In this time it is obligatory upon every Muslim to know about Hazrat Imam Mahdi (a.s.).The one who fails to acquire his cognizance will die the death of adisbeliever. The famous Sunni scholar Hafiz Taayalsi has narrated the following tradition:
Ibne Umar said that I heard the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) say: One who does not obey the Imam of his time will rise on the day of judgement in a condition that he will not be able to defend himself. This tradition is also found on pg. 117 of Yanabiul Mawadda published from Istanbul and the Sahih of Hafiz Qusheri Nishapuri Vol. 8 pg. 107 with a slight change. Thus it could be declared from the above tradition that in order to achieve salvation on the day of judgement, it is obligatory to recognize and pledge allegiance with the Imam of the time.
Otherwise there would be no intercessor for such a person on the last day. This is confirmed in the Holy Quran in the following verse, “That day when
we shall summon the people with their Imams.’
(Surah Bani Israel : 17)
That means no one will be summoned without his Imam on the day of judgement. In order to understand the connotation and the meaning of the word ‘Bayat’ let us examine the dictionary, the Quran and the traditions. The word Bayat (allegiance) and its meaning:
When a person wants to call himself the obedient one, the loyal one of someone, he tries to express his obedience and fealty in different ways. Some people express their devotion and loyalty in words. Some sacrifice their wealth and possessions to demonstrate it. Others sacrifice their children upon it and some are prepared to give up their own life. In short, he is always prepared to do as willed by his master. ‘Bayat’ is one such action through which man can declare his loyalty and obedience to a particular person. The system of pledging allegiance is not an innovation of Islam. It existed before the advent of Islam among the Arabs tribes. Which is why in the early history of Islam when the tribes of Aws and Khazraj reached Mecca from Medina on the occasion of Hajj, they gave their pledge of allegiance on the hand of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) at a place called Uqba. Hence this custom was prevalent among the Arabs. If the history of Islam is examined, it will be found that the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.) had accepted pledge of allegiance from the Muslims on various occasions and on some occasions he had renewed the pledge. To pledge allegiance to a successor or a leader is the conclusive proof of being under his obedience and fealty. It is for this reason that the first and second Caliphs tried to bring out Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) from his house. The side-ribs of Janab-e-Fatema (s.a.) were broken and Janabe Mohsin was martyred. They threatened to burn down the house which was regularly visited by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Ibne Jurair has written that Umar Ibn Khattab reached upon the door of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.). A group of elders and the migrants (muhajir) were present. Umar said: “By God! come out and pledge allegiance to (Abu Bakr) or I shall burn down the house.” Similarly, if Muawiya had not perceived that people will be attracted towards and pledge allegiance to the proof of Allah, Imam Hasan (a.s.), he would not have had him poisoned. In the same way Yazid would not have insisted upon Imam Husain (a.s.) to give him allegiance. All these rulers knew the importance of ‘Bayat’, that if the Muslims do not pledge their allegiance to them, their thrones shall be demolished.
The literal and the conventional meaning of the word ‘Bayat’
The word ‘Bayat’ is derived from ‘Bayee’ which means to put one’s hand upon that of the other person at the time of an agreement, Later, it was used to mean to agree upon the obedience of someone i.e. when a person wanted to declare the obedience and fealty of someone he would do the ‘bayat’ to him.
Ibne Khaldun has written in his ‘Muqaddama’. “When they used to pledge allegiance of a ruler they used to put their hands upon his hand. And this was similar to the action of the buyer and the seller.”
(Quoted in Tafseer-e-Namuna, vol. 22, pg. 70 from Muqaddama of Ibne Khaldun pg. 174).
Bayat means pledge and oath (Nazimul Atba). It means to agree to obey and take oath of fidelity to a person. And to become his faithful devotee (Ghayas-ul-Laghat).
Incidents regarding Bayat in the Holy Quran.
Two incidents are very famous, The Quran has mentioned two ‘Bayats’ viz. the ‘Bayat-e-Rizwan’ and the Bayat taken from the women on the occasion of the conquest of Mecca .
The Holy Quran says: “Certainly Allah was well pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree, and he knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility on them and rewarded them with a near victory.”
(Sura Fath : 18)
In the sixth year of Hijrat, the Holy prophet (s.a.w.a.) had a dream in which he saw that with the permission of Allah he has reached Mecca accompanied by his followers. On reaching Mecca he circumbulated around the Kaaba and also performed Umra. He acted upon this dream and left Medina with the intention of Umra with fourteen hundred followers. But when he reached Mecca, the polytheists decided that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his companions should not be allowed to enter Mecca. So the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) halted at Hudaibiya and dispatched the message to the disbelievers of Quraysh and offered to conclude a treaty of peace. Thus the peace treaty of Hudaibiya was signed. Before the treaty of Hudaibiya, when Usman was sent, as a messenger to the Quraysh. it was rumored that he (Usman) had been killed. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) collected all the people under a tree and ordered them to renew the oath that they shall not leave the place and till their last breath fight against the enemy. This oath is known as the ‘Bayatul Rizwan.’ When the news of this oath reached the disbelievers of Mecca , they were terrified and were thus compelled to sign the peace treaty. This was thus the effect of Bayat. Inter alia let us mention that if we had been firm upon our oath of allegiance to Imam Zamana (a.s.) his reappearance would definitely have taken place by now. The enemies of Islam who are trying to overcome us would have perished long ago. Imam Zamana (a.s.) himself says, “If our Shias (May Allah give them Tawfique (divine help) of our obedience) had been steadfast upon their oath and united themselves upon our loyalty then our meeting them would not have been delayed.”
Bayat from women
The 12th verse of chapter Mumtahana was revealed on the day of the conquest of Mecca . Allah orders His Messenger to demand allegiance from the women:
“O Prophet! When believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate ought with Allah, and will not steal, and will not kill their children and will not bring a calumny which they have forged of themselves, and will not disobey you in what is good, accept their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah, surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.’
The exegists have written in explanation of the verse that on the day of the
conquest of Mecca when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had taken the oath of allegiance from the men at the hill of Safa, the women of Mecca who had accepted Islam came to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to pledge their allegiance. The verse clearly tells us the points upon which the oath was to be taken. However, the method of accepting allegiance was as follows:
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) ordered that a vessel filled with water should be brought to him. The women put their hands in the vessel and then the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) also inserted his hand in it. Thus the oath of allegiance was taken from the women.
The terms and conditions of Bayat
‘Bayat’ is a form of agreement between the giver and acceptor of allegiance and its main conditions are obedience, devotion, support and loyalty. There are various grades of Bayat depending upon the conditions. It is clear from the Quran and the traditions that remaining firm upon the oath is obligatory. Hence the one who gives allegiance should always remain steadfast upon it. The one who gives allegiance cannot back out himself. It is only the right of acceptor to nullify the oath. Otherwise the giver shall not be free from his pledge of allegiance. Like on the night of 10th of Muharram, Imam Husain (a.s.) announced in his sermon that he was lifting his oath from them and whosoever wishes to leave him could do so in the darkness of the night without any reservation. But no one left him and continued to remain loyal to him.
(Kamil Ibn Athir vol. 4. pg. 57, Tafsire Namuna vol. 22, pg. 71)
The Prophets (a.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) are appointed by Allah, hence their
obedience is obligatory upon all, whether one gives them the oath of allegiance or not. In other words, Prophethood and Imamat demand loyalty and obedience.
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from amongst you”
(Surah Nisa: 59)
Hence the question arises that, then why the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) demanded pledge of allegiance from Muslims not once, but a number of times? The reply is that, this ‘Bayat is a kind of reminder which proves the loyalty. These pledges were taken on special occasions and not always and at every place.
‘Bayat’ from the point of view of the Islamic Jurisprudence
As per the opinion of the Shia jurists. ‘Bayat’ can only be given at the hands of the Prophets of Allah (a.s.) and the sinless Imams (a.s.). Apart from the sinless personalities no one is eligible for being given a pledge of allegiance. Bayat upon the hands of Imam however, should be only for Allah. The purity of intention is a must. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) says: “Allah will not speak to three kinds of people on the day of judgement, nor shall He purify them and for them is a dreadful punishment. (The first kind are those) who have pledge allegiance to the Imam for worldly intentions. So, if they are given rewards and gifts according to their desires they remain firm on the pledge, otherwise, they break it..”
To Break A Pledge Is A Major Sin
Imam Musa Ibne Jafar (a.s.) says: Three (types of) sins destroy a person and make him suffer a dreadful punishment). Breaking of pledge, forgetting the practice (the practical laws as taught by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)) and remaining isolated from the society. (Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 67, pg. 185)
‘Bayat’ and our Responsibility
The chief of the Believers, Ali (a.s.) says:
“O People! I have a right upon you and you have a right upon me: That I always have regard for your welfare and distribute the correct share from the public treasury and provide education to you that you may not remain ignorant. Thus you may learn the etiquettes to act upon. And my right upon you is that you remain firm upon your pledge of allegiance and fulfill your duties and obligations… when I call you, you respond, and when I order you to do something you obey the order.”
(Nahjul Balagha, Sermon no. 34)
It is absolutely clear from the traditions that to act upon the pledge of allegiance is obligatory. Whether the Imam is present among us or in occupation. His obedience is obligatory in every circumstance. Numerous supplications have been narrated in this regard. In all these applications the supplicant prays for the well-being of the Imam and prays for the solution of his difficulties. Beware! The Imam of this age is Hujjat Ibne al Hasan al Askari (a.s.) Only his ‘Bayat is obligatory upon us. And only his obedience incumbent
Various narrations mention that in the time of the occupation of the Imam, when the Imam is not amongst us, we must renew our pledge of allegiance to him by reciting the well-known supplication – ‘Dua-e-Ahad’. Other recommended supplication like ‘Dua-e- Nudba’ are to be recited on Friday and the Ziyarat of Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) is also important.
Dua-e-Ahad which is to be recited everyday after morning prayers is also available in “Mafitihul Jenaan.”
Objection and it’s reply
Some people object that except for Imam Mahdi (a.s.) all the previous Imams (a.s.) had pledged allegiance to the rulers of their time. They had cooperated with them time and again. And this is the proof of their pledge of allegiance. Ultimately they quote the famous tradition from Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s.) that he said:
“There is no one amongst us (Imams) who had not been under the pledge to the oppressor of his time. Except that Qaim (one who will raise) behind whom Isa ibn Maryam (a.s..) will recite Namaz. And whose birth shall be kept secret by Allah. And who will go into occupation and until the time of his reappearance he will not have lo give allegiance to any one. And he is the ninth descendant of my brother Husain (a.s.)
(Kamaluddin, vol. 1, pg. 316, Chap.29, Tradition no. 2)
The skeptics argue that Imam (a.s.) had himself said that they had a pledge of allegiance with the rulers. In the same way Imam Ali (a.s.) had cooperated with the first two Shaikhs (Abu Bakr and Umar) in every aspect, etc… In order to reply the above sentence we say that it is a lengthy tradition. And the context clearly shows that every Imam is Muftarz-e-Ita’at (One whose obedience is obligatory). It is different matter that somebody assumes authority over the people by cunning and intrigue!
Actually the above-quoted tradition is as follows:
Imam Hasan (a.s.) was seated in the company of a few people when the ruler of Syria (Muawiya) entered, some of the people pledged allegiance to him. Upon this Imam (a.s.) said:
“Do you not know that truly, I am for you “Imam-e-Muftarz-e-Ita’t? (Imam whose obedience is obligatory)”
Thus it means that Imam (a.s.) had actually objected to the people for not obeying him, when it was obligatory for them to do so. Instead they were prepared to follow someone else.
Justification of the Bayat
All the Holy Imams (a.s.) had practiced Taqaiyyah’ (Simulation). It was not a pledge of allegiance. The Late Saddruddin Sadr (r.a.) has written in his book
“Al-Mahdi” “Whoever rises for reformation, either concerning religious or worldly affairs he needs supporters and helpers who should be steadfast in their promises and also be ready to respond when he calls them.”
This feet is not only logical but the Imams (a.s.) have explained it in detail. As Imam Hasan (a.s.) has said to Muawiya:
“If my companions had been patient and recognized my rights I would never have submitted before you and you would have never believed what you intended.”
(Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 44, pg. 45)
The situation of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) was identical. Since, it is proved that the infallible Imams and the Prophets (a.s.) were never under a pledge of allegiance to any of the rulers and that they were Muftarz-e-Ita’at (Deserving of Obedience), the silence and self-imposed isolation of Ameerul Momineen Ali (a.s.) was due to the exigencies of the prevailing conditions.
Secondly, neither the conditions were favorable nor the followers so steadfast that he could proceed with their support unhindered.
The merits of renewing the Oath of Allegiance.
First of all the ‘Bayat’ upon the Imamat of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and upon his existence removes all types of doubts and uncertainty about him and reinforce our recognition of him.
Secondly, ‘Bayat’ surely removes the veils of forgetfulness, lust and injustice. After this, one can achieve nearness to Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) and benefit by his beneficence.
Thirdly, When Imam-e-Asr (a.s.) will appear from his occultation and announce “I am the Baqiatullah’ upon this earth!” the one who renews his pledge with the Imam every morning will not be indolent in his obedience. ‘InshaAllah’ O Allah! let me have the view of the glorified guidance and that bright and illuminated countenance.