Importance of Bai‘at (Oath of Allegiance)
Translated Speech of
His Eminence Ameer Muhammad Akram Awan
Shaikh Silsilah Naqshbandiah Owaisiah
17th July 2002
Almighty Allah says,
“Those who take Oath of Allegiance with you, take Oath of Allegiance with Allah.”
What is Bai‘at? Bai‘at means to sell oneself, one’s thoughts and freedom. He said, ‘they are the lucky ones that Allah’s Hand is on their hands and His Support is with them. It is so important that anyone, who breaks it, breaks and destroys himself. And anyone who remains loyal to the promise that he made with Allah, with reference to this oath, will soon receive immense reward from Him.
This Ayah was revealed about Bai‘at-e Ridhwan. On that occasion, when the Makkans had blocked their way, the Holy Prophet-saws demanded a Bai‘at from the accompanying Companions that, if the Makkans fought them, they would never leave the field and fight back till the last man. Even if everyone were slain, the last man would still not flee and fight till his death. This was the first Bai‘at for death at the blessed hands of the Holy Prophet-saws. This oath enhanced the importance to an extent that the Gracious Lord said, “Those who take Oath of Allegiance with you, take Oath of Allegiance with Allah. Allah’s Hand is on their hands.” As if they gave their hands in the Hand of Allah, His help is with them. Apparent Bai‘at is thus taken with the Mashaikh, following this Sunnah. The Barakah can be achieved with respectful volition, even if Bai‘at is not taken. One can achieve the Barakah with sound belief, true desire and pure intention. However, Bai‘at can very significantly increase these Barakah. A heart to heart connection is further cemented by a handshake signifying relationship in the Name of Allah, multiplying the Barakah many times. But remember, one has to stand by it!
Once, a religious scholar was asking many questions from Hadhrat Ji-rua, who finally asked, “What is the purpose of your visit here?” He replied, “I have come to take Bai‘at and learn Allah’s Zikr. These are some of the doubts that I am trying to clarify.” Hadhrat-rua told him, “Ask as many questions before taking Bai‘at and joining the Silsilah. Once you have joined the Silsilah, there won’t be any room for you to ask such questions. You shall only have to accept and obey. Therefore, ask questions, inquire, confirm, do whatever you like, but do it all before taking Bai‘at, and not afterwards.” Bai‘at surrenders the freedom to ask questions. Asking questions to learn is different, but questions as objections are not permitted. If someone disregards the importance of Bai‘at and starts criticizing, he has, as if, broken his Bai‘at. A thought crossing our minds about anybody may not necessarily be correct. The person may possess that weakness but it is also possible that our assumption may be totally wrong. However, there is no doubt that a person who breaks his Bai‘at will meet an inauspicious end, because this news has been given by Almighty Allah. The one who breaks it breaks himself. It is because the greatest blessing ensuing from this Bai‘at is the protection of Allah. Allah’s Hand is on their hands. Allah’s protection saves a person from mistakes, sins and evil. It does not mean that he won’t fall sick or that he won’t face any financial constraints or that no worldly affliction would ever touch him. The world is running according to a programmed and regulated system.
The Spirits were created before the bodies, but even before the creation of Spirits, Allah had apportioned the sustenance for everyone, He had decided about the health and disease. According to the elders (Buzurg) if someone’s prayers are accepted in favour of somebody and he benefits, recovers from illness or improves, even this decision had been taken at the Dawn of Time. While this may be something new for the person who has prayed or the one prayed for, this is nothing new or unknown to Allah. The decision about prayers has also been taken on the Dawn of Time; who would pray for whom, whose prayers would be accepted and cause someone to get healthy or be a source of deliverance for someone. Yes, man has been given one choice. Although, in actual fact, it is always the Will of Allah that takes effect, but it is man who makes the basic decision within himself: what do I want to do, is my decision within the perimeters of or outside Allah’s obedience and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet-saws? On this decision is the man assessed. Allah’s Help supports a man in his decision of virtue and not of vice.
There is a Hadith in al-Bukhari about the Companions of Badar. The Holy Prophet said, “Those who participated in Badar may do anything they like, from today onwards, Jannah is their lot!” Someone asked immediately, “O Allah’s Messenger-saws, even if they sin or do Kufr and Shirk?” “Do what they may!” replied the Messenger-saws of Allah. Here a question arises that Allah has categorically declared that a disbeliever (Kafir) or a polytheist (Mushrik) would never be pardoned, while the Holy Prophet-saws says that the Companions of Badar may do anything they like. When the scholars of Hadith discuss this point, they explain that when Allah destines someone for Jannah, He protects him from vice including Kufr and Shirk, makes the way of virtue easy for him so that he behaves like the dwellers of Jannah. This Hadith means that such people will do only those deeds that befit the dwellers of Jannah. This signifies that when Allah takes mercy on someone and destines him for Salvation, He grants him the capacity for such deeds that are necessary for Salvation. For that reason the Holy Prophet-saws directed, “if, after me, there is difference on any issue and the whole Ummah is unanimous on one point, while a single living Companion of Badar maintains a different opinion, the whole Ummah will have to abide by his opinion. It is because he is amongst the Dwellers of Jannah, his opinion would be correct, he can’t think wrong.”
Similar is the case of Bai‘at. When someone is granted Bai‘at, he acquires some Divine Protection; Allah’s Hand is on their hands. Then, whether anyone can himself see spiritually and perceive or not, but the Bai‘at is being taken on the blessed hands of the Holy Prophet-saws and this is the responsibility of the one who is conducting the Bai‘at. But one thing can certainly be felt by everybody that his weakness for vice has decreased and desire for virtue has increased. No Kashf or spiritual vision is required for that.
The Jews accused Prophet Musa-as. It is mentioned in Commentaries of the Holy Quran that he felt upset and once prayed to Allah to protect him from the tongue-lashing of the Children of Israel. Almighty Allah replied, “I haven’t restrained their tongues against Myself, how would I stop them from you? They shall certainly have to account for what they say about me and also for what they say about you. But they are free to say what they want.” People slandered Hadhrat Aishah Siddiqah, the beloved wife of the Holy Prophet-saws, and Allah revealed her exoneration, which is part of the Quran forever. But, people didn’t make any concessions even for someone like her. She is the only lady whose blamelessness and exoneration was stated by Almighty Allah, and it became part of the Holy Quran. Reader of the Quran still reads those passages of Surah Noor; the Imam leading the prayers still recites Allah’s Testimony, and so they shall all continue to recite till the Last Day. If such personalities can be blamed, what do we matter? Once some persons went to Hadhrat Ji-rua in Chakrala, blamed me and complained against me. Hadhrat Ji-rua gave them a brief reply. He said, “I have conducted him to the Court of the Holy Prophet-saws. Whenever I go there, he accompanies me. No body can enter that holy Court carrying the burden of felony that you are charging him with. I can’t believe you. Go and do what you may.”
The damage of levying such accusations is that the Bai‘at breaks. Connection of all Sufis or Zakirin depends upon their relationship with the Shaikh. It is just not possible that he leaves the Shaikh and is allowed direct access there. When we joined the Silsilah, Hadhrat-rua already had students of astounding qualities. One of them, Mihar Ali Shah would refresh his Wudhu only once in twenty-four hours. He would do his Wudhu in the morning, remain in the same Wudhu through the day, sleep in it and refresh it early in the morning. I remember the Jinns seized a man of our area. I took him to Hadhrat-rua, where he recovered in a couple of days. Hadhrat instructed us to take him to Mihar Ali Shah and keep him there for about a month for complete recovery. Mihar Ali Shah was living in a village near Sargodha. I sent the man with his brother to him. They returned after only three days. I asked Mihar Ali Shah as to why he returned the man so quickly. He replied, “That man could not retain his Wudhu for more than fifteen minutes. He was doing Wudhu the whole while. I can’t retain such a person.” He had amazing Kashf; he would continue to talk to people, while disclosing his spiritual observations about Barzakh, without even closing his eyes. At times I was also present when Hadhrat-rua instructed him to ask something from Mashaikh. He would narrate the reply of Mashaikh, continue talking to other people and also keep looking around. How many of them have passed away; one is still alive and healthy, al-Hamd-o Lillah, and comes over occasionally to meet me. He had a friend, Ashraf who was murdered in broad daylight, but his murderer couldn’t be traced. He was sleeping in the front gallery of his home during hot summer afternoon of Chakrala and had placed his loaded 303-bore rifle beside him. One of his enemies passed by. When he found him sleeping, he picked up the rifle, shot him, placed the rifle back and vanished. Till today, nobody knows who he was. Once, some friends got hold of Mihar Ali Shah and said, “One of our friends Ashraf is buried in this graveyard. We want to know about him, please tell us.” He said, “There are many of them by this name. Tell me the name of his father.” When they told him, he said, “You say he had died, but he was actually murdered.” They said, “This is what we want to know.” He said, “You want to ask about the murderer. I won’t tell you, why should I?” But he had understood the whole matter.
He wrote to Hadhrat-rua, “I hear every stone and tree calling me a Ghauth. I have become a Ghauth.” Hadhrat-rua replied, “I am your Shaikh. I don’t have the status of a peon yet. I have no spiritual rank. How has the student become a Ghauth, when the teacher is still without any spiritual rank? It is Satan who is calling you from behind the stones and trees. You would be destroyed if you believe him.” He wrote back, “Hadhrat, you probably feel jealous of me. You don’t seem to tolerate that one of your students has attained to such a high rank.” Hadhrat replied to him, “What is the reason for me to feel jealous, you fool? Everything you have is within my control. The door of the Court that you attend or the stations that you ascend was opened by me; I can close it if I want. If the father is a labourer and his sons become generals, he would never feel jealous but would always feel happy and proud. I’m only trying to advise you.” He wrote again, “Once the door of Divine Grace is opened, it can’t be closed by anyone.” Hadhrat replied, “Then that be it! Now I won’t close it but would break it in a way that it won’t be fixed till Qiyamah.” It took just this one sentence to confiscate his everything. After two years he retuned with a cream colour suit in an envelope. I was also there. He fell on Hadhrat’s feet and said, “I have searched every corner of Pakistan. I have been to Kashmir, Sindh and even the Northern Areas but found none who knew even the initial Three Meditations. I went in for their big names but there is really no one to guide. Forgive me for God’s sake!” Hadhrat-rua said, “I will forgive you but the matter is with the One who has said, ‘whosoever breaks the Bai‘at, breaks himself.’ Forgiveness is for the one who still retains something, but when nothing is left…” Then we saw him totally denying the existence of Allah. He would say, “Where is God? I say this stone is god, refute it if you can. I say everything is god; which god are you talking about?” He stopped differentiating between lawful and the unlawful, abandoned all worships and ultimately renounced Faith. Then he left his home, strayed in the land like mad people, and even his near ones don’t know where he finally got lost and perished. This is how breakages take effect!
Then there was a Manzoor Shah. He lost his way similarly and finally reached a point where he forbade his followers to greet him with ‘Assalaam-o Alaikum’. “What is it that you have invented?” he would say, “It is not correct to recite the Kalimah, it is not right to recite Bismillah, and nothing is prohibited in the religion.” When he was about to die, he instructed that his body be cremated. That was in the days of Ayub Khan’s Martial Law. Fearing legal action, they didn’t burn his body, but let him lie in the room where he had died and closed, sealed and cemented its doors. No one knows what happened then.
I was saying that one could take Apparent Bai‘at whenever one likes, but it places many responsibilities on him. And when we talk of the Spiritual Bai‘at, it is as much delicate and subtle, and one has to keep much regard for it. It is not correct to feel proud that it is my personal achievement or that I have become great. Nothing of the sort!
There are many friends here who would have heard the last address of Hadhrat Ji-rua at Langar Makhdoom. It would have been recorded and preserved. I think, someday, we should replay it for all of you. In brief, among other things, Hadhrat Ji-rua said, “I guess, I may not be with you here during the next convention, therefore, I am going to assign certain responsibilities. I permit Major Baig and Bunyad Hussain Shah to conduct Zikr and conduct Ahbab to the Court of the Holy Prophet-saws, but I don’t permit them to conduct Spiritual Bai‘at”. Mentioning me, he said, “He will be the only one to have this permission. All Ahbab trained and prepared by Major Baig and Bunyad Hussain Shah shall have to be brought to him for Spiritual Bai‘at.” This cassette had been preserved and is readily available. After sometime, the desire of Sheikhdom overwhelmed them and they separated. Fine, suit yourself; however, something is certainly amiss with them. Yes, they do travel around demanding, begging and collecting offerings, charity and Zakat, the permitted and the prohibited donations, all alike. But then, is collection of donations and Zakat the real religion? Does it befit anyone who attends the Court of the Holy Prophet-saws to start begging from people? This single factor is enough. When one starts spreading his hands before people, like a beggar, it should be understood that he has been turned out of that honourable place. One may remember the name of meditations. Hadhrat Ji-rua had taught these, therefore, these may remain in the memory, but conducting the meditations is nothing easy. All senior companions who went with them realised after sometime that the most important element was missing and they left one by one. Now if you ask a nincompoop to pose as a magician, he would also be able to attract a crowd. Ten persons may leave, two may stay and his cycle would so continue. But, it is not possible that an impostor could change hearts and reform people. It is just not possible that people are different when they come and different as they leave; their thought are purified, their conduct is reformed, and they develop the love of Allah and His Holy Prophet-saws. Such feelings are never born of untruth. Falsehood can never bear the same fruit as truth. Mangoes will always be borne by a mango tree and grapes will never grow on cactus. How can any effect be felt unless the connection is proper, the intention is sincere and the pledge is loyally adhered to? I am not saying this for the reason that I want that you should consider me very important. My only status is that I am a servant of that Court. I shall continue to discharge the duty given to me by Hadhrat Ji-rua and the Mashaikh, till my last breath. I am not responsible to collect millions of disciples. My responsibility is to teach Allah’s Zikr to those who come to me, and if they don’t listen to me, I stand absolved. My duty is to fulfil my commitment even if I am left alone. It is important to stand with truth, not with numbers. And if some asks me the truth, I really want that this multitude leaves me so that I can peacefully do Allah’s Zikr alone. I have no interest to sit as Peer amongst a large gathering of seekers; I do it only as my duty. Nor have I a claim to any high level of piety and virtue. I am what I am!
However, the One, Who assigns these duties, knows these matters perfectly well. The Mashaikh understand, who should be entrusted with which duty. But it is strange that some unfortunate ones cannot absorb this blessing. Instead of recognising the greatness of Allah and His Holy Prophet-saws, they are charmed by the thought of their own greatness and insist that others should also acknowledge their eminence. This outlook severs the Bai‘at. Sin does not sever the Bai‘at, rather one feel sorry and turns repentant. Bai‘at is not severed by mistake either. It rather helps to draw Divine Protection ‘Allah’s Hand is on their hands’; one regrets the mistake and repents. Man cannot become an angel; he shall ever remain a human being. An occasional lie under duress or a mistake by chance, do not nullify the Bai‘at. Rather, it would help him in such situations. His conscience would prick him from inside and his Bai‘at would shake him, ‘what are you doing? Stop here and turn back repentant!’ For such reason is the Bai‘at taken, because we are not angels. But, when one starts thinking that he has become great, the Bai‘at would break. Such notion of greatness, even for a single moment would break the Bai‘at. When the Bai‘at breaks, it takes away the pleasure of Zikr. Gradually, one leaves Zikr, then forsakes good deeds, and may Allah protect everyone, we have seen people finally renouncing their Faith also. Probably, not everyone may lose the Faith, but the ones we have seen leaving, lost their Faith also. If Allah grants you this blessing and you get spiritual Bai‘at, then realize its greatness and significance, and try to preserve it even at the cost of your life. Lose your life, but don’t lose your Bai‘at with the Holy Prophet-saws. There is only one standard for every man. No one’s Kashf is a standard. The only criterion is that if you are inculcating the love for virtue and hate for evil, then you have really got the Bai‘at. But, if you feel no difference and continue to like evil, rest assured that you are being deceived and someone is lying to you. However, it is well nigh impossible that someone would dare to concoct lies about Allah, while sitting in a mosque.
Does anyone who has been granted Bai‘at pay any subscription? Is there any tax for spiritual Bai‘at, that every person should pay a million so that huge funds are generated? Is there any such practice in vogue? On the other hand, no one asks here, whether someone has donated for the mess or not. Allah provides for everyone! May He accept from those who donate. Even those who cannot donate anything also get their food. My own nature is such that I don’t care to know who pays and who doesn’t. Those persons who are responsible, like Ahmad Nawaz, who is sitting in front, may know such details. I have never tried to ask, because here everyone is the same for me, all are students. If anyone contributes his share, he does so for the sake of Allah and Allah knows very well who is doing what. Why should I ask? What can I give him, it is Allah Who gives, and He knows everything.
This is the era of trials. It is the fifteenth century and each century heralds strange upheavals. For that reason, both ends of each century are occupied by great personalities, During old times there were no regular hotels. People would come and stay at the inns. Each inn had a couple of kitchenettes for the travellers and also some stables for their horses. During those days even men wore gold ornaments like big earrings. This custom was in vogue till my childhood also. One of my maternal uncles, who was later killed in war, was fond of wearing big earrings that touched his shoulders. The author of ‘Kitab al-Akhlaq’ has quoted an incident of the 11th and 12th centuries. He wrote, ‘I visited Delhi and booked a room in one of the inns. When I closed the door, I found two big earrings hanging behind it. Probably the person who was residing earlier had hung them, but didn’t remember to take them when he left. I felt concerned because it was lot of gold. I took them to the kitchenette manager and asked her if she knew who was staying in that room before me, as he had left his earrings. She replied that she didn’t know because people came to her only to take food, she didn’t know who was staying where. Then I took the earrings to the inn-master. He said, “I won’t even touch them. It is none of my business.” Then, I went to the Police Station. The officer in charge said, “Give these to the treasurer. I won’t touch them. If someone comes asking about them, he would get them, else they would be deposited in Government Treasury.” When I got up in the morning, I was full of remorse. I felt sorry for my foolishness as to why had I given so much gold to the Police. I should have kept it myself. None except Allah knew about its owner. I was still scolding myself when I heard a knock on the door. There, I found the kitchenette manager. She said, “The owner of those earrings has been traced. Please give those to me.” I told her that I had given those to the Police and she should send the owner to the Police Station. When I got out, I saw the inn-master running towards me. “Where are the earrings?” he shouted. “Deposit those with me.” I told him that I had given them to the Police. Then I went to the Police Station and told them the owner had returned and they should return the earrings. The officer in charge said, “Their owner came to us last night and has already taken his earrings.” I returned to my room and wondered about the whole incident. Till yesterday, everyone, including myself, wasn’t willing to even touch the earrings, but today all of us are trying to grab them. What could be the reason for such a big change? I thought hard and suddenly remembered that yesterday was the last day of the 11th Century and today is the first day of the 12th Century, and the change of century affects human thought and conduct so much!’
That was the beginning of the 12th Century. Now, even the 13th and 14th Centuries have passed and we have spent a quarter of the 15th Century also. What would be the state of our thought and conduct now? Then, in this time of turmoil and commotion, if one gets an access to the Holy Prophet-saws, can he think of any greater blessing? And if he leaves this, then what is left with him?
My brother, my prayer is that anyone who comes here should be blessed with spiritual Bai‘at. He should get a share from Allah’s Mercy, should be blessed with the Nearness of Allah, should become a Mujahid of Islam and a Ghazi, should stand fast against oppression and the implementation of Islam and Allah should bless him to join the Army that would participate in Ghazwa tul Hind and implement Islam in the sub-continent. My prayer is this, but everyone must also try to protect himself. I can make mistakes and so can you. Making an occasional mistake is not against Wilayah, but insistence on sins and making it a profession is certainly against Wilayah. The greatest advantage of Bai‘at is that, if one makes a mistake, the feeling of loss does not let him rest till he repents. This is meant by ‘Allah’s Hand is on their hands.’ Man can never become an angel, but he does get Allah’s Protection. It shall remain with him as long as he remains humble and humane, and retains the realization that he is weak and helpless and requires Allah’s Help. But, if God forbid, he falls prey to the thought of his own greatness, then he neither retains Allah’s Help nor his Bai‘at. And, in my opinion, if the Bai‘at is lost, nothing is left. It is not necessary that someone should curse him or that Mashaikh should do something to him. Why would someone require to pray for the death of a person who has taken poison himself? Who would take such a person to a doctor? I pray that Allah grants everyone the ability to realize the greatness of Bai‘at, especially that of the spiritual Bai‘at. Leave the critics alone; a person who can’t do something will always try to criticize it. This is a matter of subtle feelings, unless they acquire them, how can they know them? According to a Persian proverb: they cannot know the taste of this wine, unless they drink it. Therefore, the objections of such critics are of no significance, but if those, who have got this blessing, also start criticizing, then it is indeed very strange and sorrowful. I pray that Allah protects everyone. Our duty is to invite those who are wandering astray to the door of Allah, and not to expel those who are there already. I don’t mind whether some criticises me or appreciates, because the standard of good and bad is set by Allah and not by people’s tongues. However, one thing is certain that the person, who criticises after taking Bai‘at, doesn’t retain anything. If someone desires to become a Shaikh by himself, he should separate and enrol his own students. Is it necessary that he must accuse or criticize us? Have we also criticized any one who left us? There is no need to do that. They would reap what they are sowing.
Those who left, remained as they were. Why didn’t they make a Jama‘at? Why couldn’t they collect people? Why couldn’t they conduct the meditations of their students? They knew everything, if they had the ability, they should have conducted the meditations of at least one student. Gradually, the students who had accompanied them from here started leaving one by one. This is what really happens. Realities cannot be fabricated. Great people cannot be made artificially; they are genuinely created by Allah.
May Allah protect all of us from mistrust and criticism! May He grant us His Love, love of His Holy Prophet-saws, service of His Deen and Shahadah in His Cause! Ameen!