“This day I have perfected and completed your religion for you, completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” Q5:3
“Whoever introduces (innovates) anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.” Bukhari and Muslim
Rationally, it becomes a futile exercise if an effort is made to add to the content of a container already filled, just as any attempt to add water, for example, to a filled cup will not only cause the content to spill over but also leads to a reduction in quantity of the original content.
And any insistence on adding to the content of already filled container will necessitate an initial reduction in the content to create space for the new addition and this affects the original content.
The biggest favor from Allaah to the Ummah (nation) of Muhammad (Pbuh) is that He has completed their religion for them, which makes them independent of any other religion or any other addition or subtraction whatsoever from anyone.
Therefore, the permissible is what the Prophet of Islam (Muhammad Pbuh) allows and the impermissible is what he prohibits 1400 years ago and these Laws are not to be vetoed by any other law till the Last Day.
When Allaah made an unequivocal statement regarding the completeness of Islam over 1400 years ago, there cannot be any other authority to counter his statement either through addition or subtraction.
A religion so perfectly completed that coming up with any innovation hiding under the pretext of worshiping Allaah is tantamount to accusing the Prophet (Pbuh) of not doing his job right as a Messenger of Allaah.
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was sent with a mission and Allaah did not take him away from this world until after he had completed and perfectly delivered the message .
In essence, all that is worth being called Islamic was aptly taught and described to those who were with him to serve as a blueprint for the later generation and this was inspired to solve all problems of all eras hence, it was dated not to be outdated.
In the same regard, the Prophet (Pbuh) was very particular in warning this unique and best nation against introducing or innovating anything in this religion in whatever form.
Meanwhile, a foresighted scholar, Imam Shawkaani, in his 2nd volume of Nail al awtar, said the statement of “whoever introduces (innovates) anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected,” indicated that our ways should not contradict the way of life and beliefs that were being followed by the Prophet (Pbuh) and his Companions.
Undoubtedly, the obligation to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh) is known fact while the prohibition of innovation is equally known. When a new matter is introduced in the religion then it can never be part of it.
And a question which often rings bell is if the Ummah (community) of today is free from innocently and most at times deliberately introducing new things in the religion despite the censure of such by the Prophet (Pbuh)?
By definition, what is innovation (Bid’ah in Arabic)? or how could we identify it, and how do we safeguard people against one?
Shaykh ul Islam ibn Taymiyah in the 12th volume of his compendium al-Fataawa said: “many of the disputes among people are due to unclear words and ambiguous meaning.”
To understand the concept of Bid’ah, the meaning from both lexical and religious contexts of it will shed more lights. While lexically, Bid’ah means coming up with something new irrespective of its mundane or spiritual affiliation religiously, it has more specific meaning.
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “ According to the Shareeah, Bid’ah is worshiping Allaah in ways that Allaah has not prescribed as deduced from the 21st verse of the 42nd chapter of the Qur’an “O have they partners with Allaah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allaah has not ordained.”
or it could also mean, worshipping Allaah in a manner contrary to those of the Prophet (Pbuh) or his rightly guided successors as deduced from the hadith of Abu Najih ‘Irbad bin Sariyah from Prophet (Pbuh) saying: “I urge you to adhere to my way (Sunnah) and the way of the rightly-guided successors who come after me. Hold fast to it and bite onto it with your eyeteeth (cling firmly to it) and beware of newly-invented matters.”
Similarly, Abu Ishaq Al-Shatibi in al-’itisam volume 1 page 37 said: “Bid’ah refers to an invented way of doing something in Islam that is similar to what is prescribed, of which the intention is to go to extremes in worshipping Allaah may He be glorified.”
Obviously, from the above definitions it could be understood that worldly inventions such as cars, aeroplanes, computers, mobile phones, washing machines, gas cookers are not among the condemned innovations.
The Islamic history and civilization is characterized and full of cultural and scientific ingenuity. We had Muslims who championed the course of modern innovations and inventions for example Abbas bin Firnas was a Muslim in 9th century C.E that invented the concept of aircraft as against the Wright brothers.
Islam encourages a holistic view of life and the universe in various places in the Qur’an. One of such verses is the 196th verse of the 3rd chapter where Allaah says: “behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.”
In conclusion of the first part of the series on Bid’ah, it is clear that Islam is stern and vociferous in condemning and discouraging innovation in religious matters while it encourages inventions and innovations in worldly matters that makes life better on planet earth.
To be continued in shaa Allaah.
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