Alwaght- “For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), ‘Ali is his Leader (mawla).” So the Prophet Mohammad (PBU) named Ali bin Abi Talib his successor after his last pilgrimage to Mecca, under the blazing sun and before thousands of Muslims.
The day when the holy Prophet announced Imam Ali as his successor is known as the day of Ghadeer Khum and is celebrated by Shiite Muslims all around the world. It is even considered to be one of the most significant Islamic celebrations. Shiites celebrate by fasting, cleansing, reciting Du’a Nudba and offering food to believers.
Events of Ghadeer Khum
The Farewell Pilgrimage took place ten years after hijrah (the migration). Prophet Mohammad called on Muslims to join him in his last pilgrimage to Mecca in which he unified Hajj rituals. The event witnessed the largest Muslim gathering in the presence of the Messenger of God. Narration has it, that on the fourth day of the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah of the Islamic calendar, more than one hundred thousand Muslims had entered Mecca.
After the pilgrimage, the Prophet was heading toward Madinah when he made a stop at a place called Ghaeeir Khum, which translates to the pond of Khum.
On the 18th of Dhu’l-Hijjah, 10 AH (10 March 632 CE) the following Quranic Verse was revealed to Prophet Mohammad:
“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)
Not long after, the Prophet sent for all the people to gather at the pond, stood at a pulpit which was made at the moment, and began his announcement with nearly 100 verses from the holy Quran.
Noting that Imam Ali’s right to succession is the schism that led to the split of Muslims into Sunnis and Shiites following the death of Prophet Mohammad, Sunni traditionists do narrate parts of the speech that the messenger gave on the day of Ghadeer Khum. The following are a few parts:
1. “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).”
Imam Ali is the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, married to his daughter Lady Fatima.
2. The Prophet 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.”
3. Then the quote mentioned earlier was uttered by the Messenger of God as he held up the hand of Ali before the crows, saying:
“For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), ‘Ali is his Leader (mawla).”
Although Sunni scholars relate this speech in their books, they fail to acknowledge the significance of this sentence. The Shiites, or the Partisans of Ali, regard it as a clear designation of Imam Ali as a successor for Prophet Mohammad.
Further consolidating the succession, a Quranic verse was revealed announcing the completion of the religion of Islam:
“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)
After naming Ali bin Abi Talib as a Leader, the Prophet ordered everyone present the oath of allegiance to the ‘Commander of the Faithful’.
Among those who did so was ‘Umar b. al-Khattab, who said: “Well done Ibn Abi Talib! Today you became the Leader of all believing men and women.”
After the Prophet’s death in the year 632, disputes over succession arose and led to the creation of the caliph system in which leaders of the Islamic nation are chosen. The first to succeed was Abu Baker, then Umar bin –alKhattab, the third was Othman bin Affan, well aware of the events of Ghadeer Kum. The fourth caliph was Ali bin Abi Talib.
Ghadeer Khum marks the day when the Shiites pledged allegiance to Imam Ali upon the order of Prophet Mohammad who was inspired by the Divine will; more specifically, those who remained loyal to this oath after the Prophet’s death and adhered to the Quran and Ahlulbayt, the Prophet’s household and the 12 Imams who bear the light of Mohammad.