Martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad: An example of forbearance and forgiveness

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, died as a martyr for Islam, whose death has left us with an excellent example of grace and clemency. As reported by Anas ibn Malik:

أَنَّ يَهُودِيَّةً أَتَتْ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِشَاةٍ مَسْمُومَةٍ فَأَكَلَ مِنْهَا فَجِيءَ بِهَا فَقِيلَ أَلَا نَقْتُلُهَا قَالَ لَا فَمَا زِلْتُ أَعْرِفُهَا فِي لَهَوَاتِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

A Jewish woman came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, with a poisoned sheep and he ate from it. She was brought to him and it was said: Should we kill her? The Prophet said no. I continued to see the effects of the poison upon the Messenger of Allah.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2190, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

It is was because of his suffering the poison of his enemy that Abdulah ibn Mas’ud considered the Prophet to have died as a martyr. He said:

لَأَنْ أَحْلِفَ بِاللَّهِ تِسْعًا إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قُتِلَ قَتْلًا أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِنْ أَنْ أَحْلِفَ وَاحِدَةً وَذَلِك بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ اتَّخَذَهُ نَبِيًّا وَجَعَلَهُ شَهِيدًا

If I were to swear by Allah nine times that, indeed, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, has been killed, that would be more beloved to me than swearing only once, because Allah the Exalted took His Prophet and made him into a martyr.

Source: Musnad Ahmad 3606, Grade: Sahih

Despite being betrayed by the outward goodwill of the Jewish woman, the Prophet did not use this as an example of Allah’s justice, but rather His mercy. He pardoned the woman, as is his right under Islamic law. This is in keeping with his teachings on being merciful toward the creation.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

الرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمْ الرَّحْمَنُ ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ

Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to the people of the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1924, Grade: Sahih

Not only did the Prophet preach it, he practiced it.

Anas ibn Malik reported:

مَا رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رُفِعَ إِلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ فِيهِ قِصَاصٌ إِلَّا أَمَرَ فِيهِ بِالْعَفْوِ

I never saw a case involving legal retaliation being referred to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, except that he would command pardoning the criminal.

Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4497, Grade: Sahih

Although the Prophet’s sickness that led to his death was instigated by a Jewish person, this nonetheless was not a cause for the Prophet’s hostility toward the Jewish people at large. The Prophet continued to maintain amicable business relations with Jews after this incident and until his death.

Aisha reported:

 تُوُفِّيَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَدِرْعُهُ مَرْهُونَةٌ عِنْدَ يَهُودِيٍّ بِثَلَاثِينَ صَاعًا مِنْ شَعِيرٍ

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, passed away while his armor was mortgaged to a Jew for thirty units of barley.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 2759, Grade: Sahih

This tradition of magnanimous behavior toward the Jewish community was carried on by his companions.

Mujahid reported: I was with Abdullah ibn Amr while his servant was skinning a sheep. He said, “O boy, when you finish up, then start with the Jewish neighbor.” A man there exclaimed, “Jewish? May Allah correct you!” He replied:

إِنِّي سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُوصِي بِالْجَارِ حَتَّى خَشِينَا أَوْ رُئِينَا أَنَّهُ سَيُوَرِّثُهُ

I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, recommending that we treat our neighbors well until we thought that he would order us to make them our heirs.

Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 128, Grade: Hasan

Such a beautiful example is highlighted by Allah when He said:

لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and who remembers Allah often.

Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21

May Allah help us follow such a tremendous example.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.