These Selected Forty Sermons of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) include some landmark sermons of great historical significance which marked a turning point in the history of Islam.

After the revelation of the verses: “Proclaim openly Allah’s message that you have been commanded and turn away from the idolators” (Al-Hijr; 15:94) and “Warn your tribe (O Muhammad!) of near kindred.” (Ash-Shuara; 26:214). The Prophet (PBUH) proclaimed openly and boldly the arrival of the monotheistic Islam among the pagans of Makkah. He never looked back after loudly and fearlessly warning the people of Makkah and particularly his nearest relations to fear Allah and refrain from idol worship and other sinful acts. He exhorted the pagans of Makkah to follow the path of righteousness and justice as ordained in the Qur`an. There is unique harmony of thought and action and of precepts and practices in all his sermons.

These selected Sermons relate to some of the critical moments in the history of Islam. The expedition to Tobuk against the Romans was one such moment. Even at such a critical and tense moment in the history of Islam the Prophet stressed the need for the honesty and integrity of Muslims, their firm adherence to the path of piety and righteousness and exhorted his companions to overlook the faults of others and be patient and forgiving under most adverse circumstances: “He who pardons others will be forgiven by Allah. He who represses anger Allah rewards him. He who faces misfortunes with perseverance, Allah compensates him.”

The magnanimity of the Prophet (SAWS) and that of Islam was displayed in full measure at the time of the victory of Makkah in the 8th Hijra. On this historic occasion he declared the equality of human beings and abolished once and for all, all those pre-Islamic practices which perpetuated inequality between man and man such as pride in lineage. His final act of grace was to grant general amnesty to all the people of Makkah who before his migration to Madina had subjected him to acute harassment and torture. In his supreme moment of triumph when he was militarily and politically all powerful the Prophet (SAWS) declared: “This day there shall be no reproach on you. Go your way, for you are freed ones.” There was no feeling of bad blood, no vengeance and no desire for revenge. The Prophet’s announcement of general amnesty revealed the true face of Islam with all its dignity, grace, generosity and munificence.

In one of his sermons devoted exclusively to the uniqueness and significance of the Qur’an he emphatically stated that “the best discourse is the Book of Allah: because it enlightens the heart. He exhorted the Muslims to never feel tired and bored of reciting the Qur’an and asserted that “there can be no better book for the guidance of mankind than the Qur’an. It is this miraculous Book of Allah, which instills in your heart His fear, guides you to the path of piety and righteousness and helps you to distinguish between things prohibited and made lawful by Allah (Sermon: 18). He forcefully reiterated the importance of the Qur’an by claiming in his last Sermon (40): “Verily I have left amongst you that which will never let you go astray i.e. the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet, provided you hold them fast and carry out their injunctions.”

The forceful emotive impact of his sermons was fully revealed when he was able to overcome the simmering discontent among his Ansar Sahabas who resented his liberal distribution of spoils of war after the victory of Makkah, among the Muslims of Makkah. He moved the Ansars to tears when he rhetorically asked: “Are you not satisfied, O people of Ansar that the people of Makkah may carry ewes and camels with them while you return to Madinah with the Messenger of Allah.” The Ansars were so deeply touched that they instantly responded with one voice that they were satisfied with his scheme of distribution of the spoils of war.

The last Sermon of the Prophet on the occasion of the Hajj pilgrimage in the 10th Hijra on 9th Zil Hajj is not only distinguished for its eloquence but also represents a most authentic and authoritative capsule on Deen-e-Islam, its faith, rituals and practices and its values. It proclaims and reiterates unequivocally the equality of mankind: “There is no superiority for an Arab over non Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for white over the black nor for the black over the white except in piety” thereby reasserting the supremacy of pious deeds as ordained in the Qur’an “verily in the sight of Allah, the most honoured amongst you is the one who is the most pious among you.” He commanded that the women be treated kindly “for verily you have taken them on the security of Allah and have made them lawful for you by the words of Allah.” He further asked the Muslims to take good care of your slaves “you should feed them with the same food which you eat yourselves and clothe them with the cloth you wear yourselves” (Sermon 40).

These sermons marked for nobility of thought and stirring eloquence constitute along with the Traditions of the Prophet (SAWS) the most inspiring guidance to mankind to the straight path of Islam and righteousness after the Book of Allah – Al-Qur’an.

Editors of Monograph: Dr. Abdul Majeed, a distinguished scholar of Arabic language, was Professor and Head, Department of Arabic, Osmania University. He has also received the President of India award for his contribution to the promotion of Arabic language.

Dr. Mustafa Shareef is a Senior Reader in Arabic in the Osmania University. He is an expert in linguistic.