Our Majestic Prophet
A Place to Meet the Beloved
Mawlana Abu al-Hasan Attari Madani
اَنَا فَرَطُكُمْ عَلَى الحَوْضِ .44 - “I am your forerunner at the Fountain ˹of Kawthar˺.”
اَنَا شَهِيدٌ عَلَيْكُمْ .45 - “I am a witness over you.”
Several narrations affirm that these blessed statements of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم were uttered not once, but on many occasions.
In a lengthy narration, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم performed such a salah over the martyrs of Uhud after eight years, it seemed as though he was to depart from the living and deceased. He then ascended the pulpit and declared, “I am your forerunner and a witness over you, and the place of your promise is the Fountain. I am observing it from this very place of mine, and I do not fear that you will commit polytheism after me. However, I fear about the world for you in that you may incline towards it.”
The honourable Companions understood from this statement that the passing away of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was imminent. Sayyidunā ʿUqba b. ʿĀmir, the narrator of this hadith, said:
فَكَانَتْ آخِرَ نَظْرَةٍ نَظَرْتُهَا اِلٰى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
“The last time I beheld the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was when he said this.”
These narrations mention two blessed attributes of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم :
1. Faraṭ (فَرَط)
2. Shahīd (شَهِيدٌ)
Faraṭ is a descriptive noun (ṣifa mushabbaha) derived from the stem frṭ[i1], which has the senses of “someone who precedes”, “guide” and “forerunner.” In common usage, faraṭ referred to the scout who went ahead of an army or caravan in search of water and accommodation.
To understand the meaning and connotation of faraṭ more clearly, consider these two narrations and their explanation:
The pre-pubescent children of the Muslims who pass away have also been referred to as faraṭ for their parents, just as the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated:
مَنْ كَانَ لَهٗ فَرَطَانِ مِنْ اُمَّتِي اَدْخَلَهُ اللَّهُ بِهِمَا الجَنَّةَ
“The person from my Ummah who has two faraṭ (children who passed away as pre-pubescents), Allah will admit him into paradise due to them.”
Sayyidatunā ʿĀʾisha al-Ṣiddīqa رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا asked: “What about the person who has one son that preceded him?” to which the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied, “Even that one child will welcome him”. She then asked, “What about the person who does not have any child to welcome him?” He answered:
فَاَنَا فَرَطُ اُمَّتِي لَنْ يُّصَابُوا بِمِثْلِي
“I am a forerunner (faraṭ) for my Ummah. They will not find another like me.”
Now observe a hadith regarding the Prophets being forerunners for their respective nations:
اِنَّ اللهَ عَزَّوَجَلَّ اِذَا اَرَادَ رَحْمَةَ اُمَّةٍ مِنْ عِبَادِهٖ قَبَضَ نَبِيَّهَا قَبْلَهَا فَجَعَلَهٗ لَهَا فَرَطًا وَسَلَفًا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهَا وَاِذَا اَرَادَ هَلَكَةَ اُمَّةٍ عَذَّبَهَا وَنَبِيُّهَا حَيٌّ
“When Allah Almighty wills mercy for an Ummah of His servants, He causes their Prophet to pass away prior to them and makes him a forerunner for them. And when He wills to destroy a nation, He punishes them in the lifetime of their Prophet.”
Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Naimi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه forwards a wonderful explanation of faraṭ and the related hadith in Mirāt al-Manājīḥ:
Faraṭ is an individual who precedes a group to a destination and makes arrangements for their food, accommodation, and all other needs. As a result, the arriving group has ease and comfort. So the meaning ˹of the hadith˺ is, “I am going before you in order to intercede, ensure your salvation and be a guardian for you. Whoever from you dies on faith will come to me in my protection and arrangement the way a traveller returns to his vast home.”
A believer reaches the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم as soon as he passes away. In fact, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم even arrives to take some believers at the time of their death, as was the case with Imam Bukhārī. Many who are passing away have been heard saying that the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has arrived.
It should also be noted that small deceased children have been referred to as faraṭ, but they are partial forerunners whereas the Prophet is the perfect, complete forerunner. Furthermore, the hadith is addressed to the entire Ummah, not just the Companions, as the Prophet (Aabic) is a perpetual arranger for his Ummah. When a Muslim dies, he is neither helpless nor does he go to an unfamiliar place. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم , who is his helper and receiver, is already there to welcome him into his shade of mercy. He (the Muslim) then enters a full home.”
This hadith reveals many striking truths:
* The Prophet’s foretelling his departure from the world.
* Seeing the Companions becoming saddened by news of his departure, which led to him explaining the reason behind it.
* Stating that he will be a witness upon the state of the Ummah despite his demise.
* Gesturing he will be in close proximity, despite having passed away.
* Being cognizant of the affairs of the believers and watchful over them.
* Mentioning how we shall meet him at the Fountain, how he will be waiting for us and arranging all our affairs
* Mentioning the existence of the fount of Kawthar, and observing it
* Explaining his authority and sovereignty over treasures granted to him by Allah.
Remain on the lookout for the next monthly magazine to learn more about these subjects.