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Taking Stock
First and the Final charter 
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahUtar kar Hera se soo-e-Qaum Aaya
Aur ek nuskha-e- kimia sath laya
(Descended from Hira down to the people, and brought with him a prescription al-chemic)
- Khawaja Altaf Husain Hali

The revelation of the prescription part by part took twenty-three years to complete. Then its completion was announced to the people, to the people everywhere for all time to come. This was the time of announcement, the month of Zil Hijja in the tenth year of Hijrah and the occasion was when Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) arrived in Makkah from Madina to perform Hajj, Hajjatul-Wida', the last Hajj and delivered his Khutba, the sermon. That was the occasion when the first and the final charter for the humankind was given to the people.

That was the time more than 1400 years ago, when men’s perceptive imagination could hardly go beyond the clan or tribe, at the most it could encompass the neighbouring tribes with which they were in constant confrontation and strife. At that time it was not less than a miracle to address a gathering of over a hundred thousand people coming from far and wide, while population was sparse and far between and transportation was arduous and hazardous.

At that time what a great ingenuity, imagination and far sight it would have been for the Prophet (pbuh) when he addressed such a vast gathering as ‘O! People!’ It must have been no less than a revolution for the Arabs and for the tribesmen to have been addressed as commoners. The opening words of the address itself proved without an iota of doubt that all discriminations on whatever grounds had been forsaken forever.

The universality of mankind and equality for all was further emphasized in no uncertain terms when the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘ No Arab has any privilege over a non-Arab, except that based on piety. We cannot imagine today how much courage was needed to declare to the proud Arabs in their face that they were no longer superior to anyone unless they stood up to a measure of piety. At that point of time Arabs had to believe that others could be superior and better than they were. The declaration of this single precept of universal equality and making a whole mass of people believe it was a miracle of such a great magnitude that it was enough to prove the prophet-hood of the Prophet (pbuh).

The concept of equality was not vogue. It was further amplified when the Prophet (pbuh) pointedly mentioned the rights of women among other sections of the society. He said, ‘O! People! To you a right belongs with respect to your women and to your women a right with respect to you. It is your right that they do not fraternize with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery… Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. Remember that you have taken them as your wives and enjoyed their flesh only under God’s trust and with His permission.

It may be reminded that the rights of women were in a way confirmed and institutionalized at a time when that concept was beyond the imagination of the society which did not hesitate to bury a girl child alive. That day of the announcement of the rights of women must be celebrated as a day of deliverance of women. Unfortunately, the so-called agitators for women’s rights are simply groping in the darkness of disbelief and befooling half of the humanity by their false promises to get what had already been granted centuries ago.

At the same time slavery was struck at its roots. It was abolished in one stroke. Not in principle only but in actual practice. A segment of humanity for the first time inhaled the freshness of freedom. Unfortunately, the practice of slavery in its various incarnations has bedeviled the modern society simply because of its evasion from Islamic principles. Not only the people in physical bondage were relieved but those under the bondage of debts with its unbearable burden of interest were also relieved. The blood money was also abolished when the Prophet (pbuh) said:

‘O People! Your lives and property shall be inviolable until you meet your Lord. The safety of your lives and of your property shall be as inviolate as this holy day and holy month. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Thus do I warn you. Whoever of you is keeping a trust of someone else shall return that trust to its rightful owner. All interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. God has judged that there shall be no interest and that all interest due to Abbas ibn Abd al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived. Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived. And the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibn al Harith ibn Abd al Muttalib.’

The Prophet (pbuh) summarized in following words: ‘O people! Listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford. You know that every Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over other except by piety and good deed.’

The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘O people! Listen well to my words and take these words to those who could not be present here today.’ That is the rationale for all Tabligh and Jamiat. That is the rationale for individuals to carry that message as far and as long as they could. That is the rationale for these few lines written in an imperfect vehicle of expression but written in all humility in compliance of that order, written with the faith that due is expected to carry only as much as he is capable of in thought and action.
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