Bid’ah According to the Understanding of Traditional Islam

The linguistic meaning of Bid’ah is anything new the previously did not exist. The Shari’ah terminology however means anything that has been introduced into the beliefs and actions of the Muslims that is in direct opposition to the Qur’an or the Sunnah, or anything that distorts the Sunnah or claims to be better than the Sunnah.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has cautioned us against us against any innovation [Bid’ah] that opposes the Qur’an or the Sunnah in the following two Ahaadeeth:

The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e. the Islamic Creed] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” [1]

The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said:

“Every innovation is misguidance” [2]

These two Ahadeethth should be understood as every innovation introduced into the Islamic creed is misguidance. This is due to the fact that nobody can enlighten us more than the last Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did. He was the last Prophet and the religion of all the Prophets was completed with him (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says in the Qur’an:

“This Day have I perfected your Religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam As your religion” [3]

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) taught us all we need to know about Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), and he also taught us our limits. Nobody can take away from what was revealed to him, nor can they add anything to it. Every creedal formulation unknown to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his Companions that was later introduced is in the fire. This is confirmed from hadeeth of Mu’aawiyah Bin Abu Sufyaan (رضي الله عنه) who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Those people of the book who came before you split into seventy two sects, and soon this religion [Islam] will split into seventy-three sects. Seventy-two of them will be in the fire and one will be in Paradise, and that is the Jamaa’ah” [4]

In a hadith of similar import, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was asked who are the saved group? The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) responded:

“Those who are upon that which me and my companions are upon today” [5]

Those that departed from the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah only did so because they invented new beliefs. Creedal innovations must be avoided at all costs. One must always seek and then adhere to the known position of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah.

There are also innovations of actions, however this is to be treated separately as some innovated actions have been encouraged if they are beneficial and do not contradict the Shari’ah at any point.

Imaam Shaafi’s (رحمه الله) understanding of the hadeeth[6] “Every innovation is misguidance [Kulla Bid’ah dalaalah] is enough to demonstrate this point. He said:

“There are two types of Innovation [bid’ah]: the praiseworthy and the blameworthy. Whatever is accordance with the Sunnah is praiseworthy and whatever vies with it is blameworthy…The new matters are of two: Whatever differs with the book of Allah, the Sunnah, the Athaar, or the Ijmaa’a, then that is an innovation of misguidance [bid’at ul-Dalaalah] and whatever new matter from amongst that which is good and does not differ with anything from that [Qur’an, Sunnah, Athaar, Ijmaa’a] then it is a new matter that is not blameworthy” [7]

Ibn ‘Abd us-Salaam (رحمه الله), a Shaafi’ scholar wrote in his Qawaa’id:

“Innovation is of five types:

  1. Al-Waajibah: Such as the study of ‘Arabic syntax which helps to understand the speech of Allah and His Messenger because the preservation of the Shari’ah is obligatory [waajib] and nothing comes to us except by that being from the foremost rank of the waajib. Such is the much needed explanation of what is difficult to understand, the codification of the science of Fiqh [Usul ul-Fiqh] and working to distinguish between the authentic and rejected traditions.
  2. Al-Muharramah: Whatever opposes the Sunnah such as the false innovated beliefs introduced by the Qadariyah, Murji’ah, and the Mushaabihah [and any other astray sect that has innovated something into the creed]
  3. Al-Mandub: Every excellent goodness that was not established during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet [for example], the gathering for the Taraweeh prayers, the building of schools, spiritual retreats, speeches regarding the praiseworthy aspects of tassawuf… and anything else done purely seeking the Face of Allah.
  4. Al-Mubah: Such as the shaking of hands after the Fajr and ‘Asr prayers, having an abundance of assorted foods, drinks, clothes, and a wide house…
  5. However some of the mentioned Mubah things can also fall into the 5th category which is disliked [Makruh] or even not preferred [Khilaaf ul-Awlaa]” [8]

Imaam Abu Bakr al-Aajuri (رحمه الله), the great Shaafa’i scholar said in his Kitaab us-Shari’ah:

“Innovations [in the Creed] are misguidance, being that which opposes the Book and the Sunnah, and differs from the statements of the true believers.” [9]

Imaam ‘Abdur Rahmaan Ibn al-Jawzi [rahimhahullah] Tablees Iblees said in his Tablees Iblees:

“Bid’ah…refers to something which did not exist and was then invented. And, in most cases, innovations conflict with divine law by implying a need for human additions or deletions. Even an invented practice which did not contradict the Sharee’ah or imply any change was disliked by the majority of early scholars. They used to avoid any innovation, even though some types were allowable…It is thus, clear that that the early generation of Muslims cautiously avoided all innovations which even had the remotest connection to the religion for fear of changing the religion to the slightest degree. However, there were some new practices which did not contradict the Sharee’ah or change it; these practices were allowed” [10]

We can deduce from the given evidences that there are two types of bid’ah, praiseworthy and blameworthy. Let us now look at some praiseworthy innovations that have served great benefits for this Ummah.

One such innovation was the compilation of the Qur’an into the form of a book as done by Zaid ibn Thabit (رضي الله عنه), upon the suggestion of ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), and command of Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه). Even though Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) was hesitant out of fear because this was something the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not do, ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) encouraged Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) By Allah, it is good”. [11]

Another example of good innovation was the gathering together of the people to pray twenty units of Taraaweeh prayers behind one Imaam in the month of Ramadaan [12]. This was done by ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) after he had noticed that the people had their own separate group prayers throughout the Masjid. Rather than have a divided Jamaa’ah reciting the Qur’an all at the same time, he knew it would be best to unify them behind one Imaam and one recitation. It was even said, “This is an excellent innovation”. [13]

The Issue of Milaad un-Nabi [the Birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)]

One innovation which is often attacked as being a bid’ah of deviation is the Milaad un-Nabi [the act of celebrating the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)]. It cannot be considered as a bid’ah that opposes the Qur’an and the Sunnah as it has been proven [by scholars such as Imaam as-Suyuti] that it has roots in the Shari’ah as it is considered an act of loving the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Many people mistake this event as celebrating the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birthday and upon this folly they wrongfully equate the celebration with the western tradition of celebrating birthdays. However, what the believers are doing is celebrating the birth and the life of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and they are simply rejoicing in the fact that Allah has sent him as a mercy to the universe. In such a pure intention, one will indeed find merits.

Imaam Ibn Taymiyah (رحمه الله) attested to this fact when he said:

“…Likewise, what people have innovated by analogy with the Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus (عليه السلام), or out of love for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and to honor him, may Allah reward them for this love and effort. Not for the innovation itself [but the love for the Prophet]…To celebrate and honor the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) taking it as a honored season, as some people are doing, is good and in it there is a great reward, because of their good intentions in respecting the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)[14]

It is the opinion of Imaam Ibn Taymiyah (رحمه الله) that there is great reward in celebrating the Holy Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth, as it is an act of honoring him. Imaam Ibn Taymiyah (رحمه الله) is not alone in this opinion. Imaam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (رحمه الله) in his Lata’if al-Ma’arif [15] strongly encouraged people to gather in the month of Rabi` al-Awwal to learn about the Holy Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth and life. Therefore, in the Shari’ah, the celebration of the Holy Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth falls under the category of praiseworthy Bid’ah, as is recommended [mandub].

However, a word of caution concerning a danger that poses as a threat to the unity of the Muslims of today. This danger is the misuse of what is initially a well intended beautiful celebration, downgraded to a judgmental criterion to mete out the “true believers” from the “hypocrites”, the “Sunni Muslims” from the “deviants” where somebody who does not partake in the celebration is wrote of as a deviant. This is wrong due to the fact the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), the Sahaabah, and the Tabi’een never practiced the Milaad in the form we find it today. The celebration of the Holy Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth must not be made obligatory, or anyway binding upon the Muslims.
Let us take a lesson from history and Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Speech in which He said:

“We sent after them, Our Messengers, and we sent Jesus, the son of Mary. We gave him the Injeel and We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. They have innovated Monasticism. We did not make it obligatory upon them. They invented it to please Allah thereby, but they did not observe it with right observance. We gave those who believe from amongst them their reward, but many from them were rebellious sinners” [16]

The first and foremost exegete, Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) has this to say in regards to this verse:

“The Christians built monasteries and cloisters to escape the persecution of Paul, the Jew. Allah did not make monasticism obligatory upon them. They did not innovate it but to seek the pleasure of Allah and had Allah enjoined it upon them they would not been able to give it’s due. Allah will reward the monks who did not contradict the religion of Jesus double for their faith and worship. Twenty Four of these monks resided in Yemen and when they heard of the Prophet they believed in him and joined his religion. However many of the monks were disbelievers, vying against the religion of Jesus” [17]

The quoted ayah from the Qur’an along with the explanation of Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) shows us that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) does indeed reward people for good innovation, however, when they start making it obligatory as something that has to be done in the religion then this becomes a punishable offense. Therefore anybody who celebrates the birth of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) must do so with a pure intention of loving the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and should not make this binding upon other people.

Imaam an-Nawawi’s understanding of bid’ah

Shaykh ul Islam Imam an-Nawawi [Rahimahullah] on Bid’ah

1014401_605398789493490_1924395169_nTranslation: Imam Nawawi said Imam Bayhaqi narrated with a sound chain Imam Shafi’i said: Innovation is two types (al-bid`atu bid`atân): approved innovation (bid`a mah.mûda) and disapproved innovation (bid`a madhmûma). Whatever conforms to the Sunna is approved (mah.mûd) and whatever opposes it is abominable (madhmûm).’ He used as his proof the statement of `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA) about the [congregational] supererogatory night prayers in the month of Ramadan: “What a fine innovation this is!”

Reference: Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa al-Lughat, Imam Nawawi, Volume 003, Page 23

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s understanding of Bid’ah

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali writes under hadeeth no. 28 of his Jam’i:

Regarding the Holy Prophet’s ﷺ saying:

“Beware of newly introduced matters, for every innovation is a straying”

It is a warning to the community against following innovated new matters. He emphasised that with his words, “every innovation is a straying.” What is meant by innovation are those things which are newly introduced having no source in the Sharee’ah to proof them. As for whatever has a source in the Sharee’ah thereby proving it, then it is not an innovation in the Sharee’ah, even though it might linguistically be an innovation.

There is in Saheeh Muslim from Jaabir that the Prophet ﷺ used to say in his khutbah:

“The best discourse is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst of affairs are those which are newly introduced, for every innovation is an error”

So his saying , “Every innovation is a straying,” is one of the examples of concise and yet comprehensive speech which omits nothing, and it is one of the tremendous principles of the deen, closely resembling, “Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not of it, then it is rejected.”

Every person who introduces something and ascribes it to the deen without having any source in the deen to refer back to, then that is an error, and the deen is free of it, whether it is in the articles of Imaan (creed), deeds or words, outward or inward. As for those things in the sayings of the right-acting first generations where they regard some innovations as good, that is only with respect to what are innovations in the linguistic sense, but not in the Sharee’ah.

An example of that is the saying of ‘Umar when he had united people to stand in prayer (taraaweeh) in Ramadaan behind a single imam in the mosque, and then he came in behind them while they were praying and said:

“What an excellent innovation this is!”

It is also narrated that he said:

“If this is an innovation, then what an excellent innovation!”

It is narrated that Ubayy ibn Kaab said to him, “This did not use to happen,” and Umar said, “I know, but it is good,” meaning that this action was not done in this way before that time, but it has sources in the Sharee’ah from which it is derived, for example that the Prophet ﷺ used to urge people to stand in prayer in Ramadaan, and stimulate people’s desire to do it, and people, in his time, used to stand in prayer in the mosque in different groups and individually, and he prayed with his companions in Ramadaan more than one night, and then stopped doing that, giving as the reason that he feared that it would be made obligatory for them and that they would be incapable of undertaking it, but there was no fear of this [that it would be regarded as an obligation] after him.

It has also been narrated of him that he used to stand in prayer with his companions in the uneven nights among the last ten. Another source is that he commanded us to follow the Sunnah of the Khulafaa’ who took the right way, and this has become the Sunnah of his Khulafaa’ who took the right way since people unanimously agreed about it in the times of ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan and ‘Ali.

Another example of that is the first call to prayer on the Jum’ah which ‘Uthmaan added because of people’s need of it and which ‘Ali affirmed, and which has become the continued practice of the Muslims. It has been narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said, “It is an innovation,” but it is very likely that he meant the same as his father meant about standing for prayer in Ramadaan [in jamaa’ah].

There is similarly, the compilation of the mushaf [written copy of the Qur’an] in one book about which Zayd ibn Thaabit was hesitant, saying to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, “How can the two of you do something which the Prophet [sal Allahu alayhi wasallam] did not do?” Then he came to realise that it was a matter of benefit (maslahah), and he agreed to compile it. The Prophet ﷺ had commanded that the revelation should be written down, and there is no difference in writing it down separately [in different places] or collectedly [in one book], and on the contrary, gathering it all together in one is more expedient and useful.

Similar to that is ‘Uthmaan’s having united the community on one mushaf copy of the Qur’an and his ordering the destruction of whatever disagreed with it from fear of the community’s division into groups. ‘Ali and most of the Companions regarded it as a good act, and that was truly a matter of benefit.

Similarly there is the fight against the people who refused to pay the Zakaah. ‘Umar and others were hesitant and in doubt about it until Abu Bakr explained to him the source in the Sharee’ah from which it is derived, and so the people agreed with him about that.

Similarly, there is giving discourses, and we have seen previously the saying of Ghadif ibn al-Haarith that it is an innovation, but al-Hasan said, “Discoursing is an innovation, and an excellent innovation. How many a supplication is answered, need fulfilled, and brother benefitted.” These people only meant that it was an innovation in the form of gathering people together for it at a specific time, because the Prophet ﷺ did not have a specific time to discourse to his companions other than the regular khutbahs during the Jum’ah and Eid prayers, and otherwise he would only remind them occasionally or when something happened which necessitated that he should remind them.

Then later the Companions reached a consensus that a specific time should be fixed for it, as we have seen previously that Ibn Masud used to remind his people every Thursday. There is in Saheeh al-Bukhaari that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Give discourse to people once a week, but if you refuse [to do so little] then twice, and if you do more, then three times, but do not tire people.” There is in the Musnad that Aisha advised the discoursers of the people of Madinah in a similar fashion. It is narrated that she said to ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr, “Give discourse to the people one day, and leave them alone one day; do not tire them.” It is narrated that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez told the man who gave discourse to do so once every three days. It is narrated that he said, “Give people some rest and do not make it too heavy for them, and avoid discourse on Saturday and Tuesday.”

Abu Nu’aym narrated with his chain of transmission from Ibraheem ibn al-Junayd that he said, “I heard ash-Shaafi’ saying:

“There are two types of innovation: praiseworthy and blameworthy innovations. That which accords with the Sunnah is praiseworthy. That which contradicts the Sunnah is blameworthy”

And he sought to prove it by the saying of ‘Umar, ‘What an excellent innovation it is! What ash-Shaafi’ meant is that which we have mentioned before, that blameworthy innovation is that which has no source in the Sharee’ah from which it is derived, and it is unqualified innovation in the Sharee’ah.

As for praiseworthy innovation it is that which is in accordance with the Sunnah, meaning that which has a source in the Sunnah from which it is derived, and it is only an innovation in the linguistic sense rather than in the sense of the Sharee’ah since it accords with the Sunnah. Other words have been narrated from ash-Shaafi’ in explanation of this, that he said:

“There are two types of newly introduced matters: that which is introduced which is contrary to the Book and the Sunnah, or to a tradition [from someone among the right-acting first generations] or something on which there is consensus, then this innovation is an error. That which is newly introduced of good actions and which does not contradict any of the above, then this newly introduced matter is not blameworthy.”

Many of the matters which were newly introduced and had not previously existed, the people of knowledge disagreed as to whether or not they were good innovations until they referred back to the Sunnah, for example, writing down hadith, which ‘Umar and a group of the Companions forbade, but for which the majority gave licence seeking proof for that from hadeeth from the Sunnah.

Another example is writing the explanation of the hadeeth and of the Qur’an, of which some people among the people of knowledge disapprove and for which many allowed licence.

Another example is the recording of views concerning what is halaal and haraam and the like, and in going to lengths in discussing behaviour and acts of the hearts, which have not been narrated of any of the Companions and Followers, and the majority of which Imam Ahmad disapproved. In these times in which we are so far away from the knowledge’s and sciences of the right-acting first generations, it is called for specifically that we should detail everything of that that has been transmitted from them so that we can distinguish what science and knowledge existed in their time from that which was originated after them, so that the Sunnah can be clearly known from innovation.

It is authentically transmitted that Ibn Mas’ud said,

“You have got up this morning in the natural condition (fitrah), and you will introduce matters and matters will be introduced for you. Whenever you see a newly introduced matter you must take to the original guidance.”

Ibn Mas’ud said this in the time of the Khulafaa ur-Raashideen. Ibn Mahdi narrated that Maalik said, “There were none of these erroneous opinions in the time of the Prophet , Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan,” as if Maalik was indicating by ‘erroneous opinions’ the divisions that originated in the source matters of the deen such as the Khawaarij, the Shi’a, the Murji’ah and the likes, of those who spoke declaring some of the Muslims to be kuffar, and regarded it as permissible to shed their blood and seize their property, or thinking that they would be eternally in the Fire, or regarded the elite of this community as deviants, or on the contrary claiming that acts of disobedience don’t harm their doers, or that none of the people of tawheed would enter the Fire.

Worse than that is what has been introduced of speaking concerning the acts of Allah, exalted is He, such as His Universal and Specific Decree, which those [Qadariyyah proponents of free will] who deny do so, claiming that by that he is purifying Allah from [the ascription of] tyrannical injustice. Worse than that is that which has been introduced of speaking about the essence of Allah and His attributes, of those matters about which the Prophet ﷺ his companions and their followers in good actions were silent.

Some people negated and denied a great deal of that which is in the Book and the Sunnah about that, and they claimed that they do that in order to purify Allah of those things which intellects require Him to be purified. They claimed that the necessary consequences of that are impossible for Allah.

There are also people who were not contented with establishing Him firmly until they established firmly by establishing Him that which is thought that it is inseparable from Him with respect to created beings, and on these inseparable items, both in negation and affirmation, the first of this community followed the course of remaining silent about them. One of the things which was introduced into this community after the age of the Companions and the Followers was discussion about halaal and haraam purely from personal opinion, and rejection of a great deal of that which is in the Sunnah concerning that because it contradicts thinking and intellectual analogical reasoning.

One of the things which originated after that was discussion of the reality (aqeedah) concerning tasting (dhawq) and unveiling (kashf), and the claim that the aqeedah negates the Sharee’ah, and that gnosis (ma’rifah) alone is sufficient along with love, and that there is no need for deeds which are a veil, or that only the common people need the Sharee’ah, all of which is often connected to discussion of the essence and the attributes in a way which is known absolutely to contradict the Book and the Sunnah and the consensus of the right-acting first generations of the community, and Allah guides whomever He wills to a straight path.

And Allah and His Messenger know best.

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Zayn an-Din ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman (known as Rajab) ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Abi’l-Barakat Mas’ud al-Baghdadi ad-Dimashqi al-Hanbali (736-795 AH). Rajab was the nickname of his grandfather ‘Abd ar-Rahman, perhaps because he was born in that month. Born in Baghdad, Ibn Rajab learned much from his father, who himself was a great scholar, and then studied in Egypt and Damascus where he settled down until he died. Among his eminent teachers were Abu’l-Fath Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Mayduni, Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Khabbaz, Ibrahim ibn Dawud al-Attar, Abu’l-Haram al-Qalanisi, and Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah. He was a colleague of the famous hadith expert Al-Hafiz Abu’l-Fadhl al-Iraqi. He devoted himself to the subject until he became an expert in all the sciences related to hadith. He then taught hadith and fiqh according the Hanbali school in the Jami’ Bani Umayyah and other seats of learning in Damascus.His famous students include scholars like Abu’l-Fadhl Ahmad ibn Nasr ibn Ahmad, the Mufti of Egypt (d. 844 AH), Dawud ibn Sulayman al-Mawsili (d. 844 AH)

He was a leading scholar of the Hanbali school. His work al-Qawa’id al-Kubra fi al-Furu’ is clear evidence of his expertise in fiqh, demonstrating an extreme, even exhaustiveknowledge of the intricacies of detailed fiqh issues.

He was known for piety and righteousness. His sermons were considered most effective, full of blessing and beneficial. People of all schools were unanimous as to his quality, and hearts of the people were full of love for him. He was not involved in any worldly business, nor did he visit people of material position.

He wrote a detailed 20-Volume scholarly commentary on the Sunan at-Tirmidhi, a commentary on part of Sahih al-Bukhar, a Dhayl (supplement) to Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, al-Lata’if fi wasa’if al-ayyam, Bayan fadl ‘ilm as-Salaf ‘ala al-Khalaf.

Among his best known most referenced works is Jami’ al-‘Ulum wa al-Hikam, the commentary on al-Arba’un (the forty hadith) of Imam Nawawi. He added eight hadith to the original 42 and commented in detail on all of these fifty hadith. This commentary discusses all aspects of the hadith, the chain of narrations, the narratord and the text.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said of him, ‘’He was a great expert in the sciences of hadith – the historical accounts of narrators, the chains of narrations, and meaning of the text.

About Imam Ibn Rajab al Hanbali (736 – 795 AH)
He was the noble Imaam, the Haafidh, the Critic, Zayn-ud-Deen ‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin Ahmad bin ‘Abdir-Rahmaan bin al-Hasan bin Muhammad bin Abil-Barakaat Mas’ood As-Salaamee Al-Baghdaadee (due to his place of birth), Al-Hanbalee (due to his madh-hab), Ad-Dimashqee (due to his place of residence and death). His kunyah was Abul-Faraj, and his nickname was Ibn Rajab, which was the nickname of his grandfather who was born in that month (of Rajab).

He was born in Baghdad in 736H and was raised by a knowledgeable family, firmly rooted in knowledge, nobility and righteousness. His father played the greatest role in directing him towards the beneficial knowledge.

Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy on him, was deeply attached to the works of Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah, for he would issue legal rulings according to them and would constantly reference his books. This is since he served as a student under Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, the most outstanding student of Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah, may Allah have mercy on all of them. But in spite of this, he (rahimahullaah) wasn’t a blind follower or a fanatical adherent (to his teacher). Rather, he would review, authenticate, verify and follow the evidences.

Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy on him passed to the realm of the Akhira in Ramadaan, 795H. He died while in Damascus.

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The following article is the full commentary on the hadeeth of the Holy Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wasallam:

“Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifahs that come after me. Bite upon it with your molar teeth [nawaakhidh] and beware of newly invented matters [in creed, and actions] for certainly every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a misguidance”

I have utilized the translation of Abdas Samad Clarke which can be found on pp. 445-462 of his translation of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s

j a m i ‘ a l – ‘ u l u m w a ’ l – h i k a m

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[1]Saheeh al-Bukhaari, vol. 5, hadeeth no. 2697, Saheeh Muslim vol. 6, hadeeth no. 1718

[2] Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us-Sunnah hadeeth no. 4607

[3] Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah. 3

[4] Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us Sunnah hadeeth no. 4597

[5] Tirmidhi hadeeth no. 2129

[6] You will tend to find that those that oppose this statement often fire back merely saying “the alleged statement of Imaam ash-Shaafi [Rahimahullah]’” without any shred of evidence to suggest that the statement of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ is fabricated, etc. They simply think they can refute the position of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ by peppering it with the description of being “alleged”. In-fact it is them that are doing the “alleging” – making allegations that scholars such as Imaam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalaani and the isnaad he quoted from contains a liar. Where are their proofs for such an implicit allegation?

[7] Fath ul-Baari, vol. 13, Kitaab us Sunnah, pp 370-372 Also mentioned by Imaam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali is his Jami’ al-‘Ulum wal-Hikaam, commentary to hadeeth no. 28.

[8] Fath ul-Baari, vol. 13, Kitaab us Sunnah, pp 370-372

[9] The true believers referred to are the Imaams of the Muslims such as Imaam Maalik, Imaam Shaafi’, Sufyaan at-Thawri, Imaam al- Awzaa’i, Ibn al-Mubarak, Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal, al-Qaasin bin Salaam and whoever followed their way” See Kitaab ash-Shari’ah, vol. 1, p. 236

[10] Tablees Iblees, translated by Bilal Philips, p.21-23, al-Hidaayah Publishing. Arabic Edition, see p. 37 onwards What can we deduce from this statement?

1. Innovations conflict with divine law in most cases, but not in all cases.

2. Innovations that did not conflict with divine law were disliked, although not forbidden.

3. They were disliked by the majority of the Salaf, indicating that some from amongst the Salaf actually opined innovations that did not conflict with divine law as good [bid’ah hasanaah].

4. It is solely the choice of an individual Muslim to avoid “bid’ah hasanaah” as this is a valid position and there is also merit in avoiding innovations for the sake of Allah, a Muslim should not feel bound to practice such and such due to the customs of his people.

5. Those innovations that did not contradict the Shari’ah in any form or fashion were allowed, not forbidden.

6. When confronted with any practice seemingly new, we should ask ourselves “how does it contradict the Shari’ah?

[11] Saheeh al-Bukhaari, English translation, vol. 6, hadeeth no. 509

[12] There is no dispute in the fact that there are twenty units for the Taraaweeh, for Imaam Muwaffaq ud-Deen has pointed out in his al-Mughni that the Sahaabah are in consensus about it. Those who go against the Ijmaa’a are not considered to be from the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah as they violate the consensus and rebel against the Khalifah ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه)

[13] Saheeh al-Bukhaari, English Translation, vol. 3, hadeeth no. 227. Those who opine that the hadeeth “every bid’ah is misguidance” – kulla bid’ah dalaalah – is in its most absolute sense argue that ‘Umar’s [radiyAllahu anhu] statement “ni’imatul bida’atu hadhihi – This is an excellent innovation” refers to a linguistic innovation and is not really an innovation due to the fact it has roots in the Shari’ah. Our answer to this: Firstly, this argument negates the “Kullu – every” because if “kullu – every” is to be understood in its most absolute sense then the Prophet sal Allahu ‘alayhi wasallam would have also been speaking about such “linguistic bid’ahs”. Secondly, this very same argument of “linguistic bid’ah” can be used to permit Milaad un-Nabi as this also has its origins in the Shari’ah and thus returns to it. The Salafis usage of “linguistic bid’ah” is therefore fallacious, nothing more than a semantic somersault in which the feet land on the very same surface they sprung from. For the traditional correct understanding of linguistic bid’ah refer to Imaam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s commentary hadeeth no. 28 in his Jami’ al-‘Ulum wal-Hikaam, who gives a fair, just and balanced understanding of how linguistic bid’ah should be understood, especially given the fact he quotes from the sources that some misguided Muslims would have us believe to be fabricated, etc.

[14] Iqtidaa al-Siraat ul-Mustaqeem, pgs. 294 – 297

[15] See Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pp158-216

[16] Surat ul-Hadeed (57) ayah 27

[17] See Tanweer ul-Miqbaas [Tafseer Ibn Abbas]

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