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Bid’ah Or Innovation In Islam – New things in religion

Allah sent the final revelation of the Quran about Islam to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who was the last of the Prophets. Allah accepts only the religion of Islam, and this is binding on all of mankind. Moreover, Allah has already perfected Islam for us, as He tells us in Surah Al-Ma’idah. As Islam is complete and flawless, there is no room for the introduction of anything new (Bid’ah) in the religion.

The Prophet (PBUH) thoroughly condemned Bid’ah (innovation) in the Sunnah. Believers must follow the Quran and Sunnah without making any changes to the religion’s teachings. Bid’ah causes deviation in the faith and corrupts its original teachings. Since Allah already revealed His complete final message to His last Prophet, adding something new to the religion implies that Islam is deficient, incomplete, and imperfect. Hence, one who does so is guilty of a grave sin.

The Prophet (PBUH) strongly condemned Bid’ah

In a Sahih hadith in Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) declares that one who introduces something new in Islam will not have his innovation accepted. Therefore, one who invents something new in Islam, which was not originally a part of the faith, will have his innovation rejected. It will not be of any use to him in the worldly life or the Hereafter.

Similarly, in a hadith in Sunan Abi Dawud, the Prophet (PBUH) once again denounces innovations. In the hadith, he says to follow His and the rightly guided caliphs’ Sunnah. The Prophet (PBUH) says to firmly stick to the Sunnah and stay away from novelties, which are all Bid’ah. Moreover, every Bid’ah is an error. This makes it abundantly clear that every innovated matter in the religion violates the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), which is the path every believer must follow.

Furthermore, the Prophet (PBUH) stated in a hadith in Sunan An-Nasai, that every Bid’ah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the fire of Hell. Hence, the final Prophet of Allah, who conveyed the last revelation to humankind, strongly condemned Bid’ah. Obedience to him is compulsory, and every believer should pay heed to his explicit warnings against innovations in Islam.

The different kinds of Bid’ah

One kind of innovation is Bid’ah in acts of worship. Anyone who worships Allah in a way that Islam does not tell Muslims to is innovating in an act of worship. Basically, the only acts of worship that are permissible are those that Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) have established. Any act of worship that does not originate from the teachings of Islam is thus invalid and an innovation. Every act of worship that a believer performs should have been deemed valid by the Quran and Sunnah.

There are also innovations in dealings. Islam has clearly laid out what is and is not permissible in dealings, contracts, etc. One who carries out dealings that have no basis in Islam is committing an act of Bid’ah. This includes contracts that are unfair or when a condition in a contract is disregarded. Any dealings that violate the teachings found in the Quran and Sunnah will be rendered invalid.

There are innovations that amount to disbelief as well as innovations that do not. Bid’ah that amounts to disbelief involves innovations that consist of one rejecting something that has the consensus of scholars in Islam. It is something well-known that every believer should know, and no Muslim can realistically have an excuse for being ignorant of it.

An example of innovation which amounts to Kufr (disbelief) is when one denies something that is mandatory. It can also be when someone makes something that is haram halal, or by making something that is halal haram. It can also be through a person believing something about Allah, the Prophet (PBUH), and the Quran that is improper. On the other hand, Bid’ah that does not amount to disbelief is the innovation that does not involve denial of the Quran or any teachings of the religion.

Some common acts that are Bid’ah

A deeply problematic Bid’ah, which is widespread in places like the subcontinent, is when people ask the dead for help. The same applies to those who seek tabarruk via the possessions of a peer. Another innovation is the performance of the adhan beside the grave following the burial of the deceased person. Wiping the neck during one’s Wudu is also a Bid’ah. Another belief that is a Bid’ah is to believe that the Prophet (PBUH) is noor from Allah’s noor. Saying the intention (Niyyat) for prayer out loud instead of making the intention in one’s heart is also a Bid’ah.

A strange belief that is an innovation is to believe that the Prophet (PBUH) did not have a shadow. The same goes for the belief that the Prophet (PBUH) knew the time of the Final Hour. Spinning in circles in the mosque and reciting specific wazeefas concocted by peers, such as reciting something a particular number of times for good health, are innovations too. Moreover, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH), even though he never did so himself, is a Bid’ah.

What Islam says about those who innovate

If the innovator’s Bid’ah amounts to Kufr, he can be a disbeliever or still be a believer, depending on the circumstances. If it is proven that his intention is to ruin Islam’s foundations and spread doubts among the believers, he can be a disbeliever and one who is an adversary of the religion. Otherwise, if he innovates due to his confusion and he himself is a victim of misleading information, and he doesn’t have the intention to harm Islam, people cannot call him a disbeliever.

If the Bid’ah of the innovator does not amount to disbelief, he should not be considered a disbeliever. He is still a Muslim, but he is guilty of a terrible sin. The issue of falling into innovation should never be taken lightly by a believer. We should always remember that innovation is explicitly condemned in the Sunnah. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that we never deviate in our practice of Islam by innovating.

How to deal with people who innovate

Whether or not an innovation amounts to Kufr, we should call the innovator to the truth. We must inform him of the truth about his Bid’ah. Believers should explain the truth to the innovator without being harsh or aggressive. If it turns out that the innovator is too arrogant to embrace the truth when one informs him about it, Muslims should refute their falsehood and make it clear that it violates Islamic teachings. Doing so is essential in order to prevent their deviance from leading others astray.

Furthermore, it is compulsory to boycott the innovator if his Bid’ah amounts to Kufr. If the Bid’ah does not constitute disbelief, the situation should be assessed before deciding whether or not to boycott an innovator. If some benefit can be gained by boycotting the innovator, we should boycott him. However, if nothing will be achieved through a boycott of the person, or it will merely drive him further into sin, he should not be boycotted because it will be of no use and can even prove to be detrimental.

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