Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered a passionate and soul-stirring sermon during his first and only Haj on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah – the day of Arafah. The sermon, which is popularly known as the Farewell Sermon, is recorded in several authentic books of Ahadith, including Sahih Al-Bukhari and Musnad Ahmad. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not live till next year’s Haj and this was his farewell address to the tens of thousands of Muslims who did the pilgrimage with him.
“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. Treat others justly so that no one would be unjust to you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.”
The Prophet also exhorted the Muslims to fear Allah regarding women and to keep their hands off each other’s wealth and property. The 9th of Dhul Hijjah is sacred even for those Muslims who are not performing Haj. Its fast is an expiation for sins committed in the previous year and the next. (Sahih Muslim, no. 1162)
The sight of hundreds of thousands of Muslims embarking on their journey of Haj, proclaiming the talbiyah, telecast all around the world calls us to think about the time when Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) built the Ka’bah with his son Isma’il in the scorching, arid, and barren valley of Makkah thousands of years ago. He found it incredible that people would one day throng this Sacred House, in this uninhabited land, to answer their Lord’s call for Haj. He therefore prayed for Makkah to be blessed with fruit and provision from all around, and for people’s hearts to be inclined towards its people.
“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer: so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.” (Qur’an, 14:37)
He then proceeded, in submission to Allah’s command, to make the call for Haj to all mankind. Allah responded by declaring that a day would come, when this Sacred House would bring forth pilgrims from every distant valley, and on every riding beast available to them; they would come, responding to Allah’s call for Haj.
“And proclaim to mankind the Haj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Haj).” (Qur’an, 22:27)
The blessing is apparent. The Muslim Ummah, though divided today by sects, groups, and international borders, unites into one nation. Yes, we all unite during Haj, Alhamdulillah. We put everything aside to respond to Allah’s call. All pilgrims gather together on a single stretch of land – the plain of Arafah. Away from their comfortable homes, dressed in a pair of unstitched cloths, their faces covered with dust, their heads unprotected from the sun, their bellies half-empty, and their hearts humbled, they stand in remembrance of their Lord, turning to Him in repentance and submission. The most diehard of sinners can, on this day, transform into a humble, penitent servant with the mercy of Allah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more of His slaves from the Fire than the day of Arafah. He draws close then He praised them before the angels and says, ‘What do these people want?’” (Sahih Muslim, no. 1348)
After returning from Arafah, however, some unfortunate Muslims fall into the trap of Satan and fall into petty disputes about petty matters! They forget the essence of Haj, which teaches valuable lessons of mutual harmony and forbearance, as the Prophet advised in his last sermon.
Nothing rings true as much as the part of his sincere speech quoted below, the message of which, if Muslims were to take back home with them after Haj, would change their attitudes for good: “Know 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 is given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, be unjust to yourselves.” (Al-Bukhari, no. 1623; and Muslim, no. 98)