“MUHAMMAD SAID: ‘HE OF WHOM I AM THE MAWLA (PATRON), ALI IS HIS MAWLA. O GOD, BE THE FRIEND OF HIM WHO IS HIS FRIEND AND BE THE ENEMY OF HIS ENEMY.’ THIS BECAME THE PROOF TEXT FOR THE SHIA CLAIM THAT ALI, THE PROPHET’S COUSIN AND SON-IN-LAW, WAS THE PROPHET’S RIGHTFUL SUCCESSOR AFTER THE PROPHET’S DEATH IN 632. THE MEANING OF MAWLA HERE PROBABLY IMPLIES THE ROLE OF PATRON, LORD OR PROTECTOR…THROUGH THE USE OF THE TERM MAWLA, MUHAMMAD WAS GIVING ALI THE PARITY WITH HIMSELF IN THIS FUNCTION” — FROM HISTORY OF QUOTATIONS, BY M.J. COHEN AND JOHN MAJOR. THE BOOKS REFLECTS 5000 YEARS OF WORLD HISTORY.
[The featured image shown at the top of this page can be downloaded as an expandable pdf file by clicking on Ismaili Imamat chart and map with dates. It was prepared by Mr. Pyarali Jiwa of the UK as a tribute to his beloved late wife, Maleksultan. We sincerely thank him for giving us the privilege to include his magnificent work in this post for the benefit of our readers around the world. – Ed.]
Id-e-Ghadir is celebrated by the Shi ‘ite communities to mark the event that took place at Ghadir Khumm (Valley of the Pond) on the 18th Dhul-Hijjah (which falls on August 18th or 19th in 2019).
This event commemorates the appointment of Hazrat Ali (A.S.) as the ‘Amir-ul-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful) and Imamul-Muslimin’ (the Imam of the community of believers) at Ghadir Khumm when Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.) was returning from his Last Pilgrimage (Hajjatul-Wida) in the year 632 AC. On this occasion, the Prophet publicly proclaimed Ali to be his successor in guiding the community after the end of the institution of Nubuwwah.
According to the Shi’a doctrine, tradition and interpretation of history, the designation of Hazrat Ali marked the beginning of the institution of Imamah. Each Imam in succession was to continue the ta’wil (interpretation) and talim (teaching) of Allah’s Final Message, i.e. the Holy Qur’an.
Accordingly, throughout the course of the history, the Shi’a have commemorated this historical occasion as a mark of recognition and acceptance of Allah’s mercy to mankind by bestowing continued guidance. The Sunni however are completely different, in that they do not accept the idea of continuity of religious leadership by members of the Prophet’s family.
“The Imamat is an institution whose two-fold mission is to guarantee quality of life and to interpret the faith. The religious leadership of the Ismaili Imam goes back to the origins of Shia Islam when the Prophet Muhammad appointed his son-in-law, Ali, to continue his teachings within the Muslim community. The leadership is hereditary, handed down by Ali’s descendants, and the Ismailis are the only Shia Muslims to have a living Imam, namely myself.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, interview Politique Internationale, Spring 2010
From that early division between Shias and Sunnis, a host of further distinctions grew up within Shia Islam. For example, the first major distinction occured after Imam Jafar Sadiq (the 5th Imam according to the Nizari Ismailis, or 6th for Shias who regard Hazrat Hassan as the 2nd Imam) over the question of rightful leadership between his sons Ismail and Musa Qazim. The Ithna Ashari or Twelvers Shias accepted Musa Qazim as the successor whose line continued until the 12th Imam, the “hidden” Imam, who is thought to return on the Day of Judgment to take part in the final judgment. The Ismaili Shias on the other hand accepted Ismail’s Imamat, whose successors became caliphs of the Fatimid Empire in North Africa and Egypt.
The presence of the living Imam in continuous succession from Hazrat Ali and the Fatimid Imams makes the Ismaili Imamat unique. Each Imam, since the time of Hazrat Ali has designated his successor as highlighted in a magnificent downloadable and expandable .pdf file Ismaili Imamat chart and map with dates which was prepared by Mr. Pyarali Jiwa of the UK as a tribute to his late wife, Maleksultan.
Hazar Imam or the Imam-of-the-Time guides his followers according to the prevailing conditions. His function has always been to look after the welfare of the community both in spiritual and worldly matters. The Imam’s guidance to the Ismailis is that they should lead their lives in such a way so as to practice their faith with a sense of balance and harmony, ensuring that there is no conflict between the spiritual and worldly aspects of an individual’s life. The practice of the faith thus becomes the way of life.
Presently, the Shi’a Imami Ismaili Muslims celebrate the day of accession of their present Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, to the office of Imamah as Yaum-e Imamat or Imamat Day which falls on July 11. The Ismailis recently celebrated the 62nd Imamat Day of His Highness.
However, the observance of Id-e-Ghadir continues to be celebrated historically by the Ismailis as a mark of gratitude to Allah in having bestowed His mercy and bounty, when the Holy Prophet was divinely ordained to appoint Hazrat Ali as his successor.
The succession of Imams after Hazrat Ali continues today under the leadership of the 49th Imam, Mawlana Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness the Aga Khan. He provides guidance to keep his community on Sirat al-Mustaqim, the Straight Path.
The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet…today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet. — His Highness the Aga Khan, speech to Canadian Parliament, February 27, 2014.
Date posted: August 14, 2019.
Last updated: August 18, 2019.
Before departing this page please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 160 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family.
[The featured image shown at the top of this page can be downloaded as an expandable .pdf file by clicking on Ismaili Imamat chart and map with dates.]
Correction: An earlier version of this post mentioned Id-e-Ghadir as falling on August 19/20 in 2019. According to the Ismaili calendar of religious festivals, Ismailis in Canada will commemorate it on Sunday, August 18th.
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