The whole idea of vows (nuthoor/نذور),  covenant (meethaaq/ميثاق), contract (ahd or aqd/عهد او عقد) and fealty (bay’ah/بيعة) has been nearly forgotten and lost amongst us. Even though verbal pledges, oaths, contracts, are a integral part of the Islamic system of accountability, justice, and order.

The Prophet SAWS used to require that people pledge (bay’ah) when they became part of his community. If you failed to fulfill your oath of loyalty, the penalty was between you and Allah. But at least you were on record as having committed, not just a half-hearted in sha Allah.

The Prophet SAWS never let a Muslim delegation leave his presence or sent a group with three or more people without appointing an amir. That way, someone was always accountable, lessening the chance of them getting bogged down by dispute.

It also meant that the person(s) making, agreeing to, or signing a contract, pledge or covenant, whether it was marriage, business, oath of office, mediated settlement, peace agreement, or bay’ah, the person(s) agrees to the conditions, rules and laws about that agreement.

It is likely that almost everyone that reads this post checked a box, or signed their name to something in the last month or so that read, by checking ✔  this box, you agree to the terms of, or, by signing this document, you agree to such and such.

Personal responsibility for actions and assignments is a big part of Islamic law, governance, and order. Even a fatwa has to be signed or owned to be valid for consideration.

Oaths, contracts, pledges, fealty, binding agreements, and specific assignment of responsibility are essential to order in any community, religious or secular.

For example, any sort of binding religious leadership is bound by a contract of fealty. The sharia terminology for fealty or allegiance is bay’ah بيعة.

Everyone knows that without these things, there is chaos and disorder. Even if you get a driver’s license,  join a gym,  get a discount card at the supermarket, interact in just about any official way with any government entity, or even kindergarten enrollment, it’s required that you sign and agree to terms.

About the only place in America where there are laws, codes, ordinances, and legal procedurs, but no enforceable agreement, or contracts to uphold, honor, obey, follow, be accountable to, except maybe a casual commitment, is inside black Muslim America.

People simply dismiss our laws (fiqh), or opt-out of following Islam on a whim, sometimes without notice. That is often the case with essential matters like marriage and divorce.

In many ways, we’ve become a contractless, community. No contract equals no accountability.. And that is a significant cause of our chaos, and civilizational dysfunction in Black Muslim America. And Allah knows best. Imam Luqman Ahmad


Imam Luqman Ahmad,  imamabulaith@yahoo.com

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