In the Holy Qur’an, there are verses that only correspond with the issue of Ghadir and not with any other issue. There is a well-known verse that says, “Today the unbelievers have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved of Islam for your religion.” [Qur’an, 5:3] This verse is in the beginning of Chapter al-Ma’ida and it does not correspond with any issue other than the issue of Ghadir in terms of importance, significance and value. Only such an issue can match the sentence, “Today the unbelievers have despaired of your religion.” Those who have questioned the meaning of these verses and those who make certain comments in attempting to reject this issue – the opponents of Ghadir and those who do not believe in it – have interpreted this verse in certain ways. But this part of the verse cannot be interpreted in any other way. Today is the day that the enemies, the unbelievers, have despaired about your religion. What has been added to the religion that has caused the enemy to despair? How significant are the religious rules that have appeared in this verse and the beginning of Chapter al-Ma’ida both before and after this part of the verse? This part of the verse does not refer to the daily prayers, zakat, or jihad. Nor does it refer to any of the aforementioned rules, “Today the unbelievers have despaired of your religion.” So, there is another issue involved, one that is not related to the religious rules that appear in this chapter. What is that issue?
It is the issue of the leadership of the Islamic community. It is the issue of government and Imamate in the Islamic community. Of course, it was possible that Muslims would not obey this command. And actually, they did not obey it! For several centuries, the Bani Umayyad, the Bani Abbasid, and other such groups lived like kings and ruled over the people in the name of Imamate, caliphate, and the like. However, this does not harm the philosophy of Ghadir. The event determining Ghadir was an event that determined a rule and a regulation. A certain regulation was introduced in Islam. In the last months of his life, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) issued a regulation. What is that regulation? The regulation of Imamate, the regulation of Guardianship. Since long before the Holy Prophet (pbuh), human societies had governments. Humanity has experienced all sorts of governments, but Islam does not accept such systems, such kinds of power, and such governments. It believes in Imamate. This is the regulation of Islam, and Ghadir announced this regulation. And it is clear to whom it refers. The Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) is a person whose personality and status as God’s representative of Quranic concepts and teachings cannot be tarnished by anyone living either in those times or afterward. Well, they used to curse him, but they even curse God and the Holy Prophet, God forbid. Curses are not a reason. When everyone thinks, when everyone abandons their biased feelings, they (the enemies) cannot cause the least amount of damage to this enlightened, sacred body. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) chose that person (Imam Ali (pbuh)) as the embodiment of Imamate. This became a regulation. Until the end of the world, whenever Muslims want to be guided by God so that they can implement Islam and achieve the Islamic community, this will be the rule and the regulation. They must revive Imamate. Of course, they will never be able to even get close to any of the criteria and standards that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) announced. They cannot even get close to a lesser degree. If we want to compare our greatest scholarly, spiritual, mystical, and philosophical personalities with the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh), they are like a faint ray of light that one sees at the bottom of a well. Now, compare this with the sun. Of course, they are the same. It is the same beam, but from what distance? How different are they from one other? [Sept. 20, 2016]
Why did God tell Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that if he didn’t make the announcement at Ghadir, his prophethood would not be fulfilled?
Such distances exist, but this is the regulation. This is the regulation of Imamate. The regulation of government, authority, and ruling in the Islamic community was determined and established by Ghadir. This is the significance of Ghadir. The significance of Ghadir is not confined to the appointment of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh). Of course, this appointment is important, but what is more important is that rules and regulations were specified. It became clear that in the Islamic community, a monarchy is meaningless. It became clear that a government by an individual, an aristocratic government, a government of gold and power, an arrogant government over the people, a government of aggression, greed, and the accumulation of wealth for individuals, and a government for pursuing lustfulness are meaningless (and unacceptable). It became clear that Islam is like this. This regulation was issued in Ghadir.
This law was issued, “Today the unbelievers have despaired of your religion.” When this was issued, the enemies lost all hope of changing the path of religion. This is because the path of religion changes only when the central point and the main nucleus change. If the nucleus of power, management, and leadership changes, then everything will change. Of course, in reality, certain changes took place. Certain individuals from Bani Umayyad and Bani Abbasid seized power in the name of Islam, and so did Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, but they could not disrupt the regulation.
Today, if some people in the world of Islam – those who are familiar with Islamic teachings – refer to the Holy Qur’an and if they look at the regulations that exist in the Holy Qur’an about serving God, about one’s lifestyle, and about the orientation of those nations who serve God, it will not be possible for them to conclude other than the Imamate of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) and what comes with him.
This is our claim, and we can fully prove this claim. If people in the world of Islam – including intellectuals, thinkers, philosophers, and those who have had other beliefs since the first day – choose the Qur’an, Quranic values, and Quranic regulations for guiding life in human societies as the main standard, they will not reach any conclusion other than that a person like Ali ibn Abi Talib (pbuh) should rule over Islamic societies. This is the path. The path is the path of Imamate. This is about Ghadir.
Well, when Ghadir is of such significance, it becomes clear what the other holy verse means, “O Messenger! Communicate that which has been revealed to you from your Lord. And if you do not do it, you will not have communicated His message.” [Qur’an, 5:67] It says that if you do not announce this to the people, you have not fulfilled your mission. At that time, it had been 23 years that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) had been working hard. All those efforts in Mecca, in Medina, those wars, that self-sacrifice, that strictness about himself, and the great guidance which that great personage provided for human beings were accomplished during those 23 years. So, what was that event and duty without which, all those efforts would be worthless, “And if you do not do it, you will not have communicated His message.”
This announcement could not be related to some peripheral religious rules. It was something beyond that. What was it? It was imamate. Who is the first Imam? The Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself. Imam Sadiq (pbuh) said the following in Mina, “God’s Messenger was the first Imam. Ali ibn Abi Talib was Imam after him.” [Kafi, vol. 4, p. 466] After them were the other Imams (pbut). After putting Prophet Abraham through all those tests, and after he had passed all those difficult stages – he was thrown into the fire in his youthhood. After that, he went to Babylon and other areas, and he experienced great hardships. God, the Exalted, told him when he had become old, “I will make you an Imam to the nations.” [Qur’an, 2:124]
God told him that He wanted to make him an Imam. This is what Imamate means. This is an ideology, an Islamic ideology that is based on firm principles and irrefutable arguments. We invite the entire world of Islam and all intellectuals to this. The unity that the world of Islam needs today can be easily understood by contemplating Quranic verses and truths provided that intellectuals and religious scholars pursue such issues. [Sept. 20, 2016]
Based on which criteria was Imam Ali (pbuh) chosen by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be his successor?
As may be seen in the history of Islam, the issue of Imamate and Guardianship is a divine issue. It was not the case that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) appointed the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) as his successor according to his personal assessment of the situation. This was God’s decision. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) delivered the message of Islam to different Arab tribes from the beginning of his prophethood. He went to different tribes during the early stages of his prophethood. Once he visited the head of a tribe who told him that his entire tribe was prepared to convert to Islam on the condition that his tribe would take on the responsibility of leadership after the Prophet (pbuh). He said that his tribe would agree to convert to Islam provided that the Prophet (pbuh) would permit the head of his tribe to be the Prophet’s (pbuh) successor. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) rejected his offer and said, “This is a divine issue.” The Prophet (pbuh) said that the appointment of a successor was not based on his decision. As a result, the tribe did not accept the Prophet’s invitation to Islam. This event is indisputable in the history of Islam. Our Sunni brothers have also narrated this event. Shi’a and Sunni have not narrated differing accounts of this event. Therefore, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) appointed Imam Ali (pbuh) as his successor based on a divine revelation. The appointment of a successor was a decision that was made by God.
But, if it was up to the Holy Prophet (pbuh), who would he have appointed as his successor? Logically, his successor had to be the embodiment of all the essential qualities specified in Islam. Muslims living in different parts of the world can compare the qualifications of the Commander of the Faithful with the other companions of the Prophet. Although several traditions have been narrated regarding the virtues of some of the Prophet’s companions, Muslims can measure Imam Ali’s (pbuh) qualifications in comparison with those specified in the Qur’an and reliable Islamic narrations. Then they will see who was more qualified to be the successor of the Prophet (pbuh). Knowledge is one of the criteria. Regarding his knowledge, both Shi’a and Sunni narrations confirm that the Holy Prophet said, “I am the city of knowledge, and Ali is the gate to it.” This is the best testimony to Imam Ali’s knowledge. Regarding his struggle on the path of God, the Exalted God said, “And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah.” [Qur’an, 2:207] This Quranic verse describes the selflessness of the Commander of the Faithful. There are no other such revelations about other people in the Qur’an. Regarding his charitable activities, there is the verse, “They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, and the prisoner.” [Qur’an, 76:8] This verse is about the Commander of the Faithful and his family. “Your Guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down.” [Qur’an, 5:55] Everyone agrees that this verse was revealed about Imam Ali (pbuh). He had each and every one of the qualifications specified in Islam, including knowledge, piety, charitable activities, selfless efforts, and struggle on the path of God. Who can deny the fact that Imam Ali (pbuh) had these qualifications? [Dec. 6, 2009]
Ghadir is an answer to those who claim religion is separate from politics
The issue of Ghadir is a very important issue in the history of Islam. First, consider the essence of this astonishing, important event and this holy statement, “For whomsoever, I am his master, Ali is also his master.” This is not something that only the Shi’a have narrated. This event is one of the clear, absolute truths. Those who have wanted to find fault with this event were unable to cast doubt on the origin of this statement. Rather, they resorted to interpretation, justification, and explaining the meaning of this sentence.
The event of Ghadir is a clear historical, Islamic issue. The doubts and questions about the meaning of this sentence that have come to the minds of some intellectual and philosophical newcomers today are the same doubts and questions that have been raised since a thousand years ago. And these questions have been answered by great scholars. Therefore, there is no room for raising doubts about the essence of this issue, not about this event or about what the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said. On that day, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) asked the people, “Am I not closer to you than your own selves?” This sentence was a reference to a Quranic verse that says, “The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves.” [Qur’an, 33:6]. Then, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said, “For whomsoever, I am his master, Ali is also his master.” So, there is no room for doubt about the essence of this issue.
What should be said about the content of this historical, noble, meaningful sentence – apart from the appointment of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) as the caliph and Imam after the Holy Prophet (pbuh), which is the common meaning of this sentence – is that there is another important issue that should not be ignored. This issue is the attention Islam pays to the issue of government and politics and the significance of this issue from the viewpoint of Islam.
Ghadir is an answer to those who have tried to exclude Islam from social and political issues, confine it to personal, individual affairs, and adopt a secular outlook toward Islam. This is an outlook the enemies and their propaganda efforts have been trying to promote among Muslims for many years. At the command of God, the Exalted, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) addressed an important, fundamental issue in that sensitive situation and during the last months of his life. This important issue was attending to the issue of government after the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Here, the appointment of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) was not confined to spiritual matters. Rather, it can be said that spiritual matters are not things that someone can be appointed or elected for. Those issues for which someone can be appointed are government, politics, and the management of the country and the Islamic society. This is what the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was recommending to the people. This is an important point about the issue of Ghadir and it is a rejoinder to all those people who think and promote the idea that Islam should be kept away from political issues, issues related to the government, and the like.
Therefore, these two truths exist in the event of Ghadir. That is to say, the very important, the truth about the appointment of the Commander of the Faithful (pbuh) as the Imam after the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and the truth about attending to the issue of government, politics, Imamate, and managing the Islamic nation after the Holy Prophet (pbuh) exist. And they are among the teachings that have been guaranteed by Ghadir. They are a great lesson for all Muslims, both for the present and the future. [Oct. 13, 2014]