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Millions Celebrate Ghadeer, but for Different Reasons

Millions of Muslims across the globe are gearing towards celebrating the 3rd Eid of the year and what some argue to be the greatest Eid. In celebration of Eid of Ghadeer, communities across the US are planning fun packed family carnivals, bake sales, and adorning their mosques lavishly. The holy shrine of Ali bin Abi Talib in Najaf, Iraq is preparing for a massive influx of pilgrims from all over the world to celebrate the great occasion in unison. Several communities in India, Pakistan and Africa are also celebrating at their mosques and feasting together. Iran is publicly decorating its streets with lights and festivities as the day inches closer. 

While this holiday is primarily celebrated within the Minority Shia sect, the event of Ghadeer is widely recorded within all Muslim circles.

According to the Islamic lunar calendar, the 18th of Dhul’hijja is marked as the event of Ghadeer, where the Holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) announced Ali bin Bin Abi Talib as ‘Mawla’ amidst scores of Muslims, gathering over 120 thousand of them. 

The event is so widely reported amongst Shias and Sunnis that it is known to be a ‘Mutawatir’ report, with over 150 chains of narrations, including the congratulating of Ali after the Prophet’s sermon. The iconic statement proclaimed by Prophet Mohamed was Man Kuntu Mawla fa hadha Aliyun Mawla, the word Mawla leading to several misinterpretations and hence, resulting to confusion and distortion of the event of Ghadeer.

The Shia school of thought argues that the word Mawla was the ideal term to define authority that was entitled to the Prophet and was now being handed over to Ali as the first of twelve from the chosen ones.  However, most Sunni narrations translate the word Mawla as friend, one of the roughly 20 meanings of the word of which most have to do with guardianship and authority. According to the majority Sunni Sect, the Prophet took to Ghadeer to solve a dispute between Ali and some companions who were sent on an expedition to Yemen. In an attempt to sort the matter, the Prophet made it clear to the people that whosoever is my friend, Is Ali’s friend too, bringing about an entirely different meaning contrary to the Shia one.

However, some reputable Sunni Ulema have stated that the primary meaning of Mawla is translated to master, with Sibt ibn Jauzi known for quoting that the saying of the Holy Prophet that ‘Ali has authority or is the master over the selves of all the believers’ clearly proves vicegerency of Ali in the context of the sermon given by the Prophet proclaiming that obedience to Ali is obligatory. 

Yet this is where the difference between the two sects deepened, with the Shia firmly believing Ali as the chosen Wali (authority) on the eve of Ghadeer and the Sunnis accepting this appointment but also accepting the outcome of the elections held after the Prophet’s demise crowning Abu Bakr as the first Caliph. The successorship of Ali ibn Abi Talib by the Prophet PBUH on the day of Ghadeer, believed by Shias and some Sunni Ulema, brings forth the discussion of the presence of divine authority throughout time and looking to Islam as the perfect solution to guide all their affairs. 

Despite the varying beliefs on Ghadeer between the sects, it is clear that both Shia and Sunni love, revere and look up to Ali and his progeny, and their special status is emphasized time and again by the Prophet Mohammed PBUH himself, further cementing the idea that there are more similarities than differences amongst the Muslims worldwide. 


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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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