Introduction and forward to 'The Last Sermon'
Muslim Chaplin, Duke University
Published in The Huffington Post - Religion
"...This sermon, which was delivered by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) at the end of his final pilgrimage to Mecca and shortly before his death to more than 100,000 early Muslims has been considered as the Prophet's will to his companions and long lasting universal message and teaching to his Ummah.
For those who can drop their 21st century cultural baggage and read this sermon in its own historical context, one can't help but admire it as one of the earliest declarations of human rights in written history. Almost everything he says in this prophetic sermon was almost unheard of and inconceivable prior to the arrival of Islam. The prophet 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 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.
All human beings are equal, racial supremacy is unacceptable, women have rights, socio-economic inequality is despicable and should be fought against and so on. In twenty three years he united a deeply divided and polarised Arabian peninsula, stopped the ongoing bloodshed, restored the dignity of women, minimised the gap between the poor and the rich and more. In his lifetime former slaves become governors of provinces and generals. Centuries old, deeply rooted primitive patriarchal and oppressive cultural practices were wiped out, racism and tribalism were defeated. There is hardly any other religious figure who has been as successful both in religious terms as well as in secular terms as Muhammad.
In this sermon of Mohammad (pbuh), 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, the religion of Islam was built.
We still have so much to learn from this 1,400-plus-year-old cry and we are so much in need of this message of Muhammad 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 an ethical and moral society, wherever we live, where no one inflicts nor suffers inequity, unfairness and in justice.
Peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad and upon all prophets came before him...
Mount Arafat - During the Hijj - currently (Image from Baghdad-Blog)
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave his Last and Final Sermon (Khutbah) on the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, 10 AH (9 March 632) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat, during the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj. The place where the Prophet (pbuh) stood, is since been named as 'Mount of Mercy'.
"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.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, 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…
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.
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.
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.
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 a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. 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. Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds.
So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
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 which I convey to you.I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.
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.
Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.
Within the sermon, the Prophet (pbuh) pleas with mankind to adhear to core Islamic values:
- Sacredness of a Muslim’s life and property
- The importance of propagating this message to all others (A Muslim’s responsibility thus does not end by following the religion)
- A reminder that everyone is fully accountable for their deeds and Allah (God) will take every person into account. If everyone heeded to this fact alone, the world would be a much better place today.
- “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
- The prohibition of dealing with interest (Numerous accounts in Quran and Hadith prohibit taking, giving or being a part of any transaction dealing with interest).
- “You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
- The awareness of satan and how satan can work to deviate us from the right path and doing evil things.
- Rights of women over men and rights of men over women. Treatment of women with kindness. Modesty and chastity in women.
- The importance of worshiping Allah (saying your five daily prayers (Salah), fasting during the month of Ramadan, giving charity (Zakat) and performing pilgrimage (Hajj). Equality amongst all (blacks, white, Arabs, non-Arabs, etc.) The need to establish justice. Islam is the final divine religion (Last prophet and Last Book)