The sermon by a respected Saudi scholar is an important ingredient of the Hajj. It is being delivered from Nimrah Mosque on Mount Arafat outside Mecca. The sermon is being heard and watched by most of the Haj pilgrims, who numbered around a million this season. This year, it was delivered by Dr Mohammed bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, the head of the Muslim World League, and a Member of the Council of Senior Scholars, an Islamic scholar who has been associated with the interfaith dialogue, has visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial in Poland and hosted a delegation of rabbis in Saudi Arabia. Here follows the text of Sheikh al-Issa’s Arafat sermon:
“All praise belongs to Allah, who deserves to be worshipped by the inhabitants of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth. He has complete knowledge of everything you conceal and everything you reveal. He also has complete knowledge about all the deeds you perform. All that is stored away in what is imperceptible to us lies with Allah alone. None has complete knowledge about that except Him, and He knows everything that the land and the sea contain. Not a single leaf falls without Him knowing. There is neither a single seed buried in the dark depths of the earth, nor anything moist or dry, except that a clear record contains it.
I testify that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah. He knows everything that people conceal within themselves, as well as all that is even more hidden. Nothing throughout the earth or the heavens is concealed from Him. Indeed, the only One you are to worship is Allah: the One besides whom none has any right to be worshipped. He encompasses all things with His knowledge.
I further testify that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and Messenger. Allah described him by telling him in the Holy Qur’an: “And Allah taught you what you had no prior knowledge of, and the bounty that Allah bestowed upon you has truly been immense.”
I say to all who have come for Hajj, as well as all Muslims in all places: You are to protect yourselves from the punishment of Allah by fulfilling His commands and avoiding His prohibitions. When you do that, you would attain victory, salvation, and happiness in both this world and the hereafter. Allah said: “Had they accepted and complied with the truth, and protected themselves from Allah’s punishment, they would have been certain that the reward from their Lord is best. If they only knew.”
Allah also said: “And you must all protect yourselves from Allah’s punishment, and know that Allah is with those who protect themselves from His punishment.” He further said: “And you must all protect yourselves from Allah’s punishment, and know that Allah has complete knowledge about absolutely everything.”
Furthermore, how could we fail to protect ourselves from Allah’s punishment, or fail to devote all worship to Him alone, when He is the only One who ultimately brings about benefits and lets harms occur? Allah said: “And if Allah afflicts you with any type of hardship, there is none who can alleviate it except Him; and if He wants to grant you any type of blessing, there is none who can withhold His favour from reaching you. Among His servants, He causes whomever He wills to experience both good and bad, and He is the Most Forgiving, the Bestower of Mercy.”
In making a connection between acquiring knowledge and protecting oneself from Allah’s punishment, God said: “And you must continue to protect yourselves from Allah’s punishment. In addition, Allah is the One who grants you knowledge, and Allah has complete knowledge about absolutely everything.”
Furthermore, part of seeking protection against Allah’s punishment is complying with Allah’s call to sincerely devote all worship to Him alone and not direct any form of worship whatsoever to other than Him. He said: “Mankind, worship your Lord who created you and created those prior to you, so that you would be people who protect yourselves from His punishment. He is the One who has made the Earth a resting place for you, made the sky a canopy, sent down water from the sky, and brought forth with that water various fruits as provision for you. Therefore, do not set up rivals to Allah in worship when you know that He alone is the One who has done all of those things.”
The preceding is what all of the prophets called people to. The Prophet Ibrahim told his people, “Worship Allah alone and protect yourselves from His punishment. That is best for you. If you only knew.”
Allah sent down scriptures, and He commissioned prophets and messengers to teach their peoples and call them to devote all worship to Allah alone. Each one of the prophets told the people to whom he was sent: “My people, you must worship Allah alone. There is no other god who deserves your worship except Him. Will you not then protect yourselves from His punishment?”
Thus, a basic principle established was that devoting all worship to Allah is the meaning of the testimony: Laa ilaaha illallaah” (None has the right to be worshipped except Allah). Allah stated: And Allah said to mankind: “You must not take for yourselves two gods in worship. Allah is indeed only One God. Therefore, you must have complete reverential fear of Me alone.”
To Allah alone belongs everything throughout the heavens and the earth and it is necessary to devote all worship and complete obedience to Him alone. Is there anyone else whose punishment you are required to protect yourselves from by being completely dutiful towards them? “Every blessing you have is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, you cry out to Him for help. But when He removes the harm from you, there are those among you who worship others besides their Lord. As a result of that, they ungratefully deny the favours which We – Allah – have bestowed upon them. Thus, you may enjoy yourselves in this life, but you will eventually come to know the consequences.”
The combination of the testimony that only Allah is to be worshipped, along with the testimony that Muhammad (PBUH) is Allah’s Messenger, provides the means to pleasing Allah, and to attaining salvation on the Day of Return to Allah. In addition, the aforementioned testimony of prophet-hood entails affirming the truth of everything we were informed about by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), complying with his directives, and worshipping Allah according to the teachings that he brought. Allah said: “Prophet of Allah, We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of glad tidings, a warner, a caller to Allah by His permission, and a brilliantly shining lamp.”
Together, the foregoing two testimonies are the first pillar of Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Islam has been built upon five: testifying that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing obligatory prayer, giving obligatory charity, fasting in Ramadan, and performing Hajj at the Kaaba if able to do so.”
The second pillar of Islam is obligatory prayer. Allah said: “And establish prayer as prescribed. Indeed, prayer in that manner prevents people from immorality and wrongdoing. Furthermore, mention of Allah is greatest and Allah has complete knowledge of all that you do.”
The third pillar of Islam, obligatory charity, is mentioned in conjunction with obligatory prayer at many points in the Book of Allah. Obligatory charity involves a wealthy person giving a small portion of his wealth to the types of recipients whom Islam’s teachings designate as eligible. This charity is part of what shows Islam’s merits with respect to ensuring the welfare of society and contributing to what benefits the public at large.
The other pillars of Islam are fasting in Ramadan and performing Hajj. Allah: said: “And performance of Hajj at this House is an obligation people must fulfil for Allah if able to do so.”
I say to all who are performing Hajj: Allah has blessed you by making it easy for you to carry out this obligation; thus, ensure that you fulfil it while following the guidance of your Prophet (PBUH) who said, “you must learn your rites of Hajj and Umrah from me.” In addition, Allah said: “Hajj is in the well-known months. Thus, those who intend to perform Hajj during these months must avoid intercourse and its precursors, disobedience to Allah, and wrongful argumentation while performing Hajj. And whatever good you do, Allah indeed knows it.” “Additionally, you must take provisions for yourselves, and the best provision is most certainly protecting yourselves from Allah’s punishment. Thus, people of understanding, ensure that you protect yourselves from My punishment.”
The Prophet (PBUH) had also clarified other levels of this religion. The level of Ihsaan entails that you worship Allah as though you are seeing Him; and even though you do not see Him in this world, He certainly sees you. There are also the pillars of Iman, which entail that you have sound beliefs about Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and His preordainment whether its results are perceived to be good or bad.
I say to all who have come to perform Hajj at Allah’s Sanctified House, as well as all Muslims in all places: I counsel all of you, as well as myself, to seek protection against the punishment of Allah by fulfilling His commands and avoiding His prohibitions, since that is the best provision to prepare. I also counsel all of you, as well as myself, to hasten to perform acts of goodness. Allah said: “And hasten to attain forgiveness from your Lord; and to be admitted to Paradise, the expanse of which is like the expanse of the heavens and the Earth. It has been prepared for those who protect themselves from Allah’s punishment.” Allah also said: “And do all forms of good in order for you to be successful.”
Servants of Allah, you must also realize that hastening to do good things includes being keen to comply with the values taught by Islam: values that soundly mould the conduct of a Muslim and refine them in the best way. Those were embodied by our esteemed Prophet (PBUH), whom his Lord described by saying, “And you are most certainly established upon an admirable standard of conduct”. The Prophet (PBUH) was the one who had said, “Indeed, those most beloved to me among you, and those who will be nearest to me in rank on the Day of Resurrection, are the ones who have the best conduct.”
In a general sense, good conduct comprises values that are shared by all people in general, and they are respected by Muslims and others as well. That conduct entails traversing a sound course in words and deeds. Allah said: “You must speak the best of words to people.” He also said: “Righteous deeds are not equal to misdeeds. Do good to people in exchange for them having done wrong to you. When you do so, you will find that if there was animosity between you and someone else, he will become like a beloved friend.”
With respect to dealing with insolence from others, Allah said: “Accept the deeds and conduct that people readily offer, instruct people to do what is correct, and turn away from those who behave ignorantly.” Allah also said: “Thus, continue to persevere. The promise of Allah is the truth, and do not let people who have no certainty divert you.” In other words, beware of letting them involve you in argumentative exchanges and the consequences that ensue.
Due to the well-grounded values that a Muslim must have, he is not to give any mind to those who are insolent, have ulterior motives, or seek to obstruct him. He is to bear in mind the statement of Allah: “And when they hear wrongful words, they withdraw from that and they say, ‘We have our deeds and you have your deeds. You will remain in safety from hearing or experiencing anything harmful from us. We do not seek to follow the course of the ignorant.”
A Muslim is also to realize that persisting in argumentation with such people makes their presence more prominent, supports their interests, and makes them happy; in fact, many of them are dependent upon that argumentation. Nonetheless, it must also be borne in mind that dangers of deception are still to be exposed, and blatant offenses are to be confronted, but all of that is to be done according to the wisdom prescribed by Islam.
Dear worshippers, performing Hajj at Allah’s Sanctified House; dear Muslims: Among the values taught by Islam are avoiding all that leads to dissent, animosity, or division; and instead, ensuring that our interactions are dominated by harmony and compassion.
These values come at the head of what adhering to the Qur’an and Sunnah means. Allah said: “All of you must adhere to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and you must not be divided among yourselves.” It is that unity, brotherhood, and cooperation which constitutes a fortification of safety that protects our Ummah and its togetherness, and also contributes to maintaining sound interactions with others.
The preceding serves to underscore that Islam has an encompassing spirit whose goodness extends to all of humanity, and its esteemed Prophet (PBUH) is the one who said: “The best of people are those who benefit others most.” Thus, the teachings of Islam have an inherent humanitarian nature whose standards do not become compromised, and whose foundations do not become altered. In light of that, each individual among you should love what is good for all people, and strive to bring their hearts together.
It is by way of those values that the light of Islam spread and reached people throughout the regions of our world. Individuals who remained true in their promise to Allah successively continued to convey this good. Consequently, this guidance bore soundly directed followers who traversed the path of Islam. The well-grounded scholars of Islam also have a very positive effect in tirelessly bearing the responsibility of clarifying the truth, and that includes confronting misconceptions and incorrect understandings regarding Islam.
I say to all who have come to perform Hajj: one of the settings in which supplications are answered is this very setting that you are now in. The Prophet (PBUH) was present at Arafat where he continued to mention Allah and supplicate Him after delivering a sermon and praying Dhuhr and Asr combined and shortened to two units each, with one adhan and two iqamahs. He stayed in Arafat until the sun had set, then he calmly proceeded to Muzdalifah while also instructing his companions to remain calm and composed.
In Muzdalifah, he prayed Maghrib as three units, and Isha as two units. He spent the night in Muzdalifah, prayed Fajr there, and remained seated there mentioning Allah until the sky became quite bright. He then proceeded to Mina and pelted the third Jamrah with seven pebbles, then offered his sacrifice and had his head shaved. That constituted a preliminary exit from the state of Ihraam. He then proceeded to Makkah, performed tawaf, and returned to Mina where he spent the Nights of Tashreeq.
While in Mina, he mentioned Allah much and, each day there, he pelted all of the three Jamarat pillars. He pelted the first Jamarat with seven pebbles, then did the same for the second, and he supplicated after pelting the Jamarat. He then pelted the third Jamarat with seven pebbles as well. For those who had legitimate excuses, he granted a concession to not spend the nights in Mina. He stayed there until the thirteenth of Dhul-Hijjah, and he permitted leaving on the twelfth. After completing the rites of Hajj, he performed a farewell Tawaf before departing from Makkah.
Dear Muslims, seize the opportunities of this majestic time: the Day of Arafat, which is the day on which Allah sent down His statement: “Today, I have perfected your religion for you, I have completed My favour to you, and I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you”. It is the same day about which the Prophet (PBUH) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more servants from the hellfire than the Day of Arafat. Allah indeed draws near and then boasts to the angels about them.” Therefore, supplicate Allah much since He has promised that He will respond to your supplications. Allah stated: “And your Lord said: Call upon Me and I will respond to you.” Allah also said to His Messenger: “When My servants ask you about Me, inform them that I am most certainly near. I respond to the prayer of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.”
O God, accept Hajj from all who have come to perform it; respond to their supplications; facilitate matters for them; forgive their sins; and enable them to return to their homelands in safety, having earned Your reward, and having attained high standing with You. And among them, there are those who say, “Our Lord, grant us good in this world, grant us good in the hereafter, and save us from the torment of the hellfire.”
O God, set matters right for the people of Islam, rectify matters between them, spread knowledge and goodness throughout them, make their children righteous individuals, bless them in their provisions, and admit them to Paradise.
O God, direct, guide, and support Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman as well as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Grant the best of rewards to them and their government for all that they have done and continue to do in the service of Islam, Muslims, and humanity at large. We implore You to be with them as their source of strength and support.”