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The Unlettered Prophet (49)
Khalid Masud
(Tr. by:Nikhat Sattar)

The Farewell Sermon


During the Ramadan of the year of 10 AH, Gabriel recited the complete Qur’an in its final form to the Prophet (sws) and the latter recited it back, twice to Gabriel (asm) in the same format during that month. This was a sign of the completion of religion, which indicated to the Prophet (sws) that his mission was about to come to fulfillment.

A massive increase in the number of people accepting Islam occurred after the Battle of Tabuk and delegations from Arab tribes came to Madinah in rapid succession. This was the sign which made the Prophet (sws) recognize that his time of moving towards eternal life was near. He had been instructed:  

When comes the help of Allah, and victory, And thou dost see the people enter Allah’s religion in crowds, celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning [in Grace and Mercy]. (110:1-3). 

Since the Arab tribes had joined Islam recently, the Prophet (sws) decided to offer hajj the same year so that he could address them collectively. He had a general announcement made in the tribes that he would be proceeding to Makkah for hajj and that as many Muslims should join him in this worship as possible. The Idolaters had been forbidden to come and perform the hajj according to their own rites a year before.

Thousands of Muslims resolved to go for hajj as soon as the announcement reached them. A large number started for Makkah before the Prophet’s departure, either on foot or riding on animals so that they could receive the blessings of hajj in his company. The Prophet (sws) used this hajj to train them on the rituals and demonstrated every action himself in front of people. Before departure, he instructed the Muslims of the Miqats (places in Arabia where Muslims put on robes for hajj and ‘umrah) so that they would dress themselves properly at these places and begin to chant the “Labbaik”.


Departure for hajj and performing of hajj rituals

Five days were left for the month of Dhu al-Qa‘dah to end, when the Prophet (sws) departed from Madinah with a huge number of Muslims and put on the Ihram at Dhu al-Halifah which is now called Abyar ‘Ali. He took animals to be sacrificed at Mina and then proceeded to Makkah with the intention of hajj. He reached Makkah on 2nd Dhu al-Hijjah and offered circumambulation and Sa‘i but did not take off the Ihram. However, he instructed his companions to perform Umrah and take their Ihrams off. They were to put these on back again with the aim of hajj when the time came to depart for Mina. For himself, he clarified that since he had brought sacrificial animals, he could not take his Ihram off until the sacrifice had been performed. The others were to declare their hajj as that of tamattu‘ (offering ‘umrah with hajj), thereby taking off their Ihram after offering the rituals of ‘umrah.

He went to Mina on 8th Dhu al-Hijjah and left for ‘Arafat at daybreak the next day. Once there, a tent at the place where Masjid-i Namrah now stands, was erected for him. He rested in this tent. When the sun had set, he came out to the ground, riding a she-camel. People gathered around him and he delivered an extremely eloquent and meaningful sermon. He informed them of the completion of his mission of prophethood; explained instructions for some of the more significant aspects of Islam; instructed people to ensure implementation, especially the fulfillment of their obligations towards the weak; forbade them to offer the hajj according to the wrongful practice of changing its days as per the solar calendar and asked them to witness that he had met his obligations to communicate their religion fully. The entire crowd made this declaration with a single voice and the Prophet asked God to be witness to this.


The Hajj Sermon

One hundred thousand Muslims performed this hajj. His voice could not reach everyone in such a large crowd, so the Prophet (sws) asked Rabi‘ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf (rta) to stand some distance from him. Whatever he said would be repeated by Rabi‘ah in a loud voice for people to hear. The Prophet’s complete sermon was not written down at that time. Different parts of it remained in people’s memories, and have been quoted in books of Hadith from these narratives. The key points of this sermon can be extracted based on such narratives.

In the beginning, the Prophet (sws) asked people to listen to him in silence and said that it was possible that this was his last speech at that place: “O’ People! Listen to me carefully because I don’t think that I shall be able to meet you here after this year.”


Protection of Life and Property   

When the people had become silent and attentive, the Prophet (sws) asked them which month was it. They answered that it was the respected month of Dhu al-hijjah. A this he said: “God has forbidden to you your lives and property, just as this month is sacred, until you go to meet your Lord.”

Then he asked again which day was it. People answered that it was the day of the great hajj. At this he said: “God has forbidden to you your lives and property, just as this day is sacred until you go to meet your Lord.”

He then asked the crowd again which city was it. People answered that it was the respected city of Makkah. At this he said: “God has forbidden to you your lives and property, just as this city is sacred, until you go to meet your Lord.” You shall soon meet your Creator and He will ask you about your deeds. I have communicated this to you completely.”

“All claims of blood from the age of jahiliyah will now come to an end. I begin this by forgiving the killing of my relative Rabi‘ah ibn al-Harith ibn Muttalib. In future, deliberate murder shall be paid for through Qisas (retribution) and similar killing such as the one caused by sticks or stones shall be paid for by 100 camels as diyat (blood money). Whoever demands more than this would be from the people of jahiliyyah.”

“Whoever holds something in trust for another shall fulfill this trust to the person who has made him a custodian. All usury has been banned. However, you have the right to your original capital. Neither shall you torment anyone, nor shall anyone else usurp your rights. This is God’s decision that usury shall no longer be practiced. Hence I invalidate the full amount of usury for ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.


Rights of Wives 

“O people! Your right is upon your wives and your wives have their rights upon you. Your right upon them is that they shall not ruin your beds by other men, which is unacceptable to you. Their responsibility is that they are not guilty of clear immorality. If they do so, God has given you permission to separate them from your bedrooms. You can also give them a physical punishment that does not leave any mark on their bodies. Then if they desist, they are entitled to food and clothing as per the norm.

“Keep my advice close to your heart that you will behave kindly to your wives because they have been put under your care. They cannot do anything for themselves. Undoubtedly, you have gained them as a trust from God and made your conjugal relationships with them legitimate under God’s instructions.”


Good Behaviour towards Slaves

“Listen! Pay attention to your slaves. Feed them from the same food which you eat yourselves and clothe them in similar garments that you wear yourselves. O’ people! Understand what I say, because I have communicated the message.”


The Book and the Sunnah

“O’ People! Satan has lost hope that he will ever be worshipped on this land in future. But he is also satisfied with the fact that he may be obeyed in other deeds, which are not acts of worship and which you think are insignificant. Therefore, be careful in matters related with your religion. I am leaving with you a clear thing. If you hold on to it tightly, you will never go astray. This God’s Book and His Messenger’s Sunnah. O’ People! Listen to me carefully and understand it well.”


Equality among Humans  

“O’ People! Your Lord is One; your father is one; you are all from Adam and he was made from dust. He who is most honoured in front of God is the one who is most pious amongst you. No Arab is preferred over a non Arab; no non Arab over an Arab; no fair person over a black one; and no black person over a fair one, except if anyone is superior to the other in piety. Understand that every Muslim is the brother of every other Muslim and all Muslims are brothers to one another. It is not legitimate for a person to take anything that belongs to another except if the latter gives it of his own willful choice. Hence, never ever usurp each other’s rights. Do not return to the way of denial of truth, that some people from amongst you start killing others.”

“O’ People! God has determined the share of every legatee in his inheritance. It is not legitimate to will more than one third of one’s property (to someone who cannot inherit). Children born on a person’s bed would be called his children and deprivation is for adulterers. Whoever relates himself to any person other than his father or if any slave develops a relationship with someone other than he who has freed him, would be cursed by God, His angels and all humans. No payment in lieu of this crime will be accepted from him on the Day of Judgement.”

“O’ People! No prophet will come after me; nor would any ummah come after you. Be careful. Worship your Lord; perform five prayers; fast for the month of Ramadan; pay zakah as per your possessions good heartedly; offer hajj of your Lord’s House and obey your rulers. You will enter the Paradise of your Lord.”


Forbidding Changes in the Calendar

 “O’ People! Changing the calendar is an addition to denial of truth, on the basis of which the kuffar are led astray. They add one month during a year, making it halal, and reduce the next year by one month, making it haram, in order to make up the number to that which God has declared haram. As a result, they convert that which is haram according to God’s instruction, to halal and vice verse. Today, time has revolved to the same conditions which existed on the day when God had made the earth and skies. Undoubtedly, the number of months in God’s world is 12, of which four are sacred. Three of these are consecutive (Dhual-Qa‘dah, Shu al-Hijjah and Muharram) and the fourth is Rajab of the tribe of Muḍar, which falls between Jumadah al-Thani and Sha‘ban.”

After this, the Prophet (sws) said: “O’ my Lord! Have I not communicated the message? A voice came from the crowd: “Yes! O’ Messenger of God! You have communicated the message.” At this, the Prophet (sws) said: “O’ God! Be witness.” Then he addressed the crowd: “When you are asked about me, what will you answer? The people said: “We will answer that you have fulfilled your obligations of communicating the message; did well by the ummah; cut down the curtain of darkness and kept trust in such a manner that was demanded by it.” At this, he said: “O God! Be witness! Be witness! Be witness!”

After this, he advised the people present that they should communicate all these points to those who were not present.


Some Clarifications  

There are a few points that need clarification in the Prophet’s address.

His asking the crowd which day, month or city was it, was for the purpose of focusing their attention on his sermon. Secondly, during the days of jahilliyah, the day of ‘Arafat, sanctity of the Mosque and city of Makkah were observed. It was considered a great crime to desecrate this in any way. Hence, the Prophet (sws) compared the sanctity of wealth and property of other people to that of the days of hajj and the Ka‘bah.

The Prophet (sws) forgave the murder of Rabi‘ah ibn al-Harith. This murder had taken place during the days of jahilliyah. When Rabi‘ah was sent to be suckled to Banu Layth, Hudhayl killed the child. This murder was awaiting a decision in Banu Hashim. Similarly, the trade of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib was run on a widespread system of usury. The Prophet (sws) ended this as a first step and created the first example of ending usury.

Change in the calendar was one of the established bid‘at of the Quraysh. They added three months every eight years and thus brought the lunar calendar aligned with the solar one. The result was that hajj always fell during good weather conditions. But on the other hand, the sacred months were moved from their original placement. In this way, halal was made haram and vice versa. This movement of the months was completed just at the time of the Prophet’s hajj. This hajj of 10th AHi occurred when Dhu al-Hijjah was actually Dhu al-Hiijjah. This is why the Prophet (sws) said that time had revolved and come back to its original place. In future, the process of change in calendar would be cancelled and hajj would take place according to the lunar sequence.

After the sermon, the Prophet (sws) instructed Bilal (rta) to give the adhan and led the zuhr and the ‘asr prayers one after the other. Then he went to the Jabl al-Rahmah and stayed on the hills until the sun began to set. After sunset, he proceeded to Muzdalifah. When people ran after his she camel, he advised them to walk peacefully. After reaching Muzdalifah, he led the maghrib and ‘isha prayers one after the other and then rested until fajr. After fajr, he stayed at the Mash‘ar al-Haram until dawn broke. Then he proceeded towards Mina. After the Rami of Jamarat, he sacrificed 63 camels himself and gave the rest to ‘Ali (rta) to be sacrificed by him. During his stay at Mina, he gave an opportunity to people to learn how to perform the hajj rites and answered questions. After completing all the necessary rites of hajj and other requirements, he returned to Madinah.


(Translated by Nikhat Sattar)  



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