Bidat – primary cause of Deviation

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The Arabic word bid’ah comes from the root b.d.’a, it means to originate, introduce, devise, contrive, improvise or to be inventive in a manner not done before. Allah has used this word in this sense when he said: “Badi’ al-Samawat wa al-Ard” (He is the Creator of the skies and the earth) i.e. It’s Creator without any previous replica or blueprint. Allah said in another place: “Qul: Ma kuntu bid’an min al-Rusul” (Say: I was not the only Messenger sent) i.e. Prophet Muhammad was not the only Messenger to carry a divine scripture, but before him many others did so. Being innovative in worldly matters is a sign of technological or creative advancement, but being innovative in religion brings nothing but error and failure. The reason for this is that mankind has been placed in this world to exploit it’s resources for the maximum benefit of his religion, but religion has been assigned to him to receive guidance, and not modify or adjust it in order to suit his fancies.

A person who practices in innovation as far as religious matters are concerned is called a mubtadi’ in Arabic or a bid’ati in Urdu and Persian. It roughly means to innovate or introduce heretical doctrines, heresies, or actions with a suspicious origin into the corpus of Islamic belief and practice. It can be technically defined as follows: “An innovated practice which resembles Islam designed to exaggerate certain acts of worship or misrepresent some aspect of the shari’ah.” Those things which are done or those sciences which are learnt for the sake of understanding Islam or better practicing it is not termed as bid’at. The science of Arabic grammar, the principles of tafsir and the formulas if jurisprudence is studied to understand Islam today. These sciences were not present in the earliest period of Islam, but its foundations are to be found in Shari’ah. A Bid’at has neither absolutely no legal basis nor precedent in Islam.

An innovated act outwardly resembles an Islamic practice, but in reality it is different. The examples of these are many:

1. A person vows that he will fast, but attaches a condition that he will do it standing only. He likewise imposes certain baseless conditions on his vow which has no legal validity only to aggravate himself.
2. One adopts certain days to remember certain people like the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and Shaikh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani.
3. A person adopts certain type of worship or incantation or talisman (wazifah) for himself which is recited or practiced on certain days or certain times only. It can not be done in no other time besides this.

An innovated act is always practiced in a way that has no precedent. Id such an act indeed has a precedent, it is merely a custom. The person involves in innovation does so thinking that he is indeed practicing upon the Sunnah. Soon, he becomes convinced of it and the truth of the matter becomes clouded unto him. He loses cognisence of the fact that he has deviated, and this make repentance more difficult for him. In order to alleviate his symptoms of deterioration, a mubtadi’ would normally cling to a person personality, invoke him, and try to legitimize his devotion through this medium.

The Arabs of the age of ignorance had outrageously distorted the teachings of Prophet Abraham, and started giving weird explanations to their doings. For worshipping idols, they rationalized as follows: “We do not worship them except to gain proximity to Allah.” On the occasion of pilgrimage, they simply refused to pass through ‘Arafah saying; “We can not leave the sanctity of the Haram.” They would circumambulate the ka’bah in a state of stark nudity reasoning that they could not perform such a great devotion while hugging the clothes in which they habitually sinned.

The innovator, by doubly exerting himself in his devotions, thinks that he will achieve spiritual consummation in doing so. True, Allah said: “I have naught created mankind and Jinnkind but for my worship.” He pushes this verse to its extreme, devising his own motions of ‘ibadat, not realising that what the shari’ah had stipulated is more than adequate. In his enthusiasm he underestimates the power of the shari’ah, and through a bold show of his love to Allah and His Messenger, he introduces a whiff of innovation in his daily devotional practices.

The human psyche is such that it always welcomes something new. It looks forward to a break in monotony. It becomes easily bored with an uninterrupted and monotonous chain of repetitive events so when a new thing is introduced to it, it becomes refreshed. This is why innovative actions are so readily accepted.

Acts of bid’ah can take the form of omission or commission. If a one prohibits a certain action upon oneself which is already prohibited in the shari’ah or for which provision has been made to prohibit, there is no problem. One for example, can prohibit the food prepared by a certain person upon himself because of its harmful effects on the mind and body. If a person fears an onset of uncontrollable sexual craving if he happens to consume his normal quantity of food, he can abstain from it as the Holy Prophet Muhammad had said: “O assembly of youth, whoever of you can manage to marry, let him marry … and whoever can not do so should fast.” Likewise, a person who abstains from products which he doubts is commendable.

On the other hand, if one abstains from doing anything which the Shari’ah had allowed thinking it legal to do so, this falls under the category of bid’at. Allah says: “O you who believe, do not prohibit what Allah has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Verily Allah does not love those who transgress the limits.” This verse was revealed when a few of the Companions prohibited sleep upon themselves by night, some forbade eating by day, and some refused to having any spousal relations. They prohibited these natural inclinations of the body upon themselves with no legal sanction, nor did it benefit them in the least. By doing so, they broke away from the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and entered into the realms of bid’ah.

Innovation in religion can be condemned rationally (‘aqlan) and textually (naqlan), and there are no qualms to say that the one who practices bid’ah has deviated. There are five rational reasons for abhorrence towards bid’ah in religion.

1. It is known through experiment as well as experience that the mind can not fathom what is good or what is bad for mankind without external help, be it in worldly or religious matters. When Adam, the first of mankind was placed in this world, he was in full possession of his mental faculties. Yet, he did not know how to survive in his surroundings. Allah taught him all these worldly skills and trained him the vocational arts. This fact can be proved when Allah said: “And we taught Adam the names of everything.” Following Adam’s example, his children followed in his example in doing so ever since.

As time passed, mankind made progress on his physical surroundings, but neglected his spiritual habitat. Thinking of aspects like resurrection, the hereafter, and its rigmarole was plainly beyond comprehension. This is the reason why Allah, time and time again, pities His creation and sent Prophets to mankind to remind them over and over again. Their main mission was plainly to shift the focus of events from a rational point of view to one dependent on divine revelation. But mankind always forgot. This indicates that mankind can not grasp what is of benefit or harm to himself with the aid of his intellect alone. An innovator breaks this general rule of nature, and bethinks that he can unravel the realms of the unseen through his limited thinking capacity.

2. The Shari’ah of Islam (law-code) has been perfected. Allah says: “Today I have perfected for you your religion, and has completed upon you my favour and have become satisfied with Islam as your religion.” There is a famous tradition by ‘Irbad ibn Sariyah: The Holy Prophet admonished us, such an admonishment that our eyes started overflowing, and our hearts started pounding. We asked: “O Apostle of Allah, this seems like a parting sermon, what do you propose for us to do.” He replied: “I have left upon clear whiteness, its night is like its day. Whoever sways from it after me will be destroyed. Whoever lives on after me will witness many upheavals, so hold steadfast to my practice and the practice of the Rightly-Guided caliphs after me.” The ahl al-Sunnah are unanimous in the fact that the Holy Prophet did not leave this world until he conveyed everything which was necessary for religious matters. A mubtadi’ through his continuous introduction of new aspects into religion attests to the fact that Islam is not complete, hence his desire to always add on things.

Ibn Majishun says that he heard Imam Malik saying: “Whoever innovates in religion thinking it to be a virtuous matter, he has indeed accused the Holy Prophet of being deceitful in delivering his message.”

3. The practitioner of innovation undermines the shari’ah and causes unnecessary trouble for himself. Allah had shown his servants a very specific path with a very specific methodology to tread, and has left the duty of calling towards it and forbidding from all things averse to it for mankind. Islamic teaches that goodness arises from following this path and evil and corruption is the result of abandoning it. The Holy Prophet was sent in this world as a mercy unto mankind, the mubtadi’ rejects this notion as he insists that are some additional duties to be performed in order to attain salvation. Once when ‘Adi ibn Artat asked ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz for some advice regarding the Qadiri menace, he responded as follows: “I exhort you to fear Allah, in adopting moderation in your affairs and following the practice upon the Holy Prophet, may the salutations and benedictions of Allah be upon him. Abandon all types of innovations which have become prevalent and do not support them. Hold fast to the Sunnah, for the Sunnah was devised by one who is well-aware all the other divergent paths which are slippery, full of deficiencies, and riddled with excesses. Be content for yourself what the Sahabah were content for themselves for they did everything with knowledge, and were possessed of insight. They refrained (from innovations) having more stronger knowledge than us, and through a grace which was more benevolent. Whoever had innovated after them have deviated from their path and have absolved themselves from them. The Sahabah were our predecessors, they have left adequate directives – everything besides this is thrash.”

4. The practitioner of innovation elevates his actions to the status of the true shari’ah. Allah had devised a shari’ah (law-code) and made its mandate incumbent upon all mankind. The shari’ah has the potential to solve all human problems. If mankind could devise a shari’ah of their own in order to solve all their problems, there would have been disruptions between themselves, and there would have been no need to send guides in the forms of Prophets, the pious and the reformers. A mubtadi’ seeks to devise another shari’ah claiming to produce the same and even better results than the divine shari’ah as encoded by Allah.

5. The practitioner of innovation follows his desires. When intellect is not in harmony with the shari’ah, it becomes the following of desires. If anything has no rational basis, it is reduced to error manifest. Allah addresses Prophet Dawud in the Qur’an thus: “O Dawud: We have appointed you as a vicegerent in the earth, so judge between the people with justice and do not follow your desires lest Allah swerves you away from the straight path. Verily there is a taxing punishment for those who swerve from the path of Allah for they have forgotten the day of reckoning.” In this verse, there are but two options in Islam: truth or following of desire, and numerous other verses of the Qur’an the antonym of truth has only been given as following of desires, no other reason.

A mubtadi’ pursues his desires without guidance from Allah which is the Qur’an and Sunnah. He often gives his own desires preference to the commands of Allah thinking himself to be on true guidance. This is the worse of deviation, a cloaked or disguised deviation. It amounts to alleging (iftra’an) that Allah did not send the shari’ah in its totality.

The textual reasons for decrying bid’ah in Islam can be divided into six categories:

1. Condemnation of bid’ah in the Qur’an:
2. Condemnation of bid’ah in the Sunnah:
3. Condemnation of bid’ah according to the sayings of the precursors:
4. Condemnation of unsolicited opinions (ra’y al-madhmum):
5. Position of a mubtadi’ in the eyes of the shari’ah:
6. Precarious mindset of a mubtadi’ that he is upon the perfect truth:

1. Condemnation of bid’ah in the Qur’an: Allah has mentioned numerous verses in the Qur’an which condemns the slightest form of deviation. From amongst these are: “He is that Being Who has revealed the Book unto you wherein there are established verses, these are the essence of the Book, and the other are the ambiguous ones. Those who have a perversity in their hearts pursue the ambiguous verses seeking to create discord in pursuit of its meaning, and only Allah knows it’s meaning.” This verse is the greatest verse decrying bid’ah. When it was revealed, ‘A’ishah, the wife of the Holy Prophet, asked him as to its meaning. The Holy Prophet replied: “When you see people investigating (in another narration: disputing) the ambiguous verses, these are the ones whom Allah have referred to in the verse. Beware of them.” Such people have no intention to gain intelligible guidance from the established verses, but rather hanker behind those verses whose meanings are veiled to unraveling of whose meaning is not a source of guidance or concern.

Abu Ghalib narrates that once he was in Syria when Muhallab sent seventy detached heads of the Kharijiyyah and placed it an the entrance of Damascus. Abu Umamah happened to pass by the heads, he was shocked and sobbingly said: “Glory be to Allah, what has the king done to the son of Adam! They are the dogs of hell and best type of people to be killed under the sky. Glad tidings be for those who killed them.” Abu Umamah then turned towards me and said: “O Abu Ghalib, you are living in a land where such people abound. Seek the protection of Allah from them.” Abu Ghalib then asked him for his apparently perplexing reason for crying. He explained: “I first cried out of pity for them for they were first Muslims.” He then recited the above verse until he reached “And Allah only knows its meanings,” and pointing towards the heads said: “These people had a perversity in their hearts.” Thus, Abu Umamah had placed the Kharijiyyah in the category of innovators due to their futile investigation and misinterpretation of the ambiguous verses of the Qur’an.

The above verse was originally revealed regarding the Christians of Najran concerning their belief of Prophet ‘Isa saying that he was either Allah himself, His son, or the third of the trinity. They arrived at this conclusion through misinterpreting certain unclear verses of the Qur’an, totally ignoring those verses providing clear-cut guidance on the subject.

Ibn Wahab says that he heard Imam Malik saying that there is no verse in the Qur’an more heavier upon the innovators than the following verse: “On that day some faces will be aglow, while some will be darkened.” Ibn ‘Abbas and Qatadah have opined that those whose faces will be blackened are the innovators.

In another cogent verse denunciating innovation, Allah says: “This is the straight path, so follow. And do not follow other paths lest you deviate from the straight path.” The ‘path’ spoken off in the Qur’an is the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the ‘other paths’ are all those beside it. It does not mean committing sins and being disobedient to the commands of Allah as these are not done continuously or with a sense of justifying it, but it means the path of deviation and innovation. When this verse was revealed, the Holy Prophet drew a long line in the soil, and drew shorter lines protruding from the right and left of it. The Holy Prophet then pointed out that the ling line was the straight path while all the other smaller ones are deviated pathways to which the shaitan are constantly inviting to.

Another verse is the following: “And unto Allah leads straight the way, but there are ways that turn aside: if Allah had willed, He could have guided all of you.” The ‘path leading to the straight way’ is the path of truth, and all paths besides it are bifurcated. According to Mujahid, it means the moderate path, free of excesses and deficiencies.

The following verse has a commentary from the hadith. Once the Holy Prophet asked ‘A’ishah: “O A’ishah, “Verily those who segregated their religion and splintered into sects, you have no part in them in the least. Their affair is with Allah, he will in the end inform them of their doings,” who are they?” I answered that Allah and His Messenger know best. He said: “They are the one who follow their desires and the innovators, the deviated ones from my nation. O ‘A’ishah, for every sin there is repentance, but there is none for the innovators and those who follow their passions. I have acquitted from them and they from me.”

Once Imam Abu Hanifah met ‘Ata ibn Rabah in Makkah and was asked: “From where do you come from?” Imam Abu Hanifah replied: “From Kufah.” ‘Ata ibn Rabah then pressed on: “You come from the city which has segregated itself into sects?” He replied: “Yes.” ‘Ata ibn Rabah continued: “From which sect are you?” “From those who do not speak ill of the predecessors, believe in predestination, and do not brand anyone as an infidel by virtue of merely committing sins,” Imam Abu Hanifah rightly replied. ‘Ata ibn Rabah exhorted thus: “You have recognized the truth, stick to it.”

It is reported when caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan was surrounded by the rebels, he one day stepped out of his to clarify his position. At this the rebels started mercilessly pelting him with stones interrupting his speech. All of the sudden, the voice of one of the wives of the Holy Prophet could be heard from within her house. She was saying: “Your Prophet has acquitted himself from those who have broken up into sects,” and she recited: “Verily those who segregated their religion and splintered into sects, you have no part in them in the least. Their affair is with Allah, he will in the end inform them of their doings.” Qadi Ismail thinks that it was the voice of umm al-mu’minin, Salmah. He also says that everyone who innovates in Islam up to the last will fall under the ambit of this verse.

Mutarrif ibn Shikhir said: “If all the types o desires were one, one could have said that truth might be in it. When the desires sprout into numerous forms and factions, and intelligent one can make out that truth is not divisive by nature.”

Imam Bukhari has narrated on the authority of ‘Umar ibn Mus’ab that he asked his father of the meaning of the verse: “Shall we not inform you who will at a loss with his deeds,” are they the Kharijiyyah. He replied: “No, they are the Jews and Christians. The Jews rejected Prophet Muhammad, and the Christians rejected paradise saying that there is no food and drink therein.” He continued, the Kharijiyyah are those of whom Allah say: “Those who break to covenant of Allah after fortifying it.” In another narration, the following verse has been cited: “When they strayed, Allah turned their hearts away.” Mus’ab ibn Sa’d said that they are meant in this verse as they had strayed from the truth and started making baseless interpretations of the Qur’an. Likewise does all the innovators fall under the umbrella of this verse as they subject the Qur’an to their own whimsical understanding.

In the above verse, an indication is given that such people will think that they are on guidance, but they will be not.

‘Abd al-Humaid narrates on the authorityu of Hasan that the Holy Prophet said: “Whoever abandons my practice is not of me.” He then recited the following verse: “Say: If you love Allah follow me, Allah will love you.”

Whenever ibn Sirin used to recite the following verse: “When you see a person engaged in vain discourse regarding Our signs, turn away from them unless they turn to different theme. If satan ever makes you forget, then after recollection sit not in the company of those who do wrong,” he though that it referred to those who follow their desires and passions. Abu al-Jauza used to say: “I would prefer my house to be full of monkeys and swine than having such a person as a neighbour.”

There are many more verses of the Qur’an which speaks of the evils of innovation, but the above is sufficient.

2. Condemnation of bid’ah in the Sunnah: The sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad form the second most important source to condemn innovations in religion. There are numerous such sayings, but the following few would suffice our purpose:

1. ‘A’ishah bint Siddiq says that she heard the Holy Prophet saying: “Whoever introduces in this matter of Our’s something foreign to it, will be rejected.” In the narration of Muslim: “Whoever practices any deed which we have not commanded will be rejected.” Scholars have said that this tradition amounts to a third of Islam as it combines all types of factionalism, and deviation and disobedience has been addressed both at once in it.
2. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah narrates that the Holy Prophet used to always mention the following in his sermon: “Thereafter: the best of speech is the Book of Allah, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst of affairs are the innovations, and every innovation is a deviation.” In another version, the Holy Prophet used to say: “There will none to misguide one who Allah guides, and there will be none to guide one who Allah misguides. The best of speech is the Book of Allah, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst of affairs are the innovations, and every innovation is a deviation.” In the version of Nasa’i: “And every deviation will be in hell-fire.” It is said that Caliph ‘Umar would employ these same words in his sermon.
3. Abu Hurairah reports that the Holy Prophet said: “Whoever invites towards guidance, he will receive the full reward of those who follows him without their reward being diminished in the least. Whoever invites towards a sin, he will receive the full punishment as those who listened to him without their punishment being diminished in the least.” In the version of Imam Muslim: “Whomever initiates a good practice that is followed, he will receive its full reward without it being diminished from the actual doers themselves. Whoever initiates an evil practice which is followed, he will receive its full burden without it being diminished from the actual doers themselves.”
4. Imam Tirmidhi and others have narrated on the authority on ‘Irbad ibn Sariyah that the Holy Prophet once delivered such a moving sermon that the hearts were quivering and the eyes welled with tears, as if it was a parting advice. He said: “I exhort you to fear Allah and obedience of those in charged, even if he be an Abysinnian slave. Whoever will live after me will witness many upheavals. Hold steadfast to my practice and the practice of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after me, hold firmly onto with your teeth. Beware of the novel innovations, for every novelty is a deviation, and deviation is error.”
5. Huzaifah ibn al-Yaman narrates that he asked the Holy Prophet: “O Apostle of Allah, will there be a period of evil after this period of goodness?” The Holy Prophet answered: “Yes. A people will tread a path other than mine, and will follow the guidance of one other than mine.” I asked: “Will be another evil after this evil: “A people will invite towards the fire of hell, whoever listens to them will be flung therein.” I asked: “Describe them, O Apostle of Allah.” He replied: “Yes, they are of our kind, and will speak our language.” I asked: “What do you command me to do if I have to meet them?” He replied: “Adhere to the community of Muslims and their leader.” I asked: “If there is no community and no leader?” He said: “Distance yourself from these sects, even if it means staying at a bark of a tree until death overtakes you.”
6. In the Sahifah, the following tradition appears: “The place between then mountains of ‘Air and Thaur in Madinah is sacred (hurum). Whoever innovates therein or grants refuge to an innovator therein, then upon him is the curse of Allah, the angels, and of all mankind. No obligatory nor optional prayer of his will be accepted.”
7. It is narrated in the Muwatta on the authority of Abu Hurairah that that once the Holy Prophet entered the cemetery and recited: “Peace be upon you, O settlement of believers, if Allah wishes we will join you shortly…Some people will be driven away from my pond like how a stray cow is driven away. I will be shouting towards them: Come, come,” and it will be said to me: ” They had changed after you (left them).” I will then say: “Away with them, away with them.” Some scholars have opined that the innovators are meant here, and some the renegades from Islam.
8. The Holy Prophet once said: “Allah will not suddenly snatch knowledge away from the people, he will uplift knowledge by uplifting the scholars. A time will come when not a single scholar will remain, people will appoint the ignorant as their leaders. They will be asked and they will answer without knowledge, they will be misguided and they will misguide others.” This tradition has been narrated through numerous different chains in Bukhari.
9. Imam Muslim has reported on the authority of ibn Mas’ud that the Holy Prophet said: “Whoever pleases him that he meet Allah tomorrow as a believer, let him observe the five daily prayers when they are called out. Allah has given your Prophet practices of guidance, and (the prayers) are from these practices of guidance. If you start performing them in your houses like how these people who delay do, you will be abandoning the practice of your Prophet. If you have to ignore any of the practices of your Prophet, you will be misguided.” In another tradition: “If you leave the practice of your Prophet, you will fall into disbelief.” Regarding these practices of guidance, the Holy Prophet said: “I am leaving behind two weighty things: the first is the book of Allah wherein is guidance and light. Whoever holds steadfast onto it and grips it will be on guidance, and whoever errs in it will be misguided.”
10. It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Holy Prophet said: “There will appear in my ummah liars and deceivers who will present innovations to you that neither you nor your ancestors had heard about. Beware of them, they do not involve you.”
11. Imam Tahawi has narrated the Holy Prophet said: “Six people I have cursed, and Allah as well as every Prophet: the exaggerator in the religion of Allah, the one who denies the predestination of Allah, one who believes in fatalism, one who degrades the one whom Allah has exalted and exalts who Allah has degraded, the one who abandins my practice, the one who makes lawful the unlawful injunctions of Allah, and the one who abuses my household whom Allah had sanctified.”
12. Imam Tahawi has also narrated the following tradition on the authority of Mu’adh ibn Jabal: “When innovations are introduced in my ummah and my Companions are abused, let the scholar display his knowledge. Whoever does not do this, let the curse of Allah, the angels, and the entire mankind be upon them.”

3. Condemnation of bid’ah according to the sayings of the precursors: There are many sayings of the Sahabah, the Tabi’un and other pious people of the golden era of Islam who have denounced innovation in the strongest terms.

From amongst the numerous sayings, the following have been selected:

1. Once ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab delivered a sermon and said: “O people, the Sunnah has been shown to you, and the compulsory duties have been prescribed for you, and you have been left with clear instructions except if you go astray left and right.” He then intertwined his fingers into each other and said: “Beware of being misled regarding the verse of pelting (the adulterer) that some says: “We do not find it in the Qur’an.” The Holy Prophet pelted and we had also pelted.”
2. It is reported that once Hudhaifah stood up and said: “O you assembly of reciters, be steadfast (on Islam), for you have greatly strayed. If you trod left and right you will be misled.” It is narrated that once Hudhaifah entered a Masjid, he stood up, and addressing the people said: “I fear two things for the people: that they prefer those things which they think to be correct over those things which they know is correct, and that they be misled unknowingly.” On another occasion, he picked up two stones, joined them together and asked a friend of his: “Can you see any light between these two stones?” He replied: “O Abu ‘Abdullah, we can not see much light between them.” Hudhaifah then continued: “I take an oath of that Being in whose possession is my life, innovation will become so rife that only that amount of truth will prevail as to the amount of light between these two stones. By Allah, an innovator will divert from his innovation a bit and people will scold him thus: “You have misplaced the Sunnah.” When elaborating on the ills of society, he said: “The first thing to be lost will be trust, and the second will be concentration in Salah. The rungs of Islam will be dislocated one by one and you will have intercourse with your wives during their monthly cycles. You will follow the path of deterioration of those before you inch for inch without any variation. This will continue until a time will come when one group will exclaim: “Why are there five times salat?” The ones before you were also misled in this way. Allah only speaks of three times in the Qur’an: “And establish prayers and the two ends of the day and in a portion of the night.” Another group will say: “Those who bring faith on Allah are like the Angels. There can be no hypocrite or apostate amongst them.” It is only befitting that Allah will raise these people with the anti-Christ (Dajjal).” This saying reinforces the tradition of the Holy Prophet as narrated on the authority of Abu Rafi that the Holy Prophet said: “One of you will be resting on his hinds when he will hear one of my commands or prohibitions. He will say: “I do not know of it, I do not know of it. It is not present in the Book of Allah that we should follow it.” The Sunnah is there to explain the Qur’an. Whoever clings onto the Qur’an without taking recourse to the Sunnah, he will be misled in understanding the Qur’an.”
3. Ibn Wahab is reported to have said: “Grasp knowledge before it vanishes, and attain it from the knowledgeable ones. Learn knowledge as one never knows when it will be of benefit to him. A time will come when you will witness a people claiming to call towards the Book of Allah, but they would have discarded it behind their backs.” He is also reported to have said: “No year passes but a worse one follows it. I do not say that one year or one leader can not be better than the other, but the cream of your scholars and times have passed. A time will come when people will judge matters according to their own understanding, they will be destroying Islam in the process.” He also said: “To only intend following the Sunnah is better than exerting oneself in bid’ah.”
4. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said: “I will not abandon any pratice knowingly which the Holy Prophet used to do. If I leave out any practice, I fear that I will be deviated.”
5. Ibn Mubarak has narrated a story that once ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was informed that one of his governors, Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan, used to eat a variety of foods in one meal. He instructed his slave Yarfa’ to inform him when Yazid would dine. When ‘Umar was informed of this, he presented himself before Yazid who invited him to dine with him. First a meat broth was served which ‘Umar accepted. Thereafter, the dried meat of eye was offered, but ‘Umar refused it saying: “By Allah, O Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan, do you eat one food after another? By that Being who controls the life of ‘Umar, if you contradict the practice of the Holy Prophet, you will also mislead your people onto another path .” Once ‘Umar was informed of a person who was fond of going around asking the meanings of various verses of the Qur’an. Co-incidentally this person happened to meet ‘Umar who was having supper at the time. ‘Umar invited him to join him, and when he had finished eating, he asked: “O ‘Umar what is the meaning of chapter 51: By the Winds that scatter broadcast; And those that lift and bear away heavy weights; And those that flow with ease and gentleness.” ‘Umar exclaimed: “You are the one.” He stood up and beat him up to such an extent that his turban dropped from his head and further told him: “By Allah, had I found your head shaven, I would have slain you.” He then ordered: “Wear his clothes for him, lift him upon thorns, expel him from here and see to it that he reaches his dwelling.”
6. Hasan al-Basri said: “An innovator does not practice any good, nor prays or fasts but he distances himself further from Allah.” Once, Hasan al-Basri whilst expalining the following verse: “Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it had been presecribed for the generations before you,” said: “The Jews rejected the command of fasting. The Christians distorted it by adding ten more days to thirty days, and shifted its observance to the most convenient time of the year.” Whenever Hasan would narrate this story, he would say: “A little good done according to the Sunnah is better than a lot of actions done incorrectly.”
7. Abu Idris al-Khaulani once expressed the following wish: “It is better for me to see a fire in the mosque which can not be extinguished then seeing an innovator who can not be rectified.”
8. Fudail ibn ‘Ayad said: “Follow the path of guidance, do not let your inferior numbers bother you. Beware of the paths of deviation, do not be deceived by the great numbers of those involved in it.”
9. Abu Qulabah: “Do not sit in the company of those who follow their passions, and do not dispute with them. I can not guarantee that they will not wrongly convince you in their deviation and confuse you in the matter of truth.” According to many scholars, Abu Qulabah was one of the erudite jurists of his time.
10. Sufyan al-Thauri used to say: “Words are not effective if not backed up with actions, no words and deeds are effective without an intention, and not word, action, or intention can be correct if they are not in line with the Sunnah.”
11. Ibn Sirin used to always opine that those who follow their desires are quicker to turn renegade from Islam than others.
12. Yayha ibn Kathir advised that if an innovator is seen using a particular street, you should use another street.
13. Yahya ibn Abu ‘Umar Shaibani said: “Allah rejects the repentance of an innovator, and an innovator always progresses to a more lower spiritual state.”
14. Muqatil ibn Hayyan said: “Those who follow their passions are the calamity of the ummah of Muhammad. They mention the name of the Holy Prophet and his household and used it to bait the ignorant ones and throw them to perdition.”

4. Condemnation of unsolicited opinions (ra’y al-madhmum): Opinions in religion which are arrived at which have no basis in the Qur’an and Sunnah are called ra’y al-madhmum. More than often they have some semblance to the shari’ah, but they belong to the species of innovation, that is why they are called dalal (deviations). ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘As narrates that he heard the Holy Prophet saying: “Allah will not snatch knowledge away from the people after he has given it to them suddenly, but he will remove it by uplifting their scholars. Only the ignorant will remain who will be asked questions, and they answer according to their own understanding. They will be thus misled themselves and will also mislead others.”
1. Ibn al-Mubarak has narrated on the authority of ‘Auf ibn Malik al-Ashja’i that the Holy Prophet said: “More nation will split into more then seventy sects, the greatest amongst them in perversion will be those who will understand religion through dint of their own understanding. They will make unlawful those things which Allah has made lawful, and will make lawful what Allah has prohibited.” Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr says: “This is arriving at conclusions without any basis and opining in religion by means of suspicion. The words of the tradition: “They will make unlawful those things which Allah has made lawful, and will make lawful what Allah has prohibited.” What is learnt is that what is lawful is that which is contained in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah, and what is unlawful is that which is contained in the in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah. Whoever does not know this and answers religious questions without knowledge, and draws inductions which has no basis in the Sunnah, this is the meaning of ra’y madhmum.2. Ibn al-Mubarak has also narrated in one tradition that from amongst the signs of the last day are three. One of them is that knowledge will be sought from the youngsters. It was asked as to who are the young ones. Ibn al-Mubarak replied: “Those who reach decisions on the basis of their personal reasoning.”
3. According to ibn Wahb: “Those who voice their personal opinions are the enemies of the Sunnah. When they are asked something, they are shy to say; “I do not know.” Beware of them, and let them not ensnare you.”
4. Hisham ibn ‘Urwah narrates on the authority of his father the following: “The condition of the Banu Israel was prosperous until youngsters were born amongst them who were the sons of slaves. They started voicing their personal opinions, and this is how the Banu Israel was misled.”
5. Darraj ibn Sahm says: “A time will come when a person will fatten his horse until it’s fat hangs. He will then ride on it into the cities and will return disheartened. He will look for a person who can inform him of the validity of some action he did, none will be able to answer him except those who will answer on suspicious grounds.”
6. Once a person asked Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab something. He answered at it was written down. Sa’id’s personal opinion was asked which he also answered and it was written down. Someone asked him: “I writing your own opinion, O Abu Muhammad?” Upon this, Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab asked the person to give him his paper. He took it and tore out the portion which held his personal opinion.
7. Malik ibn Anas says: “The Holy Prophet passed away and this affair had been completed and perfected. We should rather follow the sayings of the Holy Prophet and not our own conclusions. If opinions are followed, a person will come who has a better idea, followed by another one who has an even better one. Every time a person will come forward with an alternate or opinion, he will be followed. I think this process will never end.”

In conclusion, ra’y madhmum is that which is based on ignorance and on the following of the base desires without taking recourse to the original sources of Islam. This type of opinionating has been denounced. However, if the bases of opinion is the Qur’an and Sunnah, and it is structured upon the principles of shari’ah, it will not be denounced.

5. Position of a mubtadi’ in the eyes of the shari’ah: None of the devotions of an innovator is (mubtadi’) is accepted in the eyes of the shari’ah. These include his salat, fasting, his charity, and all other good works. One sitting in the company of a mubtadi’ is entrusted to himself for protection from sin, and the one who honours a mubtadi’ assists in tearing down the fabric of Islam. The perpetual cursing of Allah is upon such a person, he will barred from gaining intercession on the last day, he will be driven away from the pond, and he will meet Allah whilst Allah will be angry and displeased with him. He will die a humiliating death, his face will be blackened when he will be resurrected, and he will be consigned to the blazing fire.

From amongst the writings of As’ad ibn Musa, the following is found: “Beware of being a brother, friend, or acquaintance of an innovator, as one tradition says: “Whoever sits in the company of an innovator, divine grace is removed from him and he is entrusted to himself. Whoever walks towards an innovator, walks towards the destruction of Islam.” In another tradition: “There is no deity which is worshipped except Allah but that Allah dislikes nothing more than the one who follows his desires.” The Holy Prophet had cursed such a person. Verily Allah does not accept the optional nor the obligatory prayers of such a person. Every time he exerts himself in doing good, he distances himself further away from Allah. So, avoid their company and disgrace them as the Holy Prophet had distanced himself from them and disgraced them.”

The devotions of an innovator not being accepted holds one of two possibilities: that all actions in reality are not accepted, and only those innovated acts are not accepted. The first possibility has three probable meanings:
The first is that in reality all his actions and deeds are null and void. None of his deeds without any exception is accepted. This is a severe interpretation. Once ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib delivered a sermon brandishing a sword in his had which had a piece a paper attached to it. He said: “By Allah! We do not have any Book which we recite except the Qur’an and that which is contained in this parchment.” He enrolled the scroll and the various laws relating to the zakat of camels were contained therein. The following was also contained: “Madinah is sacred from between ‘Air and Thaur. Whoever innovates therein, may the curse of Allah, the angels, and of the entire mankind be upon him. No obligatory nor voluntary prayers will be accepted of him.”

The second possibility is that of the first interpretation is that the deviant principles of his devious practices permeates all his other deeds. The example of this is rejecting the khabr wahid (isolated tradition) upon which many rules (ahkam) are based. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “Every action not based on our matter is impropriety.”

6. Precarious mindset of a mubtadi’ that he is upon the perfect truth: