During the khilāfah (caliphate) of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb (ر), a Jew once came to him and said, “O Amīr al-Mu’minīn (Commander of the Believers), you recite a certain ayah (verse) in your Book (the Qur’ān). Had it come down upon the Jews, we would have adopted that day as our ‘īd (festival).” ‘Umar asked him which ayah he was referring to. “The words of the Almighty,” he replied, “[the third ayah of surah al-Mā’ida:] ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.’” “I swear by Allah,” said ‘Umar, “I know well the day when it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah (ص), and the hour too – in the evening, at ‘Arafah for khutbah, on a Friday.”
More than 1,400 years later, here I am, sitting in front of my laptop on a Friday evening on the day of ‘Arafah. For Muslims, there is hardly another day in the year which is more special than this day. It was on this day, after all, that, as ‘Umar (ر) said, Allah revealed that the religion had been perfected and His favour on us had been completed. Hence, on this blessed day Muslims strive to perform more ‘ibādah than we normally might, and there is a lot that may be said about it and its significance in Islam.
But that’s not what ‘Umar (ر) was talking about. He was referring to the day of ‘Arafah in the year 632 CE, when the Prophet (ص), standing on top of Jabal ar-Rahmah (the Mount of Mercy), had addressed an audience of at least 100,000 pilgrims who had accompanied him to Makkah to perform what later became known as his Hajjah al-Wadā‘, or Farewell Pilgrimage. But he delivered many sermons in his lifetime; what made this one so different?
Imagine you’ve been assigned the task of giving a 23-minute long presentation to a class; your job is to introduce to your audience a new perspective on life (which is quite different from what they are used to believing) and then help them realize why it embodies the reality of life and why they should embrace it. At first, as you begin your presentation, most of the people in your audience seem very uncomfortable with the idea; but by the time you are near the end of your presentation, most of them are already convinced that you are right. Throughout your presentation you have emphasized a variety of the essential features of your new idea, but as you come closer to the 23rd minute, you realize that your time is running out. If there is anything you really want to emphasize once again, anything that you want to leave your audience thinking about once your presentation is over, now is the time to say it. The audience gets a sense that your presentation is coming to an end, too, and you know they will pay very close attention to what you will say at this point. You want to finish off strong, and there is a lot you can say; so what will you choose to talk about?
The Prophet (ص) presented Islam for 23 years, and this, his khutbah at ‘Arafah, can be seen as the last minute of this presentation. Perhaps he could sense that his mission was now coming to an end. In all these years he had taught the Muslims a lot, and they would strive to preserve every last detail of his life and his teachings until the Day of Judgement, and to take the message that he had brought to them to the rest of humanity. He would never address a crowd this large on such a special occasion again. He had already thoroughly taught them Islam, firmly establishing it in their hearts, minds, and way of life. So what was it that he had to remind them of on this day? It would definitely be something very important, of course – he wouldn’t waste such an opportunity that Allah (ع) had blessed him with after so many years of hardship in striving in His way. And if he wouldn’t waste such an opportunity to teach us, remind us, express his concern for us after he would depart from this world, then it is imperative for Muslims today to not to waste the opportunity to learn from what he said to us on that day. Our Prophet Was Very Honest man & also World Best Man For all time.
But before we analyze this historic khutbah, I’d like to point out that there are different versions of this khutbah, each with slight variations, and the one I have used here has been translated from the Arabic as it was found in the late scholar Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah’s Al-Wathā’iq al-Siyāsīyah fi al-‘Ahd al-Nabawi wa’l-Khulafā al-Rāshidah (for the complete citation, see the end of this post).
On Jumma Al-Mubarik Prophet was Standing In front of Ummah For last Khutbah. “Appreciation and praise is due to Allah; we thank Him, we ask for His help, and we beg his pardon, and we repent to him, and we seek Allah’s refuge [safeguard, haven, security] from our own transgressions and wrongdoings. Whoever Allah guides has no one to misguide him [or her]; and whoever He misguides has no one to guide him. And I bear witness [testify] that there is no divinity/authority except Allah, the Only, having no rival [in dominion and authority]; and I bear witness [testify] that Muhammad is His subject and apostle.
O subjects of Allah, I counsel you to be vigilant of Allah’s power [and corrective justice], and I prevail upon you to obey Him, and I begin my speech with [the following] words of advice. And thus,
O people! Listen to me. I will clarify some things for you, for I do not know whether I will meet with you after this year in this capacity.
O people! Indeed your lives, and your possessions, and your family honour [womenfolk] are sacrosanct until you meet your Lord, [the same] as the sanctity of this, your day, in this, your month, in this, your country – have I not conveyed [the message]; O Allah, bear witness.
And whoever is holding a trust is required to return it to its proprietor.
And the ribā [usury] of jāhilīyah [ignorance] is disestablished, “…but what belongs to you is your principal, thereby you are not taking advantage of anyone, nor are you taken advantage of” (2:279). Allah has decreed that there be no ribā. And the first ribā I [being abolishing] is the ribā of my uncle al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib (ر).
And the blood contentions [reciprocal vengeance] of jāhilīyah are disestablished; and the first blood contention I [begin abolishing] is that of [the son of my cousin] ‘Amir ibn Rabi’ah ibn al-Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.
And the legacies [standards, norms, conventions] of jāhilīyah are disestablished except for the upkeep of the House [the whole are around the Ka‘bah and Masjid al-Harām] and offering water [to the pilgrims] in those precincts.
Murder has its redress [qisās], and for he who is accidentally [unintentionally] killed by a club or a stone, the compensation is 100 camels. And whoever increases [this compensation] belongs to [the tradition of] jāhilīyah – have I not conveyed [the message]; O Allah, bear witness.
And thus, O people! Shaytān [Satan] has given up being [openly] revered [idolized] in your country here, therefore he will be content in being obeyed in matters less than that – matters related to your own deeds that you may regard to be trivial – so be careful of him in matters of you dīn.
Timekeeping [pertaining to the progression of months during the year] now is in synchrony with [its order] when the celestial spheres and the Earth were created by Allah. when He created the heavens and the earth; [and] out of these, four are sacred,” [9:36] three of them are consecutive and one is solitary: Dhū al-Qa‘dah, Dhū al-Hijjah, and al-Muharram; and the Rajab of Mudar, which is between Jumādá and Sha‘bān – have I not conveyed [the message]; O Allah, bear witness.
it was by Allah’s word that you are intimate with them [meaning sexual intercourse]. Therefore, be very conscious of Allah’s authority, judgement and power when it comes to women. And counsel each other [referring to men] pertaining to their well-being – have I not conveyed [the message]; O Allah, bear witness.
[They – the attendees – said, “Yes.” And then, he said], Let the attendee communicate this to the absentee. There may be cases in which those who listen to this message from you will understand it better than some of you [who listened to it in person] understand it.
O people! Indeed Allah has allocated for every inheritor his share of the inheritance. An inheritor is not entitled to a bequest, and a bequest cannot exceed one-third of the total inheritance. A newborn’s lineage derives from his [biological parents]; and those who produce offspring outside of the bounds of marriage are to be confined. Whoever disavows his father’s lineage and whoever betrays his guardian, then upon him is the condemnation of Allah, the angels, and all people. No rationale or distracting argument for a substitute is acceptable [in the matter of transferring lineage or guardians].
And peace be unto you all.”
It may have come as a surprise. There is no specific mention of salāh, zakāh, sadaqah, sawm, or many other important forms of ‘ibādah (although this doesn’t diminish their importance and centrality to Islam at all, of course); there is a lot mention, however, of issues related social and economic justice. Let’s break it down a bit:
First, the Prophet (ص) reminded the Muslims in front of him of the importance of the advice he was about to impart to them, first by mentioning that it may be the last time he would ever address so many of them, and then by referring to the sanctity of the day of ‘Arafah, in the month of Dhū al-Hijjah, and in the sacred land of Makkah.
It is also notable right away that, during Khutbah, he was standing in front of many of the men and women who just a few years or even months ago were some of the bitterest enemies of Islam. Very few (if any) other leaders in history have had a chance to conclude their lifelong struggle by making such a victorious stand – Alexander failed to consolidate the empire he conquered and died disappointed, Genghis Khan died on his way to war, Napoleon failed to conquer Europe, etc. And yet, on this day, standing in front of his humbled former enemies, the Prophet (ص) mentioned that they should be mindful of Allah’s power, not his own, and even then because remaining conscious of Allah’s power (i.e. having taqwa) was for their own good. Selfless, he always put his concern for his ummah first, and reminded them of the true source of his own authority and success.
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The Final Sermon Or Khutbah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
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