In the names of Allah, the Most Benevolent, the Most Merciful. May salutations and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his families always.
In the days to come, we would welcome one of the most blessed months in Islam. The months in which the most perfect creation of Allah was born. This month is called Rabiul Awwal in which our beloved Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be with him always (pbuh), was born in.
Allah swt mentions in Surah Al-Anbiya’, verse 107, “And we have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the universe.” True enough that through our Prophet’s (pbuh) history and characteristics, we learnt about the foundation of Islam i.e. mercy and compassion.
So, in this blessed month of Rabi’ul Awwal, let’s take a moment to reminisce the life of our beloved, whom without we realising, we are emulating him everyday, even as small as smiling to a stranger or giving up our seats to those who need it more than we do.
In all the sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), in my opinion, the most encompassing hadith that I ever came across is the ‘Khutbatul Wada’ or also known as the ‘Farewell Sermon’. Allow me to share some of the learning points that we can benefit as takeaways.
1. The Sanctity of lives and souls
“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. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.”
Technology has made our world seem small by connecting people from different parts of the world. With the existence of social medias such Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc, we are able to connect with our long lost friends and distant relatives as well as get updates of their activities and development.
While social media helps us to build and strengthen relationship, it can also burn this bridge by unpondered, unfiltered and emotional status updates and comments made to each other. Exchange of vulgarities can also be seen in some posts. If last time, fights can only break out when one meets each other physically. In today’s world, fights can be ignited without the needs of meeting, which is very concerning.
Although social media has helped us connect the world, we should be equally mindful of what we post and what we receive. We must always ponder on what we see, listen and receive in social medias as they may appear as truth. Islam teaches us to verify information that we receive so as not to hurt other people unnecessarily and be hurt in return.
2. Equality of all races
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab white has no superiority over black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
Indeed, this is a timely reminder for us. For most of us, especially the Malays, Islam has been our religion since our birth and more or less, our life has been shaped by Islam as it forms part of the Malay cultures.
While some of us are fortunate growing up in the Islamic environment, we should not perceive that the values and culture that we grew up in are the only way of Islam. We should be open to accept the different school of thought and most importantly portraying the best decorum (akhlaq) by putting our knowledge to practice. Render our support to our friends - be it the new Muslims or the born Muslim friends whom have rediscovered Islam and in their early steps of learning - and not to undermine them and view them as inferior because of their novice position in the Islamic knowledge.
We should also avoid giving judgement and giving out rulings (hukum) whenever we see actions which are different than the norms as there may be justification to these actions.
This is what our Prophet (pbuh) meant when he says that superiority in the sight of Allah is gauged on one’s piety and the good actions that one’s put, rather than the knowledge that one possesses with years of learning.
3. Women’s rights
“O People, It is true that you have certain rights in regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives, only under Allah's trust and with His permission. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.”
Factually, this is the first Women’s Rights outrightly been recorded in the history of the world. During the pre-Islamic days of the Arabs and Non-Arabs, women were treated like slaves or even worst. They were used as subjects of entertainment only and were denied of any rights including to inherit from their families and kin.
However, when Islam was brought to the Arabs, it began to emplace rights to women. They are given the rights of maintenance (for wife and daughters), the rights of education, love, marriage, inheritance and even divorce. All these led to the final acknowledgement of the Prophet (pbuh) when he (pbuh) narrated this hadith. Since this precedent, the world has developed their own foundations in highlighting and protecting the rights of women i.e. Women’s Right (UN), Women’s Charter (Singapore) etc.
4. The Legal Sources of Islam
“O People, no Prophet will come after me, and no new faith will be born. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and, the Sunnah (my example) and if you follow these you will never go astray.”
2 of the greatest gifts that we have as Muslims are the Quran and the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or the Sunnah. The Prophet (pbuh) has mentioned that those who hold on to these will not be deprived of guidance from Allah.
While this is a promised made to whomever that follows, we cannot help to witness that some of us were lost albeit following the Quran and Sunnah. How could this happen?
Some Muslims took literally about holding on to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah as acting upon how they perceived in the translations. As students of knowledge, we are taught since young that understanding is built upon years of studies and not instantaneous. We are also taught on how and who to receive the knowledge from. Our books were checked, vetted and discussed carefully before they were accepted to use as learning sources and curriculum. But sometimes, we overlooked to ponder how well we are taught to receive our knowledge from and went on ahead to make our own perception of things in subjects that we know the least.
Our scholars of Islam took years to learn from their great teachers and scholars in which their learnings could be traced back to the Prophet (pbuh). They are very careful in interpreting the Quran and the Hadith to avoid all avenues of having their own desire or worldly gains to cloud their perception.
We should be equally careful in who we are taking our religion from, lest the information that we receive may not be guidance, but to sink into deeper darkness. Take our knowledge from asatizah whom we know of their backgrounds, rather than those whom we do not although they may allure/appeal us in their speeches. And to always remember that knowledge is gained through years of learning rather than few days/months.
I believe there are a lot more that we can learn from this sermon. However, these are some learning points that I feel that we can resonate in today’s lives.
Although this saying was recorded more than 1400 years, we can see that it remains relevant until today. Such wisdom is only given to a God-inspired personal whom upon him was bestowed with divinely characteristics and attributes.
Lastly, let us ponder the words of Reverend Reginald Bosworth Smith (1839-1908), when he described our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his book entitled ‘Mohammad and Mohammedanism’: “Head of state as well as the Church, he was Caesar and the Pope in one; but, he was Pope without the Pope’s claims, the Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right Divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without instruments and without its support. He cared not for dressing of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”1
May Allah shower his peace and blessings to our beloved prophet Muhammad always. Amin.