Did Ali use Ghadir Khumm as Evidence for his Imamate?
One of the main evidences that Sunnis have always used in order to prove that the events at Ghadir Khumm had nothing to do with a designation of Ali is that Ali himself never used the event as evidence for his rule.
In response to this, Al-Amini lists out narrations that include the appeals of Ali towards the people about his designation. He argues that Ali did this on at least seven different settings, the first being at the Masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) right after his death, then on the day of Al-Shura in the year 23 AH, then during the time of Uthman, then during the battle of Al-Jamal in the year 36 AH, at Siffeen in the year 37 AH, then during his caliphate when he was approached by riders, and finally at Al-Rahaba in the year 40 AH.
In brief, we will discuss the narrations and evidences that Al-Amini provides:
At the Masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) right after his Death
Al-Amini provides one source for this report, which is Kitab Sulaym bin Qays Al-Hilali. Those that are familiar with the source know that this book is considered to be an Imami source and holds no weight among Sunnis. Moreover, the book is even rejected by some Shia scholars. Refer to Sulaym’s biography in Rijal Ibn Al-Ghadha’iri. Al-Amini, on the other hand, falsely claims that the book is relied upon by Sunnis 1/395.
The Day of Shura in the Year 23 AH
Al-Amini provides the narration through a few sources, in all of them Ali says something along the lines of, “Whosoever I am his mawla then Ali is his mawla?” However, there is no indication that any of these are referring to a context that has to do with his appointment, except in one case, where he explicitly says, “I appeal to you, is there among you that was appointed by the Messenger of Allah on the day of Ghadir other than me?!” 1/329
This narration comes through the path of Ibn Abi Darim who is an infamous liar who used to provide exaggerated false commentaries on the Qur’an. For example, he would say that the Pharaoh in the Qur’an is a reference to Omar. Refer to his biography in Mizal Al-I’itidal.
During the Caliphate of Uthman
Like the first report above, the narration comes from the book of Sulaym bin Qays, an Imami source.
During the Battle of Al-Jamal in the Year 36 AH
The report contains Ali beseeching Talha, asking him if he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Ghadir. The report does not contain any evidences of Ali using Ghadir Khumm to justify his caliphate, but rather, he uses it to affirm that he is upon truth in his wars. Regardless, the narration is weak due to the inclusion of Hussain Al-Ashqar who has been declared to be a liar by Ali bin Al-Madeeni and was weakened by many other hadith scholars. See his biography in Tahtheeb Al-Tahtheeb.
During the Battle of Siffeen in the Year 37 AH
Like the first report above, the reliable is upon the book of Sulaym bin Qays, an Imami source.
During his Caliphate when he was approached by Riders
Al-Amini provides a few narrations, but none of them have anything to do with affirming the Imamah of Ali. Al-Amini points out that this occurred in the year 36 or 37 AH, but provides no evidences for this.
At Al-Rahaba in the Year 40 AH
Al-Amini provides several sources that correctly and authentically provide the report from Ali, however, none of them provide explicit evidence from the context that this was to affirm his caliphate. Refer to our section on Hadith Gradings for more on this report.
As we have mentioned previously in the introduction, there are no evidences of Ali even using the event at Ghadir Khumm as evidence for his Imamate. This in itself shows that he never understood it to have anything to do with his caliphate. The earliest evidence for him ever mentioning this report is a hundred days before he passed away according to Fitr bin Khalifa (a Shi’ee narrator). See Kitab Al-Ghadir 1/357.
Furthermore, an additional proof that this was never uttered by Ali at any other setting is supported by the confusion of Abu Tufail 1/356, a close companion of Ali, who immediately went to Zaid bin Arqam to confirm if these words were uttered by the Prophet (peace be upon him). This alone is sufficient to prove that Ali never attempted to justify his right to rule during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, Omar, or Uthman, but only quoted this narration while he was a ruler and a few months before he passed away.
The correct meaning and intention of the narration can be revised in the Understanding Ghadir Khumm section.