Before the coming of Islam, the pagan Arabs were known to perform hajj annually. This was because they considered themselves proud followers of prophet Ibrahim. Unfortunately, they added pagan practices to the rites of pilgrimage. After the conquest of Makkah, Atab bn Usayd(RA) was put in chargeof hajj and Muslims and pagans performed the pilgrimage under his authority; however, they performed it the same way it was done prior to Islam.
A year after the conquest of Makkah (9th year after Hijrah), the Prophet (SAW) delegated Abu-bakr (RA) to lead the Muslims in performing hajj.
In the 10th year after hijrah, (632 CE), the Prophet (SAW) performed the farewell pilgrimage (Al-hajj-al- wada’). It was the only pilgrimage he participated in in person after the call to Prophethood. The companions keenly noted every single act he performed during this pilgrimage.
The following is an account of the farewell pilgrimage as reported by Saifur-Rahman Mubarakpuri in his book ‘When the Moon Split- A Biography of Prophet Muhammad SAW’:
The Prophet SAW left Madinah after Zhuhr prayer on the 26th of DhulQadah 10AH to perform the farewell pilgrimage. He moved to ZhulHulayfah where he prayed Asr prayer and spent the night. The next day, just before Zhuhr,he took a ritual bath and applied musk on his head and body and after performing Zhuhr prayer, he put on his ihram and raised his voice and began loudly reciting the pilgrim’s chant/talbiyyah (labbaikallahummalabbaik…) and proceeded to Makkah.
A week later, on Sunday 4th Zhul-hijjah, he entered Makkah. He went to the Ka’abah after Fajr prayer. He circumambulated the Ka’abah and performed seven sa’ys between mount safah and mount Marwah. When he finished, he remained in his ihram. (The Prophet SAW performed a type of hajj known as Qiran).
On the 8th of Zhul-hijjah, the Prophet went to Mina, where he prayed Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr. After sunrise (on the 9th of Zhul-hijjah), the Prophet SAW moved to Arafah. A tent was set up for him in the valley of Namirah. As the sun was setting, the Prophet SAW rode on his camel into the plains of Arafah and delivered one of his most remarkable sermons (the farewell sermon).
The companions all listened with concentration and the Prophet asked that they deliver his message to those who were not present. The sermon contained messages of brotherhood, enjoining good and admonition to hold on to the teachings of the Prophet SAW. The farewell sermon will be discussed in sha Allah in details in another article.
After the sermon, Bilal called the Adhan and iqaamah and the Prophet prayed a shortened Zhuhr, and after another iqaamah a shortened Asr. After sunset, the Prophet moved to Muzdalifah where he combined Maghrib and Isha prayers. He prayed Maghrib in full and shortened Isha (two raka’ats only). He then rested until fajr.
After fajr(on the 10th of Zhulhijjah) he returned to Makkah, to the Ka’abah, repeated the takbir and tahlil while facing the qiblah until light began to appear in the horizon. Before sunrise, he moved to Mina again and threw seven stones at the largest Jamrah chanting the takbir with each throw. Once he was done, he stopped the talbiyyah and told his companions to ‘learn the rites of hajj from me, for perhaps I shall not be able to perform hajj after this year.’
The Prophet SAW then camped in Mina and slaughtered 63 camels (symbolic, as he lived 63 years) and Ali (RA) slaughtered another 37 camels making a total of 100 camels sacrificed by the Prophet on behalf of his ummah. After the sacrifice, the Prophet SAW shaved his head, removed the ihram and rode on his camel to the Ka’abah and circumambulated the Ka’abah seven times.
The Prophet then returned to Mina and he would stay there for the days of tashreek (11,12 and 13th of Dhul-hijjah ). On each of these three days, he stoned all three jamrahs starting with the smallest, proceeding according to size and finishing with the largest. On Tuesday, the 13th of Dhul-hijjah, the Prophet SAW left Mina after stoning all three jamarahs.
He performed Zhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha at Abtah. He then went to the Ka’abah and performed the farewell circumambulation. He left Makkah for his journey back to Madinah after performing the Fajr prayer on the 14th of Zhul-hijjah, 10AH.
Though this account is by no means exhaustive, an attempt was made to capture the step by step acts performed by the Prophet SAW during his farewell pilgrimage as these forms the basis of our performing hajj today.
The farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet SAW is one of the most iconic moments in the history of the religion. It was the moment the religion was completed with the fifth and last pillar, hajj and the Prophet SAW walked us through every aspect of this important religious ritual.
The importance is also seen in the farewell sermon he delivered, which will be discussed in another article. It was also towards the final days of the Prophet SAW and the Muslims rejoiced upon learning that their religion had been perfected.
This singular act of the Prophet in the year 632 CE (10AH) resulted in a religious rite that is still practiced annually to this day. Fourteen decades later, Muslims look back to the farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet SAW when performing the hajj.