Here's Why Eid-e-Ghadeer Is Not Just A 'Shia Festival'

Here's Why Eid-e-Ghadeer Is Not Just A 'Shia Festival'
Many events in history are associated to a particular place and they are remembered by the name of that particular place, be it battle of Badar, Uhud or Panipat (Hariana), Jallianwala (Amritsar) Bagh massacre, Taskent Peace Accord (between Pakistan, India moderated by USSR), Shimla Accord (Pakistan-India), Geneva Accord (for Afghanistan) etc.

In Islamic history, the place ‘Ghadeer’ has special significance due to the fact that an important announcement was made by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) announcing that for whomever he was the Maula, Ali was their Maula as well. According to most accounts, the event happened on 18th Zilhaj, which seems very logical as well, as the Hajj is on 10th of Zilhaj every year. This event was witnessed by many people who were returning from Mecca after performing Hajj and going towards Medina. This saying of the Prophet is narrated by many individuals and is reported in all major compilations of Hadith. Caravans at that time used to stay at different places for long-distance journeys and one factor for choosing the place for stopover was the availability of water. There was a pond of water at the place known as Gadeer e Khum.

As per some of the earliest commentaries of Quran, a verse of the Quran was revealed after which the Prophet called for a gathering with all his companions and delivered a speech. The ayat is as follows. “O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people” 5-67.

The prophet said, that Allah is his Maula, and he (Muhammad [PBUH]) is the Maula of all those who have faith and Ali is the Maula of all those who consider محمدﷺ as their Maula. While making this announcement he took the hand of Ali ibne Abi Talib in his hand and raised it high for everybody to see. He also urged the people to take care of this Ahale Bait (people of the house) and said that "It seems the time approached when I shall be called away (by Allah) and I shall answer that call. I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere to them both, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and my Progeny, that is my Ahlul Bayt. The two shall never separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise)."

All religions, nationalities, ethnicities, sects evolved over time. Such as after world War II, many new nations emerged. Similarly, in Islamic history different sects and schools of thoughts evolved over time. But the saying of the Prophet must be above any ethnic or sectarian divide. As a matter of fact, the real divide is not on the basis of any nationality or sect, it is based on truth vs falsehood which is prevalent since the time of Adam and Satan.
Adam represents the values of Truth, while Satan represents the values of falsehood. This divide exists till today. A lie is a lie, no matter the person who is lying is a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Shia or a Sunni. An act of murder or theft is a crime, no matter who commits this crime.

Although different Islamic schools of thoughts agree on the authenticity of this Hadith, they are divided on the literal meaning of the term ‘Maula’. Some say it means Friend, some say it means Master, some say it means Leader. But at least one point is clear, i.e. the uniqueness of Ali Ibne Abi Talib and the act of holding is hand is very significant. By any definition, nobody can deny the special status of Ali Ibne Abi Talib, yet the event of Ghadeer is seen from a sectarian lens in our society and most people are unaware about the date, venue and details of this event. It is not taught in schools, colleges and neither mentioned in the Friday sermons, naturally there is ignorance in our society about the significance of the event.

The next logical question would be what it means to follow Ali as a master, friend or leader?. Does it entail following his actions, his footsteps and considering him a role model in our daily life? The life of Ali Ibne Abi Talib is a story of love for Prophet, His mission and obedience of Allah, yet he proved this love by his actions. Whether it was responding to the call of Prophet as a child, sleeping on the bed of Prophet on the night of migration, killing many notables of Quraish in the battle of Badar, responding thrice to the call of the Prophet to fight Amar Ibne Abdul Wadd, in the battle of trench ( Khandaq), standing firm with the prophet in the battle of Uhud as Muslims retreated, killing Marhab in the conquest of Khyber Fort and performing the burial and last rites of the prophet. He was seen everywhere as a Man of Action.

The word Eid in Arabic signifies happiness, some sections of the society term it as Eid- e -Ghadeer, because it is an occasion of great joy, when the announcement was made by the Prophet declaring Ali a Maula.
The real change in our society will come when we follow the divine instructions. For Muslims Quran holds a special place as the book is a word of God. Allah orders Muslims to obey the prophet, “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result”, 4-59. And by this Quranic rule, whatever the Prophet says is binding on Muslims. The prophet has termed Ali as the door to knowledge, the divine instructions about the marriage with Bibi Fatima with Ali ibne Abi Talib was also revealed by angel Gabriel. In another saying the prophet said, whoever abuses Ali abuses me.

The event at Ghadeer e Khum is very important and it should be celebrated with happiness, without any sectarian divide. Happiness is a choice and it can be expressed in many ways, some would distribute food, some would wear special dress, some would hold the Mehfil e Zikr, some would do lectures, seminars etc, but most important takeaway of this day is to reflect on the deeper meanings of this event and becoming a individual of action.