be it; if not then let whomsoever is assigned it seek his aid, for I did not dismiss him on grounds of inadequacy or treachery. *B I enjoin the man who shall succeed me as Caliph to deal kindly with the First Emigrants, and to recognise their merit and to respect their inviolability. I enjoin him to deal kindly with the Helpers, who made ready the land and the faith before they came, *42 that the deeds of their good men should be accepted and their wrongdoers forgiven. And I enjoin him to deal kindly with the people of the garrison towns [al-amsar], for they are the buttress of Islam, the tax-gatherers, and the rage of the enemy; and that only what they hold in surfeit should be taken, and that with their consent. I enjoin him also to deal kindly with the nomads, for they are the root of the Arabs and the very stuff of Islam. Their surplus wealth should be taken from them and redistributed among their paupers. And I enjoin him, by the covenant of God (Great and Glorious is He!) and that of His Emissary (may God bless him and grant him peace), to respect their compact, to fight wars on their behalf, and to burden them only with that which they can sustain.”

‘When he passed away, we went out along with him and set off walking. ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar gave the greeting, and said, “‘Umar ibn al-Khattab asks leave to enter.” “Bring him in,” she said. And they brought him in, and laid him in a place there beside his two companions.’

It is reported that the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Gabriel (upon whom be peace) has told me that upon the death of ‘Umar all Islam shall weep’. *43

According to Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘‘Umar was set down on his bed, and the people crowded around him making supplications and prayers before he was lifted up. I myself was among them. No-one disturbed me until a man placed his hand on my shoulder. I turned, and there was ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) who asked God to show mercy to ‘Umar, and said [to him] “There is not a single man with whose works I should prefer to meet God than with yours. By God, I had already believed that God would set you with your two companions, for how often did I hear the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) say, “I went with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar,’ ‘I entered with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar,’ and ‘I went out with Abu Bakr and ‘Umar,’ so that I hoped, or suspected, that God would set you with them”.’

The Death of ‘Uthman
(may God be pleased with him)

The Tradition concerning his slaying is well-known. *A ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam said, ‘At the time of the siege of my brother ‘Uthman I went in to visit him. “Welcome, my brother!” he said. “This same night, in this alcove here (meaning an alcove in the house [where he slept]), I saw the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace). He said to me, ‘O ‘Uthman! They have laid siege to you!’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘They have made you thirsty,’ he said. ‘Yes,’ said I. And he drew me a pail of water, and I drank until my thirst was quenched, and I could feel its coolness between my breast and shoulders. ‘Should you so wish’, he said, ‘you will be given victory over them; or, if you prefer, you may break your fast with me.’ And I decided to break my fast with him.”

‘On that day he was killed, may God be pleased with him.’

‘Abd Allah ibn Salam once asked those who had been present at the death agonies suffered by ‘Uthman after he had been wounded, ‘What did ‘Uthman say while he was in his death throes?’ ‘Three times we heard him say,’ they replied, ‘“O Lord God! Unify the nation of Muhammad (may God bless him and grant him peace)!”’ And he said, ‘By Him in Whose hand lies my soul, had he prayed God never to allow them to unify, never would they do so again until the Day of Arising.’

Said Thumama ibn Hazn al-Qushayri: ‘I was watching the house from which ‘Uthman was looking out over them when he said, “Bring to me your two companions who called you out against me!” And they were brought as though they were a pair of camels or donkeys. ‘Uthman leaned out and said, “I adjure you both by God and Islam! Did you know that when the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) came to Medina there was no sweet water there save the well of Ruma. *A ‘Who will buy Ruma,’ he asked, ‘setting his own bucket along with those of the Muslims in exchange for something better than it in Heaven?’ And I purchased it with my own wealth. Are you going to bar me from drinking from it today, or even from any other well?” And they said, “Yes, by God!” “I adjure you by God and Islam!” he said [again]. “Did you know that I equipped the Army of Difficulty *B from my own wealth?” “Yes, by God,” they replied. “By God and Islam I adjure you!” he said. “Did you know that at one time the Mosque became too small for those who frequented it, and that God’s Emissary (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Who will buy the land of So-and-so’s family and add it to the Mosque in exchange for something better than it in Heaven?’ upon which I purchased it from my own wealth. Shall you today bar me from praying two rak’as therein?” “Yes, by God!” they said. “By God and Islam I adjure you! Did you know that the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) was once on [Mount] Thabir at Mecca in the company of Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and myself, when the mountain moved so that stones rolled down to the valley floor? He scuffed it with his foot, and said ‘Be still, Thabir, for there is no-one upon you save a Prophet, a Truthful One, and two martyrs!” “Yes, by God!” they replied. “God is Most Great!” he exclaimed. “They have testified to me, by the Lord of the Ka’ba, that I am to be a martyr!”’

It is related on the authority of a shaykh of Dabba*A that when ‘Uthman was struck down, and when the blood was flowing out onto his beard, he took to saying, ‘No deity is there but Thee! Glory be to Thee! Assuredly I have been among the wrongdoers. *44 O Lord God! I implore Thy protection against them, and ask for Thy support in all my affairs, and I ask Thee to grant me steadfastness in that with which Thou hast tried me.’Page 101:

…Whenever he stopped by a grave, ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (may God be pleased with him) used to weep until his beard became soaked. ‘How is it’, he was asked, ‘that you make mention of Heaven and Hell and do not weep, yet weep when you stop by a grave?’ And he replied, ‘I once heard the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) say, ‘The grave is the first stage of the Afterlife. Should the one who occupies it be delivered therefrom then what follows will be easier than it, but if he is not delivered therefrom then what follows is to be more sever”.’ *6

Page 164:
…Malik ibn Anas was seen [in a dream] and was asked, ‘How did God deal with you?’ ‘He forgave me’, he replied, ‘by virtue of a phrase which ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (may God be pleased with him) used to repeat whenever he saw a funeral: “Glory be to the Alive, Who perishes not!”‘

Page 215:
…In this wise, then, shall be the Intercession of God’s Emissary (may God bless him and grant him peace). But individuals from amongst his nation, including the Divines and the Righteous, shall be possessed of an Intercession also. For God’s Emissary (may God bless him and grant him peace) has said, ‘By virtue of the intercession of a man of my community a host greater than that of Rabi’a and Mudar shall enter into Heaven.’*A *27

A: The texts differ over the identity of this man. According to Ajurri (p. 351) he is the caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan; ibn Hanbal (Zuhd, 158) also mentions the possibility of this, but adds the name of Uways al-Qarani as an alternative. Rabi’a and Mudar were two numerous tribes.


Page 327:
Ajurri, Muhammad b. al-Husayn, al-. K. al-Shari’a. Partial ed. By M. H. al-Fiqi. Cairo, 1369/1950.
Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad b. Muhammad. al-Musnad. Cairo, 1313 AH.
—K. al-Zuhd. Beirut, 1403/1989.
—K. al-Wara’. Cairo, 1340 AH.