The Farewell Pilgrimage

Ever since 'Ali ibn Abu Talib recited the opening verses of the Surah "Al Tawbah" to the Muslims and associationists who came to perform the pilgrimage under the leadership of Abu Bakr, and ever since the announcement that henceforth no associationist would enter paradise or perform the pilgrimage, no naked man would circumambulate the Holy House, and that whoever had a covenant with the Prophet of God-May God's peace and blessing be upon him-would have his covenant honored till its expiration, the unbelievers of the Arabian Peninsula realized that their idol worship would have to come to an end. They awoke to the fact that unless they themselves put an end to idolatry, they would eventually have to take up arms against God and His Prophet. This situation applied particularly to the southern regions of the Peninsula, al Yaman and Hadramawt, because al Hijaz and all the territories of the north had already entered into the new faith and stood under its protection.

 

Islam's Distinction between Paganism and the Religions of the Book

In the south, associationism and Christianity divided the land. As we have seen in the preceding chapter, most associationists announced their entry into God's religion and sent their delegations to Madinah to proclaim it. The Prophet accorded these delegations all the welcome possible, thereby hastening the entrance of others and confirming the new converts in the faith. Muhammad's restitution to each prince of his princedom and to each leader of his leadership made all these new converts extremely keen to protect their new status. As for the People of the Book, whether Jews or Christians, the following verses from Surah "Al Tawbah," read by `Ali on that momentous occasion had become known to them.

"Fight, therefore, those `People of the Book' who do not believe either in God or in the Day of Judgment, who do not forbid that which God and His Prophet have forbidden, nor follow the religion of truth until they pay the jizyah and acknowledge their subjection. O Men who believe, many of the rabbis, priests and monks devour the wealth of the people by false means and turn men away from the true path of God. Many of them hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the cause of God. To such as these will belong painful and strict punishment. Their punishment shall be a scorching fire, a fire branding their foreheads, sides and backs, and they will be told that such punishment is the reward for what they have hoarded, a taste of what they themselves have treasured." [Qur'an, 9:29, 34-35]

Faced with these verses from Surah "Al Tawbah" with which the whole Qur'anic revelation came to an end, many historians ask themselves whether or not the revelation of Muhammad-may God's peace and blessing be upon him-has not changed tone in regard to the People of the Book. Some western Orientalists even claim that these verses have put the People of the Book on a level with the unbelieving associationists; that after achieving victory over paganism with the assistance of Judaism and Christianity, as was demanded by the proclamation that Islam confirmed the religion of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and the earlier prophets, Muhammad had turned his wrath against the Jews who opposed him and fought them until they evacuated the Peninsula. During this time, so the claim runs, Muhammad pretended friendship with the Christians and recited verses which praised their genuine faith and friendliness, such as

"You will find the Jews and the associationists more hostile to those who believe. You will find those who say `We are Christians' the friendliest to those who believe, for many of them are monks and priests, and they are humble." [Qur'an, 5:82]

But now, the claim continued, Muhammad has turned his wrath against Christianity and sought to destroy its adherents as he did those of Judaism before. Arguing from these premises, a number of Orientalists have blamed Muhammad for regarding Christianity on a level with unfaith. They invoke the fact that Christians had protected his followers when they took refuge in Abyssinia. They also invoke the facts that Muhammad had approved of the religion of the people of Najran and other Arab Christians and that he allowed them to follow their rituals of worship. Finally, the western Orientalists claim that it was this turnabout in the strategy of Muhammad which established the continuing hostility between Muslims and Christians. Their purpose is to impute to the Prophet a strategy which, they claim, made any reconciliation between the followers of Jesus and Muhammad very difficult, if not impossible.

On the face of it, this argument seems appealing and logical. Those to whom it is intended might even incline to see in it some if not all the truth. However, a careful investigation of the situation, context, and causes of revelation of the said verses leaves no reason for doubt that the attitude of Islam and Muhammad toward the scriptural religions was always one and the same. The Messiah, son of Mary, is of the spirit of God. He is God's word, given unto Mary. In his lifetime, the Messiah was a servant of God to whom God revealed the Book, whom He commissioned as a prophet, blessed, commanded to hold the prayers, and always to pay the zakat. From the beginning of Muhammad's prophethood to its end, the Qur'anic revelation maintained that God is One, that He was not born, that He did not give birth to anyone, and that None is like unto Him.

Such is the spirit of Islam. Such has been its foundation from the very first moment. And such will the spirit of Islam remain for all eternity. A delegation of the Christians of Najran went to the Prophet and argued with him in the matter of God as well as in the matter of Jesus' prophethood a long time before the revelation of Surah "Al Tawbah." They asked Muhammad, "If Mary is the mother of Jesus, who was his father?" In this connection, the following verse was revealed

"The example of Jesus is for God like that of Adam. He created him of clay and commanded him to be and he was. This is the truth from your Lord. Do not, therefore, have any doubt concerning it. Whosoever argues with you to the contrary now that certain knowledge has come to you, answer. 'Let us call our sons and yours, our women and yours, ourselves and yours to pray to God and seek His guidance. May His curse fall upon the liars.' This is the true knowledge and the true narrative; there is no God but God, and He is the Glorious, the All-Wise. But if they disagree, remember that God knows the propagators of falsehood. Say: 'O People of the Book, let us join together in upholding a noble principle common to both of us, namely, that we shall not worship any God but God, that we shall not associate aught with Him, and that we shall not take one another as lords besides God. If they disagree then tell them, 'Remember, as for us, we are indeed Muslims.' [Qur'an„ 3:59-64]

In this Surah of "Al 'Imran," the text irrefutably indicts the People of the Book with discouraging the Muslims from believing in God and throwing obstacles in the path to Him. It asks them directly why they do not believe in this new revelation when it reaffirms the same truth which Jesus, Moses, and Abraham received from God, in its pristine purity, before it was tampered with and edited following the prejudices, ulterior motives, and vain desires of man. In many other Surahs of the Qur'an the same argument is repeated against the People of the Book. In Surah "Al 'Imran," for instance, as in the Surah "Al Ma’idah," God said:

"Those who claim that God is one of three have lied and committed unbelief. There is no God but God, the One. If they do not stop from propagating this lie, a severe punishment will fall upon them. But if they repent to God and seek His mercy, God is most pardoning and merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, is only a prophet, one among many prophets who preceded him. His mother was a faithful believer but a human like him. Both ate worldly food. Is this not sufficient evidence to convince them? But see how they persist in going astray !" [Qur'an, 5:73-75]

In the same Surah, God also says: "And when God asked Jesus, son of Mary, `Did you tell the people to take you and your mother as two deities beside God?' Jesus answered, `Praise be to God. How can I say that which is not true?' [Qur'an, 5:11] It was in the much earlier Surah "Al Ma'idah," not in "Al Tawbah," the last to be revealed, that the verse is to be found which the Christian historians use as evidence for their allegation that Muhammad turned toward Christianity following the change of his political fortunes. This is the verse, "You will find the Jews and the associationists more hostile to those who believe. You will find those who say `We are Christians' the friendliest to those who believe, for many among them are monks and priests, and they are humble. [Qur'an, 5:82] And yet, while they take this part of the Surah for evidence, they deliberately omit consideration of the evidence of its other parts.

On the other hand, the verses of Surah "Al Tawbah" which mention the People of the Book, do not discuss their faith in Jesus, the son of Mary. Rather, they discuss their association of other beings with God, their unjust economic exploitation of the people, and their hoarding of gold and silver. Islam undoubtedly regards such practices on the part of the People of the Book as violating the religion of Jesus. Therefore, Islam does well to criticize them as making legitimate that which God had forbidden and of being guilty of those practices which usually belong to those who believe neither in God nor in the Day of Judgment. Nonetheless, Islam was careful enough to remind them that their faith in God, despite all their evil and immoral practices, would intercede for them in God's judgment. It reassured them that their faith in God would lift them above the pagans and would enable them, even though they declare God to be one of three and tolerate that which God forbade, to get by with merely paying the jizyah and acknowledging subjection.

 

More Deputations to the Prophet

It was precisely this call, which was proclaimed by `Ali at the pilgrimage led by Abu Bakr, that brought in its trail the conversion of the South Arabians. Their delegations then followed one another to Madinah as we have said earlier. Among these were the delegations of associationists as well as of People of the Book. The Prophet used to give the best welcome to anyone who sought him, and to reinstitute the princes and leaders in their positions of power upon conversion to Islam. A1 Ash'ath ibn Qays led the delegation of Kindah which consisted of eighty horsemen. Seeking the Prophet, they entered the mosque clad in silken mantles, and with decorated eyes and faces. When the Prophet saw them in this condition, he said: "Have you not entered Islam?" They answered, "Certainly." Muhammad then retorted: "What is all this silk around your necks?" Immediately every one of them tore his mantle to bits. A1 Ash'ath said in apology to the Prophet: "O Prophet of God, we are noblemen, sons of noblemen. But so are you! You would, then, understand our will to self-distinction." The Prophet smiled and related the story to al `Abbas ibn `Abd al Muttalib and Rabi'ah ibn al Harith. Along with al Ash`ath there came Wail ibn Hujr, of Kindah, who was the ruler of the coastlands of Hadramawt. He, too, converted to Islam, was confirmed in his rulership and asked to collect the tithe from his citizens for transfer to the Muslim collectors. Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan was commanded to accompany Wail home. On the way, accustomed to behaving as royalty, Wail refused to let Mu'awiyah ride with him or even to lend him his sandals that he might protect his feet from the hot sand. He thought it sufficient condescension on his part to allow Mu'awiyah to walk in the shadow of his camel. Despite the violation of the egalitarianism and fraternity of Islam, Mu'awiyah acquiesced in order to help Wail and his people secure their new faith.

 

Arab Unity under the Banner of Islam

When Islam spread in Yaman, the Prophet sent Mu'adh to teach its people the ethic and law of the new faith. He advised Mu'adh, "Make things easy and do not raise obstacles. Reconcile and do not alienate. Some People of the Book will ask you, `What is the key to Paradise?' Answer, `It is to witness that there is no God but God; that He is alone and without associates!" Mu'adh traveled to Yaman together with a number of early converts and tax collectors, all commissioned to teach the people and to judge between them by the law of God and His Prophet. As Islam spread from one corner of the Arabian Peninsula to another, its people from the extreme north to the extreme south became one ummah, unified under the banner of Muhammad, the Prophet of God-may God's peace and blessing be upon him! Everybody acknowledged one and the same religion, Islam; and all turned together to the worship of one God, without associates. Only twenty years before, the same people were hostile tribes, warring with one another, and robbing one another's property and wealth. Now that they all joined Islam's ranks, the country was cleansed of the abomination of paganism and became reconciled to live under the shadow of divine judgment. Thus, intertribal hostility was eradicated, and there was neither aggression nor injustice. Henceforth, no one was to draw his sword except to defend the greater country or to put an end to aggression against the religion of God.

 

Conversion of Arab Christians to Islam

A group of Christians from Najran opted to keep their faith and not to follow the example of Banu al Harith, the majority of whom had joined Islam. To these the Prophet sent Khalid ibn al Walid to preach to them the faith and to bring them into the pax Islamica that had just covered the Peninsula end to end. They responded favorably to his call and entered Islam. Khalid then arranged for a delegation of them to visit Madinah where the Prophet met them with friendly welcome. Another group from Yaman found it difficult to subject themselves to the dominion of Islam for the provincial reason that Islam arose in Hijaz rather than in their country. Since they had never been subjected to Hijaz, which had on many occasions been the object of military campaigns by the people of Yaman, the latter were too proud to submit. To them the Prophet sent `Ali ibn Abu Talib to call them to Islam, but they attacked him. Tender of age though he was, and commanding no greater force than three hundred horsemen, `Ali vanquished them. For a second time they regrouped their forces and fought. But again `Ali surrounded them and broke their resistance. Finally, they submitted and converted to Islam in good faith. They listened to the teachings of Mu'adh and his companions. Their delegation to Madinah was the last one which the Prophet met before his death.

 

The Prophet Prepares for Pilgrimage

While `Ali was preparing to return to Makkah, the Prophet was preparing to undertake the pilgrimage and advising his companions to do likewise. The month of Dhu al Qi'dah was almost at an end, to be followed by Dhu al Hijjah, the month of pilgrimage. Up until that time, the Prophet had not performed the pilgrimage ritual in full, though he had performed the lesser pilgrimage on two previous occasions. The ritual of the pilgrimage had to be established in its entirety so that the Muslims might learn and follow it. As soon as the people knew of the Prophet's intention and heard his call to march with him on pilgrimage, the whole Peninsula reverberated with the call, and thousands and thousands of people from all corners poured into Madinah. From every town and village, from every mountain and valley, from every plain and desert across the wide Peninsula, the people arrived to perform the pilgrimage. It was as if this vast expanse of land had all been illuminated by the dazzling light of God and His Holy Prophet. Around Madinah tents were set up to accommodate the new visitors, numbering 100,000 or more, who had risen up in response to the call of their Prophet, Muhammad the Prophet of God-may God's best blessing and peace be upon him. All these men came as brethren, in love and respect for one another, and united in the true bond of friendship and Islamic brotherhood, whereas but yesteryear they had been the most hostile of enemies. These thousands upon thousands of men crisscrossed the streets of Madinah, all manifesting the smiles of faith, the certainty of conviction, and the confidence and pride of true religion. Their convocation was an inspiring evidence of the victory of truth, of the wide reach of the light of God, and of the deep bond of truth and righteousness which had cemented them one to the other so that they stood like one great fortress.

 

The Muslims March for Pilgrimage

On the twenty-fifth of Dhu al Qi'dah of the year 10 A.H., the Prophet set forth toward Makkah accompanied by all his wives, each riding her own carriage. He was followed by a great multitude, numbering 90,000 according to some historians, 114,000 according to others. These men marched with consciences deeply moved by faith, with hearts full of joy and contentment at their intended accomplishment of pilgrimage to the holy sanctuary of God. They reached Dhu al Hulayfah at the end of the day and there they spent the night. On the following morning, the Prophet put himself into a sacral state and the Muslims followed his example. Everyone shed his clothes and put on two pieces of unsewn white cloth, the simplest of all garments. In this way, they expressed the absolute egalitarianism of Islam in its most eloquent and highest sense. Muhammad turned to God with all his heart and mind praying, "At your service, O God! At your service! You have no associates! At your service, O God! Praise be to God! Thanks be to God! At your service, O God! You have no associates! At your service, O God! You have no associates, O God! At your service, O God!" And all the Muslims repeated these words after him. Deserts, valleys, and mountains reverberated with this prayer. The sky itself reverberated with the call of those pious, believing, and worshipping souls. Thus the procession continued on its way to Makkah, its thousands and hundreds of thousands filling the air with the sound of this prayer. At every mosque on the way to Makkah, the procession would stop to pray, and the voices of the thousands would rise proclaiming the unity of God, their praise and blessing in anticipation of the great day of pilgrimage that awaited them. Everyone was impatient to reach the sanctuary of God that he revered and honored more than anything else in the world. Undoubtedly, the deserts, mountains, and valleys, the trees, birds and skies were moved by what they witnessed in this great call, the like of which they had never heard before! They and the Peninsula had been blessed by the advent of this illiterate Prophet, Muhammad, the Servant of God and His Apostle.

 

Desacralization after the `Umrah or Lesser Pilgrimage

When the procession reached Sarif, midway between Makkah and Madinah, Muhammad said to his companions: "Those of you who do not have any sacrificial animals with them may perform the lesser pilgrimage. But those who do, must perform the complete ritual." The procession continued and reached Makkah on the fourth of Dhu al Hijjah. Upon arrival, the Prophet, followed by the Muslims, hastened to the Ka'bah. There, the Prophet went to the Black Stone and kissed it. Then he circumambulated the holy sanctuary seven times, the first three of which he did at a trotting pace, just as he had done in the lesser pilgrimage. He then proceeded to the Sanctuary of Ibrahim where he performed a prayer. Returning back to the Black Stone, he kissed it once more and then left the temple area for the Mount of al Safa, and from there performed the Sa'y between that mount and the mount of Marwah. [Le., running to and fro between the two mountains. This part of the pilgrimage ritual is a recreation of Hagar's desperate running on the same plain in search of water for her son Isma'il. -Tr.] He then announced to the Pilgrims that whoever did not have an animal to sacrifice should now desacralize himself and bring his pilgrimage ritual to a close. Some pilgrims hesitated, and this angered the Prophet. He repeated his command. When he entered his tent, the anger visible on his face, `Aishah inquired about it. He answered, "How can I be otherwise when my commands are not obeyed?" As a visiting companion inquired again, adding, "Whoever angers the Prophet of God will taste of the fire," the Prophet said, "Is it not strange that I command the people and find them hesitant to obey? If it were permissible to come to pilgrimage without animals to sacrifice, I too would have been content to perform the lesser pilgrimage and desacralize at this moment." So relates Muslim. [Muslim ibn al Hajjaj, 817-865 C.E., compiler of the Sahih, the second canonical collection of Hadith. -Tr.] When the news of the Prophet's anger reached the people, thousands of them terminated their pilgrimage regretfully. Even the wives of the Prophet, including his daughter Fatimah, did likewise. Only those people who had brought sacrificial animals with them kept themselves in the sacral state.

 

`Ali's Return from Yaman

While the Muslims were performing their pilgrimage, `Ali returned from his campaign in Yaman. Before entering Makkah, and upon hearing that the Prophet of God was leading the pilgrimage, 'Ali put himself in a sacral state and wore the pilgrim garments. Upon finding that his wife Fatimah, had desacralized herself, he asked for an explanation. He was told that the Prophet had commanded that only lesser pilgrimage was permitted to those who did not bring their sacrificial animals with them. 'Ali went to the Prophet and there related to him the news of his campaign in Yaman. When he finished, the Prophet asked him to circumambulate the holy sanctuary and then to desacralize himself like the rest. 'Ali retorted: "Prophet of God, I have recited exactly the same prayers as you have." The Prophet said. "Even so, desacralize yourself as your companions have done." 'Ali rejoined again: "Prophet of God, when I put myself in the sacral state, I recited: `0 God, I intend to perform this pilgrimage in identically the same manner as Your Prophet, Servant, and Apostle Muhammad.'" The Prophet then asked 'Ali whether he had any sacrificial animals and, when 'Ali answered in the negative, Muhammad gave him some of his own. For this reason, 'Ali kept his sacral state and performed the ritual of pilgrimage in its complete form.

 

Performance of the Pilgrimage Ritual

On the eighth day of Dhu al Hijjah, the day of al Tarwiyah, Muhammad went to Mina and spent the day and night in that locality. There, he performed all the prayers incumbent during that period. The following day, Muhammad recited his dawn prayer and, at sunrise, proceeded on his camel, al Qaswa', to the Mount of `Arafat, followed by all the pilgrims. As he ascended the mountain, he was surrounded by thousands of his companions reciting the talbiyah and the takbir. [The invocations which include either "At your service, 0 Lord" or "God is Great" as dominant theme. -Tr.] The Prophet naturally heard their recitations but made no effort either to stop them or to encourage them. He commanded some of his companions to put up a tent for him on the east side of the mountain at a spot called Namirah. When the sun passed the zenith, he ordered his camel to be saddled, and rode on it until he reached the valley of `Uranah.

 

The Prophet's Last Sermon

It was there that he, while sitting on his camel, delivered his sermon in a loud voice to his people. Rabi'ah ibn Umayyah ibn Khalaf repeated the sermon after him sentence by sentence. He began by praising God and thanking Him, and then turning to the people, he said:

"O Men, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion in the future. O Men, your lives and your property shall be inviolate until you meet your Lord. The safety of your lives and of your property shall be as inviolate as this holy day and holy month. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Thus do I warn you. Whoever of you is keeping a trust of someone else shall return that trust to its rightful owner. All interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer 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. Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived. And the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi'ah ibn al Harith ibn `Abd al Muttalib. O Men, the devil has lost all hope of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. Nevertheless, he still is anxious to determine the lesser of your deeds. Beware of him, therefore, for the safety of your religion. O Men, intercalation or tampering with the calendar is evidence of great unbelief and confirms the unbelievers in their misguidance. They indulge in it one year and forbid it the next in order to make permissible that which God forbade, and to forbid that which God has made permissible. The pattern according to which the time is reckoned is always the same. With God, the months are twelve in number. Four of them are holy. Three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha'ban. O Men, to you a right belongs with respect to your women and to your women a right with respect to you. It is your right that they not fraternize with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery. But if they do, then God has permitted you to isolate them within their homes and to chastise them without cruelty. But 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. Remember that you have taken them as your wives and enjoyed their flesh only under God's trust and with His permission. Reason well, therefore, O Men, and ponder my words which I now convey to you. I am leaving you with the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet. If you follow them, you will never go astray. O Men, harken well to my words. 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 your own selves. O God, have I conveyed Your message?"

As the Prophet delivered his speech, Rabi'ah repeated it sentence by sentence and asked the people every now and then whether or not they had understood the Prophet's words and committed them to memory. In order to make sure that the people understood and remembered, the Prophet used to ask his crier to say: "The Prophet of God asks, `Do you know which day is this?" The audience would answer, "Today is the day of the greater pilgrimage." The Prophet then would say, "Tell them that God has declared inviolate your lives and your property until the day you will meet your Lord; that he has made the safety of your property and of your lives as inviolate as this day." At the end of his speech, the Prophet asked, "O God, have I conveyed your message?" And the people answered from all corners, "Indeed so! God be witness."

When the Prophet finished his sermon, he dismounted and waited until noon, at which time he performed both the noon and the midafternoon prayers. He then mounted his camel and proceeded to al Sakharat where he recited to the people the concluding divine revelation: "Today I have completed for you your religion, and granted you the last of my blessings. Today I have accepted for you Islam as the religion." [Qur'an, 5:4] When Abu Bakr heard this verse he realized that with the completion of the divine message, the Prophet's life was soon to come to a close.

The Prophet left `Arafat and spent his night at Muzdalifah. In the morning, he visited first the sanctuary of al Mash'ar, and then Mina on the road to which he threw pebbles against the symbol of Satan. When he reached his tent, he sacrificed sixty-three camels, one for each year of his life. 'All sacrificed the rest of the animals which the Prophet had brought with him from Madinah. The Prophet then shaved his head and declared his pilgrimage completed. This pilgrimage is sometimes called "the Farewell Pilgrimage." Others have called it the "Pilgrimage of the Annunciation" and others, the "Pilgrimage of Islam." In truth, the Prophet's pilgrimage was all these at once. It was the "Farewell Pilgrimage" because Muhammad saw Makkah and the holy sanctuary for the last time. It was also the "Pilgrimage of Islam" because God completed His religion for the benefit of mankind and granted to them His total blessing. Finally, it was also the "Pilgrimage of the Annunciation" because the Prophet had completed his announcement and conveyance to the people of what he has been commanded by God to announce and to convey. Muhammad was truly only an announcer, a conveyor, and a warner sent to a people who see the truth and believe.