AN OVERVIEW OF BAYA' ON THE HAND OF SHAIKH
IN THE LIGHT OF QURAN AND AHADITH
We acquire virtue in the company of a virtuous person and we attract evil in the company of an evil person. Why is it so? It is because the beliefs, convictions and thoughts of a person spread around him like a magnetic force which impacts his companions, friends and members of his family.
It is in Quran - مَن يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْشِدًا (Meaning - Whoever Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) guides, is the truly guided one, and whoever He sends astray, you will not find for him a Guiding Teacher (Waliyyan Murshida). (Al-Kahaf - 17). The word 'Murshid' has come from this verse.
It is in Quran - " Obey Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی), obey Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and obey those who are in authority. (An-Nisa - 59).
Who are the people in real authority? They are Awliya Allah and Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan.
Q - Is it necessary that every person has to become a religious student (Mureed)?
All of us would like to fulfill religious imperatives (Fara'ez) and be away from the prohibited things (Haraam) and would like to be steadfast in them at a very high standard. Therefore we require a Murshid (religious teacher) who cautions us on our day to day mistakes and purifies us from worldly attractions. It is important for everyone of us to take bay'a in our early youth when we are intelligent enough to distinguish between good and bad. There is an Arabic saying “Manla Shaikha Lahu, Shaikhu ash- Shaitan”. (Meaning - The one who does not have a Shaikh, his Shaikh is Satan).
Q - The holy Quran, the books of Ahadith and the books of Islamic jurisprudence are all available to us, then where is the necessity to do Baya' (promise of allegiance or initiation ) on the hand of Shaikh ?
Let us understand this issue from an example. Two plus two, make four and if we divide 2 from 4, only 2 will remain. Mathematics is such a certain subject that any other subject could hardly come close to it. But from 1st standard till 10th class, we learn mathematics from teachers, only then a student gets proficient in basic / elementary mathematics.
When such a self evident subject like Mathematics requires a teacher, then how come the study about Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) his attributes and His signs in the cosmos (known and Ilme-e-Tawheed) be studied without the help of a Murshid (religious teacher)?
The fact is that, a person would not be able to know his mistake until somebody draws his attention towards it. Teacher points out the mistake of the pupil. The teacher always oversees the mistakes of the pupils and cautions them. This was the reason, those who tried to understand Quran and Ahadith by self study made blunders in their lives. This is what has happened with Ibn Taymiyyah, the founder of Salafism.
Famous Shaikh Subki said - QUOTE - He (Ibn Taymiyyah) memorized a lot (from books) but did not discipline himself with a (Sufi) Shaikh’. UNQUOTE.
Zakir Naik is also an example of a self studied and self declared scholar. Actually he has studied medicine, but left his profession and started Islamic Daw'a by self study. He has memorized Quran, Ahadith books, and other religious scriptures and has developed debating skills over a period of time. He has a large following and is the founder of Zakiri Salafi Group.
Salafis groups claim that Baya' is blind Taqlid (blind following) of the Shaikh. They also reject following of Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence, claiming it to be blind taqlid. Zakir Naik claims that following of Imams has damaged Islam. They say that everyone should read Quran and Ahadith books on their own and learn Islam independently. These are misguided people in Muslim society. How can somebody rejects the requirement of a teacher and advocates acquiring knowledge by self study of books? If this is possible, then we do not need any Universities or any kind of Educational Institutions in the world. Everybody should learn everything by reading books on his own. Is not it a ridiculous argument?
Bay'a is a promise for adhering to the laws of Shariah (A'maal-e Zaahiri) and Tareeqah (A'maal-e Baatini).
It is in Hadith - Narrated 'Ubada bin As-Samit (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ): who took part in the battle of Badr and was a Naqib (a person heading a group of six persons), on the night of Al-'Aqaba pledge: Allah's Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said while a group of his companions were around him, "Swear allegiance to me for: (1) Not to join anything in worship along with Allah. (2) Not to steal. (3) Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse. (4) Not to kill your children. (5) Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people). (6) Not to be disobedient (when ordered) to do good deed."
It is in Hadith - Narated Auf Ibn Malik Ashja'ee (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ): 'We were with Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) seven, eight or nine (of us), when he said: Will you not make bay'a (pledge) to the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم)?' We stretched our hands and inquired: On what shall we make bay'a to you, O'Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم)? He said 'That you make Ibadah of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی),- that you associate nothing with Him,- that you perform the five (time) Salah; that you hear and obey." (Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasai).
The above bay'a which Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) took from the Sahabah (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین ) was neither Bay'at-e-Imani (Pledge of Iman) nor Bay'at-e-Jihadi (Pledge to wage Jihad). This was the baya' for adhering to the laws of Islam.
The above Ahadith are categorical proof for the validity of bay'a on the hands of a Shaikh-e-Kamil in Islam from the time of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
Q - What are the requirements of a Shaikh?
The Shaikh should be capable of fulfilling the objective and purpose of the Baya'. He should be aware of Quranic imperatives and Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) traditions and necessary Islamic Jurisprudence (rules) and most importantly should have been blessed with the companionship of an experienced Shaikh. The distinction of a good Shaikh is that when you think about him or look at his picture or see him personally, your evil considerations (wasaawis) and useless thoughts stop and you are reminded of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) and Prophet Mohammad(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
The difference between Sufi Shaikhs and Islamic Scholars
A Sufi Shaikh-e-Kamil is the clean heart and spiritually illuminated person who, in theory and practice, is distinct in Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) subordination and enthroned with the legacy of unveiling (kashf - spiritual vision) and immanence ( meaning Allah's - سبحانہ و تعا لی signs are clearly visible to him in the Cosmos).
The Islamic Scholar is the person who impedes the assaults of the enemies of Islam with the shield of reasoning. He exposes the wrong beliefs of people with logical explanations and conclusive evidence from Quranic verses, Ahadith and Ijma rulings. Islamic Scholars are prolific speakers and are very popular among masses. They enjoy large followings because of their religious rhetoric and media coverage.
All Sufi Shaikhs are essentially the scholars of Islam, though they may not be knowing a few terms or not as popular as Islamic scholars because most of them keep themselves away from public glare. Whereas most of the Islamic Scholars are not Sufi Shaikhs, though they prefer to be called " Shaikh or Shaikh-ul-Islam".
Sufi Shaikhs practically traverse spiritual stages ( Sharia - Tareeqah- Ma'arefa - Haqeeqah) which cannot be visualized by Islamic Scholars.
Islamic scholars teach Islamic theory, whereas Sufi Shaikhs cleanse people's hearts with which their understanding capacity and wisdom in knowing Islam increase manifold.
Q - How did distinctive practices (tareeqah), Qadri, Chishti, Naqshbandi, etc., come into being?
There are different schools of thought and different Imams of Islamic jurisprudence, who interpret from Quran and Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Sunnah; like Hanafi, Shafi-i, Maaliki, Hambali. Similarly, there are different practices (tareeqah) of Sulook (tazkia Nafs) and different Imams / Sufi Shaikhs like Qadri, Chisti, Naqshbandi, etc., are associated with these practices.
Peoples’ individual characteristics are different, their natures are different. Some like humor, some are affectionate and some are serious minded and very strict. Everyone searches for a Tareeqah and Shaikh whose nature is of his liking.
Q - Repentance should be done by every Muslim. Then where is the need for a Shaikh on whose hand you need to repent?
It is in Quran - “ وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا [Meaning - Those who have committed oppression on themselves (by committing sins), if they had come to you (O'Prophet - صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and pray for Allah’s- (سبحانہ و تعا لی) pardon and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) also prays for their forgiveness from Allah- (سبحانہ و تعا لی), then they would have found Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) to be Merciful and most willing to accept their repentance]. (An-Nisa - 64).
Q - Why should we be committed mostly to our Shaikh for religious guidance and instructions?
A person will get distracted listening to the views of different people. Therefore, it is good to make one’s ‘reliable being’ (person) as his guide.
Consider, in an important law suit, if the lawyer is changed everyday, then the case can not be followed appropriately and the chances of success will become remote. We have the law books available in the market. Can any one successfully carry on with the suit with the help of these books? No. We have an expert in every field. We need to refer to him all our cases and concerns.
Q - What actually happens when we become Mureed?
If you take baya' on the hands of the Shaikh-e-Kamil, your soul's connection with the Shaikh's soul gets established. Since Shaikh is connected spiritually with his Murshid, and his Murshid is well connected with his Murshid, the chain establishes your final spiritual connection with Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and ultimate connection with Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی). My dear brothers and sisters, this is the best way to get connected with Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی).
We will explain this issue with an example. Look what happens when you ask for an electrical connection to your newly built house. You pay the required fee and fill out the necessary forms, then the Electricity Department's technicians come and connect your home electricity cable with the nearby underground cable or overground pole. Once you establish the connection, your home gets the lighted.
Your Shaikh is the spiritual pole and the main source of spiritual light is Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). Prophetic light comes to you via various grids / junctions (meaning Sahaba and Sufi Shaikhs) to your pole (your Murshid) and from there to your home (heart).
What happens when prophetic light comes to you? You can see things correctly and minutely. Your vision gets better as compared to what you could see or judge earlier. Meaning, your understanding capacity and wisdom in knowing Islam gets expanded.
Q - What Shaikh does after we become his Mureed?
There are many myths about the Shaikh. Some people think that the Shaikh has the ultimate knowledge of unseen. Some think that Shaikh knows about future of all his Murids. Some consider their Shaikh to have absolute powers to heel peoples ailments. Some say that their shaikh performs miracles all the time. Some people praise their shaikh to an extent that people start smelling divinity in him.
As a matter of fact, the Shaikh is your spiritual teacher / guide. He does exactly what is required of him; meaning, he cleanses the mirror of your heart from his tawajjoh (attention) and personal guidance with which your heart gradually gets cleaned and you can see the facts of things in a more realistic way.
There is a famous saying in English. You can help the hungry by giving him a fish or by teaching him how to fish. Giving him a fish is one time help, but teaching him how to fish is the help for life. Similarly, Shaikhs teach their Murids how to deal with worldly problems by trusting in Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) Mercy all the time. They make you spiritually self sufficient and bold enough to deal with anything that comes your way in your life.
Shaikh guides you until you are in a position to guide others. At this time, he awards you with Ijaza or Khilafah with which you can start helping other Muslims. This practice is continued, uninterrupted from the time of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) .
Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) rewards his Awliya with many bounties. Sometimes, the Shaikh is provided with unveiling (vision - kashf) with which he gets forewarned about certain things. However, he can only see what is desired by Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی). This helps the Shaikh in people's training and occasionally forewarning them about some dangers.
For some Shaikhs, Aalam-e-Mithaal (the spiritual world) is opened and their personal contact with Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and other past dignitaries of Islam is established. This also helps them to serve people better.
Some Shaikhs are rewarded with exceptional will power. This is the result of their trust in Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) and Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). This also helps them in training their Murids.
Some Shaikhs are provided with exceptional effect in their speech and writings. Their Dua is granted quickly by Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی).
Sometimes Shaikh says something and that thing comes into being instantly. These types of things are known as 'Karamat' (miracle). However, miracle is the work of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) . Sometimes Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) performs miracles through some very prominent Shaikhs. Why is it so? It is to establish Shaikh's importance in society so that more people come to him for guidance. Once a few miracles become popular, lot many people throng to the Shaikh's door and through the Shaikh, Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) helps His servants.
QUOTE - "al-Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir (al-Jilani): The Shaykh, the Imam, the Scholar, the Zahid, the Knower, the Exemplar, Shaykh al-Islam, the Distinguished one among the Awliya... the Hanbali, the Shaykh of Baghdad... "I say there is no one among the great shaykhs who has more Spiritual States and Miracles (karamat) than Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir" UNQUOTE"
Some big shaikhs are provided with many more bounties from Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی). All these are given to help them in guiding the people better. Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) appoints His beloveds /Sufi Shaikhs to help His servants in the world.
It is in Hadith - It is reported that Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) once said after the salah - " O' People! Listen to this, understand it and know it. Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) has servants who are neither Prophets nor Martyrs and whom the Prophets and Martyrs yearn to be like, due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی)". One of the Bedouin Arabs who came from among the most isolated of people twisted his hand and said-"O' Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) ! people from human kind who are neither Prophets, nor Martyrs and yet the Prophets and Martyrs yearn to be like them due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی)! Describe them for us"
'The Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) face showed delight at the Bedouin's question and he said - " They are of the strangers from this and that place. They frequent this or that tribe without belonging to them. They do not have family connections among themselves. They love one another for Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) sake. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) will place for them pedestals of light upon which He will make them sit, and He will turn their faces and clothes into light. On the Day of Resurrection the people will be terrified but not those. They are Allah's friends (Awliya Allah) upon whom fear comes not, nor do they grieve".
The above Hadith is related through several chains by Abu Dawud, Ahmad. Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna, al-Hakim in the Mustadrak, Ibn 'Asakir, Ibn Abi al-Dunya in Kitab al-Ikhwan, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Mardawayh, and others. Haythami in Majma'al-Zawa'id says: 'Ahmad relates it, and Tabrani relates something similar, and all the men in its chain of transmission have been declared trustworthy" .
Once you have taken baya' on a real Sufi Shaikh of Ihsan, sincerely follow his guidance in religious issues. After some time you and your family members will notice a gradual change in you, your character, your wisdom of actions and even a change in your physical outlook. There are innumerable benefits of taking baya', we will write about these at some other place on this site.
Q - How baya ( Initiation ) is taken?
For women, the vow is taken orally as Shaikh does not hold their hands. Women need not take out their veil in front of the Shaikh.
It is in Hadith - Narrated Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) "Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) never touched the hand of a woman, but he would make the (bay'a) for her. Upon having made the bay'a he would say: Go.' Verily, I have already made bay'a with you." (Bukhaari, Muslim, Abu-Daawood).
Those who are not able to take bay'a personally, can take bay'a by way of surface mail or e-mail, or through the services of a responsible and trustworthy person who is known to the Shaikh and the person who intends to take bay'a. Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), on the occasion of bay'at-e-Ridhwaan, made the bay'a of Othman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in his (Othman's) absence. Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) placed his right hand on his left hand and announced that he has made bay'a of Othman (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ).
Thus people can take baya' in person, by phone or on internet as well. However, bay'a should preferably be taken in person. If you have taken baya' by phone, or internet, it is advisable to revive it on the hands of the Shaikh whenever you happen to see him personally.