Eid-al-Ghadeer 18th Dhul Hijjah
Hajj season has concluded. People start heading back home. And suddenly, everyone is asked to stop. Those who are ahead are asked to return. Those who are behind are encouraged to catch up. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has an announcement to make. The sun is scorching. Everyone is tired. But everyone is awaiting attentively the words of the Prophet. Then the words that resounded were, “I am leaving for you two precious things, and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is, my Ahlul Bayt.” Following that were words that shook the foundations of everyone, “Whoever I have authority over, this Ali has authority over. O Allah, support whoever supports him, and oppose whoever opposes him.”
When the topic of Ghadeer Khumm comes up, many people see it as the day the Prophet appointed his successor and the caliph after him. It is important to point out that this was not the first time the Prophet announces that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) is his successor. Yes, Ghadeer may hold the official announcement, but it holds much more. While there are many points we can stop at, discuss, and analyse, two important implications will be discussed – one from the words of Allah and the other from the words of the Prophet.
Islam at Stake
Allah says in the Quran, “O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people.” (5:67)
This verse was what led to the event at Ghadeer and the announcement of Imam Ali as the leader of the Islamic nation after the Prophet. There are few points we need to focus on: 1) the announcement comes from Allah, and has nothing to do with personal preferences. 2) This announcement is the ‘deal-breaker’ for the message of Islam.
The first point is obvious given that the Prophet “does not speak from [his own] inclination” (53:3), and that all his sayings are “nothing but a revelation revealed.” (53:4) Therefore, the fact that it comes from the Prophet signals that it is the will of Allah.
The second point is of utmost importance. Notice from the verse that Allah puts “this announcement” in one side of the balance, and the whole 23 years of spreading the message of Islam in the other. Allah tells the Prophet that if he does not deliver this announcement to the people, then it is as if the Prophet did not spread the message of Allah. All the hardships, battles, sufferings, patience, hard work were at stake, and they all depended on this one announcement.
That is the case with the Prophet. The prying question is: what about us? Because the message of Islam is dependent on the fact that Imam Ali is the Prophet’s successor, then if we happen to take all of Islam without giving allegiance to Imam Ali, then our religion is incomplete and even ‘broken’. In other words, the religion would be anything but Islam! Affirming this point, the Prophet says, “If a [person] worships Allah between Rukn and Maqam [in Mecca] a thousand years and [returns] to Allah without the allegiance to us [Ahlul Bayt], Allah will throw him headfirst in hellfire.” (Bihar al-Anwar)
Ghadeer Khumm was the day that defined Islam. After all, the idea of a successor is fundamental, and Allah made sure that at Ghadeer, the Divine choice is revealed once and for all. If we seek incompetent people for our religion after the Prophet, then Islam will not survive for long. It is only through the Qur’an, Imam Ali, and the infallible Imams from his lineage that we can continue to follow the path of Allah after the Prophet.
Winners and Losers
At Ghadeer Khumm, the Prophet made a supplication to Allah and asked Him to “support whoever supports him (Imam Ali), and oppose those who oppose him.”
The first point here is to recognize that the invocation of the Prophet is obviously always accepted by Allah, and therefore, we have a clear cut line drawn that differentiates between two parties: those whom Allah supports and those whom He opposes.
This distinction is not limited by time and place; it continues today. If we stand on the side of Imam Ali, then Allah will support us. We will also be obeying Allah’s command. We will be successful in this life and the hereafter, God willing.
So, at Ghadeer Khumm, the “winners” have been decided, and the “losers” as well. These labels were made through a clear and direct announcement that leaves no room for guesswork, multiple interpretations, or even misunderstandings. All was laid out!
The Blessing from Allah
Allah refers to the day of Ghadeer as the day in which He completed His blessing [Ne’ma] (5:3). It is indeed a blessing to have Allah point us towards the extension of Prophethood, to have the reference that we can refer back to for our religion, and to have the representative of Allah and His Prophet clear for us.
One way to show our gratitude towards Allah for this blessing is to actually protect it and to use it in the way it benefits us and everyone around us. When it comes to Imam Ali and Ahlul Bayt, reconfirming our allegiance to them and obeying them is one of the ways to thank Allah for this blessing. We cannot commit sins and then say we are thanking Allah for the blessings of Wilayah.
Allah also says, “And as for the favour of your Lord, report it.” (93:11) Celebrating Eid al-Ghadeer is one of the ways to publicly announce the great blessing from Allah. It is also a way to help broadcast the message to those who may have not heard of it. Actually, it is our duty to ensure that the event of Ghadeer is alive and continue to live today.
With all that said, let us not forget that Eid al-Ghadeer holds many lessons and implications. It is not just an announcement of a name. It is the announcement of a foundation. It is the guarantee to the survival of Islam. It is the distinction between believers and disbelievers. It is the line between winners and losers in this life and the hereafter. And it is so much more!
So, take yourself back to the scorching sun and hear the Prophet’s words resounding, and ask yourself: are you with Imam Ali?
Eid al-Ghadeer Mubarak!