Man Kuntu Mawlahu fa `Aliyyun Mawlahu
"For whomever I am his leader, Ali is his leader" ~The Prophet Muhammad.
Today is `Eid al Ghadeer, the day the above Hadith (Prophetic narration) was revealed after Muhammad's last pilgrimage during his life. This narration is recorded widely in both Shi`i and Sunni books, but it's understanding varies tremendously, as do its implications for both groups.
Needless to say, it is a holiday here in Iran, with banners and signs up all around town.
I'm not much for proselytizing. Perhaps that's due to the incessant stream of Jehovah's Witnesses that kept ringing the doorbell of my childhood home or the hilarious/frightening Jack Chick tracts people used to hand out. But in the interest of discussion and exploration, I am posting a few links, for the intersted and intellectually curious, about this important topic.
The first gives a detailed overview of the event from the Shi`i perspective. I wish more people who criticize Shi`is would at least get to this part, where they learn about their reasons, beliefs, and arguments for this stance (or any other points of difference) before they try to write everything off as "innovation", "error", and other even less savory things. One should at least know accurately the perspective of the other before offering a critique...
Even more interesting, from my view anyway, is the next link. Written by the great Shi`i scholar Ayatullah Morteza al Mutaharri (who our street is named after, by the way), it is an exploration as to how the event of Ghadeer can actually aid in Sunni-Shi`i unity and understanding. Anything that leads to that end ought to be required reading for the believers...
Finally, anybody that wants to gain a deeper understanding of Islamic history and the claims and support for the view that Muhammad designated Ali as his successor must read Wilfred Madelung's book below. Though his conclusion as to why Ali was unsuccessful in making his claim (and in retaining his Caliphate) will not satisfy any believer, the historical evidence he provides about the succession to Muhammad (and culled mostly from Sunni sourcess) needs to be considered by all Muslims. Not to say it will necessarily convince a Sunni of the Shi`i case, but it points out a number of historical "pious fictions" that must be addressed and accounted for somehow.