In the beginning of the message the Prophet arranged for the feast, summoning the family and we knew what happened then. Towards the end of his life, and we are talking about the final pilgrimage offered by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and that was in Thil Hijja year 10 AH, near Ghadeer Khum that lies near Juhfa between Makkah and Madina, on that journey home from the final pilgrimage Jabraeel delivered this urgent command from Allah, and we are referring to Surat Al Maeda aya 67 (Oh messenger, deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord, for if you don't do you will have failed to deliver His message completely. Allah will protect you from the people) (يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ)
Before we go further, let's see what was missed by the Prophet up to Thil Hijja 10 AH? To inform Muslims about their prayers? Of course they knew how to pray and the details of their prayer starting from year 2 after Hijrah in Madina. About the Zakat? He explained every single issue about Zakat. About fasting? Many years of fasting were observed and exercised by Muslims and the Prophet was there to give every detail about obligatory nature of this act of devotion. Jihad? Tens of battlefields and Jihad actions were undertaken by Muslims under the supervision of the Prophet himself.
All rulings, for example when you borrow something to document it, in the longest aya in the Quran and that aya 282 is Suart Al Baqara, which covers a full page of the Quran, explaining about the family law, the commercial law, the penile code, about ( (حدود التعزيرات about inheritance, everything which was conveyed and delivered by the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
So what was left behind that the Prophet was warned in this strong language you have to convey and deliver this message which has been sent down to you from your Lord and if you don't do it, it is as if you have done nothing! You have failed to deliver the message completely. It must be a very important issue that its absence is equivalent to the absence of the whole Islam. Failing to deliver it is equivalent to failing to deliver the whole Islam. In 23 years the Prophet did everything to teach, to guide, to explain, to elaborate and now Allah on the 18th of Thil Hijja year 10 AH orders him strongly to deliver what he has been ordered and commanded by Allah.
If we talk about the similitude of someone who builds a very big building with 10 floors, in every floor for example 2 apartments, all are wired and decorated and supplied with everything but unfortunately the builder blocks the gate and the entrance. Does it make sense or can people benefit from such a building? Millions of pounds have been spent on that building and it is ready to be occupied by people whether it is by rent or sale, or charitable act, but no one can have access to it. So there's no point in erecting such a building. In the same way Allah tells Prophet Muhammad that whatever he did was good but no one can benefit from it, it cannot continue to flourish without what I am ordering you now.
So what was the order and how the Prophet dealt with it? History tells us that the Prophet immediately drew to a halt and ordered those ahead of him to be called back while he waited for those who haven't joined him yet and gather at that Ghadeer Khum where it was like a pool, the rain water would gather there for the passengers and passersby. So what happened? Acacia thorns were swept away, cloaks spread underfoot and overhead to protect people from the heat of the sun, a platform was constructed from the camel saddles and then the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) addressed the people by these very words "Oh people, know well that Jibraeel has come down to me several times with the Lord's the most merciful's order to halt here and to inform you white or black, that Ali son Abu Talib is my brother, my successor, my calipha and the Imam that has been appointed to follow me. His position in relation to me is as of Haroon to Musa except he's not a prophet to follow me. Ali is your master after Allah and His Prophet."
This was the introduction. Then the Prophet asks them, "Do I not have more authority over you than you have over yourselves? (ألست أولى بكم من أنفسكم؟)" This has been confirmed in the Quran ((النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ which means that the Prophet has got more authority over people than themselves regarding their own affairs and issues. This means that if people decide something for themselves but the Prophet decides something else, the decision made by the Prophet overtakes.
This is the aya in the Quran. So as to take some sort of confession from the Muslims then, the Prophet asks them "Do I not have more authority over you than yourselves?" They all responded that exactly and certainly he has got greater authority and rights over them. And here were the very clear words of the Prophet, "Whoever I am master over him Ali will be his master." (من كنت مولاه فهذا علي مولاه، )
We have to examine two things, first the authenticity of this Hadeeth. Second, about general and specific meaning of Mawla in this Hadeeth.
First of all let's talk about authenticity of this Hadeeth Ghadeer, if we refer to tens of the companions who have narrated this, indeed on the great Ulama Allama Amini in his Al Ghadeer book mentions 110 of the Holy Prophets companions who narrated the Hadeeth of Ghadeer. Allama Seyed Hamid Hussain in (عبقات الانوار) again mentions the chain of narrators for this Hadeeth Ghadeer including many of these well-known sahaba , including Abu Leyla Al Ansari, Abu Zainab Ibn Awf, Abu Fathala Al Ansari, Abu Budama Al Ansari, Abi Amrah Ibn Mahasin, Abu Rafie, Abu Thuwaib, Obaid Ibn Kaab, Asad Ibn Zurara, Asma Bint Umais, Ummu Salama, Ummu Hani and others.
When we have 110 companions or we have such great number of narrators who narrate the same Hadeeth and thousands of pages have been written about the authenticity of this Hadeeth, no one may doubt about the Hadeeth being 100% in line with what we read in Surat Al Maeda aya 67.
Now let's examine the general meaning of Mawla (من كنت مولاه فهذا علي مولاه، ) "To whom I am a master Ali is a master" Mawla in Arabic has got more than 20 meanings including the owner, the master, the slave, the benefactor, the beneficiary, friend, companion, protector, neighbour, lodger, partner, son, uncle, cousin, nephew, son in law, relative, follower, helper and the one in authority. So these meanings correspond to one word in Arabic and it's not the only word. In Arabic there are many words where they correspond to many meanings, one word with different meanings.
These are the general meanings. Shall we search for the context? Shall we read within the context to see which meaning out of this list corresponds to the speech of the Prophet when he says that to whom I am master Ali is a master. Of course yes. Let's consider three things; first, the Prophet invites all those who were ahead of him to come back, those who were lagging behind to hurry up and join on that hot day, those 130,000 pilgrims who were with the Prophet (p.b.u.h) before dispersing to different areas just to tell them that Ali is my friend, my cousin, my relative or Ali is my helper? It doesn't make sense. For all these preparations, this is one point.
The second, Allah tells him that if you don't deliver this, it is as you haven't delivered anything. What is the role of conveying or delivering that Ali is my friend or to whom Ali is a friend I am a friend or the other meanings of the word Mawla. Is that what Allah wants to say? The only significant meaning which makes sense is the last meaning, the one in authority. Especially when it referred to Awla, because Mawla and Awla are from the same root and matching the same meaning. The Prophet started by saying (ألست أولى بكم من أنفسكم ) Am I not having more authority over you? And they said of course you have. Then he said that (من كنت مولاه فهذا علي مولاه) to whom I have authority Ali has the same authority. That makes sense if he doesn't deliver this it means that a company without a deputy will lead to anarchy and the whole purpose of that organization will perish.
Furthermore the companions greeted Ali and congratulated him by saying, congratulations to you Ali that you became my master and master of every Muslim and Muslimah including Abu Bakir, Umar and other sahaba all came to shake hands with Ali and congratulate him for this, otherwise being a friend or being a helper doesn't need that congratulating. But the unique position of being a master, a guardian, the one with authority. The same authority that was given to the Prophet to be given to Ali and that is exactly what Allah wanted to say that if you do not deliver this clearly you have failed to deliver the whole Islam, which means Islam without Imamah, Islam without appointing someone to continue the message of the Prophet is like that block of building with ten floors and fully equipped apartments but the entrance gate is closed or blocked and no one has access to it.
And again another context here to say that which meaning is suitable to the whole occasion and to the words of the Prophet is that the poet who was known to be the poet of the Prophet, Hassan Ibn Thabit asked the Prophet's permission to say a few lines of poetry in praise of that occasion and the poet used the word Imam and guide in his poetry which was said in front and the presence of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
So all these contexts prove one thing that is what was commanded by Allah to the Prophet to deliver on the 18th of Thil Hijja when the Prophet made his final pilgrimage was to convey the position of Ali as the one who has got the full authority over the Muslim nation and if we combine that in the beginning of the message, the Prophet appointed Ali as his brother, executor of his will and successor. Throughout the 23 years his nature and his habit was to appoint someone in his absence, he knew that he was departing and towards the end of his life Allah ordered him to do this in Eid Al Ghadeer, the great Eid by all believers that Allah appointed Ali and ordered the Prophet to appoint Ali as a successor, as a calipha, as a master, as the one with full authority over the Muslim nation. And here we see the reports to support that after this incident, Jabraeel came down with this aya (الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلامَ دِيناً) Today I have completed your religion and my favours and bounties now are complete on you and now I'm pleased to announce that this is Islam.
May Allah guide us to the right path. May Allah open our eyes and our hearts to essential beliefs of Islam.