It is the Sunnah of Allah that when a significant obligatory act prescribed to us by Him is completed, it is followed by a day dedicated for celebration. On the day of Eid al-Fitr, we celebrate the completion of 30 days of obligatory fasting. On the day of Eid al-Adha, we celebrate the completion of the Hajj rituals as we are commanded. The day of Eid al-Ghadeer is no exception, as we rejoice our obligation of Wilayah to Imam Ali (peace be upon him) and the Divinely-appointed Guides from his progeny. But why do narrations say that Eid al-Ghadeer is the greatest of all Eids in both the heavens and the earth? If we reflect closely, we will find that logically speaking, the degree of joy on any day of Eid increases with the importance of the obligatory act completed successfully. As we compare the three Eids – Fitr, Adha and Ghadeer – we will realize that indeed the obligation of Wilayah is much greater than the obligations of fasting or pilgrimage. That is because Wilayah signifies the completion and perfection of all of religion, while fasting or pilgrimage is completion of only one obligatory act. Hence, without Wilayah, the fasts and pilgrimage have no meaning and the servant has not completed his religion. However, even if a servant failed to complete the obligatory fast or pilgrimage, if they possess true Wilayah in their heart towards the Infallible Imams (peace be upon them all), divine mercy will encompass him by virtue of completion of the most significant Ne’ma (bounty) in Allah’s eyes.
Unfortunately, many of us who are born into the Shi’a faith take this bounty for granted as if it is like any other bounty. We feel proud to be the Shi’as of Amirul Momineen, yet are we really acting and behaving in a manner that would deserve us to hold that honorable position of being his servant? It is important for each and every one of us to reflect upon ourselves on this day of the greatest Eid in the heavens and the earth. We may not have been alive during the time of the Farewell Pilgrimage to witness this great event in history (Ghadeer) to give our bay’a (pledge of allegiance) to Imam Ali. However, today as we celebrate this fateful day in our lives, we can share our happiness by giving our allegiance to him and his infallible progeny, who are our Divinely-appointed guides. It is worthy for us to renew our oath of loyalty and commitment to our Imam and Siraat al-Mustaqeem (the straight path) which is embodied in his personality.
But our renewal of allegiance will be of greater value if it is accompanied by ma’refat (recognition) of this great holy personality of Ali and his high status which he enjoys in Allah’s eyes. Of course, we humans with our limited capacity can never encompass the multitude of virtues which he possesses; however, it suffices for us to know that even though his enemies and adversaries have all tried their best to conceal his great qualities, caliber, and merit, today we still find an ocean of virtues related to Amirul Momineen that makes him the best of creation after the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
The renewal of our covenants will further be of great value if we accompany that allegiance with the expression of sincere thanks and praise to the Almighty God for blessing us with the gift of Wilayah. A simple two-unit prayer of thanks done on a daily basis or a prostration of gratitude offered every night for this great blessing of Wilayah is a simple gesture that we can offer as a token of appreciation to Allah. And by this simple gesture, Allah will increase us in His bounty by increasing our love, knowledge, and attachment with the progeny of Muhammad, because as the Qur’an says, “If you thank me, I will add more favors unto you.” [14:7]
From among the take-home lessons that we learn from this great day of Ghadeer is the importance of Tabarra and Tawalla, which constitute a fundamental part of our religion. Generally speaking, it is logical to say that if one loves a person, he will obey that person and follow their path. At the same token, one cannot love the enemy of the person whom he loves. This contradicts the essence of true love and will naturally lead to the displeasure of the loved one. In the Shi’a doctrine, Tabarra refers to the obligation of despising those who take Allah as their enemy and cursing those who reject the Wilayah of Ahlul Bayt (the household of the Prophet). According to the Infallible Imams from the descendents of the Prophet, it is obligatory to hold utter hatred towards a person who has committed atrocities against the Prophet and his family. It is the duty of every Muslim to disassociate themselves from the enemies of God and the enemies of His messengers. The doctrine of Tabarra itself does not dictate who by name to disassociate from or whom to associate with. It is a general guideline to disassociate from those identified as enemies of the Ahlul Bayt or those who support the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt. Some enemies are known by name and can be pointed out with sufficient proof and evidence, while others remain anonymous. Some others may not realize that they fall in the category of “the enemies of Allah and His Ahlul Bayt”, but their deeds and actions certainly place them in that position (whether out of ignorance or not).
On the other hand, the term Tawalla or Muwalaat generally refers to loving, supporting, and following a particular person or party. When we speak of Tawalla in our doctrine of beliefs, we refer to our love, support, and abidance to the Ahlul Bayt, which is derived from the following Qur’anic verse – “Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for My near relatives…” [42:23] Like Tabarra, Tawalla may also be used for the sake of evil by expressing love and support to the non-believers and corrupt people. This type of Tawalla logically brings the wrath of Allah, while Tawalla of the Ahlul Bayt pleases Him. Based on logical rationale, it is fair to conclude that both Tabarra and Tawalla are essential in order to complete the requirements of love. Using that same reasoning, when it comes to our love of the Ahlul Bayt, we must exercise both Tabarra and Tawalla with them. Not only must we love, support, and obey them, we must also defend them from their enemies and disassociate ourselves from their opponents. We must express contempt and disavow ourselves from their adversaries, not only by words but also through our actions. In other words, it should not be the case that we pronounce our Bara’at (disavowal) from the enemies of Ahlul Bayt while our deeds resemble their (the enemies’) deeds and we support their stance.
So long as there is no persecution or danger in life which would require us to exercise Taqiyya (dissimulation), we must announce our Bara’at against the enemies of the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt, who are the enemies of Allah Himself! Furthermore, to complete our Tabarra and Tawalla, we must also vindicate ourselves from those who follow the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt. Likewise, we must love and show kindness to those who practice Tawalla for the Ahlul Bayt. There is no better day to exercise these fundamental concepts than the day of Eid al-Ghadeer, where we wholeheartedly express out utmost devotion to the most beloved in the eyes of the Prophet and Allah.