Imam Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “With regard to bay’ah (oath of allegiance): the scholars are agreed that in order for it to be valid it is not essential for all the people or all the decision makers (ahl al-hill wa’l-‘aqd)(1) to give their bay’ah.
Rather, if bay’ah is given by those scholars and people of virtue and status who are present, that is sufficient. It is not obligatory for each person to come to the leader and put his hand in his and give his oath of allegiance to him.
Rather what is required of each individual is to submit to him and not go against him or rebel against him.
What is narrated in the ahaadeeth narrated in the books of Sunnah about bay’ah refers to giving allegiance to the Muslim leader, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever dies and did not make an oath of allegiance (to the Muslim leader) has died a death of jaahiliyyah.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1851).
And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives his oath of allegiance to a leader and gives him his hand and his heart, let him obey him as much as he can. If another one comes and disputes with him (for leadership), kill the second one.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1844)
And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If allegiance is given to two khaleefahs, then kill the second of them.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1853).
All of that undoubtedly has to do with giving allegiance to the Muslim leader(2).” Ref: Imam Al-Nawawis’ Sharh Saheeh Muslim
Al-Maaziri said, “With regard to bay’ah being given to the leader of the Muslims(3), it is sufficient for the decision makers to give him their bay’ah (4). It is not essential for each individual Muslim to come to him and put his hand in his, rather it is sufficient to commit oneself to obeying him and submitting to him by not going against him or rebel against him.” Ref: Fath al-Bari
1) In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 9/278, it says, ‘The decision makers (ahl al-hill wa’l-‘aqd) are the scholars, (the) people of wisdom and high status, whose knowledge is accompanied by other essential conditions: trustworthiness, good character and wisdom.’
2) (My words) Bay’ah should only be given to a caliph or the leader of a particular land if there is no caliph. It shouldn’t be given to anyone other than the two previously mentioned whether the person requested it or not.
Simply being a shaykh, a pious worshiper of Allah, head of a group/organisation or a person who set himself up as a self appointed caliph or ruler over some terrrority belonging to a recognised established caliph or ruler does not mean any Muslim should give these people any type of bay’ah as they are not deserving of it.
Only the established recognised Muslim ruler or caliph can receive and deserve the bay’ah.
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said, “Bay’ah only has to do with the leader of the Muslims; these various bay’ahs (to those not islamicaly deserving bay’ah, are) innovated and they are among the causes of division.
The Muslims who are living in one country or one kingdom should have one allegiance (i.e. one bay’ah) to one leader; it is not permissible to have several kinds of bay’ah.” Ref: al-Muntaqa min Fataawa al-Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan, 1/367
3) Who is the ruler who should receive the bay’ah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said – as related by Abd Allah b. Umar – “Whoever dies without being bound by the oath of allegiance (bay`ah), dies the death of the time of ignorance.” (Saheeh Muslim (1851))
When Imam Ahmad was asked about the meaning of this hadeeth, he replied: “Do you know what an imam is? The imam is the one around whom the Muslims are united. All of them say that he is the imam, and this is what it means.” (This statement was related by Muhammad b. Ishaq in his Masa’il (2/185) and by al-Khallâl in al-Iman)
(My words) So the ruler or the caliph who deserves the bay’ah is one who the people have united behind and specifically the people of power and influence need to be united behind.
When there is differing over who is the caliph or who is the leader, thus the laypeople people and especially the people of power and influence aren’t agreed upon who is the ruler or caliph and this differing is causing problems for the Muslims, then a person should with hold his bay’ah until the problems have ended and their is one clear caliph or ruler.
In Fath al-Bari (13/195) of Ibn Hajr and al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (3/30) of Ibn Katheer, a proof for with holding bay’ah when there is no clear clapih or ruler due to differing about the rulership, is taken from Ibn Umars actions.
Ibn Umar went for a period of time without giving bay’ah.
The first time he refrained from offering his oath of allgiance (bay’ah) was during the period of disagreement between `Alee and Mu`awiyah. He remained in this way until Mu`awiyah made peace with al-Hasan and the people gave their oath of allegiance to him.
He then gave his oath of allegiance to Yazid after the death of his father Mu`awiyah, because the people had united around him.
He again refrained from giving an oath of allegiance (bay’ah) to anyone during the disagreement (between Abdul Malik Ibn Marwarn and Abdullah Ibn Zubayr) that followed, until Ibn Zubayr was killed. When the government was again united under Abdul Malik Ibn Marwaan, Ibn Umar again offered his oath of allegiance (bay’ah).
4) How to give the bay’ah;
Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “No, by Allaah, the hand of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never touched the hand of any (non-mahram) woman. Rather he would accept their allegiance (bay’ah) in words only.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5288; Muslim, 1866)
Imam Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his (commentary of the above hadeeth), “This indicates that for women, allegiance (bay’ah) is given in words only, without taking the hand of the leader, and for men it is done in words and by taking his (the leaders) hand.” Ref: Imam Al-Nawawis’ Sharh Saheeh Muslim
Due to the current fitnah surrounding bay’ah to IS (Islamic State) or ISIS as they are formerly known in Iraq/Syria.
This may benefit some inshallah; the following was posted by one of Shaykh Abdul-Mushin al-Abbaad’s sons on Twitter:
I mentioned to the father, Shaykh Abd al-Muhsin al-Abbaad (hafidhahullaah) about what has occurred from some of the fools in the Land of the Haramayn of giving the pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi and they say “He is the khalifah of the Muslims.” He replied, “They have pledged allegiance to the devil.”
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie