Is the Bayah Spiritual or Political?

I recently attended a funeral prayer and before the prayer a young British imam gave a short speech aimed at the youth. In his speech he mentioned the issue of the bayah (pledge of allegiance) to a scholar and stated some modern Muslims reject the issue of the bayah to a scholar.

Being an inquisitive person and in particular when the term modern Muslims (whatever that means) is used, I get intrigued so I decided to do some research on this topic for my own understanding and conviction to find if rejecting the bayah given to a scholar is a modern day understanding or if it is actually based upon a conclusive evidence.

The following are a few (and there are many) of the evidences for the bayah;

From the Quran:

Indeed, those who give pledge to you (يُبَايِعُونَكَ), they are giving pledge to Allah. The Hand of Allah is over their hands. Then whosoever breaks his pledge breaks it only to his own harm and whosoever fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah, He will bestow on him a great reward. [Surah al-Fath:10]

"O Prophet! If the believers come to you to take the bayah (يُبَايِعْنَكَ) that they will not associate in worship anything with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery, that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and they will not disobey you in any just matter, then receive their bayah (فَبَايِعْهُنَّ)." [60:12]

From the Sunnah:

Ubadah ibn As-Samit reported: "We have pledged allegiance to the Messenger of Allah to listen and obey in ease and in hardship and that we do not dispute the matter (authority) with its people and that we stand for and speak the truth wherever we are and that in the service of Allah we would fear the blame of no one.” (Muslim)

It would therefore be wrong to reject or deny the bayah because it is an obligatory action based upon conclusive evidence. The other thing to mention is the bayah is in relation to actions and not belief because how can anyone pledge their allegiance to a belief when it is based upon the thought?

So to whom do the Muslims give their bayah to?

Once again, to answer this question, let us go back to the evidences:

On the authority of Abi Hazim who said: “I accompanied Abu Huraira for five years and I heard him talk of the Prophet’s (saw) saying: "Banu Israel used to be governed by Prophet, every time a Prophet died, another came after him, and there is not Prophet after me. There will be Khulafa’ and they will number many". They said: "What would you order us to do?" He (saw) said: "Fulfil the Bayah to them one after the other, and give them their due right, surely Allah will account them for that which He entrusted them with" (Bukhari)

In Muslim it is narrated that Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “If two Khulafaa’ were pledged allegiance, then kill the latter of them."

This proves the bayah is political which is to be given to the head of state. The bayah was also continuous after his(saw) passing away, Umar said to Abu Bakr, that we elect you, for you are our chief and the best amongst us and the most beloved of all of us to Allah’s Apostle.” Then ‘Umar took Abu Bakr’s hand and gave the pledge of allegiance (bayah) and the people too gave the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr. (Bukhari)

Does the word Imam in the hadith refer to a scholar or to the head of state i.e. Khalif?

Muslim has reported that Abdullah ibn Amru ibn al-As narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Whosoever pledges allegiance to an Imam by giving him the clasp of his hand, let him obey him if he is able to do so, but if another comes along to dispute with him, then kill the latter."

If the hadith with the word Imam contained within it was to be taken to mean scholar, there is an order to kill the latter. Since there are many people who are scholars does this mean we kill the second of the two? This obviously contradicts the fact there have been many scholars throughout our history but no Muslim has shed the blood of a scholar just because there was more than one.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the Imam is a shield (إِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ) behind whom they fight and he protects them.” (Muslim)

Imam Al-Juzairi, said regarding the opinion of the four schools of thought, “…It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Imams in the world whether in agreement or discord." [‘Fiqh ul-Mathahib ul- Arba'a’
(the fiqh of the four schools of thought), al-Juzairi, volume 5, p. 416]

Imam Al Qalqashandi in his book Subul Al-Asha, volume 9, page 277 says, "It is forbidden to appoint two Imams at the same time".

The conventional understanding of the great scholars of the past therefore is in accordance with what the word Imam referrers to in the hadith i.e. the Khalif. Since it is an established fact that the blood of a Muslim is sacred, the order to kill the second of the two is an indication of the obligation of a unitary rule, and raises the importance attached to the issue to one of life and death.

Why is there a push towards the bayah to a scholar over the legitimate ruler (Khalif)?

Ever since the bayah was given to the messenger (saw) up until the destruction of the Uthmani Khilafah in 1924 when the bayah to the khalif was stopped, there have been continuous plans devised by the colonialists to ensure the Muslims forget their history and never to recall the bayah was ever given to a ruling authority.

To prove my point, William Gladstone in the 19th century called the Quran an “accursed book”, and once famously held the Quran in Parliament declaring: “so long as there is this book there will be no peace in the world”.

Lord Curzon stated, "We must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims. As we have already succeeded in finishing off the Caliphate, so we must ensure that there will never arise again unity for the Muslims, whether it be intellectual or cultural unity."

Based upon this premise, the colonialist plans of today are to create home grown Imams i.e. British Imams who are used to push the bayah to a scholar concept over that of the political unity of the Muslims.

So the idea of giving the bayah to a scholar should be seen from this viewpoint because the colonialists do not have an issue with the Muslims giving a scholar the bayah because that is individual worship, (just like the Christians do to their priests and the pope but their political affairs are looked after by something different to their religion).

To conclude, I have realised the issue and problem arises when the talk of transferring the bayah to a rightful ruler occurs as this is what causes the struggle and hardship. If the bayah was just for prophethood or to scholars, why did the messenger (saw) go through hardships, torture, boycotts and assassination attempts? He (saw) would have lived a cushy life with no trials or problems. To the contrary, he (saw) knew what the bayah was about and as a result the victory came from Medina when they transferred the authority in the form of the bayah to him as a ruler at al-Aqabah.

So this talk of giving the bayah to a scholar is not based upon the evidences which have been either misunderstood unintentionally or have deliberately been twisted to fit a narrative to suit the agenda of the colonialists. Once the Muslims initiate the bayah to the Khalif, this will create a new world order challenging the colonialist grip on our lands, resources and wealth which is why they are fighting the Muslims both physically and intellectually for the bayah to never come into existence.

May Allah protect the Muslims from such conspiracies.

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