Explanation of the categories of Bid‘ahs


Explanation of the categories of Bid‘ahs

Q: An inquirer asks: Is there a good Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) that we will not be sinful if we do, or is it that all kinds of Bid‘ahs are the same? Someone cited to me as evidence that after our master ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) completed learning Surah Al-Baqarah by heart, he slaughtered some she-camels for the sake of Allah, or he fasted some days, I do not remember exactly. Thus, according to him, ‘Umar has invented a Bid‘ah, which he described as a good Bid‘ah. If we imitate him and distribute meat for the sake of Allah, we will be doing a good deed? Does this Bid‘ah constitute a deviation from right, which leads to Hellfire? Answer us, may Allah teach you!

A: All kinds of Bid‘ah constitute a Dalalah (deviation from what is right), as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the Sahih (authentic) Hadith delivered in Jumu‘ah (Friday) sermon:

( Part No : 3, Page No: 12)

“Ama Ba‘d (Now then), the best of speech is the Book of Allah, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the most evil of matters are those which are newly-introduced (in religion), and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” (Related by Muslim in his Sahih [Authentic Hadith Book]) Al-Nasa’iy added with good Sanad (chain of narrators): …and every Dalalah is in the Fire. In another Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Beware of newly-introduced matters (in religion), for every newly-introduced matter is a Bid‘ah and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected.” Therefore, all kinds of Bid‘ah are rejected, all of them are not good. They all are a deviation from right. As for what you have mentioned about‘Umar, this is a baseless account, as we know of no reliable narrator to have narrated it. Yes, it is authentically reported that when ‘Umar (may Allah pleased with him) saw people offering Salah (Prayer) in separate groups in the Masjid (mosque) during Ramadan after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him) i.e. during his caliphate, he gathered them behind one Imam (leader of congregational Prayer), Ubay ibn Ka‘b, who led them in one congregation. Then, he passed by them after a number of nights while they were performing Salah (Prayer) led by Ubay, so ‘Umar said: “What a good Bid‘ah (innovation) this is!” He called it “Bid‘ah” from the linguistic perspective, because Bid‘ah in language means “something new introduced that is not based on a previous example (without a precedent).”

( Part No : 3, Page No: 13)

Yet, the case at hand is not a Bid‘ah in religion since the Prophet (peace be upon him) led people in offering Tarawih (special supererogatory night Prayer in Ramadan) and consequently this act done by ‘Umar is not Bid‘ah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) approved them when they performed it in the Masjid. On this basis, ‘Umar united them in one congregation, and so it remained and continued up to the present. Therefore, Tarawih is not Bid‘ah in religion even if ‘Umarcalled it Bid‘ah in the linguistic sense. Rather, it is an act of Sunnah (supererogatory act of worship following the example of the Prophet), an act drawing one closer to Allah, and an act of obedience to Allah. As for giving in charity on behalf of the dead, it has neither a definite limit nor a fixed time i.e. one can give in charity a Dirham or some food, and present it to the poor when it is possible. Also, one may slaughter a sacrificial animal and distribute its meat among the poor. All this is good and there is nothing wrong in doing that whether in Ramadan or other times, since this does not have neither a definite limit nor a fixed manner. Rather, whenever possible one can give in charity clothes, food, meat, etc. All this is good and benefits the dead Muslim.

Q: Mr. Abu Usamah from the Arab Republic of Egypt asks: What is Bid‘ah? What are its categories? Is it permissible for me to offer Salah (Prayer) behind an Imam (leader of congregational Prayer) practicing some Bid‘ahs?

A: Bid‘ah refers to every innovated act of worship which the Shar‘ (Allah’s Law) has not ordained. Every Bid‘ah is a going astray. It has no categories and all forms of it is a deviation from right, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every newly-introduced matter is a Bid‘ah and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” He (peace be upon him) used to say in his sermons:

( Part No : 3, Page No: 14)

“Ama Ba‘d (Now then), the best of speech is the Book of Allah, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace be upon him), the most evil of matters are those which are newly-introduced (in religion).” And he (peace be upon him) used to say: “Every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” He (peace be upon him) said: “Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.” And:“Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected.” Bid‘ah signifies all baseless acts of worship which people introduced in religion. They are called “Bid‘ahs”, and all of them are condemned and forbidden.

As for the classification made by some people for Bid‘ah into Wajib (obligatory), Haram (prohibited), Makruh (reprehensible), Mustahab (desirable) and Mubah (permissible), this is wrong and the right is that all kinds of Bid‘ahs are misguidance as stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the Hadith. If an Imam (leader of congregational Prayer) is committing a Bid‘ah that is tantamount to Kufr (disbelief), then Muslims must not offer Salah (Prayer) led by him. An example of suchlike is the Bid‘ah of Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah), Mu‘tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief) and their like. As for Bid‘ah that does not tantamount to Kufr such as declaring intention loudly by saying: “I intend to offer such-and-such a Salah,” or suchlike, there is nothing wrong with offering Salah behind an Imam who does so, but he should be taught the right manner, where he should not say his intention loudly, rather he should have it in his heart, which is sufficient, praise be to Allah. The same applies to the Bid‘ah of holding gatherings for commemorating Mawlids (birthdays), as long as the practice does not involve acts of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), it does not entail Kufr.

( Part No : 3, Page No: 15)

But if it involves acts of Shirk, such as supplicating to the Prophet (peace be upon him) or the person whose Mawlid is being celebrated, or calling upon them for help, whether this is the Mawlid of ‘Aly or Al-Hasan or Al-Husayn or even the Prophet (peace be upon him) or Fatimah. Calling upon the one for whom Mawlid is held, seeking their help, making a vow to them or slaughtering a sacrificial animal for their sake, all of these are acts of major Shirk. If, however, people only gather for reciting the Qur’an or eating food, this is a Bid‘ah that does not render its committer a Kafir (disbeliever).

Q: What is the demarcation line or decisive distinction between Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) and new, modern matters and the requirements of the age in which we live? In other words, how to differentiate between new matters existing in our present time and between Bid‘ah warned against in the Hadith? Clarify this for us, may Allah reward you good!

A: The newly introduced matters are of two types: One related to the worldly matters including clothes, food, drink, vessels and weapons. There is no problem regarding these matters, which are not to be called “Bid‘ah.” This includes planes, artillery, rockets, etc. Such worldly matters do not fall under the term “Bid‘ah.” Bid‘ahs are all that is related to religious matters from innovations introduced in religion whose committers believe them to be worship, and acts that draw them nearer to Allah. They include introducing and celebrating Mawlids, celebrating the Night of Isra’ (Night Journey) and Mi‘raj (Ascension to Heaven), standing in prayer on the night of Al-Ragha’ib (Night of great bestowals or wishes), which is the first night of Rajab, and the first Friday eve of Rajab.

( Part No : 3, Page No: 16)

These are to be called Bid‘ahs i.e. innovating matters not legislated by Allah, where their committers worship Allah through them, such as standing in prayer on the night of the middle of Sha‘ban. All these are Bid‘ahs with no authority from Allah. Worshipping Allah through matters not legislated by Allah, whether being actions or words, is what is meant by Bid‘ah based on the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.” And: “Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected.” What is meant here is acts of worship. Thus, any matter innovated in the acts of worship is to be called “Bid‘ah.” Any act for which there is no origin in Shari‘ah is to be called “Bid‘ah.” As we have mentioned above, what relates to the requirements of the age about which the inquirer asks has nothing to do with Bid‘ah; rather they are among worldly matters that are not to be called “Bid‘ahs.” If they are to be called Bid‘ah, this is from the linguistic perspective, but they are not associated with the prohibition. They include the various types of food, drink, vessels, clothes and weapons. All these are ordinary matters.

Q: What is Bid‘ah? Does it have categories, respected Shaykh?

A: Any act done for the purpose of drawing oneself closer to Allah but contradicts Shari‘ah (Islamic law) is a Bid‘ah. Any means pursued for drawing closer not legislated by Allah is called a Bid‘ah such as celebrating Mawlid, celebrating the Night of Isra’ (Night Journey) and Mi‘raj (Ascension to Heaven), celebrating the first night of Rajab called Al-Ragha’ib (Night of great bestowals or wishes). All these are Bid‘ahs. The same applies to the innovated practices of building over graves, such as building Masjids (mosques) or domes over them. All these are Munkar (unacceptable or disapproved of by Shari‘ah and Muslims of sound intellect), and are considered means leading to Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship).

( Part No : 3, Page No: 17)

They all are a deviation from the right path without differentiation. The right opinion is that they all are misguidance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:“Every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” This is the correct opinion. Every Bid‘ah is a straying from the path.

Q: An inquirer asks: What is the ruling on the one who says to his guests: there are two (Islamic) feasts in the year and your coming is the third?

A: As far as we know, there is nothing wrong with this. This expression means that this is a feast for us and it is our pleasure to meet you. This is an expression commonly spread among people. It does not mean that he will hold a third feast. Rather, what is meant is that it is our pleasure to meet you as if we are in a feast. There is no harm in this.

Q: Some people ask: Is there a good Bid‘ah and a bad one?

A: The right opinion is that all Bid‘ahs are a deviation from right. Although some scholars classed some Bid‘ahs as good, such as compiling the Qur’an into one book and the Tarawih Prayer (special supererogatory night Prayer in Ramadan), yet the right opinion is that all Bid‘ahs are error and there is no good Bid‘ah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” He (peace be upon him) made no differentiation. As for compiling the Noble Qur’an into one book, this is not a Bid‘ah. Rather, it was compiled by Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) because they were commanded to preserve the Book of Allah. It is a Divine Command to preserve the Qur’an so that nothing of it can be missed. The same applies to Tarawih.

( Part No : 3, Page No: 18)

It was done by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Thus, it is not a Bid‘ah. As for the saying of ‘Umar, “What a good Bid‘ah (innovation) this is!” after he congregated the people to perform Tarawih Prayer behind one Imam, this is descriptive of his act from the linguistic perspective, since it was not in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him). But otherwise it is an act of Sunnah (supererogatory act of worship following the example of the Prophet), done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) who led the Sahabah this way in Salah (Prayer) for many nights. During the lifetime of the Prophet, people would offer Tarawih Prayer in the Masjid (mosque) in separate groups and individuals: a man praying alone or a man praying with two or three men. The Prophet (peace be upon him) allowed them to do so and did not persist in leading them in one congregation, lest it would be made obligatory for them. After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and during the caliphate of ‘Umar: the latter opined to congregate people behind one Imam when finding them offering Tarawih in separate groups in the Masjid (mosque), because the Prophet (peace be upon him) actually did this. Therefore, it is a Bid‘ah in the linguistic sense. ‘Umarsaying: “What a good Bid‘ah this is,” refers to gathering people behind one Imam for finding them offering Salah in separate groups in the Masjid during Ramadan after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon them).

Q: Is there a good Bid‘ah and a bad Bid‘ah?

A: There is no good Bid‘ah as all Bid‘ahs are a deviation from right. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Beware of newly-introduced matters (in religion), for every newly-introduced matter is a Bid‘ah and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).” Dividing them into a good Bid‘ah and a bad one is wrong and is not permissible. Rather, all Bid‘ahs are misguidance. What is meant by Bid‘ah is whatever contradicts Shari‘ah (Islamic law). Every worship inconsistent with Shari‘ah is a Bid‘ah. As for the saying of ‘Umar “What a good Bid‘ah this is,” it refers to the linguistic perspective.

( Part No : 3, Page No: 19)

He called performing Tarawih (special supererogatory night Prayer in Ramadan) behind one Imam a Bid‘ah in the linguistic sense, because it occurred after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him). But it is an act of Sunnah that was done by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet). All innovated acts of worship are Bid‘ahs and every Bid‘ah is misguidance.

Q: An inquirer asks: How can we know the Bid‘ah and its divisions, respected Shaykh?

A: Bid‘ah refers to whatever people introduce in religion which is in contradiction with the Shari‘ah (Islamic law). This is called “Bid‘ah”. Anything newly-introduced in religion is called “Bid‘ah” as the examples we have mentioned, such as celebrating the Mawlid (birthday) of the Prophet (peace be upon him), building Masjids (mosques) and domes over graves. All these are condemned Bid‘ahs. They also include the Bid‘ah of Al-Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah) regarding the Attributes and Names of Allah, that ofMu‘tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief) regarding the Attributes of Allah and the claim of the Mu‘tazilah that the perpetrator of a major sin is in an in-between-state of belief and disbelief. These are the Bid‘ahs made by stray people.

( Part No : 3, Page No: 20)

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