At the peak of his achievement, this great leader called for a massive town hall – as we call it today.
He realised that his time was coming to an end. He then had an opportunity of addressing almost every one of his comrades.
It was Hajj season, and his speech won’t be a long one. Therefore, he would have to be selective of what he was going to say, out of his 23-year long exceptional work.
You would know, therefore, that every single thing that he mentioned would be of what he felt as of the utmost importance.
Reboot the way you perceive this keynote speech of his, and you would realise that he was talking about the future. He was addressing the issues of our contemporary world, the kind of problems that you’re hugely concerned about.
Here are six things for you to learn again from the last sermon of our Prophet Muhammad SAW:
1. He was addressing today’s world issues as well.
During his speech, ar-Rasul SAW mentioned something about the future. He said, “May the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly.“
Ar-Rasul SAW was addressing the best Muslim generation ever. How come the last ones to learn about this sermon may understand it better?
He was practically foretelling that realities for the future generations will be much more complex and intricate than the ones facing the ‘best generation’ of his time such that understanding and managing them in accordance with Islam’s timeless fundamentals will be more spiritually taxing and demanding. The import of his message for the future Muslims is twofold: (1) for them to connect competently with the complexities of the arising issues and challenges, and (2) for them to withstand the spiritual challenge and to ensure that those sacred fundamentals are not compromised in the process of meeting those challenges. Because if they were compromised life in the future will be bedevilled with systemic corruption.
That is why it is vital for us – the last ones – to take this last sermon of ar-Rasul SAW most seriously as he was spelling out the correct guideline for us to grapple with the ensuing challenges and remedy the situations.
2. He was insisting against today’s secularism and liberalism.
Roughly speaking, secularism refers to separating the worldly life from Divine injunctions, and liberalism refers to the wilful preference of replacing strict Divine injunctions with humanly conceived alternatives.
In his last sermon, ar-Rasul SAW reiterated the function of Tawheedin his speech including the five pillars of Islam as the correct weaponry against religious unfriendly ideologies in governing future societies. He reminded the absolute truth that at the end of it all everyone will have to kneel before Allah and be accountable before Him.
Note that the main parts of his speech were about the translation of Tawheed into public affairs. He was laying out the principles for a Shari’ah-compliant socio-political and economic system, pointing to the Quran and his Sunna as the actionable blueprints.
3. He illustrated Satan‘s modus operandi of today.
Today, Muslims in the world generally still observe prayers, fasting, zakat and Hajj; all the ‘amal. And they feel that those are sufficient.
Yet they are not. As ar-Rasul SAW hinted in his last sermon, Satan will still want to make us follow his evil footsteps with respect to those other parts of our ‘amal. He explained:
“O people, Satan is in despair of being worshipped on this land of yours. However, he is content to be obeyed in every other thing that you belittle from your ‘amal.”
Consider these examples:
We pray, but our prayers did not prevent us from fahsya’ and munkar.
We preach, but our great work of Da’wah makes us ‘worship’ ourselves instead.
We carry loads of ‘ilm, yet we leave behind the fundamentals of akhlak.
There, you should now realise how Satan is winning his mission today.
4. He pointed to the solutions of fundamental problems arising from today’s socio-political system.
Today, the geopolitical race for power killed people by hiding behind staged terrorism and counter-terrorism. In the last sermon, ar-Rasul SAW warned that lives are sacred:
“Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Today, rights and ownership are only the privileges of those with great influence and affluence. Without both, your rightful stake as ordinary people is only a plaything of the rich and powerful. This is the exact opposite of ar-Rasul’s reminder in the sermon about trust and rightful properties.
Today, the family institution is on the brink of destruction. Women are disregarded and exploited. Once again, ar-Rasul SAW mentioned a lot about women’s rights including in the husband-wife relationship during his last sermon.
Today, toxic racial supremacy is getting normalised. Somewhere in the world right now the weak and the vulnerable are made to suffer the extreme of apartheid, subjugation and genocide. As if anticipating this massive institutionalisation of moral violence against humanity, ar-Rasul SAW made a point to remind humanity that no race holds superiority over the other and that Allah only values Taqwa.
5. He gave guidance to the solutions of fundamental problems arising from today’s economic system.
Today’s global economic and monetary system is interest-based. As a result, social injustices that come with legalised materialistic greed are corrupting humanity of today. The wealthy become wealthier, while the poor only get more impoverished.
To be sure, Islamic scholars have made a great effort to transform the system. For now, their achievement is only as far as rendering the existing system technically Shari’ah-compliant. There is still a long way to go in terms of addressing the inbuilt injustices of the whole capitalist economic model.
In the last sermon, ar-Rasul SAW reiterated the fundamentals of a righteous economic system:
“Allah has forbidden you to take usury (riba)”
Of course, such dictum goes against the root of capitalism.
He also mentioned that individual property ownership is permissible – which goes against the heart of pure socialism.
And most importantly, he insisted strongly against inequality, whether in terms of Muslims inflicting it or suffering from it.
6. He reinstated that Allah is the absolute centre of public systems.
Ar-Rasul SAW was against any form of supremacy by mentioning the creation of Adam and Hawa. He kept reminding that everyone would be held accountable before Allah.
He highlighted that Allah set the principles of the systems Himself.
For instance, he reminded husbands that:
“You have taken them as your wives only under trust from ALLAH and with His permission.”
Although the objective of Shari’ah is about public interest and its application in public systems is categorised in mu’amalah that is open to human’s ijtihad, he indicated that there is still the imperative of obeying Divine injunctions in the ijtihad.