THE FAREWELL PILGRIMAGE
THE Prophet (pbuh) had become the most powerful leader in the whole of Arabia. After the idols in the Ka’bah had been smashed and Quraysh had become Muslim, most of the other tribes of Arabia came to declare their Islam. The year in which they came was later to be called the Year of Deputations. As each tribe joined Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sent his men to teach them about their new religion.
Many people also came to Medina to question the Prophet (pbuh) himself. One tribe sent a man called Dimam, who was large and strong. On arriving in Medina, he went straight to the mosque, where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was sitting with some of his companions, and stood over the Prophet (pbuh). In a loud, rough voice he asked, ‘Which of you is the son of ‘Abd al-Muttalib?’ When the Prophet (pbuh) answered him, Dimam went on, ‘I am going to ask you a hard question, so do not misunderstand me. I ask you to swear by Allah, your God, the God of those before you and the God of those who will come after you, has He sent you to us as a messenger?’
‘Yes, He has’, replied the Prophet (pbuh).
‘Has Allah instructed you to order us to serve Him; to pray these five prayers; to pay alms; to fast; to make the pilgrimage and to follow the other laws of Islam)?’ continued Dimam. When the Prophet(pbuh) answered that Allah had indeed instructed him in this way, Dimam became a Muslim and, as he left, added, ‘Then I will do the things we are told to do and avoid the things we are forbidden-no more and no less.`
As Dimam mounted his camel to leave, the Prophet (pbuh) told the people around him, ‘If this man is sincere, he will go to Paradise.’ When Dimam reached his people they all thought he had gone mad but by nightfall, after he had finished speaking, there was not among them that had not accepted Islam.
When the time came for the yearly pilgrimage, it was proclaimed that the prophet (pbuh) would be going to Mecca. The Muslims flocked to Medina from all over Arabia to join him on his journey to the Ka’bah. As the tribes arrived they camped around the city until they finally numbered more than thirty thousand. The Prophet (pbuh) went out with his family and friends to pilgrimage, but before setting off, he led all the Muslims in prayer. After the prayers, the Prophet (pbuh) got on his camel and headed towards Mecca followed by the pilgrims, all of whom, for the first time in centuries, worshipped Allah, the One God.
The Prophet (pbuh) and his companions were deeply moved by the sight of the huge number of Muslims accompanying them to Mecca, carrying no arms, and fearing no one. They could not help but remember their original flight from Mecca when they had been so few in number and were forced to leave in order to avoid the anger of Quraysh.
Throughout the journey the Muslims repeated a prayer taught to them by the Prophet (pbuh), which he in turn had received, from the Archangel Gabriel. This prayer, the talbiyah, has been part of the Hajj ritual ever since. It is in answer to the call Abraham was commanded to make when he and Ishmael finished building the Ka’bah.
Labaik Allahumma labaik, labaik la sharika laka labaik
in al-hamd wa al-ni’amatu laka wal-mulk, la sharika laka.
Here I am, O Allah, at Thy service. Here I am,
Thou art without partner, here I am. All Praise and blessings
are thine, and Dominion! Thou art without partner!
After ten days the pilgrims marched at sunset through the same pass by which they had entered on the Day of Conquest of Mecca. When they reached the Ka’bah, the Prophet (pbuh) stood before it in prayer, then he and all the Muslims walked around it seven times saying their prayer aloud. Next, just as Abraham had done, they went towards the Mount of Mercy at ‘Arafah, which the Prophet (pbuh) ascended on a camel.
From the mountain he led the people in prayer and then spoke to them, as they stood assembled on the vast plain below. What the Prophet (pbuh) said is known as the ‘Farewell Sermon’, because it was the last speech the Prophet (pbuh) made before he died. He said, ‘surely you will meet your Lord and He will question you about your deeds.’ He asked the Muslims to take their guidance from the Koran and from his own example. This, he said, was the best way to live. He ordered them to cease living in the way they had before Islam. Revenge, one of the oldest traditions in Arabia, was ended forever; usury was prohibited; property was to be respected. Things which previously were forbidden during the four sacred months of the year were now forbidden at all times. He then commanded, ‘Know that every Muslim is a Muslim’s brother’, which was a completely new idea to the tribes who had so often quarreled in the past. He also said, ‘Allah has given everyone his due-exactly what each one deserves. After each point the Prophet (pbuh) asked, ‘Have I explained it well? Is it perfectly clear?’
Everyone answered, ‘Yes.’ For these were the people who would have to pass on the Prophet’s message and instructions to those who were unable to be present that day and to future generations. The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘I have left you two things. If you hold on to them you will be saved. They are Allah’s Book and the words of your Prophet.’ He then asked, ‘Have I not conveyed the message?’
The multitude shouted out, ‘By Allah, yes!’ The Prophet (pbuh) ended, ‘O Allah! Bear witness to that.’
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
… This day those who disbelieve are in despair of
(ever harming) your religion; so do not fear them, but fear Me!
This day I have perfected your religion, for you,
and I have completed My favor unto you, and
have chosen for you as a religion AL-ISLAM
Many Muslims started to shed tears, knowing that if the Prophet (pbuh) had completed his message, his life must be near its end. After spending the rest of the day of ‘Arafah in prayer and contemplation, the Muslims began to complete the pilgrimage by returning to Mecca with the talbiyah prayer still on their lips. The first night of the return journey was spent at Muzdalifah. Here they gathered pebbles, which they carried with them the next day to Mina. There they stood before a huge rock and stoned it in remembrance of Abraham’s meeting with the Devil in that very place. When Abraham received the order from Allah to sacrifice his son Ishmael as a test of his faith, the Devil had tried to convince him not to do it. He came to Abraham at Mina, as he was on his way to carry out Allah’s command, but Abraham took some stones and hurled them at the Devil to drive him away since the casting of stones at Mina on the Prophet’s ‘Farewell Pilgrimage’, this has become another ritual which Muslims perform on the annual pilgrimage to remind them that they, too, must continue to drive the Devil away when he tries to prevent them from being obedient to Allah.
After throwing the stones, the pilgrims sacrificed sheep and camels and gave the meat to the poor. In this way the great faith of Abraham was remembered, for when he had been ready to sacrifice Ishmael, Allah had sent a sheep in his place. The Muslims then completed the pilgrimage by again circling the Ka’bah seven times. They then cut their hair and nails and changed out of their white clothes to show they had returned to their daily lives. Before returning to Medina, the Muslims spent three nights in the valley at Medina where the final preparations were made for the journey home.
As for the Prophet (pbuh), he made one final visit before leaving Mecca. This was to the grave of his devoted wife, Khadijah, who had been the first person to believe in Allah’s Revelation through him. The Prophet (pbuh) knew that this would be the last time he would see the grave, or Mecca, because during the pilgrimage he had received the chapter of the Koran called ‘Help’, form which he knew that his death was not far away.
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When Allah’s help and triumph comes
And thou seest, mankind entering the religion of Allah in troops,
Then hymn the praises of thy Lord, and seek forgiveness of
Him. Lo! He is ever ready show mercy.