Written by: Dr. Hatem El Zein
When we talk about Imam Ali (peace be upon him), Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him and his family) cousin, brother-in-law, Lady Fatima’s (peace be upon her) husband, and his appointed and legitimate successor, or when we remember the life of this exceptional Imam, we feel that our words born from our hearts, filled with emotions and energy. It is a remembrance that spontaneously spreads to our assemblies the perfume of faith, wisdom, love and virtue. It is an extreme honour and pleasure to perfume our meetings by remembering Imam Ali (peace be upon him), by remembering his heroism, his words, his opinions, his justice, his wisdom, his morals and his ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Islam.
When we remember Imam Ali (peace be upon him), we do not need to squeeze our memories to recall back the characteristics of this authentic parable of a true Muslim and Islam, because the love of this Imam lodged deeply in our memories. It is flowing with our bloods in veins pumping our hearts and saturating the oxygen of our brains with Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) love. We love this Imam, because we love Allah’s Messenger Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), and hence we love our Messenger and our Imam, because we love Allah.
In the light of this blessed occasion, I have tried to select a number of points reflecting the noble understandings of Ghadir Khum and some of its implications.
In this regard, I would like to illuminate on the following three angles:
Firstly, what do Eid Al-Ghadir’s occasion teach us? Although we can point to many implications, one of the major teachings to us as individuals is to support the truth and the right whatever the consequences are. It is crucial that the believer should have the immunity and maintain it, because the weakness of belief and immorality were the first disease, and unfortunately they still, the disease that is attacking the Islamic body leading to a crisis shaken the Islamic unity and the pure image of Islam.
The concept of immune Muslim is not a utopian idea or an imaginary one because in every juncture of Islamic history we can distinguish between those who maintained their faith in all circumstances and those who lost their belief as they are weakened by temptations, desires and fear.
Drawing on this understanding, the first lesson of Eid Al-Ghadir to us is to enhance our belief to be always with the side of truth and to refrain wisely from relinquishing what is right. The blindness of minds is our misery that led and still leads to heavy losses and tragedies in our life. In this context, the true believers who witnessed Ghadir Khum and complied with their oath and pledge of alliance, and hence they did not change their loyalty to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) represent a model to us in order to be similar to them in strong belief, persistence and determination.
Secondly, why Imam Ali (peace be upon him) did not wage a war against those who breached their oath and pledge of alliance in Ghadir Khum and they refuse to admit that he is the Prophet’s Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) legitimate successor?
In approaching this question, which may lead to a scholarly and unwittingly a fanatic and a dogmatic debate, we have one simple answer: Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) peaceful and wise actions reflect and mirror his legacy as a legitimate successor of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). It confirms his legacy as a true Islamic leader who endowed his life to Allah and preserving Islam and the unity of Muslims.
In reviewing Islamic history and his sermons, we understand that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) was not a leader who intended to use force or sneaky ways to take his divine right, and he was not a leader who suffered depression and melancholy because he was deprived from his right. However, he was the pure parable of Islamic leadership that committed to revive the noble and authentic Islamic teachings and to protect Islam and Muslims.Thus, he was advising the three Caliphs in order to secure and immunise the newborn Islamic government.
Drawing on this understanding, the second lesson of Eid Al-Ghadir is to discuss the positives and negatives of our steps before taking actions because Imam Ali (peace be upon him) teaches us to work to preserve Islam from deviation and to ensure that our actions and discourse align with the notion of Islamic unity.
Thirdly, why we as Shiites’ Muslim committed to celebrate annually Eid Al-Ghadir?
Unfortunately, there are other Muslims who attack Eid Al-Ghadir and consider it a non-Islamic occasion and they claim that it is related only to those who refused to offer their pledge of alliance to Caliphs.
Our point is simple. Although Eid Al-Ghadir is considered a milestone in Shiism, we celebrate Eid Al-Ghadir because it is an Islamic occasion and it is related to Ghadir Khum incident in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). As a result, the vast majority of Hadith books, whether they written by Sunni or Shiite scholars, pointed to Ghadir Khum incident and how the then Muslims, including those who became Caliphs, congratulated Imam Ali (peace be upon him) when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) finished his sermon that its content related only to Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) appointment as his legitimate successor.In this regard, we celebrate Eid Al-Ghadir similar to the celebration of early believers who heard Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him and his family) words in Ghadir Khum and as a result, they expressed their loyalty and pledge of alliance to Imam Ali (peace be upon him). So, what is wrong when we confirm every year our loyalty and pledge of alliance to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in celebrating Eid Al-Ghadir?
To those who denounce our civilised celebration, we call them for dialogue and to review their preconceptions. This celebration keeps us on track of faith because it always reminds us of the noble teachings that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) aiming to cultivate in our minds in order to form an Islamic society represents a model of piety, morals and success.
Having delineated these three angles, we hope that we present as Shiites’ Muslims through our discourse and actions to all Muslims and humanity a pioneer of justice, wisdom and truth. It is our mission to propagate Imam Ali’s (peace be upon him) message to the world because he is the true representative of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him and his family) message which it is the message of Islam that grasps from Allah’s attributes, such as peace, mercy, justice and compassion.