to the Sunnah and Opposition of the Bid'ah
By Zahra Bint Abdul Haseeb
"Those that turn (to Allah) in repentance: that serve Him and praise Him; those who fast (or go out) in devotion to the Cause of Allah; those who bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer; those who enjoin good and forbid evil; and observe the limits set by Allah; (do all that Allah has ordained and abstain from all sins and evil deeds that Allah has prohibited). So proclaim the glad tidings to the Believers." (Surah at-Tauba, 9:112)
The best speech is the speech of Allah (al-Qur'aan), the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (saw). Of all matters the worst are innovations; and everything new into the religion is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation (error), and every deviation leads to the Hell-fire.
In the obligatory task of enjoining good and forbidding evil, every Muslim must understand what the statement means. To enjoin good (al-Ma'ruf), is to initiate practices into the community that are approved from the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of our Prophet (saw). This means to follow the orders of Allaah (azw) and to convince others of doing the same. It means to tell others the importance of following the Sunnah, because without it they cannot fully interpret the Qur'aan. Then there is the forbidding of evil (al-Munkar), this is also a very important issue. Many Muslims believe that if they enjoin good that is enough, others believe if they forbid evil that is enough. In reality the obligation on every Muslim is of both. Many Muslims today also believe that as long as they follow what they feel is correct, they will enter paradise, and that they need not inform anyone else of anything (da'wah). This is wrong. For we know from the famous hadeeth "If he, who amongst you sees an evil, he must stop it with his hand, if not then with his tongue and if not that, then he should know the evil of it in his heart and that is the least of faith". The problem which lies in our communities today is that, many Muslims are not aware of what is good and what is evil. Many have been following the ways of jahilliyah (ignorance), descending down from their forefathers and they refuse to accept the truth. This is all the outcome of "lack of knowledge of the deen" in this day and age. It seems the more we are getting closer to the end of the world, the worst the state of the Ummah is becoming. A few corrupted beings, from the past and present, who some misguided Muslims consider as scholars, play a huge role in the destruction of this nation. They have interpreted the deen in their own understanding instead of taking from the earliest and most knowledgeable sources of Islam. In turn, the Sunnah is being forgotten and the bid'ah is being welcomed with open arms. This is closing the gates to Jannah and opening the doors of Jahannum. There is such a limited amount of Muslims in the world today, who are following the path of true Islam. Aside from the others, who are either corrupted from imitating the kufaar or from being involved in bid'ah, which derived from the heretical and/or mystic sects. The state of our Ummah presently, had been described to us by our beloved Prophet (saw) over fourteen hundred years ago, when he said:
"My example and the example of the people is that of a man who made a fire, and when it lighted what was around it, moths and other insects started falling into the fire. The man tried (his best) to prevent them, (from falling in the fire) but they overpowered him and rushed into the fire." The Prophet added: "Now, similarly, I take hold of the knots at your waist (belts) to prevent you from falling into the Fire, but you insist on falling into it." (Bukhari)
"What happened to the children of Israel will surely happen to my nation, step by step. So much so that if there are those who openly commit fornication with their mothers, among them will be among my nation those who do that! Surely the Israelites splintered into seventy-two sects and my nation will splinter into seventy-three sects, all of which will be in the Hell-fire except one!" When he was asked who that one saved sect would be he replied, "The one followed by my companions and myself ."
The question now stands at, "What was the path of the companions?". That has a simple answer, their path was following the commandments of their Lord and having full sincerity towards the Messenger (saw). They were the ones who are promised Jannah, they are the ones for whom Allah (swt) has said (what may be translated as):
"Their reward is with Allah: Gardens of Eternity Beneath which rivers flow; They will dwell therein for ever; Allah well pleased with them and they with Him. That is for those who fear their Lord." (Surah al-Baiyina, 8) and ..
"The only answer of the faithful Believers when they are called to Allah and His Apostle so that He may judge between them, is that they say "We hear and we obey". And such are the successful ones (who will live forever in Paradise)." (Surah an-Nur, 51)
Those companions knew the "weight" in Allah's words and they knew the importance of Allah's Messenger (saw). They knew that ..
"If anyone contends with the Apostle even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him and follows a path other than that becoming to men of faith We shall leave him in the path he has chosen and land him in Hell--what an evil refuge!" (Surah an-Nisa', 115)
"It is not fitting for a Believer man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Apostle he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path." (Surah al-Ahzab, 36)
They were the true believers, they were amongst those who would say:
"Our Lord! we believe in what you have revealed and we follow the Apostle; then write us down among those who bear witness." (Surah al'i-Imraan, 53)
After looking at the humbleness and the piety in the Prophet (saw) and his companions, one can only yearn for knowledge regarding their deen so they can be on the same path. So they can be on the path of the true believers and they can be amongst the "mu'minoon" who are promised Jannah. To get to this stage one must first learn the importance of sticking to the authentic Sunnah and avoiding ANY form of bid'ah that is invented into the religion and has no proof to it. In following the Sunnah we must first know, what is the definition of Sunnah?
Defining the Word Sunnah and Proof of it Being the second form of Revelation.
It is understood by the guided believers of Islaam, better known as Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama'ah (people of the Sunnah), that the Sunnah is the second (revelation) source of Islaam, which follows directly after the Qur'aan. Therefor the first source is of course the Qur'aan and the second source being the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). The Sunnah is the way to the Qur'aan, meaning that without the Sunnah our Ummah would be extremely confused in how to interpret some of the meanings of the Book of Allaah (swt). To understand the value of the Sunnah we must go through a few steps and evidences to clear our hearts of any disbelief insha'allaah.
The first thing that one has to understand is the basic meaning of the word Sunnah. The lexical meaning of the word is "path or way" that someone follows. In general the word Sunnah almost always, applies to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). The Sunnah generally includes three aspects. It includes his (saw) words: meaning everything that he taught, every sermon/speech that he gave, and every error that he corrected. Then comes the second aspect, which is his actions: this means everything he physically did, for instance; his manner in eating, sleeping, praying, fighting, laughing etc. The third aspect is the approvals of the Prophet (saw). This means anything and everything he approved of. Meaning if his companions did something that he had not taught to them himself, but he did not find harm in it, he would approve it. Or sometimes if it was something that was all right and not to be made a big deal about he would remain silent to indicating the permissibility. Some might argue that if he remained silent that could mean he approved OR disapproved but in reality we know that if there was something he disliked or disapproved of, he would state that and you would see his facial expressions change in disapproval. This is evident in many ahadeeth that whenever he was pleased OR displeased it would show on his face, take the following examples:
Narrated Abdullah b Ka'ab: "I heard Ka'b bin Malik talking. He said, "When I greeted Allah's Apostle his face was glittering with happiness, for whenever Allah's Apostle was happy, his face used to glitter, as if it was a piece of the moon, and we used to recognize it (i.e. his happiness) from his face."
Narrated Ali b Abi Talib: "The Prophet gave me a silk suit. I went out wearing it, but seeing the signs of anger on his face, I tore it and distributed it among my wives."
Narrated Ayesha (Umm ul-Mumineen): " I bought a cushion having on it pictures (of animals). When Allah's Apostle saw it, he stood at the door and did not enter. I noticed the sign of disapproval on his face "
Therefor we have evidence that as long as he (saw) did not show disapproval of something, it meant it was "mubah" permissible from him which made it a Sunnah for the rest of the Ummah. It must be understood that the Prophet (saw) made no decisions himself. He (saw) made all of his decisions based on Allah' laws that he would receive through revelation (wahy). Allah says (what may be translated as):
"And he (Muhammed) does not speak from his own Desire. It is no less than inspiration (revelation) sent down (revealed) to him: He was taught by one Mighty in Power". (Surah an-Najm, 3-5)
Some ahadeeth stand as proof about the revelations that he (saw) would receive, such as:
Narrated Ibn Masud: One time when a group of Jews asked the Prophet (saw),"O Abal Qasim! Inform us about the spirit." The Prophet stood up for a while, waiting. I realized that he was being Divinely Inspired, so I kept away from him till the inspiration was over. Then the Prophet said,: "O Muhammad they ask you regarding the spirit, Say: The spirit, its knowledge is with my Lord (i.e. nobody has its knowledge except Allah)" (17.85) (Bukhari)
Narrated Aisha (the mother of the faithful believers): Al-Harith bin Hisham asked Allah's Apostle "O Allah's Apostle! How is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?" Allah's Apostle replied, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell, this form of Inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says." 'Aisha added: Verily I saw the Prophet being inspired Divinely on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the Inspiration was over). (Bukhari)
Narrated Abu Sai'd al-Khudri: Allah's Apostle said, "The thing I am afraid of most for your sake, is the worldly blessings which Allah will bring forth to you." It was said, "What are the blessings of this world?" The Prophet said, "The pleasures of the world." A man said, "Can the good bring forth evil?" The Prophet kept quiet for a while till we thought that he was being inspired divinely. Then he started removing the sweat from his forehead and said, "Where is the questioner?" That man said, "I (am present)." (Bukhari)
One of the sahabah, named Ya'la wished that he could see the Prophet (saw) being inspired. So one day when he (saw) was being inspired by revelation another sahabi called out to Ya'la (ra) so he could observe this. He saw that during the inspiration . .
"The Prophet's face was red and he kept on breathing heavily for a while and then he was relieved."
Importance of Following the Sunnah and Allah's Commandments for it.
Here we have, the full meanings and interpretations of the Sunnah and these are the meanings that the majority (al-jamhoor) of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama'ah have used in their books. Now that the meanings of the Sunnah have been understood, let us continue to discuss the importance of the Sunnah, insha'allah.
"God bestowed a favor upon the believers when He raised up amongst them an Apostle, one of themselves, to recite His signs to them, to purify them and to teach them the Book, although they had formerly been in manifest error." (Surah al'I-Imraan, 164)
"We sent down the (Qur'an) in Truth and in Truth has it descended: and We sent you (Muhammed) but to give Glad Tidings and to warn (sinners)." (Surah al-Israa,105)
"Blessed is He Who sent down the Criterion to His servant that it may be an admonition to all creatures (Surah al-Furqaan, 1)"
The importance of the Sunnah is evident in Allah (azw)'s words in al-Qur'aan. Allah (azw) has repeatedly told us to obey Him right side with His Messenger. As the following verses indicate:
"Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger but if they turn their backs Allah loves not the unbelievers." (Surah al-Baqarah, 32)
In other words ,this verse is indicating that if one does not follow Allah's Messenger along with Allah, then he would be a unbeliever. After this we have another verse from the same surah which is as follows:
"And obey Allah and obey His Messenger so that you may be blessed" (3:132)
This verse proves that obeying the Messenger, meaning following his teachings (Sunnah) will ensure us Allah's blessings. Then there are verses where Allah (swt) has told the Rasool (saw) to tell us to obey him and his Lord. And if we do not listen then it will not be the Rasool's (saw) fault, but instead it will be ours for we will not be guided. Such as follows:
"Say, 'Obey Allah and obey His Messenger'; then if you turn away, upon him rests what is laid on him and upon you rests what is laid on you. If you obey him you will be guided". (Surah al-Furqaan, 54)
These verses are orders from Allah (swt) to His servants. Therefore we do not have a choice whether we want to follow them or not, instead it is mandatory and obligatory for us to follow these verses. Which mean we obey Allah just as well as his Messenger (saw). To in-force the obligation of following the Messenger (saw) and his Sunnah Allah (swt) has made it clearer in the verses by putting this right beside the well known obligatory acts and also promising us a reward for doing so. For example Allah (azw) has said (what may be translated as):
"So establish salaah and pay the zakaah, and obey Allah and His Messenger." (Surah al-Mujadila, 13)
"The believers men and women are protectors (friends) of one another: they enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil: they establish the salaah and pay the zakaah and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power Wise." (Surah at-Tauba, 71)
Also Allah says (what may be translated as):
"If you obey him you shall be on right guidance. (Surah an-Nur, 54)
"He who obeys the Apostle obeys Allah." (Surah an-Nisa', 80)
"And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, Allah shall admit him in the Gardens underneath which rivers flow." (Surah an-Nisa', 13)
"All who obey Allah and the Apostle are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah of the Prophets (who teach) the sincere (lovers of truth) the witnesses (who testify) and the righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!" (Surah an-Nisa', 69)
After this, we shall turn to the second source of Islamic Law, which is the hadeeth and see what the Prophet (saw) himself, has said about following his guidance.
"There is nothing that Allaah ordered you with except that I have ordered you with it, and there is nothing that Allaah forbade you from except that I have forbidden you from it".
And he said, "There is nothing that will take you closer to paradise but that I have enjoined it upon you, and there is nothing that will take you closer to hell but that I have warned you from it".
The Messenger of Allaah said, "I have left behind me two things, if you cling to them you will never go astray. They are the Book of Allaah and my Sunnah."
And he also said, "..and you will live to see great difference, so cling to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs after me, even if it be with your teeth." (Bukhari) or in another narration .
"I enjoin you to fear Allah, and to hear and obey even if it be an Abyssinian slave, for those of you who live after me will see great disagreement. You must then follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it. Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error."
"Whosoever turns away from my Sunnah, is not of me."
The companions of the Prophet (saw) held his Sunnah with very high respect. If anyone were to oppose it they would make sure they "enjoined good" upon that person. There was a consensus of opinion amongst the companions, that it was obligatory for them to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), and none of them ever claimed to be free of this obligation. After the death of the Messenger (saw) Muslims, still agreed that they must follow the Sunnah of the Prophet. The Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) is to be applied in all aspects of life, from worship to government, and even the leader of the state does not have the right to rule in contradiction to the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw).
To emphasize even more, the importance of the Sunnah, here are some sayings of our scholars from the past who had devoted their lives in preserving the Sunnah.
The famous scholar Mujahid said, "We accept some sayings and reject others of everybody save the Messenger of Allaah". That means all of his statements are accepted.
Abu Sulaiman ad-Darimi said, "Perhaps there pricks my heart the problems and discussions of my day and I never accept anything except with the testimony of the two just witnesses: the Qur'aan and the Sunnah."
The Taabi'ee, the Imaam, az-Zuhree (ra) commented, "Clinging to the Sunnah is to be saved, as Imaam Maalik (ra) said, like the Ark of Noah , he who embarked upon it was saved, and he who did not was destroyed."
Imam Malik ibn Anas (raheemahullah) also said: "He who keeps to the Sunnah and he from who the Companions of Allah's Messenger are safe, will be with the Prophets, the truthful witnesses, the martyrs and the righteous ones when he dies, even if he falls short in action."
Bishr ibn Haarith (ra)said: "Islam is the Sunnah and the Sunnah is Islam."
Yunus ibn' Ubaid (ra) said: "How remarkable today are those who call to the Sunnah. Even more remarkable are those who respond and accept the Sunnah.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal (raheemahullah) said: "A man of my companions died and was seen in a dream saying: say to Abu Abdullah (ie. Imam Ahmed), "Stick to the Sunnah, for the first thing that my Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, asked me about was the Sunnah."
Abu'l Aaliyah said, "Whoever dies unknown, upon the Sunnah is indeed a truthful witness. It is said clinging to the Sunnah is salvation."
The Prophet (saw) told us to hold fast to the book of Allah (Qur'aan) and to his Sunnah, and to the Sunnah of his khulafaa-e-raashideen. The names mentioned above were of the students of the khulafa-e-raashideen, or the second generation of students. They were amongst the first three generations for which the beloved Prophet (saw) said:
"The best of you (people) are my generation, and the second best will be those who will follow them, and then those who will follow the second generation" (Bukhari)
Therefor we know that those quotes were from amongst those scholars who were of the best generations. Their advice was honest and sincere. Their advice is what we should follow (unless it contradicts the shariah). They were our teachers, our preservers of the Sunnah, our preservers of our entire deen. They devoted their lives in fighting innovation in order to keep the Sunnah alive. Some gave their lives up fighting in this noble cause in love for Allah and His Messenger (saw). They were the first amongst the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jam'ah. To us they are our pious predecessors (as-salaf us-saleh).
The Emergence of Bid'ah (Innovation) and the Prophet's (saw) previous warnings about it.
Firstly, what is the definition of bid'ah? The word bid'ah comes from the term Al-Bada', that is to create something without precedence. Bid'ah means any newly invented matter into the deen that is not stated in the Qur'aan or the Sunnah as being a practice which was taught to us by the Prophet (saw). It is normally a practice thought to be "harmless" or "beneficial" according to the person doing it. Therefor it makes it more dangerous than other sins because with a sin, one knows its wrong but with bid'ah it is misunderstood to be correct.
As Sufyaan At-Thawree (ra) said in Sharh us-Sunnah: "Innovation is more pleasing to Iblees then sin, since a person makes repentance from sin but does not repent from innovation!"
Innovation (in Islaam) was initiated as a result of bad intention, for a man named Thul Khuwaisarah at-Tameemee opposed the Prophet (saw) and said to him 'be fair because you were not'. Consequently, several men followed this man and became dissidents (Al-Khawaarij) after his (saw) death, which will be discussed in the following paragraph. Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said in this respect: "The principles of innovation were based on the refutation of Sunnah principles using doubt and whims, like Iblees (Satan) when he doubted Allaah's commands according to his whims."
The first generation of the Salaf were the ones who dealt with the death of the Messenger (saw), for they were his companions. After his (saw) death, the four honorable khulafaa came about. In order, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Omar ibn al-Khattab, Uthmaan ibn Affaan and finally Ali ibn Abi Talib (the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet), may Allah be pleased with them all. Ali (ra) was the last khalifa amongst the assigned four, and the first man to accept Islam from the Prophet (saw)'s family. Allah put him through a huge test when the problems began during his khilaafa. It was during his time when the first deviants and heretical groups began to take on the role of leaders and leading people astray by declaring the khalifaa as a kaffir. They were known as the Khawaarij, and the Prophet (saw) had warned the Ummah about their near arrival. They split themselves from the Muslims upon the right path and made their own "jama'ah". They were the "eye-openers" for all the other weak Muslims who were looking for opportunity to change the religion and somehow make it easier upon themselves. As the second generation began, this is when the importance of collecting and preserving hadeeth became extremely popular. Since a lot of the sahabah had past away and many were split up in different areas around the world, the muhaditheen were in desperate search to travel and search the sayings of the Prophet (saw). One reason for this yearning to preserve the knowledge, was also because fabrication of hadeeth had begun from the Ahlul-bid'ah. So the first three generations of Islam worked the hardest to preserve the religion for later generations that we are in now. After them, their students, then their students etc., kept the goal of preserving the Sunnah and fighting the bid'ah. Muslims had already split up into many groups, except for the ones who were following the guidance of their pious predecessors in sticking to the "jama'ah" of Ahlus-Sunnah, in holding fast to the Book of Allaah and the teachings of His Messenger.
So one might want to ask, why did all these Muslims work so hard to prevent any bid'ah into the deen? To the extent that they gave up their lives for this cause? Because they had taqwa in their hearts. They feared the punishment for trying and changing Allaah's religion in any way possible, even if they felt it was good. Once again, the answer to that is simply given in the warnings of our beloved Prophet (saw) who said:
"No one ever made an innovation in their religion but Allah withdrew the equal portion from their Sunnah and He would not restore it to them till the Day of Resurrection. Adhering to Sunnah is better than making innovations."
"He who made any innovation, or gave protection to an innovator, there is upon him the curse of Allah, that of the angels and that of all the people. There would not be accepted on the Day of Resurrection either obligatory acts or supererogatory acts from him."
"Whoever innovates into this Deen of ours that which is not from it, then it is rejected."
Ibn Masud (ra) reported that the Prophet (saw) said: "I will lead you to the pond in paradise (fountain of al-Kawthar). Who so will pass by me shall drink and who so will drink, will never get thirsty. People whom I know and who know me will certainly come to me for a drink but there will be a barrier between myself and them. I will call out, 'O Lord, they are my followers!' So it will be said, 'You certainly do not know what (bid'ah) they invented after your passing'. Then I shall say, 'Be off! Be off! Those who made innovation (bid'ah) after me'."
" I am leaving you on brightness; its night (as bright) as its day. None would deviate from it except the one who is doomed to perish. Whosoever survives would see many differences. Then it would be incumbent upon you to adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous caliphs, with which you are familiar. Hold fast to it with your teeth and obedience to the ruler is obligatory upon you, even if it be an Abyssinian slave. Verily, the true believer is like a camel having a prickling bridle in its nose. To which ever direction it is driven from, it surrenders in its submission."
Any Muslim with logical understanding would take these various ahadeeth into serious consideration. They have implied warning after warning for anyone who deviated away from the religion. Changing it in any shape or form is a bid'ah an accursed innovation that one will have to pay for in the hereafter. Once again the Prophet (saw) has told us, "EVERY innovation is an deviation (dalaalah) and EVERY deviation is misguidance which leads to the Hell-fire." How much more clear evidence would someone possibly want? Obviously though, for some Muslims out there who are heavily involved with the Ahlul-Bid'ah, this evidence does not mean much. They claim that they are doing certain actions to improve their deen and in order to get closer to Allaah. How could they use means to get closer to Allah, that were not used by the Prophet (saw)? Who was closer to Allaah then he was? Nobody, and nobody will EVER be as close to Allaah as His Messenger (saw) was. Surely Allaah had revealed to the Messenger anything and everything we have to do in order to be true believers, and the Messenger conveyed that message to us. Unless these Muslims believe that the Prophet (saw) died before completing his mission, or that he forgot to tell us something? No! Woe to those who believe such things! They must fear Allaah, for if they believe that the Prophet (saw) did not convey everything to us, then in turn, their accusation applies to Allaah (swt) too, for He is the one who taught the Prophet (saw) and He has told us clearly in the Qur'aan (what may be translated as):
"This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Surah al-Ma'ida, 3)
"And We have revealed to you a Book explaining everything." [Surah an-Nahl, 89]
..and He says,
"We have neglected nothing in the Book." [Surah al-An'am, 37]
Allaah (swt) is PERFECT and He has perfected our deen for us, and there is no room for arguments regarding this. If one believes that this is not true, then they are intentionally pulling themselves outside of the fold of Islam and into disbelief. The Prophet (saw) once again has said,
"There is nothing that Allaah ordered you with except that I have ordered you with it, and there is nothing that Allaah forbade you from except that I have forbidden you from it"
"There is nothing that will take you closer to paradise but that I have
enjoined it upon you, and there is nothing that will take you closer to hell but that I have warned you from it"
The Types of Bid'ah.
There are two kinds of bid'ah. The first is to innovate something in matters of life, like the new scientific inventions. This kind is permissible because science is mentioned in the Qur'aan, and Allaah (swt) has told us to learn and to expand. Originally this kind of innovation or "inventions" are a matter of life and habit and therefor they are permissible ex. Automobiles, X-ray machines etc. The second kind of bid'ah, is innovation into the religion, which is what all the evidences above forbids. This kind of bid'ah can never be permissible. This is because matters of religion are "Tawqifiyyah" (can only be revealed from Allaah) and not from humans. This is what the Prophet (saw) referred to when he said, "Whoever innovates into this matter (religion) of ours, whatever is not of it, this (bid'ah) is rejected."
Now that it is understood what the bid'ah are, to break it down further one must understand the two types of forbidden bid'ah in the deen. The first concerns the tongue and the belief, like sayings of some of the misguided sects (Jahmiyah, Mutazzilah etc.).
The second id in matters of worship (Ebaadah), like introducing a new kind of worship that was not legislated by Allaah (swt). This kind of bid'ah has many forms which have been mentioned by Sheikh Saaleh al-Foozan , such as:
What is related to the origin of worship, like introducing a totally new kind of worship; a new prayer, fast or feast, like the Prophet's birthday or paying special attention to worship on the night of Israa wal Miraaj in the month of Rajab.
To add to a known type of worship, like making Dhuhr or Asr prayers five rakaah each instead of four, or praying more than eleven rakaah for qiyyam (based on some fabricated and weak hadeeth)
To perform a known type of worship in a new manner, such as Dhikr (remembrance/supplications) in a GROUP or being fanatical by making du'aa out loud, or praying the entire day. This will lead to the disobedience of the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), by not being moderate in worship. This is obvious in the hadeeth where the three men came to the Prophet (saw) and in order to try and build taqwa by performing as much ebaadaat as possible, one said: "I will observe prayer all night, every night", the second said, "I will observe fast every day", the third said, "I will keep away from women and never marry." However Allah's Messenger (saw) did not find their actions to be good, for he said to them, "I am the most fearful of Allah (taqwa) amongst you, but I fast and I eat, I pray and I sleep and I also marry women. Whosoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me!"
To perform worship at certain times that were not stated by the Shariah. An example is to fast during the day in the middle of the lunar month (Sha'baan) or praying in that night. Fasting is permissible, for "nawafil" fasting on any six days of this month counts as the whole year. But to assign certain times to fast, needs proof from the Qur'aan and/or the Sunnah.
One must always keep in mind that there is no such thing as a small bid'ah into the deen. A bid'ah is an innovation, which is an error and there is no question about it. As the Imam of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama'ah' (of his time), Imam al-Barbahaari (ra) said, "Beware of small innovations because they grow until they become large"
"This is the case with every innovation introduced in this Ummah. It began as something small, bearing resemblance to the truth which is why those who entered it were mislead and then were unable to leave it. So it grew and became the religion which they followed and thus deviated from the Straight Path and left Islaam."
Some further proof lies in the following hadeeth:
Amr ibn Salmah said: "We used to sit by the door of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood before the Morning Prayer, so that when he came out we would walk with him to the mosque. (One day) Abu Moosaa al-Ash'aree came to us and said, "Has Abu 'Abd ar-Rahmaan come out yet?" We replied, "No." So he sat down with us until he came out. When he came out, we all stood along with him, so Abu Moosaa said to him, "O Abu 'Abd ar-Rahmaan I have just seen something in the mosque which I deemed to be evil, but all praise is for Allaah, I did not see anything except good!" He inquired, "Then what is it?" (Abu Moosaa) replied, "If you live you will see it. I saw in the mosque people sitting in circles awaiting the Prayer. In each circle they had pebbles in their hands and a man would say 'repeat Allaahu Akbar a hundred times.' So they would repeat it a hundred times. Then he would say, 'say Laa ilaaha illallaah a hundred times.' So they would say it a hundred times. Then he would say, 'say Subhaanallaah a hundred times.' So they would say it a hundred times." (Ibn Mas'ood) asked, "What did you say to them?" (Abu Moosaa) said, "I did not say anything to them. Instead I waited to hear you view or what you declared." (Ibn Mas'ood) replied, "Would that you had ordered them to count up the evil deeds they acquired and assured them that their good deeds would not be lost!" Then we went along with him (Ibn Mas'ood) until he came to one of these circles and stood and said, "What is this which I see you doing?" They replied, "O Abu 'Abd ar-Rahmaan! These are pebbles upon which we are counting takbeer, tahleel and tasbeeh." He said, "Count up your evil deeds. I assure you that none of your good deeds will be lost. Woe to you, O Ummah of Muhammad (saws)! How quickly you go to destruction! These are the Companions of your Prophet and who are widespread. There are his clothes which have not yet decayed and his bowl which is unbroken. By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Either you are upon a Religion better guided than the Religion of Muhammad (saw) or that you are opening the door of deviation from this bid'ah." They said, "O Abu Abd ar-Rahmaan! By Allaah, we only intended good." He said, "How many there are who intend good but do not achieve it. Indeed Allaah's Messenger said to us 'A people will recite the Qur'aan but it will not pass beyond their throats.' By Allah! I do not know, perhaps most of them are from you." Then he left them.
Umar ibn Salmah (the sub-narrator) said: "We saw most of those people fighting against us on the day of Nahrawaan, along with the Khawaarij."
A few things may be learned in this hadeeth, Dhikr is not to be done in congregation and out loud. It is not to be done on "pebbles" (or anything of its sort such as Dhikr beads which comes from the rosary beads). In other narrations the Prophet (saw) has taught us to do it for our benefit on our fingers. Thirdly, even if ones intention is good, the act along with it must be in accordance with the shariah. A good intention will not be counted if it is for a prohibited action. Lastly, bid'ah leads to misguidance and that is why most of the men sitting in the congregation when against the Ahlus-Sunnah during the battle with the Khawarij and became enemies to Islam.
Refuting the justification of "Bid'ah Hasanah"
The evidence in the last paragraph, in turn, goes hand in hand with the statement of the Prophet (saw) when he said, "For every bid'ah is a sin". This is a clear warning for anyone who claims it is not as harmful as we think. It is also a clear warning against those who believe there is good and bad bid'ah. They call it bid'ah hasanah. Surely there can be no hasanah (good blessings) with dalaalah (deviation).
Indeed the Muslims have done things that were not present in the time of the Messenger of Allaah (saw). It was not considered bid'ah, to them it was daroorah (necessities) in preserving Islaam. Indeed they have permitted it and kept quiet about it. Like the gathering of the people to one mushaaf (that which the Qur'aan is written upon), by `Uthmaan bin `Affaan (ra), fearing the splitting of the Ummah. Indeed it was approved of by the Companions (ra) and that was for a maslaha (benefit). Also the example of writing down Prophetic traditions (hadeeth) fearing its loss due to the death of its people. The writing of Tafseer of the Qur'aan and the Hadeeth. The compilation of `Ilm an-Nahw (science of grammar) to safeguard the Arabic language, which is a means of understanding Islaam. The formation of `Ilm al-Mustalah (science of hadeeth). Thus, these are permissible to safeguard the Islamic Shariah and are definitely not deviations.
Verily, Allaah, the Most High, has taken the responsibility of safeguarding His Law from His saying (what may be translated as):
"Indeed it is We who sent down the Dhikr (Qur'aan) and surely We will guard it (from corruption). (Surah al-Hijr, 9)
The Messenger of Allaah (saw) said: "This `Ilm (Deen) will be carried by the trustworthy ones of each generation. Negating from it the tahreef (alterations) of the ones going beyond bounds, the false assumptions of the liars, and the ta'weel (false interpretations) of the ignorant."
In the earlier narration when the Prophet (saw) indicated that anyone who brings up an innovation is rejected, that means, whoever innovates into the religion, something that has no basis in Islam has sinned. The religion disowns whoever does such a thing. This rule applies to all matters of belief, actions, and sayings, both in public or secrecy. No where, does this differentiate between good and bad bid'ah. This trend of bid'ah hasanah has absolutely no basis in the Islamic Shariah. This is not in any means preserving the Sunnah or the words of Allaah, instead it is adding to it. As for the istihsaan (approval and condoning) of bid`ah, which occurred in the words of the predecessors, then that is in relation to bid`ah al-logawee (linguistic use of bid`ah) and not in the legal (technical/shari'e) use of the term bid`ah. From these sayings is the saying of `Umar bin al-Khattaab, when he gathered the people in Qiyaam-ur-Ramadaan Taraaweeh prayers behind one Imaam in the masjid. He went out and saw them praying and he said: "This is indeed a good new practice (bid`ah) ."
It is obvious that Umar (ra) used the linguistic meaning of bid'ah and not the shar'ee meaning. The proof for this is that praying qiyyam was not a new innovation, instead it was something that had been practiced by the Prophet (saw) and his companions in the past. Therefor it has a root in Shariah. Verily the Messenger of Allaah (saw) prayed it (this prayer) in congregation in the masjid and then he left it, fearing that it might become obligatory upon his Ummah and that they would be unable to perform it. Indeed they became free of this fear after the Prophet (saw). So `Umar (ra) revived it this Sunnah and may Allaah (swt) reward him for it, for the Prophet (saw) said:
"He who revived a Sunnah out of my Sunnan, which has died after me, for him is the reward like the reward of those who acted upon it, without any decrease in that reward. He who introduced some evil innovation which Allah and His Messenger did not approve has (a burden of sin upon him) like the sins of one who acted according to it, without their sins being mitigated thereby in the least." And in another narration, "If anyone introduces a good tradition that is followed .."
The only reason it was considered a new matter at the time is because it is well known that praying qiyyam at the time of Abu Bakr (ra) in jama'ah was not a commonly known practice and continued to be so for some time during the time of Umar (ra). With this understanding it was a new matter, but since it was in accordance with the Prophet's (saw) previous actions, it is a Sunnah and not an innovation. Describing it as being good is only because of this; and thus the understanding of the great scholars in explanation of this statement of Umar (ra).This is also refutation for those who believe that praying qiyyam in jama'ah in general, is a bid'ah, and it is not.
Some common bid'ah in practice today (none of which are backed up with authentic evidence) are as follows:
Using Dhikr beads (descendants of rosary beads)
Making du'aa in congregation out loud. (The Sunnah is, that the only du'aa to be made out loud were specified such as the Qunoot which was a regular practice of the Prophet. This has totally been changed now, in that the Qunoot has become silent ).
Celebrating Milaad-un-Nabi (which is not only bid'ah, but also falls into shirk)
Having a congregation to finish the Qur'aan, at the death of an individual.
Reciting the "niyyah" out loud before every prayer.
Praying regularly on a large sized prayer mat.
Making the Friday khutbah longer then the salaah (one of the signs indicating the nearness of Last Day).
Blind following of Scholars, giving their opinion more weight than the Sunnah.
Reciting Surah al-Fatiha at the grave of the deceased, instead of the du'aa provided to us in the hadeeth.
Praying to the dead (which is also major shirk).
Selling goods and Advertising inside of the masajid.
The Imams reciting the Qur'aan in jama'ah while continuously reciting verses without stopping at each ayah. (the way the Prophet (saw) taught us)
Making the first rakaah shorter than the second rakaah in prayer.
Hanging Qur'aanic verses up for mere decoration or "riyaah".
Imitation of the Kuffaar in any form: celebration of birthdays, other holidays, dress code, greeting cards, horoscopes, good luck charms.
The list of course can go on forever when it comes to these bid'ah. These are a few that will give everyone a basic idea of the various things that are innovations. With every innovation it should be understood that it has to have some sort of a history (meaning that someone had to have started it). Usually it will be someone who people had taken to be knowledgeable but in reality was ignorant. Ignorance is the main cause of misguidance in our Ummah today. The Muslims to not long for the knowledge that our pious predecessors used to yearn for. They do not wish to take things from fact, but instead like to follow what the "majority" of the people are following in order that they may fit in. Well for them there is a warning, the righteous will always be amongst those who are in the least number. The reason is that it is Shaitaan's mission to mislead all of mankind and he gets to most of them. The only ones he has a hard time reaching are the pious and the Allaah-fearing. These pious ones are whom the Prophet (saw) gave glad tidings to, when he said:
"Verily, Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange, so good tidings for the strangers."
Also the two sahabah named al-Mugheerah bin Shu'bah and Thawbaan, reported that Allaah's Messenger (saw) said, "A group of my followers will remain dominant until Allaah's command for the beginning of the final hour reaches them."
These are the followers of the real Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama'ah. They are the ones whom Allaah has promised guidance because they will abide by Allaah and His Messenger. They will take from the learned righteous scholars and not the deviants. They will be the one sect out of the seventy-(two or three) that will enter paradise insh'allah. The Prophet (saw) said,
"Indeed the Children of Israel divided into seventy one sects and my Ummah will divide into seventy two sects, all of them will be in the fire except one and that is the Jama'ah."
"Stick to the Jama'ah and beware of splitting, for Shaitaan is found along with the single person but is further from two. Whoever desires the center of Paradise then let him stick to the Jama'ah. He whose good deed pleases him and his evil deed causes him to feel bad then he is a believer."
Abu'l A'liyah reported that the sahaabi Ubay ibn Ka'ab said, "Adhere to Allaah's path and cling to the Sunnah, for anyone in Allaah's path according to the Sunnah, who's eyes well up with tears out of piety when remembering Allaah (swt), will never be touched by the Hell-fire. Surely a moderate effort in the path Allaah and the Sunnah is better than great effort in contradiction to them."
The tabi'ee Sufyaan ath-Thawri (d.163) said "If you hear a man from the East who is a person of Sunnah and another in the West then send your Salaams to them and supplicate for them for how few are Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah."
Ibn Masud (ra) said, "Adhere closely to the path of the Prophet (saw) for if you go to the right of it or the left, you will go far astray."
Amongst the signs of the rightly guided ones is that they will never stand and tolerate something that is being done in contradiction to Allaah and His Messenger. He will enjoin good and forbid evil wherever the situation will be open. He will try and stop the innovation whenever he sees it. He will follow the examples of the predecessors and will not associate with those who attribute lies to the Prophet (saw).
Al Fudayl ibn Iyyad said: "Whoever honors an innovator has assisted in the demolition of Islam".
Sufyaan at-Thawree said, "Whoever listens to a person of innovation has left the protection of Allaah and is entrusted to it -meaning the innovation."
Ibn Al-Qayyim, rahimahu Allaah, said about the innovators: "If you look at innovators you will find that they are different, divided into sects and as far as worshipping is concerned, you will not find that two of them are adopting the same method. They would introduce innovations to each other. More than that, you will find that their innovations culminate into disbelief. For instance, you will find the son accusing his father of disbelief, the brother accusing his brother of disbelief, and the neighbor accusing his neighbor of disbelief. They are in constant conflict and hate each other, their differences cost them their lives and their discourse has never been common."
Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (ra) said in this respect: "The principles of innovation were based on the refutation of Sunnah principles using doubt and whims, like Iblees (Satan) when he doubted Allaah's commands according to his whims."
In conclusion of this essay, no more emphasis is needed to describe the benefits of following the Sunnah and the evils of being amongst the innovators. Islam is based on two sources, the Qur'aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). There are no additions and no subtractions, it is a straight line and all Muslims should try their hardest to walk upon that line and make sure they due not sway on either of the two sides, being innovation or extremism. Surely some might think that their small innovations seem good and that they cannot possibly do so much harm. This in truth is the complete deception of Shaitaan. He makes one feel that an action which is a bid'ah is actually something good which is bringing one closer to Allaah, but in reality it is taking them further astray and away from their Lord and it is only earning Allaah's anger. Therefor if one truly wishes to stay on the path of the righteous ones, the path of the saved ones, the path of the victorious group, then they must abide by the laws of Allaah (swt) mentioned in His Book and mentioned through the Prophet (saw). To be guided one must have love for the Prophet (saw), sincere love and devotion, more for him then one's own blood. To be guided one must love the words of the Prophet (saw) and must understand what they are implying and must believe that they are on the haqq (truth) with this path. The Prophet (saw) said to Anas bin Maalik,
"My son, if you are in a position to pass your morning and evening keeping your heart free from malice against anyone, then act according to it (this high ideal). He then said: My son, and that is my Sunnah and he who loves my Sunnah, in fact loves me and he who loves me, will be with me in Paradise."
In one hadith narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah it is said, "Some angels came to the Prophet while he was sleeping. Some of them said, "He is sleeping." Others said, "His eyes are sleeping but his heart is awake." Then they said, "There is an example for this companion of yours." One of them said, "Then set forth an example for him." Some of them said, "He is sleeping." The others said, "His eyes are sleeping but his heart is awake." Then they said, "His example is that of a man who has built a house and then offered therein a banquet and sent an inviter (messenger) to invite the people. So whoever accepted the invitation of the inviter, entered the house and ate of the banquet, and whoever did not accept the invitation of the inviter, did not enter the house, nor did he eat of the banquet." Then the angels said, "Interpret this example to him so that he may understand it." Some of them said, "He is sleeping. The others said, "His eyes are sleeping but his heart is awake." And then they said, "The house stands for Paradise and the call maker is Muhammad; and whoever obeys Muhammad, obeys Allah; and whoever disobeys Muhammad, disobeys Allah. Muhammad separated the people (i.e., through his message, the good is distinguished from the bad, and the believers from the disbelieves)." (Sahih Bukhari)
After understanding the words of these angels, surely further evidence in terms of stressing the importance of the Sunnah is not necessary. The companions of the Prophet (saw) would watch his every step in every matter so that they may copy him in everything that he did or said. They would listen to his speeches so carefully that when they would narrate it to others they would do it exactly as he did, not changing a single word. They put the Sunnah ahead of their opinions in every matter and that is exactly what every Muslim shall use as an example. May Allaah (azw) guide the readers of this evidence to the clear and correct path. May Allaah keep them on the correct path until the Last day and may they be amongst those who gain intercession from their beloved Prophet (saw). With the ending of this naseehah, are some words from our pious predecessors;
Sufyaan at-Thawree (ra) said: "No word is accepted without action and no word and action is correct without intention, and no word, action and intention is correct unless it is in accordance with the Sunnah."
Imam Maalik (ra) said: "Whatever was not deen at the time of the Prophet (saw) cannot be considered a part of deen today."
Imam al-Awzaa'ee (ra) said: "Patiently restrict yourselves to the Sunnah and do not go beyond the positions held by the Sahaabah (companions); hold their position and avoid what they avoided. Take the path of the Salaf-us-Saleheen (the companions and the pious predecessors in the way of the companions), for verily, what was sufficient for them is sufficient for you."
The best speech is the speech of Allah (al-Qur'aan), the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (saw). Of all matters the worst are bid'ah (innovations); and everything new into the religion is bid'ah, and every bid'ah is dalaalah (deviation), and every dalaalah leads to the Hell-fire.