Chapter No. 8 Swearing of Fealty (Bait)

Like worldly knowledge, Bait (becoming student of spiritual knowledge) is a fundamental act in ecclesiastical (khankahi) order. Bait is not mandatory just as are many other acts in the world for instance it is nowhere written that learning the skill of a doctor, carpenter or engineering is necessary. However, acquiring knowledge is one of the fundamental requirements in a society. Allah has enumerated the advantage of bait in the holy Quran.


Quran and Bait

God said in Quran:

"O Prophet, those who swear fealty to you, swear fealty to Allah Himself. The Hand of Allah is a above their hands"

(Surah Al- Fatah: Verse 10)

"Allah has purchased the faithful their lives and worldly goods in return for the paradise".

(Surah Al Tauba: Verse 111)

"Believers, have fear of Allah and seek the means by which you get His favors"

(Surah Al Maida: Verse 35)


The justification of Shaikh

According to exegesis and interpreters the word wasila (means) implies the meaning of murshid (spiritual teacher) e.g. the relationship of teacher and pupil. Shah Wali' ullah Dehlavi has taken this meaning of Wasila. The Aulia (saints) are also in favor of the meaning of sheikh-e-tariqat (the teacher of spiritual order). But opponents of the spiritual school of thought favor the meaning of Wasila as "virtuous deeds"

Shah AbduI Aziz says:

"If a virtuous deed is a means the course of spiritual following for a vassal is also a means to achieve divine pleasure after his knowledge of the self or to tread the right path. Allama Zamahsh:-y, Shah Wali'ullah, Shah Abdurrahim, Bayazeed Bustami; Junaid Baghdadi, Moeenuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Auliyaa,, Mujadid Alf-e-Sani, Maulana Rome, Fariddudin Attar, Allama Iqbal , Qalandar Baba Auliya and other saints following Qadriya, Chishtiya, Suhuwardia, and Naqsbandiya schools of spiritual thought also favour the meaning of Wasila as shaikh (spiritual teacher).

When we brood over human nature and instinct, we tend to take recourse to the need for a teacher in order to learn anything.

Some people object to the requirement of a teacher in the presence of the book of God and maintain that in the presence of the book from Allah, the need for a teacher raises a question mark.

It is an established fact that there is no skill in this world which can be learned without a skilled teacher or expert.

Deen (Islamic religion) is a complete knowledge and Shari'ah is also knowledge in deen and along with Shari'ah, Tariquat (spiritual following) is also a knowledge. Deen is a centre for unitheists. Shariah is the guidelines and procedures for sticking to this centre. Tariquat (mystic way of life) is a means to achieve enlightenment and blessings accruing from this centre.

When some person devotes himself to Allah after quitting polytheism and idol worship, he needs a teacher there as well. A teacher is also needed to learn Shariah (divine laws) after becoming a Muslim. A teacher is also required to get acquainted with prayer requirements, their timings, procedure of fasting, pilgrimage, social laws, Allah's rights, neighbor's rights and with collective duties of Muslims according to Islamic tenets.

The holy Quran is the last book of Allah which was revealed to the last prophet of Allah (PBUH). A teacher is also needed to understand this book as well as tasavuff or mysticism. When we want to learn some discipline, we ensure that the instructor to expert. If we come to know that the instructor lacks in the skill we want to learn, we shall not become his pupil.


In order to learn spiritual knowledge, it is important to verify

whether the person whom we are going to choose our Murshid (Spiritual instructor or guide) knows the spirituality or not. Consciousness is not possible without education and training. Consciousness and unconsciousness both are taken to mean achievement of education and training. When some thing comes into existence in this world, it is not aware of anything except the realization of its self.

After the birth of man, God said: 'And (We) taught him what he did not know'.

Allah has also said: 'And We taught Adam the knowledge of names'. It implies that the first consciousness of a person is his knowledge.


Suppose there is a person whose name is Zaid but he is named so after his birth. Before birth his name was not introduced in society. The first consciousness that he developed after being born was his proximity to mother. That, proximity to mother, is also knowledge. After the knowledge of proximity to mother, the child is nursed and with the passage of time his consciousness keeps increasing. His parents and other members of family keep transferring the knowledge of the needs of life according to their level of consciousness. At last, the child is able to expand the level of consciousness absorbing the conscious imprints of his parents, family and community. Then on the consciousness continuum, consciousness of the child multiplies by intermingling with collective consciousness of his nation and then of the nations of the world. The rule is that: the greater the accumulation of consciousness in a man, the greater the genius and expertise he gains. However, it is an undeniable fact that if the newly born baby lacks in the capacity to receive consciousness, he will never become a scholar; rather he will become handicapped.


Role of Teacher

It is an undeniable fact that without the role of a teacher in society, a child cannot become intellectual. Role of teachers in society means education and training, there should be schools, colleges, and universities. Just as schools, colleges and universities are necessary for acquiring worldly knowledge, ecclesiastical academies are necessary for learning spiritual knowledge. Since the time when ecclesiastical system was curtailed, man has fallen a victim to such dreadful diseases like restlessness, anxiety, AIDS, and cancer. It is also so because the material self of man is nothing but a decaying and putrefying matter which causes disease.

Along with worldly knowledge, the perception of the Quran and Sunnah (practice of the holy Prophet (PBUH), compliant supporting and energizing spirit are necessary (which are possible through swearing of fealty). The basic principal underlying bait is that spirit which is the essence of man is composed of light and as long as a man of light associates himself with the material self, he remains alive. When such a man leaves material self, he dies.

A spiritual teacher, who is called Murshid in other words, is aware of such a principle and this knowledge keeps on transferring via his Murshid and the prophet of Allah. When a mureed (spiritual vassal) comes within the ambit of a Murshid, the positive and negative. lights are refreshed. The light of mureed comes in· contact with that of a Murad This phenomenon gives effect to reduced putrefaction. The lesser the putrefaction, the greater the accumulation of finer light.

It is necessary for a vassal to be satisfied with the affairs of the life of a Sheikh (Spiritual teacher). If intellectual incongruity exists between them, swearing of fealty between them runs counter to common sense.

To sum up, until there is conformity in conduct, disposition, habits, behaviour and etiquette of murshid and vasaal, there is no benefit in swearing fealty.


The Law of Swearing of Fealty

After swearing fealty to a Murshid, a vassal cannot swear fealty to another Murshid except with the consent of the first Murshid. It does not come to an end even with the death of Murshid as spiritual reward continues even thereaf ter. However, discipleship of spiritual master (an expert in spiritual matters) can be adopted. In fact, spiritual knowledge is a legacy. Just as a real father considers the best upbringing of children as his object of life, a Murshid engages himself in the training of his spiritual children; puts up with great difficulties, torments and anxieties in order to pass on spiritual framework to his vassal. He bears with his mistakes, forgives his delinquencies, and is all sacrifice for the sake of his spiritual pupil.


Training System

There are two methods of training: one is to train by hardship which involves the use of castigation. The training _ 1 this way does not prevent the trained from transgressing the limits in the absence of enforcers. The other method is to be patient over delinquencies and forgive mistakes so much so that one abjures them after feeling ashamed of them. Such a person does not repeat these mistakes; rather, loves his trainer to the extent of self-sacrifice.


The Characteristics of a Spiritual Teacher

The following are the characteristics of a spiritual teacher as described by Auliya Allah (saints of Allah):

 (1)    He should fulfill the rights of people.

(2)     He should believe in the life in the hereafter.

(3)     He should be fond of seeing Allah.

(4)     He should not claim to be at the zenith of perfection.

(5)     He should not be desirous of demonstrating miracles.

(6)     He should have the proximity of Auliya Allah (saints of Allah).

(7)     He should lead life as led by the prophet (PBUH) of Allah and should train his vassals accordingly.

(8)     His objective in life should be the attainment of the best model of manners i.e., the prophet (PBUH) of Allah.

(9)     He should be expert in knowledge.

(10)   He should attribute every thing to Allah.

(11)   Those who keep his company should not have love of the world and should long for the love of Allah.

12)    He should practise what he demands of the vassals because an action sans practice is not of any consequence.

(13)   He should be virtuous and knowledgeable.

(14)   He should attend and address to the plaints of the needy.

(15)   He should be pleased with serving the creation of Allah.

(16)   He should stay obliged with whatever Allah has given him, and not complain about what has not been given to him.

Passion is greatly required to acquire spiritual knowledge. No Muslim can become momin (perfect believer) without passion for Allah and His prophet (PBUH). 'Allah says, the believers passionately love Allah'.

'O prophet, say, if you love Allah follows me; He shall love thee'.


(Surah Al-e-Imran: Verse 31)

One whom Allah loves becomes His beloved. It implies that · obedience to the prophet (PBUH) elevates one to the status of His beloved. The prophet (PBUH) says; 'One sans love is sans belief


According to Hadith-e-Qudsi: 'I was a hidden treasure; I brought forth the creation with love so that the creation can recognize me’

In case of indecisiveness about the selection of a Murshid before swearing of fealty, one should decide whether his proximity evokes a particular effect or not i.e., it should evoke love for Allah and distance from vice. Ahadith describing a sign of the saints of Allah reads as:

'Seeing them brings before you the memory of Allah'



Many a scholar has written a lot about spiritualism and pantheism. One school of thought is of the view that as saints often used to wear wooly dresses therefore people would call them sufis. Wool is called sauf in Arabic. They used to wear such a dress, for it had been the habit of many a prophet, saints and pious people. According to some people, as they have been associated with the Ashaab-e-suffa that is why they are called sufis; whereas according to yet another school of thought the word sufi is linked with suf a.... but all these explanations are not satisfactory.

In fact, the terminological meaning of Sufi'ism (tasawaf) is self­ cleansing. It is the name of a true spirit that is related to conscience and the light of conscience is always inherent. A sufi always thinks in the context of Allah. His talk moves around Allah. He lives with Allah and dies in the name of Allah. He recites His words and always praises Him and remains enmeshed in His love. He sacrifices everything in order to see and meet Allah.