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 Lessons from the Farewell Pilgrimage

- by Imam Al-Haramain ‘Abdul-Bari ibn ‘Awad ath-Thubayti

from the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, Dhul-Qa‘dah 18, 1422 (February 2, 2002)

All praise is due to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and companions.

Fellow Muslims! Each time the month of Dhul-Hijjah approaches, a page in Islamic History glitters and a stance of the Messenger of Allah comes to limelight.

Among the major landmarks of Hajj are those comprehensive principles that the Prophet Muhammad announced in his sermon during the Farewell Pilgrimage. The Prophet proclaimed these concepts that were far from mere slogans but formed part of his call right from the onset of his mission and it was never change nor altered by any circumstances. He impressed these principles in the hearts of his companions in order that they could convey them to the mankind, and those principles were made to survive many generations because of their veracity and efficiency.

In that historical sermon, the Messenger of Allah warned against associating any partner to Allah in worship which is a disease that has almost destroyed the humanity, nearly severed man’s relationship with the source of his good and his very existence and dragged him into the abyss of whimsical desires. So, the fundamental meaning upon which the rules of Hajj as well as the rules of acts of worship revolve is Oneness of Allah. Islam is a religion of Monotheism and the House of Allah was specifically built for the purpose of worshipping Allah alone. He says in His Glorious Book,

“And (remember) when We showed Ibrahim the site of the (Sacred) House (the Kaaba at Makkah, saying): ‘Associate not anything in worship with Me and sanctify My House for those who circumambulate it and those who stand up for (prayers) and those who bow (submit themselves with humility and obedience to Allah) and make prostration (in prayer).” (Surah Al Hajj, 22:26)

Hajj is but a manifestation of Oneness of Allah in its brightest form and the Muslim nation has never been in need of re-establishing the essentials of faith as they are during Hajj. There are some people among the Muslims who have bargained the pure faith of Islam with erroneous ideologies, there are some who spread the poison of atheism with their pens; there are some who have conferred some Divine attributes on their leaders who claim to know the hidden things and receive revelations from heaven and there are some who have introduced the idolization of individuals, exempted some people from religious obligations and taken men as intermediaries between themselves and Allah; not to mention those who worship saints, build domes on graves, circumambulate round them, invoke their owners and slaughter for them, thereby causing proliferation of mausoleums and sects.

In the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Messenger of Allah said,

“It is unlawful for you to shed the blood of one another, to take unlawfully the properties of one another or to violate the honour of one another. They are as unlawful as shedding blood on such a day as today, in such a month as this and in such a sanctified city as this (Makkah).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

These are everlasting basics for fundamental human rights which are unequalled by any man-made system or statute. In protecting human life, Allah says,

“And there is in Law of Equality in punishment, a (saving of) life for you.” (Surah Al Ma’idah, 5:38) In order to preserve people’s honour, He says, “The female and male fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes.” (Surah Al Nur, 24:2)

This punishment is for unmarried man or woman. As for the married, his or her punishment is stoning to death. There should therefore, be no regard for falsehood or immunity for anarchy.

Islam highly respects man’s right to live. It respects the pure and righteous life, not a life of obscenity and crisis nor that of injustice and aggression.

There is no value in the respect for man’s right to live if that respect is not accompanied by a just law and regulation for that life. Islam takes care of man’s right to protect his life in order to make it an honoured one, rich in security, stability and tranquillity.

Islam builds security in the minds of the Muslims then in his life, in order that he may establish justice – based on the Law of Allah – between people, establish power and authority with which the Law of Allah can be consolidated in the earth, promote good relationship between people under the banner of Islamic brotherhood and strengthen the ties of the kith and kin for the sake of Allah.

Among the fundamental human rights in Islam is that, no man should harm another nor backbite him either with word or deed. It is on account of this that Islam prohibits slandering, calumny, ridiculing others and insulting them. The following story illustrates how this principle was applied during the time of the Messenger of Allah, a man was penalised repeatedly for his continuous alcoholic drinking. On an occasion, he was brought before the Messenger of Allah and flogged. A man among those present said,

“May Allah curse him! How many times has he been brought for this same offence!” Upon hearing that, the Messenger of Allah got angry and said, “Do not curse him. By Allah, I know that he loves Allah and His Messenger.” (Al-Bukhari)

Islam not only protects and honours man during his life, it also guarantees honour for him after his death by commanding that he be bathed, shrouded and prayed for after his death. It also prohibits braking of his bones or assaulting his dead body.

As for the present material civilization, it only proclaims ineffective and lame fundamental human rights in the sense that it is influenced and controlled by disgusting racialism as it also has no faith or correct belief. That is why human rights are being violated in the so-called most developed countries.

Where are fundamental human rights where the Quds is being continuously desecrated, when its lands are being wrongfully occupied and the blood of its rightful owners being shed with impunity?! Where are the claimed fundamental human rights when man’s moral values are being systematically destroyed and his humanity being dishonoured?! The Messenger of Allah in his Farewell Pilgrimage said,

“All matters of the time of ignorance have been put under my feet.” (Muslim)

During the time of ignorance (pre-Islamic period), Human life was very cheap, murder becomes widespread and wars and bloodshed were order of the day. This was because those people had no faith that could protect them from their filthy behaviours. Then, Islam came to change this unenviable situation and established basics for the respect of human life and declared unwarranted and illegal killings as crime. Allah says,

“If anyone kills a person – unless it be in retaliation for murder or (by way of punishment) for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed the whole mankind.” (Surah Al Ma’idah, 5:32)

Before the advent of the Prophet, tribalism was deeply rooted but the Messenger uprooted it. He (SAW) said,

“You are all from Aadam and Aadam was created from clay. The most honourable of you is the most pious. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, or for a non-Arab over an Arab, neither is there any superiority for a red-skinned over a white-skinned or for a white-skinned over a red-skinned except by piety.”

It is by this golden statement that Islam cancelled all human differences. Islam makes it meaningless to evaluate man with the colour of his skin, his lineage, wealth or worldly position, for all this is conferred by Allah upon His slaves with no choice of theirs. There is only one criterion for evaluating man that Allah explains in this verse,

“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is (that believer) who has piety.” (Surah Al Hujurat, 49:13)

So the strongest in faith and best in deeds is the most honourable. When the strange seed was nearly sowed among the pure Muslim society during the Battle of Banee Al-Mustaliq, the Messenger of Allah quickly nipped it in the bud with his famous saying,

“Are you raising the slogans of the time of ignorance while I am still in your midst?”

He was never pleased to see signs of racialism or tribalism among his companions even in utterances. Abu Dharr once insulted a man and called him, “You son of a black woman!” The Messenger of Allah angrily told him,

“Are you insulting him on account of the origin of his mother? You are indeed a man on whom there is a trait of the time of ignorance.”

He also said in another occasion,

“He is not of us, the one who calls to nationalism, fights for nationalism and dies for nationalism.” (Abu Dawood)

It is therefore disappointing to find some Arabs these days calling to nationalism and being proud of that in total disregard for the saying of the Messenger of Allah,

“Keep away from that (racialism), for it is stinking.” (Muslim)

In the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet said,

“The first usury to be cancelled is our own usury: that of ‘Abbaas son of Abdul Muttalib. All of it is cancelled.” (Muslim)

Allah prohibits usury because of its grievous harm. It destroys the conscience, ruins human life with covetousness, greed and selfishness. It kills collective spirit, causes enmity and sows hatred among people. Allah declares war on its practitioners in this life through economic crises and psychological disturbances, and in the Hereafter with a painful torment. He says,

“Those who eat usury will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Satan leading him to insanity.” (Surah Al Baqarah, 1:275)

The usury-based economic system is responsible for many financial crisis and woes that confront individuals, societies and nations.

In the Farewell pilgrimage, the Messenger of Allah said,

“Fear Allah as regards women, for you married them on a covenant from Allah.”

This saying highlights the protection and the respect that Islam has for woman’s rights either in her capacity as a mother, wife or daughter. It takes care of her rights from the beginning till the end of her life. It makes her body forbidden to the glances of strangers and gives her the right to inherit and acquire knowledge. It also makes no distinction between her and man in reward and religious obligations. Allah says,

“Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while he (or she) is a true believer, verily to him We will give a good life and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they do.” (Surah Al Nahl, 16:97)

In Islam, we do not talk of rights of woman through empty theories and useless conferences. But we invite every body to read the history of the past women believers like Khadijah, Sumayyah, Asmaa’, A’ishah, Hafsah and Al-Hansaa’. We are opening for the humanity the shining pages from the history of the Muslim women so that they can see the living example of their feats. We invite the mankind to understand how Islam elevates woman, purifies her feelings, refines her character and takes her to the high aims and aspirations. The human history has recorded for them glowing and everlasting achievements that testify to their nobility and excellence.

As for those who appointed themselves as reformers and claim that they are leading women to the right path, they accuse others who admonish women to maintain their modesty and chastity with stupidity and backwardness. But when you look deeply into what they proclaim, you will find that their thoughts and behaviours are abnormal, that they have naturally perverted and have become captives to their lusts. These people have been surrounded by insinuations, so their aim is to deprive the Muslim nation of its values, deprive the free women their glory and the chaste her chastity.

In the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Messenger of Allah said,

“I have left for you that which if you hold fast unto it you will never go astray: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah.” (Muslim)

It is the Creator of man who knows best what is of benefit for man and makes him achieve happiness; and that is holding fast unto the Rope of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. Allah says,

“Verily, this Quran guides to that which is most just and right.” (Surah Al Isra’, 17:9)

That means it guides man to that which is just in matters of interactions, law, politics, finance, economics, science, education and morals. Allah says,

“He has neglected nothing in the Book.” (Surah Al An’am, 6:38)

Further, whoever wants glory and honour, he can only found that in the guidance of the Quran,

“Whoever desires honour, (power and glory let him know that) to Allah belong all honour power and glory.” (Surah Fatir, 35:10)

Whoever is seeking for security and peace, let him seek for that in the Quran,

“It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) and confuse not their belief with wrong (by worshipping others beside Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.” (Surah Al An’am, 6:82)

Whoever desires economic prosperity should look for that in the guidance of the Quran,

“And if the people of the towns had believed and had the piety, certainly, We should have opened for them blessings from the heaven and the earth.” (Surah Al A’raf, 7:96)

Also, let those who want power follow the Quranic injunction on the means of power,

“And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” (Surah Al Anfal, 8:60)

As regards the foundations of human honour and fundamental human rights, Allah says,

“And indeed We have honoured the children of Aadam, and We have carried them on land and sea and have provided them with lawful good things and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preferment.” (Surah Al Isra’, 17:70)

There is also in the Quran a promise of prosperity in this world and everlasting bliss in the Hereafter for those who do good deeds.

Since the first generations of Muslims and the righteous predecessors followed the teachings of the Quran, they became leaders who guided mankind by the will of Allah and established a compassionate Islamic state. But when the later generations of Muslims abandoned these pure teachings, they became divided into factions and sects that killed one another and cursed one another. And this is an act that the Messenger of Allah strongly warned against when he said,

“Do not turn back after me into disbelievers, striking the necks of one another.”

It therefore, becomes clear that it is the abandonment of this noble directive that caused what the Muslims are suffering from in our contemporary time.

Dear Brethren, Farewell Pilgrimage is a reawakening call to the entire Muslims on the occasion of the Hajj in order to achieve the desired self-examination, staying upright on the true guidance in response to the call of the leader of the Messengers – peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all.


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