The Oath of Allegiance in the ‘Conquest Society’ (<i>c.</i> 628–<i>c.</i> 660)

Andrew Marsham

in Rituals of Islamic Monarchy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780748625123
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653157 | DOI:
The Oath of Allegiance in the ‘Conquest Society’ (c. 628–c. 660)

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For three decades (c.628–c.660), the Muslim community witnessed military and diplomatic success, and spectacular expansion. During these period of expansion and conflict, many of the religio-political institutions of the early Muslim empire came into being. Among them are the ‘caliphate’ and the ‘pledge of allegiance’. The quaranic evidence and other evidence for the milieu in which Muhammad lived and preached, indicate that these pledges were a fusion of the long-standing, pre-Islamic religio-political custom with late antique monotheist ideas about leadership and authority. This chapter assesses the evidence of the ninth and tenth-century Islamic tradition for pledges of allegiance to Muhammad and for pledges taken by the first caliphs during the period 632 to 660. The three main types of agreement or bay، as forms the focus of this chapter. These are: act of religious conversion and political allegiance by joining the umma; an affirmation of loyalty from a group already part of the umma, usually before a battle or other possible hostile confrontation; a ritual of accession, whereby al members of the umma recognise a new leader. Of all the three agreements, the first two took place in the time of the Prophet Muhammad, while the latter occurred under the caliphs. What the latter tradition says is outlined in this chapter, with a focus on the events that did take place and on the elements of early Islamic practice that resembled pre-Islamic customs.

Keywords: caliphate; pledge of allegiance; religio-political custom; allegiance; umma; affirmation of loyalty

Chapter.  8915 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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