Two months after performing his Hajj (Farewell Pilgrimage) Prophet Muhammad fell ill. He continued to lead the congregation prayers. After one of these prayers he addressed Muslims by saying:
“There is a slave among the slaves of Allah to whom God has offered the choice between this world and that which Allah Has prepared for him (i.e. in the Hereafter), and the slave has chosen that which Allah Has prepared for him.”
Upon hearing this Abu Bakr wept as he understood that the Prophet was talking about himself and that the choice meant his imminent death. The Prophet continued:
“I urge you O Muslims to be good to the Ansar (the Supporters, i.e., those residents of Madinah who helped the Emigrants from Makkah). They have performed their duty well.
Soon after this, the Prophet became so weak that he could not move. He then appointed Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. The Prophet spent the rest of his illness period in the house of his beloved wife ^A’ishah. On the early morning of twelfth of Rabi^ al-Awwal, the Prophet’s fever subsided and he went to the Mosque, assisted by two men when Abu Bakr was already prepared to lead the Muslims in the prayer. Realizing that the Prophet was approaching, Abu Bakr stepped back. The Prophet instructed him to stay where he was, sat by his side and prayed while seated. Abu Bakr followed the Prophet in the prayer and the Muslims followed Abu Bakr. The apparent recovery of the Prophet overjoyed the Muslims. Anas was reported to have said that I never saw the Prophet’s face more beautiful than it was at that hour.
Within hours, the Prophet lost his consciousness after which he died on the twelfth of Rabi^ al-Awwal at the age of sixty-three.
The news of the Prophet’s death was so hard upon Muslims especially the close companions to an extent that some of them could not believe that he had passed away. Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr who was later to become the first caliph went to the Mosque and delivered one of the noblest speeches in which he said:
“O People! If you worship Muhammad, then know that he is dead. But if you worship Allah, then know that Allah does not die.”
The Prophet was buried at the same place where he died.
The Prophet’s actions and words were remembered and later recorded (known as Hadith), so that Muslims in future generations until the end of life on earth could try to act and speak as he did. He has served as the best example for all Muslims in all eras to modern times. He will remain the best model example for all of humanity.