The last sermon of Muhammad (SAW) happened on 9th of Dhul Hajj, 10AH or 6th of March, 632. This Sermon was given to the Muslims that came with him to Makkah to perform Hajj. Throughout the Hajj, the Prophet of Allah (SAW) explained to the people how to perform the Hajj, including all the rites and rituals that we do today. His Last Sermon was a signal to his friends, family, and followers, now that his life’s mission was completed and perfected, that he might not be around anymore. Muhammad (SAW) died three months and two days after this sermon that he gave in the Urunah Valley around Mount Arafat.
Of its all encapsulating, vast meaning the following can be derived from the sermon that has been quoted in the Sahih Bukhari, the Sahih Muslim, and the Sunan-Abi Dawood.
Allah the One
“All praise is Allah’s. We praise Him, seek His help, ask His forgiveness, and we repent unto Him. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our selves and our bad actions. Whomever Allah guides none can lead astray, and whomever He leads astray has no one to guide him. I testify that there is no god but Allah alone, without any partner, and I testify that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. I enjoin you, O servants of Allah, to be god-fearing towards Allah, I urge you to obey Him, and I begin with that which is best.”
Our prophet began his final message by declaring his loyalty, his devotion and his love for Allah. He invoked his protection against the evils men possess and carry them their entire lives because of the sin, injustice, and cruelty they had committed. He declared that the light of guidance and the darkness of hypocrisy are both sent by Allah. He asked his followers not to ascribe any partners to Allah and to remain steadfast in His obedience. He feared that after his death, the ignorant would make a god out of him and so he declared himself only as a messenger of Allah, only His servant and nothing more. He asked followers to never falter in their faith in Allah, to obey His commands and to heed the word of Allah.
The seal of the Prophethood
To commence: O people, hear me well: I explain to you. For I do not know; I may well not meet you again in this place where I now stand, after this year of mine.
The Prophet (SAW) suggested in the Final sermon, now that his mission to spread Islam was complete, his time on Earth might be limited. The Prophet died 3 months after giving this sermon. The Finality and seal of prophethood were attested by the last Ayah of the Quran that was revealed just after the sermon had ended. This declaration shows that there would be no other prophet after Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and those who do claim to be one would be false prophets. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr (RA) spent a considerable portion of his time as Caliph, chasing down and killing false prophets and prophetesses.
Sacred Lives and Property of Muslims
O people: your lives and your property, until the very day you meet your Lord, are as inviolable to each other as the inviolability of this day you are now in, and the month you are now in. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness. So let whoever has been given something for safe keeping give it back to him who gave him it.
The Month of Dhul Hajj is among the four most sacred months in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad attributed the sacredness of this month, and the Inviolable day of the Hajj to the lives and property of Muslims, one to another. He asked his followers to not only protect their own lives, but the lives of their brethren and their property, and to defend it not only from other enemies but also from themselves.
End of Usury
Truly, the usury of the Era of Ignorance has been laid aside forever, and the first usury I begin with is that which is due to my father’s brother ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.
Usury is forbidden in Islam. In pre-Islamic times, usury was a way of life. People used to lend money to the unfortunate at unfair rates, then live off on the interests while the debtor used to get crushed under an ever increasing weight of interest. This made the rich, even richer and the poor even poorer and created a rift in the fabric of society. By banning usury, Muhammad (SAW) rescued debtors from the clutches of the elitists and fascists of Makkah and later the whole of the Muslim world.
End of blood vengeance
And truly the blood-vengeance of the Era of Ignorance has been laid aside forever, and the first blood-vengeance we shall start with is that which is due for the blood of [my kinsman] ‘Amir ibn Rabi‘a ibn Harith ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib.
Before pre-Islamic times, the Arab society was a war mongering clan of merchant tribes. It was not uncommon to read about warring tribes, who kept scores and grudges that had decades, even century old rivalries. That was the barbaric traditions of pre-Islamic Quraish. If not the son, then the grandson must avenge the murder of the father, perhaps from the great grandson of the enemy by killing him. These practices created division in the society and destroyed lives, property, and confidence in a people. Muhammad (SAW) stopped this injustice by ending the blood vengeance.
End of Hereditary Distinction
Truly, the hereditary distinctions that were pretensions to respect in the Era of Ignorance have been laid aside forever, except for the custodianship of the Kaaba [by Bani ‘Abd al-Dar] and the giving of drink to pilgrims [by al-‘Abbas].
True to his mission, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) cut the distinct lineage of the elite families of Makah, who for years, kept the city under their thumb purely because they were either the richest, oldest or most influential since of old. Respect and distinction are based on merit, and so when the unworthy lead a people corruption is bound to follow.
Eye for an eye (Not more not less)
A deliberate murder is subject to retaliation in kind. An accidental death from a deliberate injury means a death resulting from [something not usually used or intended as a deadly weapon such as] a stick or a rock, for which the indemnity is one hundred camels: whoever asks for more is a person of the Era of Ignorance.
Murder is the biggest sin in Islam. Islam advises the death penalty for murders. But when people die due to an accident then our Prophet has set expiation for that. Man slaughter is resentful, but it can not be made into a resource for the victim’s family. This disrespects and degrades the value of life.
O people: the Devil has despaired of ever being worshipped in this land of yours, though he is content to be obeyed in other works of yours, that you deem to be of little importance.
It is said that with the victory at Makkah and the reconciliation that followed, Satan was driven out of the Meeqat, unable to enter again. The Dajjal or false Messiah who will appear near the End of Times would not be able to enter the Haram as well. Such is the protection and blessing from Allah on the Masjid-e-Haram. However, our Prophet said that Satan would be able to ensnare people in minor domestic issues, so they need to keep up their guard.
The Sacred four months of Islam
O people: postponing the inviolability of a sacred month [claiming to postpone the prohibition of killing in it to a subsequent month, so as to continue warring despite the sacred month’s having arrived] is a surfeit of unbelief, by which those who disbelieve are led astray, making it lawful one year and unlawful in another, in order to match the number [of months] Allah has made inviolable. Time has verily come full turn, to how it was the day Allah created the heavens and the earth. Four months there are which are inviolable, three in a row and forth by itself: Dhul Qa‘da, Dhul Hijja, and Muharram; and Rajab, which lies between Jumada and Sha‘ban. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness.
Allah has declared four months of the Islamic calendar as sacred. They include the months of Dhul Qa‘da, Dhul Hajj, Muharram, and Rajab. In these holy months, Muslims are asked to increase their worship, observe non-obligatory fasts and above all not to initiate or participate in any war. These months were also observed by the Arab pagans traditionally, but most people at the time shifted the months so to better suit their own agendas. Our Prophet (SAW) asked them to either abandon or postpone war, with in these sacred months strictly.
O people: verily you owe your women their rights, and they owe you yours. They may not lay with other men in your beds, let anyone into your houses you do not want without your permission or commit indecency. If they do, Allah has given you leave to debar them, send them from your beds, or [finally] strike them in a way that does no harm. But if they desist, and obey you, then you must provide for them and clothe them fittingly. The women who live with you are like captives, unable to manage for themselves: you took them as a trust from Allah and enjoyed their sex as lawful through a word [legal ruling] from Allah. So fear Allah in respect to women, and concern yourselves with their welfare. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness
The Prophet declared that it is the sole duty of every man to provide for his wife the provisions to maintain her needs. He declared that, though men provide a home for their women, bear their expenses and lead the family, it by no means give them the right to use them, abuse them or degrade their value. They are to be respected by men and men should keep them safe and secure. He also encouraged men to lead their households with modesty and maintain a relationship with pious women.
Unity and Brotherhood
O people, believers are but brothers. No one may take his brother’s property without his full consent. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness. Never go back to being unbelievers, smiting each other’s necks, for verily, I have left among you that which if you take it, you will never stray after me: the Book of Allah. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness.
Our Prophet declared that Muslims do not just share the same faith, they are blood brothers to each other. He warned the Muslims not harm or kill each other after he has gone beyond the mortal life. Muslim brothers should respect and love each other as if they have the same mother and father, they must protect their properties, not to steal each other’s possessions or harm or destroy them out of rage or jealousy.
O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam was from the ground. The noblest of you in Allah’s sight is the most godfearing: Arab has no merit over non-Arab other than godfearing-ness. Have I given the message?—O Allah, be my witness. —At this, they said yes.
After declaring every Muslim as brothers, one to another he declared all of the humanity as a vast family. He told the Muslims and the wider world that we must treat each other with love and friendship. He also denounced racism and sectarianism and declared that one person cannot pretend to have a higher rank over the other except by the measure of being God fearing, and only Allah knows how much a man does fear God than the other.
Spread the Word
He said, Then let whoever is present tell whoever is absent.
The Prophet of Allah told those who were present before him attending his final sermon to propagate his message. This is called ‘Tabligh’ in Islam. Teaching others, of something beneficial that is not necessarily related to Islam is a keystone in Islamic philosophy. It is due to this teaching, that within the next fifty years, the Islamic empire grew beyond a few desert cities, galloped across the Northern Africa and into Spain, bringing the rest of Europe out of the dark ages. Islam is part of the human information treasure; all have the right to informed of it, to incorporate it into their lives regardless of religion, caste or creed.
Legal matters and Inheritance
O people, Allah has apportioned to every deserving heir his share of the estate, and no deserving heir may accept a special bequest, and no special bequest may exceed a third of the estate. A child’s lineage is that of the [husband who owns the] bed, and adulterers shall be stoned. Whoever claims to be the son of someone besides his father or a bondsman who claims to belong to other than his masters shall bear the curse of Allah and the angels and all men: no deflecting of it or ransom for it shall be accepted from him.
The Prophet (SAW) taught us not to absconder the rights of the orphaned, and to instruct our relatives to disperse our wealth among our kin after we die, and not to favor any specific person over all others.