What do the scholars of Islam say about the upcoming coronation of King Charles when he will be formally crowned on Saturday? There is to be a voluntary support to make true allegiance to him, and members of the public watching the ceremony are encouraged to take part in it. Is it permissible for British Muslims to take part in this?
This fatwa will explain the concept of Oath of allegiance, Bay’ah from Islamic perspective. On Saturday 6th May, King Charles III will have his coronation at Westminster Abbey, London. Taking part will be heads of states from all over the world, including from 57 Muslim countries except Iran and Syria. It is a Christian act of worship that honours the age-old tradition of anointing and crowning British monarchs. The service will begin with Holy Communion, a Christian rite considered a sacrament. Followed by the recognition, the Oath, the Anointing, the Investiture and Crowning, the Enthronement and support. The King will pledge he will be just, kind and serve his people. A new thing will be the inclusion of other faith leaders. An admission of the Multifaith nature of the British society. Hence the Jewish, the Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Baha’i and Zoroastrian Faith and secular Leaders will be present in the Westminster Abbey. The Secular Members of house of the Lord from all faiths will present secular royal regalia to the King.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will announce “the Church of England will foster the free profession of all faiths and beliefs.” Then he will ask: “I now invite those who wish to offer their support to do so, with a moment of reflection by joining in saying “God save King Charles”. All present in the Abbey will say together: “I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So, help me God.” The King acknowledges the greeting, and proceeds to the Gold State Coach.
This is brief outline of the events of the coronation, it has a Christian character, that’s expected, but it makes no statements that contravene Islamic beliefs furthermore the Oath, Bay’ah is voluntary. Muslims who received their British citizenship will already have sworn a similar oath Bay’ah before they got the certificate. As a deputy Lieutenant (DL) of the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire I have conducted such ceremonies and handed out the certificates. It reads, I, (name), swear by Almighty God that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III, His Heirs, and Successors, according to law. As is clear this oath of allegiance is the same as the one taken to become a citizen. That oath means that I swear to obey the laws of the land and keep my country and fellow citizens safe and not commit treason. The affirmation of ‘following the law’ is a statement of loyalty, that’s expected of every citizen.
This again is an Islamic expectation, the Hadith says, “Whoever dies without swearing an oath of allegiance (Baya’) dies a death of age of ignorance.” (Muslim) The hadith emphasises the need for an oath and forbids from rebelling against those in authority.
This oath is like the ‘Bay’ah’ mentioned in the Hadith. The principle is “deeds are judged by the intention, the motive and meaning.” What constitutes breaking the oath of allegiance? This includes serious crimes such as spying, damaging British interests and terrorism. But does not include being a republican or anti monarchy, criticism of the government of the day. The significance of the oath is that King Charles represents the country. Therefore, we are swearing an oath of loyalty to our country. The prophet stressed that his followers must be active citizens interested in the affairs of their country and fellow humans.
Since the loyalty of British Muslims is often doubted by misinformed media and far right people it would be good for the Muslims to openly declare their allegiance to the King. Thus, dispelling myths and half-truths that Muslims are not loyal citizens. Therefore, we conclude that it is permissible to take the oath of allegiance to the new King. Finally, lets pray that Allah guide him on straight path, protect him from the accursed Satan and give him health to serve his people.
And Allah ﷻ knows best.
This fatwa is written by Dr Musharraf Hussain al-Azhari