The 18th of Dhul Hijjah marks the symbolic occasion of Eid-ul-Ghadeer on the Islamic calendar. To this day, we recognise the date as being a day of change and progression on the path towards the further spread of Islam. The events that took their course on that day led to Imam Ali (A) becoming the successor to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as the leader of the Muslim believers of the time. Below is a brief summary of the events that unfolded on that one significant day.
The Holy Prophet alongside around a 100,000 of his followers arrived at a place by the name of Ghadir Khum, halfway between Mecca and Medina. They were on route to Medina after completing the Hajj pilgrimage for that year of 10 AH. The group were brought to a standstill whilst Allah revealed a verse to the Holy Prophet. It read, in Al Ma-idah 5:67, “O our Messenger! Deliver what has been sent down unto you and from your Lord; and if you do not, then you have not delivered his message…” In this strong verse of authority, Allah was referring to the Holy Prophet declaring Imam Ali as his successor. Showing no signs of questioning, the Holy Prophet followed up by instantly mounting his pulpit.
He started his sermon off by asking his followers, “Have I conveyed the commands of Allah to you?” They replied as a sole unit, “Yes.” Following on, the Holy Prophet asked, “Do I wield authority over your souls more than you do?” Once again, as a group, his followers replied, “Certainly it is so, O messenger of Allah.” With no doubt in his mind, the Holy Prophet asked Imam Ali to come up. He held his hands high above the rest, and brought him high enough for all to see, and declared, “O men and women! Allah is my mawla. I am the mawla of the faithfuls. I have a clear authority over their souls, and of whomsoever I am the mawla, Ali is his mawla. O Allah! Love him who loves Ali, hate him who hates Ali.”
This great declaration on the Holy Prophet’s part was greeted with an honourable vow of allegiance from all who were observing. Male followers shook hands, whilst women placed their palms in water to show their own respective allegiance towards the man who they now knew would be their next leader. Even the likes of Umar, a man who later on became the khaliph, admitted, “Congratulations to you O the son of Abu Talib. You have become the Mawla of all the faithful men and women.” This declaration resulted in another verse being revealed in the Holy Qur’an. It was revealed in Ma-idah, 5:3, “This day I have perfected for you, your religion, and have completed my favour on you, and have chosen for you Islam, as religion.”
As firm as this declaration was, there are still, to this day, some who yet question the authenticity of the declaration of Ali becoming the future leader of the Muslims. The word mawla that was mentioned on a number of occasions by the Holy Prophet has become a means of critics attempting to question the Holy Prophet’s true meaning. The word mawla literally means master, lord or guardian. One who is deserving of superior authority.
With this announcement, The Holy Prophet officially declared Imam Ali as his successor. But to this very day, all these years on, there are still Muslims who deny Imam Ali as the leader of the Muslims, either through stubbornness or simple ignorance. It would have been unimaginable for someone in the league of the Holy Prophet to have passed away leaving no future successor to follow in his footsteps. Even in this modern day and age, every institution has a process in place to groom and appoint a successor after the exit of their current leader. Whether it be the head of a bank, or a manager of a football club, it has always been prevalent in society for a successor to be appointed in due course, to further build on the firm foundations that already exist. Likewise, it is more than obvious to see how the Holy Prophet would have known that his time was to come to an end, and therefore appointing Ali would not only have been a result of the order of Allah, but also through his own choosing. Being the wisest amongst all humans, such an act for him would most probably have been a matter of when rather than why.
In conclusion, it is clear to see how the events of Eid-ul-Ghadeer were enormous for the future of Islam, and how everything lied in the hands of the Holy Prophet’s appointment. Choosing Imam Ali as the leader was undoubtedly the correct choice, that led to the further spread of Islam, in a world where many were still unaware of the true word that was to be expressed through Islam and it’s teachings.
Written by Zain Gulamali, SI Madressa Class 11B