The Ghadir event and its significance Seventy days before his demise, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF)
1 was returning to Medina after his last pilgrimage to Mecca, he reached the pond of Khum (Ghadir Khum) near Juhfa. It was the 18th of the month of Dhul-Hijja of the year 10 AH (March 15, 632 AD).
By this time, the Prophet (PBUH&HF) had conveyed all of the divine commandments to his nation except for the formal and explicit public announcement of his divinely appointed successors as the leaders, guardians, and guides for the believers for all days to come.
By the order of Allah, the Prophet (PBUH&HF) stopped at the pond of Khum, gathered the crowd of pilgrims, and delivered his last universal speech.
In this sermon, he presented his last religious instruction which finalized the last divine religion and made Islam the perfect religion in the sight of Allah. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), the fifth Imam and successor of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) said:
1 The acronym “PBUH&HF” refers to phrase “peace be upon him and his family.”
“The last obligatory duty that Allah sent down was al-Walaya (adherence to the guardian assigned by Allah). Then, He sent down the verse: ‘Today, I completed your religion…’1 once the Messenger of Allah established it in Juhfa area.”2
This message was the most unique in the entire mission of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) due to the revelation of Verse 67, Chapter 5 of the Holy Quran before his speech.
In this revelation, Allah warned His Messenger that failing to deliver this last message would nullify his entire mission. This unprecedented warning proves that this last message contained the most important religious commandment of Allah for the Muslim nation.
Moreover, the contents of this last message were so crucial to the faith that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) emphatically required all those who directly or indirectly heard the sermon of Ghadir Khum to convey it to people who were not aware of its details, and parents to convey it to their children for all generations to come. Hence, this sermon addresses all Muslim generations of the world until the
1 Chapter 5, Verse 3 of the Holy Quran 2 al-Tafsir, Ali Ibn Ibrahim al-Qummi, vol. 1, p. 162, under the commentary of Verse 5:3; al-Tafsir, al-Ayyashi, vol. 1, p. 292, under the commentary of Verse 5:3; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 37, p. 112, Hadith 5, vol. 37, p. 138, Hadith 27. 3 Day of Judgement. This emphasis naturally implies that the content of this message has a vital role in the future of the Muslims, their spiritual health, and their felicity in the Hereafter.
The main issue that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) addressed in his speech in Ghadir Khum was that Allah appointed Ali Ibn Abi Talib (PBUH) as the guardian (Wali), the master (Mawla), the leader (Imam), and the commander (Amir) of all believing men and women, the deputy and the executor of his affairs (Wasi), and his successor (Khalifa).
His sayings and commands should be preferred over the opinions of all others in every matter. Obeying him is obeying Allah, and disobeying him is disobeying Allah.
Whoever follows him (and his sayings) is a believer under the guardianship of Allah, and whoever turns away from him (or his sayings) is a disbeliever under the guardianship of Satan.
Guardianship (al-Walaya) expresses a bilateral relation between the guardian and the people. Observing al-Walaya by people means adhering to the guardian and acknowledging his authority by heart, tongue, and action.
On the other hand, the action of al-Walaya by the guardian means offering protection from evil, spiritual assistance, care, support, and guidance for his adherents. A divinely appointed guardian guards his adherents from misguidance, spiritual destruction, wrongdoing, and sin as much as they adhere to him and his commands.
Establishing al-Walaya has been the ultimate goal of
religion and the fruit of the entire efforts of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) during his mission.
One who submits to Allah’s representative and adheres to him has indeed acknowledged Allah’s authority and guardianship and is a true monotheist in obeying Allah.
Acknowledging the guardianship of the leaders that Allah appointed and submitting to them is the greatest pillar of faith. It safeguards the followers from the wrath and punishment of Allah. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH) said:
“Islam is established by five things: prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage, and al-Walaya (adhering to the guardians authorized by Allah).
None (among them) was called for as (emphatically as) al-Walaya was called for. However, people accepted the first four and abandoned al-Walaya.”1
People who refused to submit to the leaders that Allah appointed resemble the Satan who refused to submit to the viceregent of Allah, Adam (PBUH), and consequently, became an outcast and went under the curse of Allah 1 al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 18, Hadith 3.
forever as mentioned in the Holy Quran.1 It is narrated that Imam al-Ridha (PBUH) said:
“The similitude of the believers in accepting the guardianship of the Commander of the Believers (Ali) on the day of Ghadir Khum is that of the angels in prostrating before Adam (i.e., submitting to him), and the similitude of those who turned away from the guardianship of the Commander of the Believers on the day of Ghadir is that of the devil (Iblis).”2
In one of his speeches on the anniversary of the day of Ghadir, Imam Ali (PBUH) said:
“Allah does not accept the faith (of an individual) except after he acknowledges the guardianship of whom He required. He does not arrange the means of His obedience (for an individual) except after he adheres to His ropes and the ropes of His authorized people.
Thus, Allah sent down to His Prophet (PBUH&HF) on the day of the large trees1 that which explained His will for His sincere and chosen servants.
Allah commanded him to convey (the message) without being concerned about the hypocrites or the deviants, and guaranteed him protection against their evil... By that, Allah completed His religion, and delighted the eyes of His Prophet (PBUH&HF), and the believers.
Some of you witnessed this event and some received its news. This (appointment) concluded the beautiful word of Allah for those who observe patience… ”2
1 This phrase refers to the day of Ghadir Khum as there had been some large trees beside the pond at the time.
2 Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 94, p. 115, Hadith 8.