Ghadir Khumm

  (Redirected from Hadith of the pond of Khumm)

Ghadir Khumm (Arabic: حَدِيْث ٱلْغَدِير, romanizedHadīth al-Ghadīr) refers to a gathering of Muslims to attend a sermon delivered by the Islamic prophet Muhammad on 16 March 632 CE (18 Dhu al-Hijjah 10 AH). The gathering is said to have taken place in Ghadir Khumm, located near the then settlement of al-Juhfa on the path connecting Mecca to Medina, where Muhammad halted the caravan of Muslims returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage.

Ghadir Khumm
Ghadir Khumm et sa signification.jpg
Date10/16 March 632 (18 Dhu al-Hijjah)
LocationAl-Juhfa, Hejaz, Arabia
TypeIslamic sermon
ThemeThe importance of the Qur'an and ahl al-bayt, Muhammad's esteem for Ali ibn Abi Talib – claimed by some (Shia view) as evidence of the appointment of Ali as the successor of Muhammad, and as the completion of the message of Islam
OutcomeThe commemorative Eid al-Ghadir involving prayers, gift-giving, festive meals, and Du'a Nudba recitation

In the sermon, made shortly before the prophet's death in June 632 CE (11 AH), Muhammad made a declaration in favor of Ali ibn Abi Talib, his cousin and son-in-law, uttering the words, "He whose mawla I am, Ali is his mawla." Shia Muslims believe this to be a clear indication that Ali was designated to lead the Muslim community after Muhammad, and celebrate the anniversary of the event as Eid al-Ghadir. The Sunni community meanwhile regard the declaration as a simple affirmation of Muhammad's esteem for Ali.


Ghadir Khumm is both the name for the gathering of Muslims for the sermon by Muhammad as well as the location itself, which was a pond (ghadir) fed by a nearby spring in a wadi known as Khumm, situated between Mecca and Medina.[1] The valley is believed to have been located near the settlement of al-Juhfa,[2] a strategic trijunction where routes from Medina, Egypt, and Iraq intersected.[3]

Some sources give the etymology that Khumm means deceiver, and the valley was so named because the water of the pond was saline and unfit for consumption.[4] At the time of the event, the original inhabitants of the region, namely, members of the Banu Khuza'a and Banu Kinanah tribes, had already abandoned the area due to its poor pasturage and harsh climate.[1] Prior to Muhammad's address, the location was likely never used as a caravan stop.[5]


Ten years after Muhammad's migration to Medina and on the last days of Dhu al-Qadah, Muhammad performed the Hajj rituals in Mecca, shortly before his death. This Hajj ceremony has become known as the Farewell Pilgrimage.[6] In his Farewell Sermon in Mecca, and again later at Ghadir Khumm by some accounts, he alerted Muslims about his impending death.[7] After the Hajj, Muhammad set off on the return journey from Mecca towards Medina, accompanied by an entourage of Muslims. The announcement at Ghadir Khumm took place among a congregation of these Muslims during the return journey.[2]

The sermonEdit

At Ghadir Khumm, Muhammad called the Muslim caravan to a halt ahead of the noon congregational payer, before the pilgrims parted to go their separate ways,[2] asking for a dais to be raised, shaded by palm branches.[1]

Muhammad then delivered a sermon to a large number of Muslims in which, as described in the Hadith al-Thaqalayn, he emphasized the importance of two things: the Qur'an, and his ahl al-bayt (lit.'people of the house', his family).[8] This hadith is widely reported by both Sunni and Shia authorities. In particular, the version that appears in Musnad Ibn Hanbal, a canonical Sunni source, is as follows:

I left among you two treasures which, if you cling to them, you shall not be led into error after me. One of them is greater than the other: The book of God, which is a rope stretched from Heaven to Earth, and my progeny, my ahl al-bayt. These two shall not be parted until they return to the pool [of paradise, kawthar].[9]

There are several slightly different versions of this hadith in Sunni sources, suggesting that Muhammad might have repeated this statement on multiple occasions.[9] For instance, the version that appears in As-Sunan al-Kubra, another canonical Sunni source, also includes the warning, "Be careful how you treat the two [treasures] after me."[10]

Then, taking Ali by the hand, Muhammad asked if he was not closer (awla) to the believers than they were to themselves, which they affirmed.[1] The prophet then declared:

"He whose mawla I am, Ali is his mawla." (Arabic: من كنت مولاه فعلي مولاه)[11]

Muhammad might have repeated this sentence three or four more times, as reported in Musnad Ibn Hanbal.[12] Some accounts add that Muhammad then continued, "O God, befriend the friend of Ali and be the enemy of his enemy."[13] Ahmad ibn Hanbal's eponymous musnad also includes that, after Muhammad's sermon, his companion Umar congratulated Ali and told him, "You have now become mawla of every faithful man and woman."[14]

Historical accountsEdit

The Investiture of Ali at Ghadir Khumm in th 14th-century Ilkhanid manuscript of al-Biruni's Chronology of Ancient Nations illustrated by Ibn al-Kutbi

The historicity of Ghadir Khumm is rarely disputed within the Muslim community,[15] as its recorded tradition is "among the most extensively acknowledged and substantiated" in classical Islamic sources, even as the statements made at the event remain open to interpretation.[2] Several variations exist in the classical sources,[2] and there is a significant weight of different accounts.[1]

The narrative of Ghadir Khumm is for instance preserved in al-Biruni's Chronology of Ancient Nations, which survives in an early fourteenth-century Ilkhanid manuscript by Ibn al-Kutbi.[16] The Shia inclinations of those responsible for this particular manuscript are evident from its illustrations of Ali, including one entitled The Investiture of Ali at Ghadir Khumm.[17]

Accounts of Ghadir Khumm appear in both Sunni and Shia canonical works of hadith and these accounts have at times been used interchangeably without sectarian prejudice. The Shia scholar Amini, for instance, relied on Sunni sources to list over a hundred sahaba and eighty-four tabi'un who had recounted the event.[18]

Some authors, however, such as al-Tabari, Ibn Hisham, and Ibn Sa'd, made little or no mention of Ghadir Khumm.[1] It is probable that such writers intentionally abstained from commenting on the event to avoid angering their Sunni rulers by supporting Shia claims about Ali's right to the caliphate.[1]

Western authors, whose works were based on these authors, consequently make little reference to Ghadir Khumm.[1] Some of the best accounts of the event include those by the historian Ya'qubi, a sympathiser to the Alid cause, and those in the collections of hadith, such as the canonical one by Ibn Hanbal.[1] A great number of related hadiths were also collected, together with their isnads, by Ibn Kathir.[1]

Links to the Qur'anEdit

In some Islamic literature, two verses of the Qur'an are associated with Ghadir Khumm: verse 5:3, also known as the Verse of Ikmal al-Din, which declares the perfection of Islam, and verse 5:67, which asked Muhammad to fulfil his divine instruction to designate a successor before his imminent death.[19] Some sources, such as the Sunni commentary al-Dur al-Manthur and the Shia Tafsir al-Qur'an, write that verse 5:67 of the Qur'an was revealed to Muhammad shortly before his sermon at Ghadir Khumm,[20] warning him that:

O Apostle! Communicate that which has been sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not, you will not have communicated His message, and God shall protect you from the people. Indeed, God does not guide the faithless lot.[21]

Verse 5:3 of the Qur'an, known as the Verse of Ikmal al-Din, is also linked to Ghadir Khumm by Shia and some Sunni sources, though most Sunni commentators associate this verse with the Farewell Pilgrimage.[22] This verse includes the passage:

Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen as your religion Islam.[23]

Other literary referencesEdit

The narrative of Ghadir Khumm has been preserved in the Arabic literature.[24] The earliest instance, according to the orientalist Laura Veccia Vaglieri, appears to be a disputed poem attributed to Hassan ibn Thabit, who accompanied Muhammad during his only pilgrimage to Mecca.[25] This poem, which, according to the historian Husain Mohammad Jafri, has been preserved by Shia sources and some Sunni authorities, includes the verse, "Stand up, O Ali, for I find only you to be an Imam and a guide after I [Muhammad] depart," as quoted by Abbas from Ibn Thabit's diwan.[26] In regards to its authenticity, Jafri considers it as highly improbable that these events would have passed unrecorded by Ibn Thabit, who was the "official poet-reporter of Muhammad."[27]


Modern Shia artwork depicting Ghadir Khum and the appointment of Ali – from the website of Iran's leader, Ayatollah Khamenei

While the authenticity of Ghadir Khumm is not contested, its interpretation is a source of controversy between Sunni and Shia.[28]

Mawla is a polysemous Arabic word, the meanings of which have varied in different periods and contexts.[29] Before the Islamic era, the term originally applied to any form of tribal association.[30] In the Qur'an and the hadith literature, the word is used with different meanings, including 'Lord', 'guardian', 'trustee', and 'helper.'[29]

In the context of the Ghadir Khumm, however, the interpretation of the word tends to be split along sectarian lines. Shia sources interpret this word as meaning 'leader' or 'ruler,'[31] while Sunni accounts of this sermon tend to offer little explanation or substitute the word wali (meaning 'friend of God') in place of mawla.[1] According to Lesley Hazleton, an author on religion and politics, Muhammad's statement, "O God, befriend the friend of Ali and be the enemy of his enemy," was the standard formula for pledging allegiance in the Middle East at that time.[32] Ali and his son, Hasan, both demanded a similar formula of their supporters during their caliphates.[33]

Shia viewEdit

Shia Muslims view Ghadir Khumm as Muhammad's most public announcement of Ali's succession.[34] Shia accounts describe how notable companions of the prophet, including Umar, visited Ali after the sermon to congratulate and pledge their allegiance to him, addressing him as amir al-mu'minin (lit.'leader of the believers').[1]

Shia scholar Amini compiled eleven volumes worth of Sunni and Shia sources that support the Shia view about Ali.[35]

With regards to the linked Qu'ranic verses, Tabatabai, the author of the seminal Shia exegesis al-Mizan, argues in his work that "today" in the Verse of Ikmal al-Din is the day on which Muhammad gave his sermon at Ghadir Khumm, and the unbelievers' despair followed the appointment of Ali to guide the nascent Muslim community after the prophet. The perfection of religion in the verse, he argues, is the guardianship (wilaya) of Ali and the fulfillment of an earlier divine promise in verse 24:55 of the Qur'an.[36]

With respect to verse 5:67, Shia exegeses suggest that, fearing the reaction of some of his companions, Muhammad was concerned about implementing his divine instructions to announce Ali as his successor. It was after the revelation of this verse that Muhammad gave his sermon at Ghadir Khumm, according to these sources.[37] Hossein Nasr and his coauthors view as most plausible the link between verse 5:67 and the events that followed the Farewell Pilgrimage, including the sermon at Ghadir Khumm. Their justification is that chapter (sura) five of the Qur'an is often associated with Muhammad's final years in Medina.[38]

Sunni viewEdit

Among Sunni Muslims, Ghadir Khumm is not associated with succession to Muhammad.[39] Instead, the event is often connected with Ali's campaign in Yemen, from which he had just returned prior to the Farewell Pilgrimage. Ali was reportedly strict in imposing Islamic guidelines for a fair distribution of booty during the expedition, a behavior that allegedly angered some of the soldiers. The Sunni historian Ibn Kathir, for instance, sides with Ali in his account of the episode but also suggests that the sermon at Ghadir Khumm was simply intended as a public declaration of Muhammad's love and esteem for Ali in light of the earlier events.[1]

Sunni commentators also argue that the Verse of Ikmal al-Din refers to either the establishment of the rites for Hajj during the Farewell Pilgrimage or the closure of Islamic legislation with the revelation of dietary instructions in the remainder of verse 5:3. A criticism of this view, voiced by Tabatabai, is that it ignores the additional injunctions about riba which were revealed after the Verse of Ikmal, by some accounts.[40]

Sunni scholars meanwhile associate verse 5:67 with Muhammad's precarious position in Mecca during the early years of Islam or his interactions with the People of the Book (adherents of earlier monotheistic faiths).[38]

Eid al-GhadirEdit

Celebration of Eid al-Ghadeer in Iran

While 18 Dhu al-Hijjah is not a significant day on Sunni calendar, Shia Muslims celebrate this day as the Eid al-Ghadir, the day on which Islam, as a religion, was completed by Ali's appointment as Muhammad's successor.[1][41] Shias honor the holiday by making pilgrimages to Karbala.[1][39]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Veccia Vaglieri (2022)
  2. ^ a b c d e Lalani (2011)
  3. ^ Eliash (1966, p. 144)
  4. ^ Williams (1994, p. 171)
  5. ^ Donaldson (1933, p. 5)
  6. ^ Stewart (2002). "Farewell Pilgrimage". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 January 2022.
  7. ^ Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Amir-Moezzi (2022). Campo (2009). Abbas (2021, p. 79)
  8. ^ Amir-Moezzi (2022). Momen (1985, p. 16). Mavani (2013, p. 80). Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Campo (2009, p. 257). Abbas (2021, p. 81)
  9. ^ a b Momen (1985, p. 16)
  10. ^ Abbas (2021, p. 81)
  11. ^ Lalani (2011). Jafri (1979, p. 18). Mavani (2013, p. 79). Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Abbas (2021, p. 81)
  12. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 80). Abbas (2021, p. 81)
  13. ^ Amir-Moezzi (2022)
  14. ^ Momen (1985, p. 15). Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Abbas (2021, p. 82)
  15. ^ Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Jafri (1979, pp. 18–20). Mavani (2013, p. 20)
  16. ^ Soucek (1975, p. 156)
  17. ^ Robinson 2000, p. 129–146.
  18. ^ Najafabadi (2010)
  19. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 70). Amir-Moezzi (2014)
  20. ^ Nasr et al. (2015, p. 718). Abbas (2021, p. 80)
  21. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 70). Amir-Moezzi (2022). Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Abbas (2021, p. 80)
  22. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 70). Nasr et al. (2015, p. 648)
  23. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 70). Amir-Moezzi (2022)
  24. ^ Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Jafri (1979, p. 19). Amir-Moezzi (2022)
  25. ^ Veccia Vaglieri (2022). Jafri (1979, p. 19). Amir-Moezzi (2022)
  26. ^ Jafri (1979, p. 19). Abbas (2021, p. 82)
  27. ^ Jafri (1979, p. 19)
  28. ^ Al-Shahrastani, Gimaret & Monnot (1986, p. 479)
  29. ^ a b Wensinck & Crone (2022)
  30. ^ Goldziher (1889, p. 105)
  31. ^ Amir-Moezzi (2022). Jafri (1979, p. 20)
  32. ^ Hazleton (2009, p. 77)
  33. ^ Madelung 1997, p. 312.
  34. ^ Donaldson (1933, p. XXV). Sanders (1994, p. 122)
  35. ^ Amir-Moezzi (2022)
  36. ^ Mavani (2013, pp. 70, 71)
  37. ^ Nasr et al. (2015, p. 718)
  38. ^ a b Nasr et al. (2015, p. 719)
  39. ^ a b Campo (2009, pp. 257, 258)
  40. ^ Mavani (2013, p. 71). Nasr et al. (2015, p. 650)
  41. ^ Amir-Moezzi 2014.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 22°49′30″N 39°04′30″E / 22.82500°N 39.07500°E / 22.82500; 39.07500