What Does the Sermon Establish For Ali (pbuh)?
Does successorship only refer to political authority? Some people do terrible injustice to the event of Ghadir by portraying it as a matter of transferring political power.
They unwittingly borrow the Sunni understanding of the term Khalifa, interpreting it as پga ruling successorپh. They state that the main goal of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) in Ghadir Khum was to establish Imam Ali (PBUH) as a political leader after his departure.
Were it truly so, the matter would have been a historical matter, and it would be meaningless to quarrel over the right of Imam Ali (PBUH) to rule after passing 1400 years.
It is almost fourteen centuries too late to decide whether Ali (PBUH) should have been the first or the fourth ruling governor after the departure of the Prophet (PBUH&HF).
Were there a mistake during the upheaval after his departure, it should not be stressed, because no one can change the past, and believing that Ali (PBUH) should have been the first ruler instead of the fourth would have no consequence in todayپfs life.
This viewpoint ultimately led some to believe that the differences between the Shia and the Sunnis are limited to some minor historical disagreements, which do not have any bearing on their salvation in the Hereafter, and that their beliefs are the same; thus, they should abandon their differences for the sake of their prosperity in the life of this world.
By considering the issue of successorship to be a matter of political rule, they have unknowingly belittled the goals and the achievements of Allahپfs Messenger and his successors, peace be upon them, for historical records show that, due to a lack of sincere supporters, they were unable to implement their ideal divine government.
Besides, most of the Shia Imams (PBUT) never attempted to implement their own government and used to refer those who questioned their stance1 to Imam Mahdi (PBUH) who will appear at the end of time and will establish the Kingdom of Justice on earth.
On the other hand, a brief look at the sermon of Ghadir shows that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) wanted to pass on much more than political authority to Imam Ali (PBUH) and the Imams after him. An examination of his words shows that they are the guardians that Allah appointed, and people must acknowledge their authority inside their hearts and follow them in all aspects of life.
People will benefit from them as their Imams and will be rewarded by Allah only if they accept them willingly and not through political dominion. Whether or not the guardians that Allah appointed become a ruling authority, the believers of all generations have a duty to abide by their instructions.
Therefore, it is not too late to follow their commands, accept them as guardians, submit to them, prefer their sayings over oneپfs own and otherپfs opinions, consider 1 See for instance, al-Kafi, vol. 1, pp. 341-342, Hadith 25, 26, and 27; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 51, p. 132, Hadith 1, and p. 109, Hadith 1.
them as the center of truth, evaluate everything by their standard, and keep aloof from their enemies who opposed their commands.
It is also interesting to observe that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) mentioned the titles Wali, Mawla, and Imam for Ali (PBUH) in his sermon over 27 times, whereas he used the word Khalifa for him only three times. Even under the Sunni implication of the word Khalifa (successor).
which limits it to political rule.it is clear that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) stressed spiritual leadership in his speech, which would guarantee the salvation of those who follow the Imam, and would lead them towards Paradise. Worldly issues never took priority for the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and his successors. Imam Ali himself has said:
By Allah, this world of yours is more despicable in my eyes than a pig bone in the hand of a Certainly, had the majority of people followed the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) concerning the divinely appointed guide, he would have naturally come to power.
Thus, Imam Aliپfs exclusive qualification for political rule is only one of the natural outcomes of the guardianship (Walaya) that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) established for him on behalf of Allah on the day of Ghadir. In this manner, the spiritual 1 Nahj al-Balagha, Maxim 236. Also refer to Sermon 3 (known as al- Shiqshiqiyya) for another similar statement.
authority of Imam Ali (PBUH) and his pure descendants is still effective over the remaining believers until the Day of Judgement, irrespective of the support of the majority of people for them or their political authority.
Believing in the Imamپfs virtues in oneپfs heart and adhering to his words in disguise (al-Taqiyya) under tyrannical rule are not only sufficient for salvation in the Hereafter but also rewarded many-fold, because observing faith is more difficult at times of terror and fear.
According to the traditions, worship during the days of tyrannical government is more rewarding for the believers than worship during the time of the just government, though this fact should not prevent the believers from praying to Allah for the manifestation of the Kingdom of Justice on earth by Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH).1
The rights and virtues of Imam Ali and other Imams The sermon of Ghadir Khum confirms the following rights and virtues of Imam Ali (PBUH) and the Imams after him:
1- Allah has decreed absolute authority for them over the believers, and thus, just like the Prophet (PBUH&HF), all their commands must be obeyed unconditionally.
2- Like the Prophet (PBUH&HF), they have priority over people, and they have more rights over the believers 1 cf. al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 333, Hadith 2, also Hadith 1; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 127, Hadith 20, also p. 145, Hadith 67. Another related tradition can be found at: al-Ikhtisas, p. 20, Hadith; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 144, Hadith 62.
than what they have over their own souls. They should be preferred over others (in position, sayings, ideas, commands, etc.) for Allah has preferred them.
3- Allah has made them the leaders of the believers and the medium of divine guidance after the Prophet (PBUH&HF). They guide people towards the pleasure of Allah, keep them from His disobedience and His wrath, and lead them to Paradise.
4- Allah has made them the guardians of the faithful, who protect their close adherents from evil and misguidance.
5- They are the پgStraight Pathپh of Allah, whom people are ordered to follow.
6- They have all the knowledge of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). Allah has placed the knowledge of everything in them. They are the inheritors of all branches of knowledge. Particularly, they possess the complete knowledge of religion. They are authorized to expound the religion and explain its commandments and prohibitions.
7- Allah has authorized them to interpret the Holy Quran and to explain its meaning after the Prophet (PBUH&HF). No one knows its interpretations, its hidden warnings, and its mysteries except through them. They guide people to the truth of the Quran and call them to it.
8- They are the executors of the will of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) and the deputies of his affairs (Wasi). Imam Ali (PBUH) was the greatest in virtue and rank among the deputies of all the prophets (most of whom were prophets themselves) just as the Prophet (PBUH&HF) was the greatest among all prophets (PBUT).
9- Imam Ali (PBUH) is the most virtuous amongst the creation of Allah so long as creation exists.
10- Imam Ali (PBUH) was foremost in accepting Islam and worshipping Allah.
11- Imam Ali (PBUH) fought against the enemies of Allah by His command and was the greatest helper of religion.
12- Imam Ali (PBUH) was the greatest aid and defender of the Prophet (PBUH&HF). He fought on his behalf and offered his life as a sacrifice for him. His relation to the Prophet (PBUH&HF) was that of Aaron to Moses (PBUT).
13- Imam Ali (PBUH) was the dearest and the closest to the Prophet (PBUH&HF). He is from the Prophet (PBUH&HF), and the Prophet (PBUH&HF) is from him. The Prophet (PBUH&HF) called him his brother.
14- The title of پgthe Commander of the Believersپh exclusively belongs to him.
15- Allah and His Prophet (PBUH&HF) are pleased with him. All verses of the Holy Quran that express Allahپfs satisfaction or praise in their ideal sense have been revealed about him.
16- The divine light, the divine guidance, and the divine leadership have been placed in Imam Ali (PBUH) and the Imams from his descendants up to Imam Mahdi (PBUH), the last divinely appointed Imam. The earth will never lack an Imam until the Day of Judgement.
17- Imam Ali (PBUH) and the Imams of his descendents are the trustees of Allah, His appointed judges, the vessels of divine knowledge1, the greatest proofs of Allah 1 The پgdivine knowledgeپh refers to all the heavenly knowledge created by Allah, and placed in His best creation.
It is called divine just because Allah issued and authorized it, and because it is not a science generated by a human. It is called His knowledge since it is His creation and is attributed to Him. However, this should not be confused with His پgEternal Knowledgeپh.
It should be made clear that any knowledge that a human being can possess, grasp, or comprehend is a creation, and has no similarity whatsoever with Allahپfs Eternal Knowledge (i.e., His Essence), which is not created. The knowledge that a human or even an Imam possesses is not a part of Allahپfs Eternal Knowledge, otherwise it would imply His Essence has parts.
Any imagination or perception of Allah's Eternal Knowledge by us is a creation of our mind and cannot be attributed to Allah. With regard to the Essence of Allah, we are not allowed to theorize or converse because we have no way to understand Him, and by پgHis Eternal Knowledgeپh, we only mean, پgHe is not ignorantپh.
We should recognize that His Essence (Dhat) is free from any type of knowledge that we know (i.e., any generated knowledge even if it is multiplied by infinity in terms of quality and quantity) just as we recognize that there is nothing that He is unaware of. Nothing is like Him.
Maintaining a difference on the quality or the quantity between His knowledge and the concept of knowledge that is known to us is not enough to avoid resemblance, and we need to deny the resemblance in the concept of knowledge between the Creator and the creation.
There is neither concept, nor quality for His Essence. Allah is the creator of perfections and qualities, and He is not limited by the extension of qualities and concepts that we imagine. Allah knows, but not like how His creation knows. Hence, our understanding of His Eternal Knowledge (i.e., His Essence) is only among His creation, and His exhaustive arguments against them.
18- Imam Ali (PBUH) and the pure members of his progeny constitute one of the two weighty symbols besides the Holy Quran. If people adhere to both, they will be never misled. Each one of the two guides to the other and agrees with it.
19- Imam Ali (PBUH) and the Imams of his progeny are the most learned about the religion. The lawful and unlawful things are only those that the book of Allah, the Messenger, and the Imams, have declared so, respectively.
20- The last Imam of his descendants, the Mahdi (PBUH), shall establish the global kingdom of justice. He will revive Allahپfs religion, and will overcome all religions and ideas.
He will annihilate falsehood, will purify the earth from the enemies of Allah, will avenge the blood of all the friends of Allah, and will re-establish the rights of Allah, the Prophet (PBUH&HF), and his family.