The Holy Quran and the Social Reality:
"Wherever You May Be, Death Will Catch up with You, Even if You Were in Fortified Towers..." (Quran 4:78)

آحمد صبحي منصور Ýí 2018-01-09



The Holy Quran and the Social Reality:

"Wherever You May Be, Death Will Catch up with You, Even if You Were in Fortified Towers..." (Quran 4:78)


Published in January 7, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


 Of course, the Holy Quran reflects realities of life; its language/tongue expresses social reality, as it is the Word of the Omniscient Lord God Who knows everything about human beings. Thus, what the Quran says about human beings comes true in real-life of people in all eras. You cannot help but to utter in awe the phrase (God says nothing but the Absolute Truth) when your read this verse: "Wherever you may be, death will catch up with you, even if you were in fortified towers..." (4:78).


  About the death of the Abbasid caliph Harun Al-Wathiq, son of the caliph Al-Motassim, in 232 A.H.

 One of the historians writes the following about this caliph: (... He was enthroned as a caliph in 227 A.H. ... and he died in the city of Samraa on Wednesday, 24th of Zu Al-Hijja, 232 A.H., at the age of 32, and the duration of his caliphate was 5 years, 7 months, and 5 days ...). This means he died in the prime of his youth.  

 Firstly: a Hanbali narrative about the cause of his death in the prime of his youth:

1- The Sunnite Hanbali fiqh scholars hated the caliph Harun Al-Wathiq because he put to death Ahmad Ibn Nasr Al-Khozaay, one of the most prominent Hanbali leaders/sheikhs who mingled with people in Baghdad as a preacher. This is why this narrative might be true or false.  

2- The Hanbali authors spread this narrative about the cause of the death of Al-Wathiq, and such a narrative is mentioned by Ibn Al-Jawzy, the Hanbali fiqh scholar and historian, in his many-volume, seminal history book titled "Al-Muntazim". 

3- Ibn Al-Jawzy writes the following: (... a funny story, narrated by a series of narrators, was circulated at the time about the cause of his death ... Al-Wathiq had an eye for women; he used to have sex many times on a daily basis, and one day, he summoned his personal doctor, Mikhail, who entered into the palace-court to stand before the caliph, who was lying on a divan while putting on the lower half of his body a soft, velvet cover. The caliph told Mikhail that he desired a medicine to enable him to have more strength for copulation, as recently, he was losing erections and could not have sex as often as he used to. Mikhail advised the caliph to take care of his health and not to lose the strength of his body by having sex excessively; otherwise, his body would be beset with ailments. The caliph would not listen, and he insisted on having any medicine, herb, or recipe to have more sex, and he removed the velvet covering, and Mikhail saw a female slave of rare beauty entwined between the naked thighs of the caliph, possibly fellating him! The caliph told Mikhail that he could not patiently wait to copulate with this excessively pretty maid. Feeling stunned, Mikhail prescribed a recipe that would serve the purpose of the caliph: a pound of lion's meat to be cooked seven times in the vinegar of vintage wine, and then be divided into three pieces to be consumed with wine for three consecutive nights, and this would grant the caliph more durable sexual prowess. Yet, Mikhail advised the caliph not to consume too much of this recipe. Days later, the caliph ordered the cooks to slay one of the lions in the menagerie of the palace to prepare its meat as per the recipe of Mikhail, and he consumed it as shish kebab with wine every night. Days later, the caliph fell ill with ascites, as his abdomen was filled up with fluids. Doctors examined the caliph and agreed on one remedy: his body must be placed on olive firewood put on red-hot coal, so that fluids would leave his swollen body. For several days, the caliph would stay in this furnace for three consecutive hours so that fluids and water leave his body through urine, and he would remain in severe pain for the rest of the day. What caused a relapse each day was his drinking wine and water! Doctors had to appoint some attendants to prevent the caliph from drinking wine and water so as not to suffer a swollen abdomen again, and he kept screaming in pain at times for ascites and at times because of the very hot olive firewood. On the last day of his life, the caliph kept screaming like a bull, and huge swollen areas as big as watermelons appeared in his abdomen, and his women and attendants put him once more in the furnace of hot olive firewood until the swollen areas subsided, but his body got a dark color as black as coal, and an hour later, he died ...).

 Secondly: historians mention the following about this caliph when he was on the verge of death:

1- Within the last hours of his life, this caliph kept repeating these lines of poetry:

All human creatures are mortals who are bound to die

Death spares no one among commoners or kings

Death inescapably visits the penniless and the rich

Neither poverty nor wealth can ward off death

2- Within the last hours of his life, this caliph commanded his attendants to remove the carpets of his palace, and with difficulty, he stuck one of his cheeks on the bare ground, while repeating this phrase: (O Eternal King whose Kingdom never ends! Have mercy on  the soul of the one who has lost his kingdom!).

3- Ibn Al-Jawzy writes that the governor of Basra at the time, Ahmad Ibn Mohamed Al-Wathiqi, had said the following: (... I was of those who took care of Al-Wathiq during his last ailment before his death, and while standing on a vigil by his death-bed within a large group of courtiers, retinue members, and attendants, the caliph fainted suddenly, and all of us feared that he may have died, but no one dared to approach him so as not to preach the Abbasid protocol of keeping certain distances from the caliph as per ranks. Of course, this protocol designed to protect caliphs against assassination, yet not against death that is decreed on all mortals, and rulers are no exception to that. Eventually, I approached him and put my hand under his nose to check if he is still breathing or not. Once the caliph opened his eyes, I was too much afraid to be punished for getting too much near him, overstepping my rank, and I retraced my steps back in horror so hurriedly, and I was about to stumble on the staircase and fall into my sword, which I wore unsheathed into my belt. My sword that luckily did not injure my body was broken, and I had to replace it with another one speedily and stood again in my former place, as per my rank, in the vigil at the bed of the ill caliph. An hour later, the still body of the caliph Al-Wathiq made everyone present feel sure he was stone-dead; I approached him and pulled his beard to check that he truly died this time and did not faint. I closed his eyes and made his body lie stretched in the direction of the Qibla in Mecca. The servants and attendants took off the richly embroidered robes of the caliph and his ornaments, crown, and jewels to return them to the Treasury, as they were custodians of such precious items. All people went away, leaving the corpse of the caliph alone, except myself, as the judge Ibn Abu Dawood told me to keep vigil by the side of the corpse as the others would accompany him to hold the ceremony of swearing fealty to the new caliph. This judge chose me in particular because the caliph used to prefer me above all the rest of the courtiers and he granted me my title "Al-Wathiqi", drawn from his own title, as I was his nearest friend, when he appointed me as the governor of Basra. I felt so sad because the caliph died, and as sorrow overpowered me, I readily agreed to keep the vigil beside his corpse all day long. I remained seated in my chair, and the internal gates of the palace-court were opened to allow daylight and air. The court-palace overlooked a lush, verdant garden that contained all types of trees and flowers. I inadvertently slept for few minutes, but I woke up in fright as I heard the sound of squeaking and I felt a strange movement in the palace-court. To my amazement, a rat came from the garden and cut off one eye of the corpse of the caliph and ate it! I said to myself: "There is no God but Allah! Is this the fate of the eye that hours ago gave me the worst fright of my life and cost me a sword that broke!". An hour later, the undertakers came to wash the corpse and prepare it for burial, and the judge Ibn Abou Dawood asked me about the missing eye of the corpse of the caliph, and I told him about what I saw ...).


 When would the tyrannical Pharaohs of today take heed of death and be warned by it?!  

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