It is amazing how pertinent the Prophet (ص)’s chosen topics of discussion are to the problems we face today, and how he said so little and yet, once we start to think about it, left such an encompassing and diverse reminder for us. The next issue he focused on, for example, is increasingly important both inside and outside the Muslim community: the rights of women in Islam. The Prophet (ص) outlined the rights men have over women, and the rights women have over men, and how any tensions that will inevitably arise should be resolved. In the Muslim world today, it’s no exaggeration to say that one-half of Muslims (i.e. the women) do not have the opportunity to stand side-by-side with men to realize the full potential of the Muslim ‘ummah. Until this issue of the difference between Islam’s prescribed relationships between men and women and what actually happens in Muslim communities, we will continue to suffer the far-reaching consequences of our carelessness of the Prophet (ص)’s example on this subject, which he re-emphasized in this khutbah.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Saying At The End Of Khutbah
At this point nearing the end of his khutbah, the Prophet (ص) once again reminded us of the sources of guidance that he would leave behind for us, always there for us to benefit from: the Qur’an, his sunnah, and the example of the Ahl al-Bayt (the People of the House). It is notable, first of all, that he emphasized that these sources would only guide us if we put their guidance into action. Secondly, I just thought it’d be helpful to remind ourselves that the Prophet (ص)’s sunnah (example) can generally be defined as everything that the he did, said, or silently approved of; we often use the word passively and vaguely, but it is in fact a rich resource of guidance on an incredibly wide range of matters, and we should study it beyond the discussion and application of a few sunnah actions here and there. It is also important that accepting the Qur’an and sunnah as sources of guidance and authority requires us to love, respect, and also follow the example of the people who have passed them down to us: the Sahābah and the shuyūkh and other pious Muslims throughout the centuries. Finally, the Ahl al-Bayt: once again, the Prophet (ص) referred to his own family first. Unfortunately, many Sunni Muslims today distance ourselves from the example of these people – the Prophet (ص)’s wives, his children, their children, and so on – merely because many of them are mistakenly associated more with the Shi’a. Perhaps it was as part of a prediction of this neglect that he specifically mentioned the Ahl al-Bayt; hence, we need to study their lives and follow their example as we try to tread the path of righteousness (and achieve the summits of human excellence that they reached).
The next statement of the Prophet (ص) is perhaps the most famous part of this khutbah, and addressed a case of enormous social injustice: racism. This disease continues to be prevalent in the Muslim world: there are nationality and/or ethnicity-centered mosques, there are endless cases of Arabs treating Muslims of darker complexion like garbage, there are completely unfounded prejudices, there are derogatory terms such as “abīd,” and I could just go on and on. More broadly, many other –isms are also addressed here: sexism, nationalism, tribalism, classism, etc. Nor, once again, are these –isms a problem only in Muslim societies – they may be even more prevalent in non-Muslim societies. And they continue to be a cause of many devastating and unfortunate events and conditions in our world. The Prophet (ص) summarized it quite clearly and simply: the only difference that matters is the difference in taqwa, and that is something everyone has an equal chance of achieving. And how do we know who has the most taqwa? That’s the point: we don’t. Hence, once such an understanding is established, we’d naturally tend to treat each other as equals, because only Allah (ع) really knows who is a muttaqi and who is not.
Our Duty or Responsibility From Last Khutbah of PBUH
And finally, the Prophet (ص) reminded us of our duty: to take his message to the rest of humanity after him. As Muslims, inviting people to Islam (da’wah) and delivering to them the Prophet (ص)’s message is for us a very important obligation (and a very rewarding deed), but one that is unfortunately often neglected or misapplied. And it’s notable that he mentioned that those not listening to the khutbah live may still understand it better than those who were there. Perhaps he was once again hinting at the universality and timelessness of his message; perhaps he did not want future generations of Muslims (i.e. you and I) as well as reverts to Islam to feel distanced from this historic khutbah; or perhaps it was a combination of both objectives, or for another reason that is beyond my understanding.
And finally, once again, the Prophet (ص) addressed yet another pressing issue in Muslim societies related to economic justice: the bequeathing of inheritance. Anyone who comes from or is familiar with South Asian culture especially is aware of the lasting problems that arise from people meddling with Islamic teachings on how they are to pass down their inheritance. This in turn contributes to all kinds of other social problems, such as marriages purely for the sake of securing inheritance, parents dealing unjustly with children, children dealing unjustly with parents, etc. The Prophet (ص), in his hikmah (wisdom), discussed some of the root causes of the problems we face today; some of the very causes that unfortunately we choose to completely ignore.
And thus he concluded his khutbah and completed his hajj, and soon afterwards he left us and returned to his Creator. The ayah of the Qur’an that the Jew mentioned to ‘Umar (ر) was revealed to him right after this khutbah. Let’s repeat it here: ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.’ Before this khutbah, the Prophet (ص) had already conveyed the vast majority of the message he was sent with; but Allah (ع) did not reveal this ayah until after he had reminded the Muslims of certain things one more time. For the most part, these were issues related to social and economic justice, issues that we continue to face to this very day.
Until his very last breath, the Prophet (ص) was concerned about us, his ‘ummah. He did not leave us empty-handed; over 23 years and on that fateful day of ‘Arafah, he gave us very comprehensive advice, taught us a complete way of life. It’s up to us to now embrace his advice and benefit from it.
Source for the khutbah: Zafar Bangash’s Power Manifestations of the Sīrah: Examining the Letters and Treaties of the Messenger of Allah (s) (Richmond Hill, Canada: ICIT, 2011), pp. 276-79, where it has been translated from the Arabic as found in Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah’s Al-Wathā’iq al-Siyāsīyah fi al-‘Ahd al-Nabawi wa’l-Khulafā al-Rāshidah 7th edition (Beirut, Lebanon: Dār al-Nafā’is, 2001), pp. 226-28. Note: I have come across other sources which leave out some parts of the khutbah as it is presented here – Allah knows best which is the most authentic. I seek Allah’s refuge from deliberately lying about the Prophet (ص)’s words.
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