Celebrating Eid al-Ghadeer: A Bid’ah or Sunnah?

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One of the objections raised by the Ahle Tasannun against the Shias is that the latter have invented a new Eid for themselves viz. Eid al-Ghadeer. According to them, there are only two Eids for the Muslims viz. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adh’ha. On this basis, they consider the celebrations on the day of Ghadeer as Bid’ah (innovation).

Before answering this objection, let us quickly understand the meaning of the word “Eid”. The Arabic word عید (Eid) is derived from the root عاد (‘Aada) which means ‘to return’ implying that the day of Eid returns every year. In all divine religions, any Eid was marked by celebrating a momentous occasion or a great achievement. The same practice is followed even by Muslims. For example, the 1st of Shawwal every year is celebrated as Eid al-Fitr because it marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and hence is the cause of happiness for all the fasting Muslims. As a result, the Muslims celebrate this day as Eid and congratulate each other praying that the Almighty Allah accepts their all their deeds, especially fasting. Similarly, the day of completion of Hajj and as a mark of remembrance of the sacrifice by Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.), all Muslims celebrate and congratulate each other on Eid al-Adh’ha.

The day of Ghadeer marks the completion of not just the faith of Muslims but it is the day when the divine religion of Islam reached its completion and perfection. On the 18th of Zilhajj 10 Hijri, according to the command of Allah when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared

مَنْ کُنْتُ مَوْلَاہُ فَهٰذَا عَلِیٌّ مَوْلَاہُ

Of whomsoever I am the Master, this Ali is his Master too.’

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi, H. 3713]

Ibn Asaakir, the famous historian of Ahle Tasannun in his book Tarikh-o-Madinah Damishq, vol. 42, p. 237 writes that after the announcement of the Wilaayah (Mastership) of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), the following verse was revealed:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دينَكُمْ وَ أَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتي‏ وَ رَضيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلامَ ديناً

“… on this day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and I anm satisfied for you with Islam as a religion…”

[Surah Maaedah (5): Verse 3]

The fact that this verse was revealed on the day of Ghadeer has been unanimously accepted by all Muslims.

Why wouldn’t a true Muslim celebrate such a day as Eid in which Allah, the Almighty, granted perfection to His chosen religion i.e. Islam?

Merits in celebrating the Day of Ghadeer

Before labeling any objections and accusations against the Shias, it would be prudent if the Ahle Tasannun scanned through their own books regarding the celebrations on this day. Mentioning the entire list is beyond the scope of this brief reply, hence we would suffice with one irrefutable proof for the sake of completing the argument.

Abu Hurairah narrates:

“One who fasts on the 18th Zilhajj, Allah shall write for him the (reward of) fasting for 60 months and it is the day of Ghadeer Khum when the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) held the hand of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) and said, ‘Of whomsoever I am the Master then Ali is his master.’ Then Umar Ibn Khattab said to him, ‘Congratulations! Congratulations! O son of Abu Talib (a.s.)! Today you have become my master and the master of all Muslims’.”

[Tarikh Madinah Damishq by Ibn Asaakir, vol. 42, p. 234]

Ahle Tasannun scholar Ibn Talha Shafei in his book Mataaleb al-So’ool, p. 79 says: “Ameerul Momineen Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has himself remembered the day of Ghadeer Khum as an Eid in his poems because this is the day when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) announced the mastership of Imam Ali (a.s.) over the Muslims, thus giving him preference over all other people.”

Thus, we see that Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) considered this day as Eid in his time and even the companions who were present on that day in Ghadeer Khum, including those whom the Ahle Tasannun revere as their caliphs, celebrated the occasion by congratulating Imam Ali (a.s.) on his appointment as the successor of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).None of them objected that it was a Bid’ah in religion. In fact, they themselves celebrated that day. So why do their followers deny this greatest Eid in Islam? There could only be two reasons for this – (i) Either they are ignorant of the true Islamic history due to which they are not following their own leaders or (ii) They are aware but are deliberately misleading and deviating the general Muslims and keeping them away from accepting the rightful Wilayah (Mastership) of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) for some paltry worldly gains or power.

Lastly, it is a sincere appeal to all Muslims that –

  • If you want your faith (Imaan) and Islam to be perfect
  • If you want to follow Allah’s religion in its true sense
  • If you do not want to go against the Holy Quran and teachings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)

then follow, observe and celebrate this greatest Eid of Islam the way it should be because the rewards for celebrating this day are immense. The great Shia scholar Sayed Ibn Tawoos in his book Iqbaal al-A’maal, vol. 1, pp. 464-465 narrates in a lengthy tradition from Imam Ali Ibn Moosa al-Reza (a.s.):

“… Whoever smiles looking at the face of his believing brother on the day of Ghadeer, Allah shall look at him on the day of Qiyamah with mercy, fulfill for him a thousand wishes, build for him a palace in Paradise made up of white pearl and illuminate his face because it is the day of adornment. So whoever adorns on the day of Ghadeer, Allah shall forgive for him every mistake committed by him, whether small or big and Allah shall raise an angel for him who will write good deeds for him, raise his grades until the same day in the next year. If he dies, he will die a martyr and if he lives, he will live a life of good fortune. Whoever feeds a believer it is as if he has fed all the divine Prophets (a.s.) and truthful ones. Whoever visits a believer on this day, Allah shall cause 70 lights to enter in his grave, expand his grave and every day seventy thousand angels shall visit him in his grave giving him glad tidings of Paradise…”

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