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Refuting the Notion of Bid'ah Hasanah (Good Innovation) in Worship: Part 7 - A Diagrammatical Representation of the True and Real Intent of the Shafi'ite Jurists and Unveiling the Deception of the Contemporary Innovators
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Bidah Hasanah
Topics: Bidah Hasanah Good Innovation Al-maslahah Al-mursalah Sunnah Hasanah Al-Shafi'i Ibn Hajar Al-Nawawi Al-Izz Bin Abd Al-Salam

The Shafi'ite Jurists True and Real Intention Behind Their Terminology and Classification

Imam al-Nawawi has a nice passage in (تهذيب الأسماء واللغات) wherein he cites al-Shafi'i and al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam, and we can quote that here. You can refer to the full documentation of that quote in Part 8:

Al-Bidah, with a kasrah on the letter baa, in the Shariah it is the introduction (invention) of that which is not found in the era of the Messenger of Allaah, and it is divided into [that which is] good and [that which is] repugnant.

The Shaykh, the Imaam whose leadership, lofty stature, and proficiency and skill in a variety of sciences is agreed upon, Abu Muhammad Abd al-Aziz bin Abd al-Asalam (rahimahullaah wa radiya anhu) said, at the end of his book, al-Qawa'id:

Innovation is divided into obligatory (waajibah), unlawful (muharramah), recommended (makruhah), disliked (makruhah) and permitted (mubaahah), and the way to knowing that is to view the innovation in light of the Shariah principles, and so if it enters into the principles of obligation, then it is obligatory, or [if it enters into] the principles of unlawfulness, then it is unlawful, or if recommended, then recommended, or if [its falls into] the disliked, then disliked, or the permitted, then permitted.

For the obligatory innovations are examples, from them: Being occupied with the knowledge of grammar by which the speech of Allaah and the speech of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is understood. This [innovation] is obligatory because the preservation of the Shariah is obligatory, and its preservation cannot be maintained except by that, and that without which an obligation cannot be fulfilled is itself obligatory. Second, preservation of the [meanings of] obscure words in the language occurring in the Book and the Sunnah. Third, laying down the foundations of the religion and of jurisprudence. Fourth, speech about al-jarh wal-ta'deel (criticism and appraisal) [of narrators], and distinguishing between the authentic from the weak. The principles of the Shariah have themselves indicated that preserving the Shariah is fard kifaayah (collective obligation) regarding that which goes beyond the capacity of an individual, and that cannot be fulfilled except by what we have mentioned.

And for the unlawful innovations are examples, from them: The [belief] doctrines of al-qadar, and al-jabar, and (those of) the Murji'ah and Mujassimah. Refuting these (people) is from the obligatory innovations.

For the recommended innovations are examples, from them: Setting up hospices and schools and every benevolent endeavour not present in the first era, and (also) from (the examples) is at-Tarawih, and speech regarding the details of tasawwuf, and [also] argumentation, from which is the setting up of gatherings for deduction of evidence (in knowledge based matters) [only] if Allaah, the Exalted's face is sought by that.

And for the disliked innovations are examples, from them: Adornment of the mosques, and decoration of the mushafs [of the Qur'an].

And for the permitted innovations are examples, from them: shaking hands after the morning and late afternoon prayers, and from them is taking liberties in that which is great pleasure in terms of food, drink, clothing and residence and wearing shawls and widening of the sleeves. There could be some differing regarding some of these matters and some of the Scholars may place them amongst the disliked innovations, and others may place them amongst the sunnahs that were actually performed in the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and also after his time, and this is like pronouncing the isti'aadhah and basmalah in the prayer.

[Al-Nawawi:] This is the end of his [al-Izz's] speech.

Al-Bayhaqi reports with his chain in Manaqib al-Shafi'i from al-Shafi'i (radiallaahu anhu) that he said:

Newly-invented matters are of two types: The first of them is what opposes [something from] the Book, or [something from] the Sunnah, or a narration [from the Companions], or [a matter of] consensus, this is the misguided innovation. And the second is what has been introduced of goodness and there is not a single scholar who opposes it. This is newly-introduced yet not blameworthy and Umar (radiallaahu anhu) had said about the qiyam (al-layl) in the month of Ramadan, "What an excellent innovation this is," meaning, that it is newly-introduced and was not previously done.

[Al-Nawawi:] This is the end of his al-Shafi'is speech (radiallaahu anhu).

And al-Nawawi also said in Kitab Salat al-Jumu'ah in his Sharh Sahih Muslim (documented in Part 8):

His (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam's) saying (كل بدعة ضلالة), "Every innovation is misguidance." This is a generalisation which has been specified, and the intent behind it is the majority of innovations. The scholars of the language have said that [bidah] is: "Every thing that is performed without any prior example (precedent)." The Scholars have said bidah is five types, obligatory, recommended, unlawful, disliked and permitted.

So from the obligatory [innovations] is organization and composition of the evidences of the Mutakallimin for refuting the atheists and innovators and whatever resembles that. And from the recommended is authoring of the books of knowledge and building schools and hospices and other than that. And from the permitted is (taking pleasure through) indulging in the variety of foods and other than that. And as for the unlawful and disliked (types), then they are very clear. And I made this matter clear alongside its evidences in Tahdhib al-Asmaa wal-Lughaat and by knowing what I have mentioned, it becomes known that the hadeeth is [considered] to be a generalization that is to be specified, and likewise whatever resembles it form the reported ahaadeeth.

And supporting what we have said is the saying of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (radiallaahu anhu) regarding Tarawih, "What an excellent innovation this is." And that the generalization in his saying "Every innovation" is supported by the word "Every (كل)" does not prevent that it is subject to being qualified alongside that, such as what occurs in His saying (تُدَمِّرُ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ) "Destroying every single thing (46:25)"

A quick clarification is need on the above statement, especially the last paragraph.

Note Concerning al-Nawawi's Qualification of the Phrase (كل بدعة ضلالة) That It is Not Absolute and Unrestricted. This is one of the favourite doubts of the innovators from the speech of al-Nawawi and what they don't realize is that this is actually a proof in our favour. It supports us, and al-Nawawi is with us in the reality of the affair. And the truth is that al-Nawawi is essentially correct because he is (as are the other Shafi'ite jurists) looking at this word (بدعة) and seeing it upon its linguistic meaning only, which incorporates all newly-invented things, blameworthy or praiseworthy, religious or otherwise. Hence, when the Messenger (alayhis salaam) says (كل بدعة), "Every innovation...", this clearly is a generalization needing qualification upon al-Nawawi's view. Hence, al-Nawawi mentions proofs from the Qur'an to show that when the word (كل ) is used, it is does not mean absolutely "everything" but that it is a qualified generalization. So upon the belief that when the Messenger said (كل بدعة), he was using the word "bidah" with its pure linguistic meaning, then al-Nawawi is correct in this. And we don't disagree with that, in fact it is absolutely correct to state that it needs qualification and restriction in this situation. And this is the very purpose of the classification found with the Shafi'ite jurists. They do not by any means intend to legitimize innovating into matters of worship. Rather, they simply intend to expel those affairs from this generalization which are not blameworthy, even if linguistically they are said to be innovations. Conversely, the majority of the Scholars of the Sunnah, when they look at this wording (كل بدعة ضلالة), they are upon the understanding that the word (بدعة) has already been qualified in the hadeeth of Aa'ishah (مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌ) - see explanation here - which restricts and qualifies innovations in religion only, since the Messenger said, introduces into this affair of ours", and hence when the Messenger (alayhis salaam) says (كل بدعة), this saying is absolute, unqualified and unrestricted and applies to every innovation in the religion. So the issue here is that al-Nawawi is absolutely correct that the word (كل) is indeed a generalization that is qualified - from his particular perspective of things (which is to see the word "bidah" purely with its linguistic meaning). The difference is that most of Ahl al-Sunnah believe that that word (بدعة) is already qualified by what is in the hadeeth of Aa'ishah (radiallaahu anhaa), whereas al-Nawawi and the Shafi'ite jurists have brought a classification to enable the qualification of what they see to be a word only having its broad unqualified linguistic meaning which is "anything without any prior example whether praiseworthy or blameworthy" Now because this definition would include (in the modern era) your pizzas, burgers, hoodies, sneakers, brick and marble houses, the internet, mobile devices, types of technology and so on, these Shafi'ite jurists simply made classifications to allow these types of things to be excluded from what is otherwise the blameworthy bidah (innovation). Hence, they said there is an obligatory innovation (so we would say putting the Qur'an in digital format for devices and for the internet is an obligation) and a recommended innovation (setting up online schools for teaching of Qur'an and tajweed is a recommended innovation), and a permitted innovation (enjoy that pizza, wear that hoodie and don those cool sneakers). So it becomes clear after all this that in reality there is no difference between these two groups of Scholars, they all have the same understanding, but are just simply using two different languages to express it.

Shaykh Ahmad bin Hajar Aal Butami (d. 1423H), who is Shafi'i in fiqh, explains in his book Tahdhir al-Muslimin anil-Ibtidaa' wal-Bida' fil-Din (Dar al-Imam al-Bukhari, 1428H, p. 114):

As for the saying of Imaam al-Shafi'i, "Bidah is of two types: praiseworthy and blameworthy. Whatever is in agreemenet with the Sunnah it is praiseworthy and whatever opposes the Sunnah is blameworthy", the intent behind "praiseworthy innovation" is what has been innovated of beneficial matters relating to worldly affairs and [affairs of] habitation, livelihood such as the use of radio, electricity, airplanes, cars and using the phone and what is similar to that of good and beneficial inventions. This is because they are not harmful (in and of themselves) and do not lead (in and of themselves) to any evil that comes to the people, or to the performance of what is haraam or destroying any foundation from the foundations of the religion. And Allaah, the Sublime and Exalted, has permitted His servants to invent whatever they wish to look after their worldly interests, He, the Exalted said (وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ), "And work good that you may be successful" (2:77).

The Shafi'ite Jurists Refuting Innovations in Worship - No bidah hasanah Here!

We see at the same time, the Shafi'ite jurists vehemently opposing innovations in worship such as Salat al-Ragha'ib and Salat Nisf Sha'ban. You can refer to the documentation of the fatwas of al-Nawawi in Part 8:

What is said by the leading scholars, the imaams of the religion (radiallaahu anhum) regarding Salat al-Ragha'ib and the Salat Nisf al-Sha'ban which are commonly practised by the people now. Did the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) pray them or anyone from the Companions (radiallaahu anhum ajma'een), or did any of the well-known for Imaams pray them, I mean, the Imaam Abu Hanifah, Imaam al-Shafi'i, and Malik and Ahmad bin Hanbal, or did they make any indication towards praying either of these (prayers). And is anything related about them from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)? And are they in agreement with the intent (muraad) of the Shariah or not? And is it better to perform them or abandon them. And is kindling fire on these two nights above and beyond what is customary unlawful or disliked or permitted? Please answer us, rewarded in your endeavour.

So he (al-Nawawi) wrote in the answer:

All praise is due to Allaah. These two prayers were not prayed by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and nor anyone from the Companions (radiallaahu anhum), and nor any of the aforementioned four Imaams (rahimahullaah), and nor did any of them hint at it, and no one who is worthy of being followed has practiced it, and nothing is authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at all, and nor from anyone who is worthy of being followed. Rather, it was introduced in the later times, and praying them both is from the rejection innovations, and the futile newly-invented matters. And it is authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said: "Beware of the newly-invented matters, for every innovation is misguidance", and in the two Sahihs from Aa'isah (radiallaahu anhaa) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Whoever introduced into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected", and in Sahih Muslim that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Whoever does an action which is not upon our affair will have it rejected."

And it is desirable for everyone to prohibit this prayer, warn from and and make [the people] flee from it, to render its performance as repugnant, reprehensible, and to spread its prohibition everywhere (amongst the people). For it is authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "Whoever amongst you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand, and if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not able then with his heart."

And it is upon the Scholars to warn from it, and to turn away from it more so than it is upon others because they are taken as a model to be followed. And no one should be deceived by the fact that it is common, being practised by the common-folk, and nor by their doubts, for indeed, following (in guidance) is only done through the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), not through what he himself has prohibited and warned against.

As for lighting fire and burning a lot of oil over it in the way that is done, then it is from the evils and repugnant prohibitions. And it is authentically related that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited from wastage of wealth, and its meaning is to spend it upon other than the angle from which it is permitted to spend, and this action is from that, [Allaah said], "Let those beware who oppose his (the Messenger's) command that a tribulation should afflict them or a painful torment should afflict them" (24:63). May Allaah protect us from the innovated matters and protect us from falling into the oppositions, and Allaah knows best.

And in another fatwa in Fatawaa al-Imaan al-Nawawi (p. 31) - see Part 8 for full documentation:

The Shaykh of Islam al-Nawawi was asked about the well-known Salat al-Ragha'ib performed on the first Friday night of Rajab, whether it is bid'ah or sunnah?

The Answer: It is a repugnant, rejected innovation, with the most severe rejection, it comprises many evils, hence it is specifically designated to abandon it and turn away from it and to show rejection againt the one who does it. And it is upon the ruler (one in authority) - may Allaah grant him success - to prevent the people from doing it, for indeed he is a shepherd and every shepherd is responsible for his flock. The scholars have written books in rejection and rebuke of it and declaring those who perform it as fools. One should be not deceived by the abundance of those who perform it in many of the cities, and nor that it is mentioned in [the books] Qut al-Qulub, or Ihya Ulum al-Din and their likes, for it is a futile innovation. And it is authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "Whoever introduced into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected." And in the Sahih (of Muslim) that he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Whoever introduced into this affair of ours that which is not from it will have it rejected," and in Sahih Muslim and others that he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Every innovation is misguidance." And Allaah the Exalted has ordered us to return to His Book whenever there is a dispute, so He, the Exalted said, "And if you dispute regarding any matter then return it back to Allaah and His Messenger" (4:59), and He did not ordder the following of the ignoramuses, and nor being decieved by the errors of those who have erred, and Allaah knows best.

As for al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam, he wrote a number of tracts in refutation of Salat al-Ragha'ib and a debate raged between him and Ibn al-Salah regarding it, we have documented all this in full in Part 6, please refer to it, here will provide excerpts from the quotes:

The third type (of innovation): That which is in opposition to the Shariah or necessitates [falling into] opposition to the Shariah, and from that is Salat al-Ragha'ib, for it is fabricated against the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and a lie upon him. This was mentioned by Abu al-Faraj bin al-Jawzi, and likewise Abu Bakr Muhammad al-Turtushi that it never occured at the Bayt al-Maqdis except after 480H. And alongside this, it opposes the Shariah from numerous angles, some of them concern the Scholars and others concern both the Scholar and the ignoramus.

For the Shariah has not made mention of nearness to Allaah with any isolated prostration which does not have an explained reason for it. This is because nearness to Allaah has specified reasons, conditions, specified times and pillars without which it is not valid. So just like nearness is not sought to Allaah by standing at Arafah and Muzdalifah and throwing stones at the pillars and making sa'ee between Safa and Marwa without being in the relevant state of devotion at the specified time, alongside its reasons and conditions, then likewise nearness is not sought to Allaah by any single prostration, even if it is nearness (i.e. Prostration in and of itself is devotion, nearness), it does not have any valid reason (underlying it). Likewise, nearness is not sought to Allaah through prayer or fasting in every time and moment. And perhaps the ignoramuses will seek nearness to Allaah by which which makes them distant from him, without them even perceiving it.

And that which indicates the innovated nature (ابتداع) of this prayer is that the Scholars who are the notables of the religion and leaders of the Muslims from the Companions, the Successors and the followers of the Successors, and other than them who have compiled books on the Shariah, alongside the severity of their eagerness to teach the people the obligations and the sunnahs, it has not been quoted from a single one of them that they mentioned this prayer (salat al-ragha'ib) and nor other than it in their book(s), and it was never addressed in their gathering(s). And practical experience makes it impossible for the likes of this to be Sunnah whilst it escaped those who are the notables of the religion, and examples for the Believers...

And it is not for anyone to use as evidence what has been reported from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "The prayer is best of positions" because that is specific to a prayer that does not oppose the Shariah from any angle whatsoever, yet this prayer opposes the Shariah from the angles already mentioned. And what goodness lies in opposing the Shariah?! And it is regarding the likes of this that he (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "The most evil of affairs are the newly-invented ones, and every innovation is miguidance." May Allaah grant us success in responding (to Him and His Messenger) and following (the Messenger), and protect us from deviation and innovation.

... to proceed: In praise of Allaah, besides whom there is none worthy of worship, and prayers upon His Prophet Muhammad and his family. When I had shown rejection against the fabricated Salat al-Ragha'ib and explained its opposition to the legislated Sunnahs from the angles which I had mentioned in my comments upon that, some of the people sprung up to oppose that, striving to declare it (the prayer) to be good, corroborating it and desiring to put it alongside the "good innovations (al-bida' al-hasana) from the angle that it is prayer. But I rejected it on account of the sum whole of its characteristics and particular details, some of which necessitate prohibition (in the Shariah) and some of them necessitate opposition to the Sunnah. So he began to censure me, claiming that I prevent the people from worship, yet I did not reject it because of it being worship [from the angle that it is prayer], but I rejected it because of its particular characteristics, prohibiting what the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prohibited ...

... As for him resembling this (innovated) prayer with what the jurists have introduced of laying down the foundations of jurisprudence, and its subsidiary branches, and speech about its realities and details, then this is not valid because we have already explained that Salat al-Ragha'ib is prohibited from the angles already mentioned, so how can an analogy be made between that for which a prohibition in the Sunnah is authentic and between that upon which there is a consensus that it is commanded?!

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