The Role of Allegiance

Question No. 30

In case of establishment of the ideal form of the Islamic State through Imamate and caliphate, what is the role of allegiance in Islamic State?

First, the nature of allegiance should be identified so that its role in Islamic State may be found out. The equivalent of allegiance in Arabic, i.e. bay’at, is derived from the root bay’¸ meaning “sale”.1 This is because those who give allegiance do their best to be at the service of the person gaining allegiance. The Holy Quran refers to the “Bay’at Ridhwan”:

فَاسْتَبْشِرُوا بِبَيْعِكُمُ الَّذِي بَايَعْتُمْ بِهِ

“... rejoice then in your bargain that you have made.” (9:111)2

As for the nature of allegiance, it has been stated that: “allegiance is a promise and a pact; those who pledge the oath of allegiance promise to be faithful to the one who gains the allegiance; and this depends on what the latter suggests”.3 Thus, allegiance is a promise given by those who pledge the oath of allegiance on what a supereminent person offers them in a specific case.4

Allegiance in Islam

The allegiances pledged in the early years of Islam were on different subjects, including the following ones:

1. The “First Aqaba Allegiance” took place during Hajj, between the Prophet (PBUH) and twelve Ansaris. Ubadat bin Sabit has reported this event as follows: “Before it became incumbent upon us to take part in war, we took the oath of Women’s Allegiance (bay’at al-nisa’) with the Prophet; its content would bind us not to believe in any partner for God; not to steal anything nor to commit adultery; not to kill our offspring; not to slander or accuse someone; not to disobey God and the Prophet in good things...”5 As seen here, the term Bay’at means faith in Islam and obeying Islamic decrees.

2. The “Second Aqaba Allegiance” took place between the Prophet in one hand, and seventy- three men and two women on the other hand. Here, the Prophet said: “I gain your allegiance to protect me from anything you protect your household from.”6 Here, Bay’at is a kind of defensive promise and treaty.

3. The “Shajaray-e Ridhwan Allegiance” was the Prophet’s third allegiance that took place with a large number of people of Hudaybiya (nine miles from Mecca) in the 7th year A.H. It was an allegiance of Holy War and was a renewal of the second allegiance. Ibn Umar says: “We pledged the oath of allegiance with the Prophet on obeying and following him, and he said ‘as much as you can’”7

From what was stated up to now, it is clarified that allegiance in the Prophet and Imams’ age did not mean election and relegating political leadership. Ayatullah Ma’rifat writes on this point: “Allegiance in the age of Presence (the age of prophetic mission and the presence of Impeccable Imams) played just the role of a religious duty in regard with preparing the necessary facilities for the authorities. The Prophet and Imams’ political authority and leadership originated from their Prophethood and Imamate, and it was incumbent upon people to prepare the necessary facilities for them so that they could perform their duty in enforcing justice with people’s assistance; if the people refrained from doing this duty, this would cause no impairment to their political leadership and authority. In that case, people had disobeyed their Authoritative Guardians.”8

4. Pledging allegiance to Imam Ali, which was the practical transfer and depositing political power to him, and declaring faithfulness and pledging obedience to him.

  • 1. For further information, see Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-arab, sv. “b-y-‘”
  • 2. The Qur’an, Tawba (9), 111.
  • 3. Muhammad Hadi Ma’rifat, Wilayat-e Faqih, p. 182.
  • 4. For further information, see ibid, p. 82-92.
  • 5. Ma’alim al-madrisatayn, 1, p. 154, 2nd ed.; Siriy-e Ibn Hisham, 2, p. 40.
  • 6. Ma’alim al-madrisatayn, 1, p. 155; Siriy-e Ibn Hisham, 2, p. 47.
  • 7. Sahih Bukhari, (kitab al-ahkam), Bab al-bay’a, 5; Sahih Muslim, (Kitab al-Imara, Bab al-bay’at ala al-sam’ vat-ta’a fi ma istata’), p. 90; Sunan Nisaii, (Kitab al-bay’a, Bab al-bay’at fi ma yastaty’u al-insan); quoted by Ma’alim al-madrisatayn, 2, p. 156.
  • 8. Wilayat-e Faqih, p. 91.