Prophet Muhammad (SAW) delivered his last sermon (Khutabah Hajjatul-Wida) on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, Friday (6 March 632 AD) (12th and last month of the Islamic year), 10 years after Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah) in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat at the age of 63 years. His words were quite clear and were directed to the entire humanity. It was the occasion of annual rites of Haj. The Prophet (SAW) started with: "O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen carefully to what I am saying and take these words to those who could not be present here today." After the pilgrimage, he returned to Medina. Three months later on June 8, 632 AD, he left this world, after a brief illness. He is buried in the mosque in Medina.
The sermon of the holy Prophet (SAW) contains an eye opening message for the whole of the human race. The world has not been able to establish better principles of ethics and morality than those enunciated in it. Every word of it breathes a spirit of brotherhood and humankind – irrespective of the divergences of their geographical, racial and colour backgrounds and provides a figure, outline of a social order, free from injustice and oppression – guaranteeing the Basic Human Rights and Needs for a peacefully progressive society. The last sermon of the holy Prophet (SAW) is a big remarkable document in human history in the perspective of Human Rights. It has very much significance because the text and language of the sermon is general not specific. The sermon is a valuable document for the humankind in respect to the following:
Uphold human dignity
The Prophet (SAW) equated the sanctity of life and humankind with this sacred month. This indicates the importance of humanity and the value of respecting one another's rights in Islam. The Prophet (SAW) said: "Hurt no one, so that no one may hurt you." It indicates that to attain peace in a society, no one shall harm or hurt one another, or even trespass upon another’s property. Hurt can be in various forms, be it physical, emotional or psychological, verbal or non-verbal. We should continuously reflect on ourselves - our words, our actions - and how they can affect people. The Prophet (SAW) also said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever screens (humiliates) a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection." As Muslims, we must show love and care for one another. The term 'love' refers to a pure intent for good and benefit to come to others.
Honour and respect the rights of women
Women are not the property of men and their rights are given by Allah (SAW) which no men can take it from them. The Prophet (SAW) emphasized the principles of mutual love, trust and respect. Prophet (SAW) said, “O People, it is true that you have certain rights concerning your women, but they also have rights over you." The Prophet (SAW) later mentioned, "Remember that you have taken them as your wives, only under Allah's (SWT) trust and with his permission." Rasulullah (SAW) taught us that indeed women and men are partners. In creating a harmonious living environment, there is a need to understand each other and be kind to one another. “I enjoin you to treat women well and be kind to them”. Rasulullah (SAW) uplifted the status of women during his time. Several pre-Islamic patriarchal practices were reformed. Women were given voices and spaces to air their views and grievances. They played significant roles in the development of Islam. Today, we should continue to honor this legacy of Rasulullah (SAW) by treating women around us with kindness and respect.
Avoid economic inequality
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasized the importance of socio-economic justice. Prophet (SAW) in its final sermon, “And give your wealth in Zakat”. Economic inequality happens when wealth and opportunity are not distributed evenly within the society. This may lead to the poor being stuck at the lower socio-economic class. The practice of Zakat will ideally create a more just society through this wealth-sharing mechanism to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth and for the socio-economic development of the community. The final sermon also stressed on the harmful effects of usury such that it is prohibited for this practice to be continued. The message is clear that, as Muslims, we should prevent any form of economic exploitation. The Messenger said, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.”
Show no discrimination
Prophet (SAW) said in the final sermon, “All humankind is from Adam (AS) and Hawa (AS). An Arab has no superiority over a non- Arab, nor does a non-Arab have superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action." A human is judged entirely by his/her righteousness, not because of his/her race, colour or socioeconomic status. Racism, discrimination, bigotry and social injustice still exist in today’s society. We tend to judge people based on their physical attributes, looking past what their hearts can offer. No nation is created to be above another; the differences between humankind are for us to embrace and learn from one another. Prophet (pbuh) also said, “Feed your slaves as you feed yourselves and clothe your slaves as you clothe yourselves.”
Hold true to the teachings of Islam
Prophet (SAW) said in the last sermon, "O people, no Prophet or Messenger will come after me and no new faith will be born. Therefore, understand the words which I convey to you. I will leave two things; the Quran and the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray."Throughout his last sermon, the Prophet (SAW) profoundly reminded us about the importance of rights between humankind. Towards the end of the sermon, he (SAW) reminded us that after his departure, there would be no Messenger after him to guide us, but he did not leave us empty-handed. The Prophet (SAW) left us with two primary sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. These encompass the pillars of faith. As Muslims, we should be mindful of our rights and duties towards Allah (SWT) such as praying daily, fasting in the month of Ramadan and performing Zakat and Hajj for those who can afford and are physically able. To be mindful of these duties is what makes us a Muslim. It is, therefore, our duty to ensure the timeless message of Rasulullah’s (SAW) remains relevant to our time and locality. Islam is a universal religion that is not confined to a particular race or nation. Hence, we must uphold the values and principles of Islam. The Prophet (SAW) then ended his final sermon by reading the verse from Surah Al-Ma’idah: "This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as a religion." In this blessed month of Zulhaj, let us reflect on ourselves and revive the core teachings of our Prophet (SAW) in achieving an ethical and moral society, wherever we are, where no one inflicts harm nor injustice upon others. May Allah (SWT) grant us the strength to become a better Muslim, a better community and a better human being.
Keeping away from usury
The majority of us have little idea how insidious the consumption of Riba is. Usury has led to the rise in capitalism and, with it, the idea that life needs to be lived in excess, with over-consumption and a deep drive for owning the best, biggest, and latest of every item. When we understand the severity of consuming interest reaffirms how incredible and merciful Allah (SWT) is by sending us a Prophet (PBUH) to advise us, give us the chance to save our souls from the bondage of desires, and allow us to tread a path towards purification. In this address, he prohibited the interest in the actual amount of loan (Riba). He started it from his own family and waived the interest of Hazrat Abbas bin Abdulmutallab. He said that “All the previous interests are forbidden and first interest I waive of is of my family member Abbas bin Abdulmutallab”. He insisted to get back just the actual amount of the loan given.
Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion
The plot of Shaytan is ever unfolding. He is a master manipulator. This piece of advice is extremely powerful because we often underestimate Shaytan. His goal is simple: sabotage your life in two ways – by harming you and by pushing you to harm others. Seek refuge in Allah (SWT), be vigilant and mindful of your thoughts and actions. Remember a crucial point, shaytan works in steps. He will seldom just whisper for you to leave your religion. He will tactically beautify the haram desires and push you to weaken in your endeavours that you pursue to bring you close to Allah.
Remember, one day, you will appear before Allah (SWT) and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
Spread the Good Word
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and others again, and perhaps the last ones might understand my words better than those who listened to me directly.
Towards the end of his sermon, the Prophet (SAW) asked, O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born, "O people, have I faithfully delivered unto you my message" A powerful murmur of assents "O Allah! yes!"arose from thousands of pilgrims and the vibrant words "Allahumma Na'm," rolled like thunder throughout the valley. The Prophet (SAW) raised his forefinger and said: "O Allah bear witness that I have conveyed your message to your people."
The 'Farewell Sermon' has been hailed as one of the most important speeches in history, as it had such an impact on people's minds. As a result, the researcher's goal is to bring it to light so that it can be properly analyzed and interpreted.
Even today, the last khutbah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is addressed to every Muslim individual worldwide. Muslims are reminded about it in mosques and in various religious gatherings. The implications found in this sermon are touching upon some of the most important rights Allah (SAW) has bestowed over humanity. Thus, this khutbah marks great importance in Islam as it was then that the religion was declared to be completed. Therefore, undoubtedly, the Sunnah and words of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are everlasting in the hearts of all the fellow Muslims.
In this articulation of the Prophet (SAW), Muslims find their deep commitment to the universal human values such as sacredness of life and property, equality, justice, peace and more. Upon these high universal values, this religion of Islam was built. For those intellectuals who read this sermon in its own historical context, one can admire it as one of the earliest declarations of human rights in written history. Almost everything in this prophetic sermon was almost unheard of and inconceivable prior to the arrival of Islam. The Prophet (SAW) of Islam addresses some of the core universal values in a society where those values are long forgotten and violated in a systemic basis. The Prophet (SAW) didn't only say but transformed his society, in a very short period of time, remarkably in all the values and lessons that he talks about.
We still have so much to learn from this 1,400-plus-year-old message and we are so much in need of this in our broken time where we continue to struggle with almost identical issues in our global human community. We need to go back to these core teachings and examples of Islam and similarly strive for achieving a just moral society, wherever we live.
Khutabah Hajjatul-Wida is in fact the First Human Charter which was given by the Messenger of Allah (SAW) to the whole mankind, while standing on the Jabal al-Rahmat in the Valley of Arafat. It was a sermon so sincere and serene, yet so melodious and thought provoking and giving to mankind fundamental and guiding principles concerning the rights of humanity whereby life at all levels could be reformed and set right at individual, collective, national, international and universal level for all time s to come. This Farewell Address of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) has got the status of Universal Manifesto for whole mankind.
Peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and upon all prophets who came before him.
(M Ahmad is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)