AN OVERVIEW OF BAYA'
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
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. This is the reason, when a person sits in the company of a venerable Shaikh/Wali Allah, his ordinary thoughts, evil considerations and materialistic notions weaken and gradually get extinct and his wisdom in understanding Islamic issues increases manifold. Quran commands us to be in the company of virtuous people.It is in Quran - يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَكُونُوا مَعَ الصَّادِقِينَ [ O' You, who have Iman, fear Allah and be with the truthful ones.] (At-Tauba - 119)
It is in Quran - مَن يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْشِدًا [ Whoever Allah guides, is the truly guided one and whoever He sends astray, you will not find for him a guiding teacher.] (Al-Kahaf - 17).
The word ( مُرشِد ) "Murshid" has been derived from this verse.
It is in Quran - وَأَن لَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاءً غَدَقًا [And that if they had remained on the Way (الطَّرِيقَةِ), surely We (would) have given them to drink water (in) abundance.] (Al-Jinn - 72).
The word (الطَّرِيقَةِ) "Tariqa" has come from this verse.
It is in Quran - يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ [ Obey Allah, 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 Shuyookh of Ihsan.
The requirement of a Sahih-ul-Aqeedah Shaikh of Ihsan is paramount in everyone's life. It is a known fact that Islam cannot be learned by independent study of Quran and Sunnah on your own with your limited understanding of issues of this world and of Hereafter.
This book is written in a question/answer format for an easy understanding of people. We hope people will benefit from it.
Q 1 - Is it necessary that every Muslim should take baya' on the hands of a Sahih-ul-Aqeedah Sufi Shaikh of Ihsan?
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 - من لا شيخ له فشيخه الشيطان [ The one who does not have a Shaikh, his Shaikh is Satan]. It means that in the absence of a truthful Shaikh, there is every likely hood that you will fall victim Satan or his associates deviants who mislead you in the name of Islam.
Q 2 - 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 a 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) 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 happened to Ibn Taymiyyah, the founding Imam of Salafism.
Famous Shaikh Subki said - QUOTE - He (Ibn Taymiyyah) memorized a lot (from the books) but did not discipline himself with a (Sufi) Shaikh - UNQUOTE
Q 3 - Is baya a blind taqleed of the Shaikh as claimed by deviant sects like Salafis, Deobandis and their like minded?
It is height of illiteracy to claim that baya is a blind taqleed. Salafis, Deobandis and their like minded even claim that following of Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh), Hanifi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali is blind taqleed. They claim that following of Imams has damaged Islam. They say that everyone should read Quran and Ahadith books on their own and learn Islam independently. 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."The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) added : "Whoever among you fulfills his pledge will be rewarded by Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). And whoever indulges in any one of them (except the ascription of partners to Allah - عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and gets the punishment in this world, that punishment will be an expiation for that sin. And if one indulges in any of them, and Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) conceals his sin, it is up to Him to forgive or punish him (in the Hereafter)." 'Ubada bin As-Samit (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) added : "So we swore allegiance for these." (points to Allah's Apostle - صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) (Bukhari, Book 2, Hadith 17)
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 O'Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم)? He said 'That you make Ibadah of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), that you associate no one 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 الله تعالی عنهم 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 4 - 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and Prophet Mohammad(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
Q 5 - What is the difference between Sufi Shuyookh of Ihsan (Awliya Allah) and Islamic scholars.
A Sahih-ul-Aqeedah 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. Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) signs are clearly visible to him in the Cosmos.
The Sahih-ul-Aqeedah 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 Shuyookh 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 Islamic Scholars are not Sufi Shuyookh, though they prefer to be called a Shaikh.
Sufi Shuyookh practically traverse spiritual stages ( Sharia - Tareeqah- Ma'arefa - Haqeeqah) which cannot be visualized by Islamic Scholars.
Islamic scholars teach Islamic theory, whereas Sufi Shuyookh, not only teach, but cleanse people's hearts with which their understanding capacity and wisdom in knowing Islam increase manifold.
Q 6 - How did distinctive practices, Qadri, Chishti, Naqshbandi, Shadhuli, etc., come into being?
There are different schools of thought and different schools of thoughts of Islamic jurisprudence, who interpret from Quran and Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Sunnah; like Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali, similarly, there are different practices of Sulook (tazkia Nafs, like Qadri, Chisti, Naqshbandi, Shadhuli etc.
Q 7 - Repentance should be done by every Muslim. 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 [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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) pardon and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) also prays for their forgiveness from Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), then they would have found Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) to be Merciful and most willing to accept their repentance]. (An-Nisa - 64).It is evident from the above Quranic verse that, if you want to make sure that Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) has forgiven you for your past deeds, self repentance alone may not be sufficient. It is advisable to take benediction from a person of illuminated heart (Sahih-ul-Aqeedah Shaikh).As long as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) was alive, he himself used to pray for individuals’ forgiveness from Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). And now, when he is hidden from the eyes of general people, his appointed Awliya Allah / Sufi Shuyookh will pray for the forgiveness which is expected to be granted by Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
Q 8 - 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’ (Shaikh) as his guide.
Q 9 - What actually happens when we become Mureed?Q 10 - What Shaikh does after you become his Mureed?
If you take baya' on the hands of the Shaikh-e-Kamil, your spiritual connection with the Shaikh 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). This is the best way, and probably the only way, to get connected with Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
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 applications, 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. The main source of spiritual light is Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). Prophetic light comes to you via various grids / junctions (Sahaba and Sufi Shuyookh) to your pole (Murshid) and from there to your home (heart) and your heart gets illuminated.
What happens when prophetic light comes to you? You can see things correctly and minutely. Your blurred vision gets clear in comparison to what you could see or judge things earlier. Your understanding capacity and wisdom in knowing Islam gets expanded and you start walking on the right path of Islam.
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 Murideen. Some consider their Shaikh to have absolute power 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.
The reality is, the Shaikh is your spiritual teacher / guide. He does exactly what is required of him. 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, Shuyookh teach their Murideen how to deal with worldly problems by trusting in Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) rewards his Awliya (truthful Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan) 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). This also helps them in training their Murideen.
Some Shaikhs are provided with exceptional effect in their speech and writings. Their Dua is granted quickly by Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). Shaikh has no role in it. Sometimes Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) helps His servants.
Some big Shuyookh are provided with many bounties from Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). All these are given to help them in guiding the people better. Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) appoints His beloveds /Awliya Allah/truthful Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ)". One of the Bedouin Arabs who came from among the most isolated of people twisted his hand and said - "O' Apostle 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 (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) sake. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) 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, follow his guidance in religious issues with utmost sincerity. 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.
Q 11 - How baya' ( Initiation ) is taken?For men, the Shaikh holds their right hand and the men take the vow that they will remain committed to the commands of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and as far as possible and will refrain from the ‘prohibitive’ (Haraam) and comply with the ‘imperatives (Faraa'ez). If the group taking the bay'a is large, Shaikh uses a length of cloth which is held by each member in his right hand. If a large crowd wants to take baya' of a prominent Shaikh, people raise their hands at their places and take bay'a by repeating the pledge with the Shaikh. After the bay'a, a Shajra is given to the Murideen showing their 'Spiritual Chain'.
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." (Bukhari, 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).
Ours is the time of Internet. People can take baya' from their Shuyookh via this facility as well. They can correspond with them via e-mails or online connectivity and learn Islam from the comfort of their homes anywhere in the world.