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Hadith of Ghadir Khumm [A Sunni Perspective]
It is impossible to discuss the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm without first understanding the specific context in which the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم)
said what he said. This is a general rule of thumb pertaining to the
Islamic canon as a whole: it is important to know the background in
which a Quranic verse was revealed or a certain Hadith was said.
For example, the Quranic verse “slay them wherever you find them” is
often used by Orientalists to wrongfully make it appear as if Islam
advocates the slaying of people wherever you find them all the time.
Of course, if we look at when this verse was revealed, we find that it
was specifically revealed during a battle between the Muslims and the
Quraish Mushriks; this makes us realize that it is not a general ruling
to slay people but rather it was a verse revealed in a specific
Likewise, the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm can only be understood in the
context in which it was said: A group of soldiers were severely
criticizing Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضّى الله عنه) over a certain matter, and this news reached the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم),
who then said what he said in the Hadith of Ghadir Khumm. Like the
Orientalists, the Shia propagandists attempt to remove this background
context in which the Hadith was said in order to paint a totally
different (and misleading) picture.
The Prophet’s intention behind saying what he said at Ghadir Khumm was not at all to nominate Ali (رضّى الله عنه) as Caliph but rather it was only to defend Ali (رضّى الله عنه)
against the slander being said against him. It is only by removing the
background context that it is possible to render a Shia understanding
of the text; it is for this reason that we should always remind our
Shia brothers of the background context in which the Hadith of Ghadir
Khumm was said.
The Importance of Ghadir Khumm to the Shia
The Shia claim that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) divinely appointed Ali (رضّى الله عنه)
to be his successor at a place called Ghadir Khumm. Before we discuss
the event of Ghadir Khumm with our Shia brothers, we should first define
the parameters of such a debate. In other words, we should “set the
(1) If the Shia can prove their version of Ghadir Khumm, then definitely Ali (رضّى الله عنه) was divinely appointed by the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) and the Shia creed is correct.
(2) If, however, the Sunnis disprove the idea that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) appointed Ali (رضّى الله عنه) at Ghadir Khumm, then our Shia brothers should be willing to accept the fact that Ali (رضّى الله عنه) was never appointed at all by the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) and therefore the entire Shia creed is invalid.
The reason we need to make this very clear from the outset is that
the Shia propagandists have this uncanny ability to move the goalposts
whenever they lose a debate. They will jump from one topic to another;
if they lose the debate over Ghadir Khumm, then they will bring up the
Incident of the Door, or Saqifah, or Fadak, or who knows what else.
The entire foundation of Shi’ism rests on the event of Ghadir Khumm, because it is here that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) supposedly nominated Ali (رضّى الله عنه) to be his successor. If this event did not take place as the Shia claim, then the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) never appointed Ali (رضّى الله عنه) and the Shia must abandon all of their claims, such as the idea that Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه) usurped the God-appointed Caliphate of Ali (رضّى الله عنه).
Indeed, the event of Ghadir Khumm is so central to the Shia
paradigm–and so important to the Shia theology–that the Shia masses have
a yearly celebration known as “Eid-e-Ghadir”.
Based on what supposedly happened at Ghadir Khumm, the Shia reject the Caliphate of Abu Bakr (رضّى الله عنه), split away from the mainstream Muslims, and declare that Ali (رضّى الله عنه)
was the first of the divinely appointed Imams. The Shia website,
Al-Islam.org, refers to Ghadir Khumm as a “momentous event” and the
basis for the Imamah of Ali (رضّى الله عنه).
Amaana.org says “Eid-e Gadhir is celebrated with great
rejoicing by Shia Muslims where they remember Prophet Muhammad’s last
instructions to the believers. Eid-e-Ghadir is one of the most important
days of rejoicing for Shia Muslims around the world as that was the day
our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.) declared Hazrat Ali’s vicegerency
at Ghadir e Khumm on his return from his last pilgrimage…
source: http://www.amaana.org/gadhir/gadhir1.htm ” The reason it is neccessary to strongly emphasize the importance of
Ghadir Khumm to the Shia is that we will show how the supposedly
strongest ‘weapon’ in the arsenal of the Shia propaganda is actually
very weak. If this is the very basis of Shi’ism, then indeed Shi’ism is
a very weak doctrine. The Shia say that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) appointed Ali (رضّى الله عنه) at Ghadir Khumm but simple logic dictates otherwise.
What the Shia Claim Happened
Al-Islam.org says “After completing his last pilgrimage
(Hajjatul-Wada’), Prophet was leaving Makkah toward Madinah, where
he and the crowd of people reached a place called Ghadir Khumm (which is
close to today’s al-Juhfah). It was a place where people from
different provinces used to greet each other before taking different
routes for their homes.
In this place, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
“O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord;
and if you don’t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and
Allah will protect you from the people …” (Qur’an 5:67)
The last sentence in the above verse indicates that the Prophet
was mindful of the reaction of his people in delivering that message but
Allah informs him not to worry, for He will protect His Messenger from
Then followed the key sentence denoting the clear designation of ‘Ali
as the leader of the Muslim ummah. The Prophet held up the hand of
‘Ali and said:
“For whoever I am his Leader (mawla), ‘Ali is his Leader (mawla).”
Immediately after the Prophet finished his speech, the following verse of the Qur’an was revealed:
“Today I have perfected your religion and completed my favour
upon you, and I was satisfied that Islam be your religion.” (Qur’an 5:3)
The above verse clearly indicates that Islam without clearing up
matter of leadership after Prophet was not complete, and completion
of religion was due to announcement of the Prophet’s immediate