'Ahd or Bai'ah in Light of Quran & Sunnah In order to make Muslims aware of the seriousness of the Sufi bai'ah, it must be defined linguistically and judicially. Linguistically it signifies bartering or exchanging commodities. It also signifies making a covenant, a compact, an agreement or the like, as though each of the two parties sold what he had to the other, and gave his own special property and his obedience, and that pertains to the case. And judicially it signifies making pledge to the Khalifah, or the Muslim ruler to promise or swear allegiance to him, making a covenant to him to submit to him the judgment of his own case and the cases of Muslims in general, not to dispute with him, but to obey him in whatever command he might impose upon him, pleasing or displeasing. In doing so, it was usual for the person making this covenant to place his hand in the hand of the Khalifah, or the ruler of the Muslims, in confirmation of the covenant, as is done by the seller and the buyer; hence the act is termed bai'ah (or bargain). (49) The Prophet said,
"If two califs were given the covenant of allegiance, then kill the second of them."(50)The great Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal was asked about the above hadeeth. He said:
"Do you know who is the Imam? It is the one upon whom all the Muslims agree; of whom every one of the Muslims says, 'This is the Imam.'"(51)Imam al-Qurtubi said,
"As for appointing two imams or three at one time, in one country, it is a practice which is unanimously held as impermissible." (52)Based on the above, every bai'ah which is made to other than the Khalifah of the Muslims or the Muslim ruler who is invested with authority to declare wars or ratify peace treaties and execute religious castigations, or hudood is null and void. In his book Al-Bai'ah, Ali Hassan Abdul-Hameed refutes the proofs presented by Sufis and certain Islamic parties who hold bai'ah as a central religious rite. They claim, "There is no text which prohibits the rite of bai'ah." The author refutes this saying:
- "All of the statements of the preceding scholars pertaining to bai'ah refer to the bai'ah as an exclusive right which belonged to the Khalifah or the ruler of the Muslims. No one of them made reference to an exceptional bai'ah.
- If we approve, for the sake of discussion, of the innovated type of bai'ah (Sufi or otherwise) then we pose to them the questions, Is it (the bai'ah) restricted to one particular group of people, or are all the Muslims entitled to it?
- If their answer to the first question is 'yes' then by approving such bai'ah, they initiated an act of worship which is sanctioned by neither the Book nor the Sunnah, because Allah never distinguished one particular group of Muslims from the other with any act of worship. And if their answer to the second question is positive too, they accordingly approve the disunity of the ummah, and deem lawful dividing it into orders, sects and parties, and give the excuse to every group to follow its desires and devise its own bai'ah.
- And if they claim that this exceptional type of bai'ah is legal, then is it possible that the pious predecessors whom Allah praised in His Book were unaware of such an act of worship?"(53)
"Once I visited Zaid b. Soohan while he was with a group of people circulating a sheet of paper on which were written statements such as, 'Allah is our Lord, Muhammad is our Prophet, al-Qur'an is our imam. He who is with us we are with him, and he who is against us we are against him etc.' The paper was shown to every man present, every one of whom was then asked, 'Do you acknowledge this covenant? When the paper reached me, I was asked, 'Do you acknowledge it, young man?' 'No!' I said. Thereupon, the head of the group interjected saying to his men, 'Do not take a hasty action against the youth. Then he turned to me and enquired, 'What do you say, young man?' I said, 'Allah has already taken a covenant from me in His Book, after which I shall never give a covenant to anyone.' Thereupon, every single man relinquished his previous acknowledgment of the covenant. I asked Mutarrif, 'How many of you were there?' He said, 'We were about 30 men.'"(54)Now compare those truthful and sincere predecessors, who rejected any act of worship, regardless how good it sounded, once they realized it was not practiced by the Prophet or his companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, with the Sufi shaikhs and party leaders of today, who not only make imperative that their followers give bai'ah to them, but also consider bai'ah as an indispensable religious rite.
Footnotes: 49. Lane Arabic English Lexicon 50. Muslim 51. Masaa'il al-Imam Ahmad vol.ii p.185 52. Al-Jami' li-Ahkaam al-Qur'an, Vol. i p.273 53. Ali H. Abdul Hameed, Al-Bai'ah Between Sunnah and Bid'ah pp.23 54. Ibid.