The covenant is one of the cardinal principles of Sufism, upheld by all Sufi orders. It is taken during a ceremony in which the shaikh and murid hold hands, fingers interlaced and eyes closed. Then the shaikh or deputy administers the oath to the murid that he takes the shaikh as his leader and his guide before Allah the Most High, according to the way and the tareeqah (order) of the shaikh, that he shall adhere to this order throughout his life, never converting to another, and that he pledges loyalty and obedience to the shaikh. Then the shaikh recites the verse,
meaning; “Verily, those who take the allegiance to you take it to Allah.”(48.10) Then he instructs the murid in the wird. He then asks, “Have you accepted me as a shaikh and spiritual guide before Allah the Most Hight?” The murid replies, “I have accepted,” and the shaikh says, “And we have accepted.” Then, shaikh and murid alternately recite the profession of faith, or the testification of faith, and the ceremony ends with the murid kissing the shaikh’s hand.
The Qur’anic verse quoted above, from surat al-Fath (#48), has a serious connotation. Allah revealed this verse when 1500 companions of the Prophet swore allegiance to him in al-Hudaybiah, and swore to support him and fight in the way of Allah. But to use such a verse to trap simple-minded Muslims into taking an irrelevant oath is sheer deception. Sufis also base the principle of 'ahd on fabricated hadeeth (tradition) telling of a similar 'ahd which they allege that Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, made to the Prophet (PBH).
The oath of allegiance made to the Prophet (PBH) by his companions to obey him and to fight in the way of Allah was made later on by the Muslims to the Khalifah, the head of the Muslim ummah.
The practice of taking 'ahd to a shaikh, and the ceremony surrounding it, were unknown at the time of the Prophet (PBH) and also during the time of the best three generations of the Prophet’s companions and their followers. The Sufi order system and the rituals associated with it are no more than bid'ah (innovation) originated by subsequent generations.
The Prophet (PBH) repeatedly warned his ummah against every form of innovation. He was very particular about that, to the point of prefacing all his speeches with the warning:
“Verily, the best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (PBH) , and the evil of all religious matters is their innovations. Every innovation is a bid'ah, and every bid'ah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Fire.”(48)