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  Updated: January 8, 2007

An inclusive account of Feast of Ghadir

By: Nofal Al-A’raji

Geographical location of Ghadir:

Ghadir literary means small lake or pond (Ref. Al-Munjid). Ghadir is the name of a place that comes on the way from Makkah to Medina. It is 3 miles further than Johfa towards Medina. There existed a small pond at this place. Though geographically it exists on the way to Medina but this place acted as an exit point for all the people going out from Makkah for all the other places. When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) halted at this place after his last pilgrimage to make his all-significant announcement it was extremely hot at that time and it was close to mid-day. It was a wayside tract of barren land. There was no shelter present over there at that time. In fact there existed merely small minor patches of shades provided by a few acacia trees.

Date: The date is 18th Zilhajjah of the year 10 A.H. (10 March 632 CE)

Event Backdrop:

After completing the last pilgrimage the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) along with the Muslims set out of Makkah. On their way back the Muslims reached a place called Ghadir-e-khumm. The following verse was revealed to the Holy Prophet(S.A.W.): " O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don't do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people ..." (Quran 5:67)

Delivery of the sermon:

On receiving the above verse, the Holy Prophet stopped at that very place called Ghadir-e-khumm. He ordered his companions to call back those of the Muslims who had gone ahead. He waited for those Muslims who had remained behind to join them. He ordered Salman (A.R.) to prepare for a pulpit with the help of rocks and camel toolings. It was prime noontime and Muslims had tied their heads and legs on account of the heat. Muslims had started to sit near the temporary pulpit. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was at this place for about 5 hours. He recited nearly 100 verses of the Holy Quran most of which were in the praise of Ali(A.S.). Seventy three times he reminded and admonished the Muslims about the their deeds and future.

The following is a part of the lengthy speech of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) which has also been narrated by the sunni authorities repeatedly:

"It seems the time has approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."

Then the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) in an attempt to remind Muslims of his own authority over them said: “Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?” Muslims answered unanimously “Yes, O' Messenger of God". This served as a stepping stone for the announcement of his heir and vicegerent. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) held out the hand of Ali (A.S.) and said: “For whomever I am his master (mawla), 'Ali is his master (mawla)." The Holy Prophet then continued to say: " O' God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him."

Revelation of the verse 5:3:

Once the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) completed his speech this verse of the Holy Quran was revealed to him: "Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and chosen Islam as your religion." (5:3). This verse explicitly mentions that only along with this express announcement of the vicegerancy by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) can the religion of Islam be considered as complete and perfect. Without this announcement or because of the disregard of this announcement the religion of Islam will be merely half truth.

Hassaan Bin Thabit's poetry:

Immediately after completion of the sermon Hassaan Bin Thabit sought the permission of the Holy Prophet to convey to the audience his poetry which he had instantaneously composed regarding this event of Ghadir. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) told him “Say with the blessings of Allah ". He then conveyed the following verses of his poetry to the audience:
" He calls them, (on) the day of Ghadir, their Prophet

In Khumm so hear (and heed) the Messenger's call,

He said: "Who is your guide and master? (mawlakum wa waliyyukum)"

They said, and there was no apparent blindness (clearly):

"Your God, our guide, and you are our master

And you won't find from among us, in this, any disobedient,"

He said to him: "Stand up O' Ali, for I am

pleased to announce you Imam and guide after me (min ba'di imam(an) wa hadiy(an)),

So whomever I was his master (mawla), then this is his master (mawla)

So be to him supporters in truth and followers,"

Oath of allegiance:

The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) keeping to his long term merciful nature towards the Muslims did not get content only on this announcement. He wanted this announcement to take the shape of appropriate action from the side of the Muslims. In lieu of this the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) ordered the Muslims to meet Ali (A.S.) and give oath of allegiance to him. Umar Bin Al-Khattab came first to Ali (A.S.), gave oath of allegiance to Ali (A.S.) and said "Well done Ibn Abi Talib! Today you became the master (mawla) of all believing men and women." After Umar was Abu Bakr, Uthman, Talha and then others. The entire process of giving allegiance to Ali (A.S.) by the then present 120,000 people took 3 days.

Revelation of the verse 70:1-3:

The news about the above announcement and the subsequent allegiance of oath given by the Muslims to Ali (A.S.) spread across both the urban and rural areas. This event was so significant that it touched the Muslims all across the globe. In this process Harith Ibn Nu'man al-Fahri (or Nadhr Ibn Harith according to another tradition) came to know about this. He hurriedly came to Madinah and started disputing with the Holy Peophet (S.A.W.) on the issue of appointment of Ali (A.S.) as the vicegerent. He told the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) "You commanded us to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah. We obeyed you. You ordered us to perform the prayers five times a day and we obeyed. You ordered us to observe fasts during the month of Ramadhan and we obeyed. Then you commanded us to offer pilgrimage to Makkah and we obeyed. But you are not satisfied with all this and you raised your cousin by your hand and imposed him upon us as our master by saying `Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla.' Is this imposition from Allah or from you?"

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "By Allah who is the only deity! This is from Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious." On hearing this while going back to his she camel Harith said "O Allah! If what Muhammad said is correct then fling on us a stone from the sky and subject us to severe pain and torture." He had not even reached his she camel that Allah (S.W.T.) flung a stone on him which struck him on his head and penetrated his entire body and he was instantaneously left dead. At this the following verse was revealed
"A questioner questioned about the punishment to fall. For the disbelievers there is nothing to avert it, from Allah the Lord of the Ascent." (70:1-3).
Books related to Ghadir:

There are at least 185 sunni books which have mentioned the event of Ghadir. It is not possible to mention all of them here but we mention just a few:

1. The well known commentator and historian of the fourth century hijri, Abu Ja'far Muhammad Bin Jarir Tabari (died 310 A.H.), gives complete details of the hadith of Ghadir in his book Kitabu'l-Wilaya and has narrated it through seventy-five chains of transmission.

2. Hafiz Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad Bin Sa'id Abdu'r-Rahman Al-Kufi, popularly known as Ibn Iqda (died 333 A.H.), narrated this holy hadith in his book Kitabu'l-Wilaya through 125 chains on the authority of 125 companions of the Holy Prophet.

3. Ibn Haddad Hafiz Abu'l-Qasim Haskani (died 492 A.H.), in his Kitabu'l-Wilaya, has narrated in detail the event of Ghadir along with the revelation of the verses of the Qur'an.
Similarly some of the many books of shia authors who have shown the event of Ghadir by providing extensive sunni sources are:

1. Al-Ghadir by Allama Amini - This is apparently the most magnanimous work on the event of Ghadir. This book is in 11 Volumes.

2. Abaqatul Anwar by Mir Hamid Husein – Lot of material available on the subject of ghadir using sunni references.

3. Nafahatul Azhaar by syed Ali Milaani - This is basically explanation of the book Abaqatul Anwar.

4. Ihkaakul Haq by shaheed-e-thalis Qazi Noorullah Shustri - this book has dealt the subject of Ghadir in many of its parts. 

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