بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
On this occasion the Shi’ah community celebrate Eid al-Ghadir to commemorate the event when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ supposedly designated his illustrious cousin and son-in-law, sayyidina Ali bin Abi Talib – may Allah be pleased with him – as his immediate successor. On this very blog, I have previously discussed some of the other major proof texts presented by the Shi’ah in favor of their belief that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ designated Amir ul-Mu’minin Ali bin Abi TalibRA as his immediate successor, such as the Hadith al-Manzilah. The Shi’ah commemoration of Eid al-Ghadir is in reference to the mashhur (well-known) and mutawatir (mass-transmitted) Hadith of Ghadir Khumm, in which the Prophet ﷺ said:
مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلاَهُ فَعَلِيٌّ مَوْلاَهُ
For whomsoever I am his mawlaa, then Ali is his mawlaa
As has already preceded, the Shi’ah consider this Hadith as yet another explicit proof that the Prophet ﷺ designated Amir ul-Mu’minin, Ali bin Abi TalibRA, as his immediate successor and the leader of the Muslims. The regular reader of this blog is by now aware that I hold the position of the orthodox and mainstream ahl us-Sunnati wal-Jama’ah with regard to the issue of the Prophet’s succession, or the issue of khilafah and imamah. Our standard response to the Shi’ah argument derived from this Hadith revolves around the interpretation of the word mawlaa. For the Shi’ah, here it signifies the political wilayah of sayyidina Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – in the sense that he is to lead and rule the Muslim community. However, it should be noted that the words mawlaa and walee bear a variety of meanings. These two words are derived from the root w-l-y, which connotes: “adjacency; to follow; to turn to/from; to befriend, to back up; to take control; helper, backer, guardian, benefactor; next of kin; patron, servant/master; companion, partner” (Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage, p.1047). The word mawla in particular can mean: “master, protector, patron, ally, friend, kin, dependant, a freed slave, inheritor, heir” (ibid, pp.1048-1049), similarly, the word wali can mean: “protector, patron, ally, follower, ward, protégé, ally, friend, legal guardian, next of kin, descendant, heir” (ibid, p.1048). Consequently, the Shi’ah translate the Hadith to mean “For whomsoever I am his master, then Ali is his master”, whereas, Ahl us-Sunnah translate it as follows: “For whomsoever I am his friend, then Ali is his friend.” Ultimately, the word mawla as it occurs in this Hadith will have to be defined based on the context, setting and background in which the Prophet ﷺ made this announcement. But before we go down that road, I wish to point out that elsewhere when the Shi’ah proclaim the wilayah of Amir ul-Mu’minin Ali b. Abi Talib ؓ they, like the Sunnis, do not mean a political wilayah of governance or leadership. For example, examine the shahadah or basic creed and testimony of faith of the Shi’ah:
أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، وأشهد أن محمدًا رسول الله، وأشهد أن عليًا أمير المؤمنين ولي الله
“I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and I bear witness that Ali, commander of the faithful, is the Wali of Allah”
In professing sayyidina Ali ؓ as the “Wali of Allah” it is obvious that they mean he is the friend and ally of Allah, and not the political master or leader of Allah, as the latter meaning is a manifest blasphemy.
These are the days of the month of Dhi-l-Hijjah. It is in this month that Muslims around the world undertake the pilgrimage to the sacred House of Allah in Makkah, which is not only an obligatory rite but one of the five pillars of Islam. One of the rites of this pilgrimage is for all the pilgrims to gather on Mount Arafat to hear a sermon. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ delivered his final, farewell sermon on the 9th of Dhi-l-Hijjah in the valley of Mount Arafat. Now if the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to designate sayyidina Ali al-Murtada ؓ as his immediate successor and the one to lead the Muslims after his death, he would obviously have made mention of that in this his final, farewell sermon, when virtually the entire Muslim community of that time had assembled at his blessed feet in the valley of Mount Arafat. Rather, in that final, farewell sermon, the Prophet ﷺ declared:
وَقَدْ تَرَكْتُ فِيكُمْ مَا لَنْ تَضِلُّوا بَعْدَهُ إِنِ اعْتَصَمْتُمْ بِهِ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَأَنْتُمْ تُسْأَلُونَ عَنِّي فَمَا أَنْتُمْ قَائِلُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ أَنَّكَ قَدْ بَلَّغْتَ وَأَدَّيْتَ وَنَصَحْتَ فَقَالَ بِإِصْبَعِهِ السَّبَّابَةِ يَرْفَعُهَا إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَيَنْكُتُهَا إِلَى النَّاسِ اللَّهُمَّ اشْهَدِ اللَّهُمَّ اشْهَدْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ
“I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray. And you would be asked about me (on the Day of Resurrection), (now tell me) what would you say?” They (the audience) said: “We will bear witness that you have conveyed (the message), discharged (the ministry of Prophethood) and given wise (sincere) counsel.” He (the narrator) said: He (the Holy Prophet) then raised his forefinger towards the sky and pointing it at the people (said): “O Allah, bear witness. O Allah, bear witness,” saying it thrice. (Sahih Muslim: Kitab al-Hajj) It was on this occasion that the Verse of the Quran was revealed:
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا
Today I have perfected for you your Religion and completed upon you My favor and have chosen for you Islam as Religion
In summary, and I shall write more on this controversy soon, ان شاء الله, there is no proof that the Prophet ﷺ intended to announce the political succession of sayyidina Ali ؓ in the proclamation he made at Ghadir Khumm, which was on the 18th of Dhi-l-Hijjah, nine days after his final, farewell sermon to the nation in the valley of Mount Arafat. The verse of the Quran “Today I have perfected for you your Religion…” was revealed days before the proclamation of Ghadir Khumm. The Prophet ﷺ simply announced a fadilah (virtue, excellence) and explained the great status of sayyidina Ali ؓ at Ghadir Khumm, by declaring that whomsoever is his friend, then Ali is his friend too. The use of the word mawlaa should be reflected upon. In other instances, the Prophet ﷺ used words like amir, khalifah, imam, sultan, etc., to describe the leader or ruler of the Muslims in the political sense, but never the word mawla.