The following article sheds light and provides a background on Eid Al Ghadir and the permissibility of observing the day as an Eid. The following issues will be discussed below:
- What is Eid Al Ghadir?
- When is Eid Al Ghadir?
- When was it first celebrated?
- Have Sunnis Ever Observed Eid Al Ghadir?
- A Contradiction by Shias
- Should Shias Observe Eid Al Ghadir?
What is Eid Al Ghadir?
It is common knowledge that Muslims around that world observe two Eids, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Shias, however, have an additional Eid, which is known as Eid Al Ghadir. Eid Al Ghadir is the day in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) allegedly made Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) his successor.
Sunni do not observe Eid Al Ghadir because they do not hold the view that Ali was ever appointed as a successor by the Prophet (peace be upon him), nor has the Prophet (peace be upon him) ever declared this day as an Eid.
When is Eid Al Ghadir?
Eid Al Ghadir occurs on the 18th of the month of Thu Al-Hijjah.
When was Eid Al Ghadir first celebrated?
According to Al-Maqrizi, the first official Eid Al Ghadir was initiated by Ali bin Buwayh, the leader of the Buyid Empire. He also says, “Eid Al Ghadir was not an permitted Eid that was observed by any of the predecessors that are looked up to, and it was first known in Islam in Iraq during the time of Mu’iz Al-Dawla Ali bin Buwayh, who started it in the year 352 (AH), and it was observed by the Shias ever since.” Al-Khitat 1/388
It is important to be aware that members of Shia communities before this date may have observed Eid Al-Ghadir, however, it was never officially recognized by any governmental body before the year 352 AH.
Have Sunnis Ever Observed Eid Al Ghadir?
The quick answer is: No.
Shias attempt to argue that the origins of the Sunni celebrations of Eid Al Ghadir return to the very day of Al Ghadir in which Omar bin Al-Khattab and others celebrated this alleged appointment of Ali. However, there is no authentic evidence that Ali was ever congratulated on this day.
Some Shia scholars, like Al-Amini, attempt to argue that Sunnis observed this day. He suggests this by providing a reference to Ibn Khallikan, who referred to the 18th of Thu Al-Hijjah as the Eid of the Day of Ghadir in the biographies of Al-Musta’lee bin Al-Mustansir and Al-Mustansir Al-Ubaidi. However, upon closer inspection of the quote, the exact opposite conclusion can be made.
Ibn Khallikan states 1/60, “He (Al-Musta’lee bin Al-Muntasir) was given the pledge of allegiance on the Day of Eid Al-Ghadir, which is the 18th of Thu Al-Hijjah, in the year 487 (AH).”
He also said 2/223, “This night is the night of Eid Al-Ghadir, I mean the night of the 18th of Thu Al-Hijjah.” He then goes on to define what Eid Al-Ghadir is.
Upon observing the two quotes, we can come to the conclusion that Sunnis did not observe Eid Al-Ghadir, since Ibn Khallikan has to provide a date for this day, defining it for those that did not know what it was. This practice is not common for days that are known. For example, scholars do not often say, “This occurred on Eid Al-Adha, the 10th of Thu Al-Hijjah,” nor do they say, “He died on Eid Al-Fitr, the 1st of Shawwal,” since these days are known. Similarly, no Christian historian says, “This occurred on the New Year, on the 1st of January, a few days after Christmas, which occurred on the 25th of December.”
All of these days are known and do not require a definition.
A Contradiction by Shias
Shias often argue that Eid Al Ghadir is a day in which fasting is supposed to be observed. Some have even went ahead and concocted narrations that suggest that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told Muslims to fast this day.
However, this in itself conflicts with prophetic teachings that Eids are days of celebration in which one is supposed to eat and drink. Saheeh Muslim #1141
This view is not only held by Sunnis, but it is echoed by the Shia scholar Ayatollah Al-Sistani who forbade fasting on the two Eids.
Since this is the case, it makes no sense to fast a day of “Eid” Al Ghadir.
Shia Narrations refer to only Two Eids
When returning to Shia narrations, we constantly find “two Eids” being mentioned. There is no prayer for “Eid Al-Ghadir” nor is there a sermon. It is as if the Imams knew nothing about Eid Al-Ghadir. By returning to Al-Kafi 3/303-305, we find that the Imams:
- Gave directions about the methods of prayer for the “two Eids”.
- Told followers to avoid bringing weapons on the “two Eids”.
- Told followers to leave town during the “two Eids”.
- Gave details about the sermons and the clothing of the Imam during the “two Eids”.
The word used in these narrations is “Eidayn“, which is the dual form of “Eid”, and none of them make any mention of “A’ayaad“, which would be the correct word to be used if there were three Eids.
Should Shias Observe Eid Al Ghadir?
Shias are bound by their narrations from the Imams and not the opinions of their scholars. There are plenty of narrations in which the Imams refer to the Eids as two Eids and not three. This in itself is evidence that Eid Al-Ghadir never existed in the eyes of the Imams.
We do however, find in Al-Kafi narrations in the section of Siyam Al-Targheeb that refer to the 18th of Thi Al-Hijjah as Eid Al-Ghadir. However, these narrations are all weak according to Shia hadith scholar Al-Majlisi in Mir’aat Al-Uqool and they go against what is established, which is that the Imams referred to the Eid as two and never three.