A Commitment to Adhere to Islamic Beliefs and Code of Living
A Commitment to Adhere to Islamic Beliefs and Code of Living
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the message of Islam to someone and that person was convinced of its truth, he would commit himself to following the Prophet with a pledge. The pledge meant a commitment to adhere to Islamic beliefs and code of living. Sometimes the details of the pledge differed according to the stage at which it was given and the people giving it. When Islam established its state in Madinah and the rest of Arabia was hostile to it, the pledge included immigrating to Madinah to provide support to the Muslim community and be among its defenders. However, when a clan or a group of people from a particular tribe or a person of influence accepted Islam, the Prophet might ask them to remain with their own tribes so that they would be able to call others from their community to accept Islam. When Makkah fell to Islam and most of its people accepted the Islamic faith, there was no longer any need for immigration. Therefore, the pledge required by the Prophet dropped this condition. Mujashi' ibn Masoud reports: "My brother and I went to the Prophet and said: 'Accept our pledge to immigrate (for God's sake).' The Prophet said: 'Immigration is now over and those who immigrated have had it.' I said: 'What shall we pledge to you, then?' He said: 'You pledge yourselves to Islam and to strive for God's cause ( i.e. jihad).'" (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
These are the two basic things to which every Muslim pledges himself. Islam is a serious commitment that requires striving for its cause so that people everywhere will know about Islam and consider it in its true light. As for immigration for God's cause, which gives a very important status and brings great reward from God, it is not a condition of Islam. It was an important step when Islam was weak in a hostile environment and in need of all its new believers to defend it.
Sometimes, the Prophet made the pledge more detailed, without departing from these two commitments. Basheer ibn Al-Khasasiyyah reports: "I went to the Prophet to give him my pledge, and I asked him: 'What shall I pledge to you, Messenger of God?' He said: 'You declare that you believe that there is no deity other than God and that Muhammad is God's servant and messenger; attend regularly to your five daily prayers, pay your zakah ( i.e. obligatory charity), fast in Ramadan, perform the pilgrimage and strive for God's cause (i.e. jihad).' I said: 'Messenger of God! I will fulfill all these except two which I find too hard: Zakah, for I only have ten she-camels which provide milk for my family and are used for our travel; and jihad. I am a coward and people say that anyone who runs away from battle will incur God's displeasure. I fear that should there be a battle, my life will be too dear to me and I might run away and incur God's displeasure.' closing his hand and taking it away, The Prophet said: 'Basheer! Neither zakah nor jihad! How will you, then, gain admittance into heaven?' I said: 'Messenger of God! Put out your hand so that I can give you my pledge. He did so and I pledged myself to all that he mentioned.'" (Related by Ahmad, Al-Hakim, Al-Bayhaqi and others).
It is clear how the Prophet was keen to make Basheer understand that Islam cannot be taken lightly. When the latter tried to spare himself the commitment to pay zakah and evade the risk of being killed in a battle for Islam, the Prophet signaled that he would not be prepared to accept his pledge. Then he put a question that made it clear to his interlocutor that heaven is not open to anyone unless people prove that they gain admittance into it with their work and readiness to sacrifice.
Another person to give a pledge to the Prophet was Jareer ibn Abdullah who reports: "I said to the Prophet: 'state your conditions, for you know them better.' He said: 'I accept your pledge to worship God alone, associating no partners with Him, attend regularly to your prayer, pay zakah, give good counsel to every Muslim and dissociate yourself from idolatry in all forms.'" (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Nassaie). Another Hadith mentions that the Prophet told Jareer to put out his hand to give his pledge. Jareer, who was intelligent, said: "In what terms?" the Prophet said: "You pledge to submit yourself to God and to give good counsel to all Muslims." Jareer gave his pledge, stating the qualification: "In whatever way I can." (Related by Al-Tabarani). The qualification, which was agreed by the Prophet, provided a concession for all people in the sense that no one is expected to honor a pledge if it is beyond his ability.
We note here that the terms of the pledge the Prophet asked for were the essential requirements of Islam that no Muslim can omit: i.e. submission to God, prayer, zakah and renunciation of idolatry. The only addition is to give good counsel to all Muslims. This is no strange thing, because the essential role of God's messengers is to provide good counsel to their communities. This was stated by every Prophet as he addressed his people. It is quoted in the Qur'an with reference to every one of them.
The Prophet's companions took their pledges seriously. Many reports confirm this. To give an example we mention this report by Ziyad ibn Illaqah who quotes Jareer, the reporter of the previous Hadith, saying in a speech: "I urge you to maintain a line of action based on fearing God alone, associating no partners with Him, and to be calm and forbearing. I made my pledge to God's Messenger with this hand of mine to be a good Muslim, and he made it a condition of the pledge that I should give good counsel to all Muslims. By the Lord of the Kaabah, I am giving you all good counsel. I pray for God's forgiveness." He then came down.
We deduce from this speech that Jareer always remembered the terms of his pledge and did not miss any opportunity to provide good counsel to all those who listened to him. Such is the proper attitude to one's religious duties.
It is important to remember that the Prophet often stated the conditions of the pledge in detail. He did so when he accepted the first pledge by the Ansar group. These terms continued to be valid for women, but for men a further condition of fighting for God's cause was added. The details of women's pledge are stated in the Qur'an: They pledge never to associate any partners with God, and nor to commit theft or adultery, kill their children, fabricate any falsehood concerning the parenthood of their children, nor disobey the Prophet.
The question arises: What if any of these conditions is violated. To answer this question we quote the following Hadith reported by Jareer: "We made our pledges to the Prophet in the same terms as women's pledge. Anyone who dies having fulfilled these terms is sure to be admitted into heaven. Whoever violates its terms and receives the mandatory punishment for it then that punishment wipes it away, but if he is spared punishment in this present life and the violation remains secret then he is accountable to God for it on the Day of Judgment." (Related by Al-Tabarani).Compiled from various sources.
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