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Baiʿa ( Arabic بيعة, DMG baiʿa ) is a political ritual of Islam in which an individual or a group of people promises allegiance and loyalty to a ruler . The model here is the promise of allegiance made by the first Muslims to the Prophet Mohammed . In many respects the Baiʿa corresponds to the oath of allegiance or the homage to western political culture.

The Baiʿa was adopted as a ritual from the ancient Arab tribal society. In uncertain and perilous circumstances, much depended on anticipating discord within tribal society. The Baiʿa made it clear to whom the leadership of the tribal community was due and who recognized the person concerned as the leader. In return, the leader was also committed to personal commitment to his followers. If he failed to perform his duties as a leader, his followers would no longer feel bound by their baiʿa.

These procedures found their way into Islam. Mohammed had his followers perform the baiʿa at different times, for example at the two ʿAqaba meetings of 621 and 622, the baiʿat an-nisāʾ ("oath of allegiance of women") and the baiʿat al-ḥarb ("oath of allegiance to war") as well later the baiʿat ar-ridwān (the “godly oath of loyalty”). From the latter, the Islamic tradition reports in connection with the Koran (cf. Sura 48 : 18) that the believers gave it to the prophet under a tree near Hudaibiya.

The Baiʿa remained one of the most important political rituals throughout Islamic history. In particular, the caliphs at the beginning of their rule had the baiʿa afford them in order to bring their subjects into a contractual relationship and, conversely, to quickly find out which people did not recognize their leadership and thus were dangerous.

The Baiʿa ritual has also found its way into various Sufi orders : here the adept ( Murīd ) takes the oath of allegiance to the sheikh . At the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat , the Bai'at is performed today on the Khalifat ul-Massih .


  • Bettina Dennerlein: "Legitimate Bounds and Bound Legitimacy: The Act of Allegiance to the Ruler (Bai'a) in Nineteenth-Century Morocco." in Die Welt des Islam 41/3 (2001) 287-310.
  • Eric Hanne: "Ritual and Reality: The bayʿa Process in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Courts." in Alexander D. Beihammer, Stavroula Konstantinu and Maria Parani (Eds.): Court Ceremonies and Rituals of Power in Byzantium and the Medieval Mediterranean: Comparative Perspectives. Brill, Leiden, 2013. pp. 141-157.
  • Andrew Marsham: Rituals of Islamic monarchy: accession and succession in the first Muslim Empire. Edinburgh 2009.
  • Elie Podeh: The bayʿa: Modern Political Uses of Islamic Ritual in the Arab World . In: Welt des Islams 50 (2010), 117–152.
  • Émile Tyan: bayʿa . In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition , Vol. I, pp. 1113a-1114a.