The Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Words hold incredible power. Throughout history, humans have been deeply moved by some of the greatest orators. From great men and women in justice movements, to our favourite scholars.
But, in my opinion, the most powerful speech in history, which reverberates through time, and holds so much beauty, is the Farewell Sermon of the greatest man who walked the earth, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As we enter the Day of Arafah, I’d like to highlight some key points from the sermon, to help us understand, and benefit from the power of this day.
5 lessons for the farewell sermon:
1. “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
This is a powerful way to start the sermon. Often speakers talk about a topic and at the end they ask a question to feed introspection, however the Prophet (PBUH) in his wisdom took our attention to ourselves and immediately we are reminded to reflect on our actions. We are reminded to look inward and protect others as a way of protecting ourselves. Many psychologists repeat the refrain, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Amazing how this was conveyed over 1,400 years ago. Guard your tongue, your actions, be present. The deeper lesson here is one of taqwa. Being mindful of your impact and knowing the rights of others upon you is to be free from harm, subhanAllah.
2. Keeping away from usury
The majority of us have little idea how insidious the consumption of Riba is. Usury has led to the rise in capitalism and, with it, the idea that life needs to be lived in excess, with over-consumption and a deep drive for owning the best, biggest, and latest of every item. When we understand the severity of consuming interest reaffirms how incredible and merciful Allah is by sending us a Prophet (PBUH) to advise us, give us the chance to save our souls from the bondage of desires, and allow us to tread a path towards purification.
3. Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion
The plot of Shaytan ever unfolding. He is a master manipulator. This piece of advice is extremely powerful because we often underestimate Shaytan. His goal is simple: sabotage your life in two ways – by harming you and by pushing you to harm others. Seek refuge in Allah be vigilant and mindful of your thoughts and actions. Remember a crucial point, shaytan works in steps. He will seldom just whisper for you to leave your religion. He will tactically beautify the haram desires and push you to weaken in your endeavours that you pursue to bring you close to Allah.
“O you who believe! Enter perfectly in Islam (by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion) and follow not the footsteps of Shaytan (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.” (2:208).
4. Eliminating racism
In his sermon, the Messenger said, “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 does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.”
With the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the powerful advice of the Prophet (PBUH) is extremely important to heed. We are reminded of our origins and redirected to what truly matters: someone who has a heart that is attached to Allah in word and deed. This is what is truly important.
4. Treating women well
This advice is extremely pertinent in our times, when the disrespect and subjugation of women is far too common. The Prophet (PBUH) advised us to be guided by kindness and honour in the treatment and status of women. It is a reminder to both men and women of the status and rights of women in Islam, and society’s duty to uphold this standard.
The Farewell Sermon in full:
“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 obligations 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 Abdul Muttalib (the 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, perform your five daily prayers (salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford it.
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 does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety 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 for 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”.
May Allah allow us to reflect and act upon the advice of the beloved Prophet (PBUH). May He allow our hearts to be nourished in His love and empower us to learn and follow the Sunnah as a means to fulfilling His command. Ameen.