Iraqi Parliament weighs "Eid al-Ghadir" holiday proposal amid political and religious debate

Iraqi Parliament weighs "Eid al-Ghadir" holiday proposal amid political and religious debate

Shafaq News/ The potential declaration of "Eid al-Ghadir" as an official holiday in Iraq has sparked intense debate in a country with various components, sects, and religions.

"Eid al-Ghadir" holds significant importance for Shia Muslims globally. It is an Islamic celebration held a few days after the widely celebrated Eid al-Adha.

According to Shia tradition, on this day, Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb (Prophet Mohammad's cousin) was appointed as the first of twelve Imams who would continue to provide leadership and authority in Islam, signifying the end of Prophethood and the beginning of the Institution of Imamate (Arabic: Wilaya/Imama).

In Shia theology, wilaya refers to Islam's rule of governance, power, and authority. It originated when Prophet Muhammad designated Imam Ali as his successor.

For Shia, Wilaya embodies God's command; only those chosen by God through the Prophet have legitimate governmental authority in Islam.

The Sunni community, on the other hand, views the declaration as a confirmation of Prophet Muhammad's esteem and admiration for Ali.

In recent years, "Eid al-Ghadir" has seen increased recognition. Official work is often suspended on this occasion in Iraq, mainly after the Iraqi Cabinet's decision in July 2023 to declare it an official holiday.

This April, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Patriotic Shiite Movement, urged the Iraqi Parliament to recognize "Eid al-Ghadir" as a national holiday officially.

Al-Sadr's call echoed sentiments from Shia communities, a sizable portion of Iraq's population.

He emphasized that "this matter is a support for religion, sect, belief, homeland, and for all advocates of moderation from both Shia and Sunni communities, as well as the oppressed for whom Amir al-Mu'minin Ali ibn Abi Talib defended."

After Al-Sadr's request, more than a hundred members of the Iraqi Parliament have signed a request addressed to the Speaker of Parliament to approve the Official Holidays Law in the country, which includes declaring Eid al-Ghadir as an official holiday for all Iraqi citizens.

According to the official request, the members called to "include the Official Holidays Law project, including the Eid al-Ghadir holiday, in the agenda of a parliamentary session for the first reading."

The signatories reaffirmed this request, stating that "this significant occasion should be a celebration for all Iraqis and an officially recognized holiday in Iraq."

Later, the Iraqi Parliament announced on April 24th that it received a proposal for the "Eid al-Ghadir holiday" law from Deputy Burhan Al-Maamouri. It also referred the Legal Committee last Saturday to proceed with its legislative procedures.

Supporters argue that recognizing "Eid al-Ghadir" as an official holiday aligns with principles of religious freedom and diversity, acknowledging the beliefs and practices of Shia Muslims. They emphasize its cultural importance and potential contributions to national cohesion; conversely, dissenting voices caution against potential sensitivities and divisions.

In this context, Member of Parliament Ali Naama Al-Bindawi affirmed that the "efforts to establish Eid al-Ghadir as a holiday started over a year ago. Signatures are collected from parliament members for the first and second readings, followed by subsequent voting. The number of parliamentary signatures has surpassed 150, highlighting the importance of approving the holiday law."

Former politician Mishaan al-Jubouri expressed concerns over imposing religious narratives on a diverse population, particularly regarding Shia-Sunni dynamics.

"Attempting to legislate a law making Eid al-Ghadir an official national holiday practically means adopting a Shia religious narrative related to the Imamate (leadership) - a concept has no absolute presence in the Sunni narrative.'" He said on X.

He added, "Shia has the right to celebrate Eid al-Ghadir as they wish, but turning it into a national holiday and imposing it even on those who reject this narrative, who represent half of the Iraqi people, will lead to problems and sensitivities among the Iraqi people that are unnecessary."

As of 2023, Iraq's population is approximately 42 million people, primarily Arabs (75-80%) and Kurds (15-20%).

The majority of Iraqis adhere to the Muslim faith, which is the official religion, with percentages ranging from 95-98%.

Within Islam, the Shia sect comprises 61-64% of the population, while Sunni Muslims make up 29-34%.

It's worth noting that the last official census in Iraq took place in 1997, providing an older snapshot of the country's demographic composition.

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