lit. “pool of Ḵomm”; the name of a pool near a small oasis along the caravan route between the cities of Mecca and Medina, near an area currently known as Joḥfa.


ḠADĪR ḴOMM (lit. “pool of Ḵomm”), the name of a pool near a small oasis along the caravan route between the cities of Mecca and Medina, near an area currently known as Joḥfa. According to Shiʿites, this is the site at which the Prophet Moḥammad announced the authority of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb (q.v.) over the Muslim community on 18 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 10/16 March 632, as he was returning from the Farewell Pilgrimage (Ḥajjat al-wadāʿ) to Mecca. Many Sunnite authorities likewise consider Ḡadīr Ḵomm the site of a Prophetic announcement regarding ʿAlī, but do not recognize it as a political appointment; in fact, some of the most extensive collections of Ḡadīr Ḵomm material can be found in three Sunnite sources, namely the Mosnad of Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, Ebn ʿAsāker’s Taʾrīḵ madīnat Demašq (XLII, pp. 187-238), and Ebn Kaṯīr’s al-Bedāya wa’l-nehāya (V, pp. 150-63).

i. In Shiʿite literature.

ii. Ḡadīr festival (ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr).



According to the Shiʿite version of events, Moḥammad had been instructed by God at some earlier point (during the pilgrimage rites on the day of ʿArafāt or during the meʿrāj) to reveal the walāya of ʿAlī to his community; but he had hesitated, fearing the community’s rejection. At Ḡadīr Ḵomm, God insisted that Moḥammad reveal this message, sending down Koran 5:67: “O Messenger! Make known that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, for if you do not, you will not have revealed his message. God will protect you from mankind.” Moḥammad therefore reveals the “walāya” of ʿAlī, first asking the crowd: “Am I not closer (awlā) to the believers than they are to themselves?,” and then making the following announcement: “For whomever I am their lord (mawlā), ʿAlī is their lord (mawlā); O God, befriend the friend of ʿAlī and be the enemy of his enemy.” This announcement was then followed, some time the same day, by the revelation of Koran 5:3: “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor unto you, and chosen for you, as religion, Islaɱ” Since this Shiʿite tradition is directly connected to these two koranic verses, a good deal of material about Ḡadīr Ḵomm can be found in Shiʿite commentaries on the Koran (see EXEGESIS ii), the earliest examples of which draw heavily on lengthy, explanatory traditions attributed to the fifth imam, Moḥammad al-Bāqer. Shiʿites also contend that Abū Bakr, ʿOmar, and all of the Companions of the Prophet present on this occasion gave ʿAlī the bayʿa or the pledge of “hearing and obeying” after the Prophet’s announcement.

It is interesting to note that Ḡadīr Ḵomm does not appear among ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb’s arguments for his own legitimacy as included in the Nahj al-balāḡa, although it seems that the tradition became an important argument for ʿAlid legitimacy some time in the 2nd/8th century. Shiʿites consider the earliest piece of literature memorializing the Ḡadīr Ḵomm event to be a poem reportedly composed by the Prophet’s poet, Ḥassān b. Ṯābet, on the occasion itself. In fact, the earliest datable references to Ḡadīr Ḵomm can be found in the Hāšemīyāt of the 8th-century Shiʿite poet Komayt b. Zayd Asadī (pp. 152-53, 156) and in the Ketāb Solaym b. Qays, an early Shiʿite polemical text dating perhaps to the 2nd/8th century, which deals extensively with Ḡadīr Ḵomm (II, pp. 828-29).

In the codification of the Twelver Shiʿite doctrine of the imamate in the 10th-11th centuries C.E., Ḡadīr Ḵomm is most relevant as evidence to support the theory of naṣṣ (i.e., the notion that every imam must be specifically designated by his predecessor), which is a central part of Twelver doctrine. For example, Kolaynī’s al-Kāfī, the earliest of the four canonical works of Twelver Shiʿite Hadith, places the tradition in the chapters on the specific designation (tanṣīṣ) of ʿAlī and the Imams (I, pp. 289-91); and in more systematic doctrinal works the tradition is discussed almost exclusively within the context of the argument for naṣṣ (e.g., Šarīf Mortażā, al-Šāfī II, pp. 258-325; Karajākī, II, pp. 84-98). The Ḡadīr Ḵomm tradition receives more general attention in less systematic Twelver Shiʿite works, such as the Amālī collections of Ebn Bābawayh (pp. 2-3, 109, 111, 514) and Abū Jaʿfar Ṭūsī (pp. 247, 332, 334, 343, 545-556). Twelver Shiʿite authorities also produced often lengthy treatments of the meaning of the word mawlā, in which extensive arguments were given to prove that, in the context of the Ḡadīr Ḵomm tradition, the title denoted a position of political authority over the community; the earliest examples of this can be found in Ebn Bābawayh’s Maʿānī al-aḵbār (pp. 63-72), in Shaikh Mofīd’s short treatise Maʿnā al-mawlā, and in Šarīf Mortażā’s al-Šāfī fi’l-emāma (II, pp. 258-325). Discussions of the meaning of Ḡadīr Ḵomm by later Shiʿite authors generally reproduce or expand upon the arguments found in these works (e.g., Amīnī, I, pp. 340-99).

Ḡadīr Ḵomm is also a popular topic in two other genres of Shiʿite literature which became common somewhat later, namely, anti-Sunni polemical works (e.g., Ṭabarsī, I, esp. pp. 137-62, 333-53; Ebn Ṭāwūs, Ṭarāʾef, pp. 303-24) and collections of manāqeb traditions for ʿAlī and the later Imams (e.g., Ebn Šahrāšūb, III, pp. 28-55). The fact that Ḡadīr Ḵomm is related by many prominent Sunnite compilers on the authority of numerous Companions, many of whom were not ʿAlid legitimists and some of whom are usually considered to have been enemies of the ʿAlid cause, is put to good use in these two genres. Sunnite authorities are frequently cited as sources for the tradition and a common motif is that of the anti-ʿAlid Companion who is reminded of the Ḡadīr Ḵomm tradition, to which he was a witness, and who then expresses either regret or fear of God’s punishment for having thereafter abandoned the walāya of ʿAlī. These works also make the point, implicitly or explicitly, that while Sunnites and Shiʿites agree on traditions regarding the virtues of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb, the Twelver Shiʿites flatly reject Sunnite traditions regarding the virtues of the first three caliphs and anti-ʿAlid Companions.

Ḡadīr Ḵomm has also been a popular theme in Shiʿite poetry up until this century, and there are numerous Arabic and Persian poetical collections on the subject, often known by the generic title ḡadīrīyāt (see Amīnī, esp. III-VII, and al-Ḏarīʿa XVI, pp. 26-28). The first recorded examples of such collections date from the 4th/10th century and may have arisen in connection with the emergence of Ḡadīr Ḵomm as an official religious holiday under the Buyids at that time. The best modern Twelver Shiʿite work on Ḡadīr Ḵomm is that of Amīnī, al-Ḡadīr, an eleven-volume work, which aims to collect all the material on Ḡadīr Ḵomm in Sunnite and Shiʿite works of Hadith, history, commentary on the Koran, and poetry, as well as extensive biographical material on the prominent transmitters of the tradition and on the authors and poets who memorialized it in their work.



ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Aḥmad Amīnī Najafī (Tabrīzī), al-Ḡadīr fi’l-ketāb wa’l-sonna wa’l-adab, 11 vols., Beirut, 1387/1967; tr. M.-T. Wāḥīdī, 22 vols., Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

Abu’l-Nażr Moḥammad b. Masʿūd ʿAyyāšī, Ketāb al-tafsīr, Qom, 1381/1961.

Balāḏorī, Ansāb. Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAlī Ebn ʿAsāker, Taʾrīḵ madīnat Demašq, ed. ʿA. Šīrī, 70 vols, Beirut, 1995-98.

Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed b. ʿAlī Ebn Bābawayh, Amālī al-Ṣadūq, Najaf, 1390/1970.

Idem, ʿElal al-šarāʿeʿ wa’l-aḥkām wa’l-asbāb, Tehran (?), 1417/1996.

Idem, Maʿānī al-aḵbār,ed. S. M. Mahdī, Najaf, 1391/1971.

Aḥmad Ebn Ḥanbal, Mosnad al-Emām Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal, ed. S. T. Majḏūb, Beirut, 1394/1974.

Ebn Kaṯīr Demašqī, al-Bedāya wa’l-nehāya, ed. ʿA.-M. Moʿawwad and ʿA. A. ʿAbd-al-Mawjūd, 8 vols., Beirut, 1415/1994.

Moḥammed b. ʿAlī Ebn Šahrašūb, Manāqeb āl Abī Ṭāleb, Beirut, 1412/1991.

Jamāl-al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Mūsā Ebn Ṭāwūs, al-Ṭarāʾef fī maʿrefat al-maḏāheb al-ṭawāʾef, Qom, 1400/1980; Pers. tr., D. Elhāmī, Qom, 1413/1992.

Idem, al-Yaqīn be-eḵteṣāṣ mawlānā ʿAlī be-emārat al-moʾmenīn, ed. M. B. Anṣārī and M. S. Anṣārī, Beirut, 1410/1989 (esp. pp. 180-84, where he cites an early 4th/10th century work on Ḡadīr Ḵomm by the Zaydī author Ebn ʿOqda).

Mollā Moḥsen Moḥammad Fayż Kāšī, Ketāb al-ṣāfī fī tafsīr al-Qorʾān, Mašhad, 1358 Š./1979.

Moḥammad b. ʿAlī Karājakī, Kanz al-fawāʾed, Beirut, 1406/1985.

Abu’l-Qāsem Forāt b. Ebrāhīm Kūfī, Tafsīr Forāt al-Kūfī, ed. M. Kāẓem, Beirut, 1413/1992.

Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammed b. Yaʿqūb Rāzī Kolaynī, al-Kāfī fī ʿelm al-dīn, 8 vols., ed. ʿA.-A. Ḡaffārī, Tehran, 3rd ed., 1362-63 Š./1983-84.

Komayt b. Zayd Asadī, Hāšemīyāt, ed. and tr. J. Horovitz, as Die Hašimijjat des Kumait, Leiden, 1904. Moḥammed-Bāqer Majlesī, Beḥār al-anwār, Tehran, 1376-/1956-.

Masʿūdī, Tanbīh, pp. 255-56.

Shaikh Moḥammad b. Moḥammad b. Noʿmān Mofīd, Moṣannafāt al-Šayḵ al-Mofīd XI: Maʿnā al-mawlā; XII: Aqsām al-mawlā fi’l-lesān, ed. M. Najaf, Tehran, 1413/1992.

ʿAlī b. Ebrāhīm Qomī, Tafsīr al-Qomī, ed. S. T. Mūsawī Jazāʾerī, Najaf, 1417/1966.

Sayyed Ḥemyarī, Dīwān al-Sayyed al-Ḥemyarī, ed. Š. Hādī Šakr, Beirut, 1417/1966.

ʿAlam al-Hodā Šarīf Mortażā, al-Šāfī fi’l-emāma, Tehran, 1407/1986.

Idem, Rasāʾel al-Šarīf al-Mortażā, ed. S. A. Ḥosaynī, Qom, 1405/1984.

Šarīf Moḥammad b. Ṭāher Rażī, Nahj al-balāḡa, ed. M. A. Ebrāhīm, Cairo, 1383/1963.

Solaym b. Qays Helālī, Ketāb Solaym b. Qays, ed. M.-B. Anṣārī, Qom, 1415/1994.

Aḥmad b. ʿAlī Ṭabarsī, Ketāb al-eḥtejāj ʿalā ahl al-lejāj, ed. E. Bahādorī, Qom, 1413/1992.

Abū ʿAlī Fażl b. Ḥasan Ṭabresī, Amālī, ed. Qesm al-Derāsāt al-Eslamīya, Qom, 1414/1993.

Yaʿqūbī, Taʾrīḵ II, p. 125.

L. Veccia Vaglieri, “Ghadīr Khumm” in EI2 II, pp. 993-94.




The anniversary of the Prophet’s remark, on 18 Ḏu’l-Ḥejja 10/16 March 632, about the status of Imam ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭāleb became a public holiday in 352/963 when the Shiʿite ruler of Baghdad, the Buyid Moʿezz-al-Dawla Aḥmad, ordered the city to celebrate the occasion. No record of such public observance prior to this time is known, although Shiʿite sympathizers did not fail to cherish the event in their writings, particularly in poetry (Amīnī, I, pp. 270-72, II, p. 388). The reports of Muslim chroniclers such as Ebn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1200; XIV, p. 151), Ebn al-Aṯīr (d. 630/1233) and Ebn Kaṯīr (d. 774/1373; XI, p. 259) of this event indicate the innovative character of the celebration. Ebn al-Aṯīr wrote: “On the 18th of Ḏu’l-Hejja of this year, Moʿezz-al-Dawla ordered that Baghdad should be decorated, and fires be lit at the police headquarters, and festivities be public, and the markets be opened at night as during the holidays, and that the drums be beaten and the bugles sounded, in happy commemoration of the Feast of Ḡadīr, i.e., Ḡadīr Ḵomm. It was a well-attended/memorable (mašhūd) occasion (Beirut, VIII, pp. 549-50).”

Another chronicler, Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-al-Malek Hamadānī (d. 521/1127), recorded that “fire games” were played on the night of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr and shops were open all night. In the morning, Shiʿite sympathizers moved to the Qorayš cemetery (present-day Kāẓemayn) and performed the special ʿĪd prayer (apud Faqīhī, p. 469). Ebn al-Jawzī (XV, p. 14) also mentioned the fire games and added that a camel was slaughtered to honor the occasion in the year 389/998.

The above accounts describe the performance of a Shiʿite feast in the capital of the ʿAbbasid caliphate in spite of the fact that the city was mainly populated by the Sunnites. It was the second festive holiday carried out by Moʿezz-al-Dawla in that year. The first one was the public mourning performance of ʿĀšūrā (q.v.), the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Ḥosayn (Ebn al-Aṯīr, Beirut, VIII, p. 549), which practically gave birth to Muḥarram processions. Muslim historians generally laid emphasis on the role of Moʿezz-al-Dawla in initiating such practices because of his Persian and Shiʿite backgrounds. The Buyids, like other people of Persian stock, grew up in a strong tradition of festivity. The Persians were considered to be among the most festive people by Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī (d. 440/1048), who reported that they had a myth or history behind every day which determined whether the day was lucky and preferable or unlucky and detestable for them (Āṯār, p. 230).

It should be noted, nevertheless, that Moʿezz-al-Dawla launched the ʿĀšūrā and Ḡadīr observations in the eighteenth of his twenty-two years of reign in Baghdad. This raises the possibility that he could have been impressed by the news of Fatimid conquests in North Africa and their promotion of Shiʿite rituals. In his writing on Fatimid rites and customs, Aḥmad Maqrīzī (d. 845/1441) suggested that the observance of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr was a well-established Fatimid practice. He described the occasion in Egypt as the day when “widows were married, dignitaries, chiefs, shaikhs, and commanders used to receive apparels and donations; camels were slaughtered and distributed among the needy, and slaves were also freed” (II, p.389).

In reaction to Shiʿite practices of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr, some Sunnites of Baghdad, according to Ebn al-Jawzī, celebrated the 26th of Ḏu’l-Ḥejja as the anniversary of the entrance of the Prophet and Abū Bakr into the Ṯawr cave (XV, p. 14; Ebn al-Aṯīr, Beirut, IX, p. 155). The Buyid officials did not oppose such celebration, but the clash of Shiʿite and Sunnite sympathizers was often inevitable. According to Ebn Kaṯīr, the clash of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr in 371/981 left several casualties. To prevent the bloodshed, Buyid officials banned the observance of both the Moḥarram procession and ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr celebration in the years 382/992 and 392/1001, but they lifted the ban for the day of ʿĀšūrā in 402/1011 (Ebn Kaṯīr, XI, pp. 331, 370).

Observation of Shiʿite rituals including ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr reached its peak during the reign of ʿAżod-al-Dawla (d. 372/983; q.v.), who advanced the work of Moʿezz-al-Dawla in all directions. The frequent visitation of the shrines of the Imams (zīārat) and the making of wills to be buried in the blessed soil of the Imams’ sanctuaries (Ebn Ṭāwūs, p. 132) can be considered as the legacy of the Buyids, especially of ʿAżod-al-Dawla. The Ghaznavids, who ruled a large part of Persia during the same period, did not officially observe ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr. Nevertheless, Bīrūnī, the astronomer at the Ghaznavid court, mentioned the occasion as an established feast (ʿīd; Āṯār, p.334).

There are no records of any significant observance of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr under the Saljuqs and thereafter, although some Saljuq sultans visited the Shiʿite shrine cities and some Mongol rulers who embraced Shiʿism performed Shiʿite rites. The silence of ʿAbd-al-Jalīl Qazvīnī (560/1164) on ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr and the tradition recorded by Ebn Ṭāwūs (d. 693/1293) that the day of Ḡadīr was more known and observed [by angels] in the sky than on earth (p. 106) confirm the absence of the celebration of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr during this period.

The celebration of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr was renewed in Persia by the Safavids whose legitimacy was inter alia based on Imam ʿAlī’s investiture by the Prophet at Ḡadīr Khomm. No records of the exact date of the renewal of this festival by Shah Esmāʿīl I (q.v.) is available, although it is known that, after his triumphant arrival in Tabrīz in 907/1501, he made the phrase “ʿAlī walī Allāh” (ʿAlī the friend of God) a Shiʿite credal statement as well as part of the aḏān (the Muslim call to prayer) and also had it inscribed on his coins (Możṭar, ed., p. 149; Šokrī, ed., p. 53; EIr. VI, p. 30). The contemporary Persian scholar Ḏabīḥ-Allāh Ṣafā suggested that the coincidence of Nowrūz with the event at Ḡadīr Ḵomm as well as with the day that Imam ʿAlī was officially recognized as the caliph contributed to the survival of Nowrūz in Persia (Adabīyāt V, p. 86). It apparently was an established festival in the reign of Shah Ṭahmāsp I (930-84/1524-76; ʿAbdī Beg, p. 79). Under Shah Solaymān, according to European travellers, “lavish banquets were given on that occasion” (Calmard, p. 160).

The writings of two late Shiʿite authors, Ḥorr ʿĀmelī (d. 1104/1693) and Moḥammad-Bāqer Majlesī (d. 1111/1700), indicate an attempt to perpetuate the occasion as a festival. ʿĀmelī proposed that the anniversary of this day was recommended by the Imams to be observed as a festival (ʿīd) in which charity should be paid and, what is more, the covenant of the Shiʿites with the Imam [ʿAlī] must be remembered (taḏyakkor al-ʿahd). To fast and to visit the tomb of the Imams were considered two ways of the remembrance (Ḥorr ʿAmelī, V, p. 224, X, p. 302). Majlesī in many chapters of his voluminous book merited the occasion as the most rewarding holiday (afżal al-aʿyād), and recorded a special invocation for visiting the shrine of Imam ʿAlī or his remembrance on this day (XCVII, pp. 358-73).

The incorporation of ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr in the main body of Shiʿite jurisprudence contributed to the promotion of the festival during the Qajar period. The occasion was usually celebrated with public banquets and the reception at court of the ʿolamāʾ and dignitaries. In 1249/1833, the ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr was observed for a whole week as it was combined with the royal marriages of several princes (Hedāyat, Rowżat al-ṣafā X, pp. 76-77). During the Qajar period, the ceremony often involved decorating the streets with lights and fire games, and occasionally the king or one of the ʿolamāʾ would deliver a sermon (Rāvandī, VI, pp. 615-18). However, towards the end of the Qajar period, the parade of the military and civilian units and royal or ministerial visitation of the shrine of Qom became popular (Šarīf Kašānī, p. 811).

During the Pahlavi period, the official ceremony was reduced to a reception for a small number of second ranked ʿolamāʾ and state officials by the Shah; but the public usually celebrated ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr by decorating bāzārs with flags, adornments, and sometimes with triumphal arches. The book al-Ḡadīr appeared in this period, which, instead of the customary reproduction of Shiʿite tradition reports, based the justification of the Shiʿite doctrine of the Imamate on Sunnite sources, therebycontributing to a Shiʿite-Sunnite rapprochement despite its polemical character. Reading excerpts from this book has been added to the public ʿĪd-e Ḡadīr ceremony in present day Persia.



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Y. Šokrī, ed., ʿĀlamārā-ye ṣafawī, Tehran, 1984.


(Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 2, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 3, pp. 246-249