A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Eid ul-Ghadir (The Festival of The Pool). Important Shi‘a Muslim festival to 29 July on 18 Dhu al-Hijjah 1442 in the Islamic calendar to commemorate an event shortly before the 632 death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Returning from Mecca (Makkah, مكة) to Medina (Al Madinah Al Munawwarah, ال, The Enlightened City) after his final pilgrimage and accompanied by many thousands of his followers, the Prophet stopped at a pool (ghadir) known as the Pond of Khumm (غَدِير خُمّ) to deliver a sermon. He raised the hand of Ali, his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib, and proclaimed: “For whoever I am his leader, Ali is his leader. O God, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him”. Immediately after this statement, the Prophet revealed the final ayah (verse) of the Qur’an: “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion” (Qur’an 5, 3.) Those who trusted in Ali came to be known as Shi’a, a contraction of Shiat Ali meaning Partisans of Ali. They consider that the perfecting of the religion of Islam was the announcement concerning Ali, which they understand today to be his clear appointment to be successor to the Prophet as the spiritual and temporal leader of Islam. Since Eid ul-Ghadir commemorates the Prophet’s last sermon, preached as it was in the desert whilst returning from Hajj (pilgrimage), it is viewed as being authoritative by members of the Shi’a community. The implication of the statement in the Prophet’s sermon that Ali would be the first Caliph of Islam is that the leadership of Islam would remain within the Prophet’s bloodline. Caliphs were the chief Muslim civil and religious rulers who succeeded the Prophet and the succession was the cause of many current divisions between Sunni and Shi’a communities throughout the Muslim world. The Caliph ruled in Baghdad until 1258 and then in Egypt until the Ottoman conquest of 1517, the title then being held by the Ottoman sultans until it was abolished in 1924 by Atatürk. Over 90% of Muslims are Sunni and they think that the rightful successor was Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s senior companion (Sahabi) and father-in-law, but accept as spiritual successors the four Rashidun Caliphs (الخلفاء الراشدون, Rightly Guided Caliphs): Abu Bakr; Ali; Umar ibn al-Khattab (Omar), another of the eleven fathers-in-law of the Prophet; and Uthman ibn Affan, another son-in-law of the Prophet. The four served as follows: Abu Bakr 632-4; Umar ibn al-Khattab 634-44; Uthman ibn Affan 644-56; and Ali ibn Abi Talib 656-61, when others independently controlled the Levant and Egypt. After Ali’s death, Shi’a Muslims were led by twelve imams, whom they believe were spiritual successors to the Prophet rather than having any family connection to Him. The Twelver Imams of Shi’a including Ali ibn Abi Talib were: Hasan ibn Ali (d670); Husayn ibn Ali (d680); Ali ibn Husayn (d712), Muhammad Ibn Ali (d732); Musa ibn Ja’far (d749); Ja’far ibn Muhammad (d765); Muhammad ibn al-Hassan (d805); Ali ibn Musa (d817); Muhammad ibn Ali (d835); Ali Ibn Muhammad (d868); and Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad (d874). Together with the Prophet and his daughter Fatimah al-Zahra (the Shining One) they make up the Fourteen Infallibles according to the Shi’a Islam faith and are seen as divinely-guided leaders and the holiest people in Islam. They are known as Ahlulbayt, people of the household, and the first five are particularly significant: the Prophet; Imam Ali; Fatimah al-Zahra; Imam Hasan; and Imam Husayn. These holy people helped the Prophet and guided the Muslim community after his death, as did the other imams through scholarship and divine guidance. All Muslims respect the original twelve imams because they were divinely ordained and their knowledge and piety are considered exemplary. Many Shi’a Muslims believe that the twelfth and final Imam is currently alive and is hidden until he returns to bring justice to the world, reappearing as the ultimate humankind saviour alongside Isa (Jesus) to fulfil their mission to bring peace and justice to the world. Image: en.shafaqna.com.
Pope Innocent I (Innocentius I) (d417). Original Feast Day for Early Medieval Italian Roman Pope about whom very little was known before his 401 elevation to the Chair of Peter. Unanimously chosen as Bishop of Rome by the clergy and the people, often acting as the energetic head of the whole Church, both East and West, he took several churches in Rome from the Novatian Heretics and caused the Photinian Marcus, who believed that Christ was a mere man, to be banished from the city to settle in Croatia. After failing to negotiate a peace treaty during the 408 siege and capture of Rome by the Goths, Innocent was not able to return to the city after it was sacked in 410. In 411, Innocent condemned the heretic Celestius, who as a disciple of Pelagius denied the church’s doctrine of original sin and the necessity of infant baptism, and the five African Bishops whom Innocent had commended confirmed this in 416 and again at Carthage in 418, after Innocent’s death, when Celestius‘s excommunication was confirmed. Innocent died in Rome and was buried in a Basilica above the Fourth Century Catacomba di Ponziano (Catacomb of Pontianus) on the Via Alessandro Poerio, Monteverde Vecchio. In 846, the relics were translated by the Duke of Saxony to the crypt of the former collegiate church of Gandersheim, now the 852 Gandersheim Abbey, where most rest until this day. Relics were brought to the Church of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury for its 1941 consecration, being placed in the High Altar along with relics of St Thomas of Canterbury and St Benedict. Relics of Sts Victoria and Barbara were placed in the Lady Altar and of Sts Innocent and Clement in the Sacred Heart Altar. In addition, a special relic of Blessed Oliver Plunkett was deposited in each of the reliquaries, thus making the church the only one to have in all its altars a relic of this Martyr. St Innocent is venerated in the Catholic Church. Feast Day commemorating death 12 March. Image: alamy.com.
St Samson (Samsun de Dol) (486-565). Feast Day for noble Christian Welsh Bishop and evangeliser born in Glamorgan. He became a disciple of St Illtyd at the Celtic monastery of Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major) but sought a greater austerity than that school provided and moved to Llantwit’s daughter house at the island monastery of Caldey off the coast of Pembrokeshire, where he became Abbot, abstaining from alcohol, his predecessor having died after falling down a well whilst drunk. Samson was a strict cenobitic, practising a communal monasticism that is shared with Buddhism, and was later a Severn eremitic (hermit) monk. He travelled from Caldey to Ireland, in 521 journeying to Cornwall to be consecrated Bishop and Abbot before he revived the Sixth Century Irish monastery known by Caldey’s Welsh name Ynys Byr, or Pyro’s Island after its founder Pyro who was also from Llantwit Major and was the Abbot whom Samson succeeded. Samson founded a community south of Launceston, then travelled to: the Scilly Isles where the largest uninhabited island of Samson is named after him; Guernsey which he Christianised and where he is the Patron Saint; and Brittany, where he spent the rest of his life as a missionary even though he had long searched for solitude. He was one of the seven founder saints of Brittany and built monasteries, including one at Dol (Dol-de-Bretagne) and another at Pental near Le Havre. Samson was one of the foremost, although relatively unknown, evangelisers of his century and has long been enthusiastically venerated in Wales and Brittany. He died at Dol, where he was buried on the site of the Thirteenth-Century Cathedral, the Tenth-Century Anglo-Saxon King Æthelstan obtaining several of his relics, including an arm and a crozier, that he deposited at his monastery at Milton Abbas in Dorset. Norse raids of the Ynys Byr settlement occurred in the Tenth Century. St Samson is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, although not in the current Roman Catholic liturgical calendar of saints celebrated annually in Wales. Major shrines Dol and Milton Abbas, Dorset. Image: en.wilipedia.org.
Prayer St Samson, like St Paul, followed Jesus’ example to preach the Gospel and to heal. Jesus was concerned with the healing of the whole person, the body as well as the soul, and prayer was fundamental to any such undertaking. The healing of the soul so often followed the healing of the body and St Samson instituted a healing ministry in the early Celtic Church. Healing ministry today is often limited to special services but Jesus’ original command to his Disciples is a command to his followers today. As God calls each of us, let us spend a few moments listening and then in our own way bless the world. Amen