It was an amazing event related to the people of Sayyiduna Hizqeel (عَلیہِ السلاَم) that contains several moral lessons and words of advice. This event is mentioned in the second chapter of the Holy Quran, ‘Surah Al-Baqarah’.
Who was Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم ?
He عَلیہِ السلاَم was the third deputy of Sayyiduna Musa عَلیہِ السلاَم and was bestowed with the dignified rank of the Prophethood. After the demise of Sayyiduna Musa عَلیہِ السلاَم, Sayyiduna Yoosha’ Bin Noon عَلیہِ السلاَم became his first deputy and Allah عزوجل blessed him with the Prophethood. After him, Sayyiduna Kaalib Bin Yuhana عَلیہِ السلاَم was the second deputy and he عَلیہِ السلاَم was also blessed with the rank of Prophethood. After him, Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم became the deputy as well as a Prophet! Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم was also known as ‘Ibn-ul-‘Ajooz’, meaning ‘the son of an old woman’ and was also known as Zul-Kifl.
The reason behind being called Ibn-ul-‘Ajooz (the son of an old woman) was that he عَلیہِ السلاَم was born at the time when his mother was very old. And the reason behind being called Zul-Kifl is that he عَلیہِ السلاَم took seventy such Prophets under his protection and saved them from being killed when the Jews were going to commit a massacre. Later on, he عَلیہِ السلاَم too was saved from the attack of Jews by the mercy of Allah عزوجل and remained alive for years and continued guiding his people. (Tafseer As-Saawi, vol. 1, pp. 206; part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 243)
The event of the resurrection of the dead
It has been reported that a tribe of the Bani Israel used to live in the city of Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم. These people were struck with the fear of death due to the spread of plague in the city. All these people left the city and went to the jungle and settled there. Allah عزوجل disliked this act very much. Therefore, Allah عزوجل sent an angel to the jungle who hid himself in a mountain. With a loud shriek, he said:) موتوا ) i.e. ‘all of you die’. After listening to this frightening scream, they all died at once without any disease. They were seventy thousand in number. These dead people were so large in number that no arrangements for their burial could be made. Their dead bodies remained lying in the open field for eight days due to which, their bodies started to rot and a terrible smell spread not only within the jungle but in the surroundings as well. Some people felt pity for the dead corpses and erected a wall around them to protect the bodies from wild beasts.
After a few days, Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم passed by the jungle and saw the dead bodies. Upon seeing the death of seventy thousand people and seeing them without any burial he عَلیہِ السلاَم felt a lot of sorrow. He عَلیہِ السلاَم became tearful and supplicated to Allah عزوجل with a sorrowful heart: ‘O Allah (عزوجل)! These were my people who made the mistake to flee from the city to the jungle due to the fear of death. These were all inhabitants of my city whom I have deep love for. They were with me in my good and bad times. Alas, all my people destroyed and I am left all alone. O Allah (عزوجل)! These were the people who used to proclaim Your praise and would testify Your oneness.’
Whilst making this supplication with full of humbleness, it was revealed upon him: ‘O Hizqeel, say to these scattered bones that: O bones! Allah (عزوجل) commands that you be assembled.’ When Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم said this, a movement took place amongst the bones and every person’s bones gathered and formed skeletons. Then it was revealed that: ‘O Hizqeel, say that O bones! It is an order of Allah (عزوجل) for you to wear flesh.’ As soon as they heard this, flesh developed on their skeletons. Then the third time, it was revealed that: ‘O Hizqeel, say that: O resurrected ones! All of you stand up by the command of Allah عزوجل.’ As soon as Sayyiduna Hizqeel عَلیہِ السلاَم said these words, seventy thousand dead bodies stood up in an instant reciting (سُبحَانَکَ اللہُمَّ وَبِحَمدِکَ لَااِلٰہَ اِلَّااَنتَ)!
Then all of them went back to their city leaving the jungle and lived their lives for the duration destined for them. However, there were still significant signs of death apparent that their children would smell of rotten corpses and any clothes they would wear turned into shroud. Their clothes would get dirty the way the shrouds get dirty in the grave. These signs are still apparent today in the Jews belonging to that lineage. (Tafseer Ruh-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, pp. 378; part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 243)
Allah عزوجل has mentioned this miraculous and marvellous event in Surah Al-Baqarah in the following words:
(O Beloved Prophet Muhammad) did you not see those who went out of their homes in their thousands, fearing death? So Allah said to them, ‘Die’; He then brought them back to life; indeed Allah is Most Munificent towards mankind, but most men are ungrateful. [Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 243)
Moral: We learn the following Madani pearls of wisdom from this wonderful event:
- A man cannot get rid of death by running away. So any attempt to escape from death is futile. The death that Allah عزوجل has destined for someone will surely strike him at its appointed time. It will not come a second sooner or later. Therefore, it is obligatory upon the bondsmen of Allah to remain patient and grateful to Allah عزوجل. No matter how many diseases break out or even if one is confronting severe fighting in the battle, he should not become impatient and restless. One should bear the firm belief that nobody can kill him and he cannot die prior to the destined time. And when the instant of death arrives, no matter what efforts he make, whether he escapes somewhere or run away somewhere, he cannot prevent the oncoming death in any way.
- In this verse of the Holy Quran, there is a special message for the Mujahidin (Islamic soldiers) that either avoiding Jihad or attempting to escape from the battlefield, will not let them rid of death. Therefore, a soldier should remain steadfast with patience and determination in the battlefield and should have stern belief that neither he can die before the appointed hour, nor anyone can kill him before that. Soldiers bearing such belief become so brave that they can never be scared. They will never shake in their steadfastness. It is due to this passion and belief fortified by Islam that the Islamic soldiers fought furiously and stood like mountains against thousands of unbelievers!
They were blessed with victory, great reward, dignity and the booty of war at the end of their efforts. They would return home without even having a scratch on their bodies and would wipe off the signs of the unbelievers. Dr. Iqbal, the Poet of East, has described the valour of an Islamic soldier in his poetry as:
Tal na saktay thay ager jang mayn ar jatay thay
Paoon shayron kay bhi maydan say ukhar jatay thay
Haq say sarkash huwa koi to bigar jatay thay
Teegh kya cheez hay? Ham taup say lar jatay thay
Naqsh tawheed ka har dil pay bithaya ham nay
Zayr-e-khanjar bhi yeh paygham sunaya ham nay
(Kulliyat-e-Iqbal, Bang-e-Dara, pp. 164)
It is reported that when plague spread in Syria, the king of Banu Umayyah, ‘Abdul Malik Bin Marwaan fled from the city with his army and servants out of fear of death. He was so afraid that he would not even place foot on the ground and would sleep on the back of the horse. One night when he could not go to sleep, he asked his servant to tell him some story. The wise servant thought it was a good time to preach the king, so he narrated the following story:
A fox used to live in the company of a lion, for the security and protection of her life. Due to the fear of the lion, no animal could even look at the fox. The fox was living a very peaceful and fearless life with the lion. One day, all of a sudden, an eagle attacked the fox and the fox ran to the lion. The lion got the fox to sit on his back. The eagle attacked again and flew away grabbing it in its claws. The fox called out to the lion. The lion replied, ‘O fox! I can protect you against the beasts of the earth, but I cannot save you from the aerial enemy.’
Listening to this story, the king learnt lesson. He understood that his army can protect him from the enemies on the earth, but the afflictions that descend from the sky cannot be prevented neither by his kingship, nor by his wealth or army. And only Allah عزوجل can save him from the afflictions descending from the sky. So his heart became fearless of plague. He then resumed peaceful life in his palace. (Tafseer Ruh-ul-Bayan, vol. 1, pp. 378; part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 244)