Reem Shraiky, UK
“And of men there is he who would sell himself to seek the pleasure of Allah.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.208)
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiahas states:
“Bai‘at truly means to sell oneself; its blessings and impact are based on that condition. Just as a seed is sown into the ground, its original condition is that the hand of the farmer has sown it, but it is not known what will happen to it. If the seed is of good quality and possesses the capacity to grow, then with the grace of Allah the Almighty, and as a consequence of the work done by the farmer, it grows until one grain turns into a thousand grains. Similarly, the person taking bai‘at has to first adopt lowliness and humility and has to distance himself from his ego and selfishness. Then that person becomes fit for growth. But he who continues to hold on to his ego, along with taking bai‘at, will never receive any grace’. (Malfuzat, Vol. 6, p. 173)
Ibn al-Atheer says in his book al-Niahaya that bai‘at is “a contract and a treaty; it is as if each party has sold what they had to the second party, fully giving himself, his obedience and his affairs.”
Ibn Khaldun defines it in al-Muqaddima as: “[…] the covenant to obey. The one pledges to his amir that he would give him the consideration of his affairs and the affairs of Muslims and he would not dispute with him in any of that. He would obey him in what he assigned to him in hardship and ease.”
It is mentioned in Tuhfat al-Ahwadi that:
“Bai‘at is a treaty; it is thus called because it is similar to the financial deal, as in the Almighty’s saying: ‘Surely, Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their property in return for theHeavenly Garden they shall have.’” (Surah at-Taubah, Ch.9: V.111)
Moreover, bai‘at means obedience in all times and circumstances:
Hazrat Ubadah Bin as-Samitra narrates:
“We pledged at the hand of the Holy Prophetsa on the condition that we would listen and obey during the times of comfort and also during times of hardship, during periods of joy and also during periods of pain, and that we would not argue with those in authority, and that wherever we might be, we would hold fast to truth and would not be afraid of the objections of any critics.” (Sunan al-Nasai, Kitab-ul-Bai‘ati)
Ibn Umarra reported:
“The Holy Prophetsa said: ‘It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen and obey whether he likes it or not, except when he is ordered to do a sinful thing; in such case, there is no obligation to listen or to obey.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
One of the most beautiful stories of the pledge of allegiance (bai‘at) which has always fascinated me over the years is the story of the companion Hazrat Abdullah Dhul-Bijaadaynra. He gave up all his possessions to adhere to the Messengersa of Allah; he truly sold himself to Allah and His Prophetsa.
He was from the Muzaina tribe. His father passed away when he was a small boy leaving him with nothing. His paternal uncle cared for him.
During their migration to Medina, the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa were passing by Hazrat Abdullah Dhul-Bijaadayn’s tribe. As a result, he learned about Islam and embraced it secretly; he would walk with the Companionsra for several miles, learning about Islam and the Holy Quran from them. He then returned home hoping to re-join them once he had convinced his beloved uncle to enter the fold of Islam too. His uncle was the one who had looked after him after the death of his father and supported Hazrat Abdullahra from his wealth until the latter himself became very affluent; owning camels, sheep and slaves.
When the Holy Prophetsa migrated to Medina, Hazrat Abdullah couldn’t help it anymore and yearned to join him, so he said to his uncle: “O uncle! I have waited for you hoping that you would join Islam, but it seems you don’t believe in Muhammad, so permit me to join Islam.”
His uncle said: “By God, if you follow Muhammad, I will take everything I gave you including the clothes you are wearing”.
Abd al-Uzza – which was Hazrat Abdullah’s name at that time – replied: “By God, I follow Muhammad and Islam, I have forsaken the worship of stones, and idols. Take whatever I have in my hand.”
Therefore, his uncle took everything he had given him; he even pulled off the garment he was wearing.
Upon this Hazrat Abdullahra went to his mother, she cut in half for him a rough piece of cloth. He wrapped one piece around his body and put on the other piece. He went out to Medina and lay down in the Holy Prophet’s mosque until dawn. After Fajr prayer, the Holy Prophetsa used to check up on the people there, he looked at Hazrat Abdullahra and asked: “Who are you?” He replied: “Abd al-Uzza”. Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa said: “You are Abdullah Dhul-Bijaadayn (the person with two pieces of rough clothing)” Then he added: “Keep close to me”. And so, Abdullah used to stay near the Holy Prophetsa. Thus, he learned a lot and started reciting the Holy Quran loudly and frequently.
When the Holy Prophetsa was leaving for the battle of Tabuk, Hazrat Abdullahra enthusiastically joined the army and requested the Holy Prophetsa to pray for him to receive martyrdom in the cause of Allah. Upon this, the Holy Prophetsa told him to bring a bark of a tree to him, and then he tied it to the upper arm of Dhul-Bijaadaynra and prayed: “O Allah I make his blood forbidden to the nonbelievers.”
Upon this, Hazrat Dhul-Bijaadayn submitted, “O Messenger of Allah! I did not intend that”, to which the Holy Prophetsa responded: “If a person comes out for jihad and dies from any sickness, he shall be regarded as a shaheed! Or if he falls from his mount and dies, he shall be regarded as a shaheed”.
When Hazrat Abdullah Dhul-Bijaadaynra arrived at Tabuk, he fell sick and passed away because of it.
Hazrat Bilal bin Harithra narrates:
“I saw Bilal, the Muazzin, holding in his hand a lamp while the Holy Prophetsa proceeded to the grave of Dhul-Bijaadayn and instructed Hazrat Abu Bakrra and Hazrat Umarra to both lifts the body of their Muslim brother to him. Then he himself laid him to rest, making the following prayer, “O Allah, I am pleased with Dhul-Bijaadayn, be pleased with him as well.”
In the narration of Hazrat Abdullah bin Masudra, after witnessing this unique burial he said: “I wished I could have been in place of Dhul-Bijaadayn.”
However, the path of faith is not easy for everyone and some unfortunate people may stumble. If they fail to purify themselves by seeking God’s help and by trying their best to submit themselves to Him, His Messenger or Khalifa, then hypocrisy will corrupt their hearts.
Here it is the duty of the believers and their Imam to try to save these people from the fate they choose for themselves as much as possible. For example, by advising them and guiding them to the path of righteousness and of reformation, hoping they will get rid of their spiritual diseases and repent. It is through repentance that divine providence may encompass them again with mercy, instead of them heading towards the way which leads to Allah’s wrath only.
Unfortunately, hypocrites always plead that they were prompted by nothing but the sincerity of purpose and that their intention was not to create ill-will but to establish mutual cordiality and peace. This is the typical defence of all mischief-makers, about which Allah the Almighty says:
“And when it is said to them: ‘Create not disorder on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only promoters of peace’ (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.12)
Then, if they insist on opposing the believers, slandering false accusations against believing men and women, offending Allah and His Messenger, His Messiah and His Khalifa, or try to limit the authority of Khilafat in accordance to their desire, Allah will intervene Himself to expose their true face. So much so, that they will no longer be able to hide their shortcomings and spiritual diseases as Allah lifts the cover of His satarat (covering weaknesses) no matter how thick it is.
Allah the Almighty says:
هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٍ مِّنَ الْغَمَامِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ
“Are they waiting for anything but that Allah should come to them in the coverings of the clouds with angels, and the matter be decided? And to Allah do [all] things return’ (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.211)
This verse refers to the hypocrites and the weak in faith; it shows that if they did not mend their ways, Allah will chastise them. This is even if they were apparently resting in the shade of faith, of righteous family or of a strong community of the believers that is likened to a cloud.
The presence of hypocrites and troublemakers is inevitable in every community of believers which is well-organised. Due to its solid foundations, the malcontents and troublemakers find it difficult to leave. Therefore, they remain within it and carry on their nefarious activities secretly.
The presence of hypocrites is not a sign of the weakness of the community but rather of its strength, as by their wicked designs and machinations against it, Allah will purify many hearts and separate the wicked from the good.
I wrote these few lines so that we can all reflect and choose either to sell ourselves to God and His representative on earth or to Satan, God forbid.
“Our Lord, let not our hearts become perverse after Thou hast guided us; and bestow on us mercy from Thyself; surely, Thou alone art the Bestower.” Amen.
JazakAllah Sister Reem for explaining the meaning of bai’at. A lot of people assume they are obedient to Khilafat, but slip in some way or another when it comes to acting on beloved Huzoor’s (aa) instructions. Until each one of us does not purify ourselves, we will keep on failing on the instructions from the elect of God.
I have seen countless times when the Khalifa gives a guidance and if we choose an alternative, then that path always ends up being devoid of blessings. Allah protect us from this folly.