A Clarification of Doubts Regarding Innovation
Shaikh Salih Ibn Al-FawzanAn excerpt from 'Kitab At-Tawhid'
Innovation according to Language
It is a valid form of an innovation; it is an invention without any preceding likeness. As Allah states that He was the “Inventor of the Heavens and the Earth" [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:117] Allah informed the Prophet s.a.w, "Say, I am not a new one from amongst the messengers" [Surah Al-Ahqaf, 46: 9]
It would mean as follows: 'I am not the first who came with a message from Allah to the slaves; rather there have proceeded before me, many from amongst the messengers’. And it could be said as ‘so and so had innovated (ibtada'a) an innovation (bid'ah)’, meaning that had he invented a way not having a predecessor for it.
Innovating is divided into two:
A. Innovating in 'adat (customs;habits;culture etc.): such as inventing innovations of speeches, and this is permissible (mubaah), because the basic principle regarding 'adat (customs) is the one that is permissible (ibahah).
B. Innovating in the religion: this is prohibited on the basis of the principle it’s one of the Tawaquf (restriction to authentic texts). The Prophet s.a.w said, "Whoever invents (ahdatha) in this matter of ours what is not from it, then it is rejected." [Bukhari, Muslim] In a narration, "Whoever performs an action not in accordance with our matter, and then it is rejected." [Sahih Muslim]
The Innovation in Religion is of Two Types:
The First Type: Innovation in statements of belief, such as the sayings of the Jahmiyah, and the Mu'tazilah, and the Rafidhah, and the generally known misguided sects and their beliefs.
The Second Type: Innovation in the acts of worship; Such as worshipping Allah with an act of worship which is not legislated or not established in the Qur’an and Sunnah. And it has divisions:
The first division: It has no origin (asl) in worship, rather it is a newly invented form of worship having no origin in the law of Allah (Shar’ie); Such as inventing prayer not legislated, or fasts not having a Shari’ah legislated origin, or days of celebration such as the celebration of birthdays, and a like.
The second division: may exist in the form additions to the legislated acts of worship, like if one was to add a fifth raka'ah in the Noon (Dzuhur) prayer, or the afternoon ('Asar) prayer for example.
The third division: exists in the form of characteristics of carrying out legislated worship, as may perform it on a manner not legislated; such as carrying out legislated remembrances (Adhkaar singular: Dzikir) in simultaneous and melodious voices, and such as being extreme on oneself in worship to the point of leaving from the Sunnah of the Messenger s.a.w.
The fourth division: exists in the form of a time specification for worship which was not specified by the law (shari’ah') such as specifying the middle night of Sha’aban and its day for fasting and prayer. So verily fasting and praying have a basis in the Religion, but specifying them to a time away from amongst the times is invalid.
Ruling on Innovation in Religion.
Every innovation in the religion is forbidden, and a misguidance because of the statement of the Messenger s.a.w, "And beware of newly invented matters, for every newly invented thing is an innovation, and every innovation is a misguidance." [Abu Dawud and Tirmidzi – categorized as ‘Hasan Sahih’]. The Prophet s.a.w also said, "Whoever invents in this affair of ours what is not from it, then it is rejected."[Bukhari, Muslim]. In another narration, “Whoever performs an action not in accordance with our affair, and then it is rejected." [Sahih Muslim]
The two hadiths clearly indicated that all newly invented things in the Religion are innovations and every innovation is a rejected misguidance,  and the meaning is that innovation in belief and worship is clearly forbidden. However, its prohibition is according to the degree in the type of innovation, and from it is evident disbelief such as circumambulation around the graves in order to get closer to its inhabitants, and offering sacrifices and vows to them and supplicating to their inhabitants, and seeking rescue with them. And such as the extremist statements of the Jahmiyah and the Mu'tazilah. It would tantamount as shirik. Hence the erecting the graves, and praying and supplicating to them. It reflects as a form of disobedience in terms of creed by the Qadariyyah, and the Murji'ah in their statements and belief in opposition to the proofs of the Shari’ah. It includes sexual abstinence and fasting established in the sun, and castration with the intention of cutting off all desires [see Al-I’tisam of Ash-Shatibi (2/37)]
Whoever divides innovation [in the religion] into good innovation (bid'ah hasanah), and sinful innovation (bid'ah sayyi'ah), then he has committed wrong, and has opposed the Prophet s.a.w statement, "Every innovation is a misguidance." because the Messenger s.a.w ruled that innovation - all of it - is misguidance,  and what it says that not all innovation is misguidance, rather there is good innovation. Al Hafidz Ibn Rajab said in his commentary to Al-Arba'een: 'So prophet’s s.a.w statement, “Every innovation is misguidance" is from the all encompassing word, not excluding anything from it. And it is the greatest principle from the principles of the Religion. And it is associated with prophet’s s.a.w statement, "Whoever invents in this affair of ours, what is not from it, then it is rejected." So whoever invents things and attributes them to the religion, and it does not have an origin in the religion to return to, then it is misguidance, and the Religion is free from those things. And equal to that are matters of beliefs, or actions, or statements whether hidden, or manifest.' [end] [Jaami’ ul 'Uluum Wal Hikam, p. 233] 
And there is not a proof for them that there is good innovation, except for the statement of 'Umar radhiallahu 'anhu regarding the tarawih prayer, "What a good innovation this is!"(ni'imatul bida'atu hadhihi).
And they also say, 'Verily there were things invented, and they were not objected to by the Salaf, like the collection of the Qur'an into one book, and the writing of the Hadith, and recording them.' So the answer to these is that these are matters which have an origin in the law (shar'ie), so they are not newly invented. And the statement of 'Umar r.a, "What a good innovation", he desires the linguistic innovation, and not the religious innovation (al bida'atush Shar'iyyah). So whatever has an origin in the law returns to it? If it is said that it is an innovation, then it is an innovation in language, and not in Islamic Law. So the religious innovation is what does not have an origin for it to return to. So the collecting of the Qur'an into one book has for it an origin in the law to return to, because the Prophet s.a.w had commanded the recording of the Qur'an, but it was written scattered so the Companions collected it into one book for its protection. Indeed the Prophet prayed tarawih with his Companions r.a nightly, and they had preferable fear about it in the appointment [of an Imam], and the continuing of the Companions r.a in praying in separate groups in the lifetime of the Prophet and after the prophet s.a.w passed away, up until 'Umar Ibnul Khattab united them on one Imam like how they used to be behind the Prophet s.a.w, and this is not an innovation in the Religion. And the writing of the Hadith also has an origin for it in the Law. Indeed the Prophet s.a.w commanded the writing of some hadiths for some of his Companions r.a, so as to study that from it. 
And there was warning against writing it on regular paper according to prophet s.a.w advice fearing that there would get mixed with the Qur'an, that which was not from it. So when the Prophet s.a.w passed away, this warning was done away with - because the Qur'an was completed before his death. So the Muslims recorded the hadith after that, preserving it from destruction. And may Allah bestow blessing them with good when they preserve the Book of their Lord, and the Sunnah of their Prophet s.a.w from destruction, and the mockery of the scornful. 
 Many of the people of innovation say that the word 'kullu' in the hadith about innovated matters does not mean to encompass everything, Al-Hafidz Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali says in Jaami’ ul Uluum Wal Hikam (2/89) in commentary to the part of the hadith, "and beware of the newly invented matter."
"His saying, 'and beware of the newly invented matters, and every bid'ah is a misguidance' contains a warning to the ummah from following the newly invented innovations, and he stressed this by saying, 'and every innovation is a misguidance'. And the meaning of bid'ah is everything that is newly invented that has no basis in the shari’ah that would prove it. As for that which has a basis in the shari’ah that would prove it then this is not a bid'ah in the shari’ah even if it be a bid'ah according to the language. And in the sahih of Muslim from Jabir r.a from the Prophet s.a.w that he used to say in his sermons, 'the best speech is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst of matters are the newly invented matters and every bid'ah is a misguidance.'. And Imam Ahmad reports from the report of Ghadif Ibnul Harith Ash-Shimali, 'Abdul Milik Ibn Marwan sent (someone) to me and he said: Indeed we gather the people for two matters: raising the hands (for supplication) upon the minbar on the day of Jumu'ah and giving tazkirah (exhortations) after the fajar and 'asar prayers. So he said: As for these two matters, then they are examples of your innovations in my opinion and I will not accept anything of them from you because the Prophet s.a.w said, 'People do not introduce an innovation except that the likes of it is raised from the sunnah (i.e. forgotten and neglected) and sticking to the sunnah is much better than innovating an innovation.' Something similar is reported from Ibn 'Umar. And as for what has occurred from some of the salaf in their declaring some bid'ahs to be good then this is regards to bid'ah in its linguistic meaning not it's shari’ah meaning, and from these is the statements of 'Umar r.a when he gathered the people for the tarawih of Ramadhan behind one Imam. [he gives reasons, as to why this is so, but these have already been mentioned in other articles, and some of them above, so I will not repeat them]
And from them: the adzan for jumu'ah that was increased on by 'Uthman due to the need of the people, and it is reported from Ibn Umar that he said this was a bid'ah. And maybe he meant what his father meant concerning the tarawih during the month of Ramadhan. And from them: collecting the mushaf as one book and the Prophet s.a.w used to command that the revelation be written and there is no difference in this between writing separately or as one collection, rather one collection has more benefit .... [mentioning more examples]....
And Abu Nu'aim reports with a chain of narration from Ibrahim Ibn Junaid who said: I heard Ash-Shafi’e saying: 'bid'ah is of two types ....' And he depended upon the statement of 'Umar r.a, 'what a good bid'ah this is' and the meaning of Ash-Shafi’e (rahimahullah) is as we have mentioned previously: that the foundation for the blameworthy bid'ah is that which does not have a basis in the shari’ah that can be referred to - and this is a bid'ah in the convention of the shari’ah. As for the praiseworthy bid'ah then that is what agrees with the sunnah - meaning that is has a basis in the sunnah that can be referred to, and this is a 'bid'ah' in its linguistic meaning not in its shari’ah meaning due to its conforming with the sunnah. And another statement has been reported from Ash-Shafi’e that explains this, and that is: 'newly invented matters are of two types.'"
 The alleged statement of Imam Ash-Shafi’e is another ploy used by the people of bid’ah try to legislating their innovations into the complete and perfected Religion of Allah. Shaikh Salim Al-Hilali says, "those who seek to make innovations good and acceptable claim that Imam Ash-Shafi’e - may Allah have mercy upon him - agrees to the concept of 'good innovations' - and they have taken it by what has been attributed to him - may Allah have mercy upon him - regarding innovation: 'innovated matters are of two classes: that which is innovated and is contrary to the Book, or the Sunnah, or a narration, or ijma’ - then this is an innovation of misguidance, and: those good things which are innovated that do not contradict any of these - then this is a novelty which is not blameworthy. And 'Umar said concerning the night-prayer in Ramadhan: 'what a good innovation this is' meaning something new not previously present, and if done does not rebut anything which existed before." [Reported by Al-Bayhaqi in 'Manaaqibush Shafi’e (1/469) from Ar-Rabee' Ibn Sulaiman. I say: its chain of narration contains Muhammad Ibn Musa Al-Fadl and I do not find a biography for him.]
And it is reported with the wording: "Innovation is of two types: praiseworthy innovation and blameworthy innovation. So whatever agrees with the Sunnah is praiseworthy, and whatever contradicts the Sunnah is blameworthy." And he used as evidence the statement of 'Umar r.a - about night prayer in Ramadhan: 'what a good innovation this is' [reported by Abu Nu'aim in 'Hiliyatul Awliyaa' (9/113) from Hurmulah Ibn Yahya. I say: its chain of narration contains Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Al-Atshee, who is mentioned by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi in his 'Tarikh' and by As-Sam’aani in 'Al-Insaab' but they mention no jarh or Ta’deel of them]
a) The saying of Ash-Shafi’e - even if authentic - cannot be used to oppose or particularize the generality of the hadith of Allah's Messenger s.a.w, since Ash-Shafi’e himself - rahimahullah - is reported by his students to have said that the saying of a solitary companion is not a proof, and it is not obligatory for those after him to follow him [as in 'Takhrij Furuu Alaa Al-'Usul' of Az-Zanjaanee (pg. 179) with the checking of Muhammad Adib As-Salih, 'Mu'assatur Risalah'] And this is what the verifying scholar Ibnul-Qayyim affirmed in his 'I'ilaam Al-Muwaqqi’in' (4/121-123) So how can the statements of Ash-Shafi’e be a proof if the saying of a companion is not a proof?
b) How can Ash-Shafi’e - may Allah have mercy upon him - be one of those who agree to 'good innovations' whilst he said the famous saying: 'whosoever declares something good has made it part of the shari’ah,' and he said in Ar-Risaalah (pg.507), 'declaring things good (istihsaan) is a form of exercising desires' Therefore anyone who wants to explain the words of Ash-Shafi’e - may Allah have mercy upon him - then let him do so within the rules and fundamentals of Ash-Shafi’e - which necessitate understanding his principles - this is something applicable in every branch of knowledge - so he who is ignorant of the terminologies of their specialists will be ignorant of the meaning of their sayings - and will incorrectly explain their meaning, and here is an example to show what we mean:
i) The wording 'agreed upon' with the scholars of hadith means that which was reported by Bukhari and Muslim, however according to Abu Barakat 'Abdus Salam Ibn Taymiyyah, the author of 'Muntaqal Akhbar', it means that which is reported by Ahmad, Bukhari and Muslim." [Al-Bid’ah' (pp 63-66)] Even if this statement was authentic, its meaning would be that of linguistic bid'ah as was stated by Ibn Rajab, and as we will further clarify in the next note on Al-Hafidz Ibn Hajar.
 The shaikh, Salih Al-Fawzan quoted from Al-Hafidz Ibn Rajab, so it would be useful to quote the full discussion: Al-Hafidz Ibn Rajab said in commentary of the hadith, ‘whosoever introduces something in this affair of ours which is not part of it then it must be rejected.’ and the hadith, 'whosoever does an action which we have not commanded must be rejected.'
"This hadith contains a great principle from amongst the principles of Islam, for the hadith 'indeed actions are by intentions' is the scale (to judge the action in) its inward form and the scale (to the action in) its outward form. Just as any action that is not done seeking the Face of Allah the Exalted does not bestow any reward upon the actor, similarly any action that has not been commanded by Allah and His Messenger s.a.w is rejected. And everyone that innovates in the religion that which Allah and His Messenger s.a.w have not given permission for, then it is invalid in the religion ... And this hadith in its wording indicates that every action that has not been commanded by the Legislator is rejected, and its understanding indicates that every action that has been commanded is not rejected. And the meaning of 'his command' here is 'his religion and law' as is the meaning of his saying in the other narration, 'whosoever introduces something in this affair of ours which is not part of it must be rejected.'
Therefore the meaning is that whosoever action is is outside the shari’ah and not bound by the shari’ah, is rejected. And his saying, 'which we have not commanded' indicates it is necessary for the actions of the actors to fall under the rules and regulations of the shari’ah and that the rules of the Shari’ah are the judge to command them or forbid them. So whosoever’s action falls under the rules and regulations of the shari’ah, in agreement with them, then his action is accepted, and otherwise it is rejected ...and whosoever seeks to draw close to Allah with an action that Allah and His Messenger s.a.w have not appointed as a means of drawing close to Allah then his action is false and rejected...
And the Messenger s.a.w noticed a person standing in the sun, and so he inquired about him and it was said in reply, 'he has taken an oath to stand and not to sit or take shade, and to fast.' So the Prophet s.a.w ordered him to sit and seek the shade and to complete his fast. [Bukhari] So the Prophet s.a.w did not make his standing and exposure to the sun a means of getting close (to Allah) such that it would require fulfilling the oath. And it is reported that this event occurred on the day of jumu'ah at time of hearing the khutbah of the Prophet s.a.w while he was on the minbar. So this man made the oath to stand and not sit or seek the shade for as long as the Prophet s.a.w gave his sermon, in glorification (respect) of listening to the sermon of the Prophet s.a.w, and yet the Prophet s.a.w did not make this a means of getting close to Allah that would require fulfillment of his oath. Despite the fact that standing is worship in other places such as prayer and adzan and offering du’a on 'Arafah. And exposure to the sun is a means of getting closer to Allah for the one in ihram, so this indicates that everything that is a means of getting close to Allah on a particular occasion is not a means of getting close on every occasion, rather one follows what occurs in the Shari’ah in its correct place for everything." [It is known in the shari’ah that an oath which involves disobedience to Allah does not require fulfillment]
 As for the deception of the people of bid'ah in saying that the collection of the ahadith of the Prophet s.a.w as an innovation, then this is simply not true.
From Abu Qabil who said: We were with 'Abdullah Ibn 'Amr Ibnul 'Aas and he was asked which city will be conquered first Constantinople or Rome? So 'Abdullah called for a sealed trunk and he said: Take out a book from it. Then 'Abdullah said: Whilst we were with the Messenger of Allah s.a.w writing. The Messenger of Allah s.a.w was asked: Which city will be conquered first, Constantinople or Rome? So Allah's Messenger s.a.w said: "The city of Heraclius will be conquered first" meaning Constantinople. [Related by Ahmad (2/176), Ad-Darimi (1/126) and Al Hakim (3/422)] So this narration illustrates that some of the Companions wrote down the hadiths of the Messenger s.a.w in his presence.
 Ibn Hajar on bid'ah as in 'Fath (13/314+) Kitab ul-I'tisaam, Chapter: Following The Sunan of The Prophet s.a.w. "His saying, 'and the worst of matters are the newly invented matters.', and muhdathat means the newly invented matters that have no basis in the shari’ah, and they are called according to the convention of the shari’ah 'bid'ah', and that which has a basis in the shari’ah that would prove it then it is not a bid'ah. So bid'ah in the convention of the shari’ah is blameworthy in contravention to the language, for linguistically everything that is newly invented, be it blameworthy or praiseworthy, is called bid'ah ...and Ash-Shafi’e said, 'bid'ah is of two types ...' Reported by Abu Nu'aim via the route of Ibrahim Ibn Junaid, and there occurs from Ash-Shafi’e also what is reported by Al-Bayhaqi in his 'Manaqib', 'the newly invented matters are of two types.' end. And some of the scholars divided bid'ah into the five categories of ahkam and this is clear. And it is established from Ibn Mas'ud that he said, 'indeed you have matured upon the fitrah, but indeed you shall innovate, and things shall be innovated for you, so when you see the innovations then stick to the original guidance' ...And Imam Ahmad reported with a good sanad from Ghadif Ibnul-Harith who said, 'Al-Malik Ibn Marwan sent (someone) to me and he said: indeed we gather the people for two matters: raising the hands (for du'a) upon the minbar on the day of jumu'ah, and giving exhortations after the fajar and 'asar prayers. So he said: as for these two, then they are examples of your innovations in my opinion and I will not accept anything of them from you because the Prophet s.a.w said, 'a people do not introduce an innovation except that a sunnah the likes of it is raised (i.e. forgotten and neglected)' and sticking to the sunnah is better than introducing a bid'ah' so if this was the answer of this Sahaabi concerning a matter that has a basis in the religion, then what do you think the case would be concerning a matter that has no basis in the religion? And how about when it includes things that contradict the Sunnah? ... and this matter (of giving exhortations) was present during the time of the Prophet s.a.w but it was not done constantly like the jumu'ah khutbah rather it was done as the need dictated. And as for his saying in the hadith of Al-Irbaadh, 'indeed every bid'ah is a misguidance' after saying, 'and bewares of the newly invented matters' proves that newly invented matters are called bid'ah. And his saying, 'and indeed every bid'ah is misguidance' is a complete shari’ah principle both in wording and understanding. As for in wording then it is as if it is said, 'the ruling of such and such is that it is a bid'ah and every bid'ah is a misguidance' and so it would not be from the shari’ah because the shari’ah, in its totality, is guidance ...and the meaning of his words 'every bid'ah is a misguidance' is that which has been introduced that has no evidence in either a specific or general way ....Ibn 'Abdus Salam said at the end of 'Al-Qawa’id': bid'ah is of five classifications.[mentioning the five and some examples of them]" [End of Ibn Hajar's words]
There are some points to be recognized here:
1. Ibn Hajar’s quoting from Imam Ash-Shafi’e after making clear that in the language bid'ah is of two types but in the Shari’ah it is only one.
2. Indicating that he understands the statement 'praiseworthy bid'ah' in the linguistic sense as did Ibn Rajab.
3. His quoting Ibn 'Abdus Salam in his classifying bid'ah into 5 categories but he himself saying, 'and the meaning of his words 'every bid'ah is a misguidance' is that which has been introduced that has no evidence in either a specific or general way' and other similar statements.
And Verily Allah the Exalted Knows Best
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