A short time after returning from the "Farewell Pilgrimage", the Holy Prophet fell sick. The poison which a Jewess had given to him at Khyber had slowly penetrated into his system, and began to show its effects. The Holy Prophet felt that having fulfilled his mission his earthly life was to end and he was to meet his Master.
One night the Holy Prophet went to the graveyard and there prayed for the souls of his companions who had fallen at the battle of Uhud. Then he returned to the apartment of his wife Maimuna. The fever became violent. The Holy Prophet assembled all his wives and told them that on account of his sickness it would not be possible for him to visit each wife in turn. He wanted their permission to stay in the apartment of Ayesha till he recovered. All the wives gave their consent, and the Holy Prophet supported by Ali and Abbas moved to the apartment of Ayesha.
A day later there was some relief and the Holy Prophet took a bath. Refreshed by the bath the Holy Prophet went to the Mosque to offer thc noonday prayer. After the prayer had concluded, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit and addressed the people:
"There is a servant whose Lord has given him 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 for ever among those to whom he was sent so that I would live for ever among you? Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go sooner or later."
After the address the Holy Prophet retired to the quarter of Ayesha. His condition did not improve The night following the seventh June 632 A D. lay heavy upon him. He was overheard praying constantly to Allah for his blessings The morning of the eighth June brought some relief. Fever and pain abated to some extent. Moving the curtain of his apartment the Holy Prophet saw the Muslims praying in the Mosque. The Holy Prophet supported by Ali walked to the Mosque. After the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit and addressed his followers thus:
"By the Lord! As for myself, I have not made lawful anything excepting that which God has declared lawful; nor have I prohibited aught but that which God has forbidden."
Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha. The condition of the Holy Prophet grew worse, and within a few hours he passed away.
The faithful had assembled in the Mosque. They sat in groups here and there. There was an air of uneasiness in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet was dead, There were suppressed sobs and sighs, Many persons were weeping, What would happen to the Muslims when the Great Prophet was to be no longer in their midst was the thought that disturbed everyone.
All eyes were turned to the quarter of Ayesha. The faithful had the fond hope that the door of the chamber would open any moment and the Holy Prophet would emerge with his face radiating divine light.
In the courtyard of the Mosque. Umar moved among the people saying:
"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."
The door of the chamber of Ayesha opened and a thin frail old man walking stoopingly moved towards the courtyard of the Mosque. He had the look of a patriarch. He was Abu Bakr. As he stood among the people, his furrowed face and tear stained eyes betrayed the grief within him. In measured words 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 for ever."
A hushed silence fell on the gathering. They were stunned with the shock. Abu Bakr wiped the tears from his eyes and turning to the people recited the following verses from the Holy Quran:
"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."
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 said:
"By God when I heard Abu Bakr recite these words I was dumb founded so that my legs would not bear me, and I fell to the ground knowing that the Holy Prophet was indeed dead."