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| Concept of Bidah in Islam |

Bid'ah is a word that has been misused so often today, that it's definition needs to be explained clearly.

Definition of Bid'ah

Bid'ah, literally means innovation. In special terms it means carrying out actions which displease Allah ta`ala and his messenger.

[Tirmizi chapter Il]

Qadi Shawkani writes "In Islam there are two kinds of Bid'ah: Bid'ah Say'iah and Bid'ah Hasana. If a new thing opposes the Qur’an and Sunnah then it is Say'iah, but if it is not against the Shari'ah then it is Hasanah.

(Nayl-ul-Autaar, Qadi Shawkani chapter Salaah Al Taravee).

Imam Nawawi writes that there are certain types of Bid’ah. Two of them are Bid’ah Sayyiah and Bid’ah Hasanah. Bid’ah sayyiah is a Bid’ah that opposes the Qur’an and sunnah and Bidah Hasanah is a Bid’ah that is not against the Qur’an or Sunnah. For example:

To invent the usool (principle) of Hadeeth, usool of Fiqh, usool of Tafsir etc.

[Tahzeeb al Asma wal lughaat word Bid’ah by Imam Nawawi]

Hafidhh ibn Rajjab defines bida to mean new things that have no basis in the Qur'an or Sunnah. If a new practice has evidence from the Qur'an or Sunnah it will not be Bid'ah Shari'ah, but it will be Bid'ah Logaviyya (linguistic).

(Jaami' Al Uloom Al Hukkam page 252 by Hafidhh ibn Rajjab).

Hafidhh Asqalani writes if a new thing is against Islam, it will be bad. If it is not against Islam, it will be hasanah (Good).

(Fathul Bari chap on Taravi by Hafidhh Asqalani).

Hafidhh ibn Taymiyyah writes that bid'ah is always bad, but some scholars say that there are two kinds of bid'ah, that one is good and one is bad. If a new thing has origin in the Qur'an and Sunnah it will be called Bid'ah Logaviyya (verbally) but not Bid'ah in Shari'ah. Only the word bid'ah will be used on the new things. Like, the Qur'an was collected in one book after the Prophet Muhammad [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace], and the congregational Taravi prayer was started in Sayyidna Umar's time but these two things have an origin in the Sunnah. Therefore, it will be called bid'ah verbally.

(Iqtidah al Sirat al Mustaqeem chap on Bid'ah by Hafidhh ibn Taymiyya).

From the above, the conclusion is that if a new thing has been started, and it neither goes against the Qur’an or Sunnah, then it can be declared a ‘good’ innovation. However, if a new act is initiated against the Qur'an and Sunnah, that will be called bad bid'ah, or a reprehensible innovation.

Definition of BID'AH SAYYIAH

Bid'ah say'iah is a new thing, introduced to and made part of the Deen (Islam) that has no origin what so ever from the Qur'an or the Sunnah of Rasoolallah [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]

Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim write that there was some companions talking and the Prophet was listening. One of them said: 'I will make prayers (Salaah) all night long.' The second said: 'I will fast (sawm) all the time.' The third said: 'I will never marry.' When our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]heard them say this he said: 'I am the most God conscious of Allah (Ta`ala) than any of you. I pray (Salaah,) I fast (sawm) as well, and I do marry woman too. And who so turns his face from my Sunnah, cannot be of my Ummah'.

[Mishkat Muslim, Bukhari chapter Ihtisam]

The reason why our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]stopped them from doing what they wanted to do was because it was against Sunnah(his way). What ever we do which is against the way of our Prophets [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] Sunnah is a Bid'ah Say'iah.

RasoolAllah [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] stated: "On the Day of Judgement, some people will come to me when I will be standing by Haudh-e-Kauser (Well). They will be grabbed and taken towards the Hellfire. I shall say: "These are my people" but in reply I will be told: "These are the people who introduced innovations after you, so they are unbelievers."

[Bukhari & Muslim, Kitaab-ul-Haudh]

From the above Hadith we learn of the innovations from which we have been warned. Such innovations that make a person Murtad (a non believer.) A few examples of innovations, which cause a person to become Murtad:- A person claiming to be a Prophet, deny giving Zakaat. Perform Haj at a place other than the Ka'ba, or to introduce any other new belief which is in opposition to Qur'an or Ahadith.

A person once sent salaam to Abdullah Ibn Umar radhiAllahu anhu who replied: I do not accept his salaam, as this person has innovated by becoming Qadriyyah (A sect which does not believe in destiny) [Mistake, Kitaab-ul-Iman wa-al-Qadr, transmitted by Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]

The above narration emphasises the fact that Bid'ah is to hold such an Aqeedah which is in direct opposition to the Qur'an and Sunnah, i.e. to become Qadriyyah, Jabriyya etc.

RasoolAllah [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] stated: "Every innovation leads astray and every creator of the astray goes in the Fire."

[Muslim chapter Al-jumah]

An example of this Bid'ah is given by Hafidhh Ibn Al-Qayyim who writes: 'The one who denies the punishment of the grave is an innovater'.

[Kitaab-ur-Rooh chap10]


Allah Ta'ala says in the Holy Qur'an:

"And we ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy. But the Monasticism which they innovated for themselves which we did not prescribe for them"

Surah Al Hadeed, verse 27"

This verse points out that when something new is invented to please Allah Ta'ala then it is permissible, and Allah Ta'ala gives reward for it. Those who do not fulfil the requirements then Allah Ta'ala will not reward them.

RasoolAllah [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] stated: "The person who introduced a good thing in Islam, shall obtain the reward for it and also the reward for those who adopt it. As for the one who introduces a bad thing (Bid'ah Sayyi ah) he will obtain the punishment for introducing it and also for those who adopt it, will also be punished."

(Sahih Muslim in Kitaab-uz-Zakaat Tirmidhee chapter Eleleven).

This Hadith gives proof of the fact that it is permissible to introduce a good act in Islam, also it gives permission to follow that deed with the intention of reward.

Even our Prophets (Sallallahu'alaihi wa sallams) companions intoduced new things in Islam that the Messenger of Allah himself had not done, and our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]did not stop them. If by doing something new without the permission of our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace]was Bid'ah then these people would not have done so. Yes it was important for them to remember that, not to start some thing new which would be against our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] sunnah in any way.

There are many examples, but for the moment we shall highlight two:

Our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] asked Bilal radiAllahu unho "What do you practice that from which you look forward to a lot of reward from Allah Subha Nahu Wata’ala. The reason being I heard your footsteps in Paradise. (junnaah") Bilal radiAllahu unho replaid: "Whenever I do Ablution (Wudhu,) after it I always say a Prayer (Nafil Salaah")
["Bukhari, Kitab Tahajud"]

This new practice that Bilal RadiAllaho unho started by himself was so much accepted by Allah Ta`ala that our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] heard his foot steps in paradise.

Ibn Hajr writes in his commentary to worship at a set time is permissible.

[Fathul bari by Hafidhh Asqalani]

2) In a Masjid in Quba an Imam used to lead congregation prayers in every rakat (cycle) after reciting Surah Al Fatiha and a verse of the Qur'an he also recited Surah Al Ikhlas as well. When our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] asked him: 'Why do you do this? He replied: 'I love reading Surah Al Ikhlas'. Our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] said: 'This love will take you towards paradise'. [Bukhari Kitab as Salaah]

Our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] did not stop either of these two companions, but instead gave them inspiration of the glad tidings they were going to receive.

Imam Bukhari writes Umar [May Allah be pleased with Him] ordered that congregational Taravi prayer should be offered together. When the people started this and Umar saw this he said This is a good bid'ah. [Bukhari Kitab-us Taraweeh]

Umar RadiAllaho unho ordered the people to offer congregational prayers of Taraweeh, and called this “Bid'ah Hasana.” From this we can prove two things.

1) After our Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] any new thing that was initiated and was not against his sunnah or the Qur'an is called Bid'ah Hasana.

2) To start something new in Islam, which is not already there and does not affect the sunnah then this will be the Sunnah of Umar radiAllaho unho.

This Hadith supports the fact that if a new thing does not oppose the Qur'an or Ahadith then it is a Bid'ah Hasana.

During the Khilafa of Abu Bakr Siddique RadhiAllahu anahu, Umar RadhiAllahu anhu came to Abu Bakr Radiallaho and said: "In the Battle of Yamama many Hufaad of Qur'an have been Martyred. I fear that if the Hufaad continue to die in such battles the Qur'an could disappear. I recommend that you command for the Qur'an to be collected". Abu Bakr RadhiAllahu anhu replied: "How can I do a thing, which was not a practice of (Rasoolallah Sallallahu' alaihi wa sallam") Umar RadhiAllahu anhu replied: "By Allah this is a good thing." Umar RadhiAllahu anhu mentioned this many times to the Khalifa. Later Abu Bakr RadhiAllahu anhu said: "Allah has opened my heart to the fact that this was not an action of (Rasoolallah Sallallahu' alaihi wa sallam) but this is a good thing". Abu Bakr Radiallahu unhu then told Zaid RadhiAllahu anhu to start collecting the Qur'an who questioned the Khalifa by asking: Abu Bakr Radiallaho Why are you doing something which was not an action of (Rasoolallah Sallallahu' alaihi wa sallam?") Abu Bakr Radiallaho replied: "By Allah this is a very good thing". Zaid RadhiAllahu anhu later said: "Allah Subha Nahu Wata’ala opened my heart to the fact that this was a good thing so I started collecting the Qur'an until it was ...

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