What is the Bay‟ah (Pledge of Allegiance)?
In the Qur‟ān al kareem it is stated;
“Lo! Those who swear allegiance unto Thee (Muhammad), swear allegiance only unto
ALLAH. The Hand of ALLAH is above their hands.”-Surah Fatha- vs.10
This verse refers to the pledge – Bay‟ah. We also come to know that to take or give a pledge BAY‟AT is the Sunnah of the Messenger of ALLAH, salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam, and to give the hand on the Messenger‟s [salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam] hand is as if he has pledged with ALLAH, subhānahū wa ta‟ālā.
Unfortunately we are unable to pledge directly upon the hands of the Messenger of ALLAH, salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam, but we can do it through the khulafā‟; vicegerents.
If you are unable to give your hand of pledge directly to the Messenger, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam), then give your hand of pledge BAY‟AT to the hand of the khalīfah; vicegerent – mentor [Shaykh]. This is because you can take the services of all things that you would by its actual things. i.e. from the thing to which or who he is a Nāib – vicegerent. For example, the vicegerent of wudū – ablution is tayammum. After performing tayammum one can do everything that one can after having done the ablution wudū.
Therefore, to be connected to a Nāib; vicegerent of the Messenger, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam), is in reality a connection to the Messenger and by the means of the Messenger we will be connected to Almighty ALLAH. We learn that when a seeker – Murīd gives his hand upon the hands of a mentor [Shaykh] and pledges with him this is because he is a vicegerent of a Prophet – meaning that in reality he is pledging to non other than the Messenger. By pledging to a Shaykh or Pīr the Seeker repents for his sins and makes a firm commitment of loyalty to ALLAH and HIS Messenger and he makes the Shaykh his guarantor for his firm intention who holds the post of vicegerent; khalīfah of the Messenger of ALLAH, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam.)
After pledging the seeker should annihilate himself to the Shaykh i.e. Fanā fi ash-Shaykh, meaning the Murīd – Seeker must sacrifice his needs before the priority of his Shaykh‟s needs, he does not act against the advice of the Shaykh, shows obedience to the Shaykhs instructions and self-annihilates his being in the Shaykhs being; to occupy day and night according to the Shaykhs advice and hold consistency to the benediction given to him. He practices acts of worships and commits serviency – adopts – ALLAH-fearingness, self-avoidance and fulfils all of the Shaykhs orders, this occurs when the Murīd – Devotee makes him self-annihilated, totally devout and a true devotee-seeker of the Shaykh. Then the Shaykh will bestow his specific compassion and hence take hold of his hands and move him forward in the presence of the Messenger, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam.)
Now the Seeker-Murīd will by the means – wasīla of his Shaykh – Mentor self-annihilate himself to the Prophet, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam,) and attain devotional annihilation in the Messenger, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam), and when the Seeker attains this level of devotion, the Messenger,( salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam), will hold out the hand of the specific devotee and with all confidence pass him on before the presence of the Almighty ALLAH and make his self [nafs] annihilated in the love of ALLAH, subhānahū wa ta‟alā. In reality, this condition is the recognition of ALLAH‟s Unity [tawhīd] i.e., the consciousness of the fact that there is no real being in the world other than HE.
To attain the level of Fanā fi‟Shaykh and Fanā fi‟Rasūl it takes great effort and strain and a long time to attain but after becoming Fanā fi‟Rasūl it does not take long to become Fanā fi‟ALLAH because it is Rasūl ALLAH, (salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam), who helps the devotee to attain the level of Fanā fi-ALLAH – a task much easier for our beloved Prophet Muhammad, salla ALLAH-u „alayhi wa sallam, to fulfil.
It is also mentioned in the Holy Qur‟an-
“Indeed, ALLAH (‘azza wa Jalla) was well-pleased with the Believers when they gave the bay’ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam) under the Tree..”-[Surah 48: al-Fath, Verse:18]
The origin of this “bay’ah” is traced all the way to the Noble Prophet, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, when he took the bay’ah from his Noble Companions under the tree (Bay’at al-Ridwan).
It has been narrated that Sayyiduna ‘Uthman, the Third Khalifa, was not present at the time of this bay’ah, so the Messenger of ALLAH, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, placed his own hand on his other hand and stated: “This is ALLAH’s Hand of Power and this is the hand of ‘Uthman”. Thus, the Prophet, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, placed one hand on top of the other and took the bay’ah (from ‘Uthman- RA).
When the Noble Prophet, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, finished taking the bay’ah from the Noble Companions, he went in his house and the female Companions (ALLAH, be well pleased with them all), were present awaiting and ready to take the bay’ah. The Noble Prophet, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, paused for a while (thinking of whether he should take the bay’ah from them or not) so the verse was revealed:
“O Prophet (salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam)! When believing women come to you to give you bay’ah (pledge), that they will not associate anything with ALLAH, and nor will they steal, and nor will they commit adultery, and nor will they kill their children, and nor will they utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood and that they will not disobey you in any m’aruf (Good), then (O Messenger!) accept their bay’ah (pledge) and ask ALLAH to forgive them. Verily, ALLAH is Oft- Forgiving, Ever Merciful.”[Surah 60 – al-Mumtahinah – Verse: 12]
The Noble Prophet, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, also took bay’ah from the believing women. HOWEVER, THE PROPHET’S, salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam, HAND NEVER TOUCHED THAT OF A WOMEN’S, THIS IS WHY SAYYIDAH ‘A’ISHA AL-SIDDIQA, Radi ALLAH-u ‘anha, stated:
“The Prophet (salla ALLAH-u ‘alayhi wa sallam) took the bay’ah from the (believing) women verbally; his blessed hand never touched a woman’s hand”.