Definition of Innovation


Imam Sufyaan ath-Thawri  advised one of his Brothers:

“Today, people are not able to discern between truth and falsehood, and none will be saved from this predicament except for someone who invokes Allah with the same instensity and feeling with which a drowning man invokes Allah for help. Do you know anyone who is at that level? It used to be said: ‘The time draws near for the people when the wise among them will find no joy (but will instead be constantly worried about the degeneration of Muslim society).’ Fear Allah, the Possessor of might and majesty. Be a man of solitude; occupy your time with yourself (with preparing for the Hearafter); and seek companionship with the Book of Allah (Azza wa Jal).” Source: Biography of Imam Sufyaan ath-Thawri

Definition of bid’ah (Innovation)

1. Definition of bid’ah
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “According to sharee’ah, the definition is ‘Worshipping Allaah in ways that Allaah has not prescribed.’ If you wish you may say, ‘Worshipping Allaah in ways that are not those of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his rightly guided successors (al-khulafaa’ al-raashidoon).’”
The first definition is taken from the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Or have they partners with Allaah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allaah has not ordained?”
(Glorious Qur’aan: Surah Al-Shooraa, 42: v21)

The second definition is taken from the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who said:
“I urge you to adhere to my way (Sunnah) and the way of the rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-raashidoon) who come after me. Hold fast to it and bite onto it with your eyeteeth [i.e., cling firmly to it], and beware of newly-invented matters.”

So everyone who worships Allaah in a manner that Allaah has not prescribed or in a manner that is not in accordance with the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or his rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-raashidoon), is an innovator, whether that innovated worship has to do with the names and attributes of Allaah, or to do with His rulings and laws.

With regard to ordinary matters of habit and custom, these are not called bid’ah (innovation) in Islam, even though they may be described as such in linguistic terms. But they are not innovations in the religious sense, and these are not the things that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was warning us against.
And there is no such thing in Islam as bid’ah hasanah (good innovation).”
(Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, vol. 2, p. 291)
2. Categories of bid’ah
Bid’ah may be divided into two categories:
(i) bid’ah which constitutes kufr
(ii) bid’ah which does not constitute kufr
If you ask, what is the definition of bid’ah which constitutes kufr and that which does not constitute kufr?
The answer is:
Shaykh Haafiz al-Hukami (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The kind of bid’ah which constitutes kufr is when one denies a matter on which there is scholarly consensus, which widely-known, and which no Muslim can have any excuse for not knowing, such as denying something that is obligatory, making something obligatory that is not obligatory, or making something haraam halaal, or making something halaal haraam; or believing some notion about Allaah, His Messenger and His Book when they are far above that, whether in terms of denial of affirmation, because that means disbelieving in the Qur’aan and in the message with which Allaah sent His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
Examples include the bid’ah of the Jahamiyyah, who denied the attributes of Allaah; or the notion that the Qur’aan was created; or the notion that some of the attributes of Allaah were created; or the bid’ah of the Qadariyyah who denied the knowledge and actions of Allaah; or the bid’ah of the Mujassimah who likened Allaah to His creation… etc.
The second category, bid’ah which does not constitute kufr, is defined as that which does not imply rejection of the Qur’aan or of anything with which Allaah sent His Messengers.
Examples include the Marwaani bid’ahs (which were denounced by the greatest Sahaabah who did not approve of them, although they did not denounce them as kaafirs or refuse to give them bay’ah because of that), such as delaying some of the prayers until the end of the due times, doing the Eid khutbah before the Eid prayer, delivering the khutbah whilst sitting down on Fridays, etc.
(Ma’aarij al-Qubool, 2/503-504)

3. The ruling on one who commits bid’ah – is he regarded as a kaafir or not?
The answer is that it depends.
If the bid’ah constitutes kufr, then the person is one of the following two types:
(i) Either it is known that his intention is to destroy the foundations of Islam and make the Muslims doubt it. Such a person is definitely a kaafir; indeed, he is a stranger to Islam and is one of the enemies of the faith.
(ii) Or he is deceived and confused; he cannot be denounced as a kaafir until proof is established against him, fair and square.
If the bid’ah does not constitute kufr, then he should not be denounced as a kaafir. Rather, he remains a Muslim, but he has done a gravely evil action.
If you ask, how should we deal with those who commit bid’ah?
The answer is:
Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “In both cases, we have to call these people – who claim to be Muslim but who commit acts of bid’ah which may constitute kufr or may be less than that – to the truth, by explaining the truth without being hostile or condemning what they are doing. But once we know that they are too arrogant to accept the truth – for Allaah says, ‘And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allaah, lest they insult Allaah wrongfully without knowledge.’ [al-An’aam 6:108] – if we find out that they are stubborn and arrogant, then we should point out their falsehood, because then pointing out their falsehood becomes an obligation upon us.
With regard to boycotting them, that depends upon the bid’ah. If it is a bid’ah which constitutes kufr, then it is obligatory to boycott the person who does it. If it is of a lesser degree than that, then it is essential to examine the situation further. If something may be achieved by boycotting the person, then we do it; if no purpose will be served by it, or if it will only make him more disobedient and arrogant, then we should avoid doing that, because whatever serves no purpose, it is better not to do it. And also in principle it is haraam to boycott a believer, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘It is not permissible for a man to forsake [not speak to] his brother for more than three [days].’”
(Adapted from Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, vol. 2, p. 293)

1. Allaah described His awliyaa’ (close friends) as having two characteristics: Eemaan (faith) and Taqwa (piety, awareness of Allaah). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“No doubt! Verily, the Awliyaa’ of Allaah [i.e., those who believe in the Oneness of Allaah and fear Allaah much and love Allaah much], nor fear shall be upon them nor shall they grieve, – those who believe (in the Oneness of Allaah) and used to fear Allaah much”
(Glorious Qur’aan: Surah Yoonus, 10: v62-63)
2. The true awliyaa’ of Allaah do not go against what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) brought. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against innovated matters in religion, because Allaah has perfected His religion and completed His favour upon His slaves. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”
(Glorious Qur’aan: Surah Al-Maa’idah, 5: v3)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.”
3. Therefore one can distinguish between the walee (close friend) of Allaah and the walee of the Shaytaan, by looking at the person’s character, behaviour and religious commitment – does he pray regularly in jamaa’ah in the mosque, for example? Does he avoid wrongfully consuming people’s property? Does he avoid going against Islam by either adding or taking away anything? And so on.
4. It is not permissible for a Muslim to innovate any dhikr to recite regularly or to tell others to do so – such as awraad/wird, ma’thooraat or du’aas. The adhkaar that were reported in the saheeh Sunnah are sufficient for this, otherwise a person is an innovator or one who calls others to bid’ah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 2550; Muslim, 1718). According to a report narrated by Muslim: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) will have it rejected.”
Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“This hadeeth represents one of the most important principles in Islam. It is like a scale against which the external appearances of deeds are measured, just as the hadeeth “Actions are but by intention” is the scale against which the inner motivations of actions are measured. Just as every deed which is not done for the sake of Allaah will bring no reward for the one who does it, so also every deed which is not in accordance with the way of Allaah and His Messenger will be rejected and thrown back at the one who does it. Anyone who innovates new things in the religion and does things for which Allaah and His Messenger have not granted permission, this is not a part of the religion at all.”
(Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam, 1/180)
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“This hadeeth is one of the most important basic principles of Islam, and it is one of the most concise and comprehensive sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). It clearly states that innovations and newly invented matters will be rejected. The second report adds another idea, which is that some of those who follow the innovations of others may become stubborn when they are presented with the evidence of the first report which says, “Whoever innovates something…” They may say, “I am not innovating anything”. But he may in this case be presented with the evidence of the second report, which says, “Whoever does any action…” This clearly shows that all innovated actions will be rejected, whether the one who does them innovates them himself or is following someone else who innovated it. This hadeeth is one that should be learned by heart and used to denounce evil actions and be spread as evidence so that all people may use it.”
(Sharh Muslim, 12/16)
5. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“No doubt adhkaar and du’aa’s are among the best forms of worship, and worship is one of the matters in which there is no room for personal opinions – we have to follow what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did and taught, not our own whims and desires or innovations. The du’aa’s and adhkaar of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) are the best that anyone could find. The one who follows this way will be safe and sound, and the benefits and positive results that he will gain are beyond description. Any other du’aa’s and adhkaar may be haraam or they may be makrooh; they may involve shirk even though most people do not realize that – the details of this would take too long to explain here.
No one has the right to teach the people any kinds of du’aa’s or adhkaar apart from those that are mentioned in the Sunnah, or to make it a kind of regular worship which he expects the people to do regularly as they do the five daily prayers – this is the innovation in religion which Allaah does not allow… As for adopting a wird or regularly reciting a dhikr that is not prescribed in sharee’ah, this is one of the things that is not allowed. The du’aa’s and adhkaar prescribed by sharee’ah are the best that anyone could ever hope to find, and no one ignores them in favour of newly-invented, innovated adhkaar except one who is ignorant, negligent or a wrongdoer.”
(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/510-511)

With regard to Abu Bakr compiling the Qur’aan, this is not bid’ah, rather it is Sunnah such as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined us to adhere to when he said: “I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided khaleefahs after me.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2676; Abu Dawood, 4607; Ibn Maajah, 42. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, by al-Haakim, 1/177; and by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2549, from the hadeeth of al-‘Irbaad ibn Saariyah). This is one of the Sunnahs of the Rightly-Guided Khaleefah Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him).
Bid’ah means seeking to draw close to Allaah by means of acts of worship for which there is no precedent (in sharee’ah). The Qur’aan was compiled in people’s hearts and it was compiled on tablets kept by some of the Sahaabah. Compiling all of it in one place or on one tablet does not involve anything that is to be denounced.
Zayd ibn Thaabit said – when Abu Bakr delegated him to collect the Mushaf – I sought the Qur’aan and I gathered it from pieces, i.e., leaves, patches of leather, shoulder-blades of sheep and camels, leaves of palm trees, and the hearts of men.
Al-Qaadi Abu Bakr al-Baaqillaani mentioned the justification for the action of Abu Bakr, the five most important points of which were:
1. That the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not do that for a reason, and Abu Bakr did it because there was a need for it.
2. Allaah referred in the Qur’aan to al-Suhuf al-Oola (the former Scriptures – al-A’laa 89:19], and He stated that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had something similar in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning]:
“reciting (the Qur’aan) purified pages [purified from Al-Baatil (falsehood)]. Wherein are correct and straight laws from Allaah”
(Glorious Qur’aan: Surah Al-Bayyinah, 98: v2-3)
So this [action of Abu Bakr] was following that which was prescribed by Allaah and His Messenger.
3. By doing that, their intention was to fulfil the words of Allaah:
“Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’aan) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption)”
(Glorious Qur’aan: Surah Al-Hijr, 15: v9)
It was preserved with Him, and He told us that He would preserve it after it had been sent down. Part of His preserving it was His enabling the Sahaabah to gather it and to agree upon how its spelling and punctuation were to be regulated.
4. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had scribes to whom he dictated it, so that everyone would understand from this that it should be written down and preserved on sheets. If Allaah’s guarantee to preserve it meant that the ummah would have nothing to do with it, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would not have had it written down after Allaah had told him of His guarantee to preserve it. But it is known that the way in which Allaah has preserved it is by causing us to preserve it and making that easy for us, and showing us how it is to be written down.
5. It is proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade traveling with the Qur’aan to the land of the enemy. This indicates that it was written down and that the people used to take it with them when they travelled.
Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi said: this is the clearest evidence for anyone who studies the issue.
(See Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 2/612)

READ HERE FOR THE POSITION OF THE COMPANIONS ON BIDAH/INNOVATION https://thesunnahway.wordpress.com/position-of-salaf-on-innovators/

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Posted November 5, 2010 by thesunnahway

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