by definition, the practitioner of bidah believes what he is engaged in to be praiseworthy and established in the religion. Thus, they will invariably furnish “proofs”
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2 Contents Introduction 3 4 6 6 6 Ritualistic ( ) and Non – Ritualistic ) Matters 7 Means or 9 An Example 1 0 Proofs for 10 Proofs for 1 4 Proofs for the Distinction between the Lexical and Shar Meanings 16 16 Statement of al – 1 8 Statements of Major Scholars 18 Answering Objections 20 – Bajali 20 The Innovations of the Early Muslims 20 The 21 The Nature of the Evidence s Furnished by 2 4 True 25 Examples 29 Loud Group Dhikr in Unison 29 al Prayers 31 The Annual Mawlid Celebration – Awwal 3 3

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3 Introduction to many . There are a number of reasons for this which are not the concern of this paper , but suffice it to say , there is very little clarity presented on the more nuanced aspects of this concept, and unfortunately there are few works in English , if any, that attempt to tackle the concept of ah accurately and with serious depth . Fortunately, however, we have an excellent and well – researched work on th e subject i n Arabic by the eminent pre – modern scholar, Imam Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Musa ibn Muhammad al – Lakhmi al – Shatibi ( d. 790 H ) , called al – . 1 Abu Ishaq al – Shatibi was a jurist and scholar, particularly known for his contributions in the fields of usul al – fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) and fiqh (jurisprudence). He is the author of al – Muwafaqat , a n authoritative work on the subject of usul al – fiqh . T his paper is primarily based on Imam al – Shatibi in his seminal work, a l – , but will also draw on other sources to support some of his conclusions . The aim is to present a coherent a nd satisfactory examination of the concept with a treatment of all its important aspects , while keep ing it as short and digestible as possible. 2 T usul (principles) and its ( peripherals ). Study of its usul deals with the formulation of a theoretical framework or criteria by which to determine what constitutes and what does not . Study of its determined by the principles from its usul . 1 In his biography of al – Shatibi, the Maliki historian Abu l – ( Nayl al – Ibtihaj , Kulliyat al – – Islamiyyah: T r i p o l y , 1:49) – [Many] works have been compiled on the is al – bi l – Kitabi wa l – Sunnah by al – Shatibi al – Maliki in two volumes. al – – Shadhi, Dar – Turath al – – – Shatibi in this book of his [i.e . al – ] verified all that is related rulings, and its being blameworthy misguidance, and he eliminated all the doubts the innovators ( Fath al – Mulhim – Turath al – 2 taqlidi (imitative) approach is taken, in which scholars are haphazardly quoted with no real effort to reconcile apparent inconsistencies or base the statements on scriptural proofs. Al – tahqiqi (critical) in which a serious effort is made to appreciate the reality of the concept with integrity and care, and to understand the issue in light of the availa ble evidence and the statements of the authorities with full academic rigour.

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4 Imam al – book stands out as the only work that takes a serious and in – depth look at the subject of usul al – , of which he was ac utely aware. He mentions towards the beginning of al – : it is inadequate in these areas [i.e. of usul al – 3 Towards the end of his lengthy work , he mentions two such books , one by Muhammad ibn Waddah (d. 2 8 7 H ) called al – – and another by Abu Bakr al – Turtushi (d. 520 H ) , called Kitab al – Hawadith wa l – . I saw that the topic of bid ah was greatly neglected in the speech of the , except for brief transmis sions as done by Ibn Waddah , or side issues are produced that w ill not satisfy the thirsty. Rather, c omplete understanding of it as is required , I did not find, despite my intense search for it, besides what Abu Bakr al – Turtushi wrote about it, but it is meagre in proportion to what is required with respect to it ; and besides what the people [i.e. scholars] wrote with respect to the seventy two sects which is [only] one section from the sections of the topic and a part of its par ts . Thus, I took up the task myself to pay the atte ntion to it [that it deserves], that perhaps Allah will bring benefit thereby to its writer, its reader, its distributer, its copyist, the one seeking benefit from it and all Muslims. 4 It is hoped the following study of which aim s to tackle the concept primarily from a theoretical perspective, will serve as a useful and comprehensive treatment of this important subject, and will help to bring clarity to readers struggling to unde rstand it . I have attempted to simplify technical discussions as far as possible. Lexical There are many words commonly used by Muslim s which were originally designated by the Arabs for a certain meaning and were then , with the advent of Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), appropriated for other meanings , which then became the popular meanings of those words amongst the Muslim scholars and masses. Examples include commonly used words like salah , zakah , sawm , jihad and hajj . For instance, sawm in the Arabic language mean s imsak ), but was eventu ally became its popular and well – known meaning amongst Muslims . like , has both a lexical meaning assigned by the Ara bs and a Shar definition coined by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and popularised by the early Muslims. Without understanding this distinction, it would be difficult to make sense of the term in its early usage, as will be explained la ter . 3 – Lakhmi al – Shatibi, Al – , ed. Abu – Tawhid, 1:29 4 Ibid. 3:17

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5 For further clarity on this dual nature of m consider the following illustration: The word kufr as co – opted Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) brought , ) 5 and this is 6 , and is how most learned and lay Muslims understand the word kufr . Literally, however, kufr can have a number of other meanings, including rejection, ungratefulness and concealment . Thus, in one place of the kufr is in fact used positively, where Allah sa ys: Whoever rejects ( yakfur ) false deities and believes in Allah, h e has indeed grasped the firmest hand. kufr is never used positive ly , when used in its literal sense as in this verse, it can have both positive and negative connotations . It will Linguistically, b means : an invent ion with out a past precedent ( ) 7 . For example, : ) amongst the 46:11) Imam Ibn Jarir al – Tabari (d. 310 H) am not the first of the messengers of Allah which He sent to His creation . B efore me there were many 8 Thus, a ccording to this linguistic definition, anything that came into existence without relation to him. Hence , cars, computers, calculators, microphones, spectacles, and so on, 5 – Thanawi , Imdad al – Fatawa (6:83) 6 For example, in a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim , the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon slim plants a tree, which a human being or an animal or a bird then eats from, except Sahih Muslim , Qadimi Kutub Khanah, 2:15) This hadith shows a person is identified as either a Muslim or a Kafir, the latter being one who does not affirm the message of Islam. 7 Al – , 1:41 8 Tafsir al – Tabari – Turki, Dar Hajr, 1422 H/2001 CE, 21:119

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6 which is determined by its usage in the recorded sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and t he early Muslims defined as: ( din ) that which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and A similar definition given by some scholars is : din 9 The most important aspect of this definition is that it is restricted to innovations in religion . W ith this definition, which is its dominant meaning in the usage of the Prophet reprehensible , blameworthy and sinful, and can not be described as good under any circumstance . Moreover, a s al – r i usage includes religious innovations in four different areas : actions ( ), omissions ( turuk ), statements ( aqwal ) and beliefs ( ). 10 Before supplying proof for this meaning of bid distinction of the term is a necessary distinction , I will first elaborate so . Imam al – Shatibi explains that those things that are prohibited or discouraged in the are of two types: 1 . Direct violations ( mukhalafah khassah ): these are actions, beliefs, omissions or statements that violate e can be either haram (unlawful) or makruh (undesirable). Examples of haram are murder and injustice , and an example of makruh is overspending ( israf ) in decorating masjid s . Even if these actions are done in inventive ways, though they may be regarded as linguistically, according to prohibition of those acts , and will not necessarily be classed as 2 . not from it . This is what is known customarily and legally as 11 9 – Bir g i v i, al – Tariqat al – Muhammadiyyah , Bombay, p. 9 10 Al – , 1:55 11 Ibid. 1:42

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8 Although this is a general observation, it is n ot a hard – and – fast rule . T hus, at times non – ritualistic rules are found in religious matters and ritualistic rules are found in mundane matters . For example, the number of of salah 16 , the period of fasting, the number of rounds of tawaf, the value of Zakat and so on are all laws within ; the laws of inheritance where specific shares are stipulated for the heirs of the deceased are example s of laws within . The command to spread Islam, preserve its texts and laws, teach and learn, and so on are examples of (non – ritualistic/explicable) laws 17 within ; and the condition of consent in monet ary transactions and marriage and the laws of cle examples of laws within . 18 ritualistic or ritualised ( ) matters, as these are what constitutes religious innovations ; whereas, innovations in non – ritualistic , mundane or explicable ( ) matters, although they may be sinful, so long as they are not ritualised (meani ng, adopted in a religious way) . Imam al – Shatibi writes: in nature, their desired objective is pure submission, He also supplies some evidence for this from the Sunnah. 19 Thus, all laws must be adhered to as they are without any changes. In al – , after listing several examples of laws that are in acts of worship, al – Shatibi concludes: imtithal li amr Allah ), they bring no reward ( thawab ); whereas, are intrinsically rewarding. ( al – op. cit. 2:218) 16 Although a ge understood from this and further examples, the detailed purpose of the law is not understood, in the sense that the law cannot be generalised and applied to different situations . This is what is meant by . 17 The reason being that the purposes of these laws are understood. For example, the command to teach has the purpose of transferring the knowledge of Islam to people who do not have that knowledge; and this purpose ca n be achieved by a large number of means and is not restricted to a specific form, as will be discussed later. Hence, it is . 18 For a more complete discussion, see al – Shatibi, al – Muwafaqat 2:513 – 528 19 Ibid 2:526

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9 L awgiver that H e has not entrusted any law to the opinions of [His] slaves, so nothing is left besides stopping at the limit He h as set, 20 Thus, in the aspects of matters intrinsic to religion any addition or subtraction is inescapably . Innovations in these matters are therefore in themselves . In and aspects of , however, since these are not originally part of religion or are not ritualistic elements of religion , innovations in them will only be classed us or when th ey are ritualised . For example, is a celebration established in the religion for expressing joy at the birth of a child. Thus , it is performed for this reason, but is also performed ritualistically , as part of religion , since it is established in the Sunnah . If s omeone decided to express joy by another form of celebration, this would be an innovation in . Such an innovatio n would not, however, be regarded , for the very reason that this would not be an i nnovation in religion but in worldly affairs . However, if it is accompanied by the belief that it is part of religion , in just the same way as , that is , it is ritualised , it will also be deem ed . Thus, al – Shatibi says: Adiyyat in their capacity as mundane (or non – ritualistic) affairs into them when they are ritualised or assigned a ritualistic fu 21 This is why , al – Shatibi suggests, the Sahabah would not abolish the customs and cultures of the non – Arab converts to Islam , unless they violated the laws of the However, with respect to matters of worship and ritual, they were extremely careful t hat no innovation infiltrates them . In sum , i f something does not have a comprehensible purpose ( – ), it cannot be added to, subtracted from or changed in any way . I f something has a comprehensible purpose, based on that purpose , there can be developments and changes. For example, the purpose of sadaqah or charity is to alleviate the suffering of needy people , which is a comprehensible objective . T hus, this can be accomplished in a number of different way s that achieve that object ive. On the other hand, the purpose of praying two s in Fajr is incomprehensible 22 so to create changes in that, by, for example , changing it to three t , is an example of Means or only arise in matters which are not , as the cause and reason behind something that is adopted as a means is , by definition , understood. Imam al – Shatibi explains this rule, and illustrates it with the following example : 20 Al – 3:58 21 Ibid. 2:461 22 such that it is not possible to make any deductions or analogies based on it. It is not meant that a general objective or purpose cannot be discerned.

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10 journeyed towards the obligation of hajj by flying in the air or walking on water, he will not be regarded a s a movement in this way, because the objective is only to arrive at Makkah 23 (non – ritualistic/explicable) as it has the objective of arrival at Makkah. Therefore, t his can be done in various ways that are used to achieve this underlying goal, and will not be regarded as Means are , thus, in principle, non – ritualistic. Hence , something that is consciously adopted as a means is not classed although depending on its nature and objective, it may be sinful or blameworthy. An Example As a simple illustration of in , al – Shatibi discusses the following example: If someone were to avoid a particular lawful food item, it may be for a number of reasons. It may be for medical purposes or due to personal dislike or unavailability ; or it may be that there is some doubt over its lawfulness , so out of scrupulousness, the person chooses to avoid it . All of these reasons are vali d because they are either worldly reasons or a legitimate i reason. However, if the person were to avoid it ritualistically or religiously , meaning, for no other reason but because he believed that by avoiding that particular food item, he wo uld draw closer to Allah or it will bring him reward or it will be beneficial for his afterlife and so forth, th is w ill make it As a l – Shatibi says If the omission is carried out religiously, that is innovation in religion ) And then he says, reiterating the central definition : The one who practise s something besides the Sunnah 24 religiously , that is precisely [the definition of] one who practise s 25 T he above . What remain are the proofs for this conception Proofs for Imam al – Shatibi provides extensive textual documentation sayings of the early Muslims as evidence of the blameworthy character of this definition selection of 23 Ib id. 1:331 – 2 24 That is, the religious example set by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his foremost companions. 25 Al – , 1:54

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11 clear texts in this section to demo nstrate that what is described above is indeed the . Hadith One In a hadith recorded by both al – Bukhari and Muslim in their Sahih s , the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ever Ibn Rajab al – Hanbali wrote in his commentary of al – , – – Hikam , under the explanation of this hadith: into this religion of ours what is not from it, it is rejected 26 . W orldly innovat ions, therefore, like new cities, technologies and crafts are excluded , as these are mundane activities ( ) which are also essentially part of the world. It is this that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) referred to in his famous statement recorded in the Sahih of Imam Muslim ( ), which, based on the context in which this statement was said, mean s: in those things that are permissible ( mubah ) in the religion, which are based on experiment and experience, like medicine, industry, and so forth , you are free to select and innovate your own methods , and are not restricted by my example . 27 Also excluded from what this hadith describes are new acts of sin which are in clear violat ion of the laws prescribed in a new way (e.g. credit card unless they are consciously adopted as religion. Thus, what this hadi precisely the Shar Hadith Two In another hadith, narrated with an authentic chain by al – Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and others, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: 26 Zayn al – Din Abu l – – Rahman ibn Shihab al – Din Ibn Rajab (736 795), – wa l – Hikam , Ed. Dr. Mahir Yasin, Dar Ibn Kathir: Damascus, 1429 H/2008 CE, p 155 27 See al – Tariqat al – Muhammadiyyah , p. 9 and al – Intibahat al – Mufidah fi Hall al – Ishtibahat al – Jadidah , ed. Nur al – Bashar Muhammad Nur al – Haq, pp. 109 – 13

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