The eighteenth day of Zi-l-Hajjah in Ghadir Khum was marked by the extreme heat of the sun. A large crowd of people, between seventy thousand to one hundred and twenty thousand, had gathered there on the Prophet's orders, waiting for the historical event to begin. People were using their robes to protect their heads against the extreme and fatal heat.
In these critical moments, the voice of “Allah-u-Akbar” [God is great] filled every corner of the desert and people were getting ready to pray.
The Prophet performed the congregation prayer among a huge crowd of believers. Then he ascended a make-shift pulpit which had been prepared, reciting the following sermon:
All praise is due to Allah.
We will ask his assistance and we believe in Him and we rely on Him. We seek refuge in the Lordof men against the concupiscence and any wrongdoing.
We rely on Allah who has no associate. We are a witness to the fact that nobody can mislead anybody who is guided by Allah.
We declare that there is no associate to Allah and that Muhammad is His apostle.
O people! The merciful Allah has informed me that the length of any prophet's prophethood is half of his age prior to his prophethood. In the near future, I will accept God's call and leave you. I am responsible so are you. How would you think about me?
The Prophet's followers: we witness the fact that you propagated God's faith, you were benevolent towards us and you provided us with advice and you did your best; may God reward you amply.
The Prophet [when the crowd was silent]: Don't you believe that there is no associate for God that Muhammad is God's slave and His apostle, that Hell and paradise and death are true and that the day of resurrection shall come and God will bring to life those who are dead.
The Prophet's followers: yes we do.
The Prophet: I will leave among you two precious things; how are you going to treat them?
An unknown voice: what do you mean by two things?
The Prophet: the major weight is God's book. One side of which is in the hands of God and the other side is in your hands.
Learn it and apply it, to save yourself from going astray; and the minor weight is my Household. My God has told me that they too shall never depart up to the day of resurrection.
O people! Do not leave these two precious things behind so that you would not go astray.
At this moment, he raised Ali's hand so high that everybody could recognize Ali and realize that the event of that day was related to Ali. Everybody was eager to listen to the Prophet.
The Prophet: O people! Who is the worthiest individual among the believers?
The Prophet's followers: God and His apostle know better.
The Prophet: God is my superior and I am the believers superior. I am worthier than they are. O people! “من كنت مولاه فعليٌّ مولاه”
“Anybody who recognizes me as his superior should recognize Ali as his superior”. This sentence was repeated three times. 1
Then the Prophet said: O God! Love anybody who loves Ali and show your hatred towards Ali's foes. O God! Assist Ali's friends and let Ali's enemies be wretched! O God! Let Ali be the pivot of righteousness.
The Prophet added: You must urgently inform the absent ones of this event.
The glorious crowd at Ghadir had not yet spread when the revelation angel joyfully informed the Prophet that God had completed the Prophet's mission and he was content that Islam was completed that day2.
At this moment, the Prophet said “Allah is great. I am glad that God completed His religion today, He completed His assets on us, and He became content with my prophethood and with Ali being my successor”.
The Prophet descended from the high altitude. His friends and followers congratulated Ali, calling him their superior and every believer's superior. At this moment, Hasan Ibn Sabet, the Prophet's poet, rose and recited this historic event in a piece of poetry, making it immortal.
We will present here only the translation of two verses.
The Prophet told Ali: Rise since I have appointed you as the people's leader and guide after me. 3
Anybody who accepts me as his superior should accept Ali as his superior.
O people! It is compulsory for you to be Ali's genuine friends. 4
What we have presented here is a glimpse of the Ghadir Event, which is recorded in the Sunnite documents as well as in numerous shiite's records.
Tabarsi, in his book, Ehtejaj, records the Prophet's sermon in its entirety. Interested readers may refer to that book. 5
God has decided that the historical event of Ghadir shall be an eternal event. The Islamic writers could talk about it in their interpretations, narrations and history books, the religious speakers could discuss it in their sermons and could count the Imam's undeniable virtues. The poets could be inspired by this event and they could enliven their poetic rigor to write the most elegant poetical masterpieces on this event in different languages.
It is no wonder that in the history of Islam no event has ever been studied so vastly as the event of Ghadir by scholars, interpreters, philosophers, orators, poets and historians.
No doubt, one of the reasons for this event to be eternal, is the descent and relevance of two Quranic verses 6 and since the Holy Quran is eternal, this historical event shall always remain eternal, never to be forgotten.
In the Islamc community in the past and in the Shiite community now, this event is considered to be a great Islamic festival and would never be forgotten.
A look at the history books would reveal to us that the eighteenth day of Zi-l-Hajjah Al-Haram has been reckoned as the Ghadir festival among Muslims in the past. In this relation Ibn khollakan writing on Mostaali Ibn Al-Mostansar, the Fatemid caliph says in the year 487, the Ghadir festival, which corresponds with the 18th of Zi-l-Hajjah Al-Haram, people allied with him7.
Concerning Al-Mostanser Bellah, Al-Abidi writes: he passed away in the year 487 of hijrah, twelve nights before the end of the month Zi-Al-hajjeh. This night concides with the night of Ghadir festival.8
The festivities on Ghadir day were carried out because the Prophet himself carried it out regularly each year. On that day the Prophet ordered his wives and the Muhajirs and Ansars to go to Ali and congratulate him.
Zayd Ibn Arqam writes: the first of Muhajirs to ally with Ali were Abu Bakr, Umar Othman Talha and Zubayr. This ceremony of allegiance and congratulating continued till the evening.
On the significance of this event it is enough to say that it has been narrated by one hundred and ten of the Prophet's close friends.
Of course this is not taken to mean that only these people have reported this event; rather, we should point out that only in the books of the sunni scholars we could observe one hundred and twenty scholars who have done so. It is clear that the Prophet delivered his speech for an audience of one hundred thousand; but more of them were from distant areas like Hijaz who have not narrated this event.
Or perhaps they have done so, but we have no records of them. And even if a group of them have narrated this event, history has not been successful in recording their names.
During the second century of Islam which is the era of “Tabayin” eighty nine Tabayin narrators have narrated this event.
Many of the narrators in the following centuries were Sunnite scholars and three hundred and sixty of them have reported it in their books and have confirmed its authenticity.
In the third century of Islam, ninety two Sunnite scholars reported this narration; in the fourth centry, forty three; in the fifth century, twenty four; in the sixth century, twenty; in the seventh century, twenty one; in the eighth century eighteen; in the ninth century sixteen; in the tenth century, fourteen; in the eleventh centry tweleve; in the twelfth century, thirteen; in the thirteenth century, twelve; in the fourteenth century, twenty Sunnite scholars have reported this narration.
Besides reporting this narration, a group of these scholars have dealt with the content of this narration, as well.
Tabari, the great Islamic historian, has written a book called “Al-Welayat Fi Turuq hadith Al-Ghadir” and has narrated this narration from more than seventy narrators.
Ibn Uqdah Kufi, in his book, Welayat, has reported this narration from one hundred and five narrators.
Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Omar Baqdad; better known as Jaqani, has reported this narration from twenty five narrators.
Furthermore twenty six scholars have independently written books on this historical event however there might be some scholars who have written on this topic, but whose names do not appear in the history books.
Allamah Amini a Shiite scholar has written a precious book, called Al-Ghadir, which we have used frequently in the description of the Imam's life.
- 1. . According to the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the prophet (s) repeated this sentence four times.
- 2. .“This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed my favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion” [Quran 5:3].
﴿ الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَ أَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَ رَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِْسْلامَ دِيناً ﴾
- 3. . رضيتك من بعدي اماماً وهادياً فقال له قم يا علي فإنني
- 4. . فكونوا له أتباعَ صدقٍ مواليا فمن كنت مولاه فهذا وليّه
- 5. . Ehtejaj Tabarsi, vol. 1, pp. 71-84; printed in Najaf.
- 6. . Quran 5:67 ﴿ يا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ ما أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ و. ﴾
- 7. . Wafiat Al-Aayan, vol. 1, p. 60.
- 8. . Op cit, vol. 2, p. 223.
- 9. . Al- Tambîh wa Al-Ashrâf, p. 22.
- 10. . Thamarat Al-Qulub, p. 511.