[Excerpts, with occasional modest edits, from The Real Muḥammad: In the Eyes of Ibn Isḥāq, copyright 2013, TEI Publishing House. All quotations from the Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (“Life of the Messenger of Allāh”) are from the translation by Alfred Guillaume (Oxford University Press), copyright 1955. These stories are faithfully passed along from the most ancient, extant and authoritative biography of Muḥammad. All Muslims are called to imitate Muḥammad in their daily lives, and Muslim scholars know that Ibn Isḥāq is the best source for the historical Muḥammad, despite concern for various hon-historical material. The question is this: Can Muḥammad satisfy the Muslim thirst for freedom? How many people, of their own volition, would follow Muḥammad if they were free to choose otherwise? The same question is freely received by Muslims who would question Christians who follow Jesus as the Son of God]

Life of Muḥammad: Fever and the Requirements of Prayer

John C. Rankin

Ibn Isḥāq reports:

“Hishām b. ‘Urwa and  ‘Umar b. ‘Abdullah b. ‘Urwa From ‘Urwa b. al-Zubayr from Usāma told me that ‘Ā’isha said: When his apostle came to Medina it was the most fever-infested land on earth, and his companions suffered severely from it, though God [Allāh] kept it from His apostle.” “[T]hey were delirious and out of their minds with a high temperature. He [Muḥammad] said, ‘O God [Allāh], make Medina as dear to us as Mecca and even dearer! And bless to us its food, and carry its fever to Mahya‘a.’ ” Muḥammad’s prayers for a blessing and alleviation from the fever turns into a curse. Mahya‘a (also known as al-Juḥfa), notes Guillaume, “was the rendezvous of the Egyptians and Syrians if they wished to avoid Medina.”

The companions can only pray while sitting due to the lack of strength, which is also to note that despite their illness and high temperatures, the daily five prayers are still mandatory. “The apostle came out to them when they were praying thus and said: ‘Know that the prayer of the sitter is only half as valuable as the prayer of the stander.’ Thereupon the Muslims painfully struggled to their feet despite their weakness and sickness, seeking a blessing.” Thus, a definition of prayer as work in order gain a blessing is in place in Muḥammad’s dictum, where standing is more valuable than sitting.

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