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Ghadir Tradition; The expressive evidence for guardianship

Ghadir Tradition; The expressive evidence for guardianship
Prepared by Islamic Sciences and Researches Group– Qom

Ghadir Tradition; The expressive evidence for guardianship

Ghadir tradition is one of the conclusive evidences for the immediate guardianship and caliphate of Ali (a.s.) after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and the researchers render a special importance to it. Unfortunately, those who prejudice with regard to his guardianship, once accept validity of the tradition, and express doubt for its implication, and once question about its authenticity. For clarification of different aspects of this tradition, it is necessary to talk about both groups with authentic and valid evidences:

Background of Ghadir

The "Farewell pilgrimage" ceremony was completed in the last month of the 10th A.H. The Moslems learned pilgrimage activities from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and then, Prophet (s.a.w.a.) decided to leave Mecca to Medina. He instructed for departure. When the caravan reached an area called "Rabegh", which is three miles far from Johfeh, Gabriel, the inspiration angel, revealed in a point called "Ghadir khum", and addressed the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) with the following verse:
O Messenger, deliver that which has been sent down to thee from thy Lord; for if thou dost not, thou wilt not have delivered His Message. God will protect three from men.

The tone of verse indicates that God has assigned Prophet (s.a.w.a.) a critical mission, which equals with his prophetic mission, and caused despair of the Islam enemies. Is any critical mission more important than appointment of Ali (a.s.) to the rank of caliphate, guardianship and succession in front of more than hundred thousand people?! Therefore, he ordered to stop. Those who were ahead of caravan, stopped, and those who were at the back of caravan, joined them. At noon, it was very hot, and a group of people put a part of their mantle on their head and a part under their foot. A shading was made for the Prophet through casting a veil on the tree. He sat on the high point, formed by the camel saddle, and he delivered a sermon with a loud voice, the extract of which follows:

Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) sermon in Ghadir khum

Praise belongs to God. We seek help from Him, and believe in Him, and trust in Him. We turn to Him for our evil and unrighteous deeds. The Lord, save whom there is no guide. Whoever is guided by Him, there will be no deviator for him. I testify that there is no God, save Him, and Mohammad is his servant and prophet. O people! Soon, I will die, and leave you. I am responsible and you too! Then he added: What do you think about me!? (Have I fulfilled my responsibility against you?) The crowd all said: We testify that you have accomplished your prophetic mission, and endeavored. God may grant you good rewards. The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: Do you testify that the Lord of world is one, and Mohammad is His servant and prophet, and there is no doubt about paradise, hell, the everlasting life in the other world? All replied: Yes, that is right. We testify! He added: O people, I leave among you two precious things. I shall see how you treat with my two heritage?! One stood up and asked loudly: What are these two precious things?! Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: One is divine book, one side of which is in the powerful hand of God, and the other is with you. And the next is my Household. God has informed me that these two will never separate! Beware, O People, do not surpass Quran and my Household. Do not fail to follow both of them. Otherwise, you will perish! Then, he took Ali's hand (a.s.), and raised it too high that the armpit of both of them was seen by the people, and introduced him to the people. He asked: Who is more authorized and rightful to the believers than themselves? All replied: God and His messenger are more aware.

The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:

God is my master and I am the master of believers, and I am more authorized and rightful than themselves! Beware, O People! Whoever I am his master and authority, this Ali will be his master and authority. O God, be friend with whoever is friend with Ali, and be enemy with whoever is an enemy of Ali. Help whoever helps him, and leave whoever leaves him, make him the criteria of right! If you study the above sermon carefully, there are quick evidences for Imamate of Ali (a.s.) in every phrase of it. (we will explain it soon).

The eternity of Ghadir event

The Wise God has willed the Ghadir historical event to remain in all ages and centuries, as a live history, attracting the hearts and minds, and the Islamic writers to discuss it in the commentary, history, tradition and theology books, and the religious orators to deliver lectures about it, and call it one of the undeniable virtues of Imam Ali (a.s.). Not only the orators and lecturers, but also the poets too have been suggested by this event, and have lighted their literary talent through thinking and reflection on it, as well as increasing their loyalty to the owner of guardianship. They have left the best poems in different forms and various languages. (The Late Allameh Amini has mentioned an important part of Ghadir poems in every century of the Islamic history, while describing the attributes of the poets in the eleven volumes of Al-Ghadir book narrated from popular Islamic resources).

In other words, no other historical event in the world, has been noted so much by different classes, including traditionist, commentator, theologian, philosopher, orator, poet, historian and biographer. One of the reasons for eternity of this tradition, is revelation of two Quranic verses in respect to this event, and since Quran is eternal and everlasting, this historical event too will be never forgotten. It is noteworthy that referring to the history clarifies that eighteenth of Zelhejjah has been known among Moslems as the Eid Ghadir, so that Ebne Khalkan says about Mostalli Ebne Mostansar: The people paid homage to him on eighteenth of Zelhejjah, Eid Ghadir, 487 A.H., and he writes about Mostansar Bellah Abidi: He passed away twelve nights before the end of Zelhejjah, 487 A.H. It is the same night of eighteenth of Zelhejjah, the night of Eid Ghadir. It is interesting that Aboureyhan Birouni, in Assarol Baqieh, has called Eid Ghadir one of the feasts, which all Moslems celebrated it. Not only Ebne Khalkan and Aboureyhan Birouni have called it an Eid, but also Thalebi, one of the other famous Sunnite scholars has called Ghadir one of the popular nights among the Islamic nation. This Islamic Eid dates back to the time of Prophet (s.a.w.a.), because on that day, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) instructed the immigrants and helpers, and rather his wives, to go to Ali (a.s.) and congratulate to him for guardianship and Imamate. Zeid Ebne Arqam says: Aboubakr, Omar, Osman, Talhe and Zobair from among the immigrants were the first who paid homage to Ali (a.s.), but the congratulation and paying homage ceremonies was continued till sunset. 110 people of tradition narrators For showing importance of this historical event, it is enough to say that one hundred ten of the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) companions have narrated it. Of course, this does not mean that only these from among the host have narrated the event. Rather, we mean that in the books of Sunnite scholars, the names of one hundred ten people are mentioned.

In the second Islamic century, called the age of followers, eighty nine of them have narrated this tradition. The narrators of Ghadir tradition, in the next centuries too are among the Sunnite scholars and leaders. Three hundred sixty of them have collected this tradition in their books, and a large group have affirmed its validity and authenticity. A group of them have not contended with narration of the tradition, and have also written separate books with regards to its documents and contents. It is strange that the great Islamic historian, Tabari, has composed a book, and has narrated the tradition based on seventy five chains of transmission from the Prophet! Ebne Oqdeh Koufi has narrated it from one hundred five people in the, essay. Aboubakr Mohammad Ebne Omar Baghdadi, known as Jamani, has narrated it through twenty five chains of transmission.

Sunnite Celebrated People

Ahmad Ebne Hanbal Sheybani
Ebne Hajar Asqalani
Jazari Shafei
Abou Saeid Sajestani
Amir Mohammad Yamani
Abolalae Hamedani
and Abolerfan Haban
have narrated the tradition through numerous chains of transmission.

Shiite scholars too have composed valuable books regarding this historical event, and have referred to the Sunnite important references, the most comprehensive of which is the historical book, composed by the late Ayatullah Amini. (This book has been the main reference in composition of this article). However, after appointment of Ali (a.s.) as his successor, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: O People, just now the inspiration angel revealed to me and brought this verse: Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam for your religion.

Then the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said "Allahu Akbar" and added: I thank God for perfecting His religion, and completing His Blessing, and approving my mission and guardianship and succession of Ali after me. Then, Prophet (s.a.w.a.) came down, and said Ali (a.s.): Sit under a tent so that the prominent Islamic chiefs and headmen pay homage and congratulate to you. First of all, Omar and Aboubakr congratulated to Ali (a.s.) and called him their master! Hassan Ebne Thabet availed himself of the opportunity and asking permission from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), versified some poems, and read them before the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Hereunder we will mention only two couplets of it: He said Ali: Get up, I selected you for succession and guidance of people after me. Whoever I am his master and authority, this Ali will be his master and authority, and you loving him heartily, follow him. This tradition has been one of the greatest evidences for excellence of Imam Ali (a.s.) over all the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) companions. Even, in the caliphate council meeting, hold after demise of the second caliph, as well as during the caliphate of Osman, and his own caliphate, Imam Ali (a.s.) has argued it. Moreover, the great personalities, like Hazrat Zahra (a.s.) have repeatedly reasoned the tradition against the opponents and deniers of the high rank of Ali (a.s.). To whom does the word master and authority apply?

The main issue here is the interpretation of concept of master, that while being clear and obvious, it has been unfairly judged. Considering the aforementioned explanation, there would remain no doubt and uncertainty about the authenticity of the tradition, the excuse seekers created doubt and uncertainty about the meaning and concept of tradition, particularly the word, We shall explicitly say that the word, in this tradition, and rather in most cases, has only one meaning, that is, priority and qualification, and in other words, guardianship. Quran has applied the word, for the concept of guardian and authority. The word,has been applied in 18 Quranic verses, 10 of which is concerned with God. It goes without saying that it indicates His authority and guardianship, and only in some few cases, it has been applied for friendship. Therefore, there shall be no doubt that the word, primarily means the superior and authority. In Ghadir tradition too, it has the same meaning. In addition, it is accompanied with so many evidences and proofs, clearly proving that it means authority and guardianship.

The evidences certifying this claim

Even supposing that the term,has lexically various meanings, but there are many evidences and proofs in the Ghadir tradition and this great historical event, removing any ambiguity and conclusive for all.

First evidence:

As we said, on the day of Ghadir historical event, Hassan Ebne Thabet, Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) poet, asked permission from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and versified Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) utterance. This eloquent and fluent poet, having command on Arabic language, applied Imam and guide for the word, ãæáí, and said:

He said Ali: Get up, I selected you for succession and guidance of people after me. As it is clear, he had not understood the word, ãæáí, in the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) utterance, anything save the rank of Imamate, leadership and guardianship of the nation, while he knew well Arabic terminology and was one of the eloquent Arab poets. Not only Hassan, the great Arab poet, has understood this concept from the word, but also other great Islamic poets, most of which have been among the famous Arab poets and literati, and some of them have been the great professors in this language, have understood the same concept which Hassan did, that is, Imamate and leadership of nation!

Second evidence:

Imam Ali (a.s.) in his poems writing to Moavieh regarding Ghadir tradition says: God's Prophet (s.a.w.a.) enjoined my guardianship for you on the day of Ghadir khum.

Who can interpret the tradition and explain for us what the God's Prophet (s.a.w.a.) meant by, on the Ghadir day, better than Imam? Does this interpretation show not that as all present in the Ghadir event believe, it does not imply anything save social leadership and headship?

Third evidence:

Before stating the phrase, ..., the Prophet asked:

Am I not more authorized and rightful to you than yourselves?

In the above phrase, Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has applied,and has asked all people for confession to his authority over them. Then, he immediately said:

Whoever I am his master and authority, this Ali will be his master and authority.

What is the purpose of conjunction in these two phrases? Is it anything save proving the same rank of Prophet (s.a.w.a.) as per the text of Quran, for Ali (a.s.)? The only difference is that he is the prophet and Ali is Imam. On this account, it is interpreted as: Whoever I am his master and authority, this Ali will be his master and authority.

If the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) meant something else, there was no reason for asking people's confession for his mastership and authority. It is very unfair if one neglects this message of Prophet (s.a.w.a.), and does not take into account such obvious evidence.

Fourth evidence:

The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) asked for people's confession to three basic Islamic principles and said:

Do you testify that the Lord of world is one, and Mohammad is His servant and prophet, and there is no doubt about paradise, hell? What did he mean for asking the confession? Does he want to make people's mind ready to consider the rank and position, which he will later prove for Ali (a.s.), as the previous tenets, and know that confession to his caliphate and guardianship is the same as triple tenets of religion, to which all confess? If the word, meant friend and helper, the sentences lose their relation, and the utterances is not firm anymore. Don't you think so?

Fifth evidence:

At the beginning of his sermon, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) talks about his death and says: Soon, I will die.

The phrase indicates that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is going to make a decision for the period after himself, and fill the vacancy caused by his demise. What can fill such vacancy, is appointment of a successor, worthy and informed to manage the affairs after him, and nothing else. If we interpret guardianship to something save caliphate, the logical relation of the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) utterances is clearly disturbed, while he is one of the most eloquent and fluent orators. What other clearer evidence could be found for guardianship?

Sixth evidence:

After the phrase, ãä ßäÊ ãæáÇå ..., the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said:
"Allahu Akbar", I thank God for perfecting His religion, and completing His Blessing, and approving my mission as well as guardianship and succession of Ali after me. If he meant friendship and assistance of one of the Moslems, how the God's religion was perfected, and His blessing was completed through friendship with Ali (a.s.)? More obviously, he says: God approved my mission and guardianship of Ali (a.s.) after me. Are these not clear evidences for the concept of caliphate?

Seventh evidence:

What evidence is more explanatory than congratulation of Omar and Aboubakr, and a large number of the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) companions to Ali (a.s.) lasting till the time of sunset prayer, while Omar and Aboubakr were the first of those who congratulated Imam as follows: Congratulations to you, O Ali Ebne Abitaleb, you wake up and go to sleep, while you are my guardian, and the guardian of any believer man and woman!

What position did Ali (a.s.) achieve on that day to be worthy of such congratulation? Is any rank, save leadership and caliphate of the Islamic nation that was not officially declared till then, worthy of such congratulation? Friendship and kindness was not a new issue.

Eighth evidence:

If friendship of Ali (a.s.) was meant, it was not necessary to express it in such a hot weather (stopping one hundred thousand caravan, and asking the people to sit on the hot sands in the desert for delivering a lecture)! Quran had already called all the society's individuals as brothers, and it says: The believers indeed are brothers.

Had Quran not already introduced the believers as friends? Ali (a.s.) too was one of the believers, and there was no need for declaring his friendship. Even if it was expedient to declare his friendship, these preparations and hard conditions were not required. It was possible to be declared in Medina. Surely, the issue has been more important, requiring such exceptional preparations, which were unprecedented in the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) life, and it was not repeated anymore.

Now let's judge!

With such clear evidences, isn't it strange if someone doubt about the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) purpose, that is, caliphate and leadership of Moslems? How do those who doubt, persuade their conscience and what's their reply to God on the day of resurrection? Verily, if all Moslems start a new study and review on the Ghadir tradition, free from any prejudice, they will reach desirable conclusions, and it will cause more solidarity among the Moslems.


It is remarkable that some say that the president, has interpreted the word, as friendship, in one of his elective lectures, while he is one of the Shiite clergymen.


It is not true, because soon later, for removing any ambiguity and misunderstanding, he clarified in the explanation published in many of dailies as follows: I shall remark the point, which I mentioned in one of my recent lectures about the Ghadir event, that is, kindness and affection has a critical role in the God's religion, and particularly in the social life of the Islamic society. However, considering the time, place and the homage paid to Ali (a.s.) on the same day, by the word, ãæáí, in the phrase,the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) surely meant guardianship and leadership of the Islamic society, and as we Shiite believe, and as per the authentic historical narration after demise of Prophet (s.a.w.a.), this concept has been accepted and approved by the Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) great companions.

On the other hand, the word, ãæáí, conveys a special message and has been selected knowingly. Surely the Prophet could apply other phrases such as, but the word, ãæáí, includes friendship and kindness (one of the bases of desirable Islamic government) in addition to guardianship. Today, our nation wants to enjoy a free and improved society, as well as growth with spirituality, morality and kindness.

Three meaningful traditions!

1- Who is right?
Omme Salameh and Ayesheh, Prophet's (s.a.w.a.) wives say: We heard from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.): Ali is with right, and right is with Ali, they do not separate each other until appearing to me besides the Pond of Abundance. This tradition has been narrated in many of Sunnite popular resources. Allameh Amini has mentioned these resources exactly in the third volume of Alghadir. The famous Sunnite commentator, Fakhr Razi, in his commentary book, under the Opening sura says: Ali Ebne Abitaleb (a.s.) recited, loudly, and it has been proved by repeated transmission. Whoever follows Ali in his religion, he has been guided, as the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) says: O God, make him the criteria of right, to wherever he turns. Pay attention. It says the right turns to wherever he turns!

2- Pledge of brotherhood

A group of known companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have narrated following tradition from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.): The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) set the pledge of brotherhood between his companions, such as between Omar and Aboubakr, and the others (those in the same rank). Then, Ali (a.s.) came to him and said: You set the pledge of brotherhood for all, but not between anyone and me? The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: You are my brother in the world and hereafter. The same content with similar phrases has been stated in 49 other cases. These traditions are generally found in the Sunnite resources! Isn't the pledge of brotherhood between Ali and the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) a proof for his excellence and superiority to the all nation? Is it possible to prefer someone to the superior?

3- The sole means of salvation

Keeping in hand the door of Kabah, Abouzar called: Whoever knows me, he knows, and whoever doesn't know me, may know that I am abouzar. I heard from the Prophet (s.a.w.a.): The similitude of my Household is like that of Noah ship. Whoever enters it, is saved, and whoever leaves it, will be drowned. The references of the above tradition are very numerous, to which will be referred in the footnote. When Noah typhoon happened on the earth, there was no salvation means, save Noah ship. Even the high mountains could not deliver Noah's son who had associated with the evil-doers. As per the saying of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), is there any way for salvation of the nation after him, save resorting to the Household (a.s.)?

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