Eid-e Ghadir, also known as Eid al-Ghadir Khumm, is an anniversary of special significance to all Shia Muslims. It commemorates the occasion at Ghadir Khumm when, by divine command, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) designated his cousin Hazrat Ali — husband of his daughter and only surviving child, Hazrat Bibi Fatima — as the first in the line of hereditary Imams. On this occasion at Ghadir Khumm the Prophet also reiterated that he was leaving behind “two weighty things” — the Holy Qur’an and his progeny — to guide the Muslim community.
The earliest and most reputable Muslim sources —accepted among Shia and Sunni scholars alike — record that as Prophet Muhammad returned from his final pilgrimage accompanied by several of his closest companions, including Hazrat Ali, Abu Bakr and Umar, he ordered the caravan to stop at a desert oasis between Mecca and Medina called Ghadir Khumm. There, he ordered the construction of a stage that would be visible to the more than 100 000 Muslims who were gathered.
Ascending the stage with Hazrat Ali, Prophet Muhammad asked the people: “Do I not have a greater claim on you than you have upon yourselves, according to what Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘The Prophet has a greater claim upon the believers than their own selves’?” The Muslims replied: “Yes, oh Messenger of Allah,” affirming the Prophet’s awla or claim over them.
The Prophet then took Hazrat Ali’s hand and held it high with his own, declaring: “He whose Mawla I am, Ali is his Mawla… Oh Allah, help whoever helps him, oppose whoever opposes him, support whoever supports him, forsake whoever forsakes him, and may the truth follow him wheresoever he turns.”
On hearing this, Umar, who would later become the second caliph of the early Muslim empire, congratulated Hazrat Ali and said: “You have become my Mawla and the Mawla of every Muslim.”
For the Shia, the meaning of the word Mawla is clear — it means “master”. The pivotal event at Ghadir Khumm marked the declaration by Prophet Muhammad of Hazrat Ali’s absolute authority to lead and guide the Muslim believers as Imam. This authority would remain within the Ahl al-Bayt — the household of the Prophet — passing from one Imam to the next in succession by divine designation.
The Shia Ismaili tradition bears witness to the continuity of the authority vested at Ghadir Khumm. The hereditary Imamat has continued over 1 400 years, from Hazrat Ali to the present Imam-of-the-Time, Mawlana Shah Karim al-Hussaini Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary Imam and direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad through Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Bibi Fatima.
The exemplary lives of Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali demonstrate the fundamental ethical principles of Islam that the Imam-of-the-Time upholds, through his guidance and his work to improve the condition of the Jamat, the ummah and society at large. In commemorating Eid-e Ghadir, Ismailis join millions of other Shia Muslims, who over the centuries have reaffirmed their allegiance to the Imams as the rightful successors of Hazrat Ali.
Source: The Ismaili