Learning our Deen (Islam)

July 28, 2007

Sunnah and Bid’ah

Filed under: Beginner, Bidah (Innovation) — Um Abdullah M. @ 5:41 pm

Sunnah and Bid’ah

The Straight Path has been laid out. Our job is only to follow it, not to try to discover new paths.

By Khalid Baig

Once some Jewish scholars said to Sayyidna Umar bin Khattab, Radi-Allahu unhu, “The Qur’an contains a verse that if it had been revealed to us, we would have designated a day to celebrate its revelation.” Upon enquiry they mentioned the verse: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3] “Yes, I know, the time and place when it was revealed,” he replied.

Indeed it was a historic day. It was the day of Arafa during the farewell Hajj of Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This verse announced the completion of a historic process that had started with the coming to earth of Sayyidna Adam, alayhi salam. Allah sent His guidance with him and informed him that in the generations to come there would be additional messengers. The process continued through the 124,000 prophets who were sent to different lands at different times. It culminated with the coming of the Last Messenger, Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He received revelations over a twenty-three year period. Then during the Farewell Hajj, on the plain of Arafat, in the presence of nearly 150,000 companions, this verse announced that it was all done!

The full significance of this message must never escape us. Islam is unlike all previous revealed religions in one crucial respect. All of them came with expiration dates. Islam has none. The Guidance from Allah had been completed. The religion had been perfected. There would be no new message, no new prophet, no new Shariah, and no new command until the Last Day! The Straight Path has been laid out. Our job is only to follow it, not to try to discover new paths. In Jumuah khutbahs this Ummah has been repeating the hadith: “I warn you of the newly invented matters (in the religion), and every newly invented matter is bid’ah, and every bid’ah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” (an-Nasaa’ee)

In Islamic terminology, Sunnah and Bid’ah are antonyms. Sunnah literally means path, and it is the path shown to us by the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This includes the Shariah teachings derived from Qur’an, Hadith, the consensus of the companions, and the ijtehad of the qualified imams. Bid’ah means adding or changing articles of faith or religious practices. It can take many forms. One may change the occasion of a prescribed act, thereby extending it to occasions for which it was not meant. One may add restrictions on a desired act that the Shariah had not imposed. One may change the style or form of such an act. One may start doing something collectively that was to be performed individually. Or one may change the Shariah status of an act from permissible to mandatory. Of course, one may also add a ritual where none existed. These are all forms of bid’ah. They are all forbidden.

Bid’ah is like fake currency that tries to drive out the good currency. By design it has the appearance of a virtuous religious act. But it lies outside the Shariah. So do its sources, which, in a great number of cases can be traced to non-Islamic influence from surrounding communities with which Muslim communities historically came into contact. Hence the telltale signs that set it apart from Sunnah. First, bid’ahs normally vary from region to region— and over time— revealing their local, non-Islamic source. This is unlike the genuine religious practices that maintain the same form everywhere. No matter where he comes from, a follower of, say, Hanafi Fiqh, will be offering salat in exactly the same way, right down to the minutest detail – like when to raise the index finger. In contrast, the bid’ah practices surrounding, marriage or death in the Indo-Pak subcontinent vary from those in Arabia or Africa.

Second, the bid’ah practices are largely transmitted through oral tradition. Many of these have a pseudo-legal, ritualistic framework of their own, but one would be hard pressed to find it in the standard legal texts! Rather it lives in the folklore. Example: consider the practice of shaking hands after finishing the salat. Open the chapter on salat in your fiqh book. It lists all the steps, in great detail, involved in offering salat. Does it mention the handshake as well? No. The handshake comes from folklore, not from an authentic text, a clue that it may be a bid’ah, which it is. Similarly consider the rituals normally performed upon the death of a person. Again the fiqh books describe in great detail how the funeral and burial should be done. But do they also mention that on the third day (or the tenth or the fortieth), a gathering should be arranged where participants should recite the Qur’an for the benefit of the deceased and after which they should be served with dinner? Again the answer is no. Again the reason is that all of these common practices are not part of the Shariah. They are an addition or bid’ah.

One factor that helps the propagation of bid’ahs is the attitude that treats religion as hobby rather than as the serious business of submitting to the command of Allah A. Pure submission may be “boring.” It demands sacrifice. Bid’ahs are fun. On top of that they “promise” reward in the Hereafter. This makes the bid’ah more deadly than ordinary sins. From an act we know to be a sin, we can repent. But how can one repent from a wrong that he considers to be right?

But in reality bid’ahs are a tremendous burden. Islamic teachings are simple and easy and life would be much simpler if all bid’ahs were removed from it. When a person dies, Islam teaches that others should be providing food to the bereaved family. Bid’ah requires the exact opposite, that the bereaved should feed all the visitors―a widespread practice in the Muslim communities in Asia. Other bid’ahs are also like that. A burden. And the burden in the Hereafter will be much bigger, for “every bid’ah is in the Fire.”

See more on what bid’ah in Islam is in (Bidah – Innovation) category,  you will find the list of categories on your right side.

July 2, 2007

Ibadah (Worship) and Bid’ah (Innovation)

Filed under: Bidah (Innovation), Ibadah - worship, Intermediate — Um Abdullah M. @ 6:12 pm

By Dr Jamal Ahmed Badi
(Professor at International Islamic University Malaysia)

Hadith 5 Arabic text

 

It is narrated on the authority of the Mother of the Believers, Umm ‘Abdullah ‘Aishah, radiyallahu ‘anha, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours (i.e. into Islam) something that does not belong to it, it is to be rejected.”


[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

According to the version in Muslim, (it reads): “Whosoever works a work which has for it no
command of ours is to be rejected
.”


background

Like Hadith 1, this hadith is one of the most important hadiths.
Imam Nawawi said it should be memorised by every Muslim.

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

This hadith is used as a criterion for judging external actions or performance of Ibadah. If an action is not done in accordance with the Shariah or the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, it will be rejected and not accepted by Allah based on text of this hadith.
This hadith complements Hadith 1, which was a criterion for judging the intentions or the internal actions of the heart. The Scholars say that the
acceptance of actions of Ibadah is based on the above two conditions:

  1. The intention – the action should be done with sincerity, for the sake of only Allah.
  2. It should be done in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi
    wasallam
    .

Apart from Hadith 1 and Hadith 5, the acceptance of actions can also be found in Surah Al-Kahf
(18): ayat 110:

Whoever looks forward to meeting his Sustainer (on Day of Judgement), let him do righteous
deeds, and let him not ascribe unto anyone or anything a share in the worship due to his Sustainer
.

Emulating and following the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, is a Qur’anic obligation.
Allah, the Almighty says:

Verily, in the apostle of God you have the best example to emulate for everyone who looks forward (with hope and awe) to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah unceasingly. [Surah Al-Ahzab (33): ayat 21].

Say (O Prophet):
If you love Allah, follow me, (and) Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.


lessons
This hadith is related to a very important concept which is following the Sunnah and violating this concept will lead to bida’ah [which will be discussed in detail, insha Allah, in Hadith 28].Scholars classify actions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, into actions done for the purpose of Ibadah (worshiping Allah) and actions which are not done for that purpose (i.e. customs, actions done haphazardly, etc.).
There are clear indicators for actions done for the purpose of Ibadah such as commands to do or not to do something, warnings for not doing something, etc.
Muslims are only obliged to follow the first kind of Sunnah.

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

Looking at it in a positive way, the actions (i.e.forms of ibadah) that we do should be done in accordance with the Shariah or the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, and to ensure this there is a criterion consisting
of five aspects that will keep our actions in check:

  1. Time
    Any ibadah that we do has to be done in it’s designated or specified time.
    E.g. There are fixed times in the day for the five prayers. For fasting,
    the month for fasting is Ramadhan. The period that we can fast is from
    fajr to sunset. Similarly, there is a specific time in the year
    when we can perform the Hajj – from the 8 to the 12 Zulhijjah.
  2. Place
    The Shariah has specified that certain ibadahs have to be performed
    in designated places. E.g. The places for performing the Hajj, I’tikaf,
    doing Ihram for Hajj have been fixed by the Shariah and this is something
    which is sometimes violated by Muslims, e.g. doing the Ihram (starting
    talbiyyah and niyyah for Hajj) in Jeddah is incorrect.
  3. Quantity
    For most of the ibadahs the Shariah has specified a certain number
    of times that the ibadahs or their components need to be performed.
    E.g. For prayers, there are specified number of rakaahs and sujud
    and for Tawaf there is a fixed number of rounds (7), etc. We should
    not violate these rules intentionally. To violate intentionally may
    make the ibadah subject to be rejected.

  4. Way
    Every ibadah was described or shown to us by the Prophet, sallallahu
    ‘alayhi wasallam
    – being our best model to follow and emulate. The
    way that the ibadahs are performed by him have to be followed
    – it should not be violated. E.g. There are different ways of performing
    different prayers – Salat ul-Janazah has no ruku’ or sujud.
    Even the size of the stones used for throwing at the Jamrat has been
    specified by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, as not
    to be too big.Before we perform any ibadah, we should know and learn the way
    the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, performed it and we
    should do it in the right way as he did it. The Prophet,
    sallallahu
    ‘alayhi wasallam
    , said, “Pray as you have seen me praying.”
    Many Muslims today violate the way ibadahs are performed, because
    of ignorance or because they do not bother to learn, and they end up
    doing the ibadah in the wrong way.
  5. Type
    If the Shariah has specified a type of ibadah, then we should
    stick to that type. E.g. Al-Udhiah (sacrifice) – the type of animal
    to be sacrificed has been specified by the Shariah and this should not
    be violated. Recently a Sheikh in one of the Muslim countries made a
    fatwa that Muslims can use chicken as sacrifice – this is a violation
    of the type. If a Muslim cannot afford to offer a sacrifice, then they
    don’t have to do it as it is not a wajib (i.e. an obligation).
    In certain years, some of the Sahabahs (companions) purposely did not
    perform the sacrifice so that the people did not think that it was a
    wajib.


~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

A clear distinction should be made about the actions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam – whether they were done only from time to time or whether they were done continuously on a regular basis. For example, some of the nawafil (extra prayers) are things which he, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, would do from time to time. We should observe this. E.g. Certain Surahs being recited on certain days – it is narrated that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, would sometimes recite Surah As-Sajdah (32) and Surah Al-Insan (76) on Fridays. But some Muslims would recite these two Surahs every Friday. We should be aware of this because if we do something regularly people will think that it is wajib even though it is not.If the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, did something only from time to time, then we too should do it from time to time, especially when we do it in congregation.

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

As it has been mentioned above, the actions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, were done for different purposes. There were actions which he, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, would do haphazardly. There are things he, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, would do because of the custom of that time. These actions were not done by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, for the purpose of ibadah. We too should not do these actions for
ibadah – our intentions should match the intentions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. The following are some examples:

  • At the time of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, the men used to have
    long hair – it was not done for the purpose of ibadah. So if anyone wants to keep long hair today, it should not be done for ibadah.
  • The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, used to open the top buttons of his shirt – this was because it was hot and not because for the purpose of ibadah.
  • The turban, at the time of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, was worn because it was the custom then.
  • Some hadiths mention the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, using a stick. Again this was not done for the purpose of ibadah.

We should not follow these examples of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, for the purpose of ibadah. How do we differentiate between the actions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, which were done for the purpose of ibadah and those which were not? The Scholars say if the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, commanded us to do an action or commanded us not to do something, then this is considered an ibadah. Or if the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, mentioned that the doer will receive certain rewards if an action is done, then it is an ibadah. Or if the failure for doing a certain action would result in punishment, then the action is an ibadah.

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

This issue of introducing something which doesn’t belong to the Shariah is associated with the concept that Islam is a complete religion [Surah Al-Ma’idah (5): ayat 3]:

Today have I perfected your religion for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of
My blessings, and willed that Islam shall be your Religion
.

Since it is complete, there is no need for additions or deletions to the religion.
Therefore to introduce some new matter into Islam or to delete/omit something from it is an affront to Allah and the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

 

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

 

Al-Imam al-Shatibi mentions that if certain actions are taken as ibadah where in reality they are not, this will lead to bid’ah. There is a hadith which tells the story of three men who only wanted to do ‘good deeds’ all the time – one said he will not get married, the second one said he will pray all night and not sleep, and the third said he will fast every
day. When the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, heard this, he said that he, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, was the most pious and righteous amongst the people and yet he did not do the things the way the men wanted to do them. This shows that the actions that the three men thought were ibadah would have resulted in bid’ah as
they weren’t practiced by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

 

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

Al-Shatibi also mentions that avoiding eating certain types of food for the purpose of ibadah should not be done. We can avoid these foods for health or other good reasons but not for the purpose of ibadah.

 

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

 

He also says that if there are two ways of fulfilling an obligation, we should follow the easier way. E.g. If the weather is cold and if we have the choice of using warm or cold water (for wudu’), we should use warm water. We shouldn’t
use cold water and inflict discomfort on ourselves, trying to show that we are stronger Muslims and hoping for extra rewards. Or if there is choice of going to two masjids (mosques) of different distances, we should go to the nearer one.
The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, was passing through a place when he noticed someone standing in the middle of the street in the sun. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, asked the Sahabahs what this man was doing. They said that he made a commitment to fast while standing in the sun. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, told them to tell the man to continue his fasting (because this was a good thing to do anyway and
fulfilling a commitment is an obligation) but to get out of the sun.

Scholars deduce that we should not attach any hardship to our ibadah hoping that it will make it more rewardable. Shariah is based on ease. Therefore we should always choose the easier way when performing an ibadah because
this will enable us to do it properly – if we were to choose the difficult route then we may, after a while, find difficulty in keeping to our commitment in performing this ibadah. An attached hardship to an ibadah, which has not been specified by the Shariah, should be avoided – we should not place any hardship in performing any ibadah.

 

~~~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~~~

The Scholars say if someone violates the Shariah by adding something new to an ibadah, the ibadah is rejected depending on what kind of violation has been done. For example, in prayer if someone violates its conditions,
then his ibadah will definitely not be accepted.
If an action is any kind of bid’ah, then it is subject to being rejected and the person who performed that action will be asked about it and might be subject to be punished. But if there is a valid excuse for doing that action,
the action will not be rewarded but the person may be excused and not punished by Allah.
In worldly dealings and transactions (e.g. Al-Mu’amalat), if someone changes/modifies the principles of the dealings and this violates the Shariah law, then that dealing or transaction is rejected. E.g. changing trading based on haram principles, etc.

Bid’ah (Innovation) and Adhering to the Sunnah

Filed under: Advanced, Bidah (Innovation) — Um Abdullah M. @ 6:09 pm

By Dr Jamal Ahmed Badi

It was narrated on the authority of Abu Najih al-Irbad bin Sariyah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said:

The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, delivered an admonition that made our hearts fearful and our eyes tearful. We said, “O Messenger of Allah, it is as if this were a farewell sermon, so advise us.” He said, “I enjoin you to have Taqwa of Allah and that you listen and obey, even if a slave is made a ruler over you. He among you who lives long enough will see many differences. So for you is to observe my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-principled and rightly-guided successors, holding on to them with your molar teeth. Beware of newly-introduced matters, for every innovation (bid’ah) is an error.”

[Abu Dawud & Al-Tirmidhi, who says it is an authentic hadith]

——————————————————————————–

background

In one of the narrations of this hadith, it is mentioned that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, gave this talk after the Fajr prayer. Based on other hadiths, it was the practice of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, to give admonition to his companions from time to time, however, without burdening nor boring them. Ibn Rajab points out the characteristics of the Prophet’s, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, speeches and admonitions: brief, concise, and conveyed in beautiful understandable manner.

The admonition consists of three main issues:

  1. To have taqwa of Allah where it is Allah’s Advice to all mankind.
  2. To listen and obey the leaders for it will lead to better management of the affairs of the community, of peace and unity. However, the hadith lays a fact that rightly-guided leadership will be the first Islamic concept to be violated.
  3. The hadith anticipates a historical fact: i.e. the Muslim disunity and split into groups and sects due to heresies. It indicates the main principle to be followed in such situations: adhering to the sunnah.

The emphasis, then, in the advice given in the hadith is to adhere to the sunnah and to avoid bid’ah (heresy).


Lessons

Introductory statements about adhering to the sunnah

The Prophet’s, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, actions may be classified as follows:

  • Those that are specific to the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, such as continuous fasting (wisal).
  • Actions that are related to the culture of his time, such as the turban, unbuttoning the top shirt button, keeping long hair, using a walking stick.
  • Actions resulting from spontaneous or haphazard actions. For example, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, used to stop at particular places during a journey or take a certain route for a journey.
  • Actions that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, performed intentionally for the purpose of ibadah.

Scholars state that Muslims are only obliged to follow the last type of action.

Note: An act is considered an ibadah if there are authentic hadiths mentioning that the act is an ibadah, or that it will be rewarded, or that the one who does it is praised, or that the one who does not perform it is blamed or cursed or will be punished.

Scholars stated that to consider an action as a sunnah, two conditions must be met. Not only are the outward actions of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, to be imitated, but the intention of the act must be the same. For example, wearing a turban should not be done with the intention of performing an ibadah. If one has the intention of merely following the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, then one will rewarded for that intention only.

Imam Shatibi states the principle that if there are two ways to perform an ibadah, one being easier than the other, then it is obligatory to take the easier way. For example, if on a cold winter’s night there is an option of using cold or hot water, then one takes the easy option, i.e. using the hot water. This principle is derived form the Qur’an, Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 185.

Another principle that Imam Shatibi states is that when one does a preferable action or mustahab, one should not commit oneself to doing it in a set manner. For example, one should not say that he shall read two juzu’ a day, or will fast every Monday and/or Thursday on a continuous basis without stopping from time to time.

The reasons one should not commit oneself to non-obligatory acts are because:

  • It is not made obligatory by shari’ah.
  • It goes against the general principles of the shari’ah (al-Baqarah: 185).
  • If one commits himself to do non-obligatory ibadah on a regular basis, it comes close to being a vow (nazr) which is not a preferable act (makruh).
  • If one makes a commitment and sticks to it, one might get fed up with the action later on and stop doing it altogether.

Therefore, it is better to do good deeds based on one’s personal capacity, encouraging oneself to continue performing the deed.

Imam Shatibi has established that there are two types of bid’ah:

  1. Genuine bid’ah – Any form of ibadah for which there is no evidence in the Qur’an nor from the sunnah.
  2. ‘Relative’ bid’ah. Any form of ibadah for which there is a general evidence from the Qur’an and/or sunnah but no explicit/specific evidence. An example is the du’a in congregation. There are general evidences for making du’a, but there is no explicit/specific evidence to perform it in congregation on a continuous basis.

Imam Ahmad Zarouq (899H) adds a third category which is: un-agreed upon heresy or bid’ah khilafiyyah. This is acceptable form of ibadah to some scholars and it is bid’ah according to other scholars such as the later given example.

General rules and principles to differentiate between bid’ah and sunnah

(extracted by Imam Shatibi)

  1. An ibadah (ritual of worship) cannot be formulated unless there is evidence from wahy (revelation). Another way of saying this is that ibadah is restricted by the shari’ah. The evidence for this is the hadith of Aishah which states that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said, “Whoever performs an action that is not according to our way will be rejected.” (al-Bukhari) [See Hadith 5]
  2. If there is a beneficial act that existed during the time of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, yet the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, did not perform it as a act of ibadah, then we cannot perform it as an act of ibadah.An act of ibadah may be performed due to a number of reasons:

    a. If an act is considered a need to motivate people because of their laxity and carelessness, then that act is a bid’ah and cannot be performed. For example, Abdul Malik bin Marwan gave the Eid khutbah before the prayer because people left after the prayers.

    b. If the act is considered a need due to the natural circumstances of the people and there was no need during the time of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, then it is considered as maslahah mursalah. For example, the compilation of the Qur’an, the use of the mihrab, the existing schooling system, the use of loudspeakers during the adhan, etc.

  3. If the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, performed an act and then stopped due to a certain reason, we may perform that act provided the reason no longer exists. For example, the Tarawih prayers – the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, stopped performing them after a time because he was afraid that it would be made compulsory. After his death, there is no way that the Tarawih prayers will become compulsory as the time of wahy has passed.
  4. Avoiding any act of worship that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, did not perform is considered a sunnah (sunnah tarkiyyah).
  5. Performing an act which has been made into an ibadah by:

    a. Generalising evidences that relate to a specific ibadah. In other words, removing the limits of an act that has been limited by the shari’ah. An example is that there are certain adhkar whose number of repetitions have been limited by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam – for example, the adhkar after prayers. To remove these limits, i.e. make more than the specified number of repetitions, is a bid’ah.

    b. Specifying a general evidence to a particular act. In other words, limiting an act that is unlimited by the shari’ah. An example is to specifically fast on Friday and pray on Friday evening. Other examples are to call the adhan for the Eid prayer (by using the general hadith for the adhan) and performing a certain set of dhikr for a certain time/day. These acts are considered bid’ah.

  6. Connecting an act of ibadah to an unrelated action (either a natural action or a act of ibadah) and making them appear as a continuous action, might be a bid’ah or lead to bid’ah, depending on the situation:

    a. Intentionally. This is a bid’ah.

    b. Unintentionally. If the connection is repeatedly made in public, then it could lead to a bid’ah (because people might think the actions were related).

    An example is that at the time of Imam Malik, it was reported that the muadhin would purposely clear his throat before giving the adhan. When he was made to stop by Imam Malik, he would then purposely hit a stick against the side of the minaret before giving the adhan. Imam Malik stopped him from doing this as well, and said, “Do not do something which has not been practised by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, nor by his companions.”

    Another example is to stand up immediately after performing the fardh prayers to perform the sunnah prayers where people without knowledge may get confused.

    ….

  7. Any non-obligatory action which is permitted by the shari’ah but by repeatedly performing in public makes it appear to be a fardh, then that action should be stopped occasionally. An example is the recitation of Surah as-Sajdah and Surah al-Insan in the Friday Fajr prayer. Another is that the Companions (Abu Bakr and Umar) occasionally did not perform udhiah.
  8. Not everybody who commits a bid’ah will be considered a mubtadi’ (the one who commits a heresy). Some of them will be excused. This principle also applies to one who commits acts of kufr (disbelief) i.e. not everyone who commits kufr is a kafir.The excuses are:

    a.Someone lives in a place where there is no scholar who can establish the evidence, remove misconceptions and offer guidance.

    b.Someone who is a new Muslim. That person is excused until he knows about the issues involved.

    c.If there are misconceptions related to the situation, that person is excused until these are removed.

    d.The un-agreed upon acts.

  9. It is important to differentiate between innovation that is kufr or leads to kufr, and one that isn’t. Any innovation which is not kufr or does not lead to kufr is worse than a ma’siat (sin) but with regards to the Hereafter, it falls under the same category of ma’siat, i.e. the innovator may be punished or he may be forgiven and not punished.[Note: according to Ibn Taimiyyah, there are 10 reasons why one isn’t punished, among which are:

    a. One’s rewards outweigh his sins.

    b. Trials and hardship undergone in this world.

    c. Intercession of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

    d. Intercession of a good Muslim.

    e. Punishment in the grave.]

  10. There are two opinions about one who commits a bid’ah:

    a. Only the action committed with the bid’ah will not be accepted.

    b. All deeds will not be accepted from that person, provided the person is not excused or has not repented.

Clarification of the second opinion:

Imam Shatibi argues that you will not find someone committing an innovation in only one action, i.e. if one commits a bid’ah in the prayers, it is most likely that he will be committing bid’ah in zakat, hajj, etc.

Imam Shatibi states that this opinion may be interpreted in three ways:

  • The statement is taken at face value, i.e. all deeds, obligatory (fard) or recommended (sunnah), will not be accepted.
  • That the bid’ah is a basic belief that can negate all of a person’s actions. For example, the Rafidah’s bid’ah of rejecting the Companions’ results in not accepting the hadith and claiming that the Qur’an is incomplete.
  • The manifestation of an innovation is a sign of a person not having a sound grounding in the shari’ah, not ‘respecting’ the shari’ah or placing the intellect ahead of the shari’ah.Based on Hadith 5 of Imam al-Nawawi’s collection it seems that the first opinion is sounder in the case of those who follow the sunnah in general.——————————————————————————–conclusion In order to adhere to the sunnah and to be able to refrain from heresy (bid’ah), a Muslim needs to fully understand and apply these principles pinpointed by our great scholars. Doing so can also minimize disputes and quarrels among Muslim community members over many debatable issues every now and then.

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