Notes from the Prophet (SAW)’s farewell address. Part 2
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
The farewell address of Prophet (SAW) as related by his companions like Ibne Abbas, Ibne Umar, Abu Umama Bahili, Jaabir bin Abdullah, and Abu Bakr Siddique (RAnhuma) has been recorded in Sahi Bukhari, Sahi Muslim, and Sunan Abu Dawood. There is uniformity in certain quotations while there are variations in some. Books which cover those battles in which Prophet (SAW) participated have some additional traditions. The fact is that it was a long address and every one of Prophet (SAW)’s companions quoted only that part which he remembered. What has been related by Jaabir bin Abdullah is more detailed than others. Historian Ibne Ishaaque has recorded it as a continuous sermon. Ibne Majah, Tirmidhi, and Musnad Ahmad have recorded some sentences from the farewell address without indicating their respective date. Compilations of all the quotations from Siha Sitta and Masaaneed indicate that Prophet (SAW) had addressed the congregation of Hujjaj three times: First on the 9th Dhul Hijja on the Day of Arafah, on the 10th Dhul Hijja on the Day of An’Nahr (sacrifice), and the third during the Days of Tashreeque, either on 11th or 12th of Dhul Hijjah. There is uniformity in what Prophet (SAW) said except where he said additional things depending on what he considered suitable for a given situation and occasion. Some of the Muhaddiseen have opined that since the congregation of Hujjaj was exceptionally big, Prophet (SAW) repeated his advice a few times to ensure its remembrance.
[Seerat-un-Nabi, by Shibli Naumani]
Let me now briefly touch on the subject Prophet (SAW) discussed in his farewell address. It will also be discussed in the future as one can say volumes on this charter of Human and Civil Rights.
We should know that three fundamental principles ensure a normal social life: 1) Safety of life, the right to live a fear free life. 2) Security of assets and their ownership, and 3) mutual respect for each other and recognition of individual rights and duties.
Now cast a cursory glance on the existing situation in the family of nations around the globe and the current international tension threatening freedom and peace. Cast a glance also on the energy, time and resources spent in resolving the issues which are endangering peace, and in certain cases survival of nations. If a sincere effort is made to correct the situation by those who have the power to resolve the conflicts, things can change for the better. If each nation takes account of its actions, guards it policy towards other nations and conducts itself on principles of peaceful co-existence, there is every reason that the world would become a peaceful place to live as everyone wants it to be.
In the pre-Islamic Arabia, might was right and it was a jungle rule. Any one was free to kill anyone and usurp the victim’s wealth and enslave his family. Poor and the weak were exploited; widows and orphans were treated as non-humans and had no right to exist. Prophet (SAW) in his farewell address focused on these fundamental issues and told the world to safeguard these three fundamental principles. He (SAW) said:
“O Men, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion in the future. O Men, your lives and your property shall be inviolate until your meet your Lord. The safety of your lives and of your property shall be as inviolate as this holy day (Yaum-ul-Hajj), this holy month (Dhul Hijja), and this holy city (Makkah al Mukarramah).
Pre-Islamic Arab tribes had no central authority, and there was no organizational structure among the hundreds of tribes scattered far and wide. A little provocation was enough to start a skirmish, which resulted in an inter-tribal war and continued through generations. As a result hundreds of people were killed, and families destroyed. Each tribe greedily looked at other tribe’s property, herds of cattle, women and children and at an opportune time pounced upon like a vulture. Trade caravans were not allowed a safe passage unless a huge bribe was given. The winning tribe used to sell the women and children of the vanquished tribe as slaves. Darkness ruled supreme.
Look at the pages of history to find how Prophet (SAW) and later his companions revolutionized the society by applying the principles outlined in Prophet (SAW)’s farewell address. When Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) sent an army to Syrian border under the command of Usama bin Zaid, he addressed him and the soldiers as such:
“O People! Listen to my advice and remember: Never betray the trust, violate command, rebel, mutilate the dead, and kill the infants and women.”
Look at the treaty which Sayyidina Umar Farooq (RA), made with the Christian leadership on the conquest of Baitul Maqdis:
“This treaty of peace is between Allah’s servant Umar, the leader of the Muslims and the people of Aeylah. This treaty ensures their peace, safety of life, security of their property, their churches and the cross. This equally applies to the people of all other religions, and covers all the healthy and the sick. Their places of worship will not be used for accommodation and wouldn’t be harmed. No damage will be done to them and their compounds. Nothing will be taken from their wealth. There will be no compulsion with regards to religion and no one will be discriminated on the basis of faith.”
Usury had an enormous network in Arabia, and it had turned the poor, poorer, and the rich, richer. Debtors were literally salves of the lenders. Wealth had concentrated in the hands of the few. Humanity was suffocating under such a callous and unjust economic system. Prophet (SAW)’s command liberated humanity from the shackles of usury, when he (SAW) declared:
“All interest obligations shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. Allah has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived.”
Abbas was Prophet (SAW)’s real uncle and was the chief of the Quraish tribe. He was very well known with regards to his money lending and interest business. Prophet (SAW) while banning the interest promulgated the law on his own family first.
Abbas (RA) and Khalid bin Waleed (RA) had a joint business and they had commercial dealings with the tribe of Banu Thaqeef of Taa’if. Banu Thaqeef owed a huge amount to Abbas (RA). When he (RA) demanded his money form Banu Thaqeef, Prophet (SAW) as per command of the Holy Qur’an had Abbas waive the amount of interest and mentioned it in his farewell address.
Revenge was in the blood of pre-Islamic Arabs. It was a family obligation. A child was raised to avenge the death of his ancestors, and it was considered as a debt that he was supposed to pay after reaching adulthood if not before. Such a custom prompted bloodshed after bloodshed. Historians termed those days as “Ayyam-ul-Arab.” Prophet (SAW) stopped this attitude of vengeance and introduced the principle of “peaceful co-existence” to the world. He (SAW) declared:
“Every right arising of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived. And the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi’ah ibn Harith ibn Abd al Muttalib.” Prophet (SAW) set the example of his own family first to forget and forgive.
He (SAW) on this occasion outlined the measures to secure the rights of status, ownership, self respect and declared:
“I trample under my feet all customs of ignorance, ransom, and false claim on some one’s water and wealth.”
The teachings of all earlier Messengers were interpolated, changed; none retained their originality and are lost to us. Prophet advised his followers to hold fast to the Word of Allah and his Sunnah. He declared:
“I am leaving you with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet. If you follow them, you will never go astray.”
He (SAW) then prescribed some rules of Shari’ah and announced:
without husband’s permission to someone else.
After having made the announcement, he (SAW) addressed the people and said: “Allah (SWT) will ask you about me (in Akhira), what would you say?”
The companions replied in unison: “We will attest that you have conveyed the Message and fulfilled your duty.” Prophet (SAW) raised his finger towards the sky and said three times: “Yaa Allah, You are a Witness. I have conveyed Your Message.”
Right at that moment when Prophet (SAW) was addressing Hujjaj, Aayah 3 of Surah Al-Ma’idah was revealed, which said:
“Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam [total devotion to Allah] as your religion…”
Having delivered the farewell address, Prophet (SAW) asked Bilaal (RA) to call Adhan and prayed Zuhr and Asr together. While facing Kabah, he continued crying while supplicating. As the sun was setting, he (SAW) got ready to proceed to Muzdalifah. He was passing through the crowd and was saying: “People, be at peace, remain peaceful.”
He (SAW) also said: “Save your self from extremism and exaggeration in religion because earlier people had gone astray due to these reasons. Learn the rites of Hajj from me; I don’t know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion.”
Having reached Muzdalifah, he (SAW) prayed Maghrib and I’sha and later took rest till the next early morning. According to narrators of traditions, this was the only night when Prophet (SAW) did not make “Qiyaam-ul-Lail” and didn’t pray Tahajjud as usual.
I will recommend you to please Prophet (SAW) complete farewell address and reflect on it. May Allah enable us to live peacefully and let others live in peace. May Allah enable us to fulfill our duties and recognize the rights others have on us! Ameen!
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.