Can you please answer the following question about Bay`ah.
What is the Islamic view of Bay`ah in your understanding?
When is it necessary to join a Jama`at and take a pledge and what is the correct procedure?
What is the criteria of the Ameer?
How it is possible for a common Muslim to judge whether all the orders of the Ameer are under the true Islamic Shari`ah?
I know its a very complicated issue but I’ll be grateful if you help me understand it better.
First of all, it should also be kept in mind that the particular method of bay`ah – which was to hold the hand of the ruler or of his representative in one’s hand and then to promise allegiance to him – was, in fact, a politico-cultural symbol of pledging allegiance to the ruler, in many of the traditional cultures, including the Arabs. This politico-cultural symbol of pledging allegiance may be replaced by any other method of pledging allegiance to the ruler. The symbol, per se, should not be given any religious sanctity. However, the spirit behind this symbol – that is, to promise obedience and then to remain obedient to one’s ruler – is indeed a requirement of the Qur’an as well as of the sayings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh).
Keeping this brief clarification regarding bay`ah in perspective, I shall now try to address your questions briefly:
There is no concept of Bay`ah – pledge of allegiance – in Islam, except with reference to the ruler of the Muslim state;
It is never necessary for a Muslim to join any Jama`ah. The Al-Jama`ah, mentioned in a number of sayings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) – of which a Muslim must always remain a member and to the Ameer of which a Muslim must always remain obedient – is, in fact, the Jama`ah al-Muslimeen – i.e. the collectivity of the Muslims or, in other words, the Muslim state. Thus, the only Jama`ah of which a Muslim must always remain a member and to the leader of which he must always remain obedient is the Muslim state (or the Jama`ah al-Muslimeen). No other Jama`ah enjoys this position.
The Qur’an has made a few recommendations relating to the Muslim ruler (Ameer). However, it does not, by itself, imply that the lack of the fulfillment of these recommendations renders the ruler disqualified. There is only one situation in which a Muslim should not obey his ruler: when obeying the ruler would necessitate disobedience to a clear directive of the Almighty or His messenger. Furthermore, there is absolutely no set of circumstances, in which it becomes obligatory for a Muslim to declare general disobedience toward his ruler;
It is not necessary for a common Muslim to judge whether or not each and every directive of the ruler is in accordance with the directives of the Shari`ah. A Muslim state may pass laws which are religiously neutral in their nature – as, for instance, the traffic laws in the country. Such laws can neither be considered as “in accordance with” nor “contrary to” the Islamic Shari`ah. Every Muslim must also obey all such laws passed by the Muslim state. A common Muslim, on the contrary, should only be concerned with the point that he should not obey his ruler in any such matter, which necessitates disobedience to a clear directive of the Shari`ah – as, for instance, a person should not obey his ruler in taking the life of an innocent person or in eating or drinking something, which is clearly prohibited by the Shari`ah or in refraining from offering his prayers at their prescribed timings. To make this judgment, a Muslim needs only to be aware of the obligations and the clear prohibitions of the Shari`ah, which every Muslim – even a common Muslim – should, in any case, fully be aware of.
I hope this helps.
May 1, 2002