Jumuah lecture on Friday 7 August 2020 (17 Dhul Hijja 1441)
Mowlana Syed Muhammad Rizvi
Toronto, Canada
Facebook livestream on AFOSA14

Dear brothers and sisters in Imaan and Islam,
Assalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wabarakatu

Let me begin by praying for the victims of the tragedy of Beirut. May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant peace to those who were killed and solace to their families and fast recovery to those who are injured. May he also give Taufeeq to those others who are helping the 300,000 people who have become temporarily homeless because of this huge explosion in Beirut’s port area.

Let me now begin with the ayat (verse) of Quran from Suratul Maa’ida, ayah number 3, where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ
This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

I will come to the explanation of this verse later on. This verse is actually related to the event of Ghadeer Khum.


This weekend the Shia Muslims celebrate the anniversary of Ghadeer Khum, the event which took place on the 18th of Dhul Hijja when Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was returning from back to Madina from Hajj.

We celebrate this day, since it was in the event of Ghadeer, that the Prophet (SAWA) formally and officially introduced his Ahlul Bait (a.s) in general and Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) in particular. I don’t want to narrate the event here, but I will only quote one statement from Sahih Muslim where he talks about the Prophet’s (SAWA) sermon as follows:

O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (referring to the angel of death) from my Lord, and I will respond to Allah’s call. I am leaving among you two precious things. The first is the book of Allah (and he explains there is guidance and light in it) and therefore hold on fast to the book of Allah (SWT). The second is my family, and I remind you of Allah (regarding your duties) regarding my family. (He said this 3 times).

We therefore see that this is part of the sermon which the Prophet (SAWA) gave in Ghadeer as quoted here by Sahih Muslim. Tirmidhi in his Jami’ (one of the six books of Hadith relied upon by Sunni Muslims) quoting from Abu ‘t-Tufayl, as well as ibn Majah in his Sunan quoting from Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, narrates that the Prophet (SAWA) said:

Man kuntu Maula, fa Aliyyun Maula
For whomsoever I am his Maula, then Ali is his Maula

You can do a search on Sunnah.com and you will see these two statements from Tirmidhi and ibn Majah both have been graded as sahih (authentic) on this website.

To summarize the event, no Sunni scholar worthy of being called an Aalim (scholar) would ever deny the event of Ghadeer. At the most, he will dispute the meaning of Maula. We believe that Maula in the context of the speech of the Prophet (SAWA) means master, leader and guide, whereas our Sunni brothers believe that it simply means a friend. So, we will keep this difference of interpretation on the side for the moment.


What I would like to say is that nonetheless, in spite of this difference in the meaning of Maula between Shia and Sunnis, the wordings of the Prophet (SAWA) describing Ali (a.s) as Maula can be a point of unity among the Muslims.

In the matter of leadership after the demise of the Prophet (SAWA), the Muslims can be divided into 3 major groups, namely the Sunni Muslims, the Sufi Muslims, and the Shia Muslims.

Here is an activity to perform. Use a wide writing board like the one used in the classrooms and make 3 columns to list the leaders of these 3 groups. For example, on the one side you will list the names of the Khulafa of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, on the second column you will list the spiritual masters of the various Sunni tareeqahs, and on the third column you will write the names of the Imams of the Shia Muslims.

Once you have written it down and peruse the names in all 3 columns on the board, look for the name that is common in all 3 groups. Subhanallah, you will see that the only name found in all 3 groups is the blessed name of Ali ibn abi Talib (karramallahu wajhahu).

1. Ali (a.s) is the 4th Caliph of the Sunnis.

2. Ali (a.s) is the head of the spiritual masters of the Sufis. All the tareeqas and spiritual fraternities trace the line of their masters back to Ali (a.s) as Waliyyul Auliya. He is the Waliyyul Awliya’, the master of the spiritual masters.

3. And when it comes to the 3rd column you will see that Ali (a.s) is the first Imam of the Shia Muslims.

So, Ali (a.s) is the point of unity among the Muslims. One group looks at him as a Caliph; another group looks at him as the supreme spiritual master; and the third group looks at him as the Imam and the chief of the Imams (a.s). Hence, Ghadeer is the day of celebration of the unity of the Ummah!


Another dimension where we will see the name of Ali (a.s) common, is when you look at the history of the various sciences of Islam, from theology and jurisprudence to tafsir (commentary) and judiciary matters.

(1) For example, if you study and trace the history of theology of the various Muslim schools, you will see that the earliest major group was known as the Mu’tazila school. It doesn’t exist anymore. They were suppressed in the 3rd century and they exist in a very, very small number but this was a Sunni theological school known as the Mu’tazila.

The founder of the Mu’tazila school was Wasil bin ‘Ata and he was a student of Abu Hashim Abdullah, who was the student of his own father, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, who is the son and student of Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s). So, you can actually look at the leadership of the founders of the Mu’tazila tracing back the line of their scholarship back to Ali (a.s).

Then you come to the existing Sunni theological school, the Ash’ari school, which was founded by Abul Hasan al-Ash’ari. He was the student of Abu Ali al-Jubba’i, who was a Mu’tazili scholar. Abul Hasan al-Ash’ari was himself a Mu’tazili before he moved on and established his own theological school which is known by his name Ash’ari. They also trace their line of scholarship back to Ali (a.s).

When you look at the Imamia (Shi’a) and the Zaydiyya, they obviously link themselves to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s).

So, when you look at the various theological schools in the world of Islam, you will see that their line of scholarship all the way traces back to Ali (a.s).

(2) This trend similarly appears when you look at the various schools of Jurisprudence (fiqh). When you look at the Maliki school – the founder is Malik bin Anas and he was a student of Rabi’ah al-Ra’iy, who was a student of ‘Ikrima, and ‘Ikrima was the student or disciple of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas was a disciple and student of ‘Ali ibn abi Talib! So, Maliki fiqh is traced back to Ali (a.s)!

When you look at the Hanafi school of jurisprudence, we find that Abu Hanifa studied briefly under the 6th Shia Imam, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s). One can trace the knowledge of Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s) through his forefathers, from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s), Imam Zainul ‘Abideen (a.s), to Imam Hussain (a.s) and back to Imam ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s).

If you look at the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence, you will see that Imam Shafi’i was a student of Muhammad bin al-Hassan, who was a Hanafi scholar. Hence, this scholarly lineage traces to the Hanafi school and therefore traces back to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s) through the chain noted earlier.

If you look at the Hanbali school, founded by Ahmad bin Hanbal, he studied under Imam Shafi’i, and that can also be traced back to the Hanafi scholars as teachers of Shafi’i going back to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s).

(3) Not only when it comes to theology and jurisprudence, even when you look at tafsir, which is a very important science of the Islamic studies. The most prominent figure during the early days among the Sahaba (companions) is known to be ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas. He is known as “Hibrul Ummah, the ink of the Ummah” because of his status among the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah.

If one studies where ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas learned his knowledge, he always said that he is a student of none other than ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s). Interestingly, he was once asked what the level of his knowledge is compared to his cousin ‘Ali (a.s). He explains that the extent of his knowledge compared to the knowledge of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s) is like one drop of rain compared to the vast ocean.

So, even when you look at the intellectual tradition, when you talk about scholarship in the world of Islam, you will see that they all converge in the name of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s), and that is a point of celebrating the unity among the Muslims in the name of Ali (a.s).


The final point of unity that I would like to emphasize is the unanimous beliefs of all the Muslims, from the Wahhabis on one extreme, to the Shias on the other extreme, and everything in between i.e., the Sunnis with their different groupings be it Deobandi, Barelvi or the Sufis and the different tareeqas among them — all Muslims are unanimous in this belief that they must have the love, muwaddah and hubb towards the family of Prophet (SAWA). This is an essential part of the Deen of Islam. This is one of the essential beliefs of the Muslims to have this love and devotion towards the family of the Prophet (SAWA). And ‘Ali bin Abi Talib is the head of the Ahlul Bayt.

So, this is where I am talking about Ghadeer being the point of unity among Muslims, irrespective whether you look at ‘Ali (a.s) as a Maula (leader) or as a friend. We will leave the debate on leader versus friend for another time. But the point is that Muslims can unite in that common name accepted by all groups, whether you are talking about theology, jurisprudence or spiritual paths.


Let me now look at one more dimension of this event of Ghadeer Khum. We describe the event of Ghadeer Khum as an Eid and celebrate it as such. You will see this in the Shia calendars, where it says Eid Ghadeer. Sometimes, people will ask why do use this term, because we do not have special Eid Salaah on this day of Ghadeer like we have on the days of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. However, it is known as a day of celebration, and that is why we use the term Eid for this special day of Ghadeer.

The Prophet (SAWA) delivered his sermon in Ghadeer Khum and introduced the Qur’an and his Ahlul Bait (a.s) as 2 precious things as a source of guidance (Thaqalain). After he introduced ‘Ali (a.s) as the Maula of all Muslims and believers, Allah (SWT) revealed the verse which I recited earlier from Suratul Maa’ida (chapter 5 of the Holy Qur’an), verse 3, where Almighty Allah (SWT) says:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ
This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

It is interesting to understand where this verse was revealed. Imam Fakhruddin Razi, one of the prominent Sunni scholars, in his Tafsir titled Mafatihul Ghaib which is popularly known as at-Tafsir al-Kabeer, actually talks about this verse and its revelation i.e., when it was revealed. He says something very interesting. He says that after the revelation of this verse, the Prophet (SAWA) only lived for 81 or 82 days.

Now, these numbers which he has given to us is very interesting. If you sit down and count back in history and if we take the 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal as the common day of the demise of our beloved Prophet (SAWA) accepted by Ahlus Sunnah, and you trace backwards from 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal, 81 or 82 days depending on the moonsighting, whether the months of Muharram and Safar was 29 or 30 days, it is interesting that you will reach back to the date of 18th Dhul Hijja.

This is the day when the Prophet (SAWA) stopped upon his return from Hajj, going from Mecca back home to Madina. He stopped in Ghadeer Khum and this is where he delivered his sermon. According to Imam Fakhruddin Razi, Allah (SWT) revealed this verse 3 of Surah Maa’ida (chapter 5 of the Holy Quran) on this event:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ
This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.

So, after the Prophet’s (SAWA) sermon, Allah (SWT) declared this day as the day when His message reached to its perfection. It is the day when the divine blessing of guidance reached to its completion. It is the day when Allah (SWT) became pleased with Islam as our deen and religion. Isn’t this a good reason to celebrate this day as a day of Eid i.e., the day of joy and happiness? Definitely it is, and that is why we consider it to be the day of Eid.

Let me end here with a very interesting narration from Imam Bukhari. He narrates a very interesting incident between a scholar of the Jewish tradition and the second Caliph Umar ibn Khattab. Addressing the Khalifa, the Jewish person said that there is a verse in your book that you read, if it were revealed upon us, we would have celebrated it as the Day of Eid.

The Khalifa Umar asked the Jewish person which verse he was referring to, to which he replied saying verse 3 of Surah Maa’ida (chapter 5 of the Holy Quran) cited above.

Now, I am not concerned about his statement about when was this verse revealed, what time or day or place, but my point from this conversion as recorded in Sahih Bukhari is that the Khalifa proudly said that he knows the day and the place where it was revealed. He might have missed [mentioning] the occasion of this verse, but at the least, the Khalifa seems to agree with the idea that the revelation of this verse is worth to be celebrated like an Eid.


This is where I will say, my brothers and sisters in Islam, that in spite of differences that we have, there are numerous points of commonality in our core essence of belief, namely:

– Believing in One God (SWT); and

– One Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as the final prophet;

– The Quran is the last revelation of the divine message Allah (SWT) for the human society;

– Our Ka’bah is the Qibla for all Muslims.

So, these are all points of unity.

Yes, the division is there because of the issue of leadership after the demise of the Prophet (SAWA), but we can still maintain our unity, even when we look at the issue of leadership, that there is one name which is common among all Muslims, whether you are a Sunni Muslim or a Sufi Muslim or a Shia Muslim.

All converge on this issue of the leadership and the Wilayat, when we talk about a Maula, whether he is a friend or a master, at least we converge on that concept that ‘Ali (a.s) is the Maula of all the believers. This can become a point of unity and working together for the sake of the deen of Allah (SWT).

Let me end with the prayer that we have normally for this day, when greeting one another in faith:

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِي جَعَلَنَا مِنَ ٱلْمُتَمَسِّكِينَ
Praise be to Allah Who has blessed us to be among those who cling and hold

بِوِلاَيَةِ امِيرِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَٱلائِمَّةِ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلسَّلاَمُ
to the divinely commissioned leadership and authority of Amir al-Mu’minin and all the Imams, peace be upon them all.

May Allah (SWT) shower his blessings on the Ummah. May Allah (SWT) keep the entire humanity safe from the negative impacts of the Coronavirus and may Allah (SWT) bring the days very soon where we can congregate in our Masajid and have the Hajj in a normal way and celebrate this day of Eid in the way we use to celebrate in our own centres.

Wassalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu

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