The Event of Ghadir Khumm

in the Qur'an, Hadith, History

By Mohammad Manzoor Nomani

In Usul-e-Kafi we find narrations of the Innocent Imams about nomination and appointment by God and His Apostle of Hazrat Ali and eleven other Imams to Wilayat and Imamat, i.e., to the office of the religious and temporal leader and ruler of the Ummat, to obey whom was a religious obligation. Since the first to be nominated was Hazrat ALI, and at Ghadir-i-Khum the proclamation was made only in his favour, we will, at this stage, take up sayings in regard to him alone. Seeing that the traditions, as usual, are very long, here, too, we will be giving only their condensed translations.

It is narrated that Imam Baqar (once) said that when the command of God in respect of the Waliyat and Imamate of Hazrat ALI was received by the Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) and the following verse of the Quran was revealed:

You will find friends only in God and His Apostle and in the believers (V: 55)

and people, in general, did not fully grasp its meaning, the Almighty bade the Prophet to describe the office of Waliyat, in detail, to the people, and announce to them plainly the appointment of Hazrat Ali to it so that they could know and understand what it signified. The sacred Prophet, thereupon, was greatly worried and feared that on hearing about the Waliyat and succession of Hazrat Ali, Muslims might turn apostates and begin to disown and oppose him. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) then, begged the Lord to reconsider His Command upon which the Revelation came:

O Apostle: Make known that which hath been delivered unto thee from thy Lord, for, if thou do it not, then thou hast failed to fulfil the mission of a Messenger. And God will certainly protect thee from (the evil-minded) men.” (Q V: 67)

In another narration the Prophet is reported to have said, “When I feared that people might become apostates and disobey and reject me, I did not feel inclined to comply with this command. Then, there came an order from God with exceptional positiveness and stress that I had to carry out the order and was threatened with punishment in case of non-compliance”. After this admonition and threat of punishment, the Prophet (peace be on him and his dependents) made the declaration at Ghadir-i-Khum. He collected all the people for the occasion and the proclamation of the Waliyat and Imamate of Hazrat Ali was made in everybody’s presence. (p. 178-179)

Yet another narration says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) particularly addressed Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar and said, “You both get up and wish Ali by saying, As-Salam-o-Alaika, ya Amir-al-Momini”, and so they did.”

In another standard book of Isna Ashariyya called, Ehtijaj-e-Tabrisi, the incident of Ghadir-i-Khum, has been related on the authority of Imam Baqar, with a number of additions. The narrative begins from page 28 and ends on page 35 of the book.

Even a gist of it will take eight to ten pages of our article, the pages of which are of smaller size than that of Ehtijaj-e-Tabrisi, and, therefore, we will content ourselves with the observation that, in it, it is, further, added that after the Holy Prophet had ended his long sermon concerning the Caliphate and Imamate of Hazrat Ali, he took, at his own hand, from all those present (numbering about a lakh) the pledge of fealty in respect of the Caliphate of Hazrat Ali, and the first to do so were Abu Bakr, Omar and Usman, and then came all the Muhajirin (Emirgrants) and Ansar (Helpers), and, finally, all the others who were present. It went on like that till late in the evening, and the prayers of Maghrib and Isha were offered together. (p. 35)

In another report occurring in Usul-e-Kafi, it is stated that when the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) was returning from the Farewell Haj and had reached Ghadiri-Khum, Gabriel came to him with the verse:

“0 Apostle! Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord.”

The Prophet, then, had the announcement made for the people to gather there and the ground was cleared of thorns where acacia trees had grown. When the people had collected, the Prophet, after a few introductory remarks, said “Ali is the Maula’ of whom I am the Maula. 0 God! Have friendship towards those who have friendship for Ali, and show enmity towards those who have enmity for Ali”. The sacred Prophet said it thrice which aroused feelings of malice, double-dealing and hypocrisy among the people and they observed that the command, certainly, was not from God. The Prophet simply wanted to thrust his cousin (uncle’s son) upon them by raising his rank and position. (p. 182) There is yet another narrative, in the same context, in Furu-i-Kafi only a substance of which, too, can be given here.

In it, extremely abominable and heathenish charge and accusation has been made against the leading Companions like Abu Bakr, Omar, Salim Maula Abu Huzaifa and Abu Obaida Ibni Jarrah.

It is related by Hasaan Shutarban i.e., (camel driver) that “once, Imam Jafar Sadiq travelled on my camel from Medina to Mecca. When we reached Ghadir-i-Khum, the Imam looked at the left side of the mosque and said that it was the place where the Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) had stood up and raising up Ali with both the hands had proclaimed his Caliphate and Imamate. and said, A1i is the Maula of whom I am the Maula.” Imam Jafar Sadiq, then, looked at the right side of the mosque and observed that there was the tent of Abu folan and folan (meaning Abu Bakr and Omar) and Salim Maula Abi Huzaifa and Abu Obeida Bin Al Jarrah). When they saw the Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) lifting up Ali with both the hands and announcing his Wilayat and Imamate, they said among themselves: ‘Just look at his eyes (meaning, God forbid, the eyes of the Prophet)? How are these rolling as if these were the eyes of a lunatic ?“ It was, then, that Gabriel appeared with the following verse:

And lo, those who disbelieve would fain disconcert thee with their eyes when they hear the Reminder, and say lo ! he is indeed mad’. (LXVIII: 51)

Please Note:The meaning of the verse, in fact, is that when the Unbelievers hear the Quran, 0 Apostle, they stare at you and want to disconcert and rattle you and say that you are mad. The reference, evidently, is to the Pagans of Mecca, but, in Furu-i-Kafi, it is stated about Imam Jafar Sadiq that he said that it applied, particularly to Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Omar, Hazrat Salim Maula Abi Huzaifa and Hazrat Abu Obeida bin Jarran.

Another book by the author of Usul-e-Kafi, Abu Jafar Muhammad bin Yaqub Kulayni, is called, Kitab-ur-Roza which is the last part of his compedium, Al-Jame-ul-Kafi. It contains the report of a long sermon by Hazrat Ali at the end of which he is related to have said while narrating the event of Ghadiri-Khum: “When the Prophet (peace be upon him and his dependents) reached Ghadir-i-Khum, a pulpit was erected by his order. He mounted on it and holding me by the arms raised me up in such a manner that the whiteness of his armpits was visible, and, (then), proclaimed in a loud voice to the assembly: Ali is the Maula of whom I am the Maula. 0 God, love him who loves Ali, and have enmity towards him, who is the enemy of AlL’’ The report goes on to say that, at the end of the sermon, Hazrat Ali used the word al-Ashqiyan (highly wretched, sinful and depraved persons) for Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar, and related, in detail, the punishment they were doomed to receive in the Hereafter, and, then, Hazrat Ali uttered the worst kind of imprecation against all the Ansar and Muhajirin. without naming anybody, who had accepted Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar, as the Caliphs, or, so to say, against the entire Muslim Ummat of that time and all the holy Companions.

Arguments Against Ghadir Khumm Episode

Firstly, let no one entertain any unworthy idea, doubt or misgiving about Hazrat Ali and his descendants, particularly Imam Jafar Sadiq and Imam Baqar on reading the aforementioned reports and traditions appertaining to Ghadir-i-Khumm (or any other of a similar kind reproduced earlier) in which highly deplorable and shameless remarks and statements have been attributed to those virtuous men concerning Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar and other leading Companions (to the extent of condemning them as wretched, sinful, and vicious and apostates, and infidels, and damned to Hell, and guilty of insolence and treachery against the holy Prophet). All these narratives are pure slander and vilification, and an attempt to blacken the character of the first two or three Caliphs and other distinguished Companions by the narrators thereof whose sole aim and mission was to create discord and dissension in the Ummat and to destroy Islam. Otherwise, it is an incontrovertible fact of history that, along with the Companions in general,the Mahajirs and Ansars, Hazrat Ali, too, had pledged his fealty to Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Omar as the Caliphs and successors of the sacred Prophet, and he was among their most trusted advisers (or ministers in the modern parlance). He never expressed his disagreement in that regard before any group or body of men nor laid claim, against them, to Caliphate and Imamate by recalling what is said in these reports to have happened at Ghadir-i-Khum. According to an overwhelming majority of Muslims, and non-Muslim historians as well, the conduct of Hazrat Ali was based wholly on sincerity and had nothing to do with Taqaiyya or hypocrisy as the Shias assert. Its most obvious proof is that he married away his daughter, Umm-Kulsum, to Hazrat Omar and made him his son-in-law in the same way as the holy Prophet had made Hazrat Ali his son-in-law.

But, enough for the present. We will return to it later. Secondly, in some books of the Traditions of Ahl-e-Sunnat, too, the holy Prophet’s sermon on the occasion of the Farewell Haj is mentioned in which he had observed that “Ali is the Maula of whom I am the Maula”. But it had nothing to do whatsoever with the question of Caliphate or Imamate. The fact of the matter is that seven or eight months before the Last Pilgrimage, the sacred Prophet had sent Hazrat Ali with about 300 men to Yemen. They had come from Yemen to join the Prophet in the Farewell Haj. During their stay in Yemen, some of Hazrat All’s companions had disagreed with him on certain matters. These persons, also, had come with Hazrat Ali to take part in the Last Pilgrimage, and during the Haj they spoke about the differences they had with some of the steps taken by Hazrat Ali. It was, undoubtedly, a mistake on their part. and the Devil is always on the lookout for such an opportunity to sow the seeds of rancour and animosity in the hearts of men. When the holy Prophet came to know of it, he felt that the circumstances demanded that he publicly declared what place of acceptance and liking Hazrat Ali did enjoy from the side of God. With that object, he gave the sermon in which he said, “Ali is the Maula of whom I am the Maula. 0 God! Have friendship towards those who have friendship for Ali, and have enmity towards those who have enmity for Ali”. In Arabic the word Maula has a wide range of meaning. It denotes ‘master’, ‘slave’, ‘emancipated slave’, ‘helper’, ‘friend’ and ‘loved one’. In the holy Prophet’s pronouncement it has been used in the sense of a friend and a loved one, as is evident from the prayer that follows it. What the above saying of the Prophet conveys, in sum, is that ‘he who holds me dear holds Ali dear as well. Hence, whoever loves me should, also. love Ali.”

Anyway, the tradition is not even remotely related to the question of Caliphate or Imamate.


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