The story of Ghadir Khumm and Shi’a claim that Ali ibn Abi Talib RA was the first rightful Caliph
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
Is the event of Ghadir Khum true or it’s a false tradition made the by Shi’as? And if it is true, what’s the Sunni Islam interpretation of this event?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
The first khaleefah=successor who succeeded the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him), according to the consensus of the respected scholars, because of the consensus of the Sahaabah who all gave their bay’ah (allegiance) to him.
This was after an initial dispute between the Muhaajireen and Ansaar, then the Ansaar were convinced and gave their bay’ah (allegiance) to Abu Bakr, and they did not differ amongst themselves, and they did not hesitate in making a choice between Abu Bakr and ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with them both).
None of the Sahaabah=Companions of the prophet asked to give bay’ah (allegiance) to ‘Ali after Abu Bakr and before ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), and no one asked to give bay’ah (allegiance) to ‘Ali after ‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with them all.
The fitnah=trials and differences arose because of the murder of ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him). The Sahaabah=Companions of the prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) accepted for their worldly affairs the one whom the Messenger of Allah had accepted for their religious affairs.
The one who had acted as the deputy of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in leading the prayers [when he was unable to do so – i.e., Abu Bakr].
One of the fundamental differences between the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah and Shi’a is the Khilafah=Succession of Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him).
The Shi’as believe that he was directly rightful to be the successor of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace), whereas the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, having full love and respect for Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) are of the view that the first rightful Caliph=Successor after the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace) was Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, then Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab, then Sayyiduna Uthman ibn Affan and then Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with them all).
This is one of the many major differences between the rightful Ahl al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah and the deviated Shi’as. This also leads to other differences such as the Shi’a’s belief regarding the twelve Imams and having enmity for the great Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
The evidences usually presented by the Shi’as are of three types. They present certain verses of the Qur’an in order to support their view that Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) was actually the rightful direct Caliph.
These Qur’anic verses do not even have a slight hint of the issue of Khilafah=Succession, but Shi’a writers normally present, in order to explain these verses, their own fabricated narrations that are nowhere to be found in the authentic compilations of Hadith.
The second type of evidences presented by Shi’a authors are narrations that are not in the authentic books of Hadith, rather they are found to be in the books of Shi’as.
Thirdly, the evidences used by Shi’as in order to support their view are those authentic narrations that mention the virtues and qualities (manaqib) of Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) and they are found in the authentic books of Hadith compilations.
In summary, there are three types of evidences they generally use:
1) Qur’anic verses explained with their own fabricated narrations;
2) Fabricated narrations found in their own books;
3) Authentic Ahadith that mention only the virtues of Sayyiduna Ali;
Now, if one was to look at the above three types of evidences with a open mind, it would become crystal clear that none of these can be used in order to prove that Sayyiduna Ali (Radhi Allah Anh) was the direct Caliph after the Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).
The Qur’anic verses, because they don’t even hint to the issue of Khilafah=Succession , rather if one was to look into the reliable Tafsir compilations, it would become clear that the verses have nothing whatsoever to do with that which the Shi’as claim.
Also, fabricated narrations mentioned in their books ( Shi’a books) are no source of evidence, and the narrations recorded in the reliable books of Hadith merely mention the virtues of Sayyiduna Ali, of which even the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah are in agreement. Thus, none of the evidences support the claim of the Shi’as.
The aim in this brief answer is of course not to analyze all these evidences, but to only concentrate on one, which has been asked in the question and is also the main evidence used by the Shi’as in order to substantiate their view.
The Hadith used by the Shi’as is known as the incident of Ghadir. Ghadir is an Arabic word which means a ‘pool’. This pool was situated in a place between Makkah al-Mukarramah and Madina al-Munawwarah in a place known as Juhfa.
In the last year of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) life he performed a Hajj known as Hajj al-Wada’. It is narrated from authentic sources such as Sunan Tirmidhi, Sunan Nasa’i, Musnad Ahmad and others that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) on his return from this auspicious journey of Hajj camped at Ghadir Khum.
Some of the Companions had complained to the Messenger of Allah regarding Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) that they disliked certain things of his that he practised whilst they were sent to Yeman.
Due to this, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) on his return from Madina, gave a sermon at this place of Gadir Khum and mentioned the qualities and virtues of Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him).
He said the following:
“Verily Ali is from me and I am from him. He is the beloved (wali) of every believer.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)
“To whoever I am beloved (mawla), Ali is also beloved to him.” (Tirmidhi).
“O Allah! Love the one who loves Ali and dislike the one who dislikes Ali.” (Sunan ibn Majah).
“Verily Ali is from me and I am from him, and he is the beloved of every believer after me” (Sunan al-Kubra of Nasa’i).
If one was to look in these narrations, the predominant words used in all these narrations are derived from the root word ‘Muwalat’. The Shi’as claim that it refers to the Khilafah of Sayyiduna Ali (Karram Allah Wajhah) and that it proves he was the rightful Caliph after the demise of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), the position which was wrongfully not given to him.
However, by looking at the word ‘Muwalat’ from a linguistic point of view, it becomes crystal clear that this has nothing to do with Khilafah. The word is repeatedly used in various verses of the Qur’an and Hadith and has never been used for Khilafah=Succession . Rather, it has always been used for love and nearness.
This is the reason why none of the Companions (Allah be pleased with them all) including Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) regarded these statements of the Messenger of Allah to be in relation to the Khilafah=Succession .
After the demise of the Messenger of Allah (Allah belss him & give him peace) and when the Companions gathered in the Saqifah of Banu Sa’idah, not one Companion even mentioned these statements of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
It is reported from Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him) that he was reluctant to ask the Messenger of Allah regarding the issue of Khilafah, as he feared of it not being given to him (Sahih al-Bukhari). If the statements of the Messenger of Allah at Ghadir Khum were sufficient for him to be the rightful Khalifah, he would never have been reluctant.
This is the reason why all the Companions (including Sayyiduna Ali) rightfully handed the Khilafah over to Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and then Sayyiduna Umar and then Sayyiduna Uthman (Allah be pleased with them all).
Other Explanation of Ghadir Khum story
Ghadir is the name of a well in a place between Makkah and Madinah which is called Khum.
The hadeeth was narrated by Imam Muslim in his Sahih (no. 2408) from Zayd ibn Arqam, who said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stood up and addressed us one day at a well called Khum, between Makkah and Madeenah. He praised Allah and exhorted and reminded us.
Then he said: ‘I am leaving among you two important things: the first of which is the Book of Allah’ – and he urged us to adhere to the Book of Allah, then he said: ‘And the people of my household (ahl bayti).
I remind you of Allah with regard to the people of my household, I remind you of Allah with regard to the people of my household, I remind you of Allah with regard to the people of my household.’” Zayd said: his wives are among the people of his household.
But the people of his household who are forbidden to receive sadaqah (charity) after his death are the family of ‘Ali, the family of ‘Aqeel, the family of Ja’far and the family of ‘Abbas. All of these are forbidden to receive sadaqah.” [abbreviated version].
His advice concerning the people of his household has to do with honouring and respecting them, and not exposing them to abuse or annoyance. This does not mean that they are to be given preference over others who are known through the texts to be more virtuous than them, such as Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them all).
In conclusion, the incident of Ghadir Khum merely mentions the virtues of Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him), and as mentioned previously, the Shi’as normally in order to support their claims use those narrations that mention merely the Virtues of Sayyiduna Ali (Allah be pleased with him).
This is just a brief mention of the issue. For more details, one may refer to the Arabic works such as al-Awasim min al-Qawasim of Qadhi Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi, Minhaj al-Sunnah by Ibn Taymiyya, al-Sawaiq al-Muhraqa by Ibn Hajr al-Haytami and others.
And Allah Knows Best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK