Bid’ah – Innovation in Islam


    Wa sharrul Umoori Muhdathaatuhaa, Wa kulla Bid’atin dhaialah, wa kulla dhalatin fin-naar” Al-Hadith (Sahih Muslim). Translation of the above Hadith: Every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance goes to Hell fire.

    Kullu bida’tin daiala: “Every innovation is a misguidance”? Doesn’t the term “every” include all innovations?” Such an objection stems from the misinterpretation of the term kull (“every”) in the Hadith to be all encompassing without exception, whereas in Arabic it may mean “Nearly all” or “the vast majority.” This is how al-Shafi’i understood it or else he would have never allowed for any innovation whatsoever to be considered good, and he is considered a hujja or “Proof,” that is, reference without peer for questions regarding the Arabic language. The stylistic figure of meaning the part by the whole, or nechdoche in English is in Arabic: ‘abbara ‘an al-kathratf bi at-kulliyya. This is illustrated by the use of kull in the following verse 46:25 of the Quran in a selective or partial sense not a universal sense:
    “Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings”. Thus, the dwellings were not destroyed although “all” things had been destroyed. “All” here means specifically the lives of the unbelievers of ‘Ad and their properties except their houses.

    Prophetic saying as stated in Sahih Muslim is known even to common Muslims, let alone scholars: “He who inaugurates a good practice (sanna fil-islam sunnatun hasana) in Islam earns the reward of it, and of all who perform it after him, without diminishing their own rewards in the least. ” Tirmizi, Page 92.

    Imam Nawawi said in Sahih Muslim (6-21):
    “The Prophet’s saying ‘every innovation is a general-particular and it is a reference to most innovations. The linguists say, ‘Innovation is any act done without a previous pattern, and it is of five different kinds.”‘ Imam Nawawi also said in Tahzeeb al Asma’wal Sifaat, “Innovation in religious law is to originate anything which did not exist during the time of the Prophet, and it is divided into good and bad.” He also said, “al-muhdathat (pi. for muhdatha) is to originate something that has no roots in religious law. In the tradition of religious law, it is called innovation, and if it has an origin within the religious law, then it is not innovation. Innovation in religious law is disagreeable, unlike in the language where everything that has been originated without a previous pattern is called innovation regardless of whether it is good or bad.”

    Sheikh al-Islam lbn Hajar Al Asqalani, the commentator on al-Bukhari, said, “Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s time is called innovation, but some are good while others are not.”

    Abu Na’eem, narrated from Ibrahim al-Junaid, said, “I heard Ash-Shafi’i saying, ‘Innovation is of two types: praiseworthy innovation and blameworthy innovation, and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.”

    Imam al Bayhaqi narrated in Manaqib Ash-Shafi’i that he said, “Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Quran, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is an innovation of deception, while a good innovation does not contradict any of these things.”

    Clearly, we can see from the opinions of the righteous scholars, that to define innovations in worship as wholly negative without exception is ignorant. For these pious knowers, among them, Imam Shafi’i and Imam Nawawi, declared that innovations could be divided into good and bad, based on their compliance with, or deviance from religious law. Can the latter day scholars of Islam (who came after I 1 00 years) claim that they understand the Quran and Hadith better than the Sahaba and the Salaf-Us-Saliheen? If ‘every’ innovation is a misguidance then the following too are all innovations which originated two centuries or more after Sahaba RA: Reading eight raka in Tarawih; Translations of Quran; Writing Tafseers; collection and classification of Ahaadiths; Principles of Jurisprudence; The four schools of Fiqh, Stoned and carpeted Mosques, use of loud speakers in mosques etc.

    Therefore, anything that does not have roots originating to the Quran and Sunnah is considered a bad innovation. But the following practices, such as recitation of the Quran in gatherings; Recital of Darud-Sharif (Salaat-o-Salaam) in gatherings and Mawlid (commemorating the birth and Seerah of the Holy Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him) has clear and authenticated roots to the Quran and Sunnah. Where in Quran and Hadith all these gatherings are declared as haram or prohibited? Proof of such acts is indicated as follows: On Mawlid: “Abi Qatadat said that the Prophet was asked about fasting on Monday and he said ‘That was the day I was born.”‘ This Hadith is a clear evidence of the importance of the commemoration of the Prophet’s e birthday through worship. Al-Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his book Lataif al-maarif (p. 98), in explaining this Hadith of Muslim said, “It is good to fast on the days that Allah honored and favored his servants.”

    It is incumbent not only on Muslims but on all human beings to rejoice in his advent, the day of his birth. As al-Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said, “The best favor that Allah has granted this nation is the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when he was sent to humanity. ” We did not send you except as a mercy to the whole Universe’ (AlAnbiya’107. So we review and recall Allah’s favor of sending the Prophet by fasting on that day”. ‘Of the favor and mercy of Allah let them rejoice” (Yunus, 58).

    Below is a divine order for all the believers to send Salutations on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Allah has said in the Quran- Allah and His angels sends blessings on the Prophet (pbuh)”-. O’you believes! You too send Salutation on beloved Prophet (pbuh)” (33:56)

    What does the Quran say about Dhiker in gatherings’?
    “Those men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise. For them has Allah prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35)
    “Those who remember their Lord standing, and sitting, and lying on their sides” (3:191)
    ” Men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from Remembrance of Allah nor from regular Salaat, nor from regular practice of Zakaat. (24:37)
    “Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah! Aye! It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort;” (13: 28)

    What do the Hadith say about Dhiker in gatherings?
    Hadith Qudsi: “Those that remember Me in their heart, I remember them in My heart; and those that remember Me in a gathering, I remember them (i.e. make mention of them) in a gathering better than theirs. (This can include recitation of Quran, Durood (Salat-o-Salaam) and other Dhiker Allah)
    In Bukhari and Muslim: The Prophet (pbuh) said that Allah has angels roaming the roads to find the people of dhikr, i.e. those who say La Ilaha Illa llah and similar expressions, and when they find a group of people (Qaom) reciting dhikr, they call each other and encompass them in layers until the first heaven — the location of which is in Allah’s knowledge. (This is to say, an unlimited number of angels are going to be over that group
    Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “When you pass by the gardens of Paradise, avail yourselves of them.” The Companions asked: “What are the gardens of Paradise, 0 Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “The circles of dhikr. There are roaming angels of Allah who go about looking for the circles of dhikr, and when they rind them they surround them closely.” Tirmidhi narrated it (Hasan Gharib) and Ahmad.

    Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “When any group of men remember Allah, angels surround them and mercy covers them, tranquility descends upon them, and Allah mentions them to those who are with Him.” Narrated by Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, lbn Majah, and Bayhaqi.

    Those who call upon Bida’h (innovations):
    For those who insist on scrutinizing Bida’h should rather pay more attention to Haram and major sins. The following are typical examples that majority of the Ummah is engaged in everyday and so routinely which are often overlooked and justified through obtaining Fatwa’s for the purpose of legitimizing their actions:

    Buying houses on mortgages (interest);
    Holding Credit on credit cards;
    Eating non halal meat and foods
    Disobedience to parents and ill treatment of either wife or husband;
    Sending of children to Islamic school but not practicing Islam themselves
    Calling other Muslim brothers Miskeen (poor) based upon nationality
    Undue extravagance: Luxuries (Castles, Rolls Royces, Cadillacs etc);
    Engaging in fraud and corruption.

    Islam cannot be customized to suit individual needs and lifestyles. This is a great hypocrisy. One can ask themselves how pious and strict follower of the Quran and Sunnah, am I in reality? Stay away from haram, shirk and Kufr and try to follow other Hadiths as well in order to fulfill the claim of being strict followers of Quran and Sunnah.

    Allah knows best.


      • Thank you very much for your question,Sunnah and Bidi'a are two different things,The Sunna refers to the divine physical and moral laws set out in the universe and in the Qurʾan. However, the term is used most commonly in reference to the example and customary practice of the prophet Muhammad. The Prophet's Sunna has more than one usage in Muslim tradition. As a technical term used in the shariʿa (Islamic law), it refers to the binding rules derived from the Prophet's sayings, or hadith. The Sunna then represents the laws that can be extracted from the hadith. As such, it is the second most important source of law after the Qurʾan. In a more general meaning, often used by jurists and theologians, the Sunna refers also to all the customs and habits of the Prophet, including his everyday life practices, that are not considered by the shariʿa as obligatory. Hence the term Sunna is often used in the sense of recommended or good practice. Examples of this are the supererogatory prayers and fasting the Prophet performed over and above the prescribed rituals. These are referred to as Sunna prayers or Sunna fasting.
        While Bid‘ah (Arabic: بدعة‎) is any type of innovation in Islam. Though innovations in worldly matters, such as science, medicine and technology are acceptable and encouraged, Bid`ah within the religion is often seen as a sin or innuendo, and the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), stated as such:
        “Whosoever originates an innovation in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.
        Or in other way I can say that,According to another definition of bid'ah is anything that is introduced to Islam as either being fard, mustahabb, makruh or haram and/or that contradicts the Quran or hadith. Any new good practice that is practiced that does not contradict the Quran or hadith is permissible. However, it is not permissible to say that a new good practice (that does not contradict the Quran or hadith) is obligatory or highly recommended. Allah knows best.

    1. Do you consider the use of loud speakers on Mosques to be a good or bad bid'ah? The Azan is supposed to be spoken by the human voice. The large speakers distort the human voice almost beyond recognition. If one were not familar with the words being spoken, they would be impossible to recognize coming loudly, and distorted from the speaker. Your thoughts please.

    2. Assalam alykm brothers and sisters

      I am sorry to reveal that I cant agree with the conclusion of this article. Almost all the quotes in this article are in favour of PROHIBITION OF INNOVATION (BIDA’H).

      FIRST QUOTE, ; “Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings”{ Quran 46;25}. Notice the End part phrase الا مسّكنهم which means ‘except (save) their dwellings’ . This means that had it been that there was no such end phrase then the word “kull” could unarguably mean “ALL”.

      SECOND QUOTE, “He who inaugurates a good practice (sanna fil-islam sunnatun hasana) in Islam earns the reward of it, and of all who perform it after him, without diminishing their own rewards in the least. ” Tirmizi, Page 92. If we analyse the time when and the reason (سبب=sabab) why this hadeeth was delivered, then it’s a blowback (backfire) to those who favour so-called good innovation. This hadeeth was delivered when some poor muslims came to the prophet in Medina and he asked the sahaba (if they could) to give sadaka to these poor muslims. One of the sahaba came forward and gave sadaka, upon seeing that other sahaba came forward and them too offered sadaka. That’s after then the prophet (SAW) delivered the hadeeth. By the way, sadaka was already sunnah by that time.

      THIRD QUOTE Imam Nawawi”… Innovation in religious law is disagreeable,…” I don’t need to explain here.

      FOURTH QUOTE Abu Na’eem and imam al Bayhaqi respectively reported ““I heard Ash-Shafi’i saying, ‘Innovation is of two types: praiseworthy innovation and blameworthy innovation, and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.” AND(al Bayhaqi) “Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Quran, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is an innovation of deception, while a good innovation does not contradict any of these things.”. Linguistically,here the praiseworthy innovation (good innovation= bidat hasana) is the act that does not contradict the Quran and the sunnah i.e it has a basis in Islam. For example Umar (RA) REVIVED the act of praying in congregation under one Imam in Taraweeh and himself said “what a good innovation”. But you have to know that praying under one imam in Taraweeh had a basis in Islam since the prophet had led the Taraweeh prayer himself before, STILL, LINGUISTICALLY UMAR SAID “WHAT A GOOD INNOVATION”.

      I wanted to expound more on Dhiker in gatherings but that needs a separate space and it is also a separate topic on its own.

      To those who come up with newly invented matters, I say to them,we have a lot of sunnah in Islam that we must (should) do. WE FAIL TO DO SUNNAH IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE, THEN WHY SHOULD WE TURN TO BIDA’H.


    3. Nkhaniyo nkhaniyo! We are learning a lot from the site i tell you and it is indeed here to enlighten the ummah.The choice rests in everyone's hands.Please muslims make use of the digests posted.very educative.

    4. Thank you for this enlightening article.reading through the article,it seems to me that it requires alot of reading for one to understand the issues of bidi,at.we just have to pray to Allah to guid us and give us knowledge on these issues.

      Allah knows better

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