The Farewell Sermon
- Not to be confused with the Farewell Discourse by Jesus.
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Muḥammad - (محمد)
The Farewell Sermon (Arabic: خطبة الوداع, Khuṭbatu l-Wadā), also known as Muhammad's Final Sermon or The Last Sermon, was delivered by Muhammad on the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, 10 AH (9 March 632) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat.
The Farewell Sermon is mentioned in almost all books of Hadith. Sahih Al-Bukhari refers to the sermon and quotes part of it. Ahmad ibn Hanbal gave the longest version of this sermon in his Musnad.
Various versions of the Sermon have been published, including several English translations. The Sermon consists of a series of general exhortations for Muslims to follow the teachings that prophet Muhammad had set forth in the Quran and Sunnah.
Universality of the Speech
The Prophet directed his Speech to all humankind. He used the term “O' People” seven times. He used the terminology “O' Men” once. In the farewell address, the Prophet did not use the terminology “O' Muslims” or “O' Believer. The Prophet's intention was to address all people, regardless of their religions, colors or times (his time or any time after him until the Day of Judgement). The Prophet’s message was to every person everywhere for every moment forward in time.
Analysis of The Farewell Sermon
Muhammad(saw) begins by praising and thanking God. He then addresses those in attendance.
—"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today".
At the beginning of the address, the Prophet asked the people to pay close attention to what he was about to say. He demands that his message be delivered to all mankind, to be transported from place to place, and from generation to generation. That mandate was laid to the shoulder of those in attendance (Sakr, 1998, p. 35). The task was fulfilled by the Mekkan tribe's propensity for commerce and travel. One of the main businesses of the Makkah people at this time was trade. The Muslims merchants traveled from land to land for commerce, but also delivered the message of Islam as they were dealing with people in far corners from Mekkah.
—O' People, just as you regard this month, this day, and this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your lord, and that he will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn 'Abd'al Muttalib (Prophet's uncle) shall henceforth be waived...”
The Prophet gave examples with matters that the people at the gathering knew very well. Every one knew how sacred “this month” (Zul Hijjah), “this day” (Day of Arafa), and “this city” (City of Makkah). Therefore, the life and property of people are sacred too.
Sanctity of life had been declared by Allah in the Qur'an. People were to be protected and their lives preserved. People were to be dignified, respected, and honored. Their properties are to be protected and saved. The sanctity of life is to remain well preserved until the Day of Judgment (Sakr, 1998, p. 22).
The concept of economic exploitation is prohibited in Islam. Since usury is a form of economic monopoly and exploitation in a capitalistic system, the rich would become richer, while the poor become poorer. The Prophet, in his final and last sermon, abolished all type of economic exploitations. Usury was prohibited and people are not to deal with usurers, even if they have had agreement or a contract with someone prior to the introduction of Islam into the region. (Sakr, 1998, p. 23) Nobody is above the law under this mandate, and the uncle of the Prophet “Abbas Ibn Abdul Mutalib” who was around the same age of the Prophet and who had been reared alongside the Prophet was waiving any usury due to him. The Prophet was saying that this mandate does not distinguish between his relatives and non-relatives.
—Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived and the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibni al-Harithiah.
With this statement, the Prophet declared an end to the pagan ethos of tribal revenge in favor of Divine rules concerning law in Islam. Again, he cited a relative killed, which showed that there was no exception for relative and non-relative in the tribal society of the time.
—O men! the unbelievers indulge in tampering with the calendar in order to make permissible that which Allah forbade, and to prohibit what Allah has made permissible. With Allah, the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy, three are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Shaban.
With this statement, the Prophet is setting forth a common yet broken norm of the time that states that there are twelve months per year in both the lunar and solar calendars. Muslims are to observe their sacredness; no one has the right to change them or to tamper with the calendar. (Sakr, 1998, p.p. 30,31) The Prophet also states that there are four holy months: Zul Qidah, Zul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.
—Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
The Prophet instructs humankind to worship and obey Allah, and to follow the rules and regulations as mandated in the Qur'an. The Prophet tells the people that Satan has lost hope in making people worship him, but has not lost hope in diverting man from practicing the teachings of Islam. Satan will create animosity among people, the Prophet states, and Satan will attempt to divert man's attention from the straight path set by Allah. The Prophet warns humanity from falling into the path of Satan (Sakr, 1998, p. 26).
Rights to Women
"O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste".
The Prophet mandates his best declaration for women’s rights in his farewell address. He re-iterates much of what it says in Qur'an 4.34. This part is only contained in the unauthenticated narration in the Ibn Ishaq biography; it is not contained in any authenticated version in any hadith collection. Neither Sunni or Shi'ite tradition acknowledge the historical validity of this narration.
—O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.
The Prophet asks that people to listen to him in a serious mental state and reiterates the five basic foundations (pillars) for being a Muslim:
1. Witnessing that there is no God except Allah (the Arabic word for The God) and witnessing that Muhammad is God’s Messenger
2. Performing the five prayers a day
3. Fasting the month of Ramadan
4. Giving Zakat (giving percentage of one’s wealth to the poor)
5. Performing Haj to Makkah, once in a lifetime if one is able.
Equality of Mankind
According to some late sources (Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni writing in the 9th Century AD, and Ghuyat Al-Miram, writing in the 12th Century) Muhammad(saw) also made a statement about the equality of all mankind in his farewell sermon. The text is as follows:
—"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; Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves."
The earlier sources such as Ibn Ishaq and Al-Tabari do not record this part of the speech, however Islamic tradition does not source the sermon from these which are considered unauthentic, but from the hadith.
This is the most often-quoted portion of the Farewell Sermon. The Prophet spoke of the equality of mankind in the sight of God and in front of the law. Man is born from Adam and Eve, the Prophet said, and both of these parents, and all of humans, are made of dust, and in this right, no one person is better than the other.
The concept of equality is based on justice: All are equal and no one can claim that he is more pious or even more righteous than the other except through piety and righteousness (Sakr, 1998, p. 19).
Brotherhood in Islam
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—"Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone."
The Prophet prohibited transgressions at all levels. With the above statement, he said that when a person commits injustice and transgresses his limits, the penalty will fall upon him, and him alone. The Prophet said that God does not like those who commit injustice, and he urged his community to stick to the right path at all times (Sakr, 1998, p. 23).
Seal of Prophethood
—"O People! No Prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore O People! and understand words that I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and the Hadith and if you follow these you will never go astray."
The Prophet declared that neither a new religion nor another Prophet would come after him. The Prophet urged Muslims to be united by taking only the Qur'an and Hadith.
In a different version of this hadith in Sahih Muslim book 7, 2803, the Prophet is quoted as having said:
—"I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray."
This version of the Prophet's speech can be interpreted as meaning that the Quran alone is sufficient as a guide for the believers after the death of the Prophet. It also conforms with verse 7:170 in the Quran: "As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish."
—"All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. O Allah, be my witness, that I have conveyed your message to your people.
The Prophet made those in attendance responsible for sharing his words to others. The Prophet acknowledges that whoever might receive his words in a later time, might be more knowledgeable and understanding of its meaning, even more than who had listened to him directly.
- Muhammad in Islam
- World Islam Day (23 February, Anniversary of Messenger Muhammad's The Farewell Sermon)
- Turner, Colin (2006). Islam: The Basics. New York: Routledge. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-0-415-34106-6.
- "The Farewell Sermon". Islami City. Retrieved July 2011.
- "Prophet Muhammad’s Last Sermon: A Final Admonition". Religion of Islam. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Quran 4.34 (http://quran.com/4/34)