In the hot desert sun of Arabia, Prophet Muhammad on his way from Hujjatal Wada’ (The Farewell Pilgrimage) halted the caravan heading back to Medina In an area known as Ghadeer Khum, A watering hole between Mecca and Madina.
The Prophet told the pilgrims to collect all of their saddles and pile them up to create a platform which he can ascend on.
Starting his sermon by telling people that his time is near, and reminding and warning people of their deeds, the Prophet asked Imam Ali, his cousin and son in law to ascend the platform and stand next to him.
The prophet then asked “Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?” and the pilgrims responded “Yes Oh messenger of God,”
Whoever I was his master than Ali is his master, O God, befriend the friend of Ali and be the enemy of his enemy.
This announcement made in front of thousands muslims, was narrated by countless number of Sunni scholars such as Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, al-Tabbari, Ibn Majah, al-Nisai’, al-Nawawi as well as all Shia scholars.
This begs the question: Why would the Prophet do this?
While some Sunni interpreters say that this event was due to disagreements between the companions and Imam Ali over the division of spoils of war following a battle in Yemen, the immediate context of the narration shows that the Prophet (saww) knows that he will be passing away soon, and is seeking to leave a successor behind him,
especially within the context of the question that He (saww) posed: “Do I not have more right over the believers than what they have over themselves?” It becomes clear from this question and the context of the narration, that the Prophet was seeking to designate his successor.
And this is not rare, as we see that throughout the Quran many prophets have designated their successors who will continue to spread their message and preserve it.
Throughout Surah Taha we see that Prophet Musa asked Allah to allow his brother Haroon to be his advisor and helper, against Pharaoh, and entrusted him with the leadership of the people upon his descent to Mount Sinai.
In Surah al Baqara verse 124 Prophet Abraham asked Allah to allow his sons to follow his footsteps as Imams and leaders and continue his message.
The Quran in Surah al-Naml verse 16 also mentions the successorship of Suleiman following Dawood.
Would it be possible that Allah would not seek to preserve and uphold the final message to humanity?
It comes as no surprise that the Prophet in multiple occasions accepted by both Sunni and Shia scholars has said that he has left behind two weighty things in which Muslims must follow to not be misguided, the Holy Quran, and his Holy Household, the interpretation of the Quran.
While some Sunni scholars have said that the two weighty things were the Quran and the Sunnah, Shia scholars say that the Sunnah of the Prophet, should be taken from his household, who were the closest to him, and who the Prophet himself has ordered us in many occasions to love them, as mentioned in the Quran “Say: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of my kinship.” [Quran 42:23].
In another narration by Um Salamah, the wife of the Prophet (SAWW), he once gathered his daughter Fatima, Imam Ali, and Imam Hassan and Hussein under the cloak, and announced them as his Holy Household, who are purified from sin, as the Quran described them in Surah 33 verse 33.
Thus we see that the event of Ghadir, is not one that is uncommon within the prophetic lineage mentioned in the Quran, as the prophets have always left behind successors, and Prophet Mohammed, was no different to his predecessors.
On this auspicious occasion, We ask God that he guides our hearts and minds towards true faith so that we can apply its principles of truth, mercy and justice, towards all of humanity.