Friday, November 2, 2007

Notes: on innovation

A Few Notes on the Evils of Innovation.

by Brother Abû Rumaysah


The Deen is complete

Allaah says,

"this day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion"

This verse embodies a clear statement that the religion has been completed and so has no need of addition and deletion, and our noble Messenger (SAW) said, "there is nothing that Allaah ordered you with except that I have ordered you with it, and there is nothing that Allaah forbade you from except that I have forbidden you from it" (al-Bayhaqee and others)

And he (SAW) said,

"there is nothing that will take you closer to paradise but that I have enjoined it upon you, and there is nothing that will take you closer to hell but that I have warned you from it"
(Musnad ash-Shaafi'ee and others)

So the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fulfilled the trust placed upon him by Allaah completely, explaining the religion to the people in it's inward and outward form, making clear the lawful from the prohibited, the encouraged from the discouraged, even to the extent that he taught us the manners of going to the toilet, the manners of having sex with our partners etc.

Allaah says in His Book,

"and We have revealed to you a Book explaining everything"

and He says,

"We have neglected nothing in the Book"

So in the Qur'aan is explained the principles of the religion, tawheed in all it's various categories, even to the extent that it teaches us the manners of sitting in circles, visiting other peoples houses, the correct clothing etc.

The Importance of Sticking to the Sunnah

Allaah says, "indeed you have in the Messenger of Allaah an excellent example for the one who hopes in Allaah and looks to the Last Day."

He also says,

"so if you obey him (i.e. Muhammad), then you will be guided"

The Messenger of Allaah said,

"I have left behind me two things, if you cling to them you will never go astray. They are the Book of Allaah and my Sunnah"

And he (SAW) also said,

"…and you will live to see great difference, so cling to my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs after me, even if it be with your teeth"

The Taabi'ee, the Imaam, az-Zuhree commented,

"clinging to the sunnah is to be saved, as Imaam Maalik said, 'like the Ark of Noah', he who embarked upon it was saved, and he who did not was destroyed."

In these narrations is clear evidence that the way of salvation and safety is to closely follow the Sunnah of our Prophet (SAW), and not to deviate from his path, not accepting the guidance of another individual, nor accepting a corrupted form of the Sunnah. Allaah says, "and whosoever contends with the Messenger after guidance has been made clear to him, and follows a way other than the way of the believers, We shall leave in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell, what an evil destination!"

The Sunnah shall become corrupted

We are taught in the revelation that the Sunnah shall become corrupted and this corruption would become the norm, so much so that the people who follow the Sunnah would become as strangers, and those that call to purifying the sunnah would be slandered and reviled.

The Prophet (SAW) said, "Islaam began as something strange, and it shall return as something strange as it began. So Tooba (a tree in paradise) to the strangers." It was asked, "who are the strangers?" He replied, "those that purify and correct what the people have corrupted of my sunnah"
(Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer [6/202])

And what is this corruption, it is none other than innovation, introducing into the pure religion of Allaah new ways of worshipping Him that He has not taught, blemishing His religion with our whims and desires, something that Allaah Himself condemns,

"or do they have partners that legislate some religion which Allaah has not given permission for?"

The Companion, Abdullaah ibn Mas'ud laments,

"how will it be when the trials overcome you, in which the young grow old and the old grow senile. And the people take the bid'ah as the sunnah, and when it changes they say: the sunnah has changed. It was said: when will this be O Abu Abdurrahmaan? He replied: when your speakers are many and your scholars are few, and the wealthy ones are plenty and the trustworthy ones are few."

How true this statement is today, that the innovations have become so widespread in the religion that the people have taken then to be the Sunnah. And when the true scholar speaks out against these innovations he is labelled as a 'wahhabi' by the people because to them it seems that he is changing the sunnah. To Allah we complain of the ignorance of our times!

Only Allaah (SWT) has the right to tell us how to worship Him

Allaah says,

"follow that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and do not follow as Friends and Protectors other than Him"

From the tafseer of this verse we learn that this verse is a categorical statement that the privilege to tell people how to worship Allaah belongs to Allaah Alone. And how could it be otherwise when the true meaning of ibaadah is to worship Allaah in a way which He is Pleased with and not according to our desires,

"and who is more astray then the one who follows his own whims and desires devoid of revelation"

In this regard the Prophet (SAW) said,

"I warn you of the newly invented matters (in the religion),and every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire"

And he (SAW) used to say at the beginning of his lectures,

"….and the best speech is the Speech of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW), and the worst of all affairs are the newly invented matters (in the religion)"

And he (SAW) commanded us,

"whosoever does an action which we have not commanded then it must be rejected."

And again

"whosoever introduces into this religion of ours that which is not part of it then it must be rejects"

'And in this hadeeth is a clear evidence that every action which is not legislated in the sharee'ah must be rejected' [Jaami al-Ulum of ibn Rajab 1/120]

So every bid'ah that is introduced in the religion has to be rejected because only Allaah and His Messenger (SAW) have the right to legislate in the sharee'ah of Islaam.

Hence in the light of what has preceded we can now give the formal Sharee'ah definition of bid'ah:
"a newly invented way (in beliefs and actions) in the religion, in imitation of the Sharee'ah, by which nearness to Allaah is sought, not being supported by any authentic proof, neither in it's foundations nor in the manner in which it is performed." [al-I'tisaam 1/231 of ash-Shaatibee]

And in what has preceded is ample evidence for any fairminded Muslim that all bid'ah is blameworthy, and in fact a major sin. But unfortunately the Muslims are in such a state today that the words of Allaah and His Messenger (SAW) are no longer enough to convince them and certain groups of people have come up with belief that has very frail grounds in the Sunnah. The belief of 'bid'ah hasanah', i.e. a good bid'ah, meaning that a scholar can introduce a new action of worship in Islaam which can be considered to be good as long it does not contradict any of the principles of Islaam. So we resort to the sayings of the Companions and the Imaams to illuminate the road ahead of these people.

The sayings of the Companions

Abdullaah ibn Umar (RA) states,

"every innovation is misguidance, even if the people regard it as good."

This narration is enough to demolish the concept of 'a good bid'ah', for you have amongst the most knowledgeable companions of Muhammad (SAW) saying the exact opposite. So who do you choose to follow, ibn Umar or these modern day Shaykhs and Mullahs who are Imaams of their own whims and desires.

Abdullaah ibn Abbaas (RA) said,

"do not sit with the people of innovation, for verily their sittings are a sickness for the hearts"
[ash-Sharee'ah pg 65 of al-Aajurree (d.360)]

Mu'aadh bin Jabal (RA) used to say, whenever he sat in a circle of knowledge,

"…and I warn you of what is innovated, for all that is innovated is misguidance"
[ash-Sharee'ah pg.55, also Abu Dawood with similar wording]

Abdullaah ibn Mas'ud (RA) said,

"follow the sunnah of Muhammad and do not innovate, for what you have been commanded is enough for you."

Hudhayfah bin al-Yaman said,

"every act of worship that the Companions did not do, do not do it"
[Abu Dawood]

Is this not enough? That the Companions tell us to follow the way of Muhammad (SAW) and not to make up new ways of worship? "whomsoever Allaah guides to the truth, none can misguide him, and whomsoever Allaah misguides, none can guide"! [Muslim]

The sayings of the Second and Third generation scholars

Hasan al-Basree said,

"do not sit with the people of innovation, do not debate with them or listen to them"
[ad-Daarimee 1/121]

Abul Aaliyah said,

"learn Islaam. Then when you have learned Islaam, do not turn away from it to the right or to the left. But be upon the Straight Path and be upon the Sunnah of your Prophet and that which his companions were upon…And beware of these innovations because they cause enmity and hatred amongst you, but stick to the original state of affairs that was there before they divided."
[al-Hilya of Abu Nu'aym 2/218]

Sufyaan ath-Thawree,

"innovations are more beloved to Satan than sin. Since a sin mat be repented from but an innovation is not repented from"
[Sharh Usul I'tiqaad of al-Laalikaa'ee (d.414) no.238]

This is because the innovator believes that he is doing something good and therefore sees no need to repent.

He also said, "…so cling to the original state of affairs" [al-Hilya 6/376] meaning stick to the Way of Muhammad (SAW) and his Companions.

Imaam al-Awzaa'ee said,

"patiently restrict yourselves to the sunnah, stop where the people stopped, say what they said, avoid what they avoided. Take to the path of the salaf, for indeed what was sufficient for them was sufficient for you."
[ash-Sharee'ah pg. 58]

Ibraaheem al-Masayrah said,

"he who honours an innovator has assisted in the demolition of Islaam"
[Sharh Usul I'tiqaad 1/139]

The sayings of the Later Imaams

Imaam Abu Haneefah said,

"stick to the narrations and the way of the salaf, and beware of the newly invented matters for all of it is innovation"
[Sawnul Muntaq of as-Suyutee pg.32]

Imaam Maalik said,

"he who innovates an innovation in Islaam regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad (SAW) has betrayed his trust to deliver the message as Allaah says, 'this day have I perfected for you your religion'. And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today."

He also said,

"how evil are the People of Innovation, we do not give them salaam"
[al-Ibaanah of ibn Battah (d.387) no.441]

Imaam Ahmad said,

"the fundamental principles of the sunnah with us are:….avoiding innovations and every innovation is misguidance"
[Usul as-Sunnah of Imaam Ahmad pg.1]

As for the narrations from Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee in which he categorises bid'ah into two, then it is weak as all of it's chains of narrations depend upon unknown narrators. [al-Bid'ah of Shaykh Saleem al-Hilaalee, al-Masaabeeh fee Salaatit Taraaweeh of as-Suyutee with Alee Hasans footnotes] and even if it were authentic then it would be understood in the linguistic sense as explained by ibn Rajab and others.

Imaam Bukhaaree said,

"I have met more than a thousand scholars….(then he mentioned the names of the more prominent in each of the lands that he travelled in)…and I found that they all agreed on the following points:…they all used to prohibit bid'ah - that which the Prophet and his Companions were not upon, because of the saying of Allaah, 'and hold fast to the rope of Allaah and do not separate'"
[Imaam Bukhaaree's article on belief as quoted in Sharh Usul I'tiqaad 1/170. From amongst the scholars he met were: Ahmad bin Hanbal, Abu Ubaid al-Qaasim, ibn Ma'een, ibn Aasim, ibn Abee Shaybah….]

What I have narrated here is just a small number of the many narrations that I have in front of me from various books, I have tried to quote as best to my ability only authentic narrations, and Allaah knows best. It is good to know that the early Imaams were prolific in writing and warning against bid'ah, and even today we have a number of books from them dealing just with this topic. Amongst them: al-Bid'ah of al-Qarnushi, al-Bid'ah of ibn Waddah, al-I'tisaam of ash-Shaatibee and many more. So once this topic becomes clear, a truth that none can deny, then know that all these innovations in the religions are a clear denial of the above mentioned verses and ahaadeeth, for none were done by the Companions.

So I leave you with the hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW), "….so he follows my sunnah has been guided, and he who follows the innovations has been destroyed." (Ahmad)

The arguments of the misguided

Know that every example that the misguided bring from the actions of the companions to prove their belief of a 'good innovation', is invalid and it just shows their weak understanding of the Sunnah of Muhammad (SAW), for all of these examples have a clear basis in the Sharee'ah, or occurred due to necessity, or from ijtihaad. Insha'allaah I will mention a few of their arguments.

When Umar (RA) was caliph, he collected the Muslims to pray in congregation for taraaweeh prayers and said, "what a good bid'ah this is" (Bukhaaree), Evidence is derived from this for 'bid'ah hasanah' but of course they have misunderstood the true intent of Umar which can be clearly understood if one were to quote the context of this narration.

When the Prophet (SAW) first prayed taraaweeh, the Muslims used to pray taraaweeh individually or in small groups, and then for three nights they prayed in one congregation behind the Prophet (SAW), and after this he stopped them doing so by saying, "I feared that it would become obligatory upon you." So after this again, the Muslims would pray individually or in small groups, and they remained like this throughout the rule of Abu Bakr and the beginning of the rule of Umar. Then Umar came to the Mosque and saw the Muslims praying in small groups and so gathered them as one jamaa'ah to pray behind Ubayy bin Ka'b and Tameem ad-Daaree and stated the above phrase. This context is reported in Bukhaaree, the Muwatta and others.

Firstly: how can the action of Umar be considered to be new when the Prophet (SAW) did it in his lifetime. Not only that but the Muslims were also in the habit of praying in small groups as well. Hence the praying of taraaweeh in jamaa'ah was well established in the sunnah and the practice of the sahaabah?

Secondly: The Prophet (SAW) gave the reason why he stopped the congregational prayer, for the revelation was still descending, and he feared that praying in obligation might become obligatory upon his nation, and that this might lead to be hard on them. After the death of Muhammad (SAW) revelation ceased so this fear was no longer present. Hence Umar (RA) reinstated the congregation during his rule because he knew his action could not be made obligatory upon the ummah.

Thirdly: all the companions agreed to this action of Umar (RA), there was a consensus (ijmaa) on this. And the scholars of usul have stated that a consensus cannot occur except when there is a clear text for it in the Sharee'ah.

Fourth: So how do we understand this statement of Umar, "what a good bid'ah this is" when this action that Umar called a bid'ah was done by the Prophet (SAW)? Bid'ah here can only be understood in it's linguistic sense and not in it's Sharee'ah sense i.e. when Umar said this he did not mean it in the legal sense that we may understand it today. For how many are the words that mean one thing in the language, but another thing in the Sharee'ah! The linguistic sense is: something new, because praying in one congregation was not present in the rule of Abu Bakr and the earlier period of his own rule.

Hence Abu Yusuf said,

"I asked Abu Haneefah about the taraaweeh and what Umar did and he replied, 'the taraaweeh is a stressed sunnah, and Umar did not do that from his own opinion, and neither was there in his action any innovation, and he did not enjoin it except that there was a foundation for it with him and authorisation from the Prophet…"
['Sharh Mukhtaar' as quoted from in 'al-Ibdaa' (pg. 80) of Shaykh Alee Mahfooz]

The hadeeth,

"whosoever starts in Islaam a good practice (sunnah), he gets the reward of it and the reward of all those that act on it. And whosoever starts in Islaam an evil practice (sunnah), he gets the evil of it and the evil of all those that act on it."

The evidence they derive from this is that people can invent new practices in Islaam that are either good or bad. But were they to take this hadeeth in it's full context then it would not be possible to infer such a thing.

The context of the hadeeth states that a group of poor people came to the Prophet (SAW) so he asked those around him to give charity, but no-one came forward - so much so that signs of anger could be discerned on the face of Muhammad (SAW), so one of the companions stepped forward and gave charity and then the Prophet (SAW) mentioned the above statement.

Firstly: the word sunnah used in the hadeeth must be understood in it's linguistic sense (i.e. practice) not it's sharee'ah sense (i.e. the life example of Muhammad (SAW)) because otherwise it would imply that there is something bad in the sunnah.

Secondly: This companion who gave charity, did not do anything new, for giving charity had been legislated from the very early days of Islaam as the Makki Surahs prove, rather he was simply implementing an already legislated matter. So the statement of the Prophet (SAW), 'a good sunnah' was said at a time when the people were reluctant to give charity, so one man gave it and then others followed him - i.e. he RENEWED a sunnah that was being neglected - this is the meaning of 'good practice' - renewing an already existing sunnah.

Hence we do not stick just to the specific occurrence in the hadeeth, but we generalise it's intent as it's wording is general as is established in usul. The intent of this hadeeth is renewing the Sunnah at a time that it has been neglected. This is why the early scholars of Islaam included this hadeeth under chapter heading such as, "the reward of the one who renews the sunnah" [as done by the 4th century Imaam al-Laalikaa'ee in his encyclopaedic work detailing the belief of Ahlus Sunnah, 'Sharh Usul I'tiqaad Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah']

Thirdly: the meaning of 'bad sunnah' is to be understood in a similar vein, i.e. the one who renews an evil act will get it's evil…. and the Prophet (SAW) gave the example of the two sons of Adam one killing the other, so the one who killed got the sin of that action and the sin of all those that would kill in the future without their sins decreasing. And killing had been forbidden from the time of the first Prophet (AS) to the last (SAW).

Fourthly: the hadeeth uses the terms 'good' and 'bad', and from what has preceded it is clear that Islaam has already defined in it's totality all that it is good and bad, and if we were to say otherwise we would then be accusing the religion of incompleteness and deficiency. This is why Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee rejected Istihsaan (declaring something to be good that was not already done so by the Sharee'ah) by saying, "whosoever declares something good has declared it part of the Sharee'ah"

Innovation in Islaam

Innovation in Islaam is the invention, creation or addition of any religious matter which was not (originally) found in Islaam. Therefore, Islaam warns against it and invalidates any religious deed which does not originate from the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, says in this respect:

"He who innovates something that is not in agreement with our matter (religion), will have it rejected." [Al-Bukharee and Muslim]

This is because innovation in religion is an opposition to Islaam; it implies that our religion is incomplete and imperfect with regards to the matters of worship. Shaikh Ibn 'Uthaimeen says: "Innovation entails the adoption of dangerous ways":

  • It entails the refutation of Allaah's words; "this day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion."
    Therefore, any innovation introduced into the religion implies that Islaam is imperfect and incomplete.
  • It necessitates the slandering of the Sharee'ah (Islamic Law); that is, it was incomplete and the innovator has therefore completed it.
  • It requires the slander of Muslims who are not innovators, since by implication whoever came before these innovations, their religion is incomplete; and this is dangerous.

    Most people who were preoccupied with innovation, neglected the Sunnah. The Salaf (our predecessor Muslims) who were adherents to Islaam, said: "Whenever a people introduce a Bid'ah (an innovation), they destroyed its counterpart in the Sunnah."

  • These innovations also, bring about division among Muslims because the innovators believe that they are the ones who carry the truth and that those who do not follow them are mislead. However, the people of truth claim: "you are the ones (the innovators) who are on the wrong path and hence this is their division".
There are serious deviations which result from innovation, for innovation is connected with 'a rotten mind and flawed religion'. (Al-Muhaadaraat As-Saniyyah on the interpretation of Al-'Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah, 2/713).

The Emergence of Innovation

Innovation (in Islaam) was initiated as a result of bad intention, for a man opposed the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, and said to him 'be fair because you were not'. Consequently, several men followed this man and became dissidents (Al-Khawaarij). Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said in this respect:

"The principles of innovation were based on the refutation of Sunnah principles using doubt and whims, like Iblees (Satan) when he doubted Allaah's commands according to his whims." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa, 3/286-287)

Peculiar to the innovators are their ignorant view of Allaah, increasing divisions and severe hatred. Ibn Al-Qayyim, rahimahu Allaah, said about the innovators:

"If you look at innovators you will find that they are different, divided into sects and as far as worshipping is concerned, you will not find that two of them are adopting the same method. They would introduce innovations to each other. More than that, you will find that their innovations culminate into disbelief. For instance, you will find the son accusing his father of disbelief, the brother accusing his brother of disbelief, and the neighbour accusing his neighbour of disbelief. They are in constant conflict and hate each other, their differences cost them their lives and their discourse has never been common." (Mukhtasar Al-Sawaa'iq Al-Mursalah, 2/425).

Therefore, their divisions paradoxically unites them on the hatred of the Sunnah and its people, so woe to the innovators in what their hands have earned. Their evil deeds overshadow all evil, and the damage they have inflicted upon the Muslim Ummah is bigger than that caused by sinners. Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah says:

"The leaders of innovation inflict more damage upon the Ummah than sinners. That is why the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, ordered the killing of the Khawaarij and warned against the killing of the unjust followers." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa 7/284)

With the foregoing in mind, we must confront the innovators, point out their deviations and protect the Ummah from their evil acts by spreading the religious science and the principles of Ahlus-Sunna Wal-Jamaa'ah's 'Aqeedah (creed) and by advising people how to acquire it (i.e. 'Aqeedah) from its people. 'Abdullaah Ibn Mas'ood says: "seek knowledge before it is seized, and it's seizure means the disappearance of scholars. Do not delve deeply into knowledge, do not innovate and stick to the old (i.e. the authentic)." [Ad-Daarimee]

However, it is not fair to label anything new as innovation because it might be unknown or misinterpreted. This has been explained by Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah: "what has been proved abominable, based on the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, whether it be innovations or non- innovations, when said or practised by a person, this person may have some excuse due to his Ijtihaad (individual judgment over a matter, if he is a scholar) or permissible Taqleed (imitation) of a scholar when this person is an 'Aaammee (Islaamically uneducated) (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa, 10/371-372).

We should bear in mind that innovators are not equal in knowledge, ignorance, competence, approval, belief and hypocrisy. This has been explained by Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah:

"Among the innovators, there are the hypocrite and the atheist; these are non-believers. This type of people is found more among the Rafidites (a Shiate sect) and Al-Jahamiyyah (a sect who denies Allaah's attributes, among other serious deviations). Their leaders were known to be hypocrites and atheists. However, among those who innovate is that who is a believer but has some degree of ignorance and injustice which has led him to deviate from the Sunnah. Such person is not a Kaafir (a disbeliever) nor a hypocrite. He may be sinful or disobedient but he might as well be forgiven and excused because he has mistakenly misinterpreted the issue." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa 3/353)

Renouncing the innovators and boycotting their innovation

In safeguarding the interests of the Muslim community against the damages of the innovators, Islaam approved and legalised the renouncement and boycotting of the innovators. The Salaf, Ridwanu Allaahi 'Alaihim, adopted this method in the fight against innovation and renounced the innovators in order to safeguard the Sharee'ah. However, in order not to fight an innovation with another, their renouncement was based on faith and adherence to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. "Renouncement should not be adopted unless there is reasonable grounds for it and this entails the following:

  • To be sure of the existence of innovation and avoid hearsay. This is to say that one should listen to what the innovator says or does, or read what he has written, particularly in our era which lacks piety.
  • To fight the type of innovation which is agreed upon. This is to say that matters on which the scholars have different views whether they are innovations or not should not be renounced.

  • To clarify the issue to the person who says or practices an innovation before calling him an innovator. This person may be excused because he was not aware of the evidence he is opposing, or may have understood it mistakenly. This clarification can only be achieved through advising him and calling him to the Qur'aan and the Sunnah with kindness." [Haqeeqatu Al-Bid'ah Wa Ahkaamuhaa (The Reality of Innovation and Its Principles, 2/339)].

Innovation in Light of the Perfection of the Shari'ah

by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sâlih al-'Uthaymîn
(d. 1421 AH / n/a CE)

Translated by Abû 'Iyâd

Verily, all praise belongs to Allâh alone, we praise Him, seek His aid and His forgiveness. We repent to Him and seek refuge in Him from the evils of our souls and the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allâh guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever He misguides there is none to guide. I bear witness that there is no diety worthy of worship except Allâh alone and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. Allâh sent him with the guidance and the true religion and he conveyed the message, fulfilled the trust, advised the ummah and strove for Allâh as He ought to be strived for until there came to him the certainty. He left his ummah on a pure and clear path, whose night is like its day and none deviates from it except one who is destroyed.

He explained (in this clear path) everything which the ummah is in need of in all of its affairs (to such an extent) that Abu Dharr (ra) said:

"The Messenger (saw) did not even leave a bird flapping its wings in the sky except that he mentioned to us knowledge regarding it."

Also a man from among the mushrikûn (pagans) said to Salmân al-Farsî (ra):

"Your Messenger teaches you (so much), even toilet manners." So Salmân replied: "Yes! He has also forbidden us to face the qiblah while passing water or excrement or that we clean ourselves with less than three stones, or that we clean ourselves with the right hand or that we clean ourselves with dung or bones."

You will see that Allâh the Exalted has explained in this Great Qur'ân the fundamentals of the religion and its branches. He has explained Tawhîd with all its types, the etiquette of meeting in gatherings, and seeking permission to enter peoples houses.

The Exalted said:

O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the gatherings then make room (spread out). Allâh will (in turn) make ample room for you.

And He also said:

O you who believe! Do not enter houses other than your own until you have sought permission and saluted its inhabitants. That is better for you, in order that you may remember. And if you find none in the house then do not enter until permission has been given to you. If you are asked to go back then go back. That is more pure for you and Allâh has full knowledge of all that you do.

He has also explained the manners of dress.

He the Exalted said:

The elderly women who do not desire marriage, there is no blame upon them if they put aside there outer garments without making a display and show of beauty .

O Prophet. Say to your wives, your daughters and the women of the believers that they should put their outer garments over themselves (their bodies). That will be better in order that they may be known as such (free and respectable women) and not be harmed or abused.

And that they should not strike their feet so that what they hide from their beauty becomes known.

And it is not righteousness that you enter the houses from the rear but righteousness is the (quality of the) one who fears (Allâh. So enter houses through their proper doors.

And other such numerous verses by which it is made clear that this complete and comprehensive religion is not in need of any addition just like it is not permissible to make any decrease in it. This is why

Allâh the Exalted said in describing the Qur'ân

And We have revealed to you the Book (O Muhammad) , as a clarification and explanation for every single matter.

There is no such thing which mankind is in need of in their life and livelihood except that Allâh has explained it in His Book whether it is by the text (itself), or by an indication, or by something made explicit or something which is understood from the text (but is not in the text).

My dear Brothers, there are some amongst the people who explain the speech of Allâh:

There is no creature upon the earth or bird in the sky which flaps it wings except that it forms part of communities just like yourselves. We have not left anything out of the Book and then to your Lord will you be gathered.

They explain: "We have not left anything out of the Book...", by saying that the Book referred to is the Qur'ân. What is correct however, is that the Book is the Preserved Tablet.

As for the Qur'ân, Allâh has described it in a way which is more deep and profound than what has been mentioned in the above verse about the preserved tablet by negating the ommission of anything from it.

He said:

And We have revealed to you the Book, as a clarification and explanation for every single matter

This is more profound and clear than His speech:

We have not left anything out of the Book.

Perhaps someone may say: "Where can we find the number of the five prayers in the Qur'ân? And the number of (rakahs) for every prayer in the Qur'ân. And how can it be correct if we cannot find in the Qur'ân a description of the number of rakahs in every prayer while

Allâh says:

And We have revealed to you the Book, as a clarification and explanation for every single matter

The answer is that Allâh the Exalted has made it clear to us in His Book that it is obligatory upon us to take whatever the Messenger of Allâh has said and whatever he has directed us to.

The Exalted said:

Whoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allâh

And whatever the Messenger gives to you take it and whatever he forbids you from then refrain from it.

Whatever the Sunnah explains then the Qur'ân has (by default) indicated and directed to it because the Sunnah is one of the two types of revelation which Allâh revealed to His messenger and taught him, just as

Allâh has said:

And Allâh has revealed to you the Book and the Wisdom.

Therefore, based upon this is that whatever comes in the Sunnah has also came in the Book of Allâh Azzawajall.

My brothers, now that this matter has been settled, did the Prophet (saw) die while something from the religion which draws one closer to Allâh the Exalted remained which he did not explain?

Never! Since the Messenger (saw) explained the whole of the religion either by his speech, his action or his (silent) approval, whether that was initiated of his own accord or whether it was due to a response to a question. Sometimes Allâh would send a bedouin from the furthest region of the desert in order to ask the Messenger of Allâh (saw) a thing from among the matters of the religion which the Companions, who stuck by the Messenger of Allâh (saw) did not ask him. This is why they used to rejoice when a bedouin would come and ask the Prophet (saw) about certain affairs.

That the Prophet (saw) did not leave anything which the people are in need of in their worship, their dealings with one another and their livelihood without having explained it is proven to you by His speech,

the Exalted:

This day have I perfected for you your religion and have completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islâm as a religion

When this matter has been explained - O Muslim - know that every one who Innovates something in the religion of Allâh even if it is with a good intention, then his innovation, along with it being misguidance, will be considered a defamation of the religion of Allâh Azzawajall and will be considered a denial and rejection of

Allâh the Exalted in His speech:

This day have I perfected for you your religion

Since this innovator who innovated a matter into the religion of Allâh which is not from the religion of Allâh is saying silently that the religion has not been completed because this matter which was left out, and which he innovated, can be used to draw closer to Allâh Azzawajall.

It is amazing that a person will innovate something related to Allâh's Essence, His Name's and Attributes and then say that in doing so he is exalting and magnifying his Lord, that he is freeing his Lord from any imperfections and faults and that he is obeying

His speech the Exalted:

So do not set up equals or partners to Allâh

You will be amazed by this person. He makes this innovation in the religion of Allâh which is related to Allâh's Essence, and which the Salaf from this Ummah were not upon and nor its leaders, and then says that he is freeing Allâh from defects, magnifying Him and is giving obedience to His speech,

the Exalted:

So do not set up equals or partners to Allâh

and that whoever disagrees with that is someone who makes resemblances for Allâh and likens Him to His creation.

Just like you will be amazed by a people who innovate in the religion of Allâh something which is related to the Messenger of Allâh (saw) and which does not belong to the religion of Allâh. Then they call out and claim by this innovation that they are lovers of the Messenger of Allâh (saw), that they are exalting the Messenger of Allâh (saw). And that whoever does not agree with them in this innovation of theirs is a hater of the Messenger of Allâh (saw) and other such bad names which they give to whoever does not agree with them in their innovation.

It is amazing also that the likes of such people say 'We are the ones who exalt and magnify Allâh and His Messenger’. In reality when they innovate into the religion of Allâh and His Sharî'ah which the His Messenger (saw) came with something which does not belong to it they are without a doubt putting themselves ahead of Allâh and His Messenger.

Allâh Azzawajall has said:

O you who believe! Do not put yourselves ahead of Allâh and His Messenger and fear Allâh. Indeed Allâh is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.

My brothers, I ask and adjure you by Allâh Azzawajall, and I would like the answer to be from your hearts not from your sentiments and emotions, from what your religion necessitates and not your blind-following: What do you say about those who innovate into the religion of Allâh something which does not belong to it whether it is related to Allâh's Essence, His Names and Attributes or whether it is related to the Messenger of Allâh (saw) and then say 'We are exalting and magnifying Allâh and His Messenger'. Are these more deserving of being those who exalt and magnify Allâh and His Messenger?

Or is it those people who do not deviate even a fingertips length from Allâh's Sharî'ah, who say with regard to what has come in the Sharî'ah 'We believe and treat as true that with which we have been informed and we hear and we obey with regard to that which we have been commanded' and who say about that which the Sharee'ah did not come with 'We desist and refrain, it is not for us to put ourselves ahead of Allâh and His Messenger and it is not for us to say about the religion of Allâh something which is not found in it.' Which of these two are more worthy of being those who love Allâh and His Messenger and who exalt Allâh and His Messenger?

There is no doubt that it is the ones who say 'We believe and accept (as true) that with which we have been informed and we hear and we obey with regard to that which we have been commanded' and who say 'We hold back and refrain from that which we have not been commanded' and who say'We are the least able in placing something in the Sharee'ah of Allâh something which is not in it'. There is no doubt that these are the ones who know and acknowledge their own limit and power and the power of their creator. These are the ones who magnify Allâh and His Messenger and they are the ones who demonstrate the truthfulness of their love for Allâh and His Messenger.

It is certainly not those who innovate into the religion of Allâh something which does not belong to it, in terms of belief, speech or action. You will surprised at a people who know the saying of the Messenger of Allâh (saw):

"Beware of the newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hellfire."

They know that his speech "...every innovation ..." is general, comprehensive and complete, being enclosed and surrounded with the strongest particle that can be used for generalisation and inclusion and that is "...kullu (every)..." and that the one who spoke this comprehensive speech (saw) knows the sense and meaning of this word. That he is the most eloquent of the whole of creation, the greatest adviser of the creation to the creation, who does not speak except with something the meaning of which he (certainly and definitely) intends and desires.

Therefore, when the Prophet (saw) said: "Every innovation is misguidance" he knew what he was saying and he knew the meaning of what he said. These words came from him out of the perfection of (his) advice to the ummah.

Whenever these three matters come together in speech - the perfection of advice and will, the perfection of speech and discourse and the perfection of knowledge and acquaintance - it indicates that what is desired or intended by the speech is the actual meaning which it indicates and refers to. After this comprehensiveness is it correct that we divide innovations into three types or five types? Never! This is not correct.

The claim of some of the scholars that there is Bid'ah Hasanah (good innovation) falls into one of two situations (and is explained in one of two ways):

1. It is not an innovation in reality but a person considers it an innovation

2. That it is an innovation, which makes it evil, however a person does not know about its evil

Therefore, this is the answer to everything which is claimed to be a bid'ah hasanah. Built upon this, there is no way for the people of innovation to make from among their innovations something which is a bid'ah hasanah. In our hands is this sharp sword from the Messenger of Allâh (saw):"Every innovation is misguidance". Verily, this sharp sword was manufactured in the factories of prophethood and messengership. It has not been made in the fragile and feeble factories (of people) but rather, it has been made in the factories of prophethood. The Prophet (saw) designed it into this fine and efficacious art. It is not possible for anyone to challenge the one in whose hand is this sharp sword with any innovation, saying it is a bid'ah hasanah while the Messenger of Allâh (saw) says:"Every innovation is misguidance".

It is as if I feel in your souls a whispering which says: What do you say about the saying of Ameerul-Mumineen Umar ibn Al-Khattâb (ra) the one who was always in agreement with the truth when he ordered Ubayy bin Ka'b and Tameem ad-Dâree to stand and lead the people in prayer during Ramadân and when he went out to the mosque while the people were all united behind one imâm:

"What a good innovation this is. But the prayer which they do not perform but sleep at its time is better than the one they are performing."

The answer to that is from two aspects:

The First: It is not permissible for any person to contradict and oppose the words of the Messenger (saw) with any other words. Not with the words of Abu Bakr who is the most superior person of the ummah after its prophet, nor the words of Umar who is the second best of this ummah after its prophet, nor the words of Uthmân who is the third best of this ummah after its prophet and nor the words of Alee who is the fourth best of this ummah after its prophet and nor the words of anyone besides them because

Allâh the Exalted said:

Let those beware who withstand his (the messenger's) order that a trial will befall them or that a painful punishment will touch them.

Imâm Ahmad (rh) said:

"Do you know what the trial is? The trial is Shirk.

Maybe when he rejects some of the words of the Prophet (saw) deviation and corruption falls into his heart so he is destroyed."

And Ibn Abbâs (ra) said:

"It is almost as if stones from the sky will fall upon you, I say to you the Messenger of Allâh (saw) said this and you say Abu Bakr and Umar said that".

The Second: We know with certain knowledge that Ameerul-Mu'mineen Umar ibn Al-Khattâb (ra) was among the greatest of people in respecting and exonerating the words of Allâh the Exalted and His Messenger (saw). He was well known for standing by the limits (hudûd) of Allâh the Exalted to such an extent that he was described as a guardian of the words of Allâh the Exalted.

Umar never transgressed the limits of Allâh and so it does not befit Umar (ra) to oppose and differ from the words of the leader of mankind, Muhammad (saw) and that he should say about an innovation "What an excellent innovation this is" and this innovation being the same one which the Messenger of Allâh (saw) meant by his speech "Every innovation is misguidance". Rather it is necessary that this innovation about which Umar said: "What an excellent innovation this is" is placed with the type of innovation which does not fall under the intent of the Prophet (saw) in his speech: "Every innovation is misguidance".

Umar (ra), by his speech, was referring to the gathering of people behind one imâm after they had been separated and dispersed. The basis for the prayer (in congregation) during Ramadân was from the Messenger of Allâh (saw). It is established in the two saheehs from the hadeeth of Aa'ishah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) led the people in prayer for three nights and then remained behind from the people on the fourth night and said to them: "Indeed I feared that this may be made obligatory upon you and that you may not be able to perform it (due to its burden)."

Therefore, praying at night during Ramadân in congregation is from the Sunnah of Allâh's Messenger (saw) and Umar (ra) named this an innovation considering that when the Prophet (saw) abandoned praying with the people the became separated. One man would pray by himself and another would pray with another and yet another would be praying with two people. There would be groups of people praying in the mosque praying by themselves.

Then Umar (saw) saw, with his sharp and correct vision that he should unite the people behind a single imâm. This action in itself is an innovation when one considers that the situation before was one of separation and dispersal. This (kind of) innovation is a relative one and has a precedence and it is not an absolute innovation which has been initiated (without any former example or model). Umar (ra) reinstated this because this sunnah was present in the time of the Messenger (saw).

Therefore, this is a sunnah but it was abandoned since the time of the Messenger (saw) until Umar (ra) returned it. With this rule it is not possible, ever, for the people of innovation to find a passage or outlet from the words of Umar (ra) for what they sanction and approve of from among their innovations.

Someone may say:'There are innovated things which the muslims have accepted and have acted upon yet these things were not known during the time of the Messenger (saw) such as schools, composition of books and whatever resembles that’. These are innovations which the muslims have considered to be good, acted upon them and see them as being from the best of actions. How then can you reconcile between this which is almost unanimously agreed upon by the muslims and between the speech of the leader of the muslims, the prophet of the muslims and the Messenger of the Lord of all the Worlds (saw): "Every innovation is misguidance."

The answer: We say that this in reality is not an innovation. Rather it is a means to something which has been legislated (in the Sharee'ah). The means differ from place to place and time to time. It is from the established principles (in the Sharee'ah) that the means have rulings related to their intent or purpose. Therefore, ways and means for achieving something legislated are also legislated and permissible. Means and ways for things which are not legislated are also not legislated and means and ways to things which are unlawful are forbidden. Even good, when it is a means towards evil is also evil and as such is forbidden. Listen to the words of

Allâh Azzawajall:

And do not revile or curse those whom they call upon besides Allâh so that they also revile and curse Allâh out of enmity without knowledge.

Reviling the gods of the pagans is not wrong rather it is true and justified however reviling the Lord of all the Worlds is improper, unjustified and constitutes enmity and oppression. That is why when the praiseworthy reviling of the gods of the pagans is a clear and open cause for reviling the Lord of all the Worlds it is unlawful and prohibited. I have presented this as a proof to show that the ways and means have rulings related to their intent and purpose. Therefore, schools, writing down of knowledge and authorship of books while they may be innovations, not being found in the era of the Prophet (saw) in this manner, are not the sole intent and purpose (i.e. sought in themselves). Rather they are of the means and ways which have the same ruling as the intent and purpose behind them, which in this case is to teach and spread knowledge.

This is why if a person was to build a school for the purposes of teaching knowledge which is forbidden, the building of the school is also forbidden and if he was to build the school for the purposes of teaching the Sharee'ah the building of this school is legislated and would be permissible.

If one was to say: How would you respond to the saying of the Prophet (saw): "Whoever enacted in Islâm a good sunnah would have its reward and the reward of whoever acted upon it till the day of Judgement."

The answer: The one who said: "Whoever enacted in Islâm a good sunnah..." is the same one who said: "Every innovation is misguidance" and it is not possible that a saying should arise from the truthful and believed one (the Messenger) which makes another of his sayings false. It is not possible that the words of the Messenger of Allâh (saw) should ever contradict. Nor is it ever possible to reject one meaning when there is a contradiction. Whoever thinks that the words of Allâh or the words of His Messenger (saw) are contradictory should look again. This suspicion only arises either out of incapability or negligence. It is not possible for a contradiction to be found in the words of Allâh the Exalted or the words of His Messenger (saw).

When that is the case the explanation of the lack of contradiction between the hadeeth: "Every innovation is misguidance" and the hadeeth: "Whoever enacted in Islâm a good sunnah" is that the Prophet (saw) said: "Whoever introduced in Islâm" and innovations are not from Islâm. He also said: "hasanah (good)"and innovation is not hasanah (good). There is also a difference between reviving and innovating.

There is also another answer in which there is no fault: That the meaning of "man sanna (whoever enacted)" is: Whoever revived a sunnah which used to exist and then it became non-existent (disappeared). Built upon this, "enacting" is a relative addition just like when one revives a sunnah after it had been abandoned is considered as an innovation (in relation to its previous non-existence).

There is also a third answer which indicates the context of the hadeeth and that is the story of the small band of people who came as a delegation to the Prophet (saw) and who were in very straitened and difficult circumstances. The Prophet (saw) called the people to bestow out their free will for these people. A man from the Ansâr came with a bag of silver which was very heavy in his hands. He placed it in front of the Messenger (saw) and the face of the Prophet (saw) began to rejoice out of delight and happiness and he said: "Whoever enacted in Islâm a good sunnah would have its reward and the reward of whoever acted upon it till the day of Judgement." Here the meaning of enacting is the introduction of an action in terms of its execution/performance and not in terms of legislation. Therefore the meaning of: "Whoever enacted in Islâm a good sunnah" is the one who acted upon it effecting it, and actualising it, not legislating it because legislation is forbidden since: "Every innovation is misguidance."

Know my brothers that a person's following of the Messenger (saw) is not proper and correct except when the action is in accordance with the Sharee'ah with respect to six matters:

The First : When a person worships Allâh with an act of worship linked to a cause or reason which is not legislated this is an innovation which is rejected from the one who performs it. An example of that is when people awaken on the seventeenth night of the month of Rajab with the proof that it was the night in which the Messenger of Allâh (saw) ascended to the heavens. The tahajjud prayer is indeed an act of worship but when it is linked to this reason it becomes an innovation because it is based and constructed upon a reason which is not established from the Sharee'ah. This description - the agreement of the act of worship with the Sharee'ah in terms of its reason and cause - is an important matter by which the innovatory nature of many things thought to be from the sunnah, when in reality they are not, are made clear.

The Second: Type or Kind: It is also vital that the act of worship agrees with the Sharee'ah in its type. If a person was to worship Allâh with an act of worship whose type or mode has not been legislated, it would not be accepted. An example of that is when a man sacrifices a horse, his sacrifice would not be correct because he has opposed the Sharee'ah in its specification of the type. Sacrifice is not performed except with lamb, cattle, sheep and camels.

The Third: Quantity: If a person desired to increase the prayer (with respect to the number of rakahs) this would become an innovation which is not acceptable since it opposes the Sharee'ah in terms of quantity. If a person was to pray Dhuhr with five rakahs for example, his prayer would not be correct by unanimous agreement.

The Fourth: Manner of Performance: If a person was to perform wudhû by washing his feet first then wiping his head then his hands and then the face we would say: His wudhû is void as it is in opposition to the Sharee'ah in the manner of its performance.

The Fifth: Time: If a man was to sacrifice an animal in the first days of Dhul-Hijjah the sacrifice would not be accepted due to its opposition to the Sharee'ah with respect to time. I have heard that some people sacrifce sheep during the month of Ramadân seeking nearness to Allâh with this sacrifice. This action is an innovation with respect to time because there is nothing by which a person draws nearer to Allâh with sacrificing except the sacrifice of Adhâ, Aqeeqah and that which is given as a gift. As for sacrificing in the month of Ramadân while believing that there is a reward for this sacrifice similar to the sacrifice on Eedul-Adhâ then that is an innovation. And as for sacrificing merely for the meat then that is permissible.

The Sixth: Place: If a man was to perform I'tikâf in other than a mosque his I'tikâf would not be correct. This is because I'tikâf is not to be performed except in the mosques. If a woman was to say: I wish to perform I'tikâf in the place of prayer in the house, her I'tikâf would not be correct due its opposition to the Sharee'ah in terms of time. Another example of this is when a man wishes to perform Tawâf but finds that it has become constricted (due to the many people) and the area around him has become narrow and constricted so he begins to perform Tawâf from behind the mosque. His Tawâf would not be correct because the place for Tawâf is the House (Ka'bah)

Allâh the Exalted said to Ibraheem the Khaleel:

Purify my House for those who perform Tawâf

Therefore Ibâdah is not considered to be righteous action except when two conditions are present:

The First: Ikhlâs (Sincerity)

The Second: Following and Adherence and this is not correct except by the six abovementioned matters.

I say to those who have been put to trial with innovations and whose intentions were (no doubt) good, desiring good when you desire good but we do not know, by Allâh, a path better than the path of the Salaf may Allâh be pleased with them.

My brothers bite onto the Sunnah of the Messenger (saw) with the molars and travel upon the path of the Salaf us-Sâlih. Be upon whatever they were upon and then look and see: Will that will injure or hurt you in any way?

I say - and I seek refuge in Allâh that I say something about which I have no knowledge - I say: You will find that many amongst these people who are eager and zealous in innovations are weak and feeble in carrying out those matters whose legislation has been established and whose correctness from the sunnah has also been established. When they finish and depart from these innovations they face the established acts of sunnah with laxity.

All of this is from the evil effects of innovations upon the heart. The evil effects of innovations upon the heart are very great (and severe) and their dangers towards the religion are immense (and significant). Never do a people make an innovation into the religion of Allâh except that they neglect from the Sunnah its like or even greater than it, as some of the people of knowledge from the Salaf have mentioned.

Conversely, when a man feels (and knows) that he is following (and adhering) and not legislating he will obtain, as a result of that, the perfection of awe, submission, humility and worship of the Lord of all the Worlds, and the perfection of following and adherence to the Imâm of the Allâh-fearing, the chief of the messengers and the Messenger of the Lord of all the Worlds, Muhammad (saw)

I direct this advice to all my muslim brothers who consider anything from among the innovations to be good, whether they are related to the Essence of Allâh, His Names and Attributes or to the Messenger of Allâh (saw) and exalting him, that they should fear Allâh and turn away from that. Furthermore, they should make their affair built upon adherence and imitation and not innovation, upon sincerity and not association of partners (in Allâh's worship), upon the Sunnah and not upon Bid'ah, upon what ar-Rahmân loves and not upon what Shaytân loves. Then they should look at the security, life and tranquility that their hearts will obtain and also the ease and comfort of their condition.

I ask Allâh that He makes us guides who are guided and leaders of the righteous. That He enlightens our hearts with faith and knowledge and that He does not make the knowledge we have aqcuired harmful to us. That He travels with us upon the path of His believing servants and that He makes us from among His close friends who have fear of him and among His party of the succesful ones. May Allâh send prayers and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions.


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