From the moment of its entrance into historical time, the event of Ghadīr has been the subject of much theological controversy among Muslims; that is a given. The historical reversion1 of a segment of the Muslim community to the Jāhliyyaḧ system in the wake of the event of al-Ghadīr marked the beginning of a polarization in the Muslim community that led to these theological differences.
Note: The Qurʾānic expression ‘jāhliyyaḧ’ means “system and ways of ignorance”. For example:
Is it the judgment of the system and ways of ignorance that they covet and hanker after? And who is more beautiful in judgment than Allah for a people who have objective certainty (yaqīn)? [Qurʾān 5:50]
Thus, for those without yaqīn (objectively certain knowledge) the decision of Allah is not beautiful to their eyes and hearts and the decision of Jāhliyyaḧ was more beautiful. This is the reason the Second Revert himself famously said that the reversion to Jāhliyyaḧ that took place in the wake of al-Ghadīr was a major blunder (faltaḧ).
Aside from theological differences: An odd phenomenon is the lack of significant research in Western academia on the historical (as opposed to theological) significance of the event of al-Ghadīr in Muslim history. This, despite the fact that it is arguably the most attested-to fact in the biography of the Prophet of Islam (Ṣ). For example: Wilfred Madelung curiously avoids any discussion of this event in his book The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Following, as it were, in his footsteps Mahmoud Ayoub also overlooks the historical significance of this event in his The Crisis of Muslim History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam.
In response to the request of some brothers and sisters, I am making my book review of Ayoub's Crisis of Muslim History available to readers here at Walayah.org. This includes a brief but important discussion of the Event of the Riders that took place many years later. It is this event that the aforementioned brothers and sisters were interested in.
At another juncture, inshaaAllah, we will add more reflections on the meanings of the Event of al-Ghadīr itself in the context of the benchmark and criterion of walāyaḧ.
In WALĀYAHDownload Book Review — The Crisis of Muslim History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam!