In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate - - - Heartiest felicitations to you all on a very auspicious day. yesterday was al-Akbar or the Grand Eid, as the day marks the anniversary of the culmination of divine favours, the perfection of faith, and approval of Islam as the universal religion for all mankind for all time. This is testified by ayah 3 of Surah al-Ma’edah in which God Almighty says:
“Today the faithless 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 Islam as your religion.”
This state of perfection was reached on the 18th of Zilhijjah in the year 10 AH, while the Seal of Divine Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) was returning from Mecca after performing his Farewell Hajj Pilgrimage. No sooner had he reached the Ghadeer or Pond in the wilderness of Khom near Juhfa, after parting with many of the pilgrims heading for different directions, Archangel Gabriel descended with the express commandment of God in the form of ayah 67 of Surah Ma’edah that reads:
“O Prophet! Convey that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and Allah shall protect you from the people. Indeed Allah does not guide the faithless lot.”
Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) halted and sent word to all the pilgrim caravans which moments ago had parted ways in the different directions, to converge on Ghadeer-Khom. He then erected a makeshift pulpit of camel saddles, and mounting it delivered a memorable sermon to the huge gathering of 120,000-plus Hajj pilgrims. He repeated the Hadith Thaqalayn, which he had proclaimed nine days ago during the Hajj at the plain of Arafaat from Jabal ar-Rahma or Mount Mercy, saying:
“I am leaving behind among you two weighty things; the Book of Allah (i.e. the holy Qur’an) and my progeny the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray because the two will never separate from each other, even when they return to me at the fountain (of Kowthar on the Resurrection Day).”
In his historic sermon at Ghadeer-Khom the Prophet asked the huge gathering, whether or not he had conveyed the message of Allah during his 23-year mission. The crowd answered in the affirmative. He then asked them that as the Appointee of Allah wasn’t he superior to them than their own selves? “Yes, O Messenger of God”, was the unanimous reply. He then lifted from underneath the shoulders his dear ward, cousin, and son-in-law, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (PuH), saying that immortal phrase in world history: “For whomever I am Master, this Ali is his Master.”
With this historic proclamation, an everlasting barometer was set in order to discern truth from falsehood; right from wrong; faith from unbelief; thus making the faithless despaired of totally distorting the message and teachings of Islam – as had been done by imposters with the messages entrusted to the Prophets of the past. Imam Ali (PuH), who was constantly at the side of the Prophet since childhood, and had been present on Mount Noor in Mecca as a ten-year old boy when the first rays of divine revelation had dawned 23 years ago, was now proclaimed the vicegerent by the commandment of God. People surged forward to congratulate Imam Ali (PuH). In order to take the pledge of allegiance from the huge 120,000 strong gathering, the Prophet stayed three days in Ghadeer-Khom. He even instructed the women in this gathering to give their pledge of allegiance by placing a tub full of water in which the ladies dipped their hands, after Imam Ali (PuH) had first put his hands and removed them.
The day chosen by God for this great phenomenon was the 18th of Zilhijja – a day on which in antiquity great miracles had happened, such as the turning into a garden, of the huge fire the tyrant Nimrod had ignited and flung Prophet Abraham into it. This is another indication that the even the most intricate plots of the faithless will come to naught against the epitome of faith that emerged at Ghadeer. Moreover, according to Hadith, it was on the 18th of Zilhijja, as per divine commandment, Prophet Moses had designated Prophet Joshua as his successor, while in the following centuries Prophet Solomon had appointed Asef the son of Barkhiya as his deputy, and Prophet Jesus had named Simeon as his vicegerent. Thus, when the Prophet, after a memorable midday sermon under the blazing Arabian sun, extracted the pledge of obedience to his superiority over all others from the huge assembly and then lifted his cousin to proclaim “for whomsoever I am Master, this Ali is his Master,” he was not saying anything from himself, but like the Prophets of the past, was only pronouncing what God had inspired him to do so for fixing a permanent criterion for humanity to recognize faith.
Interestingly, God and the Prophet did not choose as custodians of Islam any Tom, Dick and Harry of Arabia, who had spent the greater part of life in idolatry and vices before paying lip service to monotheism. This would have been against the principles of Divine Justice. It would have been contrary to the course of events ever since the Day of Mab’ath, when in the solitude of Cave Hera, Archangel Gabriel had descended to the 40-year old son of Abdullah with the first rays of divine revelation, while outside stood a 10-year boy, hearing what transpired, and who later testified to the prophethood of his cousin while the Arabs exchanged stupefied looks. Then also Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny) had said: “O Ali! You are my legatee and my caliph.” (as testified by our Sunni brethren in their works such as the Musnad of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
The rest is history. Now we understand, why Divine Providence has decreed that Imam Mahdi (PuH), who would reappear in the end times, with Prophet Jesus as his lieutenant, to establish the global government of peace and justice, will be the direct descendent of Imam Ali and the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (peace upon them). Ghadeer is thus the day of destiny for all believers, and hence the Greatest Eid of Islam.
Here are some passages from the special Ziyara of the Day of Ghadeer, narrated by the Ahl al-Bayt for the proper salutation of Imam Ali (PuH):
“O Commander of the Faithful, I affirm that those who have doubts about you[r Imamate] do not have faith in the trusted Prophet and that those who put others on a par with you deviate from the upright religion which has been approved for us by the Lord of all the worlds, who perfected it with your wilayah on the Day of Ghadeer.
“I affirm that you are the one who is meant by the words of the Almighty and the All-Merciful (in ayah 153 of Surah Anaam), “This indeed is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow [other] ways, for they will separate you from His way.”
By God, those who follow others besides you have gone astray and misled others and those who are hostile toward you deviate from the Truth. O Allah, we have heard Your command and we obey and follow Your straight path, so guide us, Our Lord! Do not make our hearts swerve after You have guided us, and enable us to be of those who are grateful for Your blessings!
Here are some verses in connection with the memorable event of Ghadeer-Khom composed by Iran’s English language poet Dr. Hassan Najafi:
A cup in hand and an ocean ahead!
How foolish the thought to deplete the flood!
Ali: a succinct summary, a concise brief
Of Divine Attributes and a beacon of relief,
Ghadeer like another kind alike to all
Still grants its bliss at an earnest call.
Bask we in the glare of Ghadeer in its tepid wave
Thank God for the bounty completed in Ali to us gave.
Through the tangled forest of Saqifa - a dangerous way
If you arrive at Ghadeer it will be a pilgrimage never stray.
Deeply skilled in hypocrisy’s tricky theme
They plunged in a vengeful dive in Saqifa’s stream.
A serpent hid twisted its scales around
To spew venom when burns the wound,
Even today it is polluting the faith in its source
Giving the wrong to sway the mind with double force,
Every battle he fought and won
Who can deny his contributions - still run,
Let us see through this translation
The words of God on this incision:
“Today I completed on you My Bounty”
As such it means Bounty of God is Ali.
“Today I am pleased with Islam as your Religion”
Means the Islam under Ali’s Guardianship is the Religion.
Under the burning sun, over the burning sands
To convey the Message the Prophet stands.
More than one hundred and twenty thousand Muslims
Receive the Message, each wind still swims
Stand fast and let the tyrants see
Adherence to Ghadeer is victory.
Heaven, ardent in its work in CONVEY decreed
The perfect boast of time, Ali, must succeed.
O God! I have written this poem while I am on sickbed.
For Ali’s sake, grant me recovery in life, and eternal bliss when I am dead.