The Event Of Ghadir Khumm

The event of Ghadir Khumm (واقعه غدیر خم) is an event that took place in March 632. While returning from the Hajj pilgrimage, the Islamic prophet Muhammad gathered all the Muslims who were with him and gave a long sermon. In the sermon, Muhammad announced that Ali ibn Abi Talib would be his successor. This sermon included Muhammad’s famous declaration that “to whomsoever I am Mawla, Ali is also their Mawla.”

In addition, after the sermon, Muhammad instructed everyone to pledge allegiance to Ali.

The Islamic prophet Muhammad also described Ali with the leadership titles “Imam,” “Ameer,” and “Khalifah” in the lengthy speech. After the sermon, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed: “This day I have perfected your Religion for you: Completed My favor upon you, and have chosen For you Islam as your Religion.” This verse (the fourth verse of Surah Maidah, the fifth chapter of the Qur’an) was the last verse of the Qur’an to be revealed.

This event, which over one hundred thousand people were present at, is considered to mark the completion of Islam. It is also known as the official appointment of Ali as Muhammad’s successor. The day’s anniversary in the Islamic calendar (18 Dhu al-Hijjah) is celebrated by Muslims (primarily Shias) as Eid-e-Ghadeer.


Main article: Farewell Pilgrimage

Ten years after the migration and on the last days of Dhu al-Qi’dah (coinciding with 632 in the Gregorian calendar), Muhammad moved from Medina to Mecca accompanied by thousands of his followers. He only once attended Hajj rituals, a few months before he died. Since this Hajj took place in the last year of his life, he made his farewells to people. Ali was in Yemen, preaching Islam, when he was informed about Muhammad’s Hajj, so he moved towards Mecca together with some people and joined Muhammad before rituals began. When the rituals of Hajj were finished, Muhammad left Mecca for Medina together with other Muslims.

A mosque at Johfah near Rabigh in Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. Ghadir Khumm is located near Johfah.

A mosque at Johfah near Rabigh in Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. Ghadir Khumm is located near Johfah.


Revelation of the verse of announcement

On Thursday the 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah in the year 10 A.H. (March 632), after the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Muslims arrived at Ghadir Khumm. The following verse of the Quran was revealed:

O Messenger! proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guideth not those who reject Faith (5:67).

According to the verse, Muhammad was obliged to proclaim an important message. The verse clearly denotes the importance of the message, by saying that if he does not announce it, then he has not performed his mission. After revelation of the verse, Muhammad ordered the caravan to stop, and ordered those who had passed Ghadir Khumm to return, and for them to wait there until the arrival of those who were still on their way.

Both Shia and Sunni sources state that this verse relates to the event of Ghadir Khumm. According to Sunni traditional narratives, this verse was revealed during the event, and over 360 Sunnis traditional scholars have mentioned about Ghadir and its connection with the mentioned verse.

The sermon

On the way back to Medina from Mecca, Muhammad ordered his companions to stop at Ghadir Khum and delivered a lengthy sermon. The most well-known part of the sermon occurred when he raised Ali’s hand and said, “whomever I am his Mawla, this Ali is his Mawla.” When Abu Bakr and Umar heard this, they said to Ali: “O son of Abu Talib, you have become the Mawla of every male and every female believer, morning and evening, congratulations.”

A portion of a part of sermon is as follows:

O people, Allah the Most Kind the Omniscient has told me that no apostle lives to more than half the age of him who had preceded him. I think I am about to be called (to die) and thus I must respond. I am responsible and you are responsible, then what do you say?’ They said, ‘We witness that you have informed, advised and striven. May Allah bless you.’ He said, ‘Do you not bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Apostle, and that His Heaven is true, His Hell is true, death is true, the Resurrection after death is true, that there is no doubt that the Day of Judgment will come, and that Allah will resurrect the dead from their graves?’ They said, ‘Yes, we bear witness.’ He said, ‘O Allah, bear witness.’ Then he said, ‘O people, Allah is my Lord and I am the lord of the believers. I am worthier of believers than themselves. Of whomsoever I had been Mawla, Ali here is to be his Mawla. O Allah, be a supporter of whoever supports him (Ali) and an enemy of whoever opposes him and divert the Truth to Ali.’

O people, I will go ahead of you and you will arrive at my Pond (in Heaven) which is wider than the distance between Basra and San’a. It has receptacles as numerous as the stars, and two cups of gold and two of silver. I will ask you about the two weighty things that I have left for you when you come to me to see how you dealt with them. The greater weighty thing is Allah’s book—the Holy Qur’an. One end is in Allah’s hand and the other is in your hands. Keep it and you will not deviate. That other weighty thing is my family (Ahl al-Bayt) and my descendents. The Most Kind the Omniscient had told me that both of them, would not separate until they come to my Pond.

Another similar narration of part of the hadith goes as follows,

O people! Reflect on the Quran and comprehend its verses. Look into its clear verses and do not follow its ambiguous parts, for by Allah, none shall be able to explain to you its warnings and its mysteries, nor shall anyone clarify its interpretation, other than the one that I have grasped his hand, brought up beside myself,(and lifted his arm), the one about whom I inform you that whomever I am his Mawla, this Ali is his Mawla; and he is Ali Ibn Abi Talib, my brother, the executor of my will (Wasiyyi), whose appointment as your guardian and leader has been sent down to me from Allah, the mighty and the majestic.

Revelation of the verse of Ikmal al-Din

Main article: The verse of Ikmal al-Din

According to Shia scholar Sheikh Abdul Hosein Amini’s work Al-Ghadir, immediately after Muhammad had finished his speech, the following verse of the Quran was revealed:

This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion (5:3).

Sunni Muslims believe this verse was revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Prophet Muhammad on the Day of Arafah, the ninth day of Dhul Hijja.

Oath of allegiance

Only then, Muhammad left the rostrum, and gave the order for the establishment of a tent in which Ali would sit to receive the allegiance oath of Muslims. Thousands of people, group by group, including women, went to him and saluted and congratulated him as Amir al-Mu’minin, commander of the faithful. Umar ibn Al-Khattab was the first to offer congratulations.

On the completion of Muhammad’s sermon, Umar said, “Congratulations to you, Ali! This morning has brought you a great blessing. Today you have become the Mawla of all believing men and women.” At a later occasion when Umar was asked about his special treatment to Ali as compared to other companions, his reply was, “He is my master.” Shias believe that, with Muhammad’s approbation he recited verses in honour of Ali. The verse are recorded in Ibn Shahrashoub and affirms that ʿAlī was named as the successor of Muhammad on the day of Ghadir Khum.

Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, writes in his book, Mawaddat al-Qurba in Mawadda 5, that many companions quoted Umar in different places as having said that Muhammad made Ali the chief and leader of the nation and that Muhammad announced publicly that Ali was their master. Umar was also quoted saying that on the day of that announcement, a handsome youth was sitting besides him and that the youth said to him, “Surely, the Prophet has bound a covenant which none but a hypocrite would break. So Umar! Avoid breaking it.” When Umar told Muhammad about the incident, Muhammad said that the youth was not of Adam’s (Adem) progeny but was Gabriel(Jibril) and was stressing the point about Ali.

It is also reported that Abu Bakr said to Ali, “Well done Ibn Abi Talib! Today you became the leader (Mawla) of all believing men and women.” Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman are all said to have given their allegiance to Ali, a fact that is reported by both Shia and Sunni sources.

Interpretation and analysis

The word mawla is significant in the first narration of this hadith, and can refer to a leader, client, patron, friend, partner, ally or numerous other similar relationships. Twenty-seven (27) different meanings are given for the word mawla and hence the exact meaning should be derived from their syntactical and situational contexts.

Unlike the words “Imam, Ameer, Khalifah, Ulil-Amr, Sultan” which are very clear words to describe leader, the word “Mawla” is more ambiguous. However, Shias argue that the context of the sermon makes it clear that the word Mawla is meant as leader. In addition, Muhammad did use the words “Imam,” “Ameer,” and “Khalifah” to describe Ali elsewhere in the sermon.

It is also noteworthy that the Prophet used many titles for Ali in the sermon. The words “Wali,” “Mawla,” and “Imam” were used over 27 times, indicating that Ali as the successor to Muhammad in a spiritual sense, as well as a political sense (as the word “Khalifa” was used three times in the sermon). Hence, the sermon established Ali’s right as the political and spiritual successor to Muhammad.

According to some, the event of Ghadir Khumm took place because of a dispute between Ali and two sahaba in Yemen prior to the Farewell Pilgrimage. When Muhammad found out about this dispute, he ordered his companions to never anger Ali. The dispute was thus resolved with Muhammad’s statement before the Farewell Pilgrimage. This indicates that there was no need to gather over a hundred thousand people around to discuss the dispute after the pilgrimage, as the dispute had already been settled.

Narrators and citations

The event of Ghadir Khumm has been revealed in both Shia and Sunni sources. Narrators of the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm are many, including:

  • Ahl al-Bayt: Ali, Fatimah, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali
  • 110 Sahabah (companions) of Muhammad: Umar, Uthman, Aisha, Abu Hurairah, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, Salman the Persian, Ammar ibn Yasir, Zubayr ibn al-Awam, Jabir ibn Abd Allah, and others, who were all present at Ghadir Khum and narrated the event directly.
  • 83 of the Tabi‘un (followers): Salim ibn Abd-Allah, Umar II, Tawus ibn Kaysan, and etc.
  • 360 Sunni scholars of 2nd to 4th century AH: Abū ʿAbdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfīʿī (the founder of the Shafi’i school), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (the founder of the Hanbali school), Al-Nasa’i, Ibn al-Maghazili, Ahmad ibn Abd Allah, and Ahmad ibn Abd Rabbih.
  • Shia Hadith scholars: Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni, Ibn Babawayh, Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Sharif al-Murtaza, etc.

This Hadith is considered to be Hasan by many scholars, and some consider it Sahih. Furthermore, all Shia Hadith scholars, and some great Sunni scholars, consider this Hadith to be Mutawatir. Shia scholar Sheikh Abdul Hosein Amini collected all the references for the event of Ghadir Khum from Sunni sources and issued them together with all other reasons for this event in eleven volumes in of his book Al-Ghadir.

The above hadith have been cited in various Sunni sources including:

  • Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Al-Nasa’i in Al-Khasa’is
  • Ibn ‘Asakir in The History of Damascus
  • Ali ibn al-Athir in Usud al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifah al-Sahabah
  • Ibnul-Maghazili’s Manaqib
  • Ibn Majah in Sunan ibn Majah
  • Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Haythami in Majma al-Zawa’id
  • Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Kanji ash-Shafii in Kifayat at-Talib
  • Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Al-Isaba
  • Izz al-Din ibn Hibatullah ibn Abi l-Hadid in Sharh Nahjul Balagha
  • Abu Nu`aym in Hilyat al-awliya’
  • Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi in The History of Baghdad
  • Al-Kuna wa al-Asma
  • Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi in Mushkil ul-Athar
  • Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi in Jami` at-Tirmidhi
  • Muwazihul-Awham
  • Ibn Kathir in Al-Kafi ash-Shafi
  • Ibn Kathir in Tafsir ibn Kathir
  • Al-Tabarani in Al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer
  • Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidaya wa’l-Nihaya
  • Abu Abdullah al-Hakim Nishapuri in Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain
  • Al-Dhahabi in Talkhis al-Mustadrak
  • Arjah ul-Matalib
  • Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī’s Manaqib
  • Al-Tabarani in Al-Mu’jam As-Saghir
  • Ibn Abi Hatim in Al-Jarh wa at-Ta’dil
  • Al-Dhahabi in The History of Islam
  • Al-Juwayni in Fara’id al-Simtayn
  • al-Hasaqani in Du’atul-Hudat
  • Ibn Qutaybah in Al-Imama wa al-Siyasa
  • Ahmad in Manaqib
  • Hafiz al-Dhahabi in Mizanul-I’tidal
  • Abd Al Husayn Amini, Iranian Shia scholar also has gathered narrations of more than 110 companions (Sahaba) of Muhammad, as well as 40 followers of Muhammad about this event in his book named Al Ghadir.


Rashidun Caliphate

See also: Succession to Muhammad

After the death of Muhammad, a gathering at Saqifah elected Abu Bakr, rather than Ali, to be the successor of Muhammad as the first Rashidun Caliph. This choice was disputed by some Muslims, who believed that Ali had been appointed as successor. This dispute led to the schism between Sunnis and Shias.

Umayyad Caliphate

After the First Fitnah, during the days of the Umayyad Caliphate, when Muawiyah arrived (in Mecca) during one of his pilgrimages, accordingly, Sad ibn Abi Waqqas came to see him, and they happened to mention Ali. Muawiyah disparaged Ali. As a result, Sad became angry and said: “You are speaking of this man! I have heard the Messenger of Allah—peace and salutation of Allah be upon him—declare (On the day of Ghadir): “Of whomsoever I am the Mawla, then Ali is his Mawla.” I have (also) heard him say: ‘You Ali are to me in position that Harun was to Musa, except that there is no prophet after me (See Hadith of position).” And I have heard him announce: “Today I am indeed going to hand over the banner to a person who loves Allah and his Messenger, and Allah and his Messenger also loves him.”

Eid al-Ghadeer

Main article: Eid al-Ghadir

Shia Muslims celebrate the occasion of Muhammad declaring Ali as his successor on the 18th of Dhu al-Hijjah. Fasting, doing Ghusl (ritual bath), reciting the Du’a Nudba, and giving food to believers is among recommended practice of Eid al-Ghadeer. It is a public holiday in countries such as: Iran, India, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, Turkey. The Shia Muslim also celebrate Eid Ghadir in Europe and Americas, among in: The U.S., England, Germany, France, and so on.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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