Why did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) convey the Wilaayah of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) at Ghadeer Khum and not during Hajj?


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In order to deny the clear and irrefutable appointment of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) as the immediate successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the opponents of Shias go to any lengths to raise various doubts and objections pertaining to the incident of Ghadeer. Raising an objection is not a problem per se because all objections have been replied multiple times through authentic Shia as well as non-Shia books to prove the veracity of the incident. What is important though, is that anyone who raises an objection must first understand the objection himself. Baseless objections actually expose the weak intellectual level of the person raising them. One such baseless objection is – “Why did the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) convey the Wilaayah of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) at Ghadeer Khum and not during Hajj in Makkah or Mina or Arafah?”

The real reason behind such an objection is naught but to unsettle the feeble-minded followers of the Ahle Bait (a.s.). Nevertheless, with the help of Allah the High and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), here are some replies to this objection.

First Reply

This objection would have been acceptable if the announcement regarding the Imamate and Caliphate of Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) was being done for the first time. However, we see that right from the very beginning of propagation, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) clearly called out that after him, his vicegerent, successor, Imam and Caliph would be Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). For example:

  1. Hadith Yaum al-Daar or Da’wat Dhu al-Asheerah where the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: “Surely he is my brother, my vicegerent, my Caliph among you. So, listen to him and obey him.” [Tarikh Tabari, vol. 2, p. 321]
  2. In the Battle of Badr, Imam Ali (a.s.) was the standard bearer of the army of Muslims
  3. In the Battle of Ohod, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said about Imam Ali (a.s.): “He is from me and I am from him.” [Tarikh Tabari, vol. 2, p. 514; Kanz al-Ummaal, vol. 5, p. 733, H. 14242]
  4. In Hadith of Manzelah, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) made it crystal clear that: “O Ali! You are to me as (Prophet) Haroon (a.s.) was to (Prophet) Moosa (a.s.) except that there would be no Prophet after me.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 68, p. 438]
  5. In the event of Mubaahelah with the Christians of Najran, Imam Ali (a.s.) went as the ‘self’ (Nafs) of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and many other instances like Hadis al-Tair, Hadis Saqalain, the Verse of Tatheer, etc.

Second Reply

During Hajj, it is not necessary that wherever the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was, everyone else would also be at the same place at the same time. It could well be possible that had the announcement of the Wilayah of Imam Ali (a.s.) been done during that time, some people would have put forth an excuse that they were at another place performing another ritual of Hajj and hence missed the announcement. However, after Hajj was over and everyone was returning home together, there was no way that anyone would have missed this announcement and excused himself from accepting the mastership of Imam Ali (a.s.).

Third Reply

The selection of a place for the announcement was very crucial. Johfa was a place right in the middle of a scorching desert and a place unsuitable for inhabitation as well. The only respite was the pond, which is known as Ghadeer in Arabic, from where people would quench their thirst. Selecting such a place for the announcement was actually breaking away from any routine announcement which would have been done otherwise inside a mosque or like it is stated in the objection, in Arafah or Makkah. Moving away from the routine meant that the location and climatic conditions would make it impossible for people to forget this announcement and leave no excuse for anyone on the Day of Resurrection. For example, conveying a message to a friend over a normal phone call during the day vis-à-vis calling up someone in the middle of the night and informing about something important. The latter case will not be easily erased from the memory of the person who was woken up in the middle of the night. Another more relatable example would be the calendar year 2020 itself. Everyone who has witnessed the year would always remember it as the year of the Coronavirus. Such memories are impossible to forget. The announcement at Ghadeer Khum did exactly that with the Muslims. The lengthy sermon, the 3-day halt in the sweltering heat and the special emphasis by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) towards the end of his sermon that ‘those present must convey the message to those absent’ ensured that it was impossible for anyone present there to forget the announcement that Imam Ali (a.s.) was the immediate successor of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Also, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ensured that whenever those people felt thirsty due to the sweltering heat, they would remember the thirst at Ghadeer Khumm and consequently the mastership of Imam Ali (a.s.)

Fourth Reply

If the objection is pertaining to availability of more people in Arafah and lesser number of people in Ghadeer then it should be known that crowd and number of people neither was nor is a criterion for any announcement. If that’s the case then all the announcements and propagation which was done in the earlier years in Makkah and Madinah should be rendered null and void because compared to the large gathering at Ghadeer, those audiences were very miniscule and insignificant.

Most importantly, those who raise this objection must completely reject the incident of Saqifah and whatever transpired therein because – (i) It was a complete chaos and done in a very hush-hush manner (ii) Saqifah was a shady and notorious place (iii) Most of the companions including significant ones like Salman, Abu Dharr, Miqdad and even Imam Ali (a.s.) himself, were not present in Saqifah and (iv) Those present in Saqifah also did not know what would be the end result of that gathering.

 

Fifth Reply

This objection was never raised by anyone who attended and witnessed the announcement at Ghadeer Khum. In fact, history reveals that all those who were present there actually congratulated Imam Ali (a.s.) on being crowned as the ‘Master’ of believers. So, these questions and objections raised now really have no meat and are raised merely in the hatred for Shias and enmity for Ameerul Momineen Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.).

Sixth Reply

Objections of such nature have not been raised for the first time. In fact, right from very beginning of Islam, the opponents have been raising such issues in order to confuse the masses and divert them from true guidance. The Holy Quran states in Surah Yunus (10): Verse 15,

وَ إِذا تُتْلى‏ عَلَيْهِمْ آياتُنا بَيِّناتٍ قالَ الَّذينَ لا يَرْجُونَ لِقاءَنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْآنٍ غَيْرِ هٰذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي‏ أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِنْ تِلْقاءِ نَفْسي‏ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلاَّ ما يُوحى‏ إِلَيَّ إِنِّي أَخافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيْمٍ‏

“And when our communications are recited to them clearly, those who do not hope for Our meeting say: Bring a Quran other than this or replace him. Say: It is not for me that I change him myself; I follow whatever has been revealed unto me; surely I fear the punishment of a great day if I disobey my Lord.”

Since accepting the Holy Quran and Islam was difficult for the hypocrites of the Quraish, they asked the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to change two things – bring another Quran and ‘replace him’. If the objection was only on the Holy Quran then the first term used was enough. But specifying ‘replace him’ refers to something else which the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had been continuously conveying. This ‘replace him’ was referring to Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.). [Tafseer al-Qummi, vol. 1, p. 310]

Conclusion

Divine revelation is not subject to human whims concerning its origin and method of revelation because its role is to guide people. It does not take place taking into consideration the rules and principles coined by human beings. The event of Ghadeer took place upon the order of Allah and was conveyed by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) upon divine command. Anyone who opposes the mastership of Imam Ali (a.s.) and does not accept him as the first caliph and the immediate successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has actually defied this divine command and Prophetic message. None can express or feel even the slightest of discomfort in accepting this since the Holy Quran states in Surah Nisaa (4): Verse 65,

فَلا وَ رَبِّكَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فيما شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لا يَجِدُوا في‏ أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَ يُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيْمًا

“But no, by your Lord! They do not (truly) believe until they make you a judge concerning whatever they disagree upon amongst themselves, and then they do not find any straitness in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with a complete submission.”

There is no end to such doubts and objections. Hence, anyone who objects to the decisions of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w.a.), then he has actually deviated from the right path and will not be considered a believer.  May Allah save us from entering into such a grievous sin!


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