The Light of Sunnah vs.The Darkness of Bid’ah according to the Qur`an and Sunnah: al-Qahtani

The Light of Sunnah vs.

The Darkness of Bid’ah

according to the

Qur`an and Sunnah

[The Way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him,
as apposed to innovated deviations in religion]

By Dr. Sa’eed ibn Ali ibn Wahf al-Qahtani

نــور السنـة وظلـمـات البدعـة في ضوء الكتاب والسنة
تأليف الفقير إلى الله تعالى: سعيد بن علي بن وهف القحطاني

Translation (with some adaptations),
Introduction and Notes by
Abu Salman Deya ud-Deen Eberle
أبو ســـلمان ضياء الدين ابرلي
(May Allah have mercy on him and forgive him)

Edited by Um Salman

(May Allah have mercy on her and forgive her)

Table of Contents
TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION
AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION
FIRST SECTION: LIGHT OF SUNNAH
First Topic: Meaning of Sunnah
Second Topic: The names of Ahl-as-Sunnah and their characteristics
Third Topic: The Sunnah is a complete and absolute blessing
Fourth Topic: The Status of the Sunnah
Fifth Topic: The position of the person of the Sunnah and the person of Bid’ah (Innovation)
SECOND SECTION: DARKNESS OF BID’AH
First Topic: The meaning of Bid’ah
Second Topic: Conditions for deeds of worship to be accepted
Third Topic: Condemnation of Bid’ah in the Religion
4) Examples from the Sayings of the Followers (Taba’een) and those afterward
Fourth Topic: The causes of Bid’ah
Fifth Topic: Kinds of Bid’ah
Sixth Topic: Ruling about Bid’ah in Religion
Seventh Topic: Various kinds of Bid’ah at the Graves
Eighth Topic: Some modern forms of Bid’ah that are widespread
The kinds of blessings that are not allowed to seek are as follows:
SOME OTHER EXAMPLES:
Ninth Topic: The Repentance of the Innovator
Tenth Topic: The consequences of Bid’ah and its harms
BIBLIOGRAPHY
GLOSSARY

Excerpt from pages18-24

(Scroll down to bottom of page for footnotes)


Second Section: Darkness of Bid’ah

First Topic: The meaning of Bid’ah

In the Arabic language the word Bid’ah means something innovated without a previous pattern or example to this thing, and upon this meaning is the saying of Allah about His Exalted Self:

﴿بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ}

“Originator of the heavens and the earth.” (2:117; 6:101), meaning the one who originated it without any previous likeness to it. [1]

In the Islamic legal terminology Bida’h is an innovation in religion, in desires and actions, after the completion of the religion by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. [2] The scholars of Islam use Bid’ah in various ways and these usages complete each other to combine for a comprehensive meaning. For instance:

-1- Ibn Taimiyyah said, may Allah’s mercy be upon him: “Bid’ah in religion is what is not legislated by Allah or His Messenger, which is what has not been commanded in an order of obligation or in an order of something loved and desired.”  “Bid’ah is of two types: one in sayings and beliefs, and another in actions and worships. The first type calls to the second, and the second type has included within it the first.” [3]

He also said: “Imam Ahmad and the other Imams developed their jurisprudence on the principle that action is of two kinds: deeds of worship (Ibaadaat) and deeds of custom (‘Aadaat).  The primary rule about the first is that one doesn’t worship except by that which Allah legislated and the primary rule of the second is that nothing is prohibited of them except that which is explicitly prohibited by Allah.”  [4]He also said: “Bid’ah is that which is contrary to the Book of Allah and Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, or the consensus of the predecessors of the Muslim nation, in beliefs and worships, like the innovated sayings of the Khawaraij, Rawaafidh, al-Qadariyyah, al-Jahmiyyah, those that worship with singing and dancing in the Mosques, and those that worship by shaving their beards or eating intoxicants (literally opium or hashish), and so many other kinds of innovations that some sects and groups have fabricated that are contrary to the Qur`an and Sunnah, and Allah knows best.”[5]

-2- Ash-Shaatabi said, may Allah have mercy on him: “Bid’ah is a fabricated way in religion, made to appear similar to what is legitimate in religion, and the person intends by this to exaggerate his worship to Allah the Glorious.” According to this opinion of jurisprudence, Bid’ah does not include any common customary actions (Aadaat) and is confined to worships, whereas those who deem that the customs may become Bid’ah say that the definition of Bid’ah is: “any fabricated way that is made to appear similar to what is legitimate in religion, and by taking this way the person intends to imitate the legitimate way of religion.”  [6]

Then he determined that according to the second definition the common customary acts are not Bid’ah but if they are done as forms of worship then they may become so, and thus he combined the significant points of two definitions. He mentioned as an example of the common customary acts that must by necessity become forms of worship, buying and selling, marriage and divorce, renting, and crimes (and punishments) …because these acts are all qualified by Islamic legal conditions and rules which the Muslim must follow and which he cannot tamper.” [7]

-3- Hafizth Ibn Rajab, may Allah’s mercy be upon him, said: “The intended meaning of Bid’ah is what is innovated without any basis in the Islamic law which indicates its legitimacy, whereas that which has some basis indicating its legitimacy is not Bid’ah even if it is Bid’ah linguistically. Therefore whoever innovates something and then attributes that to Islam while there is no basis demonstrating its legitimacy is misguided and the religion of Islam has no association with that innovation whatsoever and is free and absolved from it, no matter that this is in beliefs or actions or the internal and external sayings. The fact that some of the predecessors called some of the Bid’ah good, is that the Bid’ah they referred to was in the linguistic sense and not in the legal sense. Of this kind is the saying of Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, when he assembled the people in the Mosque to pray the night prayers of Taraweeh in Ramadhan with one Imam in congregation, and then he saw them in congregation and said: “What a blessed innovation this is(Ni’matal-Bid’ah hadthahi).” What he intended by saying this is that this act was not being performed before this time  in this form even though it did have a basis in the Islamic law to which it returned for legitimacy.”[8]

The proofs of the legitimacy of this congregation are that the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him, encouraged the people to make the supererogatory prayers of the Ramadhan and they used to do it separately or singularly. He then prayed some nights with them in congregation as their Imam but ceased doing this fearing that Allah might make it obligatory for his community which they would not be able to fulfill.[9] After his death this fear was removed (since no revelation descends). Another proof is that the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him, commanded us to follow his way (Sunnah) and the way of the rightly guided Caliphs, and this is the way of his rightly guided Caliphs.[10]

There are two types of Bid’ah: Bid’ah Mukaffarah, the innovation that causes one to go outside of the fold of Islam (by disbelief, idolatry and apostasy), and Bid’ah Mufassiqah, the innovation that does not cause one to go outside of the fold of Islam (but makes one a Faasiq – disobedient sinner).[11]

Second Topic: Conditions for deeds of worship to be accepted

No deed of worship done to please Allah and approach nearer to Him is acceptable to Allah unless it fulfills two conditions:

The first condition is that it is done sincerely for Allah without partner, according to the saying of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him:

إنما الأعمال بالنيات، وإنما لكل أمريء ما نوى

“Verily deeds are according to the intentions and for every person as he intended.” [12]

The second condition is that one follows the way of the Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, according to his saying

”من عمل عملاً ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد“

“Whoever does a deed which doesn’t have our command, it is rejected.” [13] And in another version he said:

”من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد“

“Whoever innovates in our affair that which is not of it, it is rejected.”  [14]

Therefore whoever does his deeds sincerely for Allah and follows in this the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing be upon him, his deeds are acceptable. If these two conditions are missing or one of the them then the deed is rejected, and this is included in the saying of Allah the Exalted:

﴿وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَى مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَّنثُورًا

“And We will approach what they have done of deeds and make them as scattered dust” (25:23)

Whoever combines the two conditions is included in the saying of Allah the Exalted:

﴿وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ للَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ

“And who is better in religion than one who submits his face to Allah while doing good…” (4:125), and the saying of Allah

﴿بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

“But indeed on the contrary, whoever submits his face to Allah while doing good will have his reward with his Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (2:112)

The narration of Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, which says “Verily deeds are only according to the intentions and for every person as he intended” is the criterion for judging the correctness of the deeds in their inner aspects, and the narration of Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, which says “Whoever does a deed which doesn’t have our command, it is rejected” is the criterion for judging the correctness of the deeds in their outward aspects. All of Islam comes under these two narrations in its primary fundamentals and secondary affairs, in its inner and outer dimensions, in its sayings and deeds.  [15]

Imam an-Nawawi explained the narrations of Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, with precious words after mentioning the two versions:

”من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد“

“Whoever innovates in our affair that which is not of it, it is rejected,” and

”من عمل عملاً ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد“

“Whoever does a deed which doesn’t have our command, it is rejected,” by saying “The scholars of Arabic language mention that Radd (Rejection) is in the active particle but means the passive particle, and thus this means that the deeds are void of merit and invalid. This contains a great principle of Islam and is an example of the eloquence of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, wherein great meanings are put in a few words. This is an explicit rebuttal against all Bida’h and all invented actions in religion. The second version has an additional meaning. Some of the arrogant stubborn innovators, when they are reproached for their innovations by mentioning to them the first version, may claim that they are just following others before them and haven’t actively invented it, and thus the second version is used which explicitly states that every innovated thing is rejected, no matter if the person himself has innovated it or some one before him.” [16]


[1]  See Ibn Manzthoor, Lisaan al-Arab 6/8; Ibn Faaris, Mu’jam al-Lughah 119; Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu al-Fataawa 35/414); Ash-Shaatabi, al-I’itisam 4/ 107-108]

[2] [TN Allah mentios this in relation to the sending of His Messenger to convey the religion of Allah to the people when he the Exalted says:

﴿ قُلْ مَا كُنْتُ بِدْعًا مِنَ الرُّسُلِ

“Say: I am not an innovation (Bid’an) of the Messengers…”   (46:9)]

[3] See Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu al-Fataawa 4/107-108, 22/306.

[4] Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu al-Fataawa 4/196.

[5]Ibn Taimiyyah, Majmu al-Fataawa 18/346, and see 35/414.

[6] Ash-Shaatabi, al-I’itisam  1/50-56.

[7] Ash-Shaatabi, al-I’itisam  2/568,570, 594]

[8] Ibn Rajib, Jame’ul-Uloom wal-Hikam 2/127-128 with some changes, and the saying of Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, is reported by al-Bukhari 2/308, no 2010]

[9] Reported by al-Bukhari 2/309, no 2012.

[10] [TN The author indicates what was commanded explicitly in his famous sermon as Irbad ibn Sariyah has mentioned below in full.]

[11] See ash-Shaatabi, al-I’itisam 2/516

[12] Reported by al-Bukhari 1/9 no.1 and Muslim 2/151 no 1907.

[13] Reported by Muslim 3/1344, no 1718.

[14] Reported by al-Bukhari no. 2697 and Muslim 1718 907.

[15] See as-Sa’adi, Bahjat Quloob al-Abraar p.10.

[16] See an-Nawawi, Sharh ala Sahih Muslim 14/257 and see also al-Qurtubi, al-Mufham 6/171.

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Forth coming (insha-Allah: God willing)

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