Q&A: Is it permitted For the Caliph To Resign and Can A Time Length Be Added To the Bay’ah?
4 December 2010
Summary By Bo Perrin
The bay’ ah is partly like a vote in our Republic but there are a number of differences. Bay’ ah literally means to sell. The Qur’ an describes the vast majority of Islam in terms of a contract, selling and buying. Mohammad was considered a great salesman and salesmen think in such terms. In terms of the Caliphate the bay’ ah is what a person casts for the person put forward to be Caliph. The Muslim is selling himself to the Caliph. The bay’ ah means the Muslim agrees to be under the leadership of the individual put forward as Caliph and to be an active part of the Islamic Caliphate under this Caliph.
The question is, does the bay’ ah have an inherent time limitation? Very few Jihadi organizations even talk about the structure of a post-democratic Caliphate much less the specifics of the organization as does Hizb. The Hizb author does not reveal why the question is brought up but I am sure it has to with criticism. The Hizb writer does mention a specific instance in history when a Caliph does step down from the office. Imam Hassan stepped down and offered it to Imam Mu’awiyah. Mu’awiyah accepts the Umayyad Caliphate is born. There seems to be different accounts as to why Imam Hasan stepped down neverthetless, he did and Mu’awiyah becomes the sixth Caliph.
The Hizb author provides the following reasons why a Caliph can limit his service as a Caliph.
1) The author uses marriage as an analogy. The time limit of the contract is unrestricted just as is the contract of marriage. So, there is no formal time limit. This refers to a time limit set by either Shar’ ia, the Caliph himself or the people. Nevertheless, the author’s argument is that there is an informal time limit that seems to be embedded in the bay’ ah. He provides no logical or Islamic argument to support his view.
2) The Hizb author continues to argue that unlimited term contracts cannot contain a time clause and if so, the clause is invalid. Of course, this does make sense. You cannot limit what is unlimitedable. But the issue I see in the Hizb author’s argument is that he provides no evidence from any category of Shar’ ia that the bay’ ah contract is to be considered unlimited. Yet, Hizb ut-Tahrir does claim within their Constitutional document that if a standing Caliph can be dismissed if he does not fulfill the contractual conditions of the bay’ ah. So, each Caliph enters office and each person casts their bay’ ah knowing full well that the bay’ ah given him does have an inherent limitation based on his actions in office.
3) Assuming what he does not support by evidence, the Hizb author continues and makes the claim that the Caliph can decide to resign his commission on his own. But the assumption is that the individual entered into the Caliph contract without a self-imposed time limit.
4) So, the bay’ ah is inherently limitless. So, the Hizb author argues. If the Muslim enters into the contract without any self-imposed time limits and the people cast their bay’ ah without any self imposed time limits then the Caliph can resign at any time if he believes his resignation is what is best for the Caliphate.