Imaam Ash-Shaafi’i, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “A Bid’ah is anything that has no basis in the Qur’an, Sunnah or sayings of any of the companions.”
Ibn Al-Jawzi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “A Bid’ah is any form of worship that did not exist (at the time of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his companions) then later it was innovated.”
Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “A Bid’ah is any form of worship which has no basis in the Shari’ah which would warrant its legislation.”
Ash-Shaatibi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “(A Bid’ah) is any matter which closely resembles the Shari’ah and is intended to be a way of worshipping Allah.”
General rules to recognise Bid’ah
1). Any act of worship based on a fabricated Hadith is a Bid’ah, like the prayer in the month of Rajab which is called the prayer of Raghaa’ib.
2). Any act of worship which the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, did not perform, although there were no preventing factors, is a Bid’ah, like uttering the intention before beginning the prayer, calling Adhaan for any prayer other than the five obligatory ones or praying after finishing Sa’y between mount Safaa and Marwah.
3). Any habitual act performed with the intention of pleasing Allah which Islam did not consider as an act of worship is a Bid’ah, such as for example: wearing coarse woollen clothes, continuous silence, refraining from eating bread or meat, not drinking cold water or standing in the sun.
4). Performing prohibited acts with the intention of pleasing Allah is a Bid’ah, such as singing songs about Him.
Moreover, all acts of worship must be performed in exactly the same manner as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, did them. However, this cannot be achieved unless the following six conditions are fulfilled:
1). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in the reason for which it is done, or else it would be rejected. Therefore, celebrating Al-Mawlid is a Bid’ah because it is performed as a rewardable act, despite the fact that it has not been legislated.
2). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in its category. Therefore, it is not acceptable if a person were to slaughter a horse instead of a camel or goat as a sacrifice after Haj.
3). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in its quantity. Therefore, if somebody were to add two Rak’ah to the Dhuhr prayer, making a total of six Rak’ah instead of four, this would be unacceptable as it would not be coinciding with the Shari’ah in its quantity.
4). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in the manner in which it is performed. Therefore, if someone were to begin their wudoo’ by washing their feet instead of their hands, then this act would be unacceptable.
5). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in the timing of its performance. So, praying the Dhuhr prayer after sunset is unacceptable.
6). The act of worship must coincide with the Shari’ah in the place in which it is performed. Therefore, one cannot perform stand on a mountain other than ‘Arafah during Haj.
The dangers of Bid’ah and its evil effects
- Bid’ah is a precursor to disbelief.
- Making unfounded statements on behalf of Allah.
- Correcting the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, or claiming that he had deficiencies.
- Dividing the Muslim nation.
- Abandoning the Sunnah.
- Igniting disputes among the Muslims.
- Accusing the Prophet of not completely conveying the message of Islam.
- Competing with the Prophets in their prophethood.
- Altering the religion.
Causes of innovations
- Ignorance of the religion of Islam.
- Following one’s whims.
- Clinging to doubts.
- The sole use of ration with no reference to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
- Islamic scholars not fulfilling their expected role.
- Dependence on weak or fabricated Ahaadith.
- Extreme reactions to others’ errors.
- The failure to limit ones understanding of the Islamic texts to that of the companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
- Blind imitation of the masses.
Ways to eradicate Bid’ah
- Warning against the dangers of Bid’ah and its evil effects.
- Calling people to adhere to the Qur’an and Sunnah, with the understanding of the Salaf.
- Distinguishing between weak and the authentic Ahaadith.
- Purifying the schools of jurisprudence from the innovation of fanaticism towards them.
- Spreading knowledge and correcting the peoples understanding of faith, worship and financial-transactions.
- Warning against and subduing the innovators.
- Receiving knowledge from the correct sources; i.e., the sincere guided Islamic scholars.