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Hadeeth Alghadeer: An Overview

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Hadeeth Alghadeer: An Overview

Post  vidich132 on 2011-12-16, 8:49 pm

On this blessed day in which we celebrate the announcement by the Prophet (S) of the appointment of Imam Ali (A) by Allah (SWT) as the leader of the Muslims and the authority on them. The evidence made upon the people on the day of Ghadeer is impossible to deny and in this article we will highlights some of the main points which have been a subject of some question marks from others.

The Chain of Narration

Hadeeth Alghadeer is one of the most famous Hadeeths among the Muslims in general. It is so famous that some of the Muslims scholars forgo the process of having to write down the full narration of the Hadeeth because it is so well known. However, we will go through some of the more famous non-Shia scholars who have narrated the Hadeeth:

Mohammad Ibn Idrees Alshafi’i (the leader of Shafi school), Abdulrazzaq Alsan’ani (the teacher of Bukhari), Ibn Majah Alqazwini, Altarmathi and Alnisa’i (authors of three of the six accepted Hadeeth books for Sunnis), Mohammad Altabari (One of the most famous historians), Altabarani, Alsayyoti, Alfakhr Alrazi and many many others. (Review the references below for a bigger list and you may also review the book of Ghadeer for Sh. Alamini for a complete list).

What defeats any argument refuting the Hadeeth is that a number of non-Shia scholars and some of the most famous scholars from other schools have listed in their books of mutawatar (certain) hadeeths. A Hadeeth is given the label of mutawatar if the scholar believes that there is so much evidence of the Hadeeth’s authenticity that there is no doubt left that it was said by the Prophet (S). This is critical because all Muslims believe that the word of the Prophet (S) if certain has the same authority as a verse in the Quran. A Hadeeth that is mutawatar has as much authority as a verse in the Quran upon all Muslims.

Alsayyoti, Alzubaidi, Alkattani, Alshaikh Alhindi, and Alshakh Alharawai all have written books that list the Hadeeths which they believe is mutwatar and they all listed Hadeeth Alghadeer as one of them. Given the status of these scholars in the Sunni School, any doubts about the chain of narration should be gone. The only thing that is left is to figure out what the Hadeeth actually means and that is the point of contention.

The Text of the Hadeeth

This text is taken from the book of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (the imam of Hanbali school). He narrates with a correct narration that Zaid Ibn Arqam said:

We went with the Prophet (S) to a vally named the Valley of Khum. And he ordered for Salah and prayed it. Then he gave a speech and they made a cover for him on the trees to protect him from the Sun. The Prophet (S) said: “Do you not know? Do you not know that I am awla (have superior authority) on every mu’min than himself?” They said: “yes” He said: “Whoever I am his mawla (we will discuss the meaining later) Ali is his mawla. May Allah take enemies whoever take him as an enemy and may Allah wali (support) whoever supports him”. [Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5.501 Hadeeth # 18838]

The Meaning of Mawla

As it has been clear most scholars could not argue the authenticity of Hadeeth Alghadeer. Thus whoever wanted to deny the Imamah and leadership of Imam Ali (A), needed to argue the content of the Hadeeth. The word that became the center of debate is the word mawla. The word mawla has many meanings in Arabic, however, the only relevant meanings are two: supporter and a person with authority.
The argument that some Sunni scholars make is that the Prophet (S) only meant to say that Ali (A) should be supported by the mu’mineen and he will support them. However, Shia scholars claim that mawla here means a person who has authority on another person. That is to say that the Prophet (S) is announcing to the people that Ali (A) is their leader and he has the authority on them afterwards and that is the correct view and for that we mention the following reasons:

Previous statements clarify the confusion: When a word has multiple meaning and the person is trying to figure out which meaning the speaker meant, the most logical thing is to look at the rest of the speech and the context for clarification. As the Hadeeth, stated above, clearly mentions that before the Prophet (S) said his statement he asked the Muslims “am I not awla on the mu’min than himself?”. Although the word mawla can mean supporter or leader, the word awla can only mean leader. The Prophet (S) first asked the people: Am I not your leader?, why would he next use the same terminology to refer to Ali (A) as only a supporter? It would be very poor choice of wordings and the Prophet (S) is above that.

The context in which the Hadeeth was said: The historians agree that the Prophet (S) stopped over a large number of people (over 100,000) and made the people wait for those who passed to come back and those who were behind to catch up. He also ordered for them to make a stage for him from the trees so he can be seen by all. The climate at the time was so hot that some of the companions mention that they had to put some clothes underneath their feet in order to protect them from the heat. The question thus becomes, why would the Prophet (S) put all this hardship on all of these people just to say Ali (A) is your supporter and friend, be his supporter and friend? It goes counter to all the evidence surrounding the Hadeeth as well as the wording as we mentioned.

Being congratulated by the companions of the Prophet (S). Many non-Shia scholars who narrated the full Hadeeth mention that after the appointment the Muslims took turns congratulating Ali (A) and paying allegiance to him. Why would they congratulate him if all he the Prophet (S) said was that everyone should be kind to him?

“The mu’mineen and mu’minat are supporters (awlya’) of eachother” (Tawbah 71). This verse uses the other meaning of mawla which is supporter and generalizes this meaning over all the mu’mineen and the mu’minat. If we take the other understaning of the Hadeeth and that the Prophet (S) only meant to say that Ali (A) is the supporter of the Muslims, then all he did was saying this verse applies to Ali (A) and that is meaningless since the verse applies to many others and no one ever doubted that Ali (A) is one of the mu’mineen. Are we to believe that the Prophet (S) went through all that trouble to say something meaningless?

The verses related to Ghadeer. “Today I completed your religion for you and fulfilled my blessings to you and approved Islam as your religion” and “O’ Messenger convey what has been brought down to you from your Lord and if you do not you did not convey his Message and Allah will protect you from the People”. These two verses go a long way to proving the importance of this event. However, talking about them requires much more detail and we will leave it for later.

Final Note

An important note that we should mention here concerns one of the most famous arguments raised by non-Shia: if Ali (A) holds such a high position and following him and the rest of the Imams is one of the Roots of the religion, why did Allah (SWT) not explicitly mention his name in the Quran? One of the clear answers is that the Prophet (S) is the one who brought us the Quran, and he is the one who said these statements in Ghadeer Khum. These statements as we mentioned are mutawatar (certain) as said by Sunni scholars and therefore hold the same evidence on the people as the verses of the Quran and yet the people found ways to confuse Arabic words and tried their best to develop arguments to change the meaning of the Hadeeth.

What exactly are people looking for? The Prophet (S) stops everyone in the middle of an extremely hot day and makes everyone wait for the maximum number of people to gather, goes on a stage, makes sure everyone hears him and sees him, asks the people who their leader is and if he has authority on them and then says that whatever authority he has, Ali (A) has the same authority, and he states that those who are present should tell those who aren't. This isn't even done when the Prophet (S) announces new verses of the Quran and yet people found a way around it. If Ali (A) was mentioned and the Quran said "Ali is your Imam" or "Ali is my successor", the people would still find a way to reinterpret Imam and successor to mean something different. The evidence is clear for those who have an open mind and those who want to follow the right path, those who do not want it will not change regardless of the weight of the evidence.


The Hadeeth of Ghadeer is beyond doubts in terms of its narration. Any doubts that were raised about its meaning or what it establishes can also be removed by careful analysis of the words, context and verses related to the Hadeeth. If someone comes to all of this evidence with an open mind, there is only one conclusion that can be gotten: A great event took place on that day and the consequences of that event are long lasting and we still live the blessings of that day today because we are able to hold on to the way of the Prophet (S) through Imam Ali (A) and the rest of the Imams.


The following books were used as sources for this article. Please review them for further analysis or specifics such as page numbers and detailed information:

1 Hadeeth Alghadeer, S. Ali Alhussaini Almilani
2 Dala’il Alsidq, Sh. Almothafar



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