The Austinian Speech Act Theory Analysis of the Ghadir Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad

Document Type : Original Article


1 MA in Quran Science, The Faculty of Tarbiyat Modarres of Quran, Mashahad

2 Assistant Professor, University of Quran Scince, Faculty Member of Tarbiyat Modarres of Quran, Mashahad



The Ghadir sermon of the Prophet Muhammad has since been an important marker in the Islamic history such that many incidents after that have been directly influenced by, or associated with, it. The Prophet's explicit statement that "Whomsoever I am his lord, this Ali is (accordingly) his lord" has had the most challenging interpretations among the two major branches of Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites. Although the Prophet used other designations in reference to Imam Ali elsewhere in the same sermon, the Austinian speech act theory can shed light on how this statement has since proved a yardstick. Although it sounds as a statement, it is in fact an interactional speech act such that it has a imperative overtone coupled with its being a statement. It follows that the Prophet intended to fix an imperative through introducing Imam Ali as the top-tier leader of Muslims. Despite not using certain speech act verbs in the statement, its implicature has in fact been an imperative.