The Verse Of Proclamation
“The Holy Prophet issued his declaration to the Muslims at Ghadir Khum concerning Ali after he was commanded by the Almighty to proclaim Ali’s leadership.
We read in chapter 5 Al-Ma-idah (the Food) the following verse:
“O Apostle proclaim the message which had been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou do not thou would not have communicated His message. And God will protect thee from (mischievous) people. Certainly God guides not the unbelievers.” The Holy Quran chapter 5 verse 67.
This verse regardless of any hadith that contains its explanation informs us of the following:
The Contents of the Message
Had this verse been revealed while the Messenger was still in Mecca in the first three years of his mission we would understand that the Prophet was afraid to confront his pagan society with the invitation to disregard its idols. But this verse is a part of the chapter of “Al Ma-idah” (the Food) which is Medinite one hundred percent. This meant that the verse as well as the whole chapter of the Food were revealed after the departure of the Holy Prophet from Mecca. Therefore, the Prophet’s delay in communicating the previous message was not motivated by his fear of confronting the pagan society with the doctrine of Monotheism.
Had this verse been revealed at the beginning of the Period of the Hijrah the content of the previous Message could be a commandment to combat the pagan warriors or pertaining to a prayer or Zakat or fast which seemed to fall heavy on the Muslims. Such a commandment means loss of lives and wealth or additional toil and the Prophet was afraid that the Muslims would not like that. But the chapter of Food was revealed during the tenth year of the Hijrah after all devotional duties were proclaimed and after the Muslims had already participated in numerous battles against the pagans and others.
It is reported that Ayeshah and Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar both said that “Al-Ma’idah” (the chapter of Food) was the last chapter of the Holy Qur’an.16 This is supported by the fact that the chapter contains a verse proclaiming the completion of religion:
“Today I have completed your religion for you and perfected My favor upon you and chosen Islam as a religion for you.” The Holy Quran Chapter 5 verse 3
This verse was revealed when the Messenger was on the Mount of Arafat. Al-Bukhari recorded in his Sahih that ‘Umar reported that.17 It is also reported that the verse of the completion of the religion was revealed when the Messenger was coming back from the Valedictory Pilgrimage while he was speaking on the Day of Ghadir Khum. Many hadiths have reported that and I shall mention some of them.
From this we know that the contents of the Message which the Holy Prophet delayed its proclamation was not a commandment pertaining to the proclamation of the doctrine of the One God. Nor was it pertaining to a devotional duty or a defensive war against the pagans or the followers of the Scriptures. It was rather a commandment pertaining to a matter belonging to the internal political affairs of the Muslim State. Thus we have the two following facts:
(1) The 5th Qur’anic chapter Al-Maidah which contains this verse was revealed during the Valedictory Pilgrimage or after its performance.
(2) The Messenger at Ghadir Khum proclaimed that Ali is like him the Mawla of all believers. This took place while he was returning from his Valedictory Pilgrimage.
Putting these facts together it would be very logical to infer that the contents of the message had to deal with the proclamation of Ali’s leadership.
This means that when the Messenger received the order from his Lord to proclaim Ali’s leadership he feared that some of his followers might think that he favored Ali because of his relationship to him. Upon this the Revelation came down ordering him to proclaim what he received from his Lord. Otherwise he would not have fulfilled his mission as the Messenger of God.
This warning was coupled with a Divine Promise: That God will protect him from the people whom he feared. When he received this serious commandment he suddenly stopped at Ghadir Khum to proclaim what he received from his Lord concerning Ali.
Political and Religious Leadership
Should this be what the verse meant then what the Messenger has proclaimed in his declaration on the Day of Ghadir Khum was the religious and worldly leadership of Ali which was similar to the leadership of the Holy Messenger. Had what the Holy Prophet meant been less than worldly leadership he would not have feared the disagreement of his followers and there would have been no need for the strong command and serious warning. The ambitious Meccans and non-Meccans who were aspirant for the Islamic leadership would not be disturbed by giving Ali any rank if that rank did not include his political leadership.
The commandment of proclamation is evidence that the Almighty wanted to secure for His servant Muslims the leadership with which they will never go astray: That is the leadership of Ali, the head of the members of the House which does not part with the Holy Quran and insures the nation’s unity and progress. To comply with this Divine order the Messenger stood up to address the thousands of pilgrims declaring what he declared on Ghadir Khum.
It may be said that the message which the Holy Prophet delayed for his fear of dispute was pertaining to the people of the Scripture. The evidence for this is that before this verse we read verses speaking of the people of the scriptures. Among which is the following:
Quran (5:64-66) “The Jews say: God’s hand is tied up. Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they uttered. Nay His both hands are widely outstretched; He gives and spends (of His bounty) as He pleases. But the Revelation that comes to you from God increases in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Among them We have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war God does extinguish it but they (ever strive) to do mischief on earth and God loves not those who do mischief. If only the people of the Book had believed and been righteous we would indeed have blotted out their inequities and admitted them to Paradise of bliss. If only they had stood fast by the Law (the Old Testament) the Gospel and all the Revelation that was sent to them from their Lord they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil.”
In fact after the Verse of Proclamation we find a number of verses dealing with the people of the Scripture of which are the following:
“Say: O people of the Book ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Old Testament and the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from thy Lord. It is the revelation that has come to you from thy Lord that increases in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy but sorrow thou not over these faithless people.” The Holy Quran chapter 5 verse 68
If we look at the verse deeply we can easily conclude that it is independent from the verses which precede it. The meaning of the Verse of Proclamation indicates that it has no relation with what was recorded before it or after it. The Verse of Proclamation indicates that the Messenger was afraid to announce the contents of the message to which the verse of proclamation refers. But the Messenger was not afraid at the time of its revelation to announce any message dealing with the relation of the Muslims to the people of the Scriptures. For example, many battles between the Muslims and the Jews took place before the revelation of this chapter. Of those battles were: The Battle of Banu Qaynuqa (2AH), the Battle of Banu Nadir (3AH) which took place at the beginning of the period of Hijrah and the Battle of Banu Qurayza which took place after the Battles of the Confederation or (the Battle of the Trench) in the fifth year after the Hijrah. The final of those battles between the Prophet and the Jews was the Battle of Khaibar which took place during the 6th year after the Hijrah. By this time all Jewish danger against the Muslims came to an end. Thus the Messenger would not be in a state of fear of Jews if he were to announce a message against them during the 10th year after the Hijrah. Moreover, the Muslims and the Christians were in a state of war started with the Battle of Mutah during the year 8AH and followed by the Battle of Tabook during the year 9AH. Since the Holy Prophet was not afraid to fight the Christians at the battlefield he could not be afraid to announce any message against them.
In addition to this many chapters which were revealed before the chapter of “Al-Ma-idah” (the Food) contain verses whose contents are similar to the contents of the verses which preceded or followed the Verse of Proclamation in the chapter of Al-Ma-idah. The verses which preceded this verse command the believer not to take offense from the people of the Scripture who ridiculed the Faith of Islam and mention that from among those people are the ones who were cursed by God and whom God transformed into apes and swines (5:60.) The verses call them hypocrites who tell the Muslims that they have believed in Islam yet they hasten to sinful actions and take the unlawful fund. The verses state that whenever they start the fire of war God extinguishes it (5:64.) Had the people of the Scriptures been righteous and followed the Old Testament and the Gospel they would have entered Paradise and would have eaten from above them and from below them and from what is under their feet (5:65-66.)
What follows these verses states that the people of the Scriptures are not on a solid foundation until they follow the Old Testament and the Gospel (5:68.) It states also that the children of Israel had killed some Messengers and discredited others after the covenant was made between God and them and that those who say that the Messiah is God are unbelievers (5:70-73.)
These contents and many similar to them were announced in various chapters which were revealed before the time of the chapter 5 “Al-Ma-idah” (the Food). In the second chapter we read the following:
“Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not ye puffed up with pride? Some ye called imposters and others ye slew. They say our hearts are wrapped (Thus we need no more of God’s Apostle). Nay God’s curse is on them for their blasphemy; little is it they believe.” The Holy Quran chapter 2:87-88
And in the 3rd chapter of (Al-Imran) we read the following:
“If only the people of the Book had faith it were best for them; among them are some who have faith but most of them are perverted transgressors. They will do you no harm barring a trifling annoyance; if they come out to fight you they will show you their backs and no help shall they get. Shame is pitched for them (like a tent) wherever they are found except when under the covenant of protection from God and from men. They draw on themselves wrath from God and pitched over them a tent of destitution. This is because they rejected the signs of God and slew the Prophets in defiance of right. This is because they rebelled and transgressed beyond bounds.” The Holy Quran Chapter 3 verses 110 to 113
And in the chapter of Mary which is a Meccan chapter we read the following:
“They say: (God) Most Gracious has begotten a son! Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous. At it the skies are almost ready to burst the earth to split asunder and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin that they should invoke a son for (God) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the Majesty of God (Most Gracious) that He should beget a son.” The Holy Quran Chapter 19 Verses 88 to 94
And in the chapter of Bara-ah which was revealed during the 9th year after the Hijrah. We read the following:
“They take their priests and their monks to be their Lords other than God and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God. There is no God but Him. Praise and Glory belong to Him; For He is above having the partners they associate with Him).” The Holy Quran Chapter 9 verse 31
All these verses indicate that the Messenger was not afraid during the 10th year after the Hijrah to confront the people of the Scriptures with a battle or message. But the Verse of Proclamation tells us that he was apprehensive of announcing a message which was revealed to him and God ordered him to announce it and promised to protect him from people. Therefore, the content of the Verse of Proclamation testifies that it is not related to the verses before it or after it. It is completely independent of those verses. This is what compels us to conclude that what the Messenger had feared to communicate to the people was not a message relating to the foreign policy dealing with the people of the Scriptures or the Polytheists. It was rather a message dealing with an internal political affair. Since it was not dealing with the devotional Islamic duties it would be logical to conclude that the delayed message was dealing with the rule and the leadership of the Islamic State.
The chapter of Al-Ma-idah had been revealed during the Valedictory pilgrimage or while the Prophet was on his way back from this Pilgrimage as many hadiths indicate. This Revelation was followed by the Messenger’s sudden stop at Ghadir Khum rallying the pilgrims to announce to them the leadership of Ali. Putting the two events together we may logically conclude that the content of the delayed message was the proclamation of that leadership. We can conclude this without resorting to the various hadiths which announced the reasons of the Revelation of the Verse of Proclamation.
Our certainty increases when we know that several hadiths stated that the Verse of Proclamation had to deal with the leadership of the Imam Ali. Al-Soyouti recorded that Al-Hafith Ibn Abu Hatem recorded that Abu-Sa-eed Al-Khidri reported that the Messenger of God on the day of Ghadir Khum received the revelation of the Verse of Proclamation and that it was revealed concerning Ali Ibn Abu Talib.19
It is recorded in Kanz Al-Ummal part 6 page 143 that Al-Mahamili reported in his Amali through his channel to Ibn Abbas the following:
“When the Prophet was commanded to proclaim Ali’s leadership the Prophet went to Mecca. He said: I see the Muslims coming afresh from the period of pre-Islam. If I deliver the message about Ali they would say he favored his cousin. The Prophet went on until he completed the Valedictory Pilgrimage then he set out towards Medina until he came to Ghadir Khum. At that place the Almighty revealed to him: “O Messenger deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord”… A caller summoned the pilgrims for prayer. Then the Prophet stood up and held the hand of Ali and said: “Whoever I am his Mawla Ali is his Mawla. God love whoever loves him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him.”20
Ibn Mardawaih reported similar to these words through his channel to Ibn Abbas. Ibn Batreeq in his book Al-Omdah page 49 reported that Abu Is-haq Al-Thaa- labi reported in his Commentary on the Holy Qur’an (Al-Kashf and Al-Bayan) that Al-Imam Al-Baqir and Ibn Abbas said that the Verse of Proclamation was revealed to the Messenger concerning Ali and that the Messenger took the hand of Ali and said “Whoever I am his Mawla Ali is his Mawla.” 21 Sheikh Al-Islam Abu Is-haq Al-Hamweeni in his book The Reasons of Revelation page 150 recorded that Abu Saeed Al-Khidri said that this verse was revealed on the Day of Ghadir Khum concerning Ali Ibn Abu Talib.22 Imam Fakhr-Ul-Deen Al-Razi in his big Commentary on the Holy Quran part 3 page 637 said that Al-Bura Ibn Azib Ibn Abbas and Muhammad Ibn Ali reported that the verse was revealed about Ali Ibn Abu Talib.
Thus the historical declaration of the Messenger on the day of Ghadir Khum was a compliance to a Divine Revelation commanding him to communicate to the Muslims the leadership of Ali and promising him protection against whomever he feared if he communicated it. This shows clearly that the declaration of Al-Ghadir was extremely important. It meant that Ali’s announced leadership includes the political and non-political affairs. Had it been anything less than that the revelation would not have come down commanding and warning the Holy Prophet. For non-political leadership of Ali would not be objectionable to the ambitious companions.
Why did the Prophet not say: “‘Ali is your Ameer or my Caliph or your Imam?”
The Declaration of Ghadir is well known to the Muslim scholars from every School of Thought. Yet many Muslim scholars say that the declaration does not prove that Ali is the Caliph of the Prophet and that the Prophet had chosen him as his successor. Had he chosen him as his successor he should not have used the word Mawla or wali. He should have rather said to the Muslims: Ali is your “Ameer” after me or he is my Caliph or he is your Imam after me.
The Messenger did not say “Ali is your Ameer after me ” because the Messenger did not usually use the word ameer in any matter other than military affairs or the leadership of pilgrimage. As to the administration of the affairs of the Muslims in general or in some Islamic provinces the Messenger used to use the word “wilayah” (right of management of the public or private affairs in the people’s interest). He used to send administrators to some provinces and call them Wulat (plural of Wali) and he used to call himself “Waliyyu Al-Muslimeen” (Guardian of the Muslims)
The Holy Quran declared:
“The Prophet is Mawla (has more authority) over the believers than they have over themselves…” (Chapter 33 verse 6).
“Your Wali (Guardian) is only God His Messenger and the believers who offer the prayer and give the poor Zakat while they are bowing.” The Holy Quran chapter 5 verse 55.
“There (on the Day of Judgment) Al-wilayat (the authority) belongs only to God the True God. He is the Best Rewarder and the Best Granter of a good fate.” The Holy Quran chapter 18 verse 44.
The Holy Quran also declares:
“And you should know that God is your Mawla (Guardian). He is the Good Mawla and He is the Good Helper.” The Holy Quran chapter 8 verse 40.
I did not see in the above verses of the Holy Quran that God called His Messenger “Ameer ” nor did I see in any hadith that the Holy Prophet called himself Ameer or “Hakim” (ruler) or governor. The reason is that the natural relationship between the administrator of the affairs of the Muslims and the Muslims is not a relation between a ruler and a ruled or a prince or a king and subjects. It is rather a relation similar to that of a father to his children. He administers their affairs and protects their interests as a father protects the interests of his children. The administrators of the affairs of Muslims are not a high class and the rest of the people are not a lower class.
As to the question of why did not the Prophet use the word Caliph the answer is that a caliph should be obeyed only after the death of the Messenger. Ali according to the Prophet’s declaration is not only his successor but also his deputy during his life time and his successor after his death. Thus he was to be obeyed at the time of the Prophet as well as after him.
I have advanced that Abu Dharr reported that the Messenger said: “Ali, whoever obeys me obeys God and whoever obeys you obeys me and whoever disobeys me disobeys God and whoever disobeys you disobeys me.”23 Thus Ali was not only a successor of the Messenger but also his representative and deputy during his lifetime. He was (according to the Declaration of Ghadir Khum) like the Prophet in being a guardian of the believers and having more authority over them than they have over themselves.
The Prophet declared that Ali to him is like Aaron to Moses and Aaron was deputy of Moses during his lifetime and like Moses a leader of the Israelites. This is what was expressed by all the hadiths in this chapter and previous chapters. We ought not forget that the Messenger said to Bureidah and other companions according to various hadiths:
“‘Ali is from me and I am from him and he is your Wali after me or that he is the Wali of every ‘Mu’min’ (believer) after me.” These hadiths unequivocally indicate that Ali is the Caliph of the Prophet and so does his statement in the hadiths of Al-Thaqalain which was discussed extensively in chapter 37. These hadiths state clearly that the members of the House of the Holy Prophet are successors of the Prophet and Ali was the head of the members of his House.
Before I conclude my discussion about the Declaration of Ghadir Khum I would like to mention that the Muslims who argue against the indication of the hadith on the succession of the Imam to the Messenger were not motivated by stubbornness or prejudice. Their negative attitude is due to the fact that they had grown up in a society which believes that the Messenger did not appoint any successor. Thus it became difficult for them to reconcile this belief and the indication of the Declaration of the Ghadir Khum that the Messenger had appointed Ali as his successor.
I would say sincerely that if the Messenger had stood on the day of Ghadir Khum saying: “Whoever I am his Mawla Abu Bakr is his Mawla. God love whoever loves him and be hostile to whoever is hostile to him,” I would have believed without any hesitation that the Messenger had appointed Abu Bakr as his successor.
Had this been the case the Muslims who deny the indication of Ali’s appointment would not deny Abu Bakr’s appointment. Had the Prophet said that Abu Bakr has more authority over the believers than they have over themselves and that the adherence to his command and the command of the Holy Quran is a security against straying, the Messenger’s appointment of Abu Bakr would not have become controversial.” 54
Why didn’t Allah put Ali’s name in Quranic Verse 5:67 to make it clearer?
“The fourth reason is that the danger this time is very grave. All of the tribes are hoping to attain this great honor of leadership and the desired kingship. Every tribe has great ambitions and hopes. If this is the condition and the people have returned back to their pre-Islamic ignorance, it is not a guarantee that they will obey the Quranic verse even if the Holy Quran explicitly states the name of the Executor. Their pre-Islamic ignorance that is dominant over them may lead them to very openly refuse the Quranic verse and cross limits which they never crossed before, as they dare disobey the Holy Quran itself. Their disobedience in this matter, however, will be a great disaster and will result in the fall of the Message from its foundation and the Quran as well, particularly when a holy verse is disobeyed openly. Certainly, the death of the message will be expected with the first disobedience to a verse in the Holy Book which is the constitution of the Ummah (nation). So it is logically better in this case to not expose the Quran to such danger in order to protect the main foundation and infrastructure of the message and nation. So by His Mercy, Allah (SWT) desired that He (SWT) does not impose a burden on them that is more than what they can bear and not to drive them to disobey Him openly and deviate from His Book. That is because they are driven by their ignorance, fanaticism, doubt, weak faith, and their extreme love of power, authority, leadership, pride, and honor. If it was not for this great wisdom from Allah (SWT), the Message would have totally been stepped over and there would not be any traces left of it. Praise be to Allah, and He is the Most Wise!
We now return to our topic of discussion. The verses of the Holy Quran descended on the Prophet to encourage him and protect him. However, the divine command does not explicitly convey the command and it descended as follows: “Oh Messenger, proclaim the message which has been sent to you from your Lord. And if you don’t do it, then you have not fulfilled and proclaimed His Message. And Allah will completely protect you from the people (who mean mischief) [5:67].” This verse clearly encourages the Prophet (SWT) by correlating for him the conveyance of this particular order (which is without a direct Quranic text) and conveying the whole message. So if he does not deliver this last order, he will have wasted all his efforts for 23 years which he spent in conveying the message, piece by piece, and order by order. So, will the Prophet (SA) accept this and disappoint his Lord? Surely not! This was the best way for Allah (SWT) to encourage the Prophet (SA). Furthermore, the equality between the whole message on one hand, and conveying the matter of successorship and Executorship on the other, gives the successorship great importance which in itself encourages the Prophet (SA) to achieve the mission.
Furthermore, Allah (SWT) promises him that He (SWT) will protect him from the people who are sick in the heart and the hypocrites surrounding him who bear hostility towards him and the religion he represents. The word “Ismah” (ya’semoka is derivative of the word ‘Ismah) is stronger in meaning than the word protection. Ismah in Arabic means to prevent the occurrence of something permanently. As for the meaning of protection, it is temporary, whether in time, place, or both. The verse in this case is not only directed to Prophet Muhammad (SA) in promising him divine protection from the people, but it is also directed to those people to remind and warn them that Allah (SWT) is stronger than them and that He will totally protect His Prophet from their evil talk and actions. At the same token, it also indicates that He (SWT) will protect His Executor from their evil too. Perhaps with this warning, they will back off when they are reminded that Allah (SWT) will protect His Prophet. Thus, it will motivate them to unconditionally obey and submit to the orders of Allah (SWT).
Sure enough these holy verses accomplished their intended effect. So the worries went away from the Prophet (SA) and he made his decision. He immediately ordered that all of the people stop wherever they were on the journey back from the farewell pilgrimage trip and he waited until all of the people who fell behind arrived. He summoned everyone who were ahead to come back and gather in one place. Then a Mu’adhin (person who calls the attention of others) called out to the people and announced that there is an important matter that the Prophet (SA) wants to convey to all of them. He wants to convey it to the twenty thousand people who were present in this pilgrimage journey. So all of the people gathered in a place known as GhadeerKhum and a high pulpit was set for the Messenger of Allah (SWT) so that everyone is able to hear him.
We can logically assert here that most if not all of the people knew and expected that the Prophet (SA) will without a doubt announce to them the name of the appointed and awaited successor and Executor. After all, they were anxiously waiting for that news especially since the past nine days. So here is the Prophet (SA) summoning them for a matter that is very important such that he ordered the people to stop immediately and gather one more time. Now, could such an important matter be anything else other than the announcement of the name of the successor and Executor which everyone is anticipating? The sincere believers are waiting to find out who their Executor and Wali after the Prophet (SA) would be whom they will pay their Zakat, Khums, and earnings to. They are waiting to find out who will be the Imam whom they will obey when he calls them for Jihad under his banner and who will be the guardian over their religion. Then there are those who have their eyes on power and leadership and are eager to win this great honor for themselves and their tribes. And the third party is the hypocrites and enemies of Islam who accepted Islam under the threat of the sword. So without a doubt, all of the people knew very well why they were gathered all of a sudden by the Prophet (SA) at such a time. This is similar to when we gather ourselves at the ‘Night of Doubt’ (Laylatul Shak) before the Holy month of Ramadan, and the radio broadcaster announces the important news that is coming from the Dar al-Iftaa (the House of Verdict). So, all of us at that time will naturally expect that the news will be about the viewing of the crescent. We will be excited to know whether the crescent has been seen or not and whether the first day of the month of Ramadan will be tomorrow or not.
Similarly, these people at Ghadeer Khum were on their toes as they anxiously waited to hear the name of the Executor and Successor. Since the Holy Prophet (SA) knew that Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) was the divinely appointed person even before the divine command descended, it was not a surprise to him, but to the people who had their eyes on this position they did not think that Ali would be elected although they had some fear of it. With their ignorance they thought that Prophet Muhammad (SA) is the one who will choose his successor, so they thought that he would take into account the habits of the Arabs, and so he would choose a well-respected person who is a chief and leader of his tribe. Furthermore, they expected that the Prophet (SA) should give this honor to another clan that is not Bani Hashim so that they can share in this pride and honor. This is all that they were concerned of due to their ignorance. As for the best interest of the religion and the logical attributes that should be present in the Executor and successor, all of that did not matter to them at all. Nor did they truly believe that the choice is from Allah (SWT), although they were taught that more than once in the past, but to no avail.
We could imagine how the situation was with such a great crowd that included many tribes, noblemen, and chiefs. They are all gathered together as their ears were open and their hearts were beating quickly as their minds were pondering over the different possibilities. Many were hoping to attain this honor of leadership over all the Arabs for the first time in history after a new state had been established by the virtue of this new religion.
The Holy Messenger (SA) stands up as he sees in their eyes what he sees. He praises Allah (SWT) and thanks Him. Then he reminds the people that he is the Messenger of Allah (SWT) and that he does not speak or act out of his own free will. Anything he says is an inspiration from God and he is now carrying out an order from Allah (SWT). He then seeks refuge with Allah (SWT) from the evil of the soul and the people. He depends totally on Allah (SWT) who completely protects and safeguards him. Then he reiterates to the people the news of his pending death and departure from this world. He asks them to bear witness in front of Allah (SWT) at that moment as they will do on the Day of Judgment and that he truthfully conveyed the Message to them from Allah (SWT) as He (SWT) ordered him. So the whole audience answered in one unanimous voice that they bear witness to that in front of Allah (SWT). Then he requested that they testify that they believe in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and that the Day of Judgment is truth, resurrection is truth, Paradise is truth, and Hell-Fire is truth. And they testified to all of that.
Then he said to them, “Dear People, listen to me carefully. Allah (SWT) has ordered me to inform you that I will soon depart from this world to meet my Lord. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to both of them, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my progeny, which is my Ahlul-Bayt (the People of my Household). The two shall never separate from each other until they meet me by the Pool) on the Day of Judgment. So my advice to you is that you be obedient and loyal to them. Do not go ahead of them or stay behind or you shall go astray.” Then the Prophet (SA) asked them, “Who is more worthy of your obedience than yourselves?” The people answered, “God and His Messenger know better.” The Prophet (SA) asked them, “Do I not deserve your obedience as Allah (SWT) mentioned in His dear Book?” So, they answered, “Yes, yes we testify to that.” Then, the Prophet (SA) leaned forward and raised the hand of Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) from among them and made him stand in front of him, showing him to everyone. Then he said loudly, “As I am worthy of your obedience, Ali is also worthy of your obedience. Whoever I am his guardian, Ali is also his guardian too.” Then, he raised his hands to the heavens and prayed to his Lord, “Oh God, safeguard those who take him as guardian, and be the enemy of those who take him as enemy. Give victory to those who support him, and let down those who let him down!” Then the Prophet (SA) asked them, “Have I not conveyed the order of Allah (SWT) to you?” They all replied in one unanimous voice, “Yes, yes.” Then he raised his hands to the heavens and said, “Oh God, bear witness to that.” Then he announced, “You may now be dismissed, and may those present inform the absent with what they heard from me.” Then he ordered all of them to shake the hands of Ali and give their pledge of allegiance after they finished, and all of them did (55).
At this very moment, as it is logically expected, a divine inspiration descended with the following Quranic verse, “Today I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Bounty upon you, and have approved for you Islam as your religion [5:3]” This verse is indeed a proof that Prophet Muhammad (SA) obeyed His Lord and carried out His orders. It indicates that Allah (SWT) is pleased with Muhammad’s speech and his carrying out of His orders, and thus, the religion has been perfected and bounty of God has been completed, truly and fairly. As to the reaction of the audience, some of them were totally shocked with the announcement. Some felt frustrated and the surprise fell upon them like lightening. Some were able to control their feelings, while others could not and they publicly announced their hostility as their hopes were let down. They publicly vented their anger and showed their animosity. One of them stood on his camel and said to the Prophet (SA), “Oh Muhammad, you claimed that you are the Messenger of Allah, and we believed you. And here you are now, wanting the kingship and power to be in Bani Hashim after you! No, by Allah, we will not believe you in this matter at all! If what you say is truly from Allah, then may Allah shower on us stones from the sky!” No sooner had he completed his sentence till a flying stone dropped from the sky and penetrated his body through his head and came out of his rear end and he fell down dead instantly, as a punishment to his disbelief and ignorance in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet. Everyone was dumbfound when they witnessed with their own eyes the punishment of Allah (SWT) and no one had the audacity afterwards to openly object or show his doubt in this matter. It is as if Allah (SWT) willed by His wisdom and ability to show the audience the punishment of one who denies or disagrees with the truth. This is indeed the ‘Ismah which Allah (SWT) promised to give to His Prophet (SA) in the holy verse and demonstrated it in a practical and clear way as an example for everybody. This event in particular is very logical to happen and if it did not happen, our minds should predict that it will happen especially in this situation, to stand as a warning and lesson from God in a practical and clear way to everybody. So, this incident cannot be denied because it is in agreement with sound judgment. This incident was revealed as a verse in the Holy Quran as a proof to everyone, “A questioner asked about a penalty to befall [70:1].” After his announcement in Ghadeer, the Prophet (SA) arranged for a procession to allow the people to give their oath of allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) and congratulate him personally. He started first by his wives who are the “Mothers of the Believers,” then the Muhajireen (those who migrated from Mecca to Medina) and Ansaar (the inhabitants of Medina), then the elders and chiefs of the tribes, then the rest of the Muslims. This pledge of allegiance was legitimate and was witnessed by twenty thousand people who represented all of the tribes and companions of the Muslims who gave their oath of allegiance on behalf of themselves and their people, most of the Muhajireen and Ansaar, and the noblemen of Quraish. There was no one in the Arabian Peninsula who did not have a representative in this great crowd who paid allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as the successor and Executor after Prophet Muhammad (SA). The pledges of allegiance to Ali took place under the supervision of the Prophet (SA) himself, by the order of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SA) conveyed the Message of Allah (SWT) to the people and he made it very clear that it is the order and choice of Allah (SWT). Everyone testified that he conveyed that matter to them and they all gave their pledges of allegiance to Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). They understood that whoever does not obey Ali deserves immediate punishment just as they saw before their own eyes.
Along with the announcement of the divine appointment of Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the Quranic verses were revealed to give glad tidings to the completion of the religion and perfection of bounty. It is as if the Holy Quran spelled out the name of Ali ibn Abi Taleb as the Wali and successor (Caliph) and this point cannot be argued or disagreed upon by any sane and logical person. So no one should claim that the Quran did not explicitly state the name of Ali as the Wali and successor of Muhammad! He would either be an insane or stubborn person who is spiteful and wants to argue only for the sake of arguing. In that case, he would not be a truth seeker. After all, is there anything stronger than this historical event and these Quranic verses which descended immediately after this event, even if it did not explicitly spell out the name of Ali? What’s important is the end result and that is that Allah (SWT) perfected the religion and completed His Bounty with the appointment of Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as the successor and Executor. This is an acknowledgement from Allah (SWT) to the appropriateness of what took place. So, it became like a direct order from the Almighty. After all, is there any other allegiance in all of the Islamic history that is more important, truthful, and worthy of following than this allegiance which was a direct order from Allah (SWT), under the supervision of the Holy Messenger (SA) and in the presence of most of the Muslim nation at that time? After the event of Ghadeer, the people dispersed. Some of them had good intentions to obey the Prophet (SA), while some others planned to disobey him, reject the successorship, and wait for the best time to rebel. And Allah (SWT) will surely reckon every soul!” 55
For those that waited for the best time to rebel this would be the moment the Prophet (SA) passed away. When a completely different successor was chosen in place of Ali, the true Muslim believers could not accept him. They voiced this rejection by refusing to pay Zakat and hence they were labeled as “apostates.” There were also other people during this time that refused to pay Zakat and were also labeled as “apostates.” These included the followers of a handful of false prophets that arose after the death of the Prophet (SA) along with the hypocrites that pretended to be Muslim but finally renounced their beliefs. This ultimately led to what would be branded as the “Wars of Apostasy” or better known as “The Ridda Wars.” Unfortunately, the so called “wars of apostasy,” actually included a civil war – the first in Islam. These wars were fought by Muslims against Muslims. This period of time was critical and the religion of Islam could have easily been lost. Many people argue that if Ali was truly elected he should have taken up arms to defend his position. However, Ali’s main concern was that the religion of Islam survive. Ali knew that furthering a war at this stage would have sealed the fate of Islam; instead he exercised patience and backed off. Until Ali would become Caliph some 25 years later, he remained instrumental as the most knowledgeable in Islam and still maintained an advisory role.
1-54 “The Brother of the Prophet Muhammad: Imam ‘Ali” by Mohamad Jawad Chirri