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I remember reading somewhere that there are different types of bidah. Some of them are permissible or encouraged, and some others are haraam. However, one of the answers I read on this site mentions that all bidah are haram. So which one is it?

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I am answering from one viewpoint among Ahlussunnah wa al-Jama'ah. The crux of the answer depends on how bid'ah is defined. But this definition is inspired from the Qur'an, the sunnah, and the practices and sayings of the early generations. Two primary guiding lights here are the hadith of the Prophet (saws):

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ فِيهِ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ ‏"‏‏

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected."

and the hadith about the khutbah haajah, a part of which says:

وَشَرَّ الأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا وَكُلَّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ وَكُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلاَلَةٌ وَكُلَّ ضَلاَلَةٍ فِي النَّارِ ‏"‏

The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.'

Based on this and much more, Imam ash-Shatibi defined bid'ah as:

An invented way in the religion, which is meant to assimilate with the Shari'ah (legitimate) way and intended to be followed to arrive at the objectives that the legitimate way would achieve.

Based on this definition of bid'ah, the scholars say that every bid'ah is forbidden in Islam. Imam Malik used to say

“Whosoever introduces into Islam an innovation, which he deems is good, then he has claimed that Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) has betrayed (the trust of conveying) the message. Read the saying of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic: ‘This day I have completed your religion for you, and I have perfected My favor upon you, and I am pleased with Islam as a religion for you,’ [Al-Ma’idah: 3] So whatever was not (part of) the religion on that day is not (part of) the religion on this day. And the last part of this ummah (nation) will not be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part.”

A necessary corollary is that there is no such thing as a good bid'ah. If there is a candidate for such a thing, it is either not good, or not a bid'ah at all.

Ibn Rajab said in Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom:

“And what is meant by al-bid’ah (innovation) is what was invented in the religion of which there is no basis from the Shari’ah to support it.”

Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) said:

Allahu ‘anhu) said, “Every bid’ah is a misguidance even if people see it as something good.” [Ibn Battah, Al-Ibanah]

I am aware that there is an opposing view within Ahlussunnah wa al-Jama'ah that defines bid'ah differently and consequently allows some room for a "good" bid'ah, but to the best of my knowledge it has a very weak basis in the texts and is easily open to misuse. And Allah knows better!

  • "I am aware that there is an opposing view within Ahlussunnah wa al-Jama'ah that defines bid'ah differently and consequently allows some room for a "good" bid'ah" Thumb up for adding this statement. I actaully answered on that point of view. – Kilise Dec 29 '15 at 23:11
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Bidah, the definition of Innovations

The answer at top (by Ansari) is, as he is stating, only answering from one viewpoint. "I am answering from one viewpoint among Ahlussunnah wa al-Jama'ah. "

That viewpoint is actually followed by the minority of scholars today and in the history. It's well known that that viewpoint has become much more popular these days, how that happened is another question (you may want to check it up, or ask here).

The other viewpoints that actually have more followers (now and in the history), is that bidah is divided into several categories. Meaning, there are good and there are bad. Just a few scholars that holds that viewpoint are: al-'Izz ibn 'Abd al-Salam, Imam An-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar, As-Souyouti, as-Sakhawi.

How did they come to that conclusion?

Of course these scholars have read all the hadiths that talk about innovations. But how is it possible that they still don't agree with he others about it? Many would say: "these hadiths are good enough for everybody to understand that a bidah is a bad innovation and there are no good innovations! How stupid could these scholars have been, thinking anything else!"

Just allowing yourself to think that, would in my case be a trigger to check up why and how it is possible that they did disagree, when they in fact are so knowledgeable. I wish people would think in that way.

One example of the hadith is the following (using his translation)

وَشَرَّ الأُمُورِ مُحْدَثَاتُهَا وَكُلَّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ وَكُلَّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلاَلَةٌ وَكُلَّ ضَلاَلَةٍ فِي النَّارِ ‏"‏

The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.

The word koll (every) in this context is not understood as EVERY literally by these scholars. In Arabic you might use the word "koll" (all,every) and by that meaning the vast majority, or ALL of some sort. For instance it's mentioned in the Quran:

46:24 (some context)

فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهُ عَارِضًا مُّسْتَقْبِلَ أَوْدِيَتِهِمْ قَالُوا هَٰذَا عَارِضٌ مُّمْطِرُنَا ۚ بَلْ هُوَ مَا اسْتَعْجَلْتُم بِهِ ۖ رِيحٌ فِيهَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Then, when they saw the (Penalty in the shape of) a cloud traversing the sky, coming to meet their valleys, they said, "This cloud will give us rain!" "Nay, it is the (Calamity) ye were asking to be hastened!- A wind wherein is a Grievous Penalty!

46:25

تُدَمِّرُ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ بِأَمْرِ رَبِّهَا فَأَصْبَحُوا لَا يُرَىٰ إِلَّا مَسَاكِنُهُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْقَوْمَ الْمُجْرِمِينَ

"Everything will it destroy by the command of its Lord!" Then by the morning they - nothing was to be seen but (the ruins of) their houses! thus do We recompense those given to sin!

They understand that in this verse, literally, everything wasn't destroyed, they and their houses was (what we know though). The whole world was a safe place in the meantime, meaning the whole world wasn't destroyed.

The hadith of Aicha (ra)

(using the translation from above)

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ فِيهِ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ ‏"‏‏

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected."

This hadith is neither a proof. If you read it carefully, you might find out. Scholars have argued that this also proves that there are good and bad innovations. What?! How? Read and you'll notice!

"If somebody innovates something which is NOT in harmony with the principles of our religion, THEN that thing is rejected"

What if it IS IN harmony with the principles of our religion? Then logically it should not be rejected!

IF IS NOT IN HARMONY OF OUR RELIGION

THEN REJECTED

ELSE

NOT REJECTED

Another hadith (sahih muslim)

فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ مَنْ سَنَّ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ سُنَّةً حَسَنَةً فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا وَلاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَىْءٌ وَمَنْ سَنَّ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ سُنَّةً سَيِّئَةً فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ مِثْلُ وِزْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا وَلاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَوْزَارِهِمْ شَىْءٌ ‏"‏ ‏.‏

"The one who innovates a good innovation in Islam has its reward and a reward similar to those who follow him in it--until the Day of Judgment--without lessening their reward. The one who innovates an innovation of misguidance would be sinful for it and has sins similar to those who follow him in it--until the Day of Judgment--without lessening their sins."

The word for "sanna" means to innovate, (an article could be written about this word). This hadith is also clearly (in our perspective) stating that if someone innovating a good innovation, he will have a reward for it.

The ones that does classify innovations as only bad, would never agree with this or translate it in this way because it goes against their fundamental understanding of innovations. The only thing in their case is interpret it in another way, or they would have to change their views on what a bidah is.

Ibn Al-baz (a scholar that only believe in bad innovations) is saying that this hadith actually means that whoever innovates a good innovation that has been FORGOTTEN, from the prophets (saw) sunnah will have a reward for it.

As I said before, they have to interpret it in another way to get around the issue. By doing that the interpretation goes against the word innovation. It also would mean that if a person innovate a a bad innovation that has been forgotten from prophet (saw) sunnah, that he will be sinful for it. This can not be possible. We do not belive that the prophet had bad innovations or any bad sunnahs, how could it then been forgotten and then re-innovated.

Conclusion

There are many more proofs of course, these are just a few. The thing is that books can be written about this subject. But people rather read one hadith and draw the conclusion. Our scholars spent years studying and didn't speak up in the way we do today.

In my research, this is actually the position of the majority. To get to that conviction you must get away from the internet. The internet does not show you the real result. You will find the same answers posted everywhere. These arguments I've come with are not as popular as the other views are in the net. How is that? Well, one reason could be that the people have not yet taking their big step into the net yet, many do not speak english, do not have the money, time and resources.

The most important thing

You have all the right to disagree about the subject of what an innovation is or what it really means. But the most important thing is to respect the different opinions that exists out there. You are Muslims! By my knowledge, this subject is one of the most dangerous subjects, that has been dividing the Muslims to a degree that never been seen before, and it's continuing.

To say that a part of group use the Quran and Sunnah as a resource doesn't help. ALL of the scholars do use the Quran and Sunnah for resources - but the understanding and conclusions differ among them.

It is sad that I've seen teachers and so called scholars using bad language against anybody not sharing their understanding of the subject.

I would like to end with something we shouldn't forget.

3:103

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.

May God guide us all.

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    I disagree ahl as-Sunnah wal Jama'a are the four sunni madhhabs when it comes to fiqh and basically also in theological matters the fact that modern salafis consider themselves as the unique spokesman of them is the issue. More exactly their interpretation of a-Shatibi's "al-Muwafaqat" كتاب الموافقات and "al-'Itissam" كتاب الاعتصام is not going along with the interpretation of the majority of scholars. – Medi1Saif Apr 11 '18 at 5:28
  • @Medi1Saif, i don't disagree with you, but adding it as an own answer might be better, so you can share it and more details to other readers. – Kilise Apr 11 '18 at 17:32
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(This is a Shia view)

No. there are two type of Bidah. Accepted and Haram.

Accepted is what does not change any rule in Islam. Like innovations related to technology which have nothing to do with Islam. For example prophet did not use car but if we use car it is not Bidat and Haram.

Haram type is adding something to rules of Islam without any evidence like verse or Hadith or Sunnah. Claiming something is wajib or Mustahab while in fact such law does not exist in Islam. for example performing Mustahab prayers with Jamaat (by group) is not allowed in Islam and there is not Hadith or any evidence for it in Sunnah and Hadith books and ordering to do Mustahab prayer by Jamaat is considered Bidah. Or for example adding a shahadat about Imam Ali S.A. to 2 shahadah in Salam of prayer is Bidah.

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected." Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 49, Number 861

So, these 2 categories are:

1) Any new matters that were not in harmony with the principles of religion were understood as Bidah by Rasool Allah [saww]. It was only these actions, customs, rites etc. that were considered as misguidance and were rejected.

2) All newly introduced matters, that were in conformity with the principles of religion, were not labelled as Bidah's of misguidance by Rasool Allah [saww]. These were acts of guidance and Rasool Allah [saww] promised for great rewards for them.

Reference:

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    Cars are not a form of Bid'ah, because it has nothing to do with religion. It's more under mubah. One of the key definitions of Bid'ah is that it has to appear to take the form of worship: islamthought.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/… – Muz Aug 27 '12 at 6:02
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If there is some new things that people start considering "part of Islam", specially any new form of Ibadat(worship), is Bidah. And all these bidah is haram. So, if something is not being considered as "part of Islam" by people and there is no fear of so in future, specially not a new type or form of Ibadat(worship) and do not collide with any shariah ruling, is OK with Islam and not bidah.

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just imagine all muslim indulge in introducing good bidaas plural where will this religion end up. It means also gods religion is not complete or the prophets message amanat has forgotten to give to us before his death what happened to the aya اليوم اكمات لكم دينكم ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا there is the connotation that the prophet does not understand how explain his hadiths.

If we allow this sort of things than say good buy to many hadiths of his sunna because language people and philosophers would get in and break every hadith in many ways you want to be. People who want to justify the bidaa they introduce in Islam would be happy to "kullu" which every thing that is introduce ie not ordered or practiced by the Prophet or his sahabah then it is not religion then and now. Hence kullu means kullu ie every thing .

You have no choice in religion what has been brought by the prophets is what we can practice . Period one would ask is the religion not enough so we have to come with new or improve what religion is this that is open source every dick and herry can come with his own version. Who introduce a new thing in religion would have to have his seat in jahanam as the prophet has said.

  • Welcome to Islam SE. Please consider reading How to Answer. Some references would make your statement stronger. – Medi1Saif Feb 18 '16 at 14:43
  • "Hence kullu means kullu ie every thing ." Where did you get this from? – Kilise Feb 18 '16 at 18:20
  • We are not a site for polemic and debate (see: meta.islam.stackexchange.com/q/1255/22); answers here are expected to directly and completely answer the question asked in a clear and unbiassed manner, not to argue or prove which interpretation is "more correct". – goldPseudo Feb 19 '16 at 1:09

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