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The Ghadir event as the apex of the proclamation of Divine Guardianship (wilaya)

Author : Dar al-Hadith Research Center
Subject : The Ghadir
Translator : Ahmad Rezwani
Editor : Mahdi Baqi


09 Oct 2010
Hadith Sciences 2

Abstract

The article constitutes the analytical prelude to the chapter on Imamate excerpted a book entitled Mawsu´a Imam ´Ali fi Kitab wa al-Sunna wa al-Tarikh (“The Comprehensive Work on Imam ´Ali in Books, Sunna, and History”) which is devoted to the issue of the Noble Prophet’s succession embodying references to Imam ´Ali (AS). The article opens with different arguments concerning the grounds which prevented the Holy Prophet from negligence as to the appointment of his successor. The work proceeds with an enumeration of the hadith in which mention is made of Imam ´Ali’s (AS) succession among which mention is made of the hadith well-known as hadith of Ghadir, an exposition of the event, and the authenticity and chains of transmission of the hadith in question.

Key Words

Ali’s (AS) Imamate, the Prophet’s (SAW) succession, Imam Ali’s (AS) merits, the hadith of Ghadir.



Body

The book "Al-Imām ‘Alī fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunna‘ is a collection of entries consisting of the sīra and the life of ‘Alī (A.S.) from birth to martyrdom, based on the narrative and historical texts related from the two major Islamic sects. This collection contains entries which are mostly analytical reports on the texts compiled in the book.

What is presented in this article is a part of the analytical entry of the chapter on "Imamate" extracted from the book. Thus, the texts of the various narrations are not offered and only their contents are sufficed to be reported.

‘Ulūm-i Ḥadīth

Islam is the seal of religions, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) the Seal of the Prophets, and the Qur'an the conclusion of the Revealed Books. Thus, Islam is time-inclusive and cosmopolitan, and the Prophet (S.A.W.) is a conveyor of a dīn (religion) that is everlasting and time will not efface it. On the other hand, the dignity of creation is such that even the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), like other people, has a limited lifespan in this world and according to the explicit words of the Qur'an he, too, shall taste death, as others do: ﴾You will indeed die, and they [too] will die indeed.﴿ (Qur'an 39:30).

The Prophet (S.A.W.) undertakes the declaration of religious doctrines as well as the leadership and guidance of the society. In other words, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is the people's spiritual authority and their political leader. Accordingly, the serious and significant question – which can never be easily overlooked, and which has significantly preoccupied Muslim thinkers throughout history – is that "what has this great Divine leader and this grand Godly authority, who has declared his doctrine to be cosmopolitan, done for the future of his doctrine and school of thought?" Has he delineated a specific future? Or, has he not outlined any plan for the future and left everything totally to people? Or…?

Muslim scholars, traditionists, theologians, and thinkers have passed many judgments and developed various theories on this issue[1], and have tried in fact to secure the consistency of what has taken place in history, and build up certain foundation or foundations for it. But what is the reality?

A precise look at the subject will indicate how the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s position lies within the following three states:

1. The Prophet (S.A.W.) may have left the matter undecided without having talked to the Umma about it;

2. He may have left it up to the Umma and trusted their prudence, and the Ṣaḥāba (the Prophet's Companions) were commissioned to plan for the future;

3. He has planed for the future in clear terms and introduced the one who is supposed to shoulder the responsibility of the Umma and manage the Islamic society after him. Let's now take a look at these hypotheses and examine them.

1) Silence about the Future

Why should the Prophet (S.A.W.) not have devised a plan for the future?

This heedlessness and silence can be based on two presuppositions. Now, we will see if such presuppositions are rationale:

1. Feeling Secure and Denying any Danger

It means that the Prophet (S.A.W.) knew that no danger was threatening the Umma and no crashing trend would shake the people's future, as the Umma that would soon inherit the "Islamic Mission" would be successful in laying the foundation for leading the society. Is it a true supposition?!

The true reality of that day's society may clearly indicate that such a supposition is inconsistent and that serious subversive dangers had been threatening the Muslim community then.

A. Lack of Leadership

The Prophet (S.A.W.) had founded a community which was in the neonatal stage of its cultural, social, and political formation; and was directly holding such responsibilities as culture, politics, and judgment on his own. On the other hand, frequent conflicts and successive battles had taken the possibility of deepening speculations, spreading standardization, and development of culture from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.); and many of those who were named as companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.) had neither a deep and sound understanding of religion nor of the prophet or the different dimensions of prophetic mission. Such people would get into crisis in case of facing lack of leadership, and in that apprehensive crisis would fail to make proper decisions, and would easily fall in with the politicos and infatuated politicians.

Given this true reality – for which there are many objective historical examples – is it imaginable that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had forsaken such a society and left the future of the Umma to themselves, disengaging himself from the future?!

B. Immaturity of the Society

We are to stress the final part of the above words as the inheritors of the revolution were not enjoying such a high intellectual and social status as to be able to outline the future with tranquility and insight; residues of paganism and tribal bigotry had still been seriously left over in them. We re-emphasize that they did not have a firm perception of the sublime status of Prophethood and the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.); hence, sometimes regarded him as a person who spoke out of "fury and pleasure" and at other times would invite him to justice. On some occasions his decisions were so intolerable to him that they would become suspicious of the very prophetic mission itself.[2]

Nevertheless, would it be wise that the Prophet (S.A.W.) would have given the reins of the affairs to them in such a milieu and hastened to his Lord with a serene conscience?

C. Hypocrites, an Internally Fragile Trend

During the sovereignty and prophetic mission of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) with all the power and authority that his noble person had acquired, many people would confront him. Although seemed to have put on a coat of faith, they were totally and basically in conflict with the true Faith. Historically, this confrontation can be considered much more extensive than the expanse of the hypocrites' function – which we will refer to soon – and the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) may not be presumed to have been unaware of all these confrontations.[3] Nor it is presumable that his noble person had left the Umma to themselves inconsiderate of these and similar conflicts.

D. The Jews and other Powers as Externally Apprehensive Dangers

Islam was an abolishing and principle-oriented revolution. It was a movement that abolished many evil schemes and built up a new foundation on their ruins. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had presented a doctrine that claimed world leadership. The enemy who had found out about this stood up against it with all their power and provisions, battled with it to the last of their strength; and when they found the battle to be fruitless, they appealed to various intrigues. This is quite clear to those who possess some historical awareness. Now, with all those confrontations and conflicts with the Jews and polytheist tribes and so on, would it be imaginable that they had calmed down and had nothing to do against Islam? And was it sensible to an intelligent and alert politician to overlook all this and leave everything concerning his newly launched movement unplanned for?[4] Can the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) be imagined as a leader who after all those clashes is now believing that his Umma have achieved enough robustness not to be feared of or have become so submissive as to pose no threat? And the enemy has become so subjugated or overwhelmed as not to hatch any plots or not to launch any strikes?

2. Indifference to the Future

Should we believe that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had sensed the dangers and well realized the future's situation but regarded his mission and responsibility terminated with his own demise, and since he would no longer be among people and no danger was threatening his person and what would happen later on would – god forbid – be in conflict with his own personal interests, so left the people to themselves and made no planning whatsoever for the future? Is it reasonable to harbor such a presumption about a realistic statesman and an intuitive and persevering human being? Is such a presumption permissible about the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), the diligent and restless Messenger whom his Lord calls to peace when He says:

﴾ٌWe did not send down to you the Qur'an that you should be miserable.﴿ (Qur'an 20:2)

And concerning his untiring endeavors in guiding the people, He states:

﴾Grievous to him is your distress, he has deep concern for you, and he is most kind and merciful to the faithful.﴿ (Qur'an 9:128)

Would it be fair to hold such an assumption for that noble figure who did not forget the future of the Umma even in the last moments of his life being ill with a fever, when he ordered the "mobilization of Usāma army" … ?! Would not the grievous story of his asking for "pen and inkpot" in his deathbed to write something that would ever protect the Umma from misguidance, sufficient to reject this presumption outright and regard the silence about the future of the Umma as a great offence to the Prophet (S.A.W.), and to exonerate His Holiness of so many [misconceptions]…

2) The Future of the Umma was left up to their own Contrivance

Should we believe that the Prophet (S.A.W.) has not explicitly appointed the future leader of the Umma, because this had been left to the Umma so that the learned among the Muḥajirūn and Anṣār would plan for the future on the basis of council and consultation? Some points that are thought-provoking about this presumption can be listed as follows:

A: Were it so, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) should have acquainted the Umma with the council system and its hows and whys and would have delineated the duties and rules of a council; since to that dates, no community had experienced such a procedure in the government structure nor had enough knowledge of how it worked. Is that wise to say that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had referred the people to an ambiguous procedure in their future leadership of Umma?!

What makes this assumption totally unacceptable is that the politicos never relied on such a prediction by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), neither did those aspiring after the throne of Caliphate; as Abū Bakr turned entirely to naṣb (appointment) and ‘Umar asserted that since he could not find anyone [to appoint as Caliph], he would yield to council. On his deathbed, he said:

If one of these two were alive, I would entrust him with this affair [i.e. Caliphate]; Sālim, the freed slave (mawlā) of Abū Ḥudhayfa; andAbū ‘Ubaydat al-Jarrāḥ. However, if Sālim were alive, I would not have formed the council.[5]

Thus, it is evident that this theory is by no means related to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and is a fabrication over time to justify the reality[6] that took place in the history of Islam.

B. Another important point is that if the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had harbored such an intention and planned to turn over the intellectual and political authority to the Ṣaḥāba, he should have made many attempts in preparing them [for such a task]. Were the companions of the Prophet, who talks of overthrowing the empires such as those of Caesar and Casra, and declares his doctrinal tenets as time-inclusive and cosmopolitan, of such a competent status in knowledge and culture as to be able to shoulder such a heavy burden? What is the truth? Is this believable about the companions? This is a very serious and mind boggling question to many, and ignoring it seems to be somehow naïve and heedless to the principles of ideology. Mr. Marwān Khalīfāt is among those to whom this question has been posed and made him ponder.[7] To answer this question, he has referred to historical and ḥadīth sources and his exploration into these sources has turned interesting to read. Through this study, he has written the second chapter of his book epitomized as follows:

The companions would ask very few questions and relate very little of what they heard; another secret is that they attempted to prohibit the compilation and dissemination of ḥadīth. Apart from this, they learned very few facts from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), asserting that frequent preoccupations and excursions in the market places had barred them from learning the traditions and facts.[8] Furthermore, they would make many mistakes in their transmission of ḥadīth, sometimes relating only a part of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s words and at other times attributing other people's words to him. Some were overawed by the narrations from the earlier books and would spread them about within Islamic works. Sometimes, they would forget what they had learned, which they have clearly stated. At times they would answer wrongly and would find out the truth on others' notice. Some of the companions have turned to hypocrisy or wound up in heresy on the basis of some verses from the Qur'an; and according to some explicit narrations related in Ṣaḥīḥayn (i.e., Ṣaḥīḥ of Bukhārī and Musilm), the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has viewed some as firewood, etc. given all these, is it imaginable that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) would have entrusted to them the intellectual authority and the political leadership?[9]

Thus, there should be no doubt that entrusting the affairs of Umma to them or to their elite (!) and granting authority to the Ṣaḥāba is something that has been fabricated through the passage of history to justify the bitter facts endorsed after the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and take their source in no legal designation.

3) Assigning the Future and Designation concerning Caliphate and Wilāyat

Thus, we believe that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has with full sensitivity delineated the future and appointed the leader after him. The event of al-Ghadīr and the textual literature concerning that splendid sermon is an explicit assertion of what the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had proclaimed again and again: the Wilāyat of ‘Alī (A.S.) and the Imamate of a purified and bravely firm soul whom the Prophet had since his [‘Alī's] early years of life been a close associate with and never been contaminated by paganism. ‘Alī's own discourse in this respect is highly noteworthy:

Certainly, you know my position of close kinship and special relationship with the Prophet of Allah (May Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants). When I was only a child he took charge of me. He used to press me to his chest and lay me beside him in his bed, bring his body close to mine and make me smell his fragrance. He used to chew something and then feed me with it. He found no lie in my speaking, nor dishonesty in any act. From the time of his weaning, Allah had put a mighty angel with him to take him along the path of high character and good behavior through day and night.

Verily, I used to follow him like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother. Every day he would show me in the form of a banner some of his high traits and commanded me to follow it. Every year he used to go in seclusion to the hill of Ḥirā', where I saw him but no one else saw him. In those days Islam did not exist in any house except that of the Prophet of Allah (May Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants) and Khadījah, while I was the third after these two.

I used to see and watch the effulgence of Divine Revelation and Message, and breathed the scent of Prophethood. When the Revelation descended on the Prophet of Allah (May Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him and his descendants), I heard the moan of Satan. I said, "O Prophet of Allah, what is this moan?" and he replied, "This is Satan who has lost all hope of being worshipped. O ‘Alī, you see all that I see and you hear all that I hear, except that you are not a Prophet, but you are a vicegerent and you are surely on (the path of) virtue – and commander of the faithful.[10]

The explicit assertion and designation of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) regarding the Wilāyat of ‘Alī (A.S.) is so widespread and evident that it bears no doubt whatsoever. Not only once or twice, but on tens of occasions has his noble person has both implicitly and explicitly declared out loud the truth of Caliphate and the Caliphate of Truth and drawn up a vivid and distinct plan for the future of the Umma and spread it among people.

This revealing and spreading of truth has permeated the entire missionary life of that noble figure and culminated in the event of "Al-Ghadīr", lifting up the truth to the crest. Looking into all the instances – which will be reported in detail in this chapter – leaves no doubt that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s greatest preoccupation had been the issue of future Imamate and leadership. Thus, he has not refrained from any proper occasion and suitable situation to declare this Divine mission.

Since the early days of his prophetic mission, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had been attempting to attract people's attention to this issue, which culminated in the pledge of Al-Ghadīr. In the following, we will first report on those attempts and then deal with the event of Al-Ghadīr in more details.

1. Ḥadīth of Yawm al-Indhār (The Day of Warning)

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is commissioned, according to the āyah: "Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk," (Qur'an 26:214), to call his next of kin to Islam[11]. When they gather around at the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s invitation, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), after some preparatory talks in an attempt to pave the way for stating and explaining the main message, says: "Which one of you would support me in this affair to be my brother, my legatee, and my vicegerent among you?" And it is related in some traditions: "… my vicegerent after me".[12]

The only person in that gathering who immediately responded to this summons was ‘Alī (A.S.). Upon hearing that positive response, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said:

Verily, this is my brother, my legatee, and vicegerent (Caliph) amongst you; so, listen to him and obey him.[13]

This way, on the first day of his public call to Islam, the Prophet (S.A.W.) enforces the Wilāyat, Imamate, and leadership of ‘Alī (A.S.); that is why we say that ‘Alī's Wilāyat is on par with the prophetic mission. That day those who had gathered in that meeting clearly grasped this message and learned from the words of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) about the leadership of ‘Alī (A.S.) and the necessity of obeying him; thus, some said to Abū Ṭālib: "Certainly, he has ordered you to listen to your son and obey him." However, they resisted this explicit message, sidelined the truth, and arrogantly shunned it.

This event has been reported in various ways and through different narrations so that any doubt would be dispelled. Furthermore, it is to be added that the Mu‘tazilite Abū Ja‘far Iskāfī regarded this ḥadīth as "sound", so did other scholars such as: Shahāb al-Dīn Ḥafājī in his commentary Al-Shifā’ bi Ta‘rīf-i Ḥuqūq-i Muṣṭafā, Qāḍī ‘Ayāḍ, and Muttaqī Hindī[14] who has reported the Ibn Jarīr Ṭabarī's edition of the event.[15] Others have also confirmed its soundness.[16]

2. Aḥādīth of Wiṣāyat (Executorship of the Will)

Waṣiyat (bequest) for the perpetuation of a path and safeguard of doctrine has always been the sīra of Divine Messengers. Asserting this fact, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has in numerous instances and on various occasions maintained Wiṣāyat for Mawlā ‘Alī (A.S.). He is quoted to have said:

Verily, there is an executor of the will and legatee to every Prophet, and ‘Alī is my executor of will and legatee.[17]

Such sayings from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) concerning ‘Alī (A.S.) have been uttered so frequently that the term waṣī would have been employed about ‘Alī (A.S.) like a well-known and unambiguous epithet, and when this term was used in discourses and poems, the early Muslims would beyond any dispute figured it out as referring to ‘Alī (A.S.)[18] just like Succession, Caliphate, and Imamate did. Nevertheless, the Umayyads made countless attempts to take away this noble epithet from Mawlā ‘Alī (A.S.) and forged numerous accounts declaring these words of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) as fabricated[19] . But would truth-antagonists be able to wipe out the truth?

3. Aḥādīth of Manzilat (Status)

Among the most splendid epithets that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has mentioned about Mawlā ‘Alī (A.S.) are "ally" and "close associate" to Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). Such traditions have been known as aḥādīth-i manzilat (traditions of status) in the words and discourses of scholars and experts of ḥadīth following the clear words of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has asserted this high status for ‘Alī (A.S.) with such statements as "You are to me what Hārūn was unto Mūsā, except that there would be no prophet after me." The Prophet (S.A.W.) has frequently brought up this assertion among the people and thus introduced to people and history "his closeness to ‘Alī". Among the instances, in which this miraculous declaration was introduced about ‘Alī (A.S.), was the battle of Tabūk.

Under extremely tough and disrupting circumstances, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) organized a large army and left Madīna to set out to battle with the Romans. Tabūk was the farthest reach to which the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) had up until then traveled during his battles. The hypocrisy trend of those days had been formed in Madīnat al-Rasūl and quite spitefully and surreptitiously plotting to strike a blow on the newly established Islam. Concerned with the long journey and the seditions of the hypocrites and the malignant, the Prophet left ‘Alī (A.S.) as the "guardian of the Ahl al-Bayt and the Muhājirūn, etc." in Madīna to safeguard the city. The rabble-rousers who with the presence of ‘Alī (A.S.) saw all their plots coming to naught, rumored around that ‘Alī (A.S.) had refused to accompany the Prophet because of the intense heat and the difficulty of the road. Now, it was the lion of the battle fields and the matchless hero of war fronts who was targeted with accusations. Mawlā ‘Alī (A.S.) hastened to the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and uncovered the intrigue; and the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said to ‘Alī (A.S.) with extreme sincerity and in words that indicated the eminence of Mawlā ‘Alī (A.S.) in the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s view:

Return to your place brother! Certainly, Madīna will not be rectified except by me or by you; then, you are my Caliph among my relatives, my dār al-hijra (house of emigration), and kinsfolk. Are you not satisfied with being unto me what Hārūn was unto Mūsā, except that there would be no prophet after me …?

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) quite explicitly maintains all his positions, except for the Prophethood, for ‘Alī (A.S.) and regards him as the continuer of his own sublime responsibility in leading the Umma and intellectual authority of people. In some traditions related from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) he is quoted as having said prior to this:

Verily, Imams and Amīrs are inevitable; then, I am the Imam and you are the Amīr…[20]

4. Aḥādīth of Imārat (Emirate)

The Qur'an has unequivocally invited the faithful to obey the Ulū al-Amr "Holders of Authority"[21], and regarded obeying them of equal weight to obeying Allah and the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). Who are the referents of Holders of Authority? Does it behove the tyrannical despots who rise to the seat of power and slaughter a large number of people for taking up governance to be viewed as Ulū al-Amr? Not at all! Ulū al-Amr are definitely those who are Prophet-like, God-seeking, truth-worshipper, and justice-promoter, and ‘Alī (A.S.) according to many wondrous and splendid designations lies on the list-top of such a title. Apart from this, it is to be asserted that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) designated the title "Amīr al-Mu’minīn" exclusively for ‘Alī (A.S.) and prohibited naming anyone else but his noble person with this title.[22] These designations are so plentiful that the noble sayyid and the paradigm of the mystics and worshippers, Raḍī al-Dīn ‘Alī b. Ṭāwūs Ḥillī has authored a book on this issue called Al-Yaqīn bi Ikhtiṣāṣ ‘Alī (A.S.) bi Amrihī al-Mu’minīn. In these aḥādīth, his noble person has been mentioned sometimes as "Amīr al-Mu’minīn" ant at other times as "Amīr al-Barara", and sometimes as "Amīr Kull-i Mu’min ba‘da Wafātī".[23] And that's why Imam Ḥasan (A.S.) warns in the treaty text that Mu’āwiya should not be addressed with the title of "Amīr al-Mu’minīn".

5. Aḥādīth of Imāmat

Imam, that etymologically means front-runner, pioneer, supervisor, and leader of a tribe[24], is in the Qur'anic culture undoubtedly a leader who is in charge of managing the society. This can be found out, among other things, from the two letters exchanged between ‘Alī (A.S.) and Mu‘āwiya. In a lengthy letter, ‘Alī (A.S.) speaks of his status and that of the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) and points out his legatee and succession to the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.). In his reply, Mu‘āwiya openly says: "Let it be known that Muḥammad was a messenger from among messengers sent to all people, so he declared the messages of his Lord and possesses nothing other that that", meaning that all he did was to declare some words and sayings and was neither a leader nor Imam nor a political ruler… And explicitly wrote in his reply: "O you who deny the Imamate of Muḥammad – may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny – and presumed that he was only a messenger and was not an Imam; therefore, this way you are denying all the Imam-Prophets. But we bear witness that he was a Messenger and Prophet and Imam…[25]

This dialog evidently indicates the status of Imamate in Islamic thought as well as the reason for the Umayyids' antagonism against it. Now, this explanation can show the profundity of many reports and traditions in which the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has emphasized the Imamate of ‘Alī (A.S.), including this ḥadīth: "O ‘Alī! You are my legatee and Caliph and Imam of my Umma after me[26]. Or, "You are the Imam of all the faithful men and women, and the walī (master) of all the faithful men and women after me…

And this is a confirmation and indication to the perpetuation of Imamate through ‘Alī (A.S.).

6. Aḥādīth of Caliphate

"Caliphate" is a Qur'anic phrasing as well as a religious term which clearly represents succession in its various dimensions, unless some dimensions are excluded. Thus, the politicos after the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) made great attempts to somehow apply this title to themselves. Since the early days of making the call to Islam and spreading his message about, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) stressed on the "Caliphate" of ‘Alī (A.S.). This assertion and emphasis can be seen in many traditions related from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) on numerous occasions, indicating his endeavors in delineating the future destiny of the Umma.[27]

7. Aḥādīth of Wilāyat

Among the magnificent titles that are related in exegetical aḥādīth about ‘Alī (A.S.) is the title Walī. We know that the application of the root wa-la-ya meaning guardian and leader in Arabic literature has been very common, which we will point out in detail when analyzing the Ḥadīth of Ghadīr. The title walī and wilāyat has been frequently found to be used for ‘Alī (A.S.) in the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s glorified and informative words and doctrines, presented in may different situations. The earliest of them was in the small but momentous gathering of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s relatives which we mentioned earlier (in Ḥadīth al-Indhār); afterwards the Prophet (S.A.W.) time and again used this phrasing about ‘Alī (A.S.):

O ‘Alī! You are the walī of the people after me; then, whoever obeys you would certainly obey me and whoever disobeys you would definitely disobey me.[28]

There are many of such phrasings and the Sunnī ḥadīth sources are replete with these quotations, the most part of which are given under the heading of aḥādīth al-Wilāya.[29] These phrasings, especially those followed by "after me" leave no doubt that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has all in all delineated and indicated the political trend and leadership after him.

8. Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn

Among the remedial plans drawn up by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) for the future of the Umma and prevention of the spread of misguidance, ignorance, and bewilderment among the Umma was his endeavors in appointing the religious authority, showing the firm directions of intellectual movement, and elucidating how to interpret the school, the Qur'an, and its origin. This fact has perhaps most clearly manifested in the Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn (the two heavy things, i.e., the Qur'an and the Ahl al-Bayt).

Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn has been most frequently brought up with a single content but in various wordings: in ‘Arafa, Masjid Khīf, Ghadīr of Khum, The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s last speech at his deathbed in his honored house, etc. besides the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.), many of the Ṣaḥāba have also reported that ḥadīth and some of the Tābi‘īn (successors to the Ṣaḥāba) have asserted its authenticity.[30] One of its various types of wording is as follows:

Surely, I leave among you something that as long as you hold on to it you will never go astray after me; one is superior to the other: the Book of Allah that is an extended rope from heaven to the earth, and my close relations, the people of my house, and they will never separate from each other until they come to me at the Pond [of Kawthar]. So, see how you take them as a substitute for me.[31]

This is a great utterance, a sublime admiration, a matchless virtue, a prosperous guidance, and a preventer of misguidance. The most important point that this great remark by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) represents and leaves not doubt whatsoever, is the authorization of Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) and necessitating their obedience in action and words, and so forth.

This sublime truth has been asserted by many scholars, including the eminent Sunnī theologian, Sa‘d b. Mas‘ūd b. ‘Umar Taftazānī:

In His guidance and deliverance from misguidance, Allah has made the ‘Itrat [Household of the Prophet] a close associate to the Qur'an.

Holding on to the Qur'an is not possible except by acquiring guidance and knowledge from the Qur'an, and so is also holding on to the ‘Itrat.[32]

In addition, the greatest mission and responsibility of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) is providing guidance and making attempts to prevent misguidance, on one hand. And on the other hand, the most evident and obvious obligation for the Muslims is to hold on to anything that provides guidance and prevents from going astray. Thus, by the statement "as long as you hold on to it you will never go astray", the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has put forward what is obligatory to the faithful. Can anybody doubt this necessity of obeying the ‘Itrat- which is providing guidance and preventing misguidance?

Furthermore, holding on to these two "precious things" is sufficient in attaining the sublime goal and the high achievement of guidance; apart from that, there would be nothing but misguidance: ﴾So what is there after truth except error? ﴿(Qur'an, 10: 32) Besides, the "Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn" has quite evidently asserted the "infallibility" of the ‘Itrat; firstly, because the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has unconditionally necessitated holding on to them – for is it presumable that the Prophet (S.A.W.) unconditionally prompted the Umma to hold on to the teachings of those who are misguided themselves? Secondly, the Ahl al-Bayt are close associates to the Qur'an into which no falsehood can enter. Similarly, holding on to them is like a barrier against misguidance; so, if misguidance prevails on anyone, can they be preventers of misguidance?

And finally, Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn has delineated the inseparability of ‘Itrat from the Qur'an, which most evidently means that they never oppose to its teachings and rulings, and thus they do not take distance from that precious Thiql. So also are such sublime phrasings as ‘Alī Ma‘a al-Qur'ān wa Al-Qur'ān ma‘a ‘Alī wa ‘Alī ma‘a al-Ḥaqq wa Ḥaqq ma‘a ‘Alī (Alī is with the Qur'an and the Qur'an is with ‘Alī, Alī is with the Truth and the Truth is with ‘Alī) about Mawā ‘Alī (A.S.).

This way, with Ḥadīth of Thaqalayn, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has set a light radiating torch through the passage of time so that the Muslim Umma would never fall back into darkness and misguidance and hold on to it over time to be safeguarded against the waves of seditions and to land on the shore of salvation and guidance. May it be bestowed on those who have perceived this truth and realized this blessing and safeguarded it.[33]

9. Ḥadīth of Safīna

The Prophet (S.A.W.) is holding the thread end of the affairs among the Umma. The Muslim community is not yet much extended; however, that small newly established community is facing many petty problems from within, problems which create deviations and transfigurations. The hypocrisy trend has been formed and some people's heresy has also come to fore in that same community. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) would have thought that this blazing torch would some day be put out but the Umma must keep on the way. What we have presented are remedial plans for the morrow when the seditions will be fermented and the waves of deviations will go rampant. Another of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s sublime and illuminating sayings known as Ḥadīth of Safīna is in this same direction. One of the versions of this Ḥadīth is as follows:

Truly, my Ahl al-Bayt among you is comparable to the Noah’s Ark, those who embark it will be rescued, and those who fail to will be drowned.

What an awakening, awesome, and admonishing comparison!

The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) observes the seditions, rabble-rousing, and manipulations over the passage of time. And all these create roaring colossal waves which if anyone falls in will be drowned and if exposed to them will perish. Many are those who in hope of deliverance seek shelter in imaginary highlands, but the waves rise up and pull them in. So, the Umma has to be aware that the only way to deliverance is embarking the Safīna, namely, following the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) and holding on to their teachings. And how surprising are those waves and the imaginary shelters created for the people; i.e., making up scholars, or better say, pseudo-scholars, and thought currents, so that the people would cling on to them and fail to go aboard the rescue boat.

There is no doubt about the allusion of this ḥadīth to the necessity of following the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.); is it possible that a wise person would notice these roaring waves while drifting toward them, which would end up to sinking and perishing, and would hesitate to seek deliverance from them? Furthermore, the definite outcome of this approach [going aboard the rescue boat] is deliverance from the hazardous waves and guidance toward salvation. In other words, this is a salvation boat and the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) are infallible and free from erring.[34]

10. The Aḥādīth of Twelve Successors

Among the important and worth noteworthy traditions concerning remedial plans for the future of the Umma is a tradition that determines the number of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s Caliphs. These traditions, which have been frequently transmitted through numerous versions and various sound narrations,[35] indicate that Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s Caliphs are twelve in number. One of the versions of this ḥadīth is:

This religion will remain upright and invincible till the Resurrection Day as long as twelve caliphs come [to rule] over you, all of whom are from the Quraysh.[36]

And in another version it is as follows:

It is reported from Jābir b. Samar who said: "I was with my father in the presence of the Prophet (S.A.W.) when I heard him say: There will be twelve Caliphs after me. Then he lowered his voice and said something that I could not hear. I asked my father what he said. He replied: He said, “All of them are from the Banī Hāshim.”[37]

Yet in another version:

There will be twelve amīrs after me.[38]

What has the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) indicated with such statements? Has he talked of the event that would happen, or the truth that would be? Or else, he has introduced his Caliphs in the process of history and through the passage of time – that is, the ones who may rise to this position – or, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has drawn attention to the fact that his Caliphs after him would be twelve, and no other way, and that would be so to the end of time?

There seems to be no doubt that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) introduced his successors, i.e., those who would follow in his footsteps and would rule over people like he did, or if rose to the Caliphate, they would run the Caliphate like he did. However, it seems that some have tried to fabricate certain referents for this Divine discourse of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.).[39] For instance, Abū Ja‘far b. Muḥammad b. Salāma Azdī Ṭaḥāwī has come to believe that the referents are the four Caliphs, Mu‘āwiya, his son Yazīd, and so forth.[40]

How surprising is what they impute to the religion of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)! According to this implication, the Prophet (S.A.W.) introduces them as his Caliphs to be listened to and obeyed by people? To obey Yazīd?! Or, ‘Abd al-Malak b. Marwān?! What strong words are coming out of their mouth! They tell nothing but lies….

How would it be imaginable that the Prophet (S.A.W.), who is the harbinger of dignity, honor, honesty, and sanctity, might have introduced tyrannical, corrupt, dark-hearted, and criminals as his successors?[41]

Doubtlessly, if someone accepts the ḥadīth itself – which is inevitable – they would have to admit the Shī‘ī interpretation that these [the Caliphs mentioned in the ḥadīth] are ‘Alī (A.S.) and his children, who in other traditions from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) are explicitly referred to by their names:

1. They are twelve, clearly recognized and in conformity with the traditions;

2. All are from Quraysh;

3. We saw that some of the traditions ended with the statement, "all of them are from the Quraysh", confirming the reality of ‘Alī (A.S.)'s splendid words:

Surely Imams will be from the Quraysh. They have been planted in this line through Hāshim. It would not suit others nor would others be suitable as heads of affairs.[42]

4. They are from the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.) of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and in obvious conformity with what we brought up in previous pages, the numerous designations of which will be reported;

5. As we pointed out, it is exactly consistent with what is related from the Imams (A.S.) in the interpretation of this statement, and their names of accurately mentioned;

6. According to many traditions, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has asserted the continuation of Imam Mahdī (Aj.)'s Imamate by the time of the Resurrection, as being the last of the Twelver Shī‘īte Imams. Some of these traditions are as follows:

Mahdī is from among our household; Allah will make provision for his reform within a single night.[43]

Mahdī is from my progeny, and will be from among the descendants of Fāṭima.[44]

Even if there will remain only a day on earth, Allah – the Almighty and Glorious – will bring forth a man from my progeny so that he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with tyranny.[45]

The Hour will not occur until a man from my family, whose name will be my name, will come to rule.[46]

The Imams after me will be twelve in number, nine of whom will be from among the progeny of Al-Ḥusayn and the ninth will be Mahdī.[47]

Now, we raise other points as follows to further elaborate this issue:

A. The ḥadīth of "Twelve Caliphs" or "Amīrs" related by Jābir b. Smara – as mentioned above – is a well-known ḥadīth related in different ways and various versions, which is believed by most of those who have related it to be stated by the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) in Hajja al-Balāgh. Careful scrutiny of different versions and various reports made it clear that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) has uttered these words in two locations:

1) Masjid al-Nabī: According to Muslim and Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Jābir's report is as follows: "I heard Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) on Friday, the eve of lapidation of Aslamī, say: "This religion will remain upright…."

The "Mā‘z b. Mālik Aslamī" mentioned in this report was definitely lapidated in Madīna. Another version of this report puts it this way: "I went to the mosque along with my father and the Prophet was delivering a sermon…" which apparently refers to Masjid al-Nabī.

2) Ḥajjat al-Balāgh: This narration is also from Jābir b. Samara. He said he had heard this statement in that grand Ḥajj in the land of ‘Arafāt.

B. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s employment of this huge community in ‘Arafāt is so instructive. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) also declared the precious and momentous Ḥadīth of "Thaqalayn" in this same sublime location and splendid ritual. It is in this great ritual, after all, that "Thaqalayn" is declared parallel to the guidance of the Umma and the referents of ‘Itrat are clarified; and in the end, Wilāyat is regarded to be the "Completion of Religion", and failure to declare it would be regarded as tantamount to annihilation of the entire prophetic mission. In this Ḥajj, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) seemed to have taken a second look at the whole religion, re-emphasized the entire doctrine, and stressed on Ḥajj and Wilāyat on the final days of this spiritual journey.

C. Some versions of the tradition contain a controversial and noteworthy point. Some traditions relate the statement up to the phrasing, "All of them are from the Quraysh". Some reports state that Jābir did not hear this phrasing and asked his father, and the latter had replied that the statement goes on with "All of them are from Quraysh" or "All of them are from Banī Hāshim". These reports are of three types:

1. Jābir just says: "Then he said something that I did not understand"[48], or "Then he said something that was obscure to me"[49], without clarifying why it was obscure or unheard.

2. In certain reports Jābir has asserted that since the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) lowered his voice, he did not hear him: "Then he lowered his voice…".[50]

3. It is stated that not hearing the Prophet's voice had been due to the people's noisy commotion which caused the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s words to be unheard in the tumult. Surprisingly enough, when the Prophet lowered his voice, the listeners to the Prophet's words raised their voices – contrary to the explicit Divine command that says: ﴾Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet﴿ - to the extent that the voice of the Prophet got lost amidst the commotion and the narrator did not hear it and in order to find out what the Prophet had said, he appealed to others who quote the Prophet (S.A.W.) as saying: "All of them are from the Quraysh". A variation of the ḥadīth is as follows:

Then there was a tumult among the people and they began to speak together so that I did not hear the words after kullihum (all of them); I asked my father what was after kullihum. He said: kullihum min Quraysh (all of them are from Quraysh).[51]

Reexamining and pondering on what we brought up so far would lead the readers to some points that worth mentioning here:

1. It is indicated that the issue of Caliphate and the future destiny of the Umma had been highly controversial; as both when the Prophet (S.A.W.) reaches to the gist of his talk lowers his voice, and when the people hear it they begin to react by creating uproar and refuse to accept it.

2. That some versions have reported the "lowering of the voice" and some have pointed out the commotion and uproar, make it probable that each of these phrasings refer to a particular aspect of the narration. Jābir asserts that when the Prophet lowered his voice in the mosque "I did not hear him"; and it is stated in the ḥadīth narrated from Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal[52] that he did not hear the Prophet (S.A.W.)'s voice because the people raised a tumult.

3. What is highly noteworthy is that it is related in a version of the ḥadīth that when the Prophet lowered his voice, he said: "kullihum min Banī Hāshim".[53] It seems improbable that the low-voiced words would really have been "kullihum min Banī Hāshim", which had caused the commotion among the people who cried out and rejected it. What further confirms this point is that in the stage-managing of Saqīfa and in the disputes among the politicos of that gathering this quotation was not referred to and they did not say that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had said: "kullihum min Quraysh and …", as this seemed to have been effective. Thus, it can be said that the ḥadīth had been ended with "kullihum min Banī Hāshim", which later on, when compiling the traditions, it has been deemed expedient to alter "kullihum min Banī Hāshim" to "kullihum min Quraysh".

Anyway, this ḥadīth, with its many various versions – which have been confirmed by the Sunnī ḥadīth experts – contains no other messages that the declaration of the Wilāyat of ‘Alī (A.S.) and his progeny (A.S.) and is an assertion of the Caliphate of ‘Alī after the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.), emphasizing the Prophet's consistent and macro policy in clarification of the future rulership and leadership.

Ḥadīth of Ghadīr

We said that since the early days of his declaration of Prophetic Mission, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) stressed the Imamate and leadership after him and during the twenty three years of his mission and on various occasions he voiced the "truth" in this respect with different phrasings, introducing the leader after him with sublime features and in an evident and distinct way. We also said that these events of declaring and presenting the truth and introducing the future of leadership culminated in the last Ḥajj ritual of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) – thus, being named as "Ḥajjat al-Widā‘", (the Farewell Ḥajj) – and with the Divine Command of "Declaring" the Wilāyat, it was then called as "Ḥajjat al-Bilāgh" (the Ḥajj of Declaration):[54]

On the year ten AH, the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) intended to set out for Ḥajj and informed the people of his intention. This way, many people set out for Makka in order to perform the Ḥajj along with the Prophet (S.A.W.) and learn the Ḥajj ritual from his noble person. The Prophet (S.A.W.) performed the Ḥajj and left for Madina. On the eighteenth of Dhu'l Hijja / 10 March 632 CE, while many people were moving in front of the Prophet and many other Caravans were following him, the Prophet reached a place called "Ghadīr al-Khum" in the valley of Juḥfa (where the routes to Madīna and Egypt separated). As the sun's heat was reaching its peak and parching the land, the Prophet, by the Divine Command, ordered the riders and those who were on foot to stop, the ones who were ahead to return and those who were behind to join them. The mid-day heat was irritating the people; they had made sunshades out of their clothes and mounts. The Prophet (S.A.W.) climbed up a pile of camel's saddles and began to deliver a sermon. He praised Allah and revealed that he was soon departing from among them and wanted them to bear witness to the way he had performed his prophetic mission. People let a cry in unison:

We bear witness that you have conveyed the Message, parted advice, and struggled, so may Allah graciously reward you…

Then, in order to prepare the people for hearing his last message, he talked to them of his honesty in conveying the Message and of the "Thaqalayn", enumerated his high status among the Umma, asked them to bear witness to his superiority over them, and heard them give out loud answers in unison. Then, he took ‘Alī (A.S.)'s hand, held it up, and stated in a wondrous splendor and in a very audible voice:

Whoever I am his master, ‘Alī is his master, too.

He repeated this statement three times and prayed for his cohorts, comrades, and approvers. And thus, in perpetuating those enlightenments and declarations of truth and with utmost deliberation and awareness, among tens of thousands of human beings gathered from around the Muslim world for Ḥajj, he declared the "Wilāyat and Caliphate of ‘Alī (A.S.)" and displayed the "Truth of Caliphate" and the "Caliphate of the Truth". That day no one was in any doubt and disbelieved by any means that the Prophet (S.A.W.) appointed ‘Alī (A.S.) to Caliphate and Imamate with such wordings. If some were reluctant, it was not in the content of the matter. Those types of people, due to their own dark-heartedness, suspected whether this was a Revealed declaration. Nevertheless, many rushed to ‘Alī (A.S.) and expressed their congratulations on his (Emirate and Wilāyat). So, it goes without saying that in that time this fact was indubitable. Among other things, notice the words of ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb:

Congratulations to you O son of Abī Ṭālib, you have become now the master of all the faithful.[55]

However, after the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s demise, the true reality transformed; the politicos turned the event upside down and caused someone else to wear the garment of Caliphate, but they never had any doubt in so many virtues and merits, rather they raised other excuses. Nonetheless, after that day, they tried to throw doubt at the designation of this noble statement to "Imamate and Wilāyat" on one hand, and at its chain of transmission on the other. We have pointed out various textual literature of this ḥadīth; now, on the basis of those reports and other information, we would slightly clarify the hidden facts about this sublime ḥadīth by taking a look at its content, designation, and sanad (chain of authorities).

1. The Sanad of Ḥadīth of Ghadīr

The ḥadīth of Ghadīr is among the most famous and widely circulated prophetic traditions, which many ḥadīth experts and scholars have emphasized on its soundness and uninterrupted transmission.[56] Ibn Kathīr said:

The ḥadīth begins with "Whoever I am his master, ‘Alī is his master, too", which is certainly uninterruptedly transmitted (mutiwātir) from the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.).[57]

‘Allāma Amīnī has related the ḥadīth of Ghadīr from a hundred and ten of the Ṣaḥāba and then emphasized in the end that his report is not all that exists.[58]

There is also a long list in Al-Ghadī quoting the followers of the Ṣaḥāba (Tābi‘īn) who have denied the ḥadīth of Ghadīr. The eminent scholar and defender of Wilāyat, Mīr Ḥāmid Ḥusayn Hindī, has also dedicated a large part of his matchless ‘Abaqāt al-Anwār to the ḥadīth of Ghadīr and discussed the sanad of the ḥadīth in detail, criticizing the viewpoints of those who believe in the non-tawātur of this tradition and clarifying the inconsistency of this viewpoint.[59]

Talking about the sanad of the ḥadīth and the authenticity of its transmission in ḥadīth sources seems to be redundant; therefore, we quote several of the traditionists and proceed with the discussion in another dimension. Ḥākim Nayshābūrī in an instance in Al-Mustadrak has related this ḥadīth and commented:

This is a sound ḥadīth according to the criteria of the two Shaykhs [Muslim and Bukhārī], although they have not related it.[60]

And in another instance he has commented after relating the ḥadīth:

This is a ḥadīth with sound isnād (chain of authorities) but they have not related it.[61]

And Tarmadhī has commented after relating the ḥadīth in his Sunan as follows:

This is an acceptable (ḥasan) sound ḥadīth.[62]

Dhahabī comments:

The ḥadīth is undoubtedly a well-established one.[63]

Dhahabī comments at a footnote to the biography of Ibn Jarīr Ṭabarī:

When he – Ibn Jarīr – was informed that Ibn Abī Dāwūd had talked [argued] about the ḥadīth of Ghadīr al-Khum, he wrote a book about its merits and spoke about the soundness of this ḥadīth. I said: I saw a volume on the methods of ḥadīth by Ibn Jarīr, I was bewildered by it and by the multiplicity of these methods.[64]

Ibn Ḥajar says:

As for the ḥadīth "Whoever I am his master, ‘Alī is his master, too", it has been related by al-Tirmidhī and al-Nisā’ī in many ways, and Ibn ‘Uqda has related it separately in an independent volume and many of its chains of transmission (sanads) are sound and acceptable.[65]

Ibn ‘uqda's book by the title "Ḥadīth al-Wilāya" has been available to the scholars up to 10th / 16th century. Sayyid b. Ṭāwūs has written about it:

Verily, the words of the Prophet (S.A.W.) about the Wilāya of our master ‘Alī (A.S.) is related in it in a hundred and five different ways.[66]

Similarly, Ibn ‘Asākir has in many instances mentioned this ḥadīth in his great work; in one instance he has enumerated ninety ways of its transmission.[67] So is also the way many other traditionists and scholars have mentioned this ḥadīth. Nevertheless, if anyone has any doubts concerning the issuance of this ḥadīth or the way it has been related, it is definitely due to his or her arrogance or confrontation with the truth, and nothing else.

1. The Denotation of Ḥadīth of Ghadīr

From what we presented in the beginning of this discourse, and later we will deal with it in more details and see more of its designations, it is quite evident that no one had any doubt that the statement "Whoever I am his master, ‘Alī is his master, too" implied such meanings as guardianship, trusteeship, imamate, and leadership. It is obvious, of course, that the word mawlā has widely different meanings[68], but in this case, from among meanings no other one than what was mentioned above can be inferred.

The Word Mawlā in Arabic Literature

Searching into the ancient literary, philological, and exegetical sources indicates that one of the clear meanings of mawlā is a guardian competent enough to undertake such affairs as leadership and Wilāyat. Some instances are as follows:

Abū ‘Ubayda Mu‘ammar b. Muthannā interprets mawlākum in āyah 15 of Sūrat al-ḤadīdMa’wākum al-nār hiya mawlākum (The Fire will be your abode: it is your [ultimate] refuge)﴿ as:

Awlā bikum (more entitled to you).[69]

And he has cited a poem from the pagan literature as a confirmatory example as follows:

Faghadat kilā al-farjayn innahū

Mawlā al-makhāfa al-kkhalfuhā wa imāmuhā

(Each one of these two slots

Are more entitled to be feared of their rear and front.)

The commentators of Mu‘allaqāt al-Sab‘ have regarded mawlā in this couplet as meaning awlā (more entitled) and interpreted the line accordingly.[70]

The great author, interpreter, and genealogist, Muḥammad b. Sā’ib Kalbī, has commented regarding āyah 51 of Sūrat al-Tawba ﴾Say, 'Nothing will befall us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Master, and in Allah let all the faithful put their trust.'﴿:

[He is] more entitled to us in our death and life.[71]

The great Kūfī literary figure and interpreter, Abū Dhakariyā Yaḥyā b. ‘Abd Allāh, renowned as Farā’, interpreted the āyah 15 of Sūrat al-Ḥadīd as:

Hiya mawlākum, ayy awlā bikum.

(It is your [ultimate] refuge, that is to say, it is more entitled to you.)[72]

And so have commented Abū al-Ḥasan Akhfash, Abū Isḥāq Zujāj, Muḥammad b. Qāsim Anbārī, etc.[73]

As we said earlier, using mawlā as meaning guardian and trustee is among the most evident meanings of the word mawlā which has been asserted by many:

Abū al-‘Abbās Muḥammad b. Yazīd has remarked in his interpretation of āyah 11 of Sūrat Muḥammad (That is because Allah is the Master of he faithful…):

Walī and mawlā have similar meanings; that is, He is capable of His creatures and guardian of their affairs.[74]

And Farā’ has remarked:

Al-walī and al-mawlā are the same in the Arabic language.[75]

Rāghib Iṣfaḥānī, the great exegete, literary figure, and Qr'an scholar of the 4th / 10th century has written:

Wilāya means undertaking something, and the walī and mawlā are used within the same meaning. Each one of them is said to be used as subject, namely al-mawālī, and as object, namely al-mawālā.[76]

The great literary figure and exegete of the 5th / 11th century, Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. Aḥmad Wāḥidī Nayshābūrī, wrote in his interpretation of āyah 62 of Sūrat al-An‘ām ﴾Then they are entrusted to Allah, their real Master﴿:

That is the One who looks after their affairs.[77]

There are many of such scholars who have emphasized this truth. We suffice here to mention the great Mu‘tazilite literary figure and exegete, Jār Allāh Zamakhsharī, who remarked in his interpretation of āyah 286 of Sūrat al-Baqara ﴾You are our Master, so help us…﴿:

[That means:] You are our Lord and we are your servants or [You are] our supporter or our guardian in our affairs…[78]

Likewise, Ibn Athīr in his grand and noble work, Al-Nihāya, which is an exposition of the hard-to-grasp-terms of prophetic traditions, interprets the term mawlā as follows:

The word mawlā has been repeatedly used in ḥadīth which is applied to a multiplicity of people… one of them is someone who is the guardian or the undertaker of a matter as a mawlā or walī. And the same meaning is used in the ḥadīth: "Any woman who gets married without the permission from her mawlā (i.e., her master, guardian, or caretaker), her marriage is invalid." And in this ḥadīth, her walī means the custodian of her affairs…[79]

This way, "seniority in affairs", "guardianship of the affairs", "supremacy, chairmanship, and leadership" in the meaning of mawlā is a well-known reality; and waiting mawlā and walī – as we mentioned before – is a fact asserted by the literary figures, scholars, and exegetes.[80] Thus, we believe – as other truth-oriented schools and sects do[81] – that the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) in that impressively wonderful and crucial event and with his momentous statement definitely declared the Wilāyat, Imamate, and leadership of ‘Alī (A.S.). Organizing that magnificent gathering was for the sole purpose of letting the people be informed once again – but in a more expressive, more audible, and more efficient way – of the Wilāyat of ‘Alī (A.S.), lest the morrow some may say: we did not know, we did not understand, we did not hear…. That was how the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) made the people confess now and again; and in the end a very distinct utterance was cried out: "Let those who are present convey it to those who are absent"



[1] The Muslim theologians and thinkers have tended and are still tending towards such viewpoints as: consensus, allegiance, people's choice and selection, dominance and authority, opining, appointing people of loosening and binding, and the revealed text (naṣṣ) in regard to the Imamate after the Prophet (S.A.W.). We will report on these viewpoints under the rubric of "Al-Imāma" in Mawsū’at al-Imām ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib fī Kitāb wa al-Sunna. For more information about what was said above, see also: Mawardī, Al-Aḥkām al-Sulṭāniya, p. 15; Al-Qāḍī Abū Ya‘lā al-Firā’ wa Kitābat al-Aḥkām al-Sultāniya, p. 440 ff.; Niẓām al-Ḥukm fī al-Sharī‘a was al-Tārīkh al_slāmī, p. 121; Aḥmad Ḥusayn Ya‘qūb, Niẓām al-Siyāsī fī al-Islām, Ra’y al-Shī‘a, Ra’y al-Sunna, Ḥukm al-Shar‘, p. 23 ff.; Muḥammad Bīyūmī Mihrān, vol. 1, p. 50 ff.

[2] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, Kitāb al-Da‘wāt; also see: Bayhaqqī, Dalā’il al-Nabuwwa (vol. 3, p. 454), about the story concerning the division of the spoils of the battle of Ḥunayn and the stance of the Ṣaḥāba, Ḥudaybiya and the stance of the Ṣaḥība, and the admonishing words of one of the Ṣaḥība about their treatment of the prophet; Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd, Sharḥ-i Nahj al-Balāgha (vol. 11, p. 48) on the understanding and beliefs of the Ṣaḥāba.

[3] See: Aḥmad Ḥusayn Ya‘qūb, Al-Muwājaha ma‘a Rasūl Allāh (S.A.W.), especially, chapter three in which different dimensions of this confrontation has reported on the basis of historical literature.

[4] See: Aḥmad Ḥusayn Ya‘qūb, Al-Muwājaha ma‘a Rasūl Allāh (S.A.W.), chapter 4 and 5 of part one.

[5] Al-Ṭabaqāt li Ibn Sa‘d, vol. 3, p. 248.

[6] It is such that the Muslim authors who have penned about the System of Government and denied naṣṣ (designation) after the Prophet (S.A.W.) have not found any naṣṣ from the Prophet (S.A.W.), and what they have referred to are instances totally inconsistent with this viewpoint. See: Dr. al-Ra’īs, Al-Naẓariyāt al-Siyāsiyyat al-Islāmiyya; Tawfīq Shāwī, Fiqh al-Shawrā wa al-Istishāra, Dr. Ismā‘īl Anṣārī, Al-Shawrā wa Atharuhā fī al-Dīmiqrāṭiyya.

[7] See: Wa Rakibt al-Safīna, p. 189.

[8] Ḥaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, vol. 8, p. 157.

[9] Wa Rakibt al-Safīna, p. 189-236.

[10] Nahj al-Balāgha, Khuṭba 192, trans. Dr. Sayyid ‘Alī Riḍā. We have adopted the gist of this rational analysis from the distinguished work of the late thinker, Shahīd Ayatollah Ṣadr, Nash’at al-Tashayyu‘ wa al-Shī‘a, pp. 23-56, and have added to it various supplements for its completion and documentation.

[11] See the detailed story in historical sources such as: Tārīkh-i Ṭabarī, vol. 2, p. 319; Al-Ṣaḥīḥ min Sīrat al-Nabī al-A‘ẓam, vol. 3, p. 61 with plenty of references; Al-Imām‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunna, Aḥādīth al-Khilāfa, Ḥadīth Yawm al-Indhār.

[12] Sharḥ-i Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd, vol. 13, p. 244, as well as: Naqṣ al-‘Uthmāniya, p. 303; Al-Ghadīr, vol.2, p 395.

[13] Qāḍī ‘Ayāḍ, Nasīm al-Riyāḍ fī Sharḥ-i Shaqā’, vol. 3, p. 35.

[14] Kanz al-‘Ummāl, vol.13, p. 128.

[15] Ṭabarī has, as we said before, reported this event in his Tārīkh, but while quoting the same event in his Tafsīr, he has reported it under the āyah (Qur'an, 26:214) and distorted the text, writing: "The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said: … this is my brother and so and so [sic] …". Ibn Kathīr has also followed his footprint, and so have some of those who claim freedom in research such as Muḥammad Ḥasanayn Haykal, etc. See: Al-Ghadīr, vol. 2, p. 406 (New Edition).

[16] See: Ayatollah ‘Alī Aḥmadī Miyānjī, Ḥadīth al-Andhār Yawm al-Dār, in the Periodical "Risālat al-Thaqalayn", No. 22, p. 111.

[17] Tārīkh-i Damishq, vol. 42, p. 392, see: Al-Imām ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunna, in Aḥādīth al-Wilāya.

[18] See: Tatammatu Minhāj al-Birā’a fī Sharḥ-i Nahj al-Balāgha, vol.2, p. 19 (vol.16, p. 19). Also: Ma‘ālim al-Madrisatayn, vol. 1, p. 289 ff. which contains a distinguished and noteworthy discussion.

[19] For more information about this course of events and how it proceeded, see: Ma‘ālim al-Madrisatayn, vol. 1, p. 456.

[20] See: Al-Imām ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunna, Aḥādīth al-Manzila.

[21] Qur'an, 4:54.

[22] Al-Yaqīn, chapter 127.

[23] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 44, p. 2 (quoted from Ilal al-Sharāyi‘, vol. 1, p. 212).

[24] Al-‘Ayn, vol. 8, p. 429.

[25] ‘Abd al-Zahrā Ḥusaynī, ed. Al-Ghārāt, pp. 121-122; The Research by the late Muḥadith Armawī, vol.1, p.203.

[26] Al-Ṣadūq, Amālī, p. 434. See: Al-Imam ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib fī Kitāb wa al-Sunna, Aḥādīth al-A’imma.

[27] See: Al-Imam ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib, Aḥādīth al-Khilāfa.

[28] Amālī, Al-Mufīd, p. 613.

[29] See: Al-Imam ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālibfī Kitāb wa al-Sunna, Aḥādīth al-Wilāya.

[30] See: Nafaḥāt al-Azhār fī Khulāṣa ‘Abaqāt al-Anwār, vol. 2, p. 90; Ahl-Bayt fī Kitāb wa al-Sunna, 125.

[31] Al-Tarmadhī, Sunan, vol. 5, p. 663, h. 3788.

[32] Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid, vol. 2, p. 303. For more information about the viewpoints of some Sunnī scholars, see:Nafaḥāt al-Azhār fī Khulāṣa ‘Abaqāt al-Anwār, vol. 2, p. 248.

[33] In his magnificent work, the eminent ‘Allāma Mīr Ḥāmid Ḥusayn Hindī has explored this Ḥadīth from different angles and presented many noble and information facts on its basis and according to Muslim scholars' thoughts.

[34] For detailed information about the text and the chain of transmission of the Ḥadīth of Safīna, and the related discussions, see: Nafaḥāt al-Azhār fī sharḥ-i ‘Aqabāt al-Anwār, vol.2, p. 205 ff.

[35] For instance see: Ṣaḥīḥ of Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1451 (al-Nās Tab‘al-Quraysh wa al-Khilāfa fī Quraysh); Al-Mu‘jam al-Kabīr, vol. 2, pp. 195-232; Ahl-Bayt fī Kitāb wa al-Sunna, 67; Iḥqāq al-Ḥaqq, vol. 13, pp. 1-48.

[36] Ṣaḥīḥ of Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1453, h. 1822.

[37] Yanābī‘ al-Mawadda, vol. 3, p. 290, h. 4.

[38] Sunan of Tarmadhī, vol. 4, p. 501, h. 2223.

[39] See: Al-Imāma wa Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 2, p. 54, which has pointed out these referents.

[40] Sharḥ al-‘Aqīda al-Ṭaḥāwiya, p. 552; Al-Imāma wa Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 2, p. 56.

[41] See: Al-Imāma wa Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 2, p. 56-76, which uncover the crimes perpetrated by ‘Muāwiya, Yazīd, ‘Abd al-Malak, etc., according to the historical text, and then raise the question to the reader that after all these, are they the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)'s Caliphs?!

[42] Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 142.

[43] Sunan of Ibn Māja, vol. 2, p. 1367, h. 4085; Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 1, p. 183, h. 645; Al-Muṣnaf of Ibn Abī Shayba, vol.8, p. 678, h. 485.

[44] Sunan of Abī Dāwūd, vol. 4, p.104, h. 4284. Interestingly enough, this book has brought up the above tradition (twelve Caliphs) in Kitāb al-Mahdī.

[45] Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 1, p. 212, h. 773; Sunan of Abī Dāwūd, vol. 4, p.907, h. 4283.

[46] Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 2, p. 10, h. 3571; Musnad of Al-Bazār, vol. 5, p. 225, h. 1832.

[47] Kifāya al-Athar, p. 23.

[48] Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 7, p. 427, h. 20976.

[49] Ibid.

[50] See: Muḥammad Rayshahrī, Ahl al-Bayt fī al-Kitāb wa al-Sunna, p. 68, ts. 80 and 90.

[51] Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 5, p. 99; Mu‘jam al-Kabīr, Dār Iḥyā al-Turath, vol. 2, p. 196.

[52] Musnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, vol. 7, p. 429, h. 20991.

[53] See footnote N. 50.

[54] Sīra of Ibn Hishām, vol. 2, p. 606.

[55] See: Al-Imām ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib, Aḥādīth al-Ghadīr, Tahni’at al-Imām bi al-Imāra.

[56] Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 6, p. 377; Manāqib of Ibn al-Maghāzī, p. 26, etc.

[57] Al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya, vol.5, p. 214.

[58] Al-Ghadīr, vol. 1, p. 144 (New Edition). The late scholar, Sayyid ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Ṭabāṭabā’ī has commented at the footnote of this statement: "Other companions other than those that ‘Allāma has mentioned have related the ḥadīth of Ghadīr, all of whom I have listed in my ‘Alā Ḍafāf al-Ghadīr. This noble work by ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Ṭabāṭabā’ī has not been published yet.

[59] Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 6, p. 378 ff.

[60] Al-amustadrak, vol. 3, p. 118, h.4576.

[61] Ibid, p. 631, h. 6276.

[62] Sunan of Tarmadhī, vol.5, p. 591.

[63] Siayr-i A'lām al-Nubalā', vol.5, p.713.

[64] Tadhkira al-Ḥuffāẓ, vol. 2, p.713.

[65] AL-Maṣālib al-‘Āliya, vol. 4, p. 40; Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 1, p. 191.

[66] Iqbāl, p.453; see also: Al-Ghadīr fī al-Turāth al-Islāmī (pp. 45 and 46) in which the importance of Ibn ‘Uqda's book and its impact on the subsequent works, including other things mentioned by Ibn Ṭāwūs, has been articulated in detail.

[67] Tārīkh-i Damishq, vol.42, p. 204.

[68] Al-Ghadīr has enumerated its different meanings, vol. 1, p.641.

[69] Majāz al-Qur'ān, vol. 2, p. 254.

[70] Abū ‘Abd Allāh Ḥusayn Zuzanī, Sharḥ al-Mu‘allaqāt al-Sab‘,p. 210; Abī Bakr Muḥammad b. Qāsim al-Anbārī, Sharḥ al-Qaṣā’id al-Sab‘ al-Ṭiwāl al-Jāhiliyyāt, pp. 565-566.

[71] Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ, vol. 5, p. 433.

[72] Ma‘ānī al-Qur‘ān, vol. 3, p. 124.

[73] See: Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 8, pp. 16-86; Al-Ghadīr, vol. 1, p. 615 ff.

[74] Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 6, p. 91 (quoted from Al-Shāfī fī al-Imāma).

[75] Ma‘ānī al-Qur‘ān, vol. 2, p. 161.

[76] Mufradāt al-Alfāẓ al-Qur’ān, p. 885.

[77] Al-Wasīṭ fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-Majīd, vol. 2, p. 281.

[78] Al-Kashshāf, vol. 1, p. 333.

[79] Al-Nihāya fī Gharib al-Ḥadīth, vol. 5, p. 228. Interestingly enough, Ibn Athīr regards the Ḥadīth of Ghadīr as conforming with this meaning and attests to ‘Umar's statement, "You have become now the master of all the faithful." as a confirmation of this meaning and says: that means the master of all the faithful.

[80] See: Nafaḥāt al-Azhār, vol. 6, pp. 16-120; Al-Ghadīr, vol. 1, p. 615. What we have mentioned above have been reported by the indefatigable and truth-preserving authors of these great woks with reference to tens of literary, philological, and exegetical sources.

[81] It is worth mentioning, among others, the studious and astute Egyptian researcher, Muḥammad Biumī Mihrān, a professor at Alexandria University of Egypt, who has approved and believed with no hesitation that mawla definitely means awlā bi taṣarrauf etc. (i.e., more entitled to authority) and nothing else (Al-Imāma wa Ahl al-Bayt, vol. 2, p. 12).


Hadith Tags :   Ali’s (AS) Imamate,  the Prophet’s (SAW) succession,  Imam Ali’s (AS) merits,  the hadith of Ghadir
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