Allegiance of Women
Bayʿat al-Nisāʾ (Arabic: بيعة النساء) or pledging allegiance of women to Prophet Muhammad (s) took place after the conquest of Mecca. Some believe it was the same event as the first Allegiance of al-'Aqaba. The terms of this pledge are clearly mentioned in the 12 verse of Sura Al-Mumtahana: to avoid idolatry (Shirk), to avoid theft and adultery, avoid infanticide (killing their own children), avoid disobeying Prophet Muhammad (s) and assigning other's children to their husbands.
First Prophet Muhammad (s) put his hand in a bowl of water and said the terms of the pledge, then those women put their hands in the water and accepted the terms.
Bay'a means accepting and agreeing to a pledge or leadership of someone which conveys the meaning of loyalty and obedience. It was an important costume in pre-Islamic time in Hijaz among Arabs, which was accepted by Islam. Women did not play a crucial role in pledges and important affairs in Jahiliyya era.
According to historical reports, women were present in the second pledge of al-'Aqaba 13 years after Bi'that. A number of historical reports mentioned that women of Mecca also took oath of allegiance to Prophet Muhammad (s). After the migration of Prophet (s) to Medina, they came to visit him in groups, or individually at times, to take oath of allegiance, and Prophet (s) sent one of his representatives to make the pledge. In addition, women took oath of allegiance alongside men in special occasions. In Bay'at al-Ridwan, a number of Muslim women including Umm Salama, Prophet Muhammad's (s) wife, Umm 'Umara, Umm Muni' and Umm 'Amir Ashhaliyya were present.
The Time of Pledge
Bay'at al-Nisa' (Pledge of Women) was the most important pledge of women in the time of Prophet Muhammad (s) which took place after the conquest of Mecca in 8/629-30. However, some believe the first pledge of al-'Aqaba was the pledge of women which is not accepted for some reasons.
The Features of Pledge
Based on the 12th verse of Sura Al-Mumtahana, the terms of the pledge were: to avoid idolatry (Shirk), to avoid theft and adultery, avoid infanticide (killing their own children), avoid disobeying Prophet Muhammad (s) and assigning other's children to their husbands. The last part of this verse says: Wa la ya'sinaka fi ma'ruf (and they will not disobey you in what is right) which has a general concept and it is interpreted differently. Some said it has a general meaning, emphasizing obedience of Prophet Muhammad (s), and some said it meant avoiding being alone with a non-mahram man. It is also attributed to Jahiliyya costumes in mourning ceremonies. Women used to cry loudly and in mourning they hurt their faces and cut their hair. It led to provocation of conflicts and angered men. Some believe the last part of the verse banned women from doing unpleasant deeds.
A number of wives of Prophet Muhammad (s) and Lady Fatima (a), his daughter, Umm Hani, the daughter of Abu Talib, attended this pledge. It is important to notice Hind, Abu Sufyan's wife, secretly attended the pledge; she opposed Prophet Muhammad (s) and mutilated Hamza's body in the past. She attended the pledge to save her life as she was afraid of revenges against her. However she opposed some terms of the pledge and her identity was revealed.
Most of historians believe, when Prophet Muhammad (s) wanted to make the pledge, he prepared a bowl of water and put his hand in it, then he would read the terms of pledge and asked women to do the same. Besides other ways of taking oath of allegiance are mentioned in historical source.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from بیعت نساء in Farsi Wikishia.