Bid’ah—A Henious Sin

Cont'd from previous issue

Cont'd from previous issue

Deen (Faith) is the name of compliance
May Almighty Allah impress firmly on our hearts that Deen is really the act of complying with the injunctions of Allah and His Prophet. It is not at all Deen to forge something from one's own will. Two words are used in the Arabic language in this behalf. The one is (Ittibaa), meaning to comply with the Injunctions of Allah and His Prophet, the other word is (Ibtidaa) meaning the invention of something from ones own choice and will and complying with that. When Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq was appointed Caliph his first address as Caliph contained the following words:
إني متبع وليس متعدع (طبقات ابن سعد)
I am a follower or complier; I am not a Bid'ati (Innovator).
He wanted to tell the people thereby that he would not forge or fabricate anything from his own choice, but would follow the commands of Allah and His Prophet.
Thus, Deen is the name of compliance with the injunctions received from Allah and His Prophet and what people invent themselves has no value at all.

A Wonderful Event
Once the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) went out of his house at Tahajjud time in the night and passed by the house of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq and saw that he was reciting the Holy Qur'an in his Tahajjud prayer with great submissiveness and attention in very low voice. Going further and passing by the house of Hazrat Umar Farooq He saw that Hazrat Umar Farooq was reciting the Qur'an loudly which could be heard from outside. After observing all this, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) came back.
Afterwards He sent for Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq and Hazrat Umar Farooq both. First, He said to Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq At the Tahajjud time during the night I passed by your house and found you reciting the Holy Qur'an in a very low voice what was the matter? In reply to this Hazrat Siddiq uttered a very beautiful phrase:
اسمعت ما نجيت
I recited the Qur'an in low voice because I was reciting it to Him whom I was addressing and imploring and He is All Hearing.
Thereafter, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked Hazrat Umar Farooq why he was reciting the Qur'an loudly. Hazrat Farooq replied:
إني أوقظ الوسنان واطرد الشيطان
I recited the Qur'an loudly to awaken those who were sleeping and to drive out Satan.
Now Consider! The reply given by each was correct in the particular trend of thought of each person. On hearing their replies the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) addressed both of them and said:
O Abu Bakr, you chose to recite the Qur'an in low voice. And O Farooq, you preferred to recite the Qur'an loudly. Each of you decided to recite the Qur'an according to his own choice and will, therefore, this is not appreciable. Allah has commanded to follow the medium way in reciting. The medium way is more blessed and commendable. The details of this event bring out that Allah does not approve of the practice of devising ways of worship according to one's own choice and will. He approves only the ways shown by Himself and His Prophet. This is more acceptable and profitable.
In short, the real spirit of Deen is in following the ways and practices prescribed and approved by Allah and His Prophet. Man should not himself try to invent his own ways and forms of worship.

The Account of a saint who used to offer prayers with his eyes closed
Hazrat Haji Imdadullah Sahib Muhajir Makki has reported an event which Hazrat Thanwi has narrated in his sermons. The event runs as follows. In the near past there was a saint who used to pray with his eyes closed. The jurists say that it is repulsive to pray with one's eyes closed, but it is allowed to pray with closed eyes for one who is not able to pray with due attention and concentration with open eyes. That saint was renowned among the people for the quality and superiority of his prayers on account of his attention and sincerity with which he prayed and his full compliance with the Sunnah, yet he used to pray with his eyes closed. The saint was also a man of Kashf (i.e. endowed with spiritual insight). Once this saint requested Allah to show him the result of his prayers, whether they were accepted or rejected. Allah granted his request and brought before him a very charming and beautiful woman. All the limbs of her body were made in due proportion and fitness, but she had no eyes. The saint was amazed to see such a beautiful woman having no eyes. When he inquired about the secret he was informed that, as he prayed with eyes closed, the reality and value of his prayers were shown in the form of a blind woman.

The Injunction about praying with closed eyes
Then Haji Imdadullah Sahib Muhajir Makki related the event of praying with closed eyes and Hazrat Thanwi Sahib offered his comments on it. Allah and His Prophet have taught the Sunnah way of praying with eyes open fixed on the place of prostration. Praying with closed eyes is also allowed but it does not posses the advantage and the light of praying with open eyes. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) never prayed with closed eyes during his entire lifetime. The Noble Companions too, did not ever pray with closed eyes. That is why the prayer with closed eyes is devoid of the spiritual light available in the other way of praying:
لم يكن من هديه صلى الله عليه
(Zadul Ma'aad by Ibn Qayyim vol. 1, p. 75)

Evil suggestions and thoughts assailing during Namaz (prayer)
It is thought that prayer may be offered with closed eyes simply to dispel evil suggestions and confusing thoughts. It may be noted that if these evil suggestions and thoughts come unintentionally without any fault of the Namazi, Allah does not condemn and take notice of this. The prayer which is offered according to Sunnah with open eyes but with disturbed concentration is much better than the one offered with closed eyes for the sake of concentration, because the former is according to the Holy Prophet's (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) way of praying (Sunnah), but the latter is not so.
The entire issue is based on the question of compliance with the injunctions of the Shari'ah and not on following one's own invented ways. If you have devised methods of praying of your own choice and desire this is condemned and rejected by Allah because every Innovation is a deviation from the right path and a perversity.

The correct Definition and Explanation of Bid'ah
Some people argue that when every new thing is a deviation and wrong, then what about the use of the fans, the tube lights, the cars and so many other invented appliances in general use in the world to day which did not exist during the prophet's days? Note carefully that bid'ah is that invented act or system which is made a part of Deen. for example, you create a system of your own to send reward and blessings to the dead like the customs of Teeja (after three days), Daswan (after ten days) and Chelum, etc., which have not been prescribed by the Shari'ah.

Send food to the bereaved family.
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has exhorted the Muslims to send food to the bereaved family. When Hazrat Jifar bin Abi Talib was martyred in the battle of Mootah the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said to his family:
أصنعو الآل أبي جعفر فإنه قد أتاهم أمر شغلهم (أبو داؤد كتاب الجنائز)
"Send food to Ja'far's family, because they are in grief and bereavement."
Thus the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has preached help to a bereaved family, because they are afflicted in with a sudden shock.

Just the opposite way is being followed today
The opposite system followed these days is that the bereaved family should provide food to the visitors and erect tents and invite them to a feast. If all this is not arranged the bereaved family will stand condemned and insulted among its relatives. More than this, if all this is not provided then even the deceased person is remembered with contempt and taunt.
It is believed, as if the deceased will not be granted salvation in the Hereafter if a feast is not arranged in his house. The feast arranged for this purpose is out of the legacy of the deceased, which is to be shared by all the heirs including the majors as well as the minors. It is unlawful in the Shari'ah to misappropriate the share of the minors. All this is a flagrant violation of the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and he who does not commit this violation is condemned.

To add something new as a part of Deen is Bid'ah
If anyone adds something new to the Deen as a necessary part of it, then the addition is Innovation. It may be noted that the invention and introduction of something new for a purpose other than Deen is not Innovation. So, it is not at all bid'ah to use an electric fan, electric bulbs, car etc., and so on and so forth. Allah has given general permission to invent machines and appliances to make life easy and comfortable. You cannot declare something as Mustahab (desirable) which is not Mustahab or something as Sunnah which is not Sunnah or something as compulsory which is not compulsory. If such additions are made to Deen this will be Innovation and Haram (forbidden)

Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar fleeing from Bid'ah
The Noble Companions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) shunned Innovation to the best of their ability. Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar once went to a mosque for praying. The Azan had been called but the Jama'at (congregation) had not yet started. In the mean-time the Muazzin called out (The prayer is about to begin so hurry up). Probably he also repeated the words (come to the prayer) on hearing these words Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar once said to his companions:
أخرج بنا من عند هذا المبتدع (سنن ترمزي أبواب الصلاة)
"Take us away from this Bidhti".
The Azan, as prescribed by Allah and His Prophet has been called out. This second call is against the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)

The Day of Resurrection and Bid'ah both deserve to be dreaded
By means of this Hadith while the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) warned his Ummah against an army which is about to wage a battle in the morning or the evening, he also spoke these words to warn them against errors and heresies expected to confront them in the future: The worst things are those which men have forged of their own free will and made them a part of the Deen although Allah and His Prophet did not impose those things as Deen. So avoid them otherwise they will drive you to deviation from the true Deen.

Who is our best well-wisher?
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) next spoke the following words:
أنا أولى بكل مؤمن من نفسه
I am nearer and dearer to every believer than his own soul.
In other words man himself cannot be a better well-wisher of himself than the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) just as the parents who bear all sorts of worries and troubles for the welfare and comfort of their children. The Prophet emphasized that whatever he said was in the interest of his ummah and not in his own interest. He feared lest the Ummah may make itself liable to Hell, by deviating from the straight path. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) next said:
من ترك مالا فلأهله ومن ترك دين أو ضياعا فالى وعلى
"I am your well-wisher in the Hereafter. As regards in this world, if anyone has died leaving behind some wealth as heritage, it belongs to his family members, which they should distribute among them according to the rules of the Shari'ah. If one has left some loan against him which cannot be discharged out of the heritage left by him or has left behind children and there is none to look after and support them bring them to me. I should support them for their entire lifetime".
The Prophet said all this to tell that he is your well-wisher; he does not covet your wealth. He said in the above mentioned Hadith: I want to save you from Hell towards which you are hurrying headlong. So, for God's sake, you should refrain from these sins and bid'ah and remain safe from Hell.

What revolutionized the lives of the noble Companions
It was the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that revolutionized the lives of the Companions and raised them to very high positions of honour, dignity and authority. Every word that escaped from the mouth of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) penetrated direct into their hearts and changed the entire course of their lives. Nowadays the preachers of Deen deliver speeches day in and day out without bringing about any change in the lives of their audience. This is mostly due to the fact that the preachers themselves do not follow the advice and good teachings of Deen which they are projecting before their listeners. Their hearts are devoid of the sincerity and true sympathy and fervour of the teachings of the Prophet of Allah that revolutionized the lives of the Noble Companions. May Allah grant us sincerity and effective speech to reach the hearts of the people. Aameen

What is Bid'ah?
Some people maintain that Bid'ah is of two kinds-Bid‘ah Hasanah (good Bid‘ah) and Bid‘ah Saiyyi'ah (bad Bid‘ah). They mean to say that there are some actions that are Bid'ah, but they have some good aspects in them and that there is no harm in doing actions which fall within the category of Bid‘ah Hasanah (good Bid'ah).

The Literal meaning of Bid'ah
Note carefully that there is no good or bad Bid'ah and all that is called Bid'ah is bad. In fact, Bid'ah has two shades of meanings. The dictionary meaning of Bid'ah is something quite new. So, in the light of its literal meaning you can call every new thing Innovation, e.g. an electric fan, electricity, trains, airplanes, etc., all these and such other objects are new to us which did not exist in the past and in the early days of the Muslims.
All new things are not called Innovation in the terminology of the Shari'ah. Innovation in the Shari'ah is the practice of inventing new ways of worship or customs and rites and declare them as Mustahab (desirable), compulsory, or an act of Sunnah, which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) nor the Sahabah (Companions) declared as Sunnah. All such acts and practices are Innovation. According to this terminology Innovation is sin and bad and there is none among this category of things and acts that can be termed as good Innovation.

It is not lawful to restrict the freedom-granted by the Shari ‘ah
There are certain things and acts which Allah has declared permissible. There are also certain things and acts which the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has allowed as Sunnah and deserving of reward, but no procedure has been laid down for doing those things or acts, which have been left to the option and convenience of the people.