Khutbatul Wada’ or Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w. last sermon was delivered on the 9th of Zulhijjah 10 A.H (632 C.E) on the Mount ‘Arafah, Makkah. Some scholars view that it is a series of sermons made by the Prophet s.a.w. in Arafah and Mina beginning from the day of Arafah until the middle day of Tasyriq.
It happened when the Prophet s.a.w. performed his first and last Hajj (Pilgrimage). It was known as the Hajj of Farewell because the Prophet s.a.w. bade farewell to the people and did not perform a Hajj after it. It is also known to be the Hajj of Completion because it was during this Hajj that this verse was revealed:
ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمَ دِينًۭا
"Today I have perfected for you your religion, and completed My blessing upon you, and approved for you Islam as religion"
(Surah Al-Ma'idah, 5:3)
Thus, scholars have deemed this sermon to be the last sermon of the Prophet. The sermon begins with:
"O People. Listen well to my words, for I do not know; perhaps I may never meet you after this year in this place again"
The Prophet's s.a.w. final sermon was arranged in the most beautiful way that encompasses the structure of life. It is an emotional yet impactful sermon for Muslims from that time till now. Let us reflect on the universality of his message.
The Prophet s.a.w. started his final sermon by praising the All-Mighty. His last message began by showing his gratitude to Allah s.w.t for all the blessings he received. This marks an obligation for us to share the word of Islam to people, with wisdom and love.
Rasulullah s.a.w. then said:
"O People! Verily your lives and your wealth are sacred and forbidden upon you until you meet your Lord, as sacred as this day and this month are."
The month of Zulhijjah is one of the most sacred and significant months in the Islamic calendar. The month of Hajj (pilgrimage), where Muslims from all walks of life gather to seek Allah's pleasure and fulfil the 5th pillar of Islam. Indeed, this is a month of increased spirituality.
The Prophet s.a.w. equated the sanctity of life and humankind with this sacred month. This indicates the importance of humanity and the value of respecting one another's rights in Islam. Society is entitled to and worthy of reverence and respect. Our rights should be highly valued and our lives are sacred.
To attain peace in a society, no one shall harm or hurt one another, or even trespass upon another’s property. The Prophet s.a.w. continued:
"Hurt no one, so that no one may hurt you."
It is undeniably our responsibility to treat people how we want to be treated. Hurt can be in various forms, be it physical, emotional or psychological, verbal or non-verbal.
We should continuously reflect on ourselves - our words, our actions - and how they can affect people. Seek peace, and you will find it. The Prophet s.a.w mentioned in a hadith:
“A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection. Whoever screens (humiliates) a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection."
As Muslims, we must show love and care for one another. The term 'love' refers to a pure intent for good and benefit to come to others. This love that we should have between humankind is celestial and spiritual, not just earthly. Our love and care for others also are extended to all creation of Allah s.w.t.
It is the nature of the baser-self that desires harm to occur unto their enemies or discriminate against those who are not like them based on creed, colour or character. Nonetheless, humankind ought to oppose these blameworthy traits and instead, seek good for others.
Women are not the property of men, and their rights are given by Allah s.w.t., which no man can take from them. The Prophet s.a.w. emphasised the principles of mutual love, trust and respect.
"O People, it is true that you have certain rights concerning your women, but they also have rights over you." The Prophet s.a.w. later mentioned, "Remember that you have taken them as your wives, only under Allah's s.w.t trust and with his permission."
Rasulullah s.a.w. taught us that, indeed, women and men are partners. As partners, women and men complement one another. Being partners means that we share a lot of things together as husband and wife. In creating a harmonious living environment, there is a need to understand each other and be kind to one another.
“I enjoin you to treat women well and be kind to them”
Rasulullah s.a.w. uplifted the status of women during his time. Several pre-Islamic patriarchal practices were reformed. Women were given voices and spaces to air their views and grievances. They played significant roles in the development of Islam.
Today, we should continue to honour this legacy of Rasulullah s.a.w. by treating women around us with kindness and respect.
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. emphasised the importance of socio-economic justice. As mentioned in some sources on the final sermon:
“And give your wealth in Zakat”
Economic inequality happens when wealth and opportunity are not distributed evenly within the society. This may lead to the poor being stuck at the lower socio-economic class.
The practice of Zakat will ideally create a more just society through this wealth-sharing mechanism to achieve a fairer distribution of wealth and for the socio-economic development of the community.
Allah s.w.t mentioned in the Quran;
وَأَقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُوا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱرْكَعُوا۟ مَعَ ٱلرَّٰكِعِينَ
“Establish prayer, pay alms-tax (Zakat), and bow down with those who bow down.”
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:43)
This Quranic verse tells us that Zakat is an individual obligation for every Muslim. It is, in fact, the third pillar of Islam as narrated in a hadith. Islam prioritises the importance of purifying one's wealth by distributing them to the needy and other asnaf (beneficiaries of Zakat).
As mentioned in the Quran:
خُذْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَتُزَكِّيهِم بِهَا
“Take (O Muhammad s.a.w.), from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them to increase.”
(Surah At-Taubah, 9:103)
Other than purifying one’s wealth, Zakat is a form of gratitude for Allah’s bounty unto us. It also brings a sense of serenity and well-being as a Muslim when providing for others and doing our part for the socio-economic well-being of our community. Nowadays, Zakat payments can even be made online.
The final sermon also stressed the harmful effects of usury such that it is prohibited for this practice to be continued. The message is clear that, as Muslims, we should prevent any form of economic exploitation.
“All humankind is from Adam a.s and Hawa a.s. An Arab has no superiority over a non- Arab, nor does a non-Arab have superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action."
A human is judged entirely by his/her righteousness, not because of his/her race, colour or socioeconomic status. Racism, discrimination, bigotry and social injustice still exist in today’s society. We tend to judge people based on their physical attributes, looking past what their hearts can offer.
No nation is created to be above another; the differences between humankind is for us to embrace and learn from one another. Allah s.w.t mentions in the Quran;
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَٰكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَٰكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَآئِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتْقَىٰكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O humankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
(Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:13)
Let us all take a step back and instead of discriminating against others, reflect deeply on ourselves and our hearts so that we can become better people.
Islam does not promote the superiority of one's race or lineage. Although one can be from a noble lineage, it is only something to be venerated when his/her actions are likewise honourable. Imam Al-Haddad mentioned:
"No person of any consequence should respect or praise an ignorant man, even if he is of noble birth and virtuous ancestry, for respecting and praising such a person in his presence may harm him. It may deceive him concerning God, render him neglectful of proper behaviour and distract him from gathering provision for the Hereafter."
Our hearts are valuable and sacred. Don't let our eyes disregard others’ hearts while we are too focused on physical differences.
"O people, no Prophet or Messenger will come after me and no new faith will be born. Therefore, understand the words which I convey to you. I will leave two things; the Quran and the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray."
Throughout his last sermon, the Prophet s.a.w. profoundly reminded us about the importance of rights among humankind. Towards the end of the sermon, he s.a.w. reminded us that after his departure, there would be no Messenger after him to guide us, but he did not leave us empty-handed. The Prophet s.a.w. left us with two primary sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. These encompass the pillars of faith.
As Muslims, we should be mindful of our rights and duties towards Allah s.w.t. such as praying daily, fasting in the month of Ramadan and performing Zakat and Hajj for those who can afford and are physically able. To be mindful of these duties is what makes us Muslims.
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. is not present with us physically to guide us in our lives but he s.a.w. is with us in our hearts through the light of the Quran and Sunnah.
“And if you follow this, you will never go astray”.
The Prophet s.a.w. also gave us the responsibility, as mentioned earlier, to pass on the baton of his message and the word of Islam and its goodness to others. It is, therefore, our duty to ensure the timeless message of Rasulullah’s s.a.w. remains relevant to our time and locality.
“All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; perhaps some of those who receive my words would understand them better than those who listened to me directly.”
Islam is a universal religion that is not confined to a particular race or nation. Hence, we must uphold the values and principles of Islam. The Prophet s.a.w. then ended his final sermon by reading the verse from Surah Al-Ma’idah:
ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمَ دِينًۭا
"This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as a religion."
(Surah Al-Maidah, 5:3)
In this blessed month of Rabiul Awwal, let us reflect on ourselves, take a step back, and revive the core teachings of our Prophet s.a.w. in achieving an ethical and moral society, wherever we are, where no one inflicts harm nor injustice upon others.
May Allah grant us the strength to become better Muslims and better human beings.
And Allah knows best.