The Oath of Allegiance in the ‘Arusi-Qadiri Way
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ ۚ فَمَن نَّكَثَ فَإِنَّمَا يَنكُثُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَوْفَىٰ بِمَا عَاهَدَ عَلَيْهُ اللَّهَ فَسَيُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا – 48:10
“Verily those who swear allegiance unto you (Muhammad), swear allegiance only unto Allah: the Hand of Allah is over their hands: so whosoever violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, while whosoever fulfills his covenant with Allah, on him will He bestow immense reward.” (48:10)
In the spiritual dimension of Islam, the Bai’a (oath of allegiance) is a solemn pact between a Murshid (spiritual guide) and a Murid (spiritual seeker) in which the former or his appointed Khalifa (deputy) takes the latter under his spiritual wings in order to help him or her traverse the Tariqa (spiritual path) to become a Murad (lovingly sought by Allah ﷻ). It is related in a Hadith Qudsi:
حَدَّثَنَا عُمَرُ بْنُ حَفْصٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا الأَعْمَشُ، سَمِعْتُ أَبَا صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى أَنَا عِنْدَ ظَنِّ عَبْدِي بِي، وَأَنَا مَعَهُ إِذَا ذَكَرَنِي، فَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي نَفْسِهِ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي نَفْسِي، وَإِنْ ذَكَرَنِي فِي مَلأٍ ذَكَرْتُهُ فِي مَلأٍ خَيْرٍ مِنْهُمْ، وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ بِشِبْرٍ تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ ذِرَاعًا، وَإِنْ تَقَرَّبَ إِلَىَّ ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ إِلَيْهِ بَاعًا، وَإِنْ أَتَانِي يَمْشِي أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً ”. [البخاري ٧٤٠٥]
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said that Allah said: “I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length; and if he draws near to Me a fathom’s length, I draw near to him two fathom’s length; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”
This mutual relationship is established and governed by binding principles and is not broken unless the Murid leaves the fold of the ahl al-Sunna wa l-Jama’a (people of the Prophetic way and community). Ali Miyan Syed Abul Hasan Ali Hasani Nadvi has written the following about covenants and oaths of allegiance administered by Sufi spiritual guides:
أن الشيخ عبد القادر الجيلاني فتح باب البيعة والتوبة على مصراعيه، يدخل فيه المسلمون من كل ناحية من نواحي العالم الإسلامي، يجددون العهد والميثاق مع الله، ويعاهدون على ألاَّ يشركوا ولا يكفروا، ولا يفسقوا، ولا يبتدعوا، ولا يظلموا، ولا يستحلوا ما حرم الله، ولا يتركوا ما فرض الله، ولا يتفانوا في الدنيا، ولا يتناسوا الآخرة. وقد دخل في هذا الباب – وقد فتحه الله على يد الشيخ عبد القادر الجيلاني – خلق لا يحصيهم إلا الله، وصلحت أحوالهم، وحسن إسلامهم، وظل الشيخ يربيهم ويحاسبهم، ويشرف عليهم، وعلى تقدمهم، فأصبح هؤلاء التلاميذ الروحيون يشعرون بالمسؤولية بعد البيعة والتوبة وتجديد الإيمان) [أبو الحسن علي الندوي”رجال الفكر والدعوة في الإسلام” ص ٢٤٨]
Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani made wide open the door of covenants and repentance. Muslims from all corners of the Islamic world were coming to renew their covenant with Allah and pledge to not fall into disbelief, criminality, innovation, oppression, or to declare licit what Allah has forbidden, leave off what Allah has ordered, and they pledged that they would not become engrossed in the life of this world and make themselves forget the Hereafter. Many people, whom only Allah can enumerate, entered through this door that Allah opened at the hands of Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, and their spiritual states were rectified and their Islam was made good. The Shaikh continued training them, taking them to account and looking after them and their progress. These students of his became accomplished spiritualists who felt deep responsibility after their covenant, repentance, and renewal of faith.
Shaikhuna Dr Thaika Shuaib says that by taking Baiʿa, one fulfils Koranic injunctions, operationalises Prophetic example and follows the way of his inheritors. It is a means to Tazkiya (purification of the soul), Ihsan (excellence in worship) and Ma’rifa (realisation of Allah)—the ultimate goal.
He further states that when a Murid puts his hand in the hand of the Shaikh or one of his Khalifas, he (i.e. the Murid) ultimately pledges allegiance to Allah ﷻ, the Prophet ﷺ, Muhyuddin ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (radiya Llahu anhu), and his spiritual ascendants and descendants (radiya Llahu anhum) in our Silsila (chain of transmission).
Conditions of Bai’a
As for the conditions of the Bai’a administered by the ‘Arusi-Qadiri spiritual guides, Shaikhuna Dr Thaika Shuaib lists the following six:
- Desist from Sinning and Repent Promptly
The sincere Murid must be conscious of every thought that occurs in his mind, every word that is spoken from his mouth and every action that is committed by his limbs. No sin is too small. When a sin is committed, one immediately repents to Allah ﷻ and seeks His pardon. In this age, one should be extremely vigilant against sins of the eyes i.e. looking at non-mahram women, be it live or in the media (television, movies, social media and internet). Failure to take heed in this matter will mean being unable to see in dreams the blessed face of Sayyiduna al-Shaikh Muhyuddin ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (radiya Llahu anhu), the beautiful countenance of our Holy Prophet ﷺ, and even Allah ﷻ.
- Implement Shari’a (sacred law) and Tariqa (spiritual path) together
No individual is above the Sharia and the Tariqa is not a cult. The Holy Prophet ﷺ—who is the greatest Shaikh and the highest Sufi—has set the perfect example of combining Shariʿa and Tariqa till his last breadth on earth. They are both like two wings with which the spiritual seekers can reach their Goal—Allah ﷻ. To use another analogy, Tariqa is like a sheltered kernel while Shariʿa is like a shell that keeps it safe and sound. There is no room for a “either-or” discussion. Perhaps the best summation was by Imam Malik b. Anas (radiya Llahu anhu) who said: “Whoever studies fiqh and didn’t study tasawwuf will be corrupted; and whoever studied tasawwuf and didn’t study fiqh will become a heretic; and whoever combined both will be reach the Truth.”
- Perform the Wird (litany) and establish the Ratib
The daily recital of the Wird is the key to maintaining the rabita or “spiritual connection” with the Shaikh and consequently the Tariqa. The daily private litany of the order comprises of 3 recitals that must be recited the stipulated minimum number of times every waking day. As for the Ratib Jalaliyya, it contains the Sirr or “secret” of the ‘Arusi-Qadiri Tariqa and must be established to attain success in one’s Suluk or “spiritual wayfaring”.
- Make a small monetary contribution to your local Ratib Majlis for joining the Tariqa
Begin your spiritual journey with an act of sadaqa or hadya to the local Ratib Majlis convenor. This is so that you may be written down in the Record Books as one who contributed to a Majlis al-Dhikr (gathering of remembrance).
- Periodically contribute Tabarruk to your local Ratib Majlis
Whenever feasible, send whatever food and drinks you can afford to the local Ratib Majlis. Feeding people is an integral part of tasawwuf culture. A pack of biscuits, if that is all you can afford, suffices. In this, it is not the quantity or quality, but the sincerity that matters.
- Attend your local Ratib Majlis
In addition to making an initial monetary and periodic Tabarruk contributions, attending your local Ratib Majlis weekly, bi-weekly or monthly is essential. Suhba (companionship) is a hallmark of the tasawwuf culture and the Ratib Majlis offers this, amongst other benefits.
Those who wish to take Bai’a may contact Shaikh Dr Thaika Shuaib’s deputy for Singapore and Malaysia, Khalifa Mohamed Idris, via email at: khalifa [at] taqwa.sg
Success is from Allah ﷻ and He is the Guide.
 Sahih al-Bukhari 7405 (Book 97, Hadith 34).
 Abd al-Qadir, I. and Abdul Aziz, S (translator). (2009). Realities of Sufism [haqa’iq ‘an al-tasawwuf]. Netherlands: Sunni Publications, p.70.