Laylat al-Mabīt

Laylat al-Mabīt

Laylat al-Mabīt (Arabic: لیلة المبیت) is the title of the night on which Imam Alī (a) slept in the bed of the Prophet (s) because Polytheists of Quraysh had plotted to assassinate him.

The Prophet (s) emigrated from Mecca to Medina in the night and Imam Alī (a) slept in his bed, so the assassins would not notice his absence.

The verse of the Quran 2:207 is revealed about the sacrifice of Alī (a) for saving the life of the Prophet (s).

Plan of Assassination of the Prophet (s)

After the demise of Abu Tālib, Quraysh polytheists intensified the harassment of Muslims. As the life of Muslims was in danger, the Prophet (s) ordered Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib:

The Prophet (s) had recently made an allegiance with the people of Yathrib, so the Muslims were safe there. The Muslims started to emigrate to Yathrib covertly in small groups.1

Chiefs of Quraysh gathered in Dar al-Nadwa to decide about their encounter with the Prophet (s);

at last, with the plot of Abu Jahl, it was decided that selected brave men from every tribe attack the Prophet (s) together and assassinate him at his home, so all the tribes have a part in the assassination of the Prophet (s)

so Banu Hāshim, who were his family and his avengers, could not fight all the tribes and have to accept the blood money.2

Information of the Prophet (s)

After the decision of Quraysh to assassinate the Prophet (s), Jibrā’īl (Gabriel) informed the Prophet (s) about the plan and revealed the verse of Quran 8:30:

"When the faithless plotted against you to take you captive, or to kill or expel you. They plotted and Allah devised, and Allah is the best of devisers",

- so the Prophet (s) decided to emigrate to Yathrib.3

While he was leaving, he recited:

"And We have put a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, then We have blind-folded them, so they do not see" /Quran 36:9/,

- so the polytheists could not see him.4

Emigration to Yathrib

On the night of Rabī' al-Awwal 1, the Prophet (s) told Alī (a):

"the angel descended to me and informed me that Quraysh polytheists are united to kill me, and he recommended me from my God to emigrate from my tribe, and go to the Jabal Thawr cave tonight,

and he ordered me to order you to sleep in my bed so my trace will become hidden by that; so what do you say and what will you do?",

so Alī (a) said: "will you be safe by my sleeping there?",

the Prophet (s) said: "yes",

so Alī (a) smiled and bowed down to perform al-Sajda al-shukr out of happiness, then said:

"Go as you are ordered, may my ears, eyes, and my very heart be sacrificed for you, order me as you wish, I am like your assistant,

- I will do it as you want, and my success is only by Allah."5

the Prophet (s) said:

"sleep in my bed, and put on my clothes,

and I inform you that Allah tests his friends according to their faith and their rank in His religion, so the most hardly tested people are the prophets, then their successors, etc.,

so He is testing you and is testing me with you, like He tested His friend Ibrahim (a), and Ismā’īl (a) (when Ibrahim was commanded to slaughter Ismā’īl),

so be patient, be patient, for indeed Allah's mercy is close to the virtuous'"

- then embraced Alī (a) and both cried, then they separated.6

The polytheists, besieged the house of the Prophet (s) from the beginning of the night and they were expecting the midnight to attack, but Abu Lahab said:

"Some women and children are in the house and maybe they become harmed and later this will be a shame for us between 'Arabs"

(So they postponed the attack to the sunrise.)7

Alī (a) slept in the bed of the Prophet (s),

the polytheists were throwing little stones to him to ensure that someone is sleeping in the bed, and they were certain that he is the Prophet (s).8

In the morning when they attacked the house with drawn swords, they saw Alī (a) in the bed of the Prophet (s) and said:

"Where is Muhammad?"

Alī (a) said:

"Were you entrusted him to me that you are asking me about him? Were not you saying that you will expel him from your land?"

They attacked Alī (a) and beat him saying:

"You have been tricking us for the night!"

Then they started to search for the Prophet (s).9

There is also another report:

when the sun started to rise they feared to be exposed by the morning so they attacked, at the time the houses in Mecca did not have doors and only curtains were used,

when Alī (a) saw them coming to him with drawn swords, and Khalid b. al-Walid is leading them, Alī (a) jumped to him, took his sword and broke his hand, so Khalid started to jump up and down and yelling like a camel,

the others were still on the stairs when Alī (a) went to them with the sword, they fled like a herd of sheep and went to the roof, and suddenly they discovered that this is Alī.

"Are you Alī?" they asked.

"I am Alī" he replied.

They said: "We do not intend you, where is Muhammad?".

"I do not know", Alī (a) said.

So they got on their horses and camels and went after the Prophet (s).10

Revelation of a Verse about Alī (a)

As Shi'a11 and Sunni12 scholars have narrated, the verse of Quran 2: 207, also known as  Al-Shira Verse, is revealed about the night and the sacrifice of Alī (a) for the Prophet (s).

"And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants". /Quran 2:207/

Blessing of Angels on Alī

The Prophet (s) said:

"Allah told Jibrā’īl and Mika’īl:

'I have made you two brothers and made the life of one of you shorter than the other, which one of you would prefer his brother (to live longer)?'

- both of them disliked the death, then Allah told them:

Are not you like My friend, Alī b. Abi Tālib?

I made him brother with My Prophet and he preferred him to live then slept in his bed sacrificing his life for him.

- Both of you descend to the earth and protect him from his enemies'.

Then Jibrā’īl descended to top of his head and Mika’īl descended to his feet, and Jibrā’īl said:

'Good for someone like you, O the son of Abu Tālib, that Allah is proud of you in front of the Angels.'"13

  • 1. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-Nabawiyyah, vol.1, p.480.
  • 2. Tabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā, p.88.
  • 3. Ḥalabī, al-Sīra al-Ḥalabīyya, vol. 2, p. 32.
  • 4. Subḥānī Ja’far, Furūgh-i abadīyyat, vol. 1, p. 420.
  • 5. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 19, p. 60.
  • 6. Tūsī, al-Amālī, p. 466.
  • 7. Ḥalabī, al-Sīra al-Ḥalabīyya, vol. 2, p. 32.
  • 8. Tūsī, al-Amālī, p. 298.
  • 9. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 19, p. 92.
  • 10. Tūsī, al-Amālī, p. 467.
  • 11. Tabātabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 2, p. 99-100.
  • 12. Hākim al-Nishapuri, al-Mustadrak alā l-ṣaḥīḥayn, vol. 3, p. 5; Ayyāshī, Tafsīr al-Ayyāshī, vol. 1, p. 101.
  • 13. Ṣadūq, al-Amālī, p. 469; Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātiḥ al-ghayb, vol. 5, p. 174.