Proof From the Prophet, Companions, the Salaf and the Scholars That the Bid'ah Idafiyyah (Despite Having a Basis in the Shariah) Is Rejected: Part 1 - the First Attempts to Innovate in the Time of the Prophet
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Tuesday, July, 12 2011 and filed under Foundations
Key topics: Bidah Haqiqiyyah Bidah Idafiyyah


The grave-worshippers and innovators from the Sufis and other than them attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the common folk by deceiving them about numerous statements which have come from the Scholars which appear to legitimize what is referred to as "bid'ah hasanah" (good innovation). The statements they quote come from Imaam al-Shafi'ee (see here), or al-Nawawi (see here) or al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam (see here, here, and here) and others. The crux of the matter is that some of the Scholars have used the word bid'ah in a broader linguistic sense to refer to actions which either have a specific foundation in the Shari'ah (tarawih prayer in congregation, and established acts of goodness such as giving charity) or are matters of public interest that relate to ways and means (wasaa'il) through which beneficial interests are realized and maintained. All of this is different to maqaasid (goals, objectives) which is the case in the innovations in worship (ibaadaat), which are sought in and of themselves. To give an example, the compilation of the Qur'an is not an end sought in itself but as a means to preserve the religion, and whilst there is no specific injunction about putting the Qur'an into a single book, there is a non-specific broad support for it by the fact that preservation of the religion is obligatory and since this cannot be achieved except through preserving the Qur'an, putting the Qur'an into a single book is obligatory (upon the reasoning of those Scholars). This is a matter of public interest to enable the preservation of one of the five necessities, in this case, religion (the others being life, intellect, wealth and lineage). So these matters in reality do not come under the definition of bid'ah as it has come in the Shari'ah, but enter into the wider linguistic meaning. This is preciesly what al-Shafi'ee (and others) intended as is explained and proven in this series. What we aim to do in this series is to provide evidences and examples that demolish the argument of the innovators that "what they are doing of innovations in worship have a basis in the Shari'ah" and therefore cannot be shown rejection. This is gross deception and they are in reality confusing between bidah idafiyyah (condemned in the Shariah) and matters that have been labelled bidah from a purely linguistic perspective - to have more clarity on this, see the comphrehensive diagram in this article. Once it is clear that these Scholars speak of "praiseworthy bidah" and some of them enter bidah into the rulings of wajib, mandub and mustahabb only from the angle of excluding these matters from being wrongly included within the bidah that is blameworthy in the Shariah, we see that they are subsequently in complete agreement with all the other Scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah that bidah in worship (as in that by which nearness to Allaah is sought) is absolutely prohibited and is repugnant and evil and all innovation (as intended by the Shariah) is misguidance. This is made clear by all the quotes in this series inshaa'Allaah from the Messenger (alayhis salaam), the Companions, the Salaf, and the Scholars in general.

The Three Men Who Altered Something Which Has a Basis in the Shari'ah

Imam al-Bukhari relates in his Sahih:

حدثنا سعيد بن أبي مريم أخبرنا محمد بن جعفر أخبرنا حميد بن أبي حميد الطويل أنه سمع أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه يقول جاء ثلاثة رهط إلى بيوت أزواج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يسألون عن عبادة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فلما أخبروا كأنهم تقالوها فقالوا وأين نحن من النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قد غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه وما تأخر قال أحدهم أما أنا فإني أصلي الليل أبدا وقال آخر أنا أصوم الدهر ولا أفطر وقال آخر أنا أعتزل النساء فلا أتزوج أبدا فجاء رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إليهم فقال أنتم الذين قلتم كذا وكذا أما والله إني لأخشاكم لله وأتقاكم له لكني أصوم وأفطر وأصلي وأرقد وأتزوج النساء فمن رغب عن سنتي فليس مني

A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet asking how the Prophet worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, "Where are we from the Prophet as his past and future sins have been forgiven." Then one of them said, "I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever." The other said, "I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast." The third said, "I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever." Allah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) came to them and said, "Are you the same people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So whoever aspires to other than my Sunnah is not from me (not one of my followers)."

In this hadeeth there are number of benefits:

The first: Understanding how al-Shatibi's definition of al-bid'ah relates to the actions of these men, namely, "A path taken in religion which is invented and resembles the Shari'ah and by whose practice exaggeration in worshipping Allaah, the Exalted, is intended" The intent of the men was to exaggerate in worship with the aim of seeking nearness to Allaah, the Exalted, and this is the aim of every innovator or one who acts upon innovation, and he takes his innovation as a path in the religion, basing it upon something that resembles the Shari'ah, and seeking nearness to Allaah.

The second: That two of these men took something which has a foundation, basis (asl) in the Shari'ah, such as tahajjud prayer and fasting, and they altered its details to take it out of the form in which it has come in the Shari'ah. This alteration can be done in numerous ways (see this article on bidah idafiyyah), but it happened to be exaggeration and addition (ziyadah) in this case. Other ways can include altering the number, or form, or place, or time, or reason, as in the cause behind the act of worship.

The third: That the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) corrected these three men and showed them the correct form and manner of these actions of the Shari'ah, and then cautioned at the end that "Whoever aspires to other than my Sunnah is not from me (not one of my followers)." This is the same answer to every Innovator who claimed that his action has a basis in the Shari'ah. The reality of the matter is that the vast majority of innovations are of this type (bidah idafiyyah), where they have some connection and basis in the religion.

The fourth: And this is of extreme importance: The difference between the bid'ah idaafiyyah (which is the innovation the innovators try to defend) and between what is intended by the scholars who appear to categorize bid'ah into praiseworthy and blameworthy or good and bad, when in reality, their speech centres around the word bid'ah upon its wider linguistic sense to include those matters which have a basis in the Shari'ah (such as the revival of the congregational tarawih prayer and the compiling of the Qur'an and so on) and which in reality are not innovations as intended in the Shari'ah. This will be elaborated upon in more detail in other articles where this matter will be established inshaa'Allaah.

The fifth: The Shaykh Ahmad bin Hajr Aal Butaami mentions this incident as well as that of Dhul-Khuwaisarah (the father of the Kharijites) as being the first attempts to innovate into the religion. See his book, Tahdhir al-Muslimin anil-Ibtida' wal-Bida' Fil-Din (Dar al-Imam al-Bukhari, 1428H, p. 55). As for the three men, then it is clear they wished to alter the form of worship with something of addition and exaggeration, and as for Dhul-Khuwaisarah then he wished to open up the door of criticism upon the actions and dealings of the Prophet (alayhis salaam), but none of the Companions were affected by this Kharijite.

This hadeeth is amongst the many ahaadeeth which are an evidence against the innovators, especially the grave-worshipping Sufis of the contemporary times who mislead the common folk about the affairs of their religion by confusing between what they are upon of relative innovations (bidah idafiyyah) in matters of worship and between what some of the Scholars enter into their linguistic usage and application of the term 'bidah' of affairs that relate to matters of public interest (al-masalih al-mursalah), or which actually do have a precedent from the Shariah and which are not in reality 'bidah' in the Shariah meaning, but purely from the linguistic meaning (such as Umar reviving the tarawih prayer).