The Meaning of Biddah (good biddah, bad biddah)

>> Sunday, July 25, 2010

This article was written by Dr. Buti and I believe somes up the whole good biddah and bad biddah debate.

The Meaning of Bid ' a by Dr. al-Buti

The first innovation (bid'a) that took place after the Messenger of Allah 0. was satiety (al-shab`). - Aisha 40151
The lexical meaning of bid' a in the Arabic language is "novelty" while its technical meaning in Islam is a novelty begun after the time of the Tabi' in in contravention of the Qur'an and Sunna as defined variously by the authorities:
Al-Jurjani: "Whatever contrivance (1' latun) contradicts the Sunna, and it is named bid'a because whoever supports it innovated it without basis from an Imam. It consists in a novel matter which the Companions and Successors did not follow and which is unsupported by a legal proof."'
Imam Abu Shama and Imam al-Suyilti: "Everything invented without precedent" (kullu mukhtard in min ghayri aslin sabaq);'53
Imam al-Lacknawi: All that did not exist in the first three centuries and for which there is no basis among the Four Foundations of Islam" i.e., Qur'an, Sunna, , and Qiyas.'
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami: "Bid'a in terms of the Law is everything innovated in contravention of the Lawgiver's command and the latter's specific and general proof's'
Ibn al-Jawzi: "Bid'a in legal convention is whatever is blameworthy in contravening the foundations of the Law."
Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-'Arabi: "Only the bid' a that contradicts the Sunna is blameworthy.'
All of this elucidates Imam al-Shafi's luminous subdivision of bid' a into two types, which we examine below. Thus, it is not enough for something to be novel to be a bid'a, contrary to the misunderstanding of those who use that term most vocally nowadays.
Some of the best works on the precise definition of bid` a are:
[1] Imam `Abd al-Hayy al-Lacknawi's Tuhfat al-Akhyar and
[2] the first part of his lqamat al-Hujja - both with a comment tary by Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda;
[3] Al-Sayyid `Abd Allah Mahfuz al-Haddad's masterpiece alSunna wal-Bid` a;
[4] The most concise, most practical textbook on the topic to date. Kalimatun Ilmiyyatun Hadiyatun fil-Bid'ati wa-Ahkamiha by our beloved teacher Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman Ghawji al-Albani;
[5] Dr. Izzat `Atiyya's al-Bid` a: Tahdiduha wa-Mawqif minha;
[6] Al-Sayyid `Abd Allah ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumarrs Itqan aiSun'a fi Tahqiq Ma' ria al-Bid` a ("Precise Handiwork in Ascertaining the Meaning of Innovation");
[7] Shaykh isa al-Himyari's two works, Daw' al-Sham` a fi T Ma' na al-Bid' a ("The Candlelight in Verifying the Meaning Bid' a") and
[8] al-Bid' atu al-Hasanatu Aslun min usul al-Tashri` ("The lent Innovation is One of the Sources of Islamic Legislation");

The fourth part of Sayyid Muhammad ibn 'Alawi's book haj
[Chapter 15 of al-Sayyid Abul-Hasanayn Abd Allah ashimi's al-Salafiyya al-Mu` asira and
1] his al-Ittiba' wal-lbtida' .158
ykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti said:
There is no doubt that innovation (bid `a) is absolutely prohibited and that it is misguidance. [...] However, what is innovation? Innovation is "every matter that was innovated and injected into the Religion while it is not part of it (al-bid` atu kullu amrin ustuhditha wa-uqhima fit-dini wa-huwa laysa minh)." As much as the expressions of the Ulema differ in explaining bid' a and defining it, none of those various expressions differs from this comprehensive meaning: "every matter that was innovated; that is, it did not exist beforehand; "and injected into the Religion while it is not part of it." In this [specific] way, an innovation cannot be other than an innovation of misguidance.
An example of this [innovation of misguidance] is if a person should invent a prayer other than the five prayers which Allah Most High has made Law. Another example would be those invented additions pertaining to funerals, such as the supplications that are raised out loud at the forefront of funerals,' the adhan that was innovated upon lowering the deceased into his grave, and those invented states during dhikr such jumping [up and down] and what the jurists "dancing
call "dancing and
swaying from side to side" (al-rag wa1-tamayul)1 and the matters were innovated and injected into the Religion al-h they are not part of the Religion in any way whatsoever.
As for the matters that were innovated and were not existent re but were not injected into the Religion, the people iced them as habits and procedures in which they found lness for themselves, whether such were connected with worldly sphere or with their Religion. f...]
There are many, many examples of this type. We can give an ple for these many habits and procedures which the *ms have innovated after the death of the Messenger of
0, or even in his time. Among them are the innovations ected with food and drink. Also among them are the connections connected with dwellings, their decoration and their architecture. Among them also are the matters connected with ufacture, commerce, agriculture and the like. Among them are the matters connected with dress in all its variety. (...1
All of those are innovated matters but they were not injected
- o the Religion. That is, the people did not practice them as ifthey
were part of the Religion. Hence, the definition of the legal
[innovation does not apply to them.
No doubt, someone is bound to ask: "What does the Law sayabout
these innovations which entered like waves into the life
the Muslims?" Let us hear what the Messenger of Allah said in his authentic hadith: "Whoever institutes a good practice in Islam has its reward and the reward of all those who practice it until the Day of Judgment, and whoever institutes a Ind practice in Islam bears its onus and the onus of all those rwho practice it until the Day of Judgment"' which is part of a well-known longer hadith. Many are those who imagine a contradiction between the dith of the Messenger of Allah 0 "Every innovation is mis ance" and this hadith. They see a problem here and confused when in reality there is no problem at all.
Innovated matters that are injected into the Religion and not part of it are aptly described by his hadith 0, "Ev innovation is misguidance." As for innovated matters am habits and procedures that are connected to daily life in their varieties, without people intending them as Religion without their being injected into the Divine Law (such matt not being part of it): they fall under the [twofold] distincti mentioned by the Messenger of Allah ["Whoever institutes good practice.."]. We look at the results of these habits regimens. Whatever of them have a good effect on the life people or their Religion are classed under the "good sunna" which the Messenger of Allah 0 called. And whatever of thee leave bad effects on the Religion or on the worldly affairs people - for Allah Most High commanded people to take
of their religious and worldly interests - then such are cl under the "bad sunnas" against which the Messenger of Allah I warned. The Ulema of the Law have explained this at length and in great detail under the subheading of "matters of welfare" (masalih al-mursala).
When are such matters of public welfare lawful and notwithstanding their being "widespread" (mursala), since Book and the Sunna did not say anything about them? IN are such matters imaginary and corrupt, that is, part of the sunna? The Ulema of Islamic Law have clarified this. In
case, what the people innovated without injecting it into the Religion - of which it is not a part at all - is not part of meaning of the legal innovation which is always misguidance and always a forbidden practice.
The conferences which are held here and there are among those innovated matters. How are they assessed? We look at the types of these conferences and the effect they have. Whichever of them supports the Religion is classed among the good sunnas; whichever has a harmful effect is classed among the bad sunnas. All those universities which were innovated out of nonexistence; the various media, including publishing houses and all kinds of means for disseminating information; all these are innovated matters that did not exist before. This development which has touched the script of the Qur'an including dotting, vowelization, division into tenths, and so forth - and the chain of developments is endless - all these are among innovated matters. However, those that innovated them at no time claimed that they were part of the Religion or part of the Divine Law.
All of those matters are assessed on the basis of this scale of which the Messenger of Allah 0s informed us. Whatever part of that serves the Religion of Allah Most High or preserves the lawful worldly matters of public welfare for people is classed together with the good sunna and one is invited to practice it, and whoever does so with sincere intention toward Allah is rewarded. And whatever part of those newly innovated matters is harmful to the Religion or harmful to the lawful worldly matters of public welfare for people, is classed together with the bad sunna against which the Messenger of Allah warned.
People have this custom of celebrating the memory of their great personalities. They may do this on the occasion of the L birthday of one of them or on that of his death. This is among innovated matters; but no one ever said that they belong to the Religion. Nor has anyone ever said that they are an integral part of worship or of the Law which Allah Most High has commanded. They can only be described as cultural or social activities by which a certain goal is sought. We examine this .211 goal: if this goal is good and benefits the Muslims in thew Religion or in their lawful worldly matters, then it is a good sunna as the Messenger of Allah said. [...]
Let us now look at the people's celebration of the commemoration of the birth of the Messenger of Allah 4ia. Is it a 1 matter that was innovated and injected into the Religion and I then considered one of the types of worship that was made law I for us? If anyone celebrates this event to that intention then he I is an innovator! For this celebration is not an integral part of the Religion, that is, not one of the types of worship that was made law for us, nor a ruling from the Divine rulings that cane down in the Qur'an or came in the Sunna.
As for those that celebrate the commemoration of the birth of the Messenger of Allah after the model of those who organize conferences to publicize a legitimate principle or a cause or a right which Allah Most High ordered us to uphold, or to defend something which Allah Most High allows in His Lot this is a social activity by which good in the Religion is sought
This is exactly like those who organize conferences and seminars to commemorate one of their great personalities. I toil you once how I was invited to a conference in one of our dear Arab countries on the occasion of the passing of this or
many years after the death of Muhammad ibn Abd al-W
I am not among those that say that such activities are innovation or express disapproval and warn people them. This is because the brothers who organized this ference only did so as a social activity, like all conferences. did it on the basis of a benefit which they considered such activity would bring about. The criterion [of assessment] this is the same as that for information media or television channels - innovated matters by which is sought, When Muslims use them well, a spiritual or temporal benefit Allah has allowed in His Law. What is sought in all this is same good sought by those people who refined the writing of the Arabic language by developing the script of the Qur'an and including in it the dotting and vowelization and division into tenths which you can see, and of which all the Ulema approved. Is there any person who proceeds from a sound and meticulous basis of knowledge who will say: "A conference that is organized to commemorate the passing of this or that many years after the death of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab is a forbidden, innovative act?" I do not think so. Not at all. And since this is the case, then why is such an act [of commemoration] licit or even a good sunna when it is for the sake of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab, Allah have mercy on him, but it becomes a "forbidden, innovative act" when the very same act is for the sake of Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah ?? There is no difference.' I believe that this discourse ends all noise and din over the issue.'