This jumu’a occurs on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, often referred to as “The Big Eid”. Eid marks so much in Islam, Islamic history, and Islamic theology and morality. Eid Al-Adha always immediately follows the Day of Arafah, in which Muslims doing pilgrimage stand at the Mount of Arafat, acknowledge and confess their sins before God and truly repent. On that mount, they promise or take a vow to change whatever they have done wrong in their lives and open up a new chapter in life; one very different from whatever led them away from God in the past. It is perhaps the most important day in Hajj, followed by Eid Al-Adha (“The Eid of Sacrifice”), a day marked by its social morality.
Families, communities and neighborhoods come together to mend their relationships and make a renewed vow towards solidarity, brotherhood and love for each other. Integral to that, the whole purpose of Eid Al-Adha is that those who do not have are taken care of by those that do have; that the less fortunate would share in the wealth and feel like insiders. In the same way that we stand at the mountain of Arafat without attention to differences like class, race, ethnicity and gender, the same ethic is replicated in Eid Al-Adha. Societies, communities and families are supposed to make every effort to dissolve whatever divides them, especially factors like wealth, class or race.
As Muslims, we are quite remiss when Eid comes and we fail to remind ourselves of one of the most important moments in Islamic history: The Prophet’s final pilgrimage. In the last Hajj of his life, the Prophet stood on the Mount of Arafat and delivered a core sermon, the last major sermon he would deliver, in which he gave Muslims his last will and testament before he left this world and Muslims would be on their own. As the Prophet prepared to leave this world, what did he leave Muslims with? What are the most essential points that he emphasized for Muslims?
The first point was to remind Muslims of the sanctity, holiness and sacredness of human blood, meaning human life. The Prophet told Muslims, “My will to you is that you protect and honor one another’s lives. That you don’t spill your own blood, that you don’t slaughter each other”. The sanctity of human life is like the sanctity of Mecca and the sanctity of the month of Dhu’l Hijjah, a month when Muslims make every effort to come closer to God, and to honor the sanctities and rights of God.
The Prophet also reminded that Muslims are brothers and sisters; one people. It is unacceptable that Muslims function as if separate bodies, where they do not feel connected to one another spiritually or emotionally. Not only is their blood sacred; not only is the bond between Muslims one of brotherhood and a moral commitment to one another; but it is absolutely imperative that they respect the rights of one another and honor one another in every sense.
The Prophet closed his sermon with an ethical principle that was, for his time, remarkably profound and miraculous: “All of you are from one God; all of you descended from the same lineage - Adam and Eve. There is no difference between one race or another before God.” Thus, we cannot discriminate on the basis of race. This sermon told us to honor life, respect the rights of women, acknowledge the bond between Muslims, and respect the rights of all human beings. It is a clear statement against the evils of ethnocentrism and racism.
Eid after Eid comes and goes, but we often fail to remember the basic ethics of what this is all for, the sanctity of life and that Mecca and Medina are particularly holy, so the spilling of blood in these cities is a horrendous evil. Even more, the committing of injustice in Mecca and Medina is the barometer for the entire Muslim ummah. If these cities do not reflect God’s ethics, if they are places in which injustice exists, rights are violated, life is not sanctified and blood is not honored, do not expect God to be pleased with this ummah. Every year, every Eid, not only must we remind ourselves of these lessons, but this is what our khutbahs should be about, what we should teach our children. It should become elementary in Islam.
As each Eid approaches, we must ask ourselves, do Muslims know what the final sermon of the Prophet was about? Do we know what the Prophet taught us? This is the yardstick whether God is pleased with this ummah or not. How are we doing on the issue of racism and ethnocentrism? On the issue of the sacredness of blood and life? On social justice and equity? On the issue of justice at the holy sites (Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem)? If we collectively feel that we are not doing well, then it is a true state of emergency.
When the human body is infected with a virus and realizes it is ill, it goes into a protective mode to fight off the illness. Everything communicates that it is in a state of emergency, responding to an imminent threat.
When Muslims revisit the testament of the Prophet and see that the Prophet emphasized unity, the sacredness of life, and the core principle of justice, they recognize that The Prophet did not emphasize obedience to unjust oligarchs nor did he emphasize stability and order. He emphasized core moral principles and underscored the evilness of racism, ethnocentrism, and classism. Either the Muslim ummah reacts to this by believing that their salvation can lie in formulaic ritualism – simply repeating a set number of Subhanallah’s, Allahu Akbar’s and Alhamdulillah’s and otherwise remaining morally lethargic - or it can react by going into a defensive mode, where we confront the disease head-on. The first reaction leads to nothing. As long as the testament of the Prophet is betrayed, no amount of supplication and prayer is going to solve the problem. The key to solving the problem is following what God emphasizes in the Quran when we are told to not cast ourselves onto ruin. God makes very clear in the Quran that casting ourselves unto ruin occurs when we no longer put our resources in the service of our moral causes; when we don't spend in the way of God, putting our resources towards just causes.
If you are ill and, rather than spend your money on doctors and medicine, decide to spend your money on expensive clothes and perfumes, and redecorating your hospital room - you are spending resources in a way that does not reasonably respond to the actual threat. This is how Muslims are today. It is like we know we are ill, but we spend our resources on everything but what actually matters – studying and understanding what it will take to restore the sacredness of life among Muslims, bring back Muslim unity, and fight off the evils of racism, ethnocentrism and classism. There is no honoring the Day of Arafat and Eid al-Adha without fully studying the Prophet's last will and testament.
This Eid confronts us with realities that are truly odd. There are major plans to expand the holy site in Mecca, but these plans involve destroying what remains of the historic sites of the Prophet and his companions in Mecca. Why is Saudi Arabia expanding the holy sites? For profit; for money. Pilgrimage is a major source of income for Saudi Arabia, after oil.
A people without a history are a people without a future. In the same way that if we fail to study the last will and testament of the Prophet whenever the Day of Arafah and Eid al-Adha come, it is because we have lost the will to honor and respect our history. When in order to bring in top dollar, you can destroy and erase holy sites as you have been doing for nearly a century now, we have a major problem.
Khalid bin Bandar, a prominent member of the Saudi ruling family who was appointed as the Saudi ambassador to the UK, was interviewed by the BBC right before the Day of Arafat and Eid Al-Adha. The journalist noticed that bin Bandar had a full bar of alcoholic beverages at home bin Bandar said, "Yes, of course. That's normal.” When the journalist asked whether he misses his bar when he goes back to Saudi Arabia, bin Bandar responded, no, because he has a bar in Saudi Arabia. When we get to the point that the family that is supposed to be the guardian of the two holy sites openly flouts the consumption of alcohol and a lack of respect for Islamic history, Islamic values, Islamic laws, at what point do we say that al Saud is no longer the legitimate custodian of the two holy sites because they have done everything to defile, dishonor and violate it?
Recently, Dr. Abou El Fadl watched a documentary titled, “China’s Vanishing Muslims,” which every Muslim needs to watch. The Muslims of China cannot go to a mosque, be seen reading the Quran, refuse to eat pork, refrain from drinking alcohol, or be heard saying the Shahada without ending up in a concentration camp. It is clear that the Chinese government plans to completely erase Islam among those in China, including the Uyghurs, within one generation. Thousands of children are taken from their parents and raised in what they call "kindergartens," basically concentration camps for children, that brainwash them ideologically and erase Islam from their consciousness. When you remember that numerous Muslim countries visited China to sign a statement supporting the Chinese government in perpetuating the holocaust against Chinese Muslims, you remember the Prophet’s last will and testament when the Prophet told us, “You (all Muslims) are like brothers and sisters, feeling for one another, empathizing, and reacting in a single-mode as if one body.” Then you remember that the government that is the custodian of the two holy sites that is supposed to be the leader of the Muslim world supported the Chinese government, and then you say, "What Mount Arafah sermon and what Eid?"
Just as we prepared to meet this new Eid, we were confronted with the news that 900 Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Since Trump has come to power, it has become a regular occurrence for Israeli police to protect Israeli settlers as they violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. What is the reaction of the custodian of the two holy sites, the same family that brags about their alcohol collection? Absolutely nothing. In fact, there was more outrage heard from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Egypt, and Muslims all around the world about the Turkish government turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque than there was about the continuing violation of the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The historical sites in Mecca are destroyed so that more Sheratons and Hiltons can be built. The Muslims of China perish in concentration camps.
People often ask, ‘What is the solution?’ The solution is very simple. When someone is ill, they spend their money on doctors and medicine. If that person spends their money on things other than doctors and medicines, they qualify as mentally incompetent. Muslims are among the richest groups on the face of the earth. The solution is for all this wealth to be spent on Islamic causes. We can change the face of the world if we just spent money on supporting political candidates who serve Islamic or just causes.
If we spent money on Islamic education or institutions and enterprises of communication and public relations, we would change the face of the world. We don't need to spend more money on weapons or devices of murder and mayhem. We need to spend money on education, information and political leveraging. Simply put, the solution is with the wealthy, as it has always been in every historical period. It is the wealthy that make the difference as to what type of causes get supported or defeated. If your wealthy are corrupt and immoral, that tarnishes the entire society because resources get funneled into immoral and unethical purposes.
Every time that the Day of Arafah and Eid al-Adha come, revisit the Prophet's last will and testament. If Muslims had their act together, this will and testament would be taught to every Muslim child, like the constitution is taught in American schools. It would become an integral part of our consciousness. No Muslim would face God without having studied the last will and testament of the Prophet. Is it too much to ask that we actually listen to what our Prophet told us? If it is, in what sense are we Muslims?