part 4

bayat

The word bayat refers to a transaction, usually of goods, that involves mutual trust. It’s often punctuated by a handshake. After the migration, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers tried to return to a hostile Makkah in order to perform the pilgrimage. Under a tree in Hudaybiyah, the Prophet asked his followers to take an oath to, if needed, fight for him until their last breath. With a revelation from the Quran, the Muslims were reminded that if they give their allegiance to the prophet, they’re actually giving it to God, and that when they fulfil their vow, God will reward them. Which is to say that people don’t swear their allegiance to the person (the prophet or the imam), but swear allegiance to God, through the vicegerent on earth.This allegiance continued with the Imams and Caliphs after the death of the prophet, and today Ismailis give their bayat to the present Imam, usually in a ceremony at birth or upon conversion. However, many scholars believe that only a sincere bayat would create a follower of the Imam. So, until someone decides for themselves whether or not to submit to the Imam, they won’t receive the graces of God referred to in this verse. Through bayat, Muslims acknowledge that their own lives don’t actually belong to them, that God actually controls the universe (them included), and through this relationship, God provides. However, the verse continues to by pointing out that if someone were to break this allegiance, they would suffer the consequences.

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