Muslims consider every aspect in the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to be very significant. For not only the Prophet's statements are away from any carnal desires and is related to the origin of Revelation according to the holy Quran2, but also, His actions show the true way of life3. Throughout his life, specific events happened that were of great importance, of those one is known as Ghadir, held in a location called Ghadir Khumm.
The event of Ghadir consists of several aspects that give it a brighter value than the rest of the events. The references for the actual event, the large number of narrators, and the Islamic scholars that witnessed and reassured of the event all prove Ghadir to be one of the very few events in Islam to have such strong base in belief.
While looking at narrators of Hadith of Ghadir, we will see Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) progeny as the first narrators. They are Imam Ali (PBUH), Fatima Al-Zahra (PBUH), Imam Hassan (PBUH) and Imam Hussain (PBUH). Furthermore one hundred and ten companions (Sahabi)4 of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) narrated this saying, such as:
1-Abubakr ibn-Abighohafah 2-Omar ibn-Khattab 3-Othman ibn-Affan 4-Ayeshe bent-Abibakr 5-Salman Farsi 6-Abazar Ghafari 7-Ammar Yaser 8-Zobeir ibn-Avam 9-Abbas ibn-Abdolmuttaleb 10-Jaber ibn-Abdullah al-Ansari 11-Umme Salame 12-Abdollah ibn-Omar ibn-Khattab 13-Abouhorayre 14-Zeid ibn-Argham
The interesting point is that all of these companions were present when the event took place, therefore, they have narrated the saying directly. Of the others who have narrated the Hadith of Ghadir, were 83 people from Tabe'in5. Some of them are:
1-Asbagh ibn-Nobate 2- Salim ibn-Abdollah ibn-Omar ibn-Khattab 3- Sa'eed ibn-Jobeir 4- Soleim ibn-Gheis 5- Omar ibn-Abdolaziz (the Umayyad caliph) .
After Tabe'in, Sunni scholars from second up to the thirteenth century (which were 360( have narrated the Hadith; three of the Sunni Sahih authors (from the six6)and two of their jurisprudence leaders7 are amongst those8. The precise number of Shia scholars who have narrated this saying is not known, however, some of the most popular ones are:
1-Sheikh Kulayni 2-Sheikh Sadooq 3-Sheikh Mufid, and 4- Sayyed Mortada 9.
Hence, among Sunni scholars and their focus on the authenticity of the narration shows that a great number of scholars observe it as a "Hassan" Hadith10, 11, while some Sunni scholars believe the narration as a "Sahih"12 saying, 13 and some other think of it as a Mutawatir14 (Frequent) saying15. All of Shia scholars believe the saying of Ghadir is a Mutawatir narration.16, 17
Consequently, one of the most important historical events of Islam among all Muslims as a definite phenomenon is indeed the event of Ghadir Khumm.
The descent of two verses of the holy Quran - (6:67)18 and (6:3)19 about the event of Ghadir has increased its importance and has made it eternal. These two verses have been interpreted by famous Shia and Sunni commentators, for the event of Ghadir.20, 21 Comparing the content and expression of these two verses with the other verses of the Holy Quran, we can conclude that the manner in which these two verses are presented are unique amongst if not all, but most of the other verses in the Holy Quran. While reciting the holy Quran, each Muslim might wonder deeply about these verses and ask himself these questions:
- What is this important matter that Allah (SWT) has promised to keep His Messenger safe upon preaching this message?
- What is this important matter that if preached, brings about the completion of the blessings upon the people, perfection of the religion?
- What is this important matter that if the messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) did not preach this message, His 23 year mission of His prophet hood would become null and he would not have accomplished His mission? Thus the day will be obviously; the day in which upon the revelation of this verse and the preaching of such an important message, will be a day to complete religion, please Allah, and hold as a very important event amongst Muslims.22
According to what has been stated above, it can be concluded that in addition to the historians who as of their profession have a close attention to event of Ghadir23, also the scholars of Hadith consider it as a considerable and important Hadith.24 For being a scholar of Hadith, one should specify the authenticity of Hadith and contemplate the concepts of it. Therefore Ghadir as a definite and frequent Hadith has been specially posed in different books of Hadith. After the revelation of two verses about this event which suggests a unique concept and has an outstanding expression among other verses, Ghadir has become the issue of many discussions in the interpretation books25. Relying on the concepts of these verses and the great religious effects they convey, Mutikallemin (theologians) have especially considered this event 26. Even linguists have paid special attention to this important event while expressing the meaning of "Ghadir", which refers to a location27. During the 14 centuries, Islamic literature and Muslim poets have described this great event in their works and poems until present.28
Thus far the importance of the event of Ghadir has been stated in this article. In the next section of this article we would like to study this great Islamic event and this era of the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) life to briefly investigate the various aspects of Ghadir. First we will give an overview of what has happened on the day of Ghadir accepted amongst majority of Muslims, then a content of the narration of Ghadir in details, and finally show the results of this great event that should be considered by all Muslims.
The Event of Ghadir
In the year 10 A.H, the great Prophet (PBUH&HP) was ordered by the Almighty Allah to make a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform Hajj. Thus it was necessary to inform all the people of this pilgrimage29, even some messengers were sent to different regions to inform the people. The messengers sent by the Prophet (PBUH&HP) told people that it is the last pilgrimage of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), and it is a very important journey. They added that anyone who can afford to come should accompany the Prophet (PBUH&HP) in this journey. Though the great Prophet (PBUH&HP) had in the former years performed the rituals of Umra Mofrade with the accompaniment of some of His companions30, this time according to divine will, He decided to perform and teach people the rituals of Hajj for the first and last time. When people became aware of this journey, a large crowd gathered in Medina to accompany the Prophet (PBUH&HP) in performing Hajj. Historians and scholars name this journey as Hajjah al-Wida31, Hajjah al-Islam, Hajjah al-Balagh32, Hajjah al-Kamal, and Hajjah al-Tamam33.
On Saturday the 24th or 25th of Zi al-Qa'deh, the great Prophet (PBUH&HP) left Medina for Mecca to perform the rituals of Hajj. The Prophet's family (Ahl al-Bayt) (PBUT), most emigrants (Mohajir) and Helpers (Ansar) all accompanied the Prophet (PBUH&HP) on this pilgrimage. Records show that 70,000 to 120,000, or even more left medina to go to Mecca for Hajj34. Others joined the Prophet (PBUH&HP) from various cities and even residents of Mecca were waiting for the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) arrival. Before the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) decision to perform Hajj, he had sent Imam Ali (PBUH) to Yemen to propagate Islam and teach the divine teachings of Islam. When Imam Ali (PBUH) became aware of the necessity for accompanying the Muslims in Hajj, he left Yemen with a group of people to join the Prophet (PBUH&HP) just in time for the start of the rituals.35
The messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) started the rituals of Hajj in a mosque named Shajareh. Though prior to this trip, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had explained the practices of Hajj literally, now was the opportunity to teach the rituals in action. Also in different stages the Prophet (PBUH&HP) preached people and informed them of the other divine orders.
Once the rituals for Hajj were all performed, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) along with a large number of companions left Mecca. On the way to Medina they reached a region known as Ghadir Khumm.
Ghadir is a watershed and Khumm means pool36. Ghadir Khumm is the name of a pond that forms because of rain. Ghadir is 3-4 kilometers away from Johfeh and Johfeh is 64 kilometers away from Mecca. Johfeh is a center in which people of Egypt, Medina, Iraq and Damascus begin the path toward their own cities37. Ghadir Khumm was a place for pilgrims to rest a short while with the trees and water, but the weather was extremely hot and they wouldn't stay long.38
On Thursday, 18th of Zi al-Hajjah (10 March 632), the Prophet (PBUH&HP) arrived at Ghadir Khumm. Before the inhabitants of Damascus, Iraq, and Egypt were separated from the caravan, Gabriel descended this verse upon the Prophet (PBUH&HP): "O Messenger! Deliver what bas been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people".39This verse commanded the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to preach what had previously revealed regarding Ali (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH&HP) commanded the caravan to stop at that location and for those who have gone ahead to return to Ghadir Khumm, while those who had not reached the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to move faster towards Ghadir Khumm40. Then He ordered for some of His followers to prepare a space below some of the old trees and remove the thorns and rough stones from that place. At noon, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) performed the prayer with a great population of Muslims at that area in the terrible hot weather41, 42. The burning hot weather forced people to place part of their garment on their heads and some under their feet to protect it from the burning stones on the ground.43 They also put a piece of cloth on the branches of the old trees to make a barrier for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) against the hot sunshine. When the prayer was finished, there was a pulpit prepared from the camel saddles, in which the Prophet (PBUH&HP) ascended to give his famous sermon. To make sure all the people heard what the prophet said, some of the followers repeated the Prophet's (PBUH&HP) sermon.
A part of the sermon is stated below:
"Thanks and praise is exclusively for Allah and we seek help from Him, have faith in Him, and seek protection to Him from our desires and wrong doings. The Lord in which if misleads people, no one will be able to lead, and whom if leads, no one can mislead. I profess that other than God, no other is worshipped and Muhammad is the slave and the messenger of Him. O People, the merciful and the aware Lord informed me that I too will be called (toward Allah) and I will respond (His invitation) 44. I will be responsible and you too will be responsible. So what would you say (regarding my invitation and responsibility)?"
Those present answered, "We witness that you communicated your prophet hood, worked hard, and warned us. We wish that Allah will give good reward to you."45
The prophet said, "Do you not witness that there is no worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is His servant and Messenger? (And do you not witness that) the heaven and hell of Allah is true, death is true, the day of Judgment will arrive without doubt, and (that) Allah will raise those who are in the graves?"
The audience said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah, we witness."
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) then continued and asked the people, "Do you hear my speech?"
The audience replied, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah"46.
Then the Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: "I will attend the Pond (of Kawthar) before you and you will meet me beside there. The width of this pool is from Bosra (a city near Damascus) to San'a (a city in Yemen). Within, there are silver cups as much as the stars in the sky. So see how you will treat Thaqalain (Two weighty things) after me."
At that time, someone said:" O, Prophet! What do you mean by Thaqalain?"
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said:" The greater weight is the Book of Allah (holy Quran). A part of it is in the hand of Allah and the other part is in your hands. If you hold on to it (and use its guidance) you will not deviate. The other weight and smaller is my progeny. The All-Aware Subtle Allah informed me that these two weights will not separate until they meet me by the Pond of Kawthar, 47 and I wished this from Allah. So don't exceed from these two for you will perish and do not fall behind from these two for you will perish."48
Then Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) raised Imam Ali's (PBUH) hands so that all people could see him beside Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) 49. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) asked the people: "O People, Aren't I prior and superior to you than yourselves?"50, 51
People replied :"Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" 52
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) continued:
"O People! Surely Allah is my Master, and I am the Master of all believers."53
Then he said:
"He of whom I am the Master (Mawla), of him Ali is the Master (Mawla)".54
He repeated this sentence 3 times55.
Then he said:
"O God! be the friend of him who is his friend and be enemy of him who is enemy to him.56 Help those who help him.Forsake those who forsake him57".
Then the Prophet (PBUH&HP) addressed the people:
" O people! Tell this message to those who are not present."58
Before the crowd scattered, Gabriel descended again and revealed this verse:
"Today I have perfected your religion and completed my bounty upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion."59
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) then said:
"Allah is the great, upon the accomplishment of the religion, completion of the blessings, and satisfaction with my prophet hood and Ali's (PBUH) wilayat."60
After that, people congratulated Imam Ali (PBUH). Abubakr and Umar were of those who congratulated him before the other companions. Umar repeatedly told Imam Ali (PBUH): "Well done Ibn Abitaleb. You have become Master of me and every believing man and woman."61
Then, Hassan Ibn Thabit, the famous poet, asked permission from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to say a poem about what he had heard from Him about Imam Ali (PBUH). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: "Say with the blessings of Allah!" Hassan addressed the magnates of Quraish: "You, the magnates of Quraish! Listen to my speech, certified by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)", then said:
"On the day of Ghadir, their Prophet announced loudly in Ghadir which is in Khumm, to which I wish all people had been there and seen him saying that: "Aren't I your master?" People answered him without glossing over: "Allah and you are our master." And if you had been there, you couldn't have found anyone disagreeing. Then He told Ali (PBUH): "Stand up; for I found you worthy of being the people's Imam and guide after myself (by the command of Allah)."62, 63
What has been stated in this section was a brief narration of Ghadir. The number references give more information on its Sunni and Shia commentators. In the following section, we will have a detailed study of the Ghadir narration.