When a supposed cleric specifies doing something in a specific time, place, manner or gives you specific wordi,which do not have any evidence in the Quran or Hadith backing them, then, that is Bid’ah.
They may ask: Is there evidence that one can observe two rak’ah on the 21st July, 2019, at around 12pm, on the university campus?
The answer is: no.
What then makes it acceptable?
Answer: There is a general Hadith establishing the permissibility of observing two Rak’ah anytime one feels like.
Question: But, the Hadith did not stipulate a time or place.
Answer: Yes, we did not stipulate one too, for if we had been free one hour before, we would have observed it, and if we were to be free off-campus, we would observe it without believing that a place has more reward than the other.
As for what is wrong and regarded as an innovation, then it is to claim that: Two Rak’ahs at 12pm, on the campus, and on the 12th of July have special rewards than those of some particular times.
Question: Why do you say Salaatul Faatih is wrong? Did the Prophet not enjoin us to sing his praises and pray for Allah’s blessing to be showered on him?
Answer: Yes, he did. And Salaatul Faatih is not wrong in itself, it only becomes wrong when one starts to believe that it has a special reward which is more than that of one who coins some other wordings to pray for the Prophet.
This is because praying for him in whichever way is established in the deen, and hence anyone can use any wordings. But to believe, that some certain wordings, which cannot be traced to the Peophet would earn you more reward than others is innovation; believing that those wordings have special effects which the Quran and Hadith don’t mention.
Question: If the Prophet asked us to pray for him and show him love, why then do you say celebrating his birthday is wrong. It is just like the case of the one who observes two Rak’ah on a particular day which was not stipulated by the Prophet.
Answer: No, there is a difference between the two. The one who observes two Rak’ah in the school compound did not go out of the prophetic context by believing that the school, time or manner has a special reward despite the fact that the Prophet did not mention it. He believes, that the two Rak’ah could be observed on any other day and one would get just as much rewards.
As for the one who celebrates the Prophet’s birthday, then he has chosen a particular date and given it preference above others despite the fact that the Prophet did not specify that remembering him on the day he was born has a special reward.
Two people fast in Sha’baan. One believes it is just like fasting in any other month, since fasting is generally prescribed without special rewards attached to Sha’baan. Another fast on the same day believing he is fasting ‘are arugbo’, a certain fast which he believes has special reward despite the Prophet not mentioning so.
The latter would only be innovating; telling us that there is a month which has some special reward, but which the Prophet, may Allah forbid, failed to tell us.
THE PROPHET HAD BEEN FORGIVEN?
One final way of ‘refuting’ those who advise against innovations is by saying: The Prophet and his companions had been forgiven and promised Jannah, so if the Prophet asked the companions to say ‘Astaghfirullah’ 3 times after Salaat, we, whose sins are not yet forgiven can make it 20, despite the Prophet having specified a certain limit.
Well, you’re not the first to think this.
Hadith: Narrated ‘Aisha:
Whenever Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ordered the Muslims to do something, he used to order them deeds which were easy for them to do, (according to their strength and endurance). They said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! We are not like you. Allah has forgiven your past and future sins.” So Allah’s Apostle became angry and it was apparent on his face. He said, “I am the most Allah fearing, and know Allah better than all of you do.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 20
In-book : Book 2, Hadith 13
Does that suffice? The companions too had that thought, but the Prophet made them understand, that what Allah wanted from them was not the number of times they said a particular dhikr, but how much they stuck to the Prophet’s command. So, where he stipulates three, going on to twenty would be innovating in ‘this matter of ours’.
May Allah save us from that.
Olanrewaju Alhasan Adedokun and Abuamal Sobur Adedokun.
July 17, 2019.
(For The Message Magazine)