The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A from the website of the noble mujtahid and mufassir Sheikh `Ata’ Ibn Khalil Abu Rashtah (Allah preserve him).
Question: The term "Al-Bay'ah" was mentioned in the hadith to mean ‘the contract between the Khaleefah and the Ummah', so is this meaning to the term "al-Bay'ah" a linguistic or divine (Shar'ii) meaning? Is it a linguistic meaning (Haqeeqah) or a divine (Shar'ii) meaning?
The term "Al-Bay'ah" mentioned in the hadith means 'the contract between the Khaleefah and the Ummah'. Is the term "al-Bay'ah" a linguistic meaning (Haqeeqah) or a divine (Shar'ii) meaning?
The term "Bayah" is a divine (Shar'ii) meaning, and not a customary meaning or a specific customary meaning (istilah). This is because its definition was specified by the Legislator (Allah), not by tradition (urf).
To explain this, "Bayah" in the Arabic language is derived from selling (Al-Bay') and buying (Al-Shiraa').
ب ي ع (The letters): Ba ya 'Aa: "He sold" an item; "he sells it" "selling it" ... [Mukhtar Al-sihah]
Ba'ahu: to sell, to purchase...[al-Qamus al-Muheet] (dictionary)
Baiy': To sell: opposite of purchase. Selling: also to sell, that are also antonyms; to sell items, to purchase etc...[common language]
The Islamic legislation (Shar'ii) indicated a different connotation to the word bay'ah which is: the method (tareeqa) of appointing a Khaleefah, and this method is fixed in the Quran and Sunnah and Consensus of the Sahaba, which is done through Bayah (pledging allegiance). So the Khaleefah is appointed by the Muslims who pledge allegiance to him to rule by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. What is meant by Muslims are the Muslim citizens under the previous Khaleefah if the Khilafah was existent, or the Muslims of the region where Khilafah is established, if it was non-existent i.e. a Shar'ii meaning was given to the word Bayah by evidences from the Qur'an, Sunnah and Consensus of the Sahaba:
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ
"Those who pledge you their allegiance pledge allegiance to Allah. Allah's hand is over their hands."
Al-Bukhari narrated that Ubada bin Al-Samit said:
«بايعْنا رسولَ الله على السمع والطاعة، في المنشط والمكره، وأن لا ننازع الأمر أهله، وأن نقوم أو نقول بالحق حيثما كنا، لا نخاف في الله لومة لائم».
"We gave the bayah to Allah's Messenger that we would listen to and obey him both at the time when we were active and at the time when we were tired and that we would not fight against the ruler or disobey him, and would stand firm for the truth or say the truth wherever we might be, and in the Way of Allah we would not be afraid of the blame of the blamers."
The texts are clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the method to appoint a Khaleefah is through the Bayah. This was understood by the entire Sahabah as is evident in the Bayah to the Khulafaa ar-Rashideen.
Therefore, the term "Bayah" has a divine (Shar'ii) meaning.
01 Shaaban 1433 AH
Sheikh Ata Bin Khalil Abu Al-Rashtah