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 actually make a pledge (bay’ah) when they became part of his community. If you failed to fulfill your oath of fealty, the penalty was between you and Allah. But at least you were on record as having made a commitment, and not just an in sha Allah.
The Prophet SAWS never let a Muslim delegation leave his presence, or sent a group that had three or more people without appointing an amir. That way someone was always accountable, and it lessened 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 pertaining to that agreement.
It is likely that most 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 important 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 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, or interact in just about any official way with any government entity, or even enrollment in Kindergarten, it’s required that you sign and agree to terms.
About the only place in America where the are laws, codes, ordinances, and legal procedures, but no enforcable agreement, or ,, to uphold, honor, obey, or follow the law, or be accountable, 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 important matters like marriage, and divorce.
In many ways, we’ve become a contractless, community. No contract equals no accountability.. And that is a major cause of our chaos, and civilizational dysfunction in Black Muslim America. And Allah knows best.
Imam Luqman Ahmad, email@example.com