Ghadir Khumm in the Qur'an, Hadith, History
- :Shi'a Encyclopedia Team
Ghadir Khumm in the Qur'an, Hadith, History
Shi'a Encyclopedia Team
The following is a description of the historic event of Ghadir Khumm. Click on the book icons below to see the detailed references backing up each key element of this event. The separation into contexts enables one to see how well each component of the event is attested in the sources.
For example, to see how many Sunni sources record the sentence uttered by the Prophet [s] to appoint Imam 'Ali [a] - man kuntu mawlahu fa `Aliyyun mawlahu.
The Farewell Pilgrimage
Ten years after the migration (hijrah), the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings be upon him and his Progeny] ordered to his close followers to call all the people in different places to join him in his last pilgrimage. On this pilgrimage he taught them how to perform the pilgrimage in a correct and unified form.
This was first time that the Muslims with this magnitude gathered in one place in the presence of their leader, the Messenger of Allah [s]. On his way to Makkah, more than seventy thousand people followed Prophet [s]. On the fourth day of Dhu'l-Hijjah more than one hundred thousand Muslims had entered Makkah.
The date of this event was the 18th of Dhu'l-Hijjah of the year 10 AH (10 March 632 CE).
After completing his last pilgrimage (Hajjatul-Wada'), Prophet [s] was leaving Makkah toward Madinah, where he and the crowd of people reached a place called Ghadir Khumm (which is close to today's al-Juhfah). It was a place where people from different provinces used to greet each other before taking different routes for their homes.
Revelation of Qur'anic Verse 5:67
In this place, the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:
"O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don't do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people ..." (Qur'an 5:67)
The last sentence in the above verse indicates that the Prophet [s] was mindful of the reaction of his people in delivering that message but Allah informs him not to worry, for He will protect His Messenger from people.
Upon receiving the verse, the Prophet [s] stopped on that place (the pond of Khumm) which was extremely hot. Then he sent for all people who have been ahead in the way, to come back and waited until all pilgrims who fell behind, arrived and gathered. He ordered Salman [r] to use rocks and camel toolings to make a pulpit (minbar) so he could make his announcement. It was around noon time in the first of the Fall, and due to the extreme heat in that valley, people were wrapping their robes around their feet and legs, and were sitting around the pulpit, on the hot rocks.
On this day the Messenger of Allah [s] spent approximately five hours in this place; three hours of which he was on the pulpit. He recited nearly one hundred verses from The Glorious Quran, and for seventy three times reminded and warned people of their deeds and future. Then he gave them a long speech.
The following is a part of his speech which has been widely narrated by the Sunni traditionists:
Tradition of the Two Weighty Things (thaqalayn)
The Messenger of Allah [s] declared:
"It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. 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. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."
[See also: Hadith al-Thaqalayn: A Study of its tawatur]
Acknowledgement of Authority
Then the Messenger of Allah continued:
"Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?"
People cried and answered:
"Yes, O' Messenger of God."
Text (nass) of the Designation
Then followed the key sentence denoting the clear designation of 'Ali as the leader of the Muslim ummah. The Prophet [s] held up the hand of 'Ali and said:
"For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), 'Ali is his Leader (mawla)."
[In some narrations the word used was wali rather than mawla - with the same implication]
The Prophet [s] continued:
"O' God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him."
These were the key parts of the speech of the Prophet [s]. There are also more detailed versions of this sermon which are recorded by many Sunni authorities.
'Coronation' of Imam 'Ali [a]
Revelation of Qur'anic Verse 5:3
Immediately after the Prophet [s] finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:
"Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion." (Qur'an 5:3)
The above verse clearly indicates that Islam without clearing up matter of leadership after Prophet [s] was not complete, and completion of religion was due to announcement of the Prophet's immediate successor.
Hassan b. Thabit's poetry
Immediately after the Prophet's speech, Hassan b. Thabit, the Companion and poet of the Messenger of Allah [s], asked for his permission to compose a few verses of poetry about Imam 'Ali [a] for the audience. The Prophet [s] said: "Say with the blessings of Allah". Hassan stood up and said: "O' people of Quraysh. I follow with my words what preceded and witnessed by the Messenger of Allah [s]. He then composed the following verses at the scene:
He calls them, (on) the day of Ghadir, their Prophet
In Khumm so hear (and heed) the Messenger's call,
He said: "Who is your guide and leader? (mawlakum wa waliyyukum)"
They said, and there was no apparent blindness (clearly):
"Your God, our guide, and you are our leader
And you won't find from among us, in this, any disobedient,"
He said to him: "Stand up O' Ali, for I am
pleased to announce you Imam and guide after me (min ba'di imam(an) wa hadiy(an)),
So whomever I was his leader (mawla), then this is his leader (mawla)
So be to him supporters in truth and followers,"
There he prayed: "Allah! Be a friend and guide to his follower
And be, to the one who is Ali's enemy, an enemy"
Oath of Allegiance
After his speech, the Messenger of Allah [s] asked everybody to give the oath of allegiance to 'Ali [a] and congratulate him. Among those who did so was 'Umar b. al-Khattab, who said:
"Well done Ibn Abi Talib! Today you became the Leader (mawla) of all believing men and women."
Number of Companions in Ghadir Khumm
Allah ordered His Prophet [s] to inform the people of this designation at a time of crowded populous so that all could become the narrators of the tradition, while they exceeded a hundred thousand.
Narrated by Zayd b. Arqam: Abu al-Tufayl said: "I heard it from the Messenger of Allah [s], and there was no one (there) except that he saw him with his eyes and heard him with his ears."
Revelation of Qur'anic Verse 70:1-3
Some Sunni commentators further report that the first three verses of the chapter of al-Ma'arij (70:1-3) were revealed when a dispute arose after the Prophet [s] reached Madinah. It is recorded that:
On the day of Ghadir the Messenger of Allah summoned the people toward 'Ali and said: "Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla." The news spread quickly all over urban and rural areas. When Harith Ibn Nu'man al-Fahri (or Nadhr Ibn Harith according to another tradition) came to know of it, he rode his camel and came to Madinah and went to the Messenger of Allah [s] and said to him: "You commanded us to testify that there is no deity but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah. We obeyed you. You ordered us to perform the prayers five times a day and we obeyed. You ordered us to observe fasts during the month of Ramadhan and we obeyed. Then you commanded us to offer pilgrimage to Makkah and we obeyed. But you are not satisfied with all this and you raised your cousin by your hand and imposed him upon us as our master by saying `Ali is the mawla of whom I am mawla.' Is this imposition from Allah or from you?"
The Prophet [s] said : "By Allah who is the only deity! This is from Allah, the Mighty and the Glorious."
On hearing this Harith turned back and proceeded towards his she-camel saying: "O Allah! If what Muhammad said is correct then fling on us a stone from the sky and subject us to severe pain and torture." He had not reached his she-camel when Allah, who is above all defects, flung at him a stone which struck him on his head, penetrated his body and passed out through his lower body and left him dead. It was on this occasion that Allah, the exalted, caused to descend the following verses:
"A questioner questioned about the punishment to fall. For the disbelievers there is nothing to avert it, from Allah the Lord of the Ascent." (70:1-3)
A momentous event took place at a place called Ghadir Khumm on the way back from the Last Pilgrimage (hajj) of the Prophet Muhammad [s]. This site attempts to capture the details of what happened there, the sources that record it, the people who narrated it from the time of the Companions of the Prophet [s] to recent times, and the fate of those who knowingly denied it.
The Ghadir Khumm site is the result of a project that has been going for over a year, and is still continuing. It attempts to capture all the detail associated with this historic incident of the designation of Imam 'Ali [a] by the Prophet [s] as his immediate successor - and to make it easily available to world. All the sources of this incident in books of Qur'anic commentary (tafsir), tradition (hadith), history (ta'rikh), and other academic books from scholars of Islam will be captured. As much as possible, each narrator - from the time of the Prophet [s] and his Companions down to our recent times - would be identified and comments about his/her biography and reliability would be made available. Most of this material would be in Arabic, and we hope to get the essential parts translated into English with your help.
We would like to locate each of the references and make the relevant pages available through the Islamic Sources Repository which would be linked from the relevant parts of the Ghadir Khumm site. This would allow a researcher to verify the quotation and possibly help him or her to locate the books themselves. Many narrations are already linked in such a way to the image of their source. With your help, we aim to locate as many of them as possible, both published works as well as manuscripts, from libraries and private collections throughout the world.
The research that is the basis of this data bank of information has been done by some of our great scholars (see below). Through this particular endeavour, we hope to make this information 'come alive' and become much easier to access and digest. We hope that this will help gulf the terrible lack of information that persists among the majority of Muslims regarding this momentous and historic event.
Progress so far
It is difficult to be precise about what percentage work is completed and how much is outstanding. This is because of the complexity of the project and the range of sources being used. However, we estimate that about 30-40% of the available narration data has been captured so far. There is also a lot of biographical information for the transmitters that has not yet been captured. In addition, a detailed discussion on the meaning and implication of Ghadir Khumm is currently being prepared.
Those who explore this site in detail will be able to see the wide range of sources and contexts that even the 30-40% of data covers.
The credit for the wealth of detail contained within this site goes primarily to the works of three great Shi'ah scholars:
Sayyid Hamid Husayn Musawi Lakhnawi (d. 1306 AH)
(author of 'Abaqat al-'Anwar)
The great scholar `Allamah Aqa Buzurg Tehrani, who is the author of al-Dhari`ah ila tasanif al-Shi`ah, wrote about Sayyid Hamid Husayn and his masterpiece 'Abaqat al-'Anwar:
(He is) one of the greatest of Imami theologians (mutakallimun) and one of the greatest and deeply learned of Shi`i scholars who lived in the early part of this century. He was profoundly learned, and had extensive knowledge and mastery over the Islamic traditions and heritage and attained such a station in it that none of his contemporaries or anyone of those who came after him, or even most of the celebrities of the preceding centuries, have been able to attain. He spent his entire noble life in fathoming the mysteries of religiosity and in the defence of Islam and the realm of sincere religion. I don't know of anyone in the latter centuries who waged a jihad like him and sacrificed everything in his possession in the way of everlasting truths. The times, in all ages and periods, will never see a compeer of him in his research, his extensive knowledge, his precision, intelligence, and the immensity of his memory and retention.
Aqa Buzurg Tehrani says about the `Abaqat: "It is the greatest of books compiled on the subject (ie. Imamate) from the outset of the Islamic era to the present." And what he says about the author and his book is perfectly representative of the opinion of leading Shi`i scholars on this matter.
Allamah 'Abd al-Husayn Ahmad al-'Amini al-Najafi (d. 1390 AH)
(author of Al-Ghadir fi al-kitab wa al-sunnah wa al-adab)
Sayyid 'Ali al-Husayni al-Milani (may Allah extend his life)
(author of Khulasat `Abaqat al-'Anwar)
We would also like to thank everyone else who helped realise this project and who are helping in our efforts to improve and perfect it.
The Shi'ah Encyclopedia team takes responsibility for any errors or omissions and we will strive to correct it once we become aware of it.
Ahlul Bayt DILP
Ghadir Khumm is located between Makkah and Madinah in the vicinity of al-Juhfah. It was the place where pilgims (hujjaj) from different provinces would part company and take different routes for their respective homes.
The event of Ghadir Khumm was remembered and referred to on many occasions after the 18th of Dhu'l Hijjah - in protestations (ihtijaj) and Adjurations (munashadah) and in other situations.
Click on the book icons below to see the detailed references backing up each key context in which this event was remembered and propagated. For example, to see how many Sunni sources record the imprecation of Imam 'Ali [a] in the year 35 AH against those Companions who refused to acknowledge this event - click here:
Reminders by Imam 'Ali [a]
Imam 'Ali [a], in person, reminded others who witnessed the event of Ghadir and the tradition of the Messenger of Allah [s]; these events include:
On the day of Shura (Election Day for 'Uthman)
During the days of 'Uthman's rule
The Day of Rahbah (year 35 AH) when many Companions stood up and bore witness that they attended and heard the tradition of the Prophet [s] first hand, twelve of whom were the participants of the Battle of Badr.
- where the location of Rahbah is clearly indicated.
- where this event is mentioned without mention of Rahbah.
The Battle of al-Jamal, year 36 AH where he reminded Talhah b. 'Ubaydullah.
The Day of the Rukban (riders) where several witnesses testified.
The Day of Battle of Siffin (year 37 AH).
Reminders by other members of the Ahl al-Bayt (Household of the Prophet)
Other than Imam 'Ali [a], the rest of the Ahl al-Bayt [a] also reminded people regarding this event:
Protestation (ihtijaj) by Fatimah al-Zahra' [a]
Adjuration (munashadah) by Imam al-Hasan [a]
Adjuration (munashadah) by Imam al-Husayn [a]
Those who tried to hide the event of Ghadir Khumm and their fate
Certain Companions of the Prophet [s] did not acknowledge, when adjudicated by Imam 'Ali [a] on the day of Rahbah and Rukban, that they had witnessed the event of Ghadir Khumm and heard the Prophet [s] utter those famous words. Imam 'Ali [a] then imprecated against them and they suffered in various ways, such as by becoming blind or contracting a skin disease.
Historical narrations show these Companions to have included:
Abu Hamzah Anas b. Malik (d. 90, 91 or 93 AH)
Al-Bara' b. 'Azib al-'Ansari (d. 71 or 72 AH)
Jarir b. 'Abd Allah al-Bajali (d. 51 or 54 AH)
Zayd b. Arqam al-Khazraji (d. 66 or 68 AH)
Other Adjurations and protestations
Adjuration (munashadah) of youth with Abu Hurayrah
Protestation (Ihtijaj) of Abd Allah b. Ja'far with Mu'awiyah
Ihtijaj in refutation of Amr b. al-'Asi
Ihtijaj of Amr b. al-'Asi with Mu'awiyah
Ihtijaj of Ammar b. Yasir on day of Siffin
Ihitjaj of Asbagh b. Nubata in a sitting with Mu'awiyah
Munashadah of a man with Zayd b. Arqam
Munashadah of an Iraqi man with Jabir b. Abd Allah al-Ansari
Ihtijaj of Qays al-Ansari with Mu'awiyah in Madinah
Ihtijaj Darmiyyah al-Hajwaniyyah with Mu'awiyah
Ihtijaj of Amr al-Awdi
Ihtijaj of Umar b. Abd al-aziz, the Umayyad caliph
Ihtijaj of Ma'mun, the Abbasid caliph, with jurists
Books containing narrations relevant to Ghadir Khumm
See the list of over 140 Books by Sunni scholars (both published editions and unpublished manuscripts). For each author, you can choose to see information regarding his reliability, and also the chains of narration in which he appears as a transmitter of the Ghadir Khumm incident.
Those who compiled works dedicated to this narration
Several Sunni scholars wrote complete multi-volume books on the numerous chains of narrations of the Ghadir Khumm incident that they were aware of. As some of these were lost and are not extant anymore, what we have available to us today is clearly a smaller subset of these individual narrations.
Transmitters of the Ghadir Khumm narration
(as listed by 'Allamah al-'Amini in Al-Ghadir)
from the first generation - 110 Companions (sahabah) of the Prophet [s]
from the second generation - 84 Successors (tabi'un) who came after the Companions
from the third generation onwards - 360 Scholars ('ulama) of the Islamic world, from the first to the fourteenth century AH (seventh to twentieth century CE)
(those not explicitly listed by 'Allamah al-'Amini in Al-Ghadir)
from over 200 Other Scholars of the Islamic world, from the first to the fourteenth century AH (seventh to twentieth century CE)
Please note that these statistics only include transmitters appearing in narrations recorded by Sunni scholars!
Strength of the Ghadir Khumm narration
The Ghadir Khumm narration is certainly mutawatir based on the statistics and definitions given below. In addition, several of its individual chains of narration are of the highest category of sahih and many more have been considered hasan.
Definition of mutawatir traditions
(Source: Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi, 'Ulum al-Hadith, Hadith and Sunnah - Ideals and Realities, pp. 89-90)
The Mutawatir are the traditions which have been transmitted throughout the first three generations of the Muslims by such a large number of transmitters as cannot be reasonably expected to agree on a falsehood. There is a difference of opinion about the number of the transmitters necessary for it during each of the first three generations of the Muslims. Some authorities fix it at seven, some at forty, some at seventy, and some at a much higher number. Very few of the traditions received by us belong to the category of the Mutawatir.
(Source: Muhammad 'Ali, Collection and Preservation of Hadith, Hadith and Sunnah - Ideals and Realities, pp. 50-51)
Ibn Hajar [al-'Asqalani] has dealt with different classes of Hadith in the Sharh Nukhbat al-Fikr at great length. The most important division of Hadith is into mutawatir (continuous) and ahad (isolated). A Hadith is said to be mutawatir (lit. repeated successively or by one after another) when it is reported by such a large number that it is impossible that they should have agreed upon falsehood, so that the very fact that it is commonly accepted makes its authority unquestionable. To this category belong Hadith that have been accepted by every Muslim generation down from the time of the Holy Prophet. The mutawatir Hadith are accepted without criticizing their narrators.
(Source: Dr. Suhaib Hasan, An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, Darussalam Publishers, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, p. 30)
A mutawatir hadith is one which is reported by such a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a lie, all of them together.
Al-Ghazali (d. 505) stipulates that a mutawatir narration be known by the sizeable number of its reporters equally in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. He is correct in this stipulation because some narrations or ideas, although known as mutawatir among some people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, originally have no tawatur. There is no precise definition for a "large number of reporters"; although the numbers four, five, seven, ten, twelve, forty and seventy, among others, have all been variously suggested as a minimum, the exact number is irrelevant... [from Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Sharh Nukhbah al-Fikr (ed. M 'Aud & M.G. Sabbagh, Damascus, 1410/1990, pp. 8-9]
Some commonly asked questions regarding the meaning and implications of the event of Ghadir Khumm, and their responses from a variety of online texts.
How does the word mawla imply authority?
The words, Wala, Walayat, Wilayat, Waly, Mawla, Awla and the like have been derived from the same root, viz. Waly. The various forms of this root-word and its derivatives are the most oft-recurring words in the Holy Qur'an. It is said that they have been used 124 times in the form of a noun and 112 times in the form of a verb.
Master and Mastership, Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari, Chapter 1
... However some people did try to interpret the tradition in a different way. They particularly tried to translate the words wali (master/guardian), mawla (master/leader), and wilayah (mastery/leadership/guardianship) as friend and friendship.
Shi'a Encyclopedia, Chapter 3: Ghadir Khumm Part (ii) "The Meaning of Wali, Mawla, and Wilayah"
... As the Sunnis cannot deny the authenticity of the hadith of Ghadir, they try to downplay its significance by saying that the word "mawla" in this hadith means 'friend', and that the Holy Prophet wanted to announce that: "Whoever whose friend I am, 'Ali is his friend!"
The trouble is that not a single person who was present in Ghadir grasped this alleged meaning.
Imamate: The Vicegerency of the Prophet, Part II (second half)
Now let us see what the Messenger of God meant by the word "master" (mawla) when he said: "For whomsoever I was his master, 'Ali is now his master." Does it mean one who has prior rights of disposition, as the concomitant of the absolute governance of one person over another, or simply a helper and friend?
Imamate and Leadership, Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Chapter 3
Doesn't this hadith relate to when the Prophet [s] addressed
some people who had been with 'Ali in Yemen and were
unhappy with him on the issue of distribution of booty?
As regarding the pretext they claim, it is nothing but a speculation and an adulteration. It is the sophistry of confusion and embellishment. The Prophet (pbuh) dispatched `Ali to Yemen twice, the first took place in 8 A.H. It was then that scandalmongers spread rumours about him, and some people complained about him to the Prophet (pbuh) upon their return to Medina...
Al-Muraja`at, Sayyid Sharaf al-Din Musawi, Letter 58
Wasn't the verse "This day have I perfected for you your religion..." revealed in `Arafah?
Al-Bukhari is reported to have said in his Sahih.... from Tariq ibn Shahab, who said: Some of the Jews said: Had this verse been revealed unto us we would have taken that day as a feast. 'Umar asked them: Which verse you mean? They replied: "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour unto you, and have chosen for you Islam as a religion." 'Umar said: I know the place where it was revealed. It was revealed while the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be Allah's peace and benediction, was halting at 'Arafat ... .
With The Truthful, Dr. Muhammad Tijani al-Samawi
How could all the Companions ignore or forget about this event if it implied 'Ali's designation as successor?
Here the following question arises. Given the fact that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, proclaimed 'Ali to be his legatee (wasiyy) and successor (khalifah), emphatically designated him as the leader of the Muslims both at Ghadir Khumm and on other appropriate occasions, how did it happen that after the death of the Most Noble Messenger his Companions (sahabah) ignored God's command and abandoned 'Ali, that noble and precious personage, decided not to obey him, chose someone else to be leader in his place, and entrusted the reins of rule to him?
Imamate and Leadership, Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Chapter 7
The important element to complement the research, that is worth mentioning and investigation, may be the sole objection that most often be raised when the obstinates being dumbfounded by irrefutable arguments whereat they resort to wondering and denying that a hundred thousand companions attended the event of nominating al-Imam 'Ali (as a caliph). They all conspired it, opposed and turned away from him, though some of them were the best of companions, and most honourable of the Ummah! I was encountered with such an event in particular when launching my research, as I couldn't believe, nor does anyone, that the issue being laid in this way. But when studying the issue with all its dimensions, no wonder will remain in the minds, as the issue is not the way we imagine or as presented by Ahl al-Sunnah ... .
With The Truthful, Dr. Muhammad Tijani al-Samawi
If 'Ali was appointed why didn't he use this argument himself?
Some people ask why at the meeting held in the Saqifah 'Ali, peace be upon him, did not raise the issue of his appointment at Ghadir Khumm by the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, to be his successor. Why, they ask, did he not tell the Migrants and the Helpers that he had been appointed by the Prophet so that nobody had the right to contest the succession with him or to claim the caliphate? Had the thousands of people who had been present at Ghadir Khumm forgotten what they had witnessed?
Imamate and Leadership, Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Chapter 4
Could this tradition not be interpreted to indicate that the Prophet's intention was futuristic?
You have, may Allah support the truth through your person, asked us to be convinced that the gist of hadith alGhadir is that `Ali is the most worthy for imamate when and if the Muslims choose him as such and swear the oath of allegiance to him. Hence, his priority to which the hadith hints is futuristic, rather than immediate. In other words, such a priority will take place when and if it is forcibly taken, rather than being actual, so that it does not clash with the caliphate of the three imams who preceded him [in ruling the Muslims] ... .
Al-Muraja`at, Sayyid Sharaf al-Din Musawi, Letter 58
Isn't this belief of appointment against the principles of democracy and shura?
There are people who think that if government were to originate with the people themselves, with the members of society choosing their own leader from among qualified persons, relying in their choice on their own desires, perceptive capacities and relative knowledge of the strong and weak points of various individuals, this would be more in accord with freedom and democracy and thus enable mankind to attain its highest ideal. They imagine further that if the people are not permitted to have any share in the choice and designation of their leader and if the office of Imam or caliph is not a fully elected one, the people will see in him simply a ruler who has been imposed on them.
Imamate and Leadership, Sayyid Mujtaba Musavi Lari, Chapter 11
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