Lecture delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 19 September 2016 at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
Today is the 18 Dhil Hijjah, a critical day in the Islamic calendar being Eid Ghadeer.
It is the celebration of the completion of religion. It is the Eid of the future and final vision of Islam.
These occasions of Ahlul Bait (A.S) are part and parcel of the history of Islam and not only relevant for one particular sect. However, as soon as these times of the year occur, we witness sick minds exploiting these iconic events in Islamic history as a means to promote sectarianism.
Ghadeer is often debated and exploited on social media and Muslim public platforms and the common thread in all these attempts is to undermine and degrade the sanctity of Ahlul Bait. So instead of this event being a source of beauty for all, it rather descends into an occasion to promote hate.
INCIDENT OF GHADIER IS UNDENIABLE
The incident of Ghadeer is undeniable, and absolutely beyond dispute. It did occur!
It is overwhelmingly recorded among Sunni scholars, but there are few Scholars who actually do dispute whether the event of Ghadeer on 18 Dhil Hijja actually occurred.
These scholars are not really considered Sunni but rather Wahhabi. Among them is the father of Wahhabism, ibn Taymiyyah who disputed it.
After the conference in Chechnya where over 200 top Sunni scholars from around the world gathered to define “what is a Sunni”, we can confidently say that those who deny the incident of Ghadier are not Sunni as Sunni’s acknowledge this event!
However, among ibn Taymiyyah’s “ideological descendants” is the prominent Salafi scholar, Nasiruddin Albaani who regards the narrations of Ghadeer as authentic.
Even the grand Saudi scholar, Mufti bin Baaz agreed that Ghadeer took place. So there is clearly no question about the actual occurrence of the event of Ghadeer.
Furthermore, it is narrated by 110 Sahaba and hundreds of Tabi’een.
WHAT HAPPENED AT GHADIER?
What is the event of Ghadeer on 18 Dhil Hijja?
Very recently, just a few years ago, a Salafi scholar called Sheikh Abdul Wahhab Tariri wrote a book about Ghadeer, where he examined all the narrations about this event and then beautifully extracted the common thread among all the narrations.
Clearly, due to the presence of tens of thousands of sahabah, there are many narrations of what actually occured.
So he records the “agreed upon” version of the event of Ghadier to reads as follows:
After the final Hajj, upon returning to Madina, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) took a different route back home i.e. he differed from his original route when coming for Hajj to Makkah.
Instead, this route that he took is referred to as the “road of the Ambiya”, as it is recorded that up to 70 prophets have travelled using this particular route to and from Makkah!!
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) stopped at a place which is approximately 150km away from Makkah and stopped everyone travelling with him, also those behind him and those in front of him.
He then deviated his direction slightly, towards an area which has many trees for shelter and access to sufficient water in the form of multiple ponds and where the ground was flat instead of hills. This is the area of “Ghadeer Khum”.
Around 70,000 – 110,000 people congregated on this point.
So Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was very strategic in his choice of venue for this important announcement.
The narration continues, that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) started his address, opening with the words Assalaatu Jami’ah.
It is important to note that these words to start an address were only used by Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) when making an emergency announcement, such as a call to Jihad for example.
So the narration continues:
The time of Dhur had arrived, and after performing Dhur salaah, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) started to address the congregation, saying the time for his passing this world will come soon.
Indeed, very sad news to open up with.
He then continued with the Hadith of Thaqalayn – I am leaving behind 2 precious things, Quran and Ahlul Bait (AS), which will not separate from each other until they will meet with me at the pool of Kauthar on the day of Qiyamah.
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) continues by saying:
“Allah (SWT) is my Mawla, and I am Wali of every believer.”
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) asked the congregation if they agree with him – i.e. Whether they bear witness to 3 testaments of the Oneness of Allah, the Prophethood of Muhammad (sawa) and the Day of Reckoning.
They all affirmed convincingly in unison.
We can see from this that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) asked 3 clear questions referring to Islamic Aqeedah!!
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) then continues:
“Isn’t it that I have greater authority over you than you have on yourself?”
Prophet (SAWA) repeated this question 3 times.
He then raised the hand of Imam Ali (AS) as high as he could, so that everyone could see, and then he exclaimed:
“Mankuntu Mawla, fahatha Aliyun Mawla”.
“For whoever I am his master, then Ali is his master.”
Once they came down from the platform, it was the first and second Khaliph of Islam who led the congratulations of Ali (a.s) by saying:
“Congratulations! Congratulations! Oh Ali! Today you have become the master of every believing man and woman!”
This much is the very least that is agreed upon regarding the incident of Ghadeer.
THE THREE INTERPRETATIONS
So the narration is clear. Now we need to reflect on what we understand from this. What is “Mankuntu Mawla, fahatha Aliyun Mawla”?
There are three interpretations that exist regarding this event. These are summarised as follows:
1. It means Ali’s friendship and Ali’s love is equivalent to having friendship of Rasulullah (SAWA).
2. It is an announcement of Imam Ali’s special spiritual status.
3. It is universal inauguration of Imam Ali (a.s) as the successor to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) on all aspects of leadership of the Ummah.
Lets dissect each of these interpretations.
ALI’S FRIENDSHIP IS EQUIVALENT TO HAVING FRIENDSHIP OF RASULULLAH (SAWA)
This group of Scholars argue that “Mawla” means friend or it means beloved, so therefore whoever loves Rasulullah (SAWA) must love Ali (AS). Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is commanding everyone to love Imam Ali (AS).
In providing some historical support to this opinion, it is recorded in history that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) sent Imam Ali (A.S) to Yemen, and that Imam Ali (A.S) successfully returned with a big amount of booty.
A dispute ensued between Imam Ali (AS) and others regarding distribution of the booty, so they escalated their grievance to Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
But they remained unhappy since Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) did not entertain their grievance, as he believed Imam Ali (AS) acted justly in the situation.
So to address their grievance and to ensure that their possible hidden unhappiness does not remain, Prophet (sawa) felt the need to address the issue once more and thus said: “Mankuntu Mawla, fahatha Aliyun Mawla”
Does this interpretation make sense?
Would Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) stop everyone in the burning desert for such a basic statement?
One needs to remember the way this sermon started.
The context to which it is connected is that very soon he will be leaving this world.
Also, why test people’s commitment to the 3 roots of our Islamic ideology if the statement is only about love for Imam Ali (AS). It does not correlate.
Furthermore, why keep the companions at Ghadeer for a full 3 days to make such a basic announcement?
This once again illustrates the extent of prejudice that Ahlul Bait (AS) face.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF IMAM ALI’S SPECIAL SPIRITUAL STATUS
The second group of Scholars which is primarily consisting of those with Sufi inclination came up with a different understanding, refuting the above explanation.
They say that simply friendship being implied by the event of Ghadeer is not possible.
They say it is an announcement of Wilayat in the form of Imam Ali (AS) having the same spiritual status as our Prophet (SAWA).
In the same way that the position of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is a central position in this creation and cosmos, Imam Ali (AS) shares the same status, which is highly significant!!
They explain that blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) come to this world through a link between creation and Creator.
These people of mysticism say the centre of this power of spirituality is Imam Ali (AS), and whoever has this power today, has it from Ali (AS). Therefore, the chain of (almost) all these Sufi tarikahs must conclude by Imam Ali (a.s), as he is Sayyidul Awliya.
This explanation takes the concept of Wilayah and makes a distinction between Wilayah Takwini (Wilayah in Creation) and Wilayah Tashri’i (Legislative Wilayah).
Indeed, we agree that Ghadeer is the announcement of the spiritual status of Imam Ali (AS).
However, this understanding of Ghadeer and the different aspects of Wilayah was only presented by ibni Arabi centuries later!
How is it possible for the congregation at Ghadeer whom Prophet Muhammad (sawa) was addressing to understand this separation though?
For the early Muslims, the idea of Wilayah was simply one understanding of comprehensive Wilayah of Spiritual Mastership AND Legislative Mastership in all matters relating to the earthly realm.
It is this understanding that causes the followers of the School of Ahlul Bait (a.s) to believe that Ghadier was the inauguration of the comprehensive Wilayah of Imam Ali (a.s).
VIEW OF SUNNI LEBANESE SCHOLAR
In concluding the analysis of the three interpretations of the incident of Ghadeer, it’s worth considering the view of a Sunni Lebanese Scholar, Sheikh Maahir Hamoud.
He says that if we were to place the incident of Ghadier “in a box” and examine it purely for what it is and appears to the mind of the reasonable man without being influenced by any external occurrences, then one will certainly conclude that Ghadier was the event wherein the comprehensive Wilayah of Imam Ali (a.s) was established!
BUT, with the passage of time and due to certain historical occurrences, Ghadier became “re-interpreted” to cause it to neatly fit into the happenings of history!!
This is a point worth pondering upon!!
DUA OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) AT GHADIER
In addition to the above-mentioned narration of Ghadier, it’s also agreed upon that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) made the following Dua at Ghadeer:
“O Allah, love those who love Ali, hate those who hate Ali.”
Is there anyone in this world whose dua is more accepted than Rasulullah?
Indeed his supplication is the most guaranteed dua to be accepted.
So if this dua is accepted, those who love Ali are in the shelter of wilayat of Allah (SWT), and those who are hate Ali are destined for doom…
Love of Ali (a.s) brings humanity together, and hatred of Ali destroys us.
And in the conference in Chechnya the Sunni Scholars concluded, by defining what is a Sunni, that those who hate Ali having nothing to do with Sunni Islam!
GHADIER AS A UNIFYING FORCE
My final concluding point in our celebration of Eid Ghadier this year is to remind everyone that the indisputable event Ghadier, with all its three possible understandings that different people might have a leaning towards, teaches us that Love of Ali (a.s) is beyond any shadow of doubt and the common thread which unites us – even with the Salafis as even a real Salafi (besides Sunnis) can’t ignore this very foundation of Imaan.