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Part 2: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Umayyad Khilafah

Disputes broke out many times throughout the Khilafah’s 1300-year history over who should govern the state. One thing remained constant however and that was the bay’a. No Khaleefah ever came to power without the bay’a, and this method of appointing the ruler continued until 1924. 1.    Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (41H/661CE – 60H/680CE) The Civil War between Mu’awiyah and Ali During the civil war between Mu’awiya and Ali, Mu’awiya never claimed the Khilafah for himself or took the bay’a for himself. Rather he made his bay’a conditional on Ali handing over Uthman’s assassins which Ali was unable to fulfil at that time. Abu Muslim Al-Khawlani and a group of people said to Mu’awiyah: “Do you disagree with Ali or are you like him?” So Mu’awiyah said: “No, By Allah! I know that Ali is better than me, and he has more right to the leadership than me. However, do you not know that Uthman was killed wrongfully!? I am his cousin (‘Uthman’s cousin), and I am asking for his blood, so go to Ali and …

Is the bay’a on belief or action?

The 9th year of the Hijrah is known as the ‘Year of the Delegations’ (سنة الوفود) in which each Arab tribe sent a group of representatives to meet with the Prophet ﷺ in Madinah. Apart from the Christians of Najran who chose to remain on their religion and pay the jizya, the rest of the Arab tribes accepted Islam and gave their bay’a to the Prophet ﷺ. Since the bay’a for many of these tribes and individuals was given at the same time as accepting Islam does this mean bay’a was taken on belief i.e. as a condition for accepting Islam? To answer this, we need to understand what is the bay’a, who is it taken from, and the difference between the bay’a in Makkah and the bay’a in Madinah. Linguistically bay’a (بَيْعَة) is derived from the verbal noun البيع which means “selling or purchasing”. Form III of this verb بايع means “to contract” or “pledge allegiance”. However, the Islamic Sharia texts assigned a different meaning to the word بَيْعَة which is – the contract …

Islamic Monetary Policy in light of Pakistan’s ban on riba (interest)

The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) of Pakistan announced on April 28th 2022 that the current interest-based banking system is against sharia, and directed the government to implement an interest (riba)-free banking system by December 2027.[1] In fact, the first petition for the abolition of the interest-based banking system was filed in the FSC on June 30, 1990 and it has taken 32 years for a final verdict to be issued![2] It is well-established in Islam that riba is against sharia because of the numerous clear-cut verses of the Holy Quran such as, “O believers! Fear Allah, and give up outstanding interest if you are ˹true˺ believers. If you do not, then beware of a war with Allah and His Messenger!”[3] and “But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest.”[4] While most Muslims support a ban on riba, very few understand the alternatives to the existing economic system of banking and monetary transactions. The alternatives that emerge focus on offering interest-free loans through complex financial products, where the recipient still pays more than the capital. Those …

Can a time limit be placed on the Caliph’s term of office?

The question of limiting the head of state’s term to a specific number of years, was not an issue in ancient and medieval times because most heads of state were life-long monarchs. The renaissance in Europe paved the way for philosophers to develop new theories of governance based on the democratic model first developed by the ancient Greeks. After the French and American revolutions these new principles were codified in their constitutions. The republican system was developed to replace the monarchies of the past, and central to this was restricting the powers and term of office of the president who headed this system. The American constitution restricted the president to a four-year term but allowed re-election without restriction. In 1951 the Twenty-Second Amendment was passed which restricted the US President to two terms, so they can never serve more than eight years in office. This was done to prevent a life-long monarch emerging who if corrupt, would be corrupt for life. The dominance of the western democratic system and the shocking levels of corruption experienced …

Bay’a in Islamic History: The Removal of Walid II

Al-Walid’s father Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) of Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik, who nominated him as the successor after Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. Since the Umayyads only nominated two successors, this allowed Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik to create a new wiliyatul-ahd. Yazid’s brother, the famous general Maslamah ibn Abdul-Malik, persuaded him to nominate his other brother Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah, and then Yazid’s own son Al-Walid (Al-Walid II) after him. Yazid and Hisham try to change the designated successors Yazid regretted appointing Hisham before his son Al-Walid, but as mentioned in the section on Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik, the prevalent opinion adopted by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd was that it is forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agree to it. Yazid would say, “It is Allah who stands between me and the one who put Hisham between me and you.”[1]This shows that the sharia was adhered to by the Umayyad Khaleefahs who were not absolute monarchs. When Hisham became Khaleefah he also wanted …

A History of Islam in 10 Objects

Historical objects such as artefacts, manuscripts and buildings are one of the primary sources in the study of history. Their presence or absence in a society can offer a unique insight in to the past, especially when combined with other sources such as oral narrations. They can offer a more holistic view towards society, and easily dispel the sweeping generalisations we see among those who attempt to distort Islamic history for their own nefarious purposes.

Bay’a in Islamic History: Umar bin Abdul-Aziz changes the bay’a back to shura

How Umar bin Abdul-Aziz became the Heir Apparent When Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was Khaleefah he was advised by the righteous scholar Raja’ bin Haywah al-Kundi, to nominate his nephew and Wazir Umar bin Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah instead of his own son and brother. Sulayman did this, and knowing that Banu Umayyah would not be happy, he nominated his brother Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik as the Khaleefah after Umar. Raja’ bin Haywah who was the provisional leader overseeing the transition process to the next Khaleefah, describes the events surrounding Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s nomination as narrated by Tabari. Raja’ bin Haywah says: ‘On the day of Jumu’ah, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was wearing green silk robes and as he looked in mirror, he said: “By Allah! I am a young king.” He then left for prayer, led the people in the Friday congregation and he did not return except that he had fallen ill. When he later burdened his son, Ayyub, who was just a boy at the time, with writing a book on his Khilafah, …

Bay’a in Islamic History: Al-Walid’s attempt to change the designated successors

Abdul-Aziz ibn Marwan (father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz) was designated as the next Khaleefah (wali ul-Ahd) after Abdul-Malik but he passed away before Abdul-Malik, so that allowed a new succession contract to be created. Abdul-Malik designated his son Al-Walid as the first successor and Sulayman as the successor after him. When Abdul-Malik died, his son Al-Walid became the Khaleefah and was given the bay’a by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham. Under his rule the Khilafah reached its highpoint in terms of conquests, with Spain, Sindh and Central Asia all becoming part of the state. In 95H/714CE[1], Al-Walid attempted to change the succession contract (wiliyat ul-ahd) his father Marwan had instituted, by removing his brother Sulayman as the next Khaleefah after him. Al-Walid wanted his son Abdul-Aziz to be the next Khaleefah instead of Sulayman. As discussed, designating two or more successors as part of the wiliyat ul-ahd, which was Marwan’s ijtihad, was considered valid by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and so represents a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence). Mawardi mentions that …

How Muslims in the 19th century viewed the Caliphate

Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani says, “Prior to World War One, Muslims knew that they had the Islamic State. Despite its weakness, decline and the diverse views towards it, the State remained the focus of their thought and vision. Although the Arabs viewed it as being imposed upon them, and that it suppressed their rights, they still looked at the Islamic State as their State, and attempted to reform it with their hearts and minds.”[1] What follows are some extracts from the highly recommended book, ‘Islam in Victorian Liverpool: An Ottoman Account of Britain’s First Mosque Community by Yusuf Samih Asmay. This book gives an insight in to the Muslims of the 19th century and how they viewed the Ottoman State. One common thread that appears throughout the book is that Muslims, whether in the west or Muslim world, viewed the Ottomans as the official representatives of Islam, since they held the seat of the Caliphate. Any complaints or requests Muslims in the UK or America had, were directed through the Ottoman Consulate in their respective countries. …

How to write to the Caliph in 1895 from the UK

On 3rd August 1895, Nafeesa Keep based in Liverpool, England wrote a letter to Sultan Abdulhamid II. The contents of the letter can be read in the book ‘Islam in Victorian Liverpool: An Ottoman Account of Britain’s First Mosque Community’ by Yusuf Samih Asmay. What is interesting about this letter is the official path it took, and the various state institutions (ajhizat) it passed through before reaching the Caliph. The letter took approximately three weeks to reach Abdulhamid.