THE SERMON OF TABROUK
The sermon delivered by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahhu alaihi wasallam), before 30 thousand of his companions gathered at Tabrouk for an expedition that was to be the last one in the Prophet's lifetime, is a masterpiece of eloquence and a storehouse of rare wisdom. Though the sermon itself consists of fifty short sentences, in its purport and scope it provides guidance on all aspects of human behaviour and endeavour. As we shall see, it is truly a treasure of Prophetic utterances, unsurpassed in beauty and unmatched in merit.
The year of the expedition of Tabrouk was a lean year, a period of acute famine, shortage and scarcity. The followers of the Prophet were passing through difficult days. But nothing could depress or dampen, much less deter, their enthusiasm for their faith. When the call came for Jihad against the threat of invasion from the Roman forces and the turbulent tribe of Banu Ghussan, they came out in thousands to defend it with their lives.
Tabrouk is nearly at the end of the border between Saudi Arabia and Syria. It is a vast plain surrounded by hills on all the sides. The Holy Prophet and his companions had camped at this place and stayed for as many as twenty days waiting for the enemy to show up. The Roman army did not proceed beyond Damascus and the men of the tribes of Banu Ghussan, Lakham and Juzam did not step out at all.
At this occasion the Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallum) said:-
(1) "Verily, the most reliable (the best and the most truthful) of the books is the Book of Allaah."
Elucidation: Anything which is in accordance with the facts of life is said to be reliable. Human knowledge and understanding of this world and his own kind are necessarily imperfect and limited. Moreover man has no means, whatsoever, to penetrate the future. Hence, the most reliable source of guidance for man can be from the words of the Almighty to Whom the Past, the Present and the Future are like an open book. Further, there is nothing that can escape His memory nor is there anything which exists beyond His Knowledge. It, therefore, behoves man to lay his trust in Him and accept His Word. That's what the Prophet desired his followers to realise.
(2) "And verily, the most dependable of strongholds for a man are his words of piety."
Elucidation: Piety is a condition of heart which keeps a man from trespassing or transgressing in his thoughts and deeds the limitations set by Allaah. Man, on the other hand, is the most enterprising and ambitious of His creatures. He wants to rise and reach the highest pinnacle of success - moral as well as material. Obviously it is an uphill task and he needs something to hold on to for support and sustenance in his endeavours to get to the top; something which will stay and serve and not betray him; in the face of the severest of his trials. The Holy Prophet has, for the guidance of man, so kindly described the source of strength and of support as will never let a man down. He can with safety and certainty pursue his upward march and reach the highest position to his heart's content through piety. If we were to put this maxim into practice in our everyday life, we shall soon realise the soundness of the Prophet's advice. In a man's struggle for success in life nothing is more serviceable to him than his conduct based on piety, devoutness and Godliness.
(3) "And the best of communities, is that of Abraham."
Elucidation: In one short sentence, the Prophet has outlined as well as emphasised the eternal continuity of the doctrine of Tawheed, the unity of Allaah, and the fact that Islam which was normally founded by Abraham stands for His Perfect Unity and is the religion for all mankind. It was preached by all the Prophets from Adam to Abraham and from Abraham to Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Abraham, as well as, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), faced numerous ordeals for the sake of Tawheed, that is, the faith in the Absolute One. By inference it also proves that other creeds and faiths, which have different gods and numerous deities inevitably lead men to strife and conflict by dividing their allegiance and loyalties according to the competing claims on the bases of creed, country, race, tribe, family, etc. etc. on the other hand, Islam brings harmony and peace by promoting brotherhood through the belief in One and only One, who is Allaah and Almighty. It also creates feelings of mutual, trust and respect amongst men irrespective of their place or race. It helps to surmount the artificial barriers based on geography or history and lays the foundation of brotherhood of man at all levels - national or international, domestic or personal. The reference to Abraham is significant in more than one ways. Abraham is regarded as the father, the patriarch of all the people of the Scriptures. He is thus acknowledged unanimously as the Prophet of Allaah and it was Abraham who formally named the believers in one God as Muslims.
(4) "And the best of Sunan - (the manners, the customary procedures, the common daily practices, actions and norms) are those based on the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) himself."
Elucidation: The manners and the conduct referred to above can best be acquired by following in the foot prints of the Holy Prophet. He deserves to be followed because of his perfect life and exemplary conduct. He is a model for mankind to emulate, for he combined in himself the virtues of all the Prophets of Allaah from Adam to Jesus Christ, the leaders that mankind has had.
(5) "And the best and most befitting of narratives (for mankind) is the Qur'aan."
Elucidation: It is again a proof of the Holy Prophet's confidence and trust in the intrinsic worth of man, on one hand, and his sincere desire and longing for his (man's) guidance on the other, that he (the Prophet) comes to man's help and assures him that the only Book worthy of man's status, intellect and inclination is the Qur'aan. He is sure to get the maximum guidance out of it.
Continued:- The Sermon Of Tabrouk - II