God has created humankind a lasting and spiritual phenomenon, not just a terrestrial being whose goal is merely to invent new and improve methods for better eating, sleeping, enjoying and ... . Although all aspects of the needs of human body must be considered, and his desires have to be reasonably met, but the goal for the intelligent humankind should be, moving towards Eternity, not just moving towards death. The Shi'ah believe that Ghadir is the Heart of humankind. But, why Ghadir is so important?
Throughout history, the heavenly tradition of all holy Prophets (PBUT) had been that they -by Allah's command- introduced their God-Chosen successors to people before their departure from this world. This tradition started with Adam(PBUH); by God's command, Adam introduced his son, Shaith (Habbat-O-Llah), as his Allah-Chosen Successor (Shi'ah documents: Al-Kaafi, …; Sunni documents: Taarikh Tabari, …).
In Qur'an, we read that Moosa -Moses- (PBUH) asked God to appoint Haaroon (Aaron), his brother, as his minister:
(Moosa said:) O' my Lord! Appoint me a minister, from my Ahl (household), my brother Haaroon.
(Qur'an, Surah Taa-haa, verses 29-30)
But Haaroon passed away, while Moosa was still alive. By God's command, then Moses introduced Yoosha' son of nuon (Joshua) as his Allah-Chosen Successor. Yoosha' was a servant of God who accompanied Moses (PBUT) at the Mount Sina (Sinai), while the other Israelites became involved in worshiping the golden calf; Yoosha' was also the young man with Moosa (PBUT) whose name is not mentioned in Qur'an, in the story narrated in Qur'an in Surah Kahf, in which, Moosa and Yoosha' set out to find Khezr (PBUT) whose name is not also mentioned; it is noteworthy to call attentions to the Qur'anic fact that the names of many Chosen-Ones -such as the Chosen Successor of Prophet Moosa (Surah Kahf), the Chosen Successor of the Prophet Solaymaan (Surah Naml) and …- are not directly mentioned in Qur'an, rather clear indications of them are given , and also the Hadithes confirm, and express details; the infallible Imams (PBUT) are also such; i.e. while their names are not directly mentioned in Qur'an, but clear indications have been given along with confirming Hadithes.
In the Bible, the Old Testament, book of Numbers, chapter 27, it is written:
And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying,
Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;
And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight.
And thou shalt put some of thine honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation.
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation:
And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.
As we see, Moosa the Prophet of Allah (PBUH) asked God to choose a Successor for him, a leader for his people so that the people of God would not be like sheep without a shepherd, after him; i.e. the Successor of Prophet is to be chosen by Allah, not by the people, in the same manner that the Prophet himself is chosen by Allah, and not by the people. God commanded Moosa to gather the people and the priests in an assembly, and to place his hand on Yoosha' in front of every one, and to introduce him as his Successor, and ask every one to OBEY Yoosha' as the Chosen Successor of the Prophet. In addition, in the book of Joshua of the Old Testament of the Bible, chapter 3, it is written:
And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
And thou shalt command the priests that bear the Ark of the Covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
As we see, Allah said that He was with the Successor of the Prophet, in the same manner that He was with the Prophet, and Allah made this issue known to the people. But history indicates that people did obey neither Haaroon nor Yoosha', as God and Moses commanded them to; even, one of Moses's wives rose against Yoosha' the God-Chosen Successor of Moosa (PBUT). For more information in this regard, we invite you to read the article "Wives of the Prophets" in this site.
These events led to distortion of the Torah (the Word of God as spoken by Moses). Therefore today, we see that the Almighty God is portrayed as a weak being in the Old Testament; stories such as God's wrestling with Prophet Jacob and God's losing, and alike , stem from the fact that the Prophet's God-chosen successors -who had heavenly Knowledge- were forsaken by the people, and as the result, the unlimited and perfect Word of God was replaced by the limited and imperfect words of human; therefore, today, only a few Rays of the Light of the Truth shine in the Old and New Testaments, in the midst of the darkness of all distortions. How soon they forgot, recommendations of Moses!!!
Prophet Zakaria -Zachariah- (PBUH) also implored God to appoint him a deserving Successor and heir; his wife -who was unable to bear children- miraculously gave birth to their son, Yahya (John, known as the Baptist):
(Zakaria said to Allah:)... so grant me, a "wali", Successor and heir, from Your Presence; one who shall be heir to me, and heir to the house of Ya'qoob (Jacob), and my Lord! make him one with whom You are well pleased.
(Qur'an, Surah Maryam, Verses 5&6)
Again we see that it has been the tradition of all Prophets (PBUT), to have Successors chosen by Allah, deserving Successors whom Allah is Pleased with, those worthy to lead the people in the same manner that the Prophets did.
Also, it is necessary to mention that in transliteration and translation, the spelling and pronunciation of names have changed; for instance, in transliteration to Greek (the first language that Bible was translated to, while the original Hebrew texts were not preserved!) and Latin (the old language of the Roman Empire which accepted Christianity in the fourth century A.D. and chose four gospels and burned the rest!), 'Y' has changed to 'J' (Ya'qoob to Jacob, Yoosof to Joseph or Josef, and …), even today Spanish speaking people whose language is a Latin based language, in pronouncing the English word 'yes', say 'jes'; there are many such examples which some of them have been the roots of many distortions which Allah-Willing we shall discuss them in other writings.
In the Bible, the New Testament, gospel of John, chapter 1, it is written:
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.
In the gospel of Matthew of the New Testament of the Bible, chapter 16, it is written:
And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
As we see, Eesa son of Maryam -Jesus son of Mary- (PBUT) commanded Sham'oon son of Hamoon (Simon son of Jona) to be his successor and be a shepherd to his sheep, i.e. be a leader to his people; also Jesus chose the nickname Cephas (pronounced Safa in Arabic and translated to Petra in Greek and pronounced Peter in English which means rock and stone) for Simon (Sham'oon) because of the heavy responsibilities which he had to carry on his shoulder, as Jesus's successor; Peter had the responsibility to be solid and firm as a rock -the rock which Jesus said that he was going to build his church upon- in order to uphold and interpret the traditions established by Jesus, after Jesus (PBUH). But history indicates that Paul overshadowed Peter. Paul -who was a Jew, and himself had confessed to the killing of many followers of Jesus, and had never met Jesus, but had a very attractive personality- suddenly claimed to be an apostle, and started to preach the concepts such as Trinity and alike (in spite of Peter's disapproval), which were based on ancient Greek and Roman and … cultures, and directly against the teachings of Jesus(PBUH). When Peter confronted Paul, Paul -who had become very famous due to his attractive personality and charitable activities- called Peter a hypocrite, and the ignorant people disobeyed God and Jesus, and forsook Peter. As a result, history verifies that over one hundred gospels were written by different people throughout years after Hazrat Eesa (PBUH), and about four centuries after Jesus, the Church declared most of the gospels as illegal, and only aloud four of them to be propagated, the four which were mostly written under the influence of Paul's teachings. Today in the New Testament there are those four gospels, while none of which were written by Peter(Jesus's chosen successor). Of course, the ideal case would have been an undistorted Gospel written at time of Jesus by him, but that is not also available; next to the ideal, would have been a Gospel written by Peter, but that is not available, too!!! Influence of Paul who actually usurped Peter's position, and forsakenness of Peter by the people, and …, caused many distortions in the Word of God. Distortions got to the point where Hazrat Eesa (PBUH) has been considered as God and son of God!!! All these stem from the sad fact that the holy Prophet's God-chosen successor was not obeyed. How soon they forgot, recommendations of Jesus!!!
As narrated by Ebne-Abbaas, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP) -the final holy Prophet and the most perfect creation of God- has said that God had chosen successors for all Divine Prophets to protect the Word of God from distortions, and to lead people to everlasting salvation, but in every case, people did not remain faithful to the Covenant. The holy Prophet has emphasized that he, by God's command and based on all Prophets' tradition, was establishing the Covenant with the people in regard to Ali son of Abi-Taaleb (PBUH), as his God-chosen successor. Prophet Mohammad(PBUH&HP) prophesied that most people were not going to remain faithful to this Covenant either, and then the Prophet recited the Word of God :
... then anyone who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own self, and anyone who fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah, Allah will soon grant him a great reward.
(Qur'an, Surah Fath ,verse 10)
(Tafsir Noor-O-Ththaqalain; Ma'aani-Ol-Akhbaar; …)
Ghadir is the name of the Pond where the most compassionate man of history, the most obedient servant of Allah -Mohammad(PBUH&HP)- by God's command, raised Ali's (PBUH) hand, and formally introduced him and his infallible sons from the loins of Ali, as his Allah-chosen Successors until Eternity, in front of over one hundred thousand people; while it was a scene similar to the Prophet Moses's announcement of his Successor, but with its unique grandeur, magnificence and details. After the Prophet Mohammad's (PBUH&HP) Sermon by the pond of Ghadir, a very nice looking and smelling man was observed who said that he had never seen a day like that day, and that the Prophet had emphasized so much upon the matter of his cousin and established such a Covenant for him that only those who disbelieved Allah and the Prophet could had broken it, then he said that woe unto those who would break that Covenant; Omar son of Khattaab went to the Prophet and asked him whether he had heard that man, the Prophet asked Omar whether he had recognized him, Omar said that he had not, then the Prophet continued that he was the "Rooh-Ol-Ameen" (i.e. Gabriel -who had observed all previous Prophets and their Successors- had appeared as a man that day); after that the Prophet told Omar to be careful not to break the Covenant, because if, the Prophet said, he did so, then Allah, the Prophet, the Angels and the Believers would detest him. (Behaar-Ol-Anwaar, vol. 37; …)
That destiny-making event is therefore, called Ghadir. If humankind's destination is toward Eternity, then human obviously has to find the Way to Eternity. Since Eternity is an unknown phenomenon for humankind, therefore, he has to approach it by following and obeying someone with Divinely bestowed Knowledge, someone whom God has shown him the Way.
Successors of all previous Prophets (PBUT) were not obeyed and therefore, the Word of Allah was distorted, and the True Path to Eternity was disappeared and concealed behind the dark clouds of distortions. Although some fake paths were introduced but the Path to Eternity, only Allah and His Chosen Ones know. After each Prophet came and left, another new Prophet, who tried to correct the distortions which the people of the previous Prophet, by not obeying the Allah-Chosen Successors, had caused in the Word of God; but Mohammad (PBUH&HP) was the last and most perfect Prophet of Allah, and there was not going to be another Prophet after him; therefore, the responsibility of Mohammad's Successors was the greatest. Ali (PBUH) had to be some one who possessed the Knowledge of all previous Prophets ; Ali had to be a perfect and infallible Servant of Allah; Ali was the chosen "waley", and so have been the eleven descendants of the Prophet from Ali (PBUT). God chose 12 Successors after his final holy Prophet, so that humankind would not be left without a heavenly leader (Imam) until Eternity. That day next to the pond of Ghadir, Mohammad (PBUH&HP) gave an unforgettable speech in which the Prophet introduced his 12 Successors, Ali and his infallible descendants throughout the ages, to people. This time if Ali and his descendants were not obeyed, the Word of Allah would have been distorted until the Last Days, because there was not going to be another Prophet. As Mohammad had prophesied, history repeated itself, and certain undeserving ones usurped the Heavenly bestowed Right of the deserving Successors, and imposed themselves to people as successors of the holy Prophet in place of God-chosen ones, and some people -even certain relatives of the Prophet, with worldly ambitions- rebelled against the chosen ones. As if the stories of previous Prophets and their nations were, once more, on the screen of history! How soon they forgot, recommendations of Mohammad!!! Just like the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH&HP) had said, only a few have remained faithful to the Covenant and obeyed the Allah-chosen Successors; those few are the Shi'ah.
Today, we are living in the era of the 12th Successor of the final Divine Prophet, Imam Mahdi (PBUT). In the Last Days, Mahdy, followed by Eesa, (PBUT) shall return and many previous Prophets and blessed ones will also come back, and the Truth shall be manifested for every one. Human's test of his faith during his life period on this earth, is a crucial one; while God is watching, human has to choose, and the consequence of his choice shall be his: To obey Allah or not!
And this is why, the Shi'ah believe that Ghadir is the heart of humankind; Ghadir is the heart of the Word of Allah, the Word which guides humankind to Eternity; the heart which started to beat from the beginning of creation, and on Ghadir, its beating was tuned towards the celestial Path to the Everlasting harmony of perfection, and with Appearance of Mahdi (PBUH), it shall achieve the perfect Ever-Anticipated harmony, and will beat in everyone's soul, and shall not stop beating until Eternity... .