Ghadir Khumm

Arzina Lalani

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Ghadir Khumm


Ghadir Khumm is well known in the history of Islam as the site where Muhammad pronounced a significant declaration in favor of ʿAli b. Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law. The announcement took place during his return journey from the farewell pilgrimage on 18 Dhuʼl Hijja amid a noteworthy gathering and was destined to have a far-reaching impact on the dynamics of the Muslim community. All Muslims concur on the historicity of the event even if the statements therein remain open to interpretation. The Ghadir Khumm tradition is among the most extensively acknowledged and substantiated of traditions and exists in several variations in classical Islamic sources. The pool (ghadir) in the valley of Khumm is situated three miles from al-Jahfa (al-Juhfa) on the way from Mecca to Medina. Because it was a strategic meeting area from which travelers would disperse to their respective routes, Muhammad called for a congregational prayer and asked for an improvised pulpit to be raised. After a contextual brief, he uttered the famous saying “man kuntu mawlahu fa ʿAli mawlahu” (he whose mawla I am, Ali is his mawla). Exegetical sources suggest that this declaration was made after Muhammad’s initial hesitance on this matter continued. A repeat command was given in Qurʾan 5:67, “O Messenger, deliver [to the people] what has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not do so, then you have not delivered His Message; and God will protect you from people,” which confirmed his protection from the people. Muhammad then carried out these instructions with the Ghadir Khumm declaration that the Shiʿa believe to be a nass—a clear designation for ʿAli to lead the Muslims after the Prophet. Those who later formed the Sunni community accept this historic declaration unanimously but maintain that this was a call for ʿAli to be held in affection and esteem rather than a confirmation of his succession.

Article.  5308 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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