Hadith on Ghadir Khum

“He who was dead and whom We raised to life, and We set a light for him to walk among men – is he like the one steeped in darkness out of which he does not come out?. Thus have their own doings been made to seem fair to the unbelievers.” (Qur’an 6:122)

“The Day when no relation (mawlan) will avail a relation (mawlan) at all, nor will they be helped .” (Qur’an 44:41)

To me, this business about Ghadir Khum is really quite simple to address.

The Shi’i concept of the Imams is not a clear teaching in the Qur’an and it is a huge reason why Shi’i are quick to run from the Qur’an and go to hadith that they feel supports their case.

So a few questions are in order.

  1. Why didn’t the blessed Messenger (saw) reveal such a belief while in Mecca when more people would have heard this?
  1. If this hadith is the time in which the Blessed Prophet (saw) is expounding upon the truth of Ali and his future role is that a tacit admission that the Qur’an is silent about following Imams?
  2. If the answer is Yes to question 2 then let that stand on the record.
  3. If the answer is No, which ayat of the Qur’an is this hadith elaborating upon?

“The bone of contention between the Sunnis and the Shi’a is not, however, and never has been, the authenticity of the event of Ghadir Khum, nor the declaration of the Prophet in favour of ‘Ali, as quoted above: the real disagreement is in the meaning of the word ‘mawla’ used by the Prophet. The Shi’a unequivocally takes the word in the meaning of leader, master, and patron, and therefore the explicitly nominated successor of the Prophet. The Sunnis, on the other hand, interpret the word mawla in the meaning of a friend, or the nearest kin and confidant.”

“No doubt the richness of the meaning of many an Arab word and the resulting ambiguity does render both the interpretations equally valid. The Sunnis, while accepting the tradition, assert that in that sentence the Prophet simply meant to exhort his followers to hold his cousin and the husband of his only surviving daughter in high esteem and affection.”

“Further, the Sunnis explain the circumstance which necessitated the Prophet’s exhortation in that some people were murmuring against ‘Ali due to his harsh and indifferent treatment in the distribution of the spoils of the expedition of Al-Yaman, which had just taken place under ‘Ali’s leadership, and from where he, along with those who participated in the expedition, directly came to Mecca to join the Prophet at the Hajj.”

“To dispel these ill feelings against his son-in-law, the Prophet spoke in this manner. Accept this explanation as such, the fact still remains that this declaration of the Prophet in such an extraordinary manner, equating ‘Ali as an authority and person with himself, does provide a strong basis for the Shi’i claims.”

“Taking for granted the controversial character in interpreting of the Ghadir tradition, the events mentioned above could have been understood by some of the Prophet’s Companions as indicative of his inclination towards ‘Ali, though he did not or could not nominate him explicitly, perhaps because of the old North Arabian custom of leaving the selection of a leader to the people. A commonly suggested obstacle in the way of ‘Ali is said to have been his comparatively young age at the time of Muhammed’s death.”

Source: (The Origins and Early Development of Shia Islam by Sayyid Husayn Muhammed Ja’fari Chapter 2: The First Manifestations)

“Some try to explain the circumstances which led the Prophet to his pronouncement. In their view, the problem was that a number of people were grumbling about ‘Ali because of the way he dealt with the distribution of the spoils in the al-Yaman expedition. This expedition had just been successfully executed under ‘Ali’s leadership and he and others who had taken part in it had gone directly to Mecca to join the Prophet in the pilgrimage. The Prophet was, they argue, merely trying to dispel these ill-feelings against ‘Ali.”

Source: (Early Shi’i Thought: The Teachings of Imam Muhammed al-Baqir by Arzina R. Lalani page 72)

To me, this has to be the weakest evidence used by our Shi’i brothers for their claim.

In fact, I believe it shows weakness on behalf of Ali. I am not saying that I believe that Ali was weak. I am saying the events as they are related to us show weakness.

They also show that these people who complained about Ali and his treatment of the spoils of battle certainly were not aware of any concept of some impending infallible imam.

So it was after this event that the Blessed Prophet (saw) is reported to have said:

“For whoever, I am his Mawla then ‘Ali is his Mawla.” -Source (Tirmidhi Vol.1, Book 46, Hadith 3713)

So our Shi’i brothers like reports that quote from the Qur’an. So let us quote the whole verse.

“The Prophet is a friend (awla) to the believers more than they are to their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. Blood relations have more rights to one another, according to the Book of Allah, than do the believers and Muhajirun. Nevertheless, you may act kindly toward your (awla) friends. All this is inscribed in the Book.” (Qur’an 33:6)

  1. The Prophet (saw) is a friend to the believers. He is or should be dearer to us than we are to ourselves.

Say, “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”  (Qur’an 9:24)

2) There is nothing new or novel in the idea that either the Blessed Prophet (saw) or Ali being a mawla.

“The believing men and believing women are friends (awliyau) of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and his Messenger. Those-Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Qur’an 9:71)

3) His wives are their mothers. Ask your Shi’i friend, ‘Is Ayesha (r.a) your mother?

4) Nevertheless, you may act kindly toward your (awla) friends

The Blessed Prophet (saw) always had a beautiful and gentle way about him. So in saying, ‘Whoever I am his Mawla, then Ali is his Mawla‘ is a gentle reminder to those who took issue with Ali during the expedition. And if it is true that a verse of the Qur’an is quoted, the context itself tells us that we can act kindly towards our ‘awla’ and certainly one could believe that Ali was awla of the believers during that time.

Also noticed what the author states above:

“Taking for granted the controversial character in interpreting of the Ghadir tradition, the events mentioned above could have been understood by some of the Prophet’s Companions as indicative of his inclination towards ‘Ali, though he did not or could not nominate him explicitly, perhaps because of the old North Arabian custom of leaving the selection of a leader to the people. A commonly suggested obstacle in the way of ‘Ali is said to have been his comparatively young age at the time of Muhammed’s death.”

So then the author goes on to mention other young people who were on a council. So there is a tacit admission here that people decide things by the council. Which happens to be a verse in the Qur’an. Unlike the idea of being ruled by Imams which is absolutely nowhere in the Qur’an.

“So those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is determined by consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided for them, they spend.” (Qur’an 42:38)

This one verse blows the whole idea of infallible imams right out of the water.

So an excellent question to ask about this Ghadir Khum business would be to ask:

How did Ali Ibn Abi Talib himself understand it? Well, we get our answer right here!

Clear as day that the Ghadir Khum did not delegate Ali as the Amir of the Muslims.  Clear as day that Ali did not see himself as Amir of the Muslims.  In fact, what Ali seemed to be most distressed about was the $$$.

Now our Shi’i brothers will actually say that Ali was practicing Taqiya or dissimulation.  Our response to that is yes, this whole idea of Ali and Fatima being upset with Abu Bakr was the taqiya! It was done between them so they could find out the real enemies of Abu Bakr.  

We know that Ali in his heart of hearts loved Abu Bakr and one of the huge proofs of that is out of all the names he could have possibly chosen for his children, he named one Abu Bakr!

Some of our Shi’i brothers imply that Ali went against this verse of the Qur’an.

O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in the result. (Qur’an 4:59)

Narrated `Aisha:

Fatima the daughter of the Prophet (saw) sent someone to Abu Bakr (when he was a caliph), asking for her inheritance of what Allah’s Messenger (saw) had left of the property bestowed on him by Allah from the Fai (i.e. booty gained without fighting) in Medina, and Fadak, and what remained of the Khumus of the Khaibar booty. On that, Abu Bakr said, “Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Our property is not inherited. Whatever we leave, is Sadaqa, but the family of (the Prophet) Muhammad can eat of this property.’ By Allah, I will not make any change in the state of the Sadaqa of Allah’s Messenger (saw) and will leave it as it was during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (saw), and will dispose of it as Allah’s Messenger (saw) used to do.” So Abu Bakr refused to give anything of that to Fatima. So she became angry with Abu Bakr and kept away from him, and did not task to him till she died. She remained alive for six months after the death of the Prophet. When she died, her husband `Ali, buried her at night without informing Abu Bakr and he said the funeral prayer by himself. When Fatima was alive, the people used to respect `Ali much, but after her death, `Ali noticed a change in the people’s attitude towards him. So `Ali sought reconciliation with Abu Bakr and gave him an oath of allegiance. `Ali had not given the oath of allegiance during those months (i.e. the period between the Prophet’s death and Fatima’s death). `Ali sent someone to Abu Bakr saying, “Come to us, but let nobody come with you,” as he disliked that `Umar should come, `Umar said (to Abu Bakr), “No, by Allah, you shall not enter upon them alone ” Abu Bakr said, “What do you think they will do to me? By Allah, I will go to them’ So Abu Bakr entered upon them, and then `Ali uttered Tashah-hud and said (to Abu Bakr), “We know well your superiority and what Allah has given you, and we are not jealous of the good what Allah has bestowed upon you, but you did not consult us in the question of the rule and we thought that we have got a right in it because of our near relationship to Allah’s Messenger (saw).” Immediately Abu Bakr’s eyes flowed with tears. And when Abu Bakr spoke, he said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is to keep good relations with the relatives of Allah’s Messenger (saw) is dearer to me than to keep good relations with my own relatives. But as for the trouble which arose between me and you about his property, I will do my best to spend it according to what is good, and will not leave any rule or regulation which I saw Allah’s Messenger (saw) following, in disposing of it, but I will follow.” On that `Ali said to Abu Bakr, “I promise to give you the oath of allegiance in this afternoon.” So when Abu Bakr had offered the Zuhr prayer, he ascended the pulpit and uttered the Tashah-hud and then mentioned the story of `Ali and his failure to give the oath of allegiance, and excused him, accepting what excuses he had offered; Then `Ali (got up) and praying (to Allah) for forgiveness, he uttered Tashah-hud, praised Abu Bakr’s right, and said, that he had not done what he had done because of jealousy of Abu Bakr or as a protest of that Allah had favored him with. `Ali added, “But we used to consider that we too had some right in this affair (of rulership) and that he (i.e. Abu Bakr) did not consult us in this matter, and therefore caused us to feel sorry.” On that, all the Muslims became happy and said, “You have done the right thing.” The Muslims then became friendly with `Ali as he returned to what the people had done (i.e. giving the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr).”

Source: (Al Bukhari 4240, 4241 Book 64, Hadith 278 Vol. 5, Book 59, Hadith 546)

“O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion – Allah will bring forth in place of them a people He will love and who will love Him, Who are humble toward the believers, powerful against the ungrateful disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is All-Encompassing and Knowing. Your ally (waliyykumu) is none but Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed – those who establish prayer and give zakah, and they bow in worship. And whoever is an ally of Allah and His Messenger and those who have believed – indeed, the party of Allah – they will be predominant.”

(Qur’an 5:54-56)

Let us be honest.  The Caliphate of Ali was a short 5 years in which most of the time his sword was wet with the blood of the believers.  Have you ever noticed that there is really a dearth of literature concerning the accomplishments during the time of Ali?  I mean what barakah really came from his leadership if we are, to be honest?  His caliphate was a tragedy that is only remembered for tragedies. Reenactments of Karbala take place in some parts of the Muslim world annually.

I sincerely ask you, my dear respected brothers, making incisions on the heads of children, and beating one’s chest and being in a constant of mourning, what light is there in that?  What barakah is there in that really?

We don’t even need a clear verse from the Qur’an to tell us to love the family of the Blessed Messenger (saw). It is a very human thing to do.  Certainly, those of us who are imbibed with the love of the Blessed Prophet (saw) know that he most certainly had overflowing love and concern for his family. Everyone should love the Ahl Bayt.

This does not mean the Ahl Bayt are above reproach.

There is but only one beautiful soul that each Muslim strives to emulate with every fiber of his or her being. It is not Abu Bakr. It is not Umar Ibn Al Khattab. It is not Uthman Ibn Affan.  It is not Ali ibn Abi Talib.


“We have not sent you, save as a mercy unto all beings. (Qur’an 21:107)

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