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  1. #1

    A Concise Explanation of the Shariah Definition of Bidah From the Prophetic Sunnah

    Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the followers of the Righteous Salaf, follow the Messenger (alayhis salaam) in all of their beliefs and understandings. Hence, all of their conceptions, thoughts and understandings are founded upon what is related in his Sunnah, because they believe that final authority rests with him, and they are the greatest of people in loving, respecting and giving precedence to him. This is opposed to the way of the people of innovation who raise other authorities above and over him and prefer their sayings over and above his, despite their lip service in the claim of love and obedience to him. There is nothing which illustrates this more clearly than in the issue of the understanding of bidah (البدعة).

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  2. #2

    as-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    جراكم الله جيرا - may Allah reward you all for this and all the benefits on these new sites that have been published in the last few years. Alhamdulillaah for His blessings and may He aid, defend, and support you as you aid, defend, and support His Deen.

    I have a question: The beautiful deduction from the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in the 1st hadeeth of 'Aa'ishah radiyAllaahu 'anha concludes that:
    ... nothing is considered a bidah in the Shariah sense except when these conditions are met. These three conditions are:

    • (الإحداث) - Introducing something new
    • (الإضافة) - Ascribing it to the religion
    • (عدم الدليل الشرعي) - Absence of Shariah evidence in either a general way or a specific way
    But based on the third condition, can it not be claimed that bid'ah idafiyyah have general evidence in the Shaari'ah - and so they are not in actuality bid'ah? Perhaps the answer to my question is in this quote after mentioning the 3 hadeeths of 'Aa'ishah radiyAllaahu 'anhaa (specifically the portions I have made bold):
    The second and third hadeeths both add further meaning to what has preceded in that whoever works an affair or does an action which is not in agreement with the Shariah in its details and particulars will have it rejected. Together with the first hadeeth, these three ahaadeeth cover a) what is newly-invented having no basis whatsoever and b) what may have a basis but which in its details and particulars deviates and differs from what is in the Shariah. Thus, both the bidah haqiqiyyah (proper innovation) and bidah idafiyyah (relative innovation) - [see this article] - are both clarified in the Sunnah, warned against, and rejected.
    But I have 2 problems with this:
    1) How is it deduced from the hadeeths that the action has to be "in agreement with the Shari'ah in its details and particulars?"
    2) Would this change the 3rd condition mentioned above to: "Absence of a Shari'ah evidence in a specific way?"

    Jazaakumullaahu khayraa.
    An important quote:
    As for the doubts of the Innovators, then in order to justify their newly-introduced matters of worship into the religion, they deceive and confuse the people about the linguistic and Shariah definitions of the word bidah, and they provide instances where the word has been used in a linguistic sense only to deceive the people into thinking that the censure and rebuke of innovation in the Shariah sense is not absolute and general, and that it is permissible to innovate into the matters of worship. This is great deception indeed and a lie upon the Messenger himself and upon the Scholars of Islam whose words they twist.
    "سبحان الذي لا يشكر إلا بنعمة أخرى"
    [Related by Shaykh 'Abdur-Razaaq al-Badr (حفظه الله) in "فقه الأسماء الحسنى" from Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee (رحمه الله)]

  3. #3

    Wa alaykum as salaam wa rahmatullaah wa barakaatuh, thank you for your post and beneficial questions.

    Regarding your first question, this is known from many other texts, such as the hadeeth of the three men who intended exaggeration in worship, and the various statements of the companions in showing rejection against those who departed in the details of worship, such as adding an extra word or two in remembrances etc. And the hadeeth of Ibn Mas'ood showing rejection against those making dhikr in congregation, using stones. And this is what is found in the explanations of the Scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah when they explain this hadeeth (whoever did an action....), by the illustrative examples they give, through actions having a foundation in the Sunnah, but differing with the Sunnah in the details (time, place, number, reason, form, etc.), you can refer to the various explanations of the hadith of Aishah given by the Scholars like Shaykh Ibn Uthaymin, Shaykh Salih Aal al-Shaykh etc.

    The specification of "absense of both a general evidence and a specific evidence" is to enable the maslahah mursalah (unspecified matter of broad public interest resting upon general shariah principles and evidences) to be excluded from being included in the Shariah definition of bidah. In the article itself, illustration of a general and specific evidence is given by the compilation of the Qur'an and the tarawih prayer respectively. The first is maslahah mursalah and the second has specific proof, hence, neither enter into the Shariah definition of bidah. Note the qualification, "Nothing is considered a bidah in the Shariah sense except when...", it did not say, "Nothing is considered worship except when it has a general or specific proof..." Rather, it is worded to enable what is not actually a bidah in the Shariah sense to be excluded, since that is what is being addressed, and you are looking at it from a different way, which is when can an act of worship be said to be in agreement with and from the Shariah, in that case, it must have a specific proof (for its basis and its details).

    Hope this clarifies.

  4. #4

    This was a discussion through private messaging in relation to the subject of this thread:

    I understand that issues of "al-Maslahah al-Mursalah" are not acts of worship in and of themselves (esp. considering they were not even present in the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم).

    You had mentioned (in your reply to my question on the thread) that the phrase "in a general way" (in the 3rd condition) has been included to exclude issues of al-maslahah al-mursalah. But, in my understanding, from the above & from examples given, these issues wouldn't be ascribed to the religion in the first place, but rather just as things that aid the religion, or isn't this so?

    So if this is the case, they won't even fulfill the 2nd condition and so, we wouldn't need the phrase "in a general way" in the 3rd just to include these issues, right?
    Reply (emended):

    The examples given by you can be ascribed to the religion, because they fall under its general principles. So we can say, "Preserving the Qur'an is from Islam, the Shariah" and "laying down the usul of tafseer, or fiqh, or ilm al-hadith is from the Shariah", as these matters have their principles rooted in the Shariah (in the case of these examples), or they are indicated by its general principles. To exclude these matters from wrongly being put under the ihdaath (inventing, introducing) which is rejected, a qualification has to be made to exclude what would fall under "general" Shariah proofs or principles, such as "that without which an obligation cannot be fulfilled is itself an obligation" and so on. So these things aid the religion (as you said), but they have a basis in the religion (Shariah texts) as well, through general principles, and this is part and parcel of the Shariah's universality for all times and places, and we believe that all beneficial interests are already included in broad Shariah principles, and hence we can say that they are from and indicated by the Shariah. This is whilst we keep in mind that this definition is aimed at excluding everything that is not an innovation, and including only what is an innovation in the Shariah sense. So this why it is said "that which is innovated and does not have a general or a specific proof from the Shariah."

    But if we were defining what is from the Sunnah only (excluding everything which is bidah in the religion), then we would have a different definition, in this case "That which must have a specific proof in the Shariah [for both its foundations (e.g. prayer) and its details (i.e. praying in specific way at specific time tied to specific cause, such as eclipse prayer, funeral prayer)]. Here we have a specific proof for all elements of an act of worship, and innovation can't be included here and neither can maslahah mursalah, because that only has a "general proof" - for example, there is no specific proof in the Shariah which says to put the Qur'an into a single book, only a general principle under which it comes, and likewise, no specific proof to formally and systematically lay down the usul of fiqh, or to build a hospital or a school, or to define the rules of ilm al-hadith. All of these are simply wasaa'il (ways and means) which are supported by general Shariah principles because through them, Shariah goals are facilitated. This is unlike all matters of worship, they all have explicit specific proofs for their foundations (e.g. fasting in and of itself, or prayer) and their details and characteristics (when, how, conditions etc.), and innovation therein is strictly prohibited, since the deen in that regard is perfected and completed, there being nothing which brings closer to Paradise, except that it has been explained by the Messenger (as per the hadeeths in this regard).

    There is a subtle difference, but I hope you can see it from the example given. Refer to al-Shatibi's I'tisaam and some of the resources listed in the articles for more clarification.

  5. #5
    Bid`ah (innovation in religion)

    The first question of Fatwa no. 17522

    Q: What is the meaning of Bid`ah? We want you to define this term clearly. Indeed, there are some people who say that everything that was not practiced during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) is a Bid`ah. How should we reply to them?

    A: The word Bid`ah is literally taken from Al-Bid` which is initiating something without any precedent, as Allah (Exalted be He) says: The Originator of the heavens and the earth. that is creating them in the most beautiful and splendid way without any precedent. He (Exalted be He) further says: Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "I am not a new thing among the Messengers (of Allβh i.e. I am not the first Messenger) i.e. I am not the first prophet to receive revelation from Allah; rather Allah sent messengers before me to bring glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise) to those who believed and the warning of Hell to those who disbelieved and I am following their way.

    There are two kinds of innovation:

    The first has to do with customs, such as the invention of modern machinery and this is permissible, because the basic principle with regard to customs is that they are permissible.

    The second type has to do with newly-introduced innovations in religion. This is haram, because all the rulings of Din (religion) are subjected to Tawqif (a religious text and not personal opinion), and as such, are only taken from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him).
    The innovations that pertain to the Din could also be grouped into two types:

    The first is doctrinal Bid`ah, such as that of the misguided sects of Al-Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah), and Al-Mu`tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief), and other misguided sects.

    The second kind of Bid`ah is the one that pertains to worship, such as when a person performs `Ibadah (worship) in a manner that was not ordained by Allah (Exalted be He), but the innovator increased or decreased or performed it in a manner that was not prescribed. Any Bid`ah in religion is Haram, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: He who innovates things in our affairs for which there is no valid (reason) (commits sin) and these are to be rejected. Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the Hadith narrated by `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her). It is also narrated in Sahih Muslim that he (peace be upon him) said: He who did any act for which there is no sanction from our behalf, that is to be rejected. Also narrated by Muslim on the authority of Jabir ibn `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) delivered a Khutbah, his eyes would become red and his tone loud. He used to show anger as if he were warning us against an army. He (peace be upon him) would say, "The enemy is about to attack you in the morning and is advancing against you in the evening." and he used to say: The last Hour and I have been sent like these two"; he would join his forefinger and middle finger; and would further say: "The best of speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is that given by Muhammad (peace be upon him). The most evil affairs are novelties; and every Bid`ah leads to misguidance." Then, he would say: "I should be dearer to Muslims than themselves. If a person leaves behind property, it will be for their families. If a person dies while in debt or leaves children (in need), the responsibility (of paying their debt and bringing up their children) lies on me."

    This impermissibility varies in degrees, as some innovations might amount to Kufr, such as circumambulating the graves as a kind of worship to its occupants as well as slaughtering and vowing for them. Other innovations are means leading to Kufr, such as building on graves, and performing Salah (Prayer) and supplicating to Allah (Exalted be He) by them. Others pertain to corrupt doctrines as we mentioned, and others are considered sins such as celibacy/abstinence (from intercourse) and castrating oneself to avoid sexual desire.

    May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

    The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta'


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