Bi’dah – The Innovations In The Religion

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What Is The Meaning Of Bi’dah And What Is Bi’dah Al Hasanah?

Praise be to Allaah.

Firstly, we should know what “bid’ah” means according to Islamic teaching.

It is defined as: any invented way in religion that is aimed at worshipping or drawing closer to Allaah. This means anything that is not referred to specifically in Sharee’ah, and for which there is no evidence (daleel) in the Qur’aan or Sunnah, and which was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his Companions. At the same time, it is quite obvious that this definition of religious inventions or innovations, which are condemned, does not include worldly inventions [such as cars and washing machines, etc. – Translator].

Ibn Al-Jawzee (May Allah Have Mercy Upon Him), Said: “A Bid’ah/Biddat (Innovation) Is Any Form Of Worship That Did Not Exist (At The Time Of The Prophet (SAW) and His Companions) Then Later It Was Innovated.”

Ibn Rajab (May Allah Have Mercy Upon Him), Said: “A Bid’ah Is Any Form Of Worship Which Has No Basis In The Sharee’ah Which Would Warrant Its Legislation.”

Ash-Shaatibi (May Allah Have Mercy Upon Him), Said: “A Bid’ah Is Any Matter Which Closely Resembles The Sharee’ah And Is Intended To Be A Way Of Worshipping Allah.”

Imaam Ash-Sha’fi’ee, (May Allaah Have Mercy Upon Him), Said: “A Bid’ah Is Anything That Has No Basis In The Qur’aan, Sunnah Or Sayings Of Any Of The Companions.”

If your confusion has to do with an apparent contradiction between the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah and the hadeeth narrated by Jareer ibn ‘Abdullaah, then let us examine these two reports and find out what they mean:

Jareer ibn ‘Abdullaah al-Bajali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever starts a good thing and is followed by others, will have his own reward and a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their reward in any way. Whoever starts a bad thing and is followed by others, will bear the burden of his own sin and a burden equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their burden in any way.'” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2675. He said, This is a saheeh hasan hadeeth)

There is a story behind this hadeeth, which will explain what “whoever starts a good thing” means. Imaam Muslim reported this story from Jareer ibn ‘Abdullaah, who also narrated the hadeeth itself. He said: “Some people from the Bedouin came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), wearing woollen garments. He saw that they were in bad shape and in desperate need, so he urged the people to give them charity. They people were very slow to respond, and it could be seen in his face (that he was upset). Then a man of the Ansaar brought a package of silver, then another came, and another and another, and his face was filled with joy. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever starts a good thing in Islam, and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a reward like that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their reward. Whoever starts a bad thing in Islam, and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a burden of sin like that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their burden.'” (Reported by Muslim, no. 1017)

Further explanation may be found in a report recorded by al-Nisaa’i, also from Jareer ibn ‘Abdullah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “We were with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) early one day, when some people who were almost naked (not dressed properly) and barefoot, with their swords by their sides, came to him. Most, if not all of them, were of (the tribe of) Mudar. The Messenger’s face changed when he saw how poor they were (i.e., he became upset). He went into (his house), then he came out and ordered Bilaal to give the call to prayer. He led the people in prayer, then he addressed them, saying: ‘O people, “be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both he created many men and women, and fear Allaah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship)” [al-Nisaa’ 4:1].

“Fear Allaah, and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow…” [al-Hashr 59:18].

Let a man give charity from his dinars, his dirhams, his clothing, his wheat or his dates – even if it is only half a date.’ A man from the Ansaar brought a package which he could hardly carry in his hand, then another and another came, until there were two piles, of food and clothing, and I saw the face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) beaming with joy. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever starts a good thing in Islam will have his own reward and a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward, and whoever starts a bad thing in Islam will have to bear the burden of his own sin and a burden equal to that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their burden. (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Mujtaba: Kitaab al-Zakaat, Bab al-Tahreed ‘ala al-Sadaqah).

From the context of the story, it is clear that what is meant by the words “whoever starts a good thing (sunnah hasanah) in Islam” means: Whoever revives a part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or teaches it to others, or commands others to follow it, or acts according to it so that others see him or hear about it and follow his example. This is also indicated by the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and he urged the people to give him charity. A man said: ‘I have such-and-such,’ and there was no person left in the gathering who did not give something in charity to him, whether it was a large amount or a little. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever starts something good, and others follow his lead, will have a complete reward and a reward like that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their reward. Whoever starts something bad, and others follow his lead, will bear a complete burden of sin, and a burden like that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their burden. (Reported by Ibn Maaajah in al-Sunan, no. 204)

It should be clear from the above, with no room for doubt, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not allowing innovation in matters of deen (religion), nor was he opening the door to what some people call “bid’ah hasanah,” for the following reasons:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stated repeatedly that: “Every newly-invented thing is a bid’ah (innovation), every bid’ah is a going astray, and every going astray will be in the Fire.” (Reported by al-Nisaa’i in al-Sunan, Salaat al-‘Eedayn, Baab kayfa al-Khutbah). Reports with the same meaning were narrated via Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) by Ahmad, via al-‘Irbaad ibn Saariyah by Abu Dawud and via Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) by Ibn Maajah.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say, when beginning a khutbah (sermon): “… The best of speech is the Book of Allaah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going astray…” (reported by Muslim, no. 867)

If every bid’ah is a going astray, how can some people then say that there is such a thing in Islam as “bid’ah hasanah”? By Allaah, this is an obvious contradiction of the statement and warning of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stated that whoever innovates something new in the deen (religion) will have his deed rejected, and Allaah will not accept it, as is stated in the hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours that is not a part of it will have it rejected.'” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath al-Baari, no. 2697). How can anybody then say that bid’ah is acceptable and it is permitted to follow it?

When a person innovates something and adds to the deen something that does not belong to it, he is implying a number of bad things, each worse than the last, for example: That the religion is lacking, that Allaah did not complete and perfect it, and that there is room for improvement. This clearly contradicts the statement in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning): “… This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…” [al-Maa’idah 5:3]

That the religion remained imperfect from the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) until the time when this innovator came along and completed it with his own ideas.

That the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was “guilty” of either of two things: either he was ignorant of this “good innovation,” or he knew about it but concealed it, thus letting his ummah down by not conveying it.

That the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), his Companions and the righteous salaf (early generations) missed out on the reward of this “good innovation” – until this innovator came along and earned it for himself, despite the fact that he should say to himself, “If it was truly good, they would have been the first to do it.”

Opening the door to bid’ah leads to changing the deen (religion) and opens the way for personal whims and opinions, because every innovator implies that what he is introducing is something good, so whose opinion are we supposed to follow, and which of them should we take as a leader?

Following bid’ah leads to the cancelling out of sunnah practices and the ways of the salaf. Real life bears witness that whenever a bid’ah is followed, a sunnah practice dies out; the reverse is also true.

Sa’eed Ibn Al-Musayyib, may Allaah have mercy upon him, saw a man praying too many optional prayers before the Fajr prayer and therefore he forbade him from doing so. The man retorted: “O Abu Muhammad! Will Allaah punish me for praying?” Sa’eed replied: “No, but He will punish you for doing other than the Sunnah.”

A man asked Imaam Maalik, may Allaah have mercy upon him: “At which point do I initiate my state of Ihraam?” he replied: “From Thul Hulayfah – where the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did so” the man retorted: “I wish to do it from the area beside the grave of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam” Imaam Maalik said: “Do not do that, for I fear that if you do so, you will be afflicted with trials” the man replied: “Why would I be afflicted with trials? All I wanted was to do it from a place which is only a few miles away from where you told me!” Imaam Maalik said upon hearing this: “What can be more serious than feeling that you performed a righteous deed that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam failed to do? I heard the saying of Allaah (which translates as): “So let those beware who dissent from his [i.e., the Prophet’s] order lest trials strike them or a painful punishment.””(An-Noor: 63)

Allaah says that which translates as: “And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken [i.e., make him responsible for his choice] and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.” (An-Nisaa’: 115). Imaam Ibn Katheer, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said concerning this verse: “This refers to those who take a path other than the one which the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came with; so they became on one side and the Sharee’ah on the other, despite the fact that the truth had become clear to them and they knew this.”

Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Follow (the Sunnah) and do not innovate, because you have been sufficed.” (Ad-Daarimi). He also said: “Practicing a little of the Sunnah is far better than practicing many innovations.” (Al-Haakim).

Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yamaan, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Do not perform any act of worship which was not practiced by the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam because the early people (i.e. his companions) did not leave anything unaddressed…so follow the way of those who were before you.”

A man came to Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, and said: “Advise me” so he replied: “Fear Allaah, follow (the Sunnah) and do not innovate.”

Al-Awzaa’i, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “Persevere on adherence to the Sunnah; stop where they (the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stopped; refrain from what they refrained from and follow the way of the Salaf because what sufficed them will suffice you.”

Al-Fudhayl, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “Beware of the one who sits with innovators; he who sits with innovators will not be granted wisdom; I wish there was a fortress of steel between me and the innovators.”

We ask Allaah to save us from the misguidance of personal whims and from all trials whether they are open or secret. And Allaah knows best.

[Islam Q&A Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid] And My Research.

Claimed Evidences Of The Innovators:

Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “What the Muslims see as good is good in the sight of Allaah and what they see as bad is bad in the sight of Allaah.” (Ahmad).

As-Sindi, may Allaah have mercy upon him said: “It is obvious that he was referring to the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he was talking exclusively about those things that they had a unanimous consensus on, it does not include others. This is besides the fact that these were the words of a companion and not the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him, remarked upon seeing people playing Taraaweeh in congregation that: “This is a good Bid’ah.” (Bukhaari).

Imaam Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “Any words from the Salaf considering something as a good Bid’ah were meant in the linguistic and not the Islamic sense, such as the saying of ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, when he saw people praying Taraaweeh in congregation, that “This is a good Bid’ah.””

Al-‘Izz Ibn ‘Abdus-Salaam, divided Bid’ah into five categories: obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked and prohibited

Ash-Shaatibi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “This categorisation of Bid’ah is something new which has no supportive evidence to it, moreover, it contradicts the definition of Bid’ah, because any deed which has an evidence which legislates it to be obligatory, recommended or allowed is by definition not an innovation, and it would have been included in the general recommendation of good deeds. Therefore, considering a matter to be a Bid’ah yet claiming the existence of an evidence to recommend it is a contradiction in terms.”

Reasons behind innovations:

  1. Ignorance of the religion of Islam.
  2. Following ones whims, lust, guesses, etc.
  3. Islamic Scholars not fulfilling their expected role.
  4. Dependence on weak or fabricated Ahaadeeth.
  5. The failure to limit oneself in understanding of the Islamic texts (Quran and Ahadith).
  6. Blind imitation of the masses.
  7. Not following the instructions of sincere scholars.
  8. Competing with the kuffars in celebrations, constructions, etc.

Ways to eradicate Bid’ah:

  1. Warning against the dangers of Bid’ah and its evil effects.
  2. Calling people to adhere to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, with the understanding of the Salaf.
  3. Distinguishing between weak and the authentic Ahaadeeth.
  4. Purifying the schools of jurisprudence from the innovation of fanaticism towards them.
  5. Spreading knowledge and correcting the peoples understanding of faith, worship and financial transactions.
  6. Warning against and subduing the innovators.
  7. Receiving knowledge from the correct sources; i.e., the sincere guided Islamic scholars.
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