In 10/632, the Prophet (s) decided to go to Hajj. This Hajj was made in the last year of his life which was later called Hajjat al-Wida' (Farewell Hajj). People were informed of the Prophet's (s) decision so that they would prepare to go on this journey.
Since Ramadan of that year, Imam Ali (a) had gone to Madhhij in Yemen for the battle with disbelievers. After he (a) was gained victory and collected the booties, the Prophet (s) ordered him to join him in Mecca to perform Hajj rituals.
On the Day of 'Arafa , the Prophet (s) delivered a sermon for the pilgrims of Hajj and reminded them of important issues including the importance of Muslims' blood and property, trust-keeping, prohibition of usury, women's rights, and prohibiting people of following Satan.
After finishing Hajj rituals, Muslims exited Mecca and returned to their own states. On Dhu l-Hijja 18, the caravan of Hajj pilgrims arrived in Ghadir Khumm, between Mecca and Medina, 5 km away from Juhfa where different routes separate from each other. When the caravan arrived there, Jabra'il (Gabriel) revealed verses of 67 of the Qur'an 5 to the Prophet (s) and delivered him God's order to announce Wilaya (guardianship) of 'Ali (a) to all people. Caravan was stopped by the order of the Prophet (s) and those who were behind joined them. After noon prayer, a pulpit was made and the Prophet (s) delivered a sermon in which he (s) told people that he (s) would soon depart them. He mentioned two precious things he would leave and trust people with and spoke about his Wilaya and priority over believers. Then, he (s) raised 'Ali's (a) hand and said, "Anyone I am his master (Wali), then this 'Ali (a) is his master." Then he (s) made du'as for 'Ali's (a) friends and cursed his enemies. At that point, Hassan b. Thabit asked for permission and composed a poem about that event. Then 'Umar b. al-Khattab congratulated 'Ali (a) for his position.
This sermon in its complete form as mentioned above has been narrated in different ways in Shi'a historical and hadith references during centuries. These narrations are quoted from the Prophet (s) in either of three ways: Imam al-Baqir (a), Hudhayfa b. Yaman, Zayd b. Arqam.
The text of the al-Ghadir sermon is mentioned in the books below:
Hadith al-Ghadir is a part of al-Ghadir sermon which is narrated in Shi'a sources and most of Sunni historical and hadith references during centuries. Their common feature is announcement of Imam 'Ali's (a) Wilaya and announcing him as the Wali of believers. Also, the statement of
is common among all of these different versions of reports about this occasion. The mentioned statement has become famous as the "Hadith al-Ghadir".
Some Sunni scholars of Rijal and hadith, have considered the number of references for this hadith numerous and most of them have regarded it as Sahih (authentic) and Hasan (correct). Among narrators of this hadith, about 90 ones are Companions of the Prophet (s) and 84 of them were Followers.
In addition to direct quotations, some have narrated it from those who were present in the event of Ghadir Khumm. It was narrated by
Some of the most important companions, Followers and other narrators of this hadith are as follows:
|Ahl al-Bayt (a)||Companions||Followers||Later Narrators|
|'Ali b. Abi Talib (a)||Abu Bakr b. Abi Quhafa||Abu Sulayman Mu'adhdhin||Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Bukhari|
|Lady Fatima (a)||'Umar b. al-Khattab||Abu Salih Samman Dhakwan al-Madani||Al-Baladhuri|
|Al-Hasan b. 'Ali (a)||Aisha||Asbagh b. Nubata||Ahmad b. Shu'ayb al-Nasa'i|
|Al-Husayn b. 'Ali (a)||'Uthman b. 'Affan||Salim b. Qays al-Hilali||Al-Haskani al-Hanafi|
|Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Baqir (a)||Umm Salama||Tawus b. Kaysan||Ibn 'Asakir|
|Zayd b. Arqam||'Umar b. 'Abd al-'Aziz||Fakhr al-Din al-Razi al-Shafi'i|
|Anas b. Malik||Abu Rashid al-Hubrani||Ibn Abi l-Hadid|
|Khuzayma b. Thabit||Abu Layla al-Kindi||Ibn Kathir al-Shafi'i|
|Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari||Ayas b. Nudhayr||Ibn Sabbagh al-Maliki|
|Hudhayfa b. Yaman||Habib . Abi Thabit al-Asadi||Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi|
|'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas||Habib b. 'Utayba al-Kufi||Ibn Hamza al-Husayni al-Hanafi|
|Salman al-Farsi||Abu 'Ubayda b. Abi Hamid al-Basri||Shahab al-Din al-Alusi|
|Hassan b. Thabit||Abu Maryam Zirr b. Hubaysh al-Asadi||Muhammad 'Abduh|
|Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas||Salim b. 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar||Abu Muhammad b. Dawud al-Hilli|
|Qays b. Thabit b. Shammas||Sa'id b. Jubayr al-Asadi||Safi al-Din al-Hilli|
Some have tried to cast doubts about this historical event including the following:
Despite the frequency of narration, multitude of references, and the many chains through which this hadith has been narrated, some Sunni scholars believe that this hadith cannot be regarded as Mutawatir (frequent) and Sahih (authentic). Their justification is that most hadith narrators such as al-Bukhari and Muslim al-Nisaburi have not narrated it and some others including Abi Dawud and Abi Hatam al-Razi have considered it weak.
Their doubt has been answered by many Sunni scholars such as al-Tirmidhi (d. 279/892), al-Tahawi (d. 279/892), Hakim al-Nisaburi (d. 405/1014), Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1375), Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani (d. 852/1448), Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974/1566) have confirmed the authenticity of the references for this hadith. Moreover, there are many other direct and indirect narrations from the companions and the followers in historical and hadith references which prove the authenticity of the references of this hadith and the reason why al-Bukhari and Muslim did not narrate it must be studied separately, not in connection with their doubt for the references of this hadith.
Another criticism mentioned by critics of this hadith is that 'Ali (a) was not in Mecca to be able to attend in the event of Ghadir and he (a) has been doing his mission in Yemen; while, the advocates of this hadith refer to Sunni sources which have mentioned that Imam 'Ali (a) had already returned to Mecca from Yemen and had participated in Hajj rituals of that year.
Hadith al-Ghadir made the ground for many discussions. Imam 'Ali (a) and Ahl al-Bayt's (a) references to this hadith are among the first usage of this hadith. Also, Shi'a theologians referred to this hadith to prove the rights and priority of Imam 'Ali (a) for caliphate. According to Shi'a theological references, al-Shaykh al-Mufid was the first theologian who extensively benefited from this hadith in his arguments. Al-Shaykh al-Tusi and al-'Allama al-Hilli also extensively benefited from this hadith in their arguments. Sunni theologians such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Qadi Iji, al-Taftazani and al-Jurjani tried to answer Shi'a scholars and extensive discussions took place.
Most Sunni scholars believe that the word "Mawla" (Arabic: مَولی) in this hadith does not mean "guardian" nor "prior in making decision for" and rather it means "friend and assistant". Scholars such as al-Taftazani, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, Qadi Iji and al-Jurjani claim that "Mawla" cannot mean "guardian" and "prior in making decision for".
They also argue that,
In return, Shi'a scholars answered these arguments as follows,
Shi'a believe that the word "Mawla" in this hadith means "Awla bi-l-tasarruf" ("prior in making decision for") and the same as the Prophet (s) was prior to Muslims' affairs in making decisions for them than themselves, Imam 'Ali (a) had the same priority. This opinion has two preconditions:
A) "Mawla" means "prior in making decision for";
Shi'a believe that there are contextual and situational references in this hadith which suggest that the word "Mawla" in this hadith just and only means "prior in making decision for" and having this priority proved, Imam Ali's (a) imamate will also be proved, since 'Arabs use "Awla" (prior) only in cases where the "Mawla" has a responsibility for people and his orders are acceptable for them. And thus, when "priority in making decision" is proved, their priority of decisions for all the aspects of Muslims' lives will also be proved as the Prophet (s) had such a priority and authority:
|“||The Prophet has a greater right (or a greater authority) over the faithful than they have over their own selves…||”|
|— Quran, 33:6|
To prove this point, Shi'a have studied and discussed the content of this hadith. The word "Mawla" has been used in this hadith several times. It is a derivation of the word "Wali" and it is a name of God. It has different meanings. In one sense, it is rhymed with the verbal form "Faʿīl" (Arabic: فعيل) meaning "Fāʿil" (Arabic: فاعل) and thus has the usages of governor, ruler, guardian, manager and master. Its other usages are "the one who has a greater right", "closer", "attached" and "a following lover".
According to Shi'a, although this word has various usages, there are contextual references [in and out of the text] of this hadith which suggest that the word "Mawla" in this hadith just and only means "prior authority in making decision". These evidences are:
In this hadith, the Prophet (s) clarifies his greater right and authority over the faithful than themselves, based on the verse 6 of the Qur'an 33, "The Prophet has a greater right (or a greater authority) over the faithful than they have over their own selves…." The greater right and authority mentioned in this verse is about the life of the faithful and also about ruling them than themselves. When there is a greater right and authority, we are required to follow and obey the one who has that greater right and authority. According to the opinions of some exegetes, the greater right and authority mentioned in this verse addresses all worldly and spiritual affairs of Muslims, since the Prophet (s) would order the faithful only to what brings them the happiness in religion and the world.
Therefore, the correlation which exists between the mentioned phrase implying "the greater right and authority" and introducing 'Ali (a) in the other phrase shows that "Mawla" in the second phrase supported 'Ali's (a) greater right and authority over Muslims.
At the beginning of his sermon, the Prophet (s) gave the news about his demise and then asked about unity and whether he did his mission well. These are all signs for the fact that the Prophet (s) was trying to find a solution for the period after his demise, so that the Umma would not remain without leader and guardian and the great efforts he (s) made would not be left without fruits. He (s) wanted to appoint a wise and competent successor to manage different issues after he (s) passed away and the verse 67 of Qur'an 5 is an evidence to support this claim.
In some versions of narrating this hadith, it is mentioned that after the Prophet's (s) sermon, 'Umar b. al-Khattab and Abu Bakr approached 'Ali (a) and congratulated his Wilaya to him. 'Umar b. al-Khattab told him, "Happy, happy for you, O Ibn Abi Talib! You became my Mawla and the Mawla of all Muslims." This kind of congratulating shows that companions and other Muslims understood the word "Mawla" to imply the meaning of caliphate and having greater rights and authority.
Called them the Day of Ghadir, their Prophet (s)
"who is your master and guardian?"
and they said without hesitation there:
"Your God is our master and you are our guardian."
"you will not see any disobedience in this issue from us"
Then he (s) said: "'Ali (a), stand up! Surly I,
have chosen you after myself, the Imam and guidance
and anyone whose master I am, then this is his master
so, be assistant to him and true partisans"
and for the one who oppose 'Ali (a) [as enemy], be the enemy!"
Some Muslims composed poems about that event, first of whom was Hassan b. Thabit. He was present there and asked the Prophet (s) for permission to compose some verses of poem about that event. In these verses, that event is mentioned as the appointment of Imam 'Ali (a) as Imam and the guidance of the Umma.
Later in next years,
narrated that event in their poems.
Also, Imam 'Ali (a) composed some verses of poem about that event. 'Allama Amini mentioned the name of some poets from among the Companions, the Followers, and Muslim poets before ninth/fifteenth century. The message of all these verses and poems suggest that the understanding of the word "Mawla" in them has been greater right, authority and caliphate.
The Prophet (s), on the Day of Ghadir,
Made his Wilaya on you, an obligation for me,
so woe and woe and woe,
Upon one who meets his Lord tomorrow, while done injustice on me
Ahl al-Bayt's (s) Giving Proofs and Referring to this Hadith
In some cases, Imam 'Ali (a) referred to this hadith to prove his greater right for caliphate and