Understanding Islam Correctly to Prevent Ourselves from Committing Bid’ah

Dr. Norlain Dindang Mababaya

Islam as the perfect and true religion is not only complete, but applies to all generations, at all times, under any circumstance. This is one of the important concepts that we must know and at the same time convey to all. We do not, therefore, need to make any bid`ah (innovation or fabrication) in our religion.

As much as possible, we must refrain from committing Bid'ah. Innovation in religion in any form must be avoided. Let us always be guided with the Qur’anic injunction to obey Allâh the Almighty and His Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) by adhering to the Qur'an and the Sunnah. We must take admonitions from the following Qur'anic injunctions:

“But no, by your Rabb (Sustainer), they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (Qur'an 4:65)

"...And whosoever does not judge in accordance with what Allâh has revealed, such are the kafiroon (disbelievers).” (5:44)

"...And whosoever does not judge in accordance with what Allâh has revealed, such are the dhalimoon (wrongdoers).” (5:45)

"...And whosoever does not judge in accordance with what Allâh has revealed, (then) such are the fasiqoon (the rebellious) to Allâh.” (5:47)

"It is not for a believer, man or woman when Allâh and His Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” (33:36)

“O you who believe! Obey Allâh, and obey the Messenger (Muhammad) and render not vain your deeds.” (47:33)

In line with the above Qur'anic admonitions, the Prophet (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stresses the importance of knowing and holding on to the Qur’an and the Sunnah and at the same time warns us to avoid bid`ah. He makes it very clear that Allâh the Most High rejects any religious deed, which is not in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. For our guidance, we must avoid any form of bid`ah. We should take admonition in the following authentic Ahâdith:

‘Aishah (Radhiallâhu anha) reported that Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoso introduces any thing new to this affairs of ours (i.e., religion) which does not form a part of it, it is invalid.” (Bukhâri 3/861 and Ibn Majah 1/14)

Jabir ibn Abdullah (radhiallâhu anhu) narrated that Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "The best speech is that embodied in the Book of Allâh, and the best guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. The most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is an error.” (Muslim 1885)

Yahya ibn Abu Muta said, "I heard Irbad bin Sariya as saying, "One day Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) got up among us and delivered a profoundly effective sermon to us: the hearts softened and eyes welled up with tears thereby.” It was said: “Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam), you have delivered to us a farewell sermon. So enjoin upon us some duty.” He remarked, “God-consciousness, listening to (the commands of those at the head of affairs) and the compliance (thereof) are obligatory duties for you, even if he (the ruler) be an Abyssinian slave. Very soon, you would see tremendous controversy after me. At that juncture, it is incumbent upon you to adhere strictly to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs. Hold fast that with teeth and pursue not the affairs of innovation for every innovation is straying from the Right Path.” (Ibn Majah 1/42, Abu Dawud 4950 and Tirmidhi)

Ghudhayf ibn al Harith al Thumali (radhiallâhu anhu) narrated that Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Never did a people make an innovation (in religion) there was withdrawn from them the equal measure of Sunnah. Adhering to Sunnah is better than making innovations.” (Tirmidhi 187 and Ahmad)

Ali ibn Abu Talib (radhiallâhu anhu) said that according to Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) “…If anyone introduces an innovation, he will be responsible for it. If anyone introduces an innovation or gives shelter to a man who introduces an innovation (in religion), he is cursed by Allâh, by His angels, and by all the people.” (Abu Daud, 4515)

Bilal ibn Harith al-Muzani (radhiallâhu anhu) narrated that Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “...He who introduced some evil innovation, which Allâh and His Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not approve has (a burden of sin upon him) like the sins of one who acted according to it, without their sins being mitigated thereby in the least.” (Tirmidhi 168)

Hasan ibn Attiyah (radhiallâhu anhu) narrated that Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “No one ever made an innovation in their religion but Allâh withdrew the equal portion from their Sunnah and He would not restore it to them till the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi 188)

Abdullah reported on the authority of his father, “I heard Allâh’s Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) saying, “...And, he who introduced an innovation that Allâh and His Messenger (sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam) had not sanctioned, would incur (a sin) like the sin of one of the people who acted upon it without any diminution in people’s sins.” (Ibn Majah 1/210)

Indeed, there are numerous authentic Ahâdîth that clearly warn us of the dangers of committing Bid’ah in our religion. It is for our guidance that we must know Islâm in its purest form. Only sufficient knowledge of the Qur’ân and the Sunnah can guide us to stick to the right path and avoid other paths that lead us to bid’ah and hence sinful deeds.

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