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Bid’ah (Innovation) (2)
 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on September 24, 1999)

Every innovation in the matters of deen is a deviation.

In an authentic hadith reported by Imams At-Tirmithi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said: "...So follow my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifahs. Bite down on it with your molars, and watch out for the innovations for every bid'ah (innovation) is a deviation."

Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "...The worst thing is any addition for every addition is a bid'ah (an innovation)."

And in another authentic narration reported by Imam An-Nasa'i the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "And every bid'ah innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire."

Last week, we mentioned the same authentic ahadith of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) about the bid'ah (innovation) and we learned about its definition and its different levels. Today, I will continue on the same subject.

Innovation is worse than sin and more dangerous

Because the disobedient knows that he disobeys Allah (S.W.T.), and he may repent for his sin, but the innovator usually does not repent for his innovation, because he believes that his innovation is part of the deen, so how does he repent from something that he believes will get him closer to Allah (S.W.T.)? About this, Imam Sufian Ath-Thawri said: "Satan prefers innovation to sins, because it's less likely to repent from."

A man came to Imam Malik and said: "Oh Abu Abdallah, where do I start my Ihram? He replied from Thee-Al-Hulaiffah, where the prophet (S.A.W.) started his Ihram. The man said: I want to start my Ihram at the Masjid where the grave is. Malik said: Do’nt do it, I fear that you may be falling in fitnah. The man said: And what fitnah is this? It is only few miles I will added. Malik said: What is a greater fitnah than the one where you see yourself racing the prophet (S.A.W.) to a virtue that he fell short of, then he said: I heard that Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat An-Nur, (verse 63) what can be translated as, " …And let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment, beware, lest some fitnah (trials) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them." {See the book of Al’I’tissam by Imam Ash-Shatibi, 1/132}

In an authentic narration reported by Imams At-Tirmithi and Al-Hakim: Abdullah Ibn Omar (R.A.) rejected what a man added to the phrase "Al- Hamdulillah" after sneezing: "He heard a man sneeze. After sneezing, the man said: Al-Hamdulillah and prayer and peace be upon the messenger of Allah. So Abdullah said to him: That was not what the prophet (S.A.W.) taught us. But he said: "If one of you sneezes let him praise Allah." and he did not say: and invoke the prayer on the messenger of Allah (S.W.T.)."

What is considered innovation and what is not?

The companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) did not innovate in their collection of the Qur'an in one book after it was dispersed, because their deed was but a mean from the means of preserving Qur'an, and the means might change with time. Innovations have nothing to do with the means, rather it is related to ibadat.

Among the deeds that are not considered innovations are the means that are adopted to perform some acts of worship or improving them. For example:

  • Building schools and adding classrooms to accomplish the obligation of acquiring knowledge. Because building schools and adding classrooms is means not part of the deen.
  • Using the loud speakers in the masjid for the prayers and for classes. Because using the loud speakers is means not part of the deen.
  • Putting lines on the prayer carpet in some masajid to make straight prayer lines easier. Because putting lines on the prayer carpet is means not part of the deen.

All these and other similar are not rejected innovations, even if they did not exist and were not practices during the life of the prophet (S.A.W.). Because they are not considered as part of ibadah and deen. Also, the one who performs these acts dos not believe that he is adding anything to the deen to get closer to Allah (S.W.T.).

The rule of an action may vary from one situation to another.

The same action may be considered an innovation and must to be rejected, but it is not in a different situation. This depends on the motive behind the action and the intention of the doer, because actions are according to the intentions. There are many examples for this.

  • Leaving marriage becomes a rejected innovation if it was for the sake of getting closer to Allah (S.W.T.), but it is not an innovation in a different setting like the one who leaves marriage because he is not able.

  • Fasting one particular day during the week, like Tuesday becomes a rejected innovation if one believes that this day has some divine significance that the deen did not have any consideration for. But it is not an innovation if it was based on a different reason like a person fasting that day because it is his day off from work.

  • Leaving something that is allowed to get closer to Allah becomes a rejected innovation like leaving the shade for the sake of worship and it is not an innovation in a different case.

The most important reasons that lead to innovations.

  • Ignorance in the deen while focusing on getting closer to Allah (S.W.T.).
  • Blind imitation of others in matters of deen without the divine evidence.
How do we confront innovations and deal with innovators?

We know from Imam Ahs-Shatibi that innovations are not of the same level, rather they vary from a clear kufr to a disputed kufr to major and minor sins. So dealing with innovations should be according to its level.

So it is not fair to treat them all the same. The same thing can be said about confronting those innovators. So an innovator that is affecting only himself is less dangerous than the one who calls people to follow and adopt his innovations.

It is a must that we confront innovations in three different ways:

  • Confronting the innovator by showing that his innovation is wrong according to the divine evidence so that he becomes knowledgeable about his innovations. The confrontation is to be done in privet. Otherwise, it may become difficult for him to accept any argument against his innovation to reach the truth.
  • Confronting the followers of innovators by showing them the danger of their innovation using divine evidence. This should be conducted with wisdom and sound advice.
  • It is as important as the two above, and it may be more important. This involves other Muslims who have not adopted any innovations. The objective here is to protect them from the innovations by teaching them the right divine knowledge based on authentic evidence.
In brief, innovations are from the prohibitions that some may be worse than others and remember that removing an innovation should not be by falling into worse prohibition.

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