When the army at Jorf was apprised of the news, it broke up at once and returned to Medina. With the withdrawal of the guiding hand their battle enthusiasm became as nought, and they could only join the waiting ranks of the Citizens—a crowd that would now be driven whither its masters saw fit.
The Faithful assembled round the mosque to question the future of themselves and their rulers. Abu Bekr addressed them at once, and it was soon evident that he had them well in hand. He was supported by Omar and the chief leaders, except Ali, who maintained a jealous attitude, chiefly due to the feelings of envy aroused in the mind of Fatima, his wife, at the sight of Ayesha’s privileges. At last, when Abu Bekr had told the circumstances of the Prophet’s death, tenderly and with that loving reverence which characterised him, the Faithful were attuned to the acceptance of this man as their Prophet’s successor. The chief men, followed by the rank and file, swore fealty to him, and covenanted to maintain intact and precious the Faith bequeathed them by their leader, who had been also their guide and fellow-worshipper of Allah.
There remained only the last dignity of burial. The Prophet’s body was washed and prepared for the grave. Around it was wrapped white linen and an outer covering of striped Yemen stuff. Abu Bekr and Omar performed these simple services for their Prophet, and then a grave was dug for him in Ayesha’s house, and a partition made between the grave and the antechamber. It was dug vaulted fashion, and the body deposited there upon the evening of the day of death. The people were permitted to visit it, and after the long procession had looked their last upon their Prophet, Abu Bekr and Omar delivered speeches to the assembled multitude, urging them to remain faithful to their religion, and to hold before them continually the example of the Prophet, who even now was received into the Paradise he had described so ardently and loved with such enshrining desire.
Thus the Prophet of Islam, religious and political leader, director of armies, lover of women, austere, devout, passionate, cunning, lay as he would have wished in the simplicity of that communal life, in the midst of his followers, near the sacred temple of his own devising. He had lived close to his disciples, had appeared to them a man among men, indued only with the divine authority of his religious enthusiasm; now he rested among them as one of themselves, and none but felt the inspiration of his energy inform their activities after him, though the manifestation thereof confined itself to the violence necessary to maintain the Prophet’s domain secure from its earthly enemies.
Mahomet, indeed, in his mortal likeness rested in the quiet of Ayesha’s chamber, but his spirit still led his followers to prayer and conquest, still stood at the head of his armies, urging to victory and plunder, so that they might find in the flaunting banners of Islam the fulfilment of their lusts and aspirations, their worldly triumphs and the glories of their heavenly vision.