By SAYYID HAMED ABDUR RAHMAN ALKAF
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Before we start highlighting the social values extracted from the Farewell or Pilgrimage Sermon of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) it is in the fitness of things to present the entire Sermon:
“He (Prophet Muhammad) praised and glorified Allah who is all alone without any associate with Him, who fulfilled His promises and lent His support to His Servant and all alone defeated the armies.
“O people! Listen to my speech because I do not think you and I would gather in such a meeting after this year of mine forever.
“O people! Allah says: ‘O People! We have created you from a Man and Woman and made you nations and tribes to know each other.’ Undoubtedly one who is most fearful (of Allah) is most respected with Allah. So, an Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab is superior to the Arab. Nor a black man is superior to or better than a white man, neither a black man is superior to or better than a white man, except on the basis of fearfulness of Allah. All people are offspring of Adam and Adam was made of clay. Beware, all traditions and claims of the past bloods or money which are claimed are now under my two feet except gate keeping of Ka’bah and serving water to the pilgrims.”
Then he said: “O people of Quraish! Do not come (on the Day of Judgment) carrying on your necks the world while other’s carrying hereafter. Then I cannot help you against Allah.
“O People of Quraish! Allah has taken from you the pride of the Pre-Islamic period and glorification of your fathers. O People! Undoubtedly your blood, your wealth and properties and sexual honour and dignity are as sacred as the Sacredness of this day in this sacred month in this sacred city which belongs to you until you meet your Sustainer who shall ask you of your deeds and actions.
“Beware! Do not go astray after my death that you start cutting the throat of each other, so if someone holding some other’s wealth or property or secret as a trusted deposit, he should return it to its depositor.
“O people! Every Muslim is a brother of other Muslim, and all Muslims are brothers. Be careful again, be careful about your slaves, feed them from what you eat and dress them from what you dress.
“Beware! Everything from the pre-Islamic days is under my feet (and) is null and void. The bloods from the ignorance time are null and void; the first blood from our blood I make null and void is the blood of Ibn Rabiyah who was a milk sucker in Banu Sa’ad and was killed by the Huzail (Tribe); and interest of Pre-Islamic time is also null and void. The first interest from our (transaction) I render null and void is the interest of Abbas Bin Abdul Muttalib because all is totally cancelled and void.
“O People! Allah the Almighty has given to each rightful his right or share (in the inheritance). Therefore, there is no will for the inheritor.
“The child will be related to the one on whose bed he was born while the adulterer should be stoned (to death). It is for Allah to call them for accounting (about their deeds).
“One who claims to be child of a person other than his father and the slave who relates himself not to his master, curse of Allah shall be upon them.
“The debt is repayable and the borrowed item is returnable and gift is (also) returnable. The guarantor becomes the debtor.
“Nothing becomes rightful from his brother unless it is given willingly by him. Therefore, do not do injustice on your own selves.
“It is not legal for a woman to give (anything) from the wealth and property of her husband except with his permission.
“O people! You have a right on your wives and for them there is a right on you. It is their duty not to let one who is hated by their husbands to have sex on your beds with them. It is their responsibility not to commit any shameful act (secretly or openly). If they do that, then law has permitted you to beat them not violently but lightly. If they stop that action, then they can have their subsistence and dresses as usual and in a traditional way. Treat your wives in a good manner because they are dependent upon you and do not own anything. So be afraid of Allah in respect of wives because you have taken them under the custody of Allah and made them lawful for yourselves by uttering some Allah’s words.
“Moreover, I have left behind me that if you hold fast to it after my death you shall never go astray: Allah’s book. Beware of extremism in the religion because the extremism in religion had killed those who were before you.
“The Satan is disappointed from being worshipped in this land of yours forever but he will be satisfied on his obedience you do in those matters which you decide as unimportant among your actions.
“Beware! Worship your Sustainer, pray your five (obligatory) prayers, fast your month (of Ramadhan), give Zakaat of your properties and wealth with the pleasure of yourselves, perform Hajj of the house of your Sustainer and obey your rulers, then you shall enter into the Paradise of your Sustainer.
“Beware! A criminal shall be responsible for his actions. The son shall not hold accountable for the actions of his criminal father nor shall he be held responsible for the actions of the criminal son.
“Beware! The listener should convey this sermon to a person who is not present here. Probably the communicated to, may be more understanding than the listener himself.
“You shall be asked about me? Then what you are going to say?”
They (companions) said: “We shall stand witness that you returned (to us) the things which you were made trustee thereof and you conveyed the message and advised your people sincerely.”
Then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) raised his index finger towards the sky and pointed it towards the people three times and said: “O Allah! Be witness, O Allah! Be witness, O Allah! Be witness.”
The values highlighted in this Prophetic Sermon are enormous but only a few of them we are mentioning here:
(1) The first and foremost is the thankfulness and gratitude of the servants of Allah the Almighty to their Creator and Sustainer. It is reflected in His glorification by words and deeds and acknowledgement of human humbleness before Him. It consists of:
a) Oneness of Allah, His Uniqueness without any associate.
b) Unshakable belief in His promise of support if we fulfil all that is required to become His sincere servants and soldiers.
c) To credit Him alone for successes and achievements because His selection of furs for the execution of His jobs in itself is the greatest honour.
(2) This is vividly reflected in his address which he began with “O People!...” it means: a) He and His Messenger ‘Islam’ [unconditional submission to Allah’s will and wish] are for all human beings – belonging to all other races, bloods and origins. It accounts to declaration of universality of himself, his message, Islam and the Book revealed to him, the Holy Qur’ān.
It also signifies that there is no room for racism, linguistic differentiations and complexion and wealth based modern dogmas, morals and rules and regulations. All human beings are one as their great grandfather; Adam (may Allah be pleased with him) is one who has been created by the only one Allah, the Almighty. This unity of creation from the clay and the Creator make all human beings one race not divisible on the basis of blood, complexion, language, wealth and geographical boundaries.
All must surrender to Allah and His orders as represented by Islam as a complete system of life and expressed in the Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him).
In continuation of that, the Blessed Prophet elaborated further in this final and farewell address.
After brushing away all un-Islamic parameters he gave a new and universal parameter on whose basis human beings must be classified; fearfulness of Allah, the Almighty. Whoever fears Him most and abides by His commandments most as stated and explained in the Holy Qur’ān’s as well as the sayings and actions of the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him).
Comes and falls under the same headline the pride and glorification of fathers, customs and traditions, which are in conflict with the Islamic Universal Values.
(3) After emphasising in the most emphatic language the basic beliefs, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) dealt in the clearest and firmest tone and terms with the basic facts of life: the sanctity of human life (the blood), property and (sexual) honour and dignity.
He prohibited all three and made them sacred. As much as of his own life, his property and honour and dignity is sacred and un-attackable, all Muslim’s lives, properties and (sexual) honour and dignities are also sacred. Therefore, no Muslim can ever think of these three sacred things.
By that he made the Muslim society a very peaceful habitation wherein people’s lives, properties and honour and dignities are considered to be sacred and hence protected.
If you notice in a Muslim society that lives, properties and honours and dignities are not respected and protected, you can easily conclude that the society is far away from Islam and the Prophet’s teachings. You can go even deeper that its concepts regarding Allah, the Prophet and Day of Judgement are very weak and not influential.
To show the sanctity the Blessed Prophet declared:
1) One who kills a person unlawfully must also be slain;
2) The one who steals property of others, his hands must be cut off; and
3) The one who commits adultery after a legally valid marriage, whether man or woman, must be stoned to death.
In addition to that he protected the properties and valuables of a man and his sexual honour and dignity by ordering the married woman not to have sex on the bed of her husband with a person he hates (of course, other than himself), and that his properties and monies go to really legal inheritors. By that he protected family blood from pollution i.e. misleading progeny chain and protected sexual honour and dignity of both wife and husband.
This relationship between property and blood is a very important factor in stabilising a Muslim family and therefore a Muslim society.
(4) Unity of humanity based on one origin was mentioned with special reference of clay aimed at making them understand the Oneness of Allah combined with the Oneness of origin of man from clay, which does not entitle a man to be proud because he is made up of something trodden by men and animals alike, day and night. He who behaves proudly actually forgets his humble origin i.e. from clay.
(5) It highlights his deep concern about the womenfolk in the Muslim society in which he (the Blessed Prophet) carves a special position:
a) By referring to men’s being made legally rightful to have sexual relation with their wives by uttering few words for accepting their hands in marriage.
b) By declaring women totally dependent upon men by virtue of manhood, by making men defenders of their wives’ honour and dignity and providers of all of their needs and requirements. Hence they must treat them kindly and even pardon them if they commit openly a shameful act, in which case they can beat them lightly and not violently.
(6) This is a great and timely warning about extremism in religious affairs which had caused total destruction of the previous nations.
Within the Islamic framework of values, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) appears as the most valiant defender of women’s rights with the family and outside the family circles.
(7) If considered in the historical background of slaves – men, women and children alike, the Blessed Prophet uplifted the status of the slaves within their master’s circle very high:
a) By saying twice, “Take care of your slaves”, he drew their attention towards what he was going to utter in the next sentence.
b) He ordered them to treat them well, as far as their feeding and clothing are considered. By using the Arabic word: “MIN” which means ‘from’ he instructed in the clearest words their food and clothing can never be lower than what the masters eat, drink and dress.
It also includes that their conditions must be almost similar or at least nearer to their master’s living conditions and styles. Otherwise, ‘FROM’ the same food you eat and same dress as you use, becomes meaningless because after dressing high quality dress one cannot sit on an improperly covered ground!
Thus he became a champion of slaves’ cause and pushed their position to the highest imaginable heights not only in his period but even today.
Here one must not forget the constant exportation of Islam to free slave against many crimes committed by the Muslim men and women in addition to reserving a portion of the funds received in Zakaat for setting the slaves free.
The Holy Qur’ān and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) are full of such exportations as well as penalties demanding release of slaves from their bondage.
The most important fact regarding this matter is his preparation of ground for such a revolutionary announcement. He said: “Every Muslim is the brother of Muslim and all Muslims are brothers.”
It simply means Muslims are expected to treat their slaves in a brotherly manner and not to look down upon and mistreat them.
That’s why slaves became kings and rulers of the Muslims in India and Egypt without any resistance put by the free Muslims against the Slave-Rulers!
Can any other system of life present a single example of this kind?
(8) This is yet another multifaceted value, by which in one movement of his tongue, he put an end to every bad and inhuman tradition of the pre-Islamic period.
1) The most important among those traditions was revenge against killing one person or a camel which used to lead bloody wars for generations to come.
He established “Rule of Law” by rendering all blood claims from the pre-Islamic period null and void. By that he put an end to the bloody wars and asked people to go by law by providing proof and evidence of the actual killing and to keep penalty to be applicable to the killer himself and never to extend it to cover any of his near or distant relations.
He turned, in this field, a page of history when he rendered null and void the blood claim of his own family – the claim of Al-Rabiyah’s killing by the Huzail Tribe.
Consequently, from that blessed day onward everyone and every tribe had to knock the door of a court of law and settle blood dispute in accordance with the Law of Islam applicable on all without any discrimination.
2) The other social sickness of the pre-Islamic socio-economic order was interest-charging whether the lending took place for the satisfaction of the personal needs like satisfying hunger, purchasing medicine or burying a dead person or investing the borrowed money in a commercial venture. It was a very damaging and, at the same time, a hampering socio-economic and psychological disease which raised socio-economic barriers among various classes of the society and was a big factor in the hands of few persons, families and classes of the society.
On this historic occasion, the Prophet, in a masterstroke put an end to this socio-economical cancer by prohibiting interest charging and interest paying, in all their forms, for both personal and commercial uses. By that he freed the Islamic economy from shackles of the money-lender and let it grow and expand at a sustainable rate of growth without experiencing the upheavals of long-lasting ups and downs as we are experiencing the longest worldwide recession which is not showing any sign of real recovery due to the deadly poisons called interest charging, speculative activities and gambling, etc. and all other so-called investment derivatives which are but mixtures of these poisons.
The ongoing – almost endless recession – is a direct result of interest-based operations. Unless and until interest and speculation are totally eradicated from the world, there is no real hope of sustainable recovery of world economy.
The remarkable fact is that the Blessed Prophet started abolition and total eradication of interest from his uncle’s interest about which he stated that ‘all of it is null and void’. He could only claim his capital or principal amount.
The final value: He repeated the fundamentals of Islam like prayers of the Sustainer only, five prayers a day, fasting in the month of Ramadhan, paying Zakaat of your monies and properties and pilgrimage to Makkah and emphasised the necessity to hold the Qur’ān and his Sunnah firmly, both in words and deeds and in spirit as well. He also advised them the necessity to maintain law and order by obeying their rulers.
If they do so, they shall enter the Paradise.
These are the social values which I have opted to pick up from the Holy Sermon and to explain them briefly. Certainly there are other Values as well but these are of great importance.