Sufis View Of Bidah Hasanah & The Salafs Use Of The Term ‘Bidah Hasanah’

Sufis believe bidah is classified into two types Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) and Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation).

However this is an incorrect division because it goes against the saying of the prophet in which the prophet Mohammed said “Every innovation is a misguidance”. So believing in Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) is correct but to believe in Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) is incorrect because the prophet ruled that all innovation is misguidance, but Sufis believe not all innovation is misguidance, rather there is good innovation.

Sufis claim that the word ‘kullu (every)’ in the hadeeth ‘Every innovation is misguidance and going astray” (Ibn Hajr authenticated it in Takhreej Ahaadeeth Ibn ul-Haajib (1/137)), does not rather to everything but only Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) and not Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation). Sufis supports this claim by stating the term kull (“every”) in the hadeeth may mean ‘nearly all’ or ‘the vast majority’ according to the Arabic language so it does not rather to every bidah but most bidah which are the Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) type.

This is a incorrect understanding of the hadeeth  al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee says in Jaami’ul Uloom Wal Hikam (2/89) in commentary to the part of the hadeeth, “and beware of the newly invented matter. “His (prophet Mohammed’s) saying…, ‘every innovation is misguidance’ [Every innovation is misguidance and going astray” (Ibn Hajr authenticated it in Takhreej Ahaadeeth Ibn ul-Haajib (1/137))],  contains a warning to the ummah from following the newly invented innovations and he [the prophet] stressed this by saying, ‘…every innovation is a misguidance’ [The Messenger of Allaah said: “Every innovation is misguidance and going astray” Reported by Abu Daawood (no. 4607), at-Tirmidhee (no. 2676) and it is saheeh. Ibn Hajr authenticated it Takhreej Ahaadeeth Ibn ul-Haajib (1/137), And he also said: “… and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hellfire.” Reported by an-Nasaa’ee (1/224) from Jaabir bin Abdullaah and it is saheeh as declared by Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmoo’ ul-Fataawaa (3/58).].

Then Ibn Rajab continued saying “The meaning of bidah is everything that is newly invented that has no basis in the share’ah [quran, sunnah or ijma of the sahaba] that would prove it [is permissible in the religion, also lbn Hajar Al Asqalani, said, “Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s time is called innovation (bidah)…”]. As for that which has a basis in the share’ah that would prove it, then this is not a bidah in the sharee’ah even if it be a bidah according to the language… [‘Not a bidah in the sharee’ah even if it be a bidah according to the language’ means a sunnah that the Muslims stopped in general and some Muslims started to revive it. Therefore it is a bidah in linguistic sense because for the Muslims of that time or place it seems like a new innovation due to the fact they forgot this sunnah or where unaware of it.] [Square brackets my words]

Furthermore Sufis claim they are correct for dividing bidah in to Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) and Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) as the great the sahaba Umar ibn al-Kittab, the salaf of this ummah and the great scholars after the salaf all have used these terms, which means they agree to this division of bidah.

It is true Umar, some of the salaf and even some of the scholars after the salaf used these terms and did classify bidah into these two categories.

  1. Umar said “What a praiseworthy innovation (Bidah Hasanah) this is.”
  2. Imam Shawkani said “In Islam there are two kinds of Bidah: Bidah Say’iah and Bidah Hasanah. If a new thing opposes the Quran and Sunnah then it is Say’iah, but if it is not against the Shariah then it is Hasanah.
  3. Ash-Shafi saying, ‘Innovation is of two types: Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) and Bidah Say’iah (blameworthy innovation), and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.” Also he said “Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Quran, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is an innovation of deception (Bidah Sai’yya), while a good innovation (Bidah Hasanah) does not contradict any of these things.”
  4. lbn Hajar Al Asqalani, the commentator on al-Bukhari, said, “Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s time is called innovation (bidah), but some are good(Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation)) while others are not (Bidah Sai’yya (blameworthy innovation)).”

However they did not understand these terms how Sufis do.

By Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) Sufis mean a bidah which will annihilate a Sunnah. By Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) Sufis mean an action which does not contradict with the Quran and the Sunnah and was brought into practice after the time (death) of the Prophet.

However this understanding of Bidah Hasanah  is not how the salaf understood Bidah Hasanah. al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee explained what the salaf meant by the term Bidah Hasanah when he said “…as for what has occurred from some of the Salaf (early generation of scholars) in their declaring some bidahs to be good [Bidah Hasana (praiseworthy innovation)] then this is regards to bidah in it’s linguistic meaning not it’s sharee’ah meaning, and from these is the saying of ‘Umar radiallaahu ‘anhu when he gathered the people for the standing of Ramadhaan behind one Imaam…

And Abu Nu’aym reports with a chain of narration from Ibraaheem Ibn Junayd who said: I heard ash-Shaafi’ee saying: ‘bidah is of two types…'[the whole statement is “Innovation is of two types: Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) and Bidah Say’iah (blameworthy innovation), and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.]

And he depended upon the saying of ‘Umar radiallaahu ‘anhu, ‘what a good bidah [Bidah Hasana (praiseworthy innovation)] this is’ and the meaning of ash-Shaafi’ee (rahimahullaah) is…that the foundation for the blameworthy bid’ah [Bid’at-e-Sai’yya [offensive innovation]] is that which does not have a basis in the sharee’ah that can be referred to – and this is a bid’ah in the convention of the sharee’ah.

As for the praiseworthy bid’ah [Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation)] then that is what agrees with the sunnah – meaning that it has a basis in the sunnah that can be referred to, and this is a ‘bid’ah’ in it’s linguistic meaning not in it’s sharee’ah meaning due to it’s conforming with the sunnah.

And another statement has been reported from ash-Shaafi’ee that explains this, and that is: ‘newly invented matters are of two types [the whole statement is “innovations (newly invented matters) are of two types: that which contradicts the Quran, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement (ijmah) of the Muslims is an innovation of deception (Bidah Say’iah), while a good innovation (Bidah Hasanah) does not contradict any of these things.”]. [Square brackets my own words]

So from the words of Ibn Rajb it is clear that when some of the salafi used the term Bidah Sai’yya [offensive innovation] they meant this is a bidah that has no basis in the shariah so is to be rejected. Imam Shawkani said ‘If a new thing (bidah) opposes the Quran and Sunnah then it is (Bidah) Say’iah.’ Sufis agree that this is correct however some Sufis word it differently. They say Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) is that which will annihilate a Sunnah, this saying is in line with what Imam Ahmed reported in a long hadeeth from the prophet. Imam Ahmed reported that the Prophet said, “…A people do not introduce an innovation except that the likes of it is raised from the sunnah (ie. forgotten and neglected)…”

Also from Ibn Rajbs words it is very clear that when Umar ibn al-Kittab, the salaf of this ummah and the great scholars after the salaf used the term Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) but they only meant it in a linguistic sense. Imam Shawkani said ‘…if it (a bidah) is not against the Shari’ah then it is (Bidah) Hasanah’. They did not mean by bidah hasanah something that has no bases in the shariah or is against the shariah. Ibn Hajar clarifed that all bidah in the shari’ah is blameworthy (because all bidah that came after the death of the prophet Mohammed is blameworthy bidah). But Ibn Hajar further clarified that ingusticaly anything new is called bidah. Therefore when the salaf used the term bidah linguistically they could label something as bidah sai’yyah or bidah hasanah. Ibn Hajar said, ‘bid’ah in the convention of the sharee’ah is blameworthy (bidah sai’yya) in contravention to the language, for linguistically every thing that is newly invented (bidah) , be it blameworthy (sai’yya) or praiseworthy (hasanah), is called bid’ah…’.

When Sufis use the term Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) they mean it is an action which does not contradict with the Quran and the Sunnah  (which is correct so far, because the salaf agreed that bidah hasanah does not contradict the Quran and Sunnah because bidah hasanah according to the salafs usage, is something which has a bases in the shariah). However Sufis add to this and say Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) ‘was brought into practice after the time (death) of the Prophet Mohammed’ no scholar from the salaf or the scholars who follow them have ever said this. Because it is known that every thing that comes after the death of the prophet in terms of new believes and actions in the religion are all bidah which are haram (Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation)).

So from what has preceded four things should become clear:

  1. That the Sufi understanding of Bidah Sai’yya (offensive innovation) is correct, but just worded differently to the salaf.
  2. The Sufi understanding of Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) is incorrect and goes aginst the correct understanding of the hadeeth‘Every innovation is misguidance and going astray” (Ibn Hajr authenticated it in Takhreej Ahaadeeth Ibn ul-Haajib (1/137)).
  3. Also the Sufi understanding of the term Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation) contradicts the Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and the salafis understanding of Bidah Hasanah. Because Sufis believe bidah hasanah comes about after the death of the prophet, but the salaf call this bidah sai’yya.  The salaf believed bidah hasanah is not something which came about after the prophet’s death but is something which came about during the time of the prophet.
  4. When the salaf used the term bidah hasanah they used the word bidah according to its linguistic definition and not its shariah definition.

Explanation Of The Salafs Usage Of The Term Bidah Hasanah

The salaf used to use the word bidah hasanah in reference to one of two circumstances

  1. When people in an area have forgotten a particular act of worship (sunnah) and then someone revives that sunnah this would be called a bidah hasanah.
  2. When people in a particular area where unaware of a particular act of worship (sunnah) and then they discover it and implement it or someone new to that area comes and introduces them to that particular sunnah, the salaf would class this as bidah hasanah.

In the above instances the people of these areas where unaware of a particular act of worship (sunnah) so to these people this sunnah would have seemed like a bidah linguistically. Linguistically bidah means something new. Also this bidah (act of worship) is something that is based upon the sunnah so it is hasan (good/praiseworthy). Therefore this act of worship would be called a bidah hasanah by the salaf. However as this act of worship has either a general or specific bases in the shariah (so was done in the lifetime of the prophet). Thus this act of worship is not a bidah sai’yya because a bidah sai’yyah according to the salaf is an act of worship which has no bases in the shariah; therefore a bidah sai’yyah is an act of worship done after the death of the prophet Mohammed.

In conclusion all bidah done after the death of the prophet is haraam and is not bidah hasanah but is actually bidah sai’yyah. The prophet said, “He who innovates something in this matter of ours (Islam: the Quran and Sunnah) that is not of it, will have it rejected.” Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim and the prophet said, “Whoever does an act which is not in agreement with our matter (the Quran and Sunnah), will have it rejected.” Recorded by Muslim. Also Abdullaah Ibn Umar (radi allahu anhu) said, “Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good.” Related by Ad-Darimee, Its authentic; Ahkaam al-Janaa’iz (258) and Islah al-Masajid (13). Salim Al-Hilaali said: “Its isnaad (chain of narration) is as authentic as the sun!” plus Ibn Abbaas (d.68H) said: “Indeed the most detestable of things to Allaah are the innovations.” Reported by al-Bayhaqee in as-Sunan al-Kubraa (4/316).

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About Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie

I am a revert trying to spread the sunnah inshallah.
This entry was posted in REFUTATIONS OF THE SUFI CREED, REFUTING SPECIFIC BIDAHS (INNOVATIONS) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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