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Speech of Prof. Ahmad At-Tayyeb, on the anniversary of the Prophet’s Birthday
Mohamed Helal 604

Speech of Prof. Ahmad At-Tayyeb, on the anniversary of the Prophet’s Birthday

Speech of Prof. Ahmad At-Tayyeb,
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar,
on the anniversary of the Prophet’s Birthday

Al-Azhar Conference Center, Nasr City, Cairo
 

Delivered on Rabī‛ ul-᾿Awwal 10, 1441 AH/November 7, 2019 AC

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

 

All praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon our Master, the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and companions.

Your Eminence, President Abdul Fattah As-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, may Allah safeguard and aid you!

Dear honorable attendees,

May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you!

 

     Despite the passing of one thousand four hundred and forty-nine years since the birth of the Seal of God's Prophets and Messengers, our Master Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), humanity still yearns for such divine revelation whose beams emanate around the Sacred House in Makkah whenever they falter, face pitchy darkness, or lose way amidst the murk of materialism, the filth of sensuality, the sweltering of despotism or the conceit of power.

     Without its marvelous transcendent dimension that distinguishes it, the message of this noble Prophet would not have been that inspiring for cultures of different orientations. With this dimension, the element of lofty humanitarian proprieties’ transcends the boundaries of time, place, communities and individuals. Such a dimension is acknowledged and appreciated by numerous people, especially objective Western historians endowed with upright sensibility and conscientiousness in perceiving the meanings of the Glorious Qur’ān and the effective rhetorical eloquence of the noble Sunnah. Those historians identified the principle of “all-inclusive human fraternity” penetrating the folds of this eternal message, embracing creedal, legal and moral aspects. It was even stated that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), the Arab Prophet, is among the most devoted to goodness for humanity. His emergence for the world is the fruit of a Supreme Will, concluding that the Asian continent should be proud of this great man.[1] The Encyclopedia Britannica also points out that Muhammad worked for the sake of the entire humanity. How beautiful then is the statement of Muhammad, that great teacher that “all creatures are the dependents of Allah kept in His constant Care! So, to him, the most beloved to Allah is one who treats His dependents well.”[2]

     Referring to the noble Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), this bond and inseparable cognation among all humans—both the believer and the nonbeliever, the good and the bad—can easily be detected in the philosophy of the religion of Islam. It is even reported in the Sunnah that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would reiterate after each prayer,

  • “O our Lord and the Lord of everything, I bear witness that you are indeed the Lord, alone, with no partner”;,
  • “O our Lord and the Lord of everything, I bear witness that Muhammad is your Servant and Messenger”;
  • “O our Lord and the Lord of everything, I bear witness that all humans are brethren”.[3]

     These are three testimonies—of Lordship, Prophethood and human fraternity—are in themselves a testimony that Islam, being the faith of pure monotheism, is likewise the faith of the entire humanity, and the religion of equality among all people. It is also the religion that protects people’s lives, properties and honor, besides other moral objectives summarized by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) in the Farewell Sermon in which he addressed humanity at large, as represented in a gathering of more than a hundred thousand Muslims. This sermon was uniquely accurately and authentically reported and chronicled in terms of the number of attendees, the persons relaying the Prophet’s words, the words uttered, the time and the place. It was delivered on Friday, Dhul Hijjah 9, 10 AH, with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) arriving at ‛Arafat Mount and having a canopy pitched up for him in a place called Namira, where he took rest until sunset. Then, he ordered that his she-camel, Al-Qaṣwā᾿, be saddled up. Then, he rode down to the bottom of the valley. There, he addressed the surging crowd unparalleled in human history so far. Part of his sermon reads as follows:

O people, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again.  O people, verily your blood, your property and your honor are sacred and inviolable until you appear before your Lord, equally to the sacred inviolability of this day of yours, this month of yours and this very town of yours. Verily, you will soon meet your Lord and you will be held answerable for your actions before Him. I have conveyed the message hence. O God, be witness unto it. O people, know that hearts are not to betray (whatsoever). O people, verily your Lord is One and your father is one. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab or for a non-Arab over an Arab except in terms of God-Consciousness. I have conveyed the message. O God, be witness unto it. O people, listen well to my words: do not wrong each other; do not wrong each other; do not wrong each other!

Then, he (p.b.u.h.) said,

Shall I tell you who a Muslim is? A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; a believer is one trusted by people regarding themselves and their property; an emigrant is one who abandons whatever is forbidden by God; and a mujahid is one who strives against his own [selfish desires] in obedience to God. Know that every Muslim is the fellow of other Muslims and that all Muslims are indeed brethren. It is not lawful for a person to take the money from his fellow Muslim except that which he has given him willingly; so do not wrong each other. O God, have I conveyed the message? O God, be witness unto it.

At the end of his sermon, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was keen to mention a main pillar of the family (i.e. the woman), uttering his eternal outcry, “Fear God regarding women (i.e. treat them duly and uprightly)”.

     Reviewing this historic sermon, one would realize that it was not addressed to the Muslims only, but was rather addressed to humankind at large, whenever and wherever they may be. The Prophet’s favorite phrase to attract the people’s attention and address their intellect was “O people”, not “O Muslims” or “O believers”. Besides, he commenced his sermon in a way that hints at his imminent death, a hint that later came true. For he never met that crowd again [in pilgrimage], nor did he live after such occasion for more than three months, after which he passed on to God, his Supreme Companion.

     In addition, the first item in this sermon was a warning to the entire world against the chaos of bloodshed and the violation of honor and property. No wonder then that he repeated this warning against such abominable crimes twice in the sermon, since these are basic rights and essential inviolabilities of humanity and of local communities alike. It is impossible for a community seeking stability to mature without securing, as pillars, these three inviolabilities of life,  individual private property and honor (to families and individuals). There is no need for me to remind you, with deep regret and disappointment, that the nation owning this eternal constitution was the first to violate and flout this constitution. Naturally, the consequence of such dissidence was that the nation got indulged into sweeping chaos and vulnerability that engulfed people's lives and properties and plunged them into fierce internal conflicts.

     The passage about the sacredness of people's lives, properties and honor is concluded with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) saying, “I have conveyed the message, O God,” while pointing his noble index to the sky, as if to hold God witness to his conveying the message to us regarding the inviolability of these three type of human rights. It seemed as if he anticipated the emergence of a wicked group among his nation that would violate people’s blood, honor and property. This group was tempted by the devil, their insentience and their depravity into committing evil deeds. Hence, they went on killing, bombing and vandalizing. They would meanly and treacherously assassinate people and dishonor girls and women, enslaving them or forcing them into prostitution and debauchery.

     Following this passage, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, “Know that hearts are not to betray", thus guiding his nation and the rest of the human nations to the indispensable principle of cooperation and collaboration in each community. Hence, communities that abandon these principles in favor of opposite notions, like struggle, fragmentation, disintegration, despotism and usurpation of others’ resources do inevitably crumble and then decline. Our contemporary world has witnessed how major civilizations, that assumed the principle of struggle as a philosophy for their advancement in economy, sociology and politics, have collapsed. Almost on their seventy-year-old age, such a civilization vanished into thin air. Likewise, all cultures that preach the same evil principles shall inevitably face the same destiny, sooner or later.

     Next, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) warned against injustice, repeating the warning three times, given its destructive impact on individuals, communities and countries. The Glorious Qur᾿ān also warns against injustice in a hundred and ninety verses; the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) warned against it in seventy Hadith texts. Likewise, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) warned against blood feuds, usury, and tampering with time and the order of lunar months. Then, he concluded his historic sermon saying, “I have indeed left you with something which, if you hold fast to it, you will never go astray—that is, the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His Prophet (p.b.u.h.)”. Thereafter, he said, “What would you now do?” and the gathering crowd answered, “We bear witness that you have indeed faithfully conveyed the message, that you have fulfilled your mission, and that you have given sincere advice to your community”. Thereupon, he (p.b.u.h.) said, “O God, be my witness”.

Mr. President,

Honorable attendees,

     For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar Ash-Sharif has been guarding these two pillars entrusted to us by the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.), in defense of the nation’s culture and unity, and in defense of our homeland and its history. Al-Azhar is currently in the process of drafting a cultural map for the renewal of religious discourse, rationalization of cultural awareness and endorsement of institutions that have as their ultimate goal the protection of this country from the plague of physical and intellectual terrorism and resistance to radical and corrupt trends. This pursuit is guided by an Islamic approach that puts the Shari‛ah objectives in the service of faith, life, property and honor—all in protection of every human being, prior to protecting religions.

     Moreover, Al-Azhar fully trusts God Almighty with helping us overcome all challenges. Al-Azhar also trusts the wisdom, determination and loyalty of Mr. President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to safeguard the country and maintain its progress in a world of surging tumults and confusion concerning goals and objectives.

     On this occasion, I would like to extend to you, Mr. President, to the Egyptian people and to the Arab and Muslim countries, sincere well wishes in commemoration of the Birth of the Messenger of humanity, Muhammad (p.b.u.h.).

 

Thanks to you all and many happy returns!

May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you all!

 

Ahmad At-Tayyeb

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

Rabi‛ ul-Awwal 10, 1441 AH

November 7, 2019 AC

 

[1] Max Van Berchem, Arabs in Asia, p. 57 as quoted in Muhammad Mus‛ad Yaqout, Prophet of Mercy: The Message and the Man, 96.

[2] Reported by Ad-Daylami in Musnad Al-Firdaws.

[3] Reported by Abu Dawud in his Sunan, 1508, An-Nasa’i, in his Sunan, 9849, and Ahmad in his Musnad, 19293.

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