Bid’ah(innovation In The Matters Of Religion)

21 Oct

Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, the
followers of the Righteous Salaf
(predecessors of islam), follow the
Messenger (alayhis salaam) in all of
their beliefs and understandings. Hence,
all of their conceptions, thoughts and
understandings are founded upon what
is related in his Sunnah, because they
believe that final authority rests with
him, and they are the greatest of
people in loving, respecting and giving
precedence to him. This is opposed to
the way of the people of innovation who
raise other authorities above and over
him and prefer their sayings over and
above his, despite their lip service in
the claim of love and obedience to him.
There is nothing which illustrates this
more clearly than in the issue of the
understanding of bidah (ﺔﻋﺪﺒﻟﺍ). In this
article we will present the Prophetic
definition of bidah. Before proceeding
into the main subject of the article, we
will quickly mention the linguistic
definition of bidah.
The Linguistic Definition of Bidah
The linguistic definition of bidah is
provided by ( ﺀﻲﺸﻟﺍ ﻉﺮﺘﺨﻤﻟﺍ ﻰﻠﻋ ﻝﺎﺜﻣ ﺮﻴﻏ
ﻖﺑﺎﺳ), “Something invented without
having any prior example.” This is based
upon its usage in the Qur’an in the
saying of Allaah, ( ﺎَﻣ ْﻞُﻗ ُﺖﻨُﻛ ْﻦِّﻣ ﺎًﻋْﺪِﺑ
ِﻞُﺳُّﺮﻟﺍ), “Say: “I am not a new thing
amongst the Messengers” (46:9),
meaning Muhammad is not a new thing
amongst the Messengers, as he has
precedents and prior examples before
him (Eesaa, Musa, Ibrahim and so on).
Also the saying of Allaah, ( ُﻊﻳِﺪَﺑ ِﺕﺍَﻭﺎَﻤَّﺴﻟﺍ
ِﺽْﺭَﻷﺍَﻭ), “The originator of the heavens
and the earth” (2:117), meaning the
one who originated them without them
having any prior example. This definition
of bidah incorporates all new things,
religious or otherwise, since its general
meaning extends to all things without
restriction, be they praiseworthy or
blameworthy, be they from the religion
or not from the religion, as the general
underlying concept behind the word
bidah is “anything which has no prior
example for it.” And there are from the
Salaf those who used the word bidah
specifically upon its linguistic meaning
(not its Shariah meaning) within certain
contexts and situations (and this is what
has allowed the Innovators to confuse
and deceive others about the true
nature of innovation intended by the
Shariah definitions of words differ from
linguistic meanings because the Shariah
may restrict, qualify, expand, or attach
conditions (to the linguistic meaning) to
give a new conceptual meaning which is
employed by the Shariah to address the
people. Examples include, prayer
(ﺓﻼﺼﻟﺍ), belief, faith (ﻥﺎﻤﻳﻹﺍ), charity
(ﺓﺎﻛﺰﻟﺍ) amongst others, all of which
have intended Shariah meanings which
are different to the original linguistic
meaning afforded by the root words in
the language. Thus, anyone who claims
the Qur’an can be understood purely
through the language, or primarily
through language will go astray no
The Shariah Definition of Bidah is
Founded Upon Five Statements of the
Messenger (alayhis salaam)
The conception of the word bidah
(ﺔﻋﺪﺒﻟﺍ) as intended by the Shariah and
as conveyed by the Messenger (alayhis
salaam) to his Ummah, and upon which
warnings have been made is found
completely in five ahaadeeth of the
Messenger (alayhis salaam), and we will
address them here one by one.
1. The First Hadeeth of Aa’ishah
Both al-Bukhari and Muslim relate the
hadeeth of Aa’ishah (radiallaahu anhaa),
which is the foundation of the definition
of bidah in the Shariah:
ﻦﻋ ﺔﺸﺋﺎﻋ ﻲﺿﺭ ﻪﻠﻟﺍ ﺎﻬﻨﻋ ﻝﺎﻗ :ﺖﻟﺎﻗ
ﻝﻮﺳﺭ ﻪﻠﻟﺍ ﻰﻠﺻ ﻪﻠﻟﺍ ْﻦَﻣ :ﻢﻠﺳﻭ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ
ﻲِﻓ َﺙَﺪْﺣَﺃ ﺎَﻧِﺮْﻣَﺃ ﺎَﻣ ﺍَﺬَﻫ َﺲْﻴَﻟ ُﻪْﻨِﻣ َﻮُﻬَﻓ ٌﺩَﺭ
“Whoever introduces into this affair
of ours that which does not belong
to it, will have it rejected.”
Al-Shatibi’s definition of bidah is in fact
founded upon this hadeeth, since this
hadeeth has provided three very
important conditions or restrictions
which have made the meaning of bidah
intended by the Shariah to be
something unique. As such, nothing is
considered a bidah in the Shariah sense
except when these conditions are met.
These three conditions are:
(ﺙﺍﺪﺣﻹﺍ) – Introducing something new
(ﺔﻓﺎﺿﻹﺍ) – Ascribing it to the religion
( ﻞﻴﻟﺪﻟﺍ ﻡﺪﻋ ﻲﻋﺮﺸﻟﺍ ) – Absence of Shariah
evidence [for this newly-introduced
matter] in either a general way or a
specific way
These three qualifications are found in
the hadeeth itself:
First, he (alayhis salaam) said, (ْﻦَﻣ
َﺙَﺪْﺣَﺃ), and this refers to bringing
anything new without any prior
example. At this point, this could refer
to all newly-invented things,
praiseworthy or blameworthy, religious,
or otherwise. Second, he (alayhis
salaam) then qualified and restricted
this by saying ( ﻲِﻓ ﺎَﻧِﺮْﻣَﺃ َﺬَﻫ ), which has
now made it specific to the religion, so
this newly-invented thing must be
ascribed to the Shariah and to the
religion. This now excludes all worldly
matters and customs which have no
connection to the religion, and likewise
all matters of sin and disobedience
which are unlawful in the Shariah (like
stealing, fornicating gambling and so
on), since no one takes them as being
from the religion when falling into
them. Third, it could be the case that
this newly-invented thing may have a
basis in the Shariah, so he (alayhis
salaam) further qualified the affair and
said ( ﺎَﻣ َﺲْﻴَﻟ ُﻪْﻨِﻣ ), which means, as
explained by the Scholars, that it has no
support from the Shariah, neither in a
general sense (a general evidence) or in
a specific sense (a specific evidence). An
example of a general, non-specific
evidence would be in the case of the
compilation of the Qur’an into a single
book (mushaf), since this comes under a
general foundation in the Shariah which
is the preservation of the religion (as
one of the five essential matters it
came to protect, religion, life, intellect,
wealth, honour). So the compilation of
the Qur’an exits from the Shariah
definition of bidah. And an example of
specific evidence would be that of the
Tarawih prayer being prayed in
congregation that was initiated by Umar
bin al-Khattaab. This has a direct,
specific evidence (the Prophet led the
people in congregational Tarawih prayer
for three nights in Ramadan in the
mosque), and thus it exits from being a
bidah in the Shariah sense. The same
would apply to all legislated matters
which have been forgotten or
abandoned, and which are revived, they
do not come under bidah with its
Shariah meaning. And some scholars
may refer to these matters as “good
innovations” purely from a linguistic
point of view, but what they really mean
is revival of a forgotten Sunnah, and this
is the meaning of the saying of Umar bin
al-Khattaab ( ﺔﻤﻌﻧ ﺔﻋﺪﺒﻟﺍ ﻩﺬﻫ ), “What an
excellent innovation this is” about his
re-instituting the Tarawih prayer in
congregation in the mosque.
This is the same understanding of bidah
that is found in the explanations of the
overwhelming majority of Scholars such
as Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Ibn Hajar al-
Asqalani and others. And everything
that comes under this definition is what
is intended by the Messenger (alayhis
salaam) in his saying ( َّﻞُﻛَﻭ ٍﺔَﻋْﺪِﺑ ٌﺔَﻟَﻼَﺿ ),
“Every innovation is misguidance.”
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said:
ﺩﺍﺮﻤﻟﺍﻭ ﻪﻟﻮﻘﺑ ﻞﻛ ﺔﻋﺪﺑ ﺔﻟﻼﺿ ﺎﻣ ﺙﺪﺣﺃ
ﻻﻭ ﻦﻣ ﻪﻟ ﻞﻴﻟﺩ ﻉﺮﺸﻟﺍ ﺹﺎﺧ ﻖﻳﺮﻄﺑ ﻻﻭ
And what is intended by his saying
“Every innnovation is misguidance” is
whatever is newly-introduced and
has no evidence in the Shariah in
neither a general way nor a specific
way. Fath al-Bari (13/253).
And he also said:
” ﻭ ” ﺕﺎﺛﺪﺤﻤﻟﺍ ﺢﺘﻔﺑ ﻝﺍﺪﻟﺍ ﺔﺛﺪﺤﻣ ﻊﻤﺟ
ﺩﺍﺮﻤﻟﺍﻭ ﺎﻣ ﺎﻬﺑ ﺲﻴﻟﻭ ، ﺙﺪﺣﺃ ﻪﻟ ﻲﻓ ﻞﺻﺃ
ﻲﻓ ﻰﻤﺴﻳﻭ ﻉﺮﺸﻟﺍ ﻑﺮﻋ ﻉﺮﺸﻟﺍ ” ” ﺔﻋﺪﺑ
ﻪﻟ ﻥﺎﻛ ﺎﻣﻭ ﻞﺻﺃ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﻝﺪﻳ ﻉﺮﺸﻟﺍ ﺲﻴﻠﻓ
ﺔﻋﺪﺒﺑ ، ﻲﻓ ﺔﻋﺪﺒﻟﺎﻓ ﻑﺮﻋ ﻉﺮﺸﻟﺍ
ﺔﻣﻮﻣﺬﻣ ﻑﻼﺨﺑ ﻥﺈﻓ ﺔﻐﻠﻟﺍ ﺀﻲﺷ ﻞﻛ
ﺙﺪﺣﺃ ﻰﻠﻋ ﻝﺎﺜﻣ ﺮﻴﻏ ﻰﻤﺴﻳ ﺔﻋﺪﺑ ﺀﺍﻮﺳ
ﻥﺎﻛ ﺍﺩﻮﻤﺤﻣ ﺎﻣﻮﻣﺬﻣ ﻭﺃ ،
And “the newly invented
matters” (ﺕﺎﺛﺪﺤﻤﻟﺍ), with the fathah
on the daal, is the plural of novelty
(ﺔﺛﺪﺤﻣ) and what is intended by it is
what has been newly-introduced and
does not have any basis in the
legislation. It is referred to in the
usage of the Shari’ah as innovation
(ﺔﻋﺪﺑ). As for what has a basis
indicated by the Shari’ah then it is
not an innovation. For “innovation”
in the usage of the Shari’ah is
blameworthy as opposed to its usage
(with its) linguistic (meaning), for
everything that has been newly-
invented without any prior example
is named “bid’ah” irrespective of
whether it is praiseworthy, or
blameworthy. Fath al-Bari (13/253).


Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Uncategorized


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