(To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice) that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your God is One God: Submit then your wills to Him (In Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves.) (Quran 22: 34)
(It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His guidance to you: And proclaim the Good News to all who do right.) (Quran 22: 37)
Ileya or Eid Adha is the Last of the Islamic festivals that round up the Holy Pilgrimage or Hajj which is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an ancient rite that dates back to father Abraham or Ibrahim, who was purported to have constructed the Ka’aba in Mecca. After the Day of Arafat, Moslems all over the world celebrate the festival of Eid Adha during which goats and sheep are slaughtered and their meat consumed. It is probably the most festive season in the Islamic calendar as it takes place during the last month of the Islamic calendar called Dhul Hijjah. The two introductory Ayats from Surat Al-Hajj above encapsulate the essence of the festival.
In the year 10 A.H (Anno Hegira) or 632 A.D., the Prophet went on the first and only Hajj during which he delivered a farewell sermon. This sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Islamic month of Dhul-Hijjah, in the ‘Uranah valley of Mount Arafat’ in Mecca. His words were quite clear and concise and were directed to the entire humanity.
The Final Sermon:
After praising, and thanking God, the Prophet, may God send His praises upon him said:
“O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today. 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. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. God has Judged that there shall be no interest, and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd’al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived… Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things. O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. 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 any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste. O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat. Perform Hajj if you have the means. 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; [none have superiority over another] except by piety and good action. Learn 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 was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone. O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”
Thus the Prophet completed his Final Sermon, and upon it, near the summit of Arafat, the revelation came down:
“…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My Grace upon you, and have chosen Islam for you as your religion…” (Quran 5:3)
Even today the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad is passed to every Muslim in every corner of the word through all possible means of communication. Muslims are reminded about it in mosques and in lectures. Indeed the meanings found in this sermon are indeed astounding, touching upon some of the most important rights God has over humanity, and humanity has over each other. Though the Prophet’s soul has left this world, his words are still living in our hearts.
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend: And Happy Eid!