An Overview of the Sermon
The text of the Sermon can be divided into the following ten major parts:
Part 1: The opening of the sermon is dedicated to praising Allah and regarding Him pure from any resemblance with His creation. It includes great lessons on the Unity of the Essence of Allah. In addition, it contains important information concerning His names, attributes, and actions.
Part 2: This part of the speech informs the listeners of the reasons behind delivering this sermon.
It includes the revelations that came down to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) just before the event, and the divine order concerning what he must convey to the people. It also explains the reason that the Prophet (PBUH&HF) has delayed the speech until he reached that place.
Part 3: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) officially declares Allah’s decree regarding the appointment of Imam Ali (PBUH) and the pure Imams after him. He then enumerates some of the virtues of Imam Ali (PBUH), his rights, and the duties of people regarding him.
Part 4: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) announces that Allah has completed His religion through the leadership of Imam Ali (PBUH) and reminds people more about his exclusive virtues.
Part 5: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) recites some verses of the Holy Quran concerning the hypocrites, and states what they intend to do after him. He advises people against violating Allah’s commands and emphasizes that what will happen after him is but a test for people, which will distinguish the believers from the disbelievers.
Part 6: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) gives a detailed description of the followers and the enemies of Ahl al-Bait (PBUH), and informs people of the final destiny of each, giving references to many verses of the Holy Quran.
Part 7: To give hope to the believers despite all the future misconduct of the enemies of Allah, the Prophet (PBUH&HF) informs people that justice and faith will finally prevail, and the righteous will inherit the earth.
He (PBUH&HF) dedicates this part of his speech to describe Imam al-Mahdi (PBUH) and to confirm his advent as a promise from Allah and His decisive decree.
Part 8: Reciting some verses of the Holy Quran, the Prophet (PBUH&HF) informs people that pledging allegiance to Imam Ali (PBUH) is, in fact, identical to pledging allegiance to Allah, the mighty and the majestic.
Part 9: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) emphasizes that the divine commandments including the obligatory and prohibited actions will never change in future, and that Imam Ali (PBUH) and other Imams of his offspring are fully aware of all final commandments and their limits. They are the expounders of the religion and the divinely appointed judges for any question pertaining to religion.
Part 10: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) asks people to recite the sentences of the covenant with him. He takes their verbal oath of allegiance to Imam Ali (PBUH) and other Imams of his family. He also asks people who can reach him to confirm their oath by shaking hands with him, Ali, al-Hasan, and al-Husain, peace be upon them.
Documentation of the sermon
Different pieces of the sermon of the Prophet (PBUH&HF) at the pond of Khum are found separately in many books narrated through numerous Shia and Sunni authorities.
However, the most complete text of the sermon that has reached us, which covers most aforementioned pieces, is found in a number of books of traditions; the most distinguished of those which have been preserved to this date, is al-Ihtijaj, compiled by Ahmad Ibn Ali al-Tabarsi, an outstanding Shia scholar who lived in the 5th century AH.
Since various parts of this speech have been reported in numerous earlier books of traditions, the most comprehensive text available in al-Ihtijaj, is classified as parallel or frequent (Mutawatir). Thus, it should be relied upon irrespective of its chain of narrators.
Al-Tabarsi has often omitted the chain of the narrators of the traditions in his book, because as he stressed, he only narrated traditions that were famous among the Shia traditionists before him.
However, due to the importance of the Sermon of Ghadir, al-Tabarsi has quoted the chain of the narrators for this tradition in al-Ihtijaj, which constitutes the following sound authorities traced back to Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (PBUH), the fifth divinely appointed Imam of guidance after the Prophet (PBUH&HF):
The detailed sermon, with few minor differences in wording, has been reported in the following books as well:
1- al-Yaqin, Sayyid Ibn Tawus (d. 664 AH), pp. 343-361, narrated from Imam al-Baqir (PBUH) with the following chain of narrators:
2- Rawdhat al-Wa’idhin, Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan al- Fattal al-Nishaburi (d. 508), part 1, pp. 89-99, narrated from Imam al-Baqir (PBUH), with the chain of narrators omitted by the author due to its popularity in the scholastic circles.
3- Iqbal al-A’mal, Sayyid Ibn Tawus (d. 664 AH), pp. 454-457, narrated from Hudhaifa Ibn Yaman, through the Sunni authorities with the following chain of narrators:
4- al-Tahsin, Sayyid Ibn Tawus (d. 664 AH), p. 584, narrated from Zaid Ibn Arqam, through the Sunni authorities with the following chain of narrators:
Unless otherwise specified in the endnotes and shown by brackets and marks in the text, the presented Arabic text of the sermon and its English translation are according to the original text of al-Ihtijaj, Ahmad Ibn Ali al-Tabarsi, vol. 1, pp. 56-66, narrated from Imam al-Baqir (PBUH). The phrases within the brackets are either the extra phrases that only appear in the other books named above, or preferred lexically among different phrases with similar meanings given in the above-mentioned documents.