The previous discussions have clearly depicted the fact that the event of Ghadir has been a definite historical event, and any doubt on it is to doubt on obvious facts. It should be noted that among the Islamic narration, few narrations may equal it from the perspective of frequency.
Therefore, we shall not concentrate on the validity of such an authentic document; rather we will discuss the content of this document.
The key issue of this document is the word “Mawla” in the phrase
Firstly, we should note that the word “Mawla” is used in the Holy Quran in the sense of “preferable”.
1. “So today ransom shall not be accepted from you nor from those who disbelieved; your abode is the fire; it is your friend, end evil is the resort1“.
﴿ فَالْيَوْمَ لا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْكُمْ فِدْيَةٌ وَ لا مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مَأْواكُمُ النَّارُ هِيَ مَوْلاكُمْ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ﴾
In the interpretation of this verse the great Islamic interpreters say: the word “Mawla” in this verse means “more suitable” or “preferable” because nothing is better (or more suitable) than fire for the people who have committed sins.
2. “He calls upon him whose harm is nearer than his profit; evil certainly is the guardian and evil certainly is the associate”.2
﴿ يَدْعُوا لَمَنْ ضَرُّهُ أَقْرَبُ مِنْ نَفْعِهِ لَبِئْسَ الْمَوْلى وَ لَبِئْسَ الْعَشِيرُ ﴾
This verse based on its meaning and due to the context of the other preceding verses deals with the acts of idolaters who considered their idols as their masters.
Thus, these two verses indicate that one sense of “Mawla” is “more suitable” and one “superior”.
So, let us see what the expression
“ مَن كنتُ مَولاهُ فعليٌ مولاهُ “
means: does it refer to one's domination over others, which is the characteristic of a superior one? Or does “Mawla” refer to one's friend, as some others have assumed?
There are many clues that the first sense of the word “Mawla” is meant. Scholars refer to this “as the absolute governorship”.
In this connection, the Holy Quran refers to the Prophet (S) as:
﴿ النَّبِيُّ أَوْلى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ ﴾
“The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on themselves”3.
One who is more preferable to oneself than his own soul (in the matter of domination and superiority) is naturally in command of his worldly materials as well and when one is superior to oneself, he should have command over other people. For this reason, one should obey the orders of the superior one and not carry out what is inhibited by the superior one.
This position was bestowed upon the Prophet (S) by Allah and previously he lacked such a position.
In other words, it was God who made the Prophet dominant over the believing peoples’ souls and properties and let him free to order people to do what was right and discourage them from doing wrong and any resistance towards the Prophet's orders was considered infidelity towards God's orders.
Now that, through definitive reasons we have proved that by the word “Mawla” in this verse is meant “preferable” we shall conclude that Ali (as) will have the same position as the Prophet (S) had: i.e. at his time, the Prophet (S) was the people's leader, dominant over people's souls and wealth; and this also applies to the Imamat, which is sometimes referred to as divine governorship.
Now, we shall present some reasons and clues which will prove that by the word “Mawla” in this narration is meant nothing but “superior over people” in every aspect of their life. Here are some of these reasons:
1. On the day of the historic Ghadir event, Hasan Ibn Sabet, the Prophet's poet, rose, with the Prophet's permission, and wrote a piece of poetry on the content of the Prophet's message. The interesting point is that this eloquent poet, who knew all delicies of the arabic language, used the word “Imam” and “guide” in place of the word “Mawla”.
فقال له قم يا عليُّ فانني رضيتُكَ من بعدي اماماً وهادياً
The meaning goes like this: the Prophet addressing people, told Ali: Rise up since I have appointed you as the Imam and people's guide after myself. 4
As it is obvious Hasan, has used “Mawla” in the sense of “Imam” and “guide”.
Not only has Hasan used the word “Mawla” in the sense of Imam, but so did other great poets of Islam, most of which were masters of Arabic literature.
2. In his poems which he wrote for Muawiyyah, Ali (as) referring to the Ghadir Event, says
وأوجب لي ولايته عليكم رسولُ اللهِ يومَ غديرِ خمِّ
“God's Apostle has made my governorship compulsory over you”.
Who else except for the Imam himself, could ever explain to us the true meaning of this narration? The Imam was a person whose knowledge and virtues were believed and confirmed by both Shiites and Sunnis. As we have seen, Mawla Ali (as), by resorting to the Ghadir's Event, says: God's Apostle, on the Ghadir day appointed me as your Imam.
3. There are clues in the narration itself that attest to the fact that the Prophet had meant Ali's Imamate because, the Prophet, prior to the sentence
من كنت مولاه
had uttered the following words:
“أَلَسْتُ أولی بِكُم مِن اَنفُسِكُم”
“Am I not superior to your souls”. Then he added:
“ مَن كنتُ مَولاهُ فعليٌ مولاهُ “
Why were these two sentences juxtaposed? Did the Prophet not intend to refer to Ali's Imamate as the one who dominates over people's souls, a trait which he attributed to himself in the beginning of his sermon?
4. In the beginning of his speech, the Prophet made people confirm their belief in three Islamic principles (monotheism, prophethood and resurrection), saying:
“أَلَسْتُمْ تَشْهَدونَ أنَّ لا إله إلّا اللهَ وَ أنّ مُحمّداً عَبْدُهُ وَ رَسُولُهُ وَ أَنَّ الْجَنَّةَ حَقٌّ وَ النّارَ حَقٌّ...”.
Do you not confess that God has no associate that Muhammad is his slave and his apostle and that both hell and paradise do exist?
What was the objective behind such confessions? Was it not for the purpose of preparing people to accept Ali's position, which he was going to explain in a short time, and was it not his intention to let people realize that the confirmation of Ali's position is a part of the three above-mentioned principles which were accepted by all?
If “Mawla” meant “a friend or helper” then the transition between sentences would fade away and the eloquence of the Prophet's speech would have been destroyed. This is because Ali minus Imamate equals a distinguished Muslim man of those days, and the Prophet's friendship with believing people was not a hidden fact to be revealed with that splendor in a large congregation of Muslims. Besides in that case the attribute “friendship” as a part of those three Islamic principles.
5. In the start of his sermon, the Prophet talks about his eminent death, saying
إنه يوشك ان أُدعى فاجيب
“I am about to pass away, answering God's call”.
This sentence reveals the fact that the Prophet wishes to deliberate in a way to fill in his place after his demise. It is absolutely clear that what could fill in this empty place was Ali's Imamate so that he could manage the Islamic issues not merely asking for Ali's friendship or loyalty.
6. Having uttered the expression
“من كنت مولاه... “
The Prophet went on to say:
“الله أكبر علی اكمال الدين و اتمام النعمة و رضی الرّبِّ برسالتي و الولاية لعلي بن أبي طالب”.
I pray to God for having perfected religion, for the completion of His blessing, for His contentment with my prophethood and with Ali's imamat.
7. What witness is more authentic than the congratulation of the first two caliphs and that of hundreds of men to Imam Ali upon the Prophet's descent from the raised platform? The interesting point was the fact that the first two caliphs were the first to congratulate Imam Ali, saying:
“هنيئاً لك يا علي بن أبي طالب أصبحت و أمسيت مولی كلِّ مؤمن و مؤمنة”.
May this position be a blessing for you since you became the superior one for every believing man and woman.
One could deliberate on the greatness of that day when he got such a great position which was admired by all. Such a position of leadership had never been announced prior to that time.
8. If the announcement of the Prophet's friendship with Ali was the issue then why had the Prophet gathered such a huge conglomeration of people in a desert on an extremely hot day and asked them to sit on the hot sands reciting a long sermon to them?
Has the Holy Quran not called the believing people as brothers? Hasn't the Holy Quran said
﴿ إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ ﴾
“The believing individuals are brothers”5? Hasn’t the Holy Quran introduced the believing people as friends?
﴿ وَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَ الْمُؤْمِناتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِياءُ بَعْضٍ ﴾
“The believing people are friends of one another [and as for the believing men and the believing women they are guardians of each other]6.
Well, Ali was a member of that believing community; so there was no need for the Prophet to talk on the issue of being friends with Ali.
From what we have said so far it is clear that the claim that the Ghadir event was merely for expressing the necessity of being friends with Ali is completely wrong and is a biased and childish rationalization stemming from blind prejudices.
It should be explicitly stated that in accordance with the previously said clues and due to other reasons hidden in the course of the sermon, the word “Mawla” in the speech of the Prophet has got only one meaning that of an authorized person who could be dominant over people's souls and assets. And if they say that by “Mawla” is meant “Sayyid” (meaing sir) the real connotation would be religious-divine superiority which would involve people's obedience towards the Imam.