Car or Camel? And the Prophet's Last Will and Testament

Al salamu alaykum (Greetings of Peace) dear Friends,

I pray you are well! Happy first day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar! Although I have now been a Muslim for 29 years, I am embarrassed to admit that I am not at all well-versed, knowledgable, or particularly aware of the Islamic calendar, Islamic holidays, or their particular significance. I always have to look things up or revisit previous talks where Dr. Abou El Fadl has discussed certain occasions and their meanings. For example, for the significance of the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, I often return to an old khutbah that he gave at the Islamic Center of Southern California in 2018, entitled, "Dhu'l Hijjah and the Brotherhood of Humanity." This time around, my "Dhu'l Hijjah" search also pulled up these gems: "On Hajj and the Selling of the Soul of Islam (2019)," or "How Are These Things Connected? Mecca and The Plight of the Uyghurs (2020)," or "The Meaning of Hajj and the Uyghur Holocaust (2021)." I highly recommend revisiting each of these incredible khutbahs for a mind-blowing education! Interestingly, the last three all focused on the Uyghurs in China!

As a Muslim living in the West, it is not difficult to be unaware of Islamic time, space, or meanings, or the sacredness or sanctity of these important aspects of our faith. It certainly takes an active effort to educate oneself and remain aware and engaged. As Dr. Abou El Fadl has often discussed, reclaiming and internalizing this kind of Islamic awareness is an important act of decolonizing our Islamic consciousness.

The first ten days of the month of Dhu'l Hijjah are especially sacred and blessed, no less important than the last ten days of Ramadan. It is the month of the pilgrimage to Hajj, and considered one of the four sanctified months of the year where, as we learned in the Project Illumine tafsir, Muslims are to engage in every act of goodness with zeal, which will be rewarded manyfold; and also prohibited from engaging in sin, wrongdoing, and bloodshed. It is a sacred time intended for drawing closer to God. 

As I was searching our archives to revisit what Dr. Abou El Fadl has covered about Dhu'l Hijjah, amidst a wealth of content, I came across an invaluable khutbah that he gave back in 2020 entitled, "On Eid Al Adha and the Prophet's Last Will and Testament." Dr. Abou El Fadl has given hundreds of khutbahs to date, all of them brilliant and important in their own right. Some khutbahs will find a second life as a book chapter only if Joe selects them for inclusion in an upcoming volume of The Prophet's Pulpit. I am certain that God will direct him to the right khutbahs at the right time for the right volume, insha'Allah - much in the way that I feel God directed me to this particular khutbah on this particular weekly email occasion. For some reason, I felt the very strong desire to share this piece, so I take it as a sign that perhaps someone will find it as important as I did in coming across it again. Back in 2020, the weekly emails did not include the extensive edited transcripts that we do now, so I imagine that the detailed content of this khutbah could easily have been lost to history. So forgive me for making this week's email particularly long, but I hope you will find this inclusion worth the investment of time to read. After all, the first ten days of this blessed month seem to be an appropriate time to share something so valuable, particularly given the current state of Hajj, Mecca, and the so-called Muslim caretakers of our holiest sites. It is a raw transcript minimally edited with timestamps to the video on YouTube. 

"On Eid Al Adha and the Prophet's Last Will and Testament." 
Today, happens to be a jumu'a that occurs on the first day of Eid al-Adha, often referred to as the Big Eid. Eid marks so much in Islam, and Islamic history, and Islamic theology, and morality. Of course, the big Eid always follows the Day of Arafah, the day in which Muslims stand at the Mount of Arafah. The mount named Arafah because it is the mountain where Muslims, doing pilgrimage, acknowledge their sins, and confess their sins before God, and truly repent. On that mount, during pilgrimage, they open a new chapter in their lives. They promise, or they take a vow, to change whatever they've done in the past that was wrong, and to start a new chapter. That, in every sense, in terms of their intention, must be a chapter very different than whatever led them away from God in the past.
Yawm 'Arafah, the Day of Arafah, on the Mountain of Arafah is perhaps the most important day in Hajj. Then, followed by either Eid al-Adha, or the Eid of Sacrifice, or the Big Eid, as it's often referred to, which is Eid that is marked by its social morality, in that Eid, families, communities, neighborhoods are supposed to come together to mend their relationships and to make a renewed vow towards solidarity, brotherhood, and love. Love for each other. But integral to that, is that the whole purpose of this Eid is designed so that those who do not have, are taken care by those who do have.
The whole thrust of the Big Eid is that the less fortunate would share in the wealth and to feel like insiders. In the same way that when you stand at the Mount of Arafah without differences as to class, or race, or ethnicity. We stand at the Mount of Arafah also without differences as to gender, between men and women. That same ethic is replicated in Eid, or in Eid al-Adha, in that societies, communities, families are supposed to make every effort to dissolve whatever divides them, especially poverty, richness, wealth, classes, and ethnicities, and race.
There's something else that's very distinctive about the Day of Arafah, and the Big Eid, Eid al-Adha. As Muslims, we are quite remiss when that occasion comes around, and Eid comes around. We do not remind ourselves of one of the most important moments in Islamic history. That is the Prophet's final pilgrimage. In the last year, in the last Hajj of the Prophet, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stood on the Mount of Arafah. On that mount, he delivered (one even can't find the proper word for it), but delivered a core sermon, which became the last sermon that he delivers, at that scale, at least. Where he basically says that "this might be the last sermon I deliver on the mount, on a day like this". It was, in fact, the last sermon because he died in the next year.
For Muslims, we believe that Allah had given all the indications to the Prophet that it is time to wrap up his message, to sum it up. If you will, to give Muslims his last will and testament before he leaves this world, and Muslims are on their own, without their prophet in their midst.
I cannot imagine that the Day of Arafah would come around (which, as we said, is followed by Eid) without Muslims reminding themselves of the last will and testament of their prophet. As the Prophet Muhammad prepares to leave this world, what is his testament to Muslims? What does he leave them with? What are the most critical points that he emphasizes for Muslims? I don't have time to go through the entire khutbah, although it's not a very long khutbah. But it would take more time than what we have. But I will focus on some of the most essential points in the prophet's last sermon and last testament on the Mount of Arafah.
Among those most basic and critical points, [Arabic 00:11:08]. What does the Prophet choose to emphasize as he prepares to leave this world and the legacy that his going to leave Muslims with? Point number one is to remind Muslims of a very basic moral principle and that is the inviolability, the sanctity, the holiness, the sacredness of human blood, meaning human life. The Prophet tells Muslims, "My will to you is that you protect and honor one another's lives, that you don't spill your own blood. You don't slaughter each other. You don't kill each other. But, in fact, that the sanctity of Muslim blood, and indeed human blood, and the sanctity of human life is like the sanctity of Mecca and the sanctity of the month of Dhu'l Hijjah - the month that Muslims make every effort to come closer to God, to honor the sanctities and the rights of God."
Beyond that, the Prophet reminds Muslims, [Arabic 00:13:28]. "Muslims are brothers and sisters. They are one people." It is incomprehensible, unacceptable that Muslims functions as if separate bodies, where they do not feel for one another and are not connected to one another, spiritually and emotionally.
The Prophet reminds Muslims, not only is their blood sacred, not only is the bond between them one of brotherhood and a moral commitment to one another, but it is an absolute imperative that they respect the rights of one another, and honor one another in every sense.
It is remarkable that the Prophet closes that sermon with an ethical principle that was truly for his time, remarkably profound and miraculous. I mean, there's no other way to put it. "All of you..." [Arabic 00:15:36]. "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 and another or one ethnicity and another, before God. So in other words, you can't discriminate on the base of race.
So what is that last sermon? What is the will and testament of the Prophet? Honor life. He also talks about the rights of women, which is very fascinating, but I'm not going to focus on that today. The value of life, the bond between Muslims, the rights of Muslims, and the imperative of respect, not just the rights of Muslims, but the rights of all human beings, because that is core. It's in the Quran and in the prophet's teachings.
A clear statement against the evils of ethnocentrism and racism. For Yawm 'Arafah to come, the Day of the Mount to come and we, Muslims, often supplicate God in the well-known supplication, [Arabic 00:17:39]. "God, we answer your call. We answer your call." So many people go to Eid prayers and they do the supplication. The imams and Eid prayers stand there and they give the khutbahs on whatever they choose to give it on. After Eid comes in our life and leaves, but without the basic ethics of what this is all for, without remembering the sanctity of life and the sanctity of blood, without remembering that Mecca and Medina have a very special place and that the spilling of blood in Mecca and Medina is a horrendous evil. But even more, that the committing of injustice in Mecca and Medina is the barometer for the entire Muslim ummah.
If Mecca and Medina do not reflect God's ethics and morality, if Mecca and Medina are places in which there is injustice, and rights are violated, and life is not sanctified, and blood is not honored and respected, then don't expect Allah to be pleased with this ummah. The bond of brotherhood and the clear condemnation of racism and ethnocentrism, as virulent diseases that tear the fabric of society apart when that disease overcomes society.
Every Day of Arafah, every year, in every Eid, not only must we remind ourselves of these lessons, but this is what our khutbahs should be about. This is what we should teach our children. It should become elementary in Islam. Yawm 'Arafah came, Eid came, and they come every year. To our children, to our sons and daughters, to our young people, to our older people, do you know what the last testament and sermon of the prophet was about? Do you know what the Prophet taught us? Is the yardstick to measure whether Allah is pleased with ummah or not pleased with this ummah? How are we doing on the issue of racism and ethnocentrism? How are we doing on the issue of the sacredness of life and blood? How are we doing on the issue of social justice and equality? How are we doing on the issue of justice in the holy sites of Mecca and Medina and Jerusalem? And Jerusalem?
If we collectively feel that we're not doing that well, then it is a state of emergency. Then it is a true state of emergency.
[Arabic 00:22:03].
When the human body is infected with a virus and realizes it's ill, it goes in a protective mode, that if everything works the way it's supposed to work, that develops a fever. Everything in this human body communicates that it is in a state of emergency, responding to an imminent threat.
When Muslims revisit the testament of the Prophet and [Arabic 00:23:39], and they see that the Prophet emphasized our unity, emphasized the sacredness of blood. The core principle of justice. The Prophet didn't emphasize obedience to unjust oligarchs. The Prophet didn't emphasize stability and order. Emphasized core moral principles. Emphasized the evilness of racism, and ethnocentrism, and classism.
Either the Muslim ummah reacts to this by believing that their salvation can lie in formulaic ritualism. So in other words, you decide to solve this problem by supplicating to God, by saying X number of Subhanallah's, and X numbers of Allahu Akbar's, and X number of Alhamdulillah's, or an ummah can actually react by going in a defensive mode, by emergency measures, where you confront the disease and the illness head-on. The first reaction goes nowhere and leads to nothing. As long as the testament of the Prophet was betrayed, no amount of supplication and no amount of prayer is going to solve the problem.
The key to solving the problem is, what Allah emphasizes in the Quran when Allah teaches us not to cast ourselves onto ruin. Allah teaches us that in order not to cast ourselves, [Arabic 00:26:23]. Allah makes very clear in the Quran that casting ourselves onto ruin occurs, happens when we no longer put our resources in the service of our moral causes. In other words, we don't spend in the way of God. Spending in the way of God is putting your resources where your just causes are.
If you are ill and rather than spend your money on doctors and medicine, you decide to spend your money on nice-looking clothes, expensive perfumes, maybe redecorating your bed or your hospital room, you're not spending money, you're not spending resources in a way that reasonably responds to the actual threat. This is exactly how Muslims are today. It is like we are ill, and we know we're ill, but we spend our resources on everything but what actually matters. And that is to spend resources on study and understanding what it will take to restore the sacredness of life among Muslims, to bring back Muslim unity, to fight off the evils of racism, and ethnocentrism, and classism.
There is no honoring the Day of Arafah and the annual recurring Eid al-Adha without fully studying the Prophet's last will and testament. Imagine in the midst of this, this Eid confronts us with realities that are truly odd. There are major plans to expand the holy site in Mecca. But these major plans involve destroying what remains of the historic sites of the Prophet and the companions in Mecca. Why is Saudi Arabic 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 Yawm 'Arafah comes along, and Eid al-Adha comes along, and we no longer study the last will and testament of the Prophet, it is because we have lost the will to honor our history and the respect for history. When in order to bring in top dollar, you continue what you've been doing for nearly a century now, and that is destroying and erasing holy sites.
We have a major problem. Recently, a prominent member of the Saudi ruling family. His name is Khalid bin Bandar, who's appointed as an ambassador. The Saudi ambassador to the UK. In a recent interview with a BBC British Journalist, called Frank Gardner... This is very recent. Right before the Day of Arafah, and before Eid al-Adha. Khalid bin Bandar, in his interview, Saudi ambassador to the UK, bragged... The journalist noticed that Khalid bin Bandar has a full bar at home, has a bar full of all types of alcoholic beverages. So Frank Gardner asks Khalid bin Bandar, "I noticed you have a very extensive bar". Khalid bin Bandar said, "Yes, of course. That's normal." Frank Gardner asked him whether he misses his bar when he goes back to Saudi Arabia and according to Khalid bin Bandar, "no", because he has a bar in Saudi Arabia.
When we get to the point to the family that is suppose to be the guardian of the two holy sites, openly flouting the consumption of alcohol, openly flouting the lack of respect for Islamic history, Islamic values, Islamic laws and they remain the custodians of the two holy sites, at what point do we say Al Saud are no longer the legitimate custodians of the two holy sites because they've done everything to defile it, to dishonor it, to violate it. Recently, I saw a documentary, a Vice channel documentary (I saw it on HBO) called, China's Vanishing Muslims.
Because I grew up studying the Prophet's last will and testament, when the Prophet said, "You all (all Muslims) are like brothers and sisters, feeling for one another, empathizing, reacting in a single-mode as if one body." When I see a documentary about China's vanishing Muslims... Everyone that hears this khutbah should watch this documentary. The Muslims of China cannot go to a mosque without ending up in a concentration camp. Cannot be seen reading Quran without ending up in a concentration camp. Cannot refuse to eat pork without ending in a concentration camp. Cannot refrain from drinking alcohol without ending up in a concentration camp. Cannot be heard saying the Shahada without ending up in a concentration camp.
It is clear that the Chinese government has a plan to eradicate Islam completely among the Uyghur and the Kazakh Muslims... But it is clear that the Chinese government has a plan to completely erase Islam among native Chinese, in China, within one generation. Thousands upon thousands of children are taken from their parents and raised in what they call "kindergartens", which is basically concentration camps for children, that brainwash them ideologically and erase Islam from their consciousness.
When you remember that Muslim countries, one after another, went and visited China to sign a statement supporting the Chinese government in what they are doing, the holocaust, they are perpetuating against Chinese Muslims. You remember that. Then, you remember that the government that is the custodian of the two holy sites, the Saudi government that is supposed to be the leader of the Muslim world, supported the Chinese government, then you say, "What Mount Arafah sermon and what Eid?"
Just as we prepared to meet this new Eid, we are visited with this new item. 900 Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Since Trump has come to power, it has become a regular common occurrence for Israeli police to protect Israeli Jewish settlers, to afford the Military protection as they storm and violate the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This happens all the time. As we prepare to meet Eid al-Adha, 900 Jewish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque again, protected by Israeli police. What is the reaction of the custodian of the two holy sites, the same family that brags about their alcohol collection through their British representative? Absolutely nothing. Not a peep.
In fact, there was more outrage heard from Saudi Arabia, from the Emirate, from Egypt, from Muslims all around the world, there was more outrage about the Turkish government turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque than there was, or then there is, about the continuing violation of the sanctity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is violated. The historical sites in Makkah are destroyed so that more Meridians, and Holiday Inns, and Sheratons and Hiltons can be built.
The Muslims of China perish in concentration camps. A lot of times people come and say, "Okay. Well, now you've depressed us. What is the solution? You can't tell us all these problems without telling us the solution." The solution is very simple. I've already said it. When someone is ill, they send their money on doctors and medicine. If that ill person spends their money on things other than doctors and medicines, then they qualify as insane, as mentally incompetent. The solution is for all this wealth that Muslims have (Muslims are among the richest groups on the face of the earth) to be spent on Islamic causes. We can change the face of the world. If we spent money just on supporting political candidates, just if Muslims in the United States spend money on supporting political candidates who serve Islamic causes or serve just causes, we would change the face of the world.
If we spent money on Islamic education or institutions, and enterprises of communications and public relations, we would change the face of the world. We don't need to spend money on weapons. We don't need to buy more killing devices; devices of murder and mayhem. We need to spend money on education and information and political leveraging. In short, the solution is with the wealthy, as has always been, in every historical period humanity has gone through. It is the wealthy that make the difference as to what type of causes get supported and what type of causes get defeated.
If your wealthy are corrupt and immoral, that tarnishes the entire society because the resources become funneled into immoral purposes and unethical purposes. Every year the Day of Arafah comes, and Eid al-Adha comes, 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. Every Muslim child would know the will and testament, the last will and testament of the Prophet, like the constitution is taught in American schools. It would become an integral part of our consciousness.
No one. No Muslim would face God without having studied the last will and testament of the Prophet, every year, and every Day of Arafah, and in preparation for every Big Eid. Is that too much to ask? Is it too much to ask that we actually listen to what our prophet told us? Because if it is, I don't know in what sense we're Muslims.
[Arabic 00:44:33].
Allah forgive our sins. Grant us greater understanding and piety. Bring us closer to you. Make us among those who love you and are loved by you, ya, Allah. Make us remember the teachings and the lessons of the Prophet, always in our hearts, and in our minds, and in our souls. [Arabic 00:45:07].
May God elevate and reward you exponentially for all of your good deeds especially during the first ten days of this blessed month, and guide you to the most beautiful path always! Wishing you and your loved ones an early Eid Al Adha Mubarak, and may more and more Muslims see the truth of our times and take action in standing for justice. May we all strive to live up to the Prophet's Last Will and Testament and may we do enough to earn God's aid in turning the tide of injustice.

I look forward to seeing you online soon insha'Allah! 

In Peace and Hope,

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