Oath of Allegiance
Bai’at literally means “to promise” and derives from the root word meaning “to sell”. In English the term Bai’at is often translated as “Oath of Allegiance” or “Pledge”.
Taking Bai’at is Sunnah as our Holy Prophet (saw) took Bai’at from the Sahaba on many occasions. In one narration our Holy Prophet (saw) said:
‘Will you not make bai’at to the Rasul of Allah?’ We stretched our hands and enquired: On what shall we make Bai’at to you, O Rasul of Allah? He (saw) said. ‘That you make the Ibaadat of Allah,- that you associate nothing with Him,- that you perform the five Salaat; that you hear and obey.”
(Muslim, Abu Daawood, Nisaai)
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says about Bai’at:
“Verily, those who Swear Allegiance unto thee, O Muhammad (saw), in truth Swear Allegiance 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 fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah,- Allah will soon grant him a great Reward.”
Qur’an (Surah 48: Verse 10)
After the demise of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) this Sunnah was assumed and practised by many elite Sahabah, on the authority of our Holy Prophet (saw). These eminent Sahabah included Hadhrat Abu-bakr Siddiq (ra) & Hadhrat Ali (r.a) and before they departed they also nominated their successful students to carry on this Sunnah. Thus this tradition has been passed down from one generation to the next through an authentic chain of Friends of Allah (swt)..This chain is known as a Silsilah and these vary according to the Sufi Order.
To enter a Sufi order one must do Bai’at to a Kamil Sheikh.
There are two types of Bai’ah that one can perform:
Bai’ah al Barakah: This is where one initiates oneself into a spiritual order merely for the blessings of being part of the spiritual order of which has a direct link with the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) without a break in sequence. This Bai’ah is beneficial and brings one in the bank of those who have a link with the beloved ones of Allah.
Bai’ah al Iradah / Bai’ah al Salikeen: This is where one “sells” one’s self and surrenders completely to to the Friend of Allah (swt). Similar to how the corpse is left in the hands of the ghussal’ (washer). This Bai’ah leads one to receive both deen and dunya Spiritual Faiz. It is this very type of Bai’ah that was undertaken by the Sahaba upon the hands of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and is also injuctioned in the Quran as it leads one to Allah (swt):
“O you who believe, fear Allah and seek a means of approach unto him, and strive in His path so that you may attain success”
Qur’an (Surah 4: Verse 38)