027 Why bay'ah (the oath of allegiance)?
In my previous articles, I explained that one can reach Marifetullah truly through tasawwuf education and made some explanations about Murshid-i Kamils (tasawwuf specialists) who are the spiritual leaders of the societies and stated that the bases of the Tasawwuf are "Bay'ah" (the oath of allegiance), "Cleaning of the nafs" (ego) and "Purifying of the heart".
I am sure that many of you have questions, as "Isn't it enough for one to live as it is written in Islamic manuals" "Why Tasawwuf education is needed to know Allah (swt)?" Those thoughts you have are of course very reasonable. Islam itself is a path to increase ones maturity. A person who lives Islam properly reaches both Marifetullah and the individual maturity. The role of Tasawwuf here is only to make training quicker with the help of a mentor who is the inheritor of Rasulullah by using the methods of him.
As I explained beforehand, Marifetullah and other knowledge related to heart is a grace and beneficence of the Almighty Allah. He grants it anyone He wishes. One doesn't need to have a deep knowledge of religion or other subjects for being honoured with this grace of Allah. A person can be an illiterate. Uveys Al-Karani hazrats, one of the great awliyas, and Hz. Rasulullah himself were the most appropriate examples of it. As you can remember Rasulullah was an illiterate and it is ordered in the Qur'an that,
"And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted." [Ankabut, 48]
"Nay, here are Signs self-evident in the hearts of those endowed with knowledge: and none but the unjust reject Our Signs." [Ankabut, 49]
When Rasulullah was afraid that he would forget the revealed divine inspiration; it was explained clearly that Qur'an was a revealed divine inspiration by Allah (swt) and he would never forget once it was read to him, by ordering:
"By degrees shall We teach thee (the Message), so thou shalt not forget," [Ala, 6]
The spiritual knowledge is bestowed to those who stayed away from their nafs's desires through the divine revelation, intuition or inspiration. Tasawwuf is a "method of heart training" that aims to make people closer to Allah (swt) by preserving them from nafs's whim. However, the success of this method depends on the trueness and sincerity of the people. The real thing that will cause people to be honored with this gift is the sincerity of their "faith". "Bay'ah" consists of a statement of intention and a sign that a person is ready to follow the path of Tasawwuf.
Bay'ah constitutes the main basis of Tasawwuf training even if it wasn't given importance by many people who were students of a sufi leader.
Bay'ah is the beginning of Tasawwuf training. The trainer of the Tasawwuf is called the Murshid (the one who shows the true path, the guide), and the learner is called the Murid (requester, demandant, trainee). Bay'ah is the agreement between Murshid and Murid. Repentance is the beginning of Tasawwuf training. Afterwards the person promises his murshid that he will follow the path of Tasawwuf about carrying out the orders of Allah (swt) like performing salaat, fasting, giving zakat when he can and going on pilgrimage. This is called "bay'ah". Bay'ah means the promise of the murid that he will be subject to the murshid's will and be dependent to this path of maturity. A special ceremony is held for it. The promise is given to Allah indeed. It is ordered in a verse from the Qur'an that:
"Verily those who plight their fealty to thee plight their fealty in truth to Allah; the Hand of Allah is over their hands: then any one who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and any one who fulfills what he has covenanted with Allah,- Allah will soon grant him a great Reward." [Fath, 10]
Why bay'ah is so important? Why is it given so much importance?
For the reason that awliyaullah is an inheritor of Rasulullah and a loyal servant of Allah (swt), in fact, the promise is given to Rasulullah and Allah (swt), as it can be understood from the above verse. In fact, without another reason even this represents why this promise shall be given importance.
Secondly, the promise about being dependent to the Murshid indeed constitutes the basis of nafs training. The base of nafs training is learning to give up ones own will. I will explain it in my next article. The hardest thing for a person is to give up his own will. Remember the children fighting for toys. This fight ends only if one of them gives up his will. This simple fact is the beginning of morals. The one who is more immoral (is dependent to his nafs) has the most toys. The one, who is more moral and well-trained, gives up his desire and leaves the ownership to the other side. Now try to put yourself into the child's shoe that makes the sacrifice. How hard it is psychologically. It is also the same for adults. Is it easy for the ones who didn't learn to give but just knew how to take by training in a right way to give up their wishes? Why do you think the people get divorced very soon after they are married for only 2 months? The basis of each kind of morals and manners is one's learning to give up the ignoble desires of his nafs. It is the abandonment of the ego. The one entering the path of Tasawwuf accepts to be dependent on his murshid by bay'ah.
Thirdly, bayah is a Sunna of Rasulullah. It is ordered in a verse from the Qur'an that:
"Allah's Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down Tranquility to them; and He rewarded them with a speedy Victory;" [Fath, 18]
"O Prophet! When believing women come to thee to take the oath of fealty to thee, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery (or fornication), that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey thee in any just matter,- then do thou receive their fealty, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness (of their sins): for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Mumtahana, 12]
It is written in the Hadiths that:
12 Muslims from Medina in the first Akabe: "They pledged their allegiance to Allah's messenger (pbuh) on the following conditions; Obedience and submission come first and foremost during times of distress, pressure, prosperity, and happiness. We are under your command. We will not disobey you in any way". [Bukhari, Muslim]
When the Muslims asked in the second Akabe:
Enes b. Mâlik (r.a.) stated that: "I pledged my allegiance to obey Allah's messenger (pbuh) on the conditions that I am capable of". [Ali el Muttaki, Kanzul Ummal]
As it can be understood clearly from the verse of the Qur'an and Hadiths, bayah is a Sunna of Rasulullah. Rasulullah took the hands of Sahaba-i kiram, obtained a promise from them one by one, and asked them to be loyal to their promises about some important issues. Ahl al-tasawwuf continues this tradition and obtains promises about obeying the rules of Allah (swt) and being dependent to his murshid from anyone who wants to walk in the path of Tasawwuf. The commitment of the promise is totally under conscientious responsibility of him depending on the sincerity of the will to benefit from Tasawwuf training. He keeps the promise if he wishes or he doesn't keep the promise if he doesn't wish. It is something that he can decide by himself.
Be entrusted to Allah.
Dr. Ismail Ulukus