I note the several articles on bid'ah on the Islam SE. Some focused on particular cases (in the form of: 'is X permissible'?)[1-2]. Others have focused on typology [3], but not discussing the application of it to specific cases in Muslim societies, and from there reflecting and deriving general principles.

It is plausible that all manner of practices, often contentious ones among muslims as to their permissibility, such as

South East Asian tahlil,
Caucasian dhikr/zikr dances,

and so much more, could be considered practices not done during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, and have no basis in the sunnah (whether through the example of having been practised by the Prophet ﷺ and his companions, or through an order from the Prophet ﷺ to do so), though they have elements within them that are based on specific ibadah (eg. dhikr, do'a or verses of the Qur'an) which might individually have a basis in the hadeeth and Qur'an (but not the 'set'/'package' of practice as a whole).

In such cases, can they be considered potentially general (and so NOT specific) ibadah (when intention (niah/niat) is made for them to be so), and so not be subject to the tawqeef (ie needing evidence mandating the practice from the quran and sunnah) requirement needed for specific ibadah?

Or is this not possible as they cannot be considered general ibadah? That is, they can only be considered attempts at specific ibadah? If so, why is this the case?

Take Caucasian dhikr dances for instance: if one were to remove any intention to gain particular rewards from, or specific aims in worship in doing it (perhaps along with removal of other characteristics of specific ibadah), would this make it potentially a general ibadah (with niat/intention for it to be so), such as eating or wearing clothes?

I think this approach has not been used as a defence of these practices by societies practising them, especially in the latter two practices I gave above. Rather, these muslim societies (have attempted to) prove their permissibility by invoking hadeeth and other principles of the shariah to show that they are indeed valid specific ibadah.

Another approach to this question is exploring when or how is an act not done by the Prophet ﷺ (with specific ibadah elements in it), more likely to be perceived or accepted by muslim societies, such as nasheed, or less so, such as dancing dhikrs, or dhikrs in unison/congregation such as the South East Asian tahlil?

Please could you relate the answer also to general approaches to assessing bid'ah and ibadah, and approaches to acts not done by the Prophet ﷺ per se (ie beyond the matter of contentious practices, but to any acts not done by the Prophet ﷺ).

I believe Shatibi's principles in the I'tisam could be useful (I am not familiar with this resource; I am just a lay interested learner for daily practice and knowledge). I would be grateful for information on the general principles addressing this matter.

Jazakumullah. God bless all of you. Ameen.


  1. Is it sunna to sit around a white cloth after magrib prayer?
  2. Is using a microphone speaker system an innovation for Adhaan?
  3. All bidah are haram or not?
  • Maybe you should start by asking about the definition of bid'ah or search the site prior to asking.
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 10, 2021 at 14:46
  • The fact that these practices are still debated over the centuries among those well-versed in the meaning of bid'ah shows that a blasé call to know its meaning prior to discussing it, per se, is unlikely to lead to any great understanding relative to those great scholars. This is the point of this SE no? especially when questions have not been addressed directly. Feb 11, 2021 at 0:29


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