The Mahdi: Between Ahlus Sunnah and the Shia

One of the most prominent beliefs of the Rafidi Shia, with which their books are filled, is belief in the awaited Mahdi. What the Imami Rafidis mean by the awaited Mahdi is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-‘Askari, who is their twelfth Imam and whom they call ‘the proof’ and ‘the one who stands for the truth’.

They claim that he was born in 255 AH and that he hid in the tunnel of Samarra in 265 AH; they are waiting for his appearance at the end of time, when he will avenge them against their enemies and support them. The Rafidi Shia still visit the tunnel of Samarra and call upon him to emerge.

In fact, this Mahdi who is claimed by the Rafidis is non-existent. Al-Hasan al-‘Askari, whom they name as his father, died without leaving any child behind; his estate was divided between his mother and his brother Ja’far. This Shiite belief in the awaited Mahdi is accompanied by many myths and fables that no rational person could believe. They believe that the Mahdi is one of the descendants of al-Husayn رضي الله عنه, and they narrate strange stories about him.

They say that when he emerges, the Rafidi Shia will come from all over to rally around him. He will bring the noble Companions رضي الله عنهم out of their graves and punish them; he will kill the Arabs and Quraysh; he will destroy the Ka’bah, the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Mosque and all other mosques; he will call people to a new religion, a new book and new laws; and he will conquer cities with the Ark of the Covenant of the Jews.

Two springs, of water and milk, will flow for him, and one Shiite Rafidi man will gain the strength of forty men; he will give them strength and power in their hearing and vision, and he will rule according to the law of the family of Dawood عليه السلام.

The beliefs of the Rafidi Shia concerning their awaited Mahdi are false. This fact is indicated by a number of things:

It is Proven that this Mahdi was not Born

By the wisdom of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, it was decreed that al-Hasan al-‘Askari, the eleventh Imam of the Rafidis, should die childless. This was a great scandal and a major setback for the Rafidi Shia: how could the Imam die without having any sons who could succeed him as Imam? Their belief is that the one who succeeds the imam after his death must be his son, and it is not permissible for the imamate to be passed to a brother after al-Hasan رضي الله عنه and al-Husayn رضي الله عنه. The fact that this Mahdi was not born is proven in the books of the Shia themselves.

It Makes No Sense for the Mahdi to Disappear

If we accept for argument’s sake that this Mahdi was born, it makes no sense for him to disappear for this long time in the tunnel. When the Rafidi Shia are asked about the wisdom behind his disappearance in the tunnel and his not coming out to the people, they explain that he feared for his life. This is a weak excuse, and many things show this to he false. It is narrated in their books that he will be supported by Allah سبحانه و تعالى and will gain control of the entire earth, east and west. He will fill the earth with justice as it was filled with injustice, and he will live until the time when ‘Eesa ibn Maryam [Jesus the son of Mary عليه السلام] descends.

What they say means that the Mahdi will never emerge until the states of injustice and oppression and evil go away, so that he can feel that his life is safe – but at that time there will be no need for him to emerge. These states are able to protect him if he emerges, so why does he not emerge? The one who cannot protect himself from being killed will not he able to protect others either, because the one who does not have a thing cannot give it. How can they be waiting for someone like that to avenge them against their enemies and cause them to prevail? Thus their claims are proven invalid, because the reason why the Mahdi has not emerged is that he fears for his life. Based on that, the claim that the Mahdi existed at all is rendered invalid, because nothing is preventing him from coming out of hiding except fear for his life, as was clearly stated by Shaykh at-Ta’ifah at-Tusi.

So the claims about the existence of the Mahdi are proven false by the testimony of their own scholars, and this is by the grace of Allah سبحانه و تعالى.

No Benefit has been Achieved by this Mahdi

Another indication of the falseness of the Rafidi Shiite belief in the awaited Mahdi is that this Mahdi, who the Rafidis claim will emerge, has not achieved any interest, religious or worldly, and the Muslims have not benefited from him at all, either the Rafidis or any others. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said: “This infallible one, whom they claim was born at some time more than four hundred and fifty years ago, entered the tunnel, according to them, in 260 AH, when he was five years old according to some of them, or younger than that according to others. He did not do anything that the infallible Imam does. What benefits can there be in the existence of such a one, even if he did exist? So how about if he never existed at all? What blessing or benefit did those who believed in this infallible one attain by means of him in their religious or worldly interests? … This figure in whom the Rafidis believe must be either absent, according to them, or non-existent, according to people of reason. Whatever the case, there is no benefit to anyone in either religious or worldly terms.”

The Twelver Shia nowadays have gone against this belief in practical terms through their belief in the theory of ‘guardianship of the jurist’, which allows ruling and governing by an ordinary Muslim who is not infallible and for whom there is no instruction or text from Allah and His Messenger, provided that he has knowledge and is of good character.

The Belief of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah

The sound hadiths state that at the end of time, Allah سبحانه و تعالى will bring forth a man from Ahlul-Bayt through whom Allah سبحانه و تعالى will cause Islam to prevail. He will rule for seven years, filling the earth with justice and peace as it had been filled with injustice and oppression. During his rule, the Ummah will enjoy blessings that it never enjoyed before; the earth will bring forth its vegetation, the sky will send down rain, and he will give wealth without measure. The following are some of these hadiths:

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “At the end of my Ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will send a great deal of rain for him, the earth will bring forth its vegetation, and he will distribute wealth equally among the people. The numbers of livestock will increase, and the Ummah will become great. He will live for seven or eight years.”

It was also narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The Hour will not begin until the earth is filled with oppression and enmity. Then a man from my family will emerge, and he will fill it with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and enmity.”

It was narrated that Thawban رضي الله عنه said: “The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: ‘Three will fight one another for your treasure, each one of them the son of a caliph, but none of them will gain it. Then the black banners will come from the east, and they will kill you in an unprecedented manner.’ He mentioned something that I do not remember, then he said: ‘When you see him, pledge your allegiance to him even if you have to crawl over the snow, for that is the caliph of Allah, the Mahdi.'”

Imam Ibn Katheer said: “What is meant by the treasure mentioned in this report is the treasure of the Ka’bah, three sons of caliphs will be killed fighting for it until, at the end of time, the Mahdi will appear. His appearance will be from a land in the east, not from the tunnel of Samarra in which the ignorant Rafidis claim he has been until now, where they are waiting for him to emerge at the end of time. This is a kind of madness and a great deal of misguidance from Satan, because there is no proof or evidence for that, either from the Qur’an or the Sunnah, or any rational evidence …. He will be supported by people from the east, who will establish his rule. Their banners will be black, which is the colour of dignity, because the banner of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was black and was called al-‘Iqaab… What is meant is that the promised, praiseworthy Mahdi who will appear at the end of time will originate and appear and emerge from the east, and allegiance will be sworn to him at the Ka’bah, as is indicated by some hadiths.”

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه said that he heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: “How will you be when the son of Maryam descends and your leader is one of you?”

It was narrated that Jabir ibn ‘Abdillah رضي الله عنه said that he heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: “A group among my Ummah will continue to fight for the truth and will prevail until the Day of Resurrection. ‘Eesa ibn Maryam will descend, and their leader will say: ‘Come and lead us in prayer,’ but he will say: ‘No, you are leaders of one another,’ as an honour from Allah to this Ummah.”

The hadiths, which are narrated in Bukhari and Muslim, indicate two things:

(1) That when ‘Eesa ibn Maryam عليه السلام descends from heaven, the one in charge of the Muslims will be one of them.

(2) That their ruler will be there to lead the Muslims in prayer, and the fact that he will ask ‘Eesa عليه السلام to lead them in prayer when he descends indicates that this ruler will be righteous and guided.

There are other hadiths in the Sunan and Musnads and elsewhere that explain these hadiths that appear in Bukhari and Muslim, they indicate that the name of that righteous man will be Muhammad ibn Abdillah and he will be called the Mahdi. The reports of the Sunnah support and explain each another.

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه said that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “He is one of us behind whom ‘Eesa ibn Maryam will pray.”

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه said that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The Mahdi is of me. He has a high forehead and a prominent nose. He will fill the world with fairness and justice as it was filled with wrongdoing and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.”

There is no connection at all between the Mahdi of the Sunnah and the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia. There are many differences between them, such as:

(1) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi’s name is Muhammad ibn Abdillah, his name is the same as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his father’s name is the same as the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم father. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, his name is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-‘Askari.

(2) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi is one of the descendants of al-Hasan رضي الله عنه. The Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia is one of the descendants of al-Husayn رضي الله عنه.

(3) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi will be born naturally, and his lifespan will be natural. There is nothing in the hadiths to indicate that he is at all different from other people in that regard. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, his conception and birth happened in one night, and he entered the tunnel when he was nine years old; now he has been in the tunnel for more than 1150 years.

(4) The Mahdi, according to Ahlus-Sunnah, will emerge to support Islam and the Muslims, and he will not differentiate between one nation and another. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will emerge to support only the Rafidi Shia and to wreak vengeance on their enemies. He will hate the Arabs and Quraysh and will give them nothing but the sword; there will be no Arabs among his followers, according to their reports.

(5) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will love the Companions رضي الله عنهم of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم; he will ask Allah to he pleased with them and will adhere to their way. He will also love the Mothers of the Believers رضى الله عنهنّ and will not mention them except in the best terms. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, they claim that he will hate the Companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and will bring them out of their graves in order to punish them and then burn them. He will also hate the Mothers of the Believers رضى الله عنهنّ and will despise the dearest of the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم wives to him, as-Siddeeqah bint as-Siddeeq ‘A’ishah رضي الله عنها – or so they claim.

(6) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will act according to the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم; he will not leave any Sunnah without establishing it or any innovation without suppressing it. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will call people to a new religion and a new book.

(7) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will build and frequent mosques. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will destroy mosques; he will destroy al-Masjid al-Haraam and the Ka’bah, and the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Mosque, and will not leave a single mosque on the face of the earth – as is clearly stated in their reports.

(8) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will rule in accordance with the Book of Allah سبحانه و تعالى and the Sunnah of His Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will rule according to the law of the family of Dawood عليه السلام.

(9) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will emerge from the east. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will emerge from the tunnel of Samarra.

(10) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah is true and proven, as indicated by the hadiths of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the words of the scholars of the past and of the present. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he is a figment of their imagination who has not appeared and will never appear.

The Athr (Effects) Of Things

[Mujlisul Ulama]

All  things  have  an  athr  (effect/impression)  which  may  be  good  or  bad,  beneficial  or  harmful.  On  this  page  appear  some  episodes  which    demonstrate  the  athr  of  things.

Once  a  mureed  presented  a  bunch  of  grapes  to  his  Shaikh.  When  the  Shaikh  lifted  a  grape  to  his  mouth,  he  quickly  replaced  it  on  the  plate.  He  did  not  eat  it.  He  commented:  “The  odour  of  corpses  emits  from  these  grapes.”  Everyone  was  surprised.  What  is  the  meaning  of  the  odour  of  corpses  in  grapes?  The  Shaikh  on  enquiring  was  informed  by  the  mureed  that  he  had  acquired  the  grapes  from  a  grapevine  growing  in  the  Qabrustaan  (cemetery).  The  Shaikh  said:  “Did  I  not  tell  you  that  the  grapes  are  emitting  the  odour  of  corpses?”  Due  to  spiritual  darkness  which  enshrouds  our  hearts,  we  are  unable  to  perceive  and  understand  what  the  Auliya  see,  feel  and  spiritually  perceive  with  their  firaasat  and  the  nooraaniyat  of  their  hearts.  They  are  extremely  sensitive.  The  athr  of the  dead  was  in  the  soil  in  which  the  grapevine grew.  That  athr  was  transferred  to  the  grapes.

Almost  all  the  Ambiya (alayhimus salaam)  were  shepherds.  Allah  Ta’ala  did  not  ordain  for  any  Nabi  to  be  a camel  herder  or  a  cattle  herder.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  in  sheep  and  goats  there  is  humility.  Association  with  even such  animals,  infuse  humility  in a  person.

On  the  other  hand,  a  camel  and  a  bull  are  associated  with  ‘pride’  and  anger,  hence  no Nabi  was  made  a  camel  herder  or  a  cow  herder.

Once  Allah  Ta’ala  asked  Hadhrat  Musa  (Alayhis  salaam)  if  he was  aware  of  the  occasion  when  Allah  Ta’ala  decreed  his  Nubuwwat.  Nabi  Musa  (Alayhis  salaam)  did  not  know.  Then  Allah  Ta’ala  narrated  to  him  the  occasion  when  he  set  out  in  pursuit  of  one  of  his  goats  which  had  separated  from  the flock  and  had  run  off  into  the    wilderness  infested  with  wolves.

Nabi  Musa  (Alayhis salaam)  was  exhausted  chasing  after  the  she-goat  to  save  it  from  the wolves.  When  finally  he  caught  the  goat,  the  latter  too  was  so  tired  that  it  could  barely  walk.

Nabi  Musa  (Alayhis salaam)  gently  lifted  the  goat,  placed  it  on  his  shoulders  and  spoke affectionately  to  it.  This  was  the  occasion  when  Allah  Ta’ala    had  decreed  the  Nubuwwat  of  Nabi  Musa  (Alayhis salaam). Tawaadhu’  (Humility)  is  an  essential  attribute  for  all Muslims.  That  is  why  the  Ambiya  tended  to  sheep  and  goats.  The  athr  of  the  tenderness  of  these  animals  exercised  its  effect  even  on  the Ambiya  (Alayhimus  salaam).

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam)  said:  “Do  not  allow  humaqaa  (naturally  dim-witted women)  to  breast  feed  (your  infants),  for  verily,  the  milk  is contagious.” 

The  athr  of  the  woman’s  stupidity/dimwittedness  will  be  transferred  to  the  infant  via  the  milk  it  drinks,  hence  the prohibition.

The  evil  and  harmful  a  faasiqah/ faajirah  (immoral  woman)  will  be  greatly  magnified.  From  this,  it  should  be  understood  the  morally  and  spiritually  harmful  athr  of  taking  food  from  the  hands  of  the  faasiqah/ faajirah  air hostesses  when  travelling  by  plane.  In  addition  to  the  harms of  the  filthy  and  haraam  food  of  the  plane  is  the  harmful  athr  of  the  lewd  air-hostesses.

It  is  necessary  to  take  along  your  own  food  when  travelling  by  plane.  Exercise  great  restraint  on  your  desires  and  do  not  allow  your  eyes  to  even look  at  these  faasiqaat/  fajiraat. You  just  do  not  know  the  moral  and  spiritual  damage  you  inflict  on  yourself  by  giving  vent  to  your  inordinate  lusts.

Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam)  discouraged  sitting  on  the  skins  of  wild  animals  such  as  lions,  tigers,  leopards,  etc.  Although  the  skins  of these  animals  are  rendered  pure  by  any  process  which  expels    all  the  moisture,  it  is  still  inadvisable  to  sit  on  anything made  of  such  skins,  e.g. saddles.  mats,  musallas, etc.

The  predatory  athr  of  these  animals  remains  in  the  skins.  Use  of  these  skins  will  have  an  adverse  affect  on  morality, hence  Rasulullah’s  discouragement  notwithstanding the  tahaarat  (purity)  of  the  skins.

Imaam  Abu  Hanifah (Rahmatullah  alayh)  was also  a  cloth  merchant.  Once  when  a  young  man  entered  his  shop,  he  was about  to  sit  on  a  chair. Immediately  Imaam  Abu  Hanifah  cautioned  him:  “Young  man,  do  not  sit  in  that  chair.  It  has  just  been  vacated  by  a  female.” With  his  firaasat  (spiritual  insight  and  vision)  Imaam  Abu  Hanifah  (Rahmatullah  alayh)  was  able  to  discern  the  spiritual  germs  emerging  from  the  chair  in  which  the  female  had  sat.  The  athr  of  the  female  was  capable  of  adversely  affecting  the  morality  of  the  ghair  mahram  man.  His  spiritual  defences  would  be  weakened  by   such  athr.

A  Wali  on  his  journey  halted  one  night  in  a  village.  Some  village  folk  brought  an  earthenware  container  with  some  water   to  the  Wali.  They explained  that  the  water  in  the  jug  remained  perpetually  warm  even  in  mid-winter.  It  never  cooled.

The  Wali  asked  about the  source  of  the  clay  from  which    the  jug  was  made.  He  was  informed that  the  clay  was  obtained  from  the  local Qabrustaan.  He  told  the  village  folk  to  leave  the  jug  with  the  water  with  him  for  the  night.

The  next  morning  when  they  visited  the  Wali,  they  found  the  water  in  the  jug  to  be  cold. Astonished,  they  asked  the    reason  for  the  transformation.  The  Wali  informed  them  that  some  inmates  of  the  graves were  being  punished  with  fire.  The  heat  of  the  fire  affects  the  soil  in  the  Qabrustaan.  This  athr  was  transferred  into  the  jug  made  from  the  clay,  hence  the  water  remained  always  warm. However,  that  night  the Wali  had  engaged  in considerable  Istighfaar,  pleading  to  Allah  Ta’ala to  forgive  the  inmates  of  the  grave  being  punished.  Allah  Ta’ala  accepted  his  supplications  and  ended  the  punishment,  hence  the  athr  of the  punishment  of  the  fire  disappeared  from  the  jug.

Unity of Muslim Ummah

This thesis is actually a paper delivered by Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (rahimahullah) in Dhul Qa’dah 1385 A.H. in Lyllpur, Pakistan. Thereafter it was transcribed from cassette and changes were made by the learned author.

The English translation has been done in a book form by deleting the aspects related to the delivery of the paper and the author’s personal comments about his inability, etc.

Unity of the Ummah is such a clear reality that there can be no two opinions expressed in the matter. It is completely correct to say that the Ummah is an undividable unit but our present condition shows the reality to be different. To provide evidence for this unity is a mere philosophy by which our needs cannot be fulfilled.

It is not concealed from any Muslim that Islam invites towards unity and encourages all Muslims, in fact the whole of humanity to be one nation, one family and one brotherhood. The Qur’an has declared all of mankind to be created from one soul and all Muslims as brothers.

During the farewell sermon, Rasulullah ﷺ addressed the largest gathering of Muslims at the time by providing principles of guidance. He emphatically stated that there was no distinction between white or black, Arab or Non-Arab etc. All of mankind were created from the same parents. By means of this statement, he annihilated the idols of ignorant unity based on lineage, tribes, countries, colours or languages and made the basis of unity the worship of Allah Ta’ala and Deen.

This is the true unity which can unite all of mankind in the east and the west and make them into one brotherhood.

This can be achieved by making an effort. Disunity has been brought into the ranks of people by creating unity of the period of ignorance based on lineage, country, colour and language. The ‘enlightened minds’ of today are again worshipping this unity. Such divisions have been caused among the classes of people, that no actions or effort can efface them.

The one who is black cannot become white. The person who is not a Sayyid or Sheikh cannot become a Sayyid or Sheikh by making any kind of effort.

Islam has invited towards such unity in which all of mankind can participate without any difficulty. Because this unity is related to one Real Master who has no partner and to His obedience, it is undoubtedly indivisible.

This is a belief and an ideology written down in books and spoken on the tongues. However, when one examines the reality of the situation in real life, one finds complete division in which there seems very little likelihood of unity being achieved.

Islam has made the most of mankind into one brotherhood and gathered them on the obedience of one Allah.

“He created you from one soul.” [Surah An-Nisa]

Those who obeyed Allah have been likened to a wall of lead which is resolute and cannot be defeated.

The same Ummah today is distributed into many divisions and sects. Each one has severed its relations with the other. There are differences due to political parties, different lineages, professions and trades. The differences of the poor and rich classes were the foundations of dislike. Deen and the worship of Allah Ta’ala was the conclusive treatment for making foreigners into locals and to remove the international, national and language differences. Today this has become a means of us disputing and quarrelling. This has brought the whole Ummah to the brink of disaster. No solution to this problem seems to be in sight.

Every organization and gathering of ours creates divisions. This is the illness which has made this Ummah retrogress inspite of having numerical superiority. Every nation wants us to be dissolved among them. Every nation wants to make incursions into every facet of the life of Muslims, from beliefs to conduct and from culture and social life to commercial dealings and economics.

The lives of Muslims are being frustrated by governments, economics and businesses. On the other hand, by means of irreligious deception, their beliefs and ideologies are being shaken. The principles of their worship are being changed into worship of the carnal self by means of new (western-atheistic) education, culture and social upliftment programmes.

Our general masses are being deprived of the knowledge of Deen due to the 150-year old British rule by several methods. They are unaware of realities. Now they have squandered the wealth of knowledge lying in their own homes and have regarded every facet of the non-Muslims as a great fortune. This is especially so when under the shadow of this education and knowledge, the field of unconrollable carnal desires and a life of luxury is exposed. Our ‘Ulama and the responsible people have become so entangled in subsidiary differences and unnecessary issues as if they are unaware of the incursion on the borders of Islam. 

The Causes of the Disease
Firstly I want to clarify at the outset that differences of opinion in ideological issues are neither harmful nor there is a need to efface them. They cannot be effaced in any case. Differences of opinion does not contradict Islamic unity nor are they harmful for anyone. Having differences of opinion is a natural occurrence from which no group of humans has remained free of nor can they remain free of it.

Only in two situations can there be a completely united opinion in any group or work. One is that there is no person who can ponder over the matter and adopt a position. In such a gathering, one person says something and all the others agree because they have no opinion or insight. The second situation is were the people are treacherous and sell themselves out. Inspite of knowing that a certain position has been adopted and it will be harmful, they do no express their difference of opinion merely to please others.

Where there is intelligence and honesty, it is impossible not to have differences in opinion. This shows that differences in opinion are created by intelligence and honesty. If one has to examine the conditions correctly, differences in opinion can never be harmful for any nation or group if it remains within limits. In fact, it creates many beneficial consequences. This is the reason for emphasizing and honouring consultation in Islam so that different views can come to the fore. The decision can then be made with much greater insight. If differences of opinion can be regarded as blameworthy, the benefit of consultation will, as a result, be terminated.

Differences of Opinion among the Sahabah (Radhiyallah Anhum) and the Tabi’een
Differences of opinion were already expressed in the blessed era of Rasulullah ﷺ in administrative matters and matters of experience. There were also difference of opinion expressed in the era of the Khulafa Raashideen (the four rightly guided caliphs) and the general Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) in matters besides administration when new situations arose and there were no explicit solutions mentioned in the Qur’an or Hadith. This situation also arose when there was apparent contradiction between two verses of the Qur’an or between two Ahadith. They had to resort to two deducing solutions by pondering over the sources of Shariah. This difference of opinion was natural due to intelligence and honesty.

There were many differences in this august group people in the minor details of adhan and salah, acts of worship performed five times daily in the minarets and Musjids. Their is no deficiency in their mutual discussions regarding these differences.

The differences of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) are no hidden fact in non-Divine texts or vague matters whether they deal with halaal or haraam or whether they are permissible or not permissible.

Subsequently, the students of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum), the Tabi’een, adopted the stance of a certain Sahabi (Radhiyallahu Anhu) in a particular issue while others adopted the stance of another Sahabi (Radhiyallahu Anhu) in the same issue. After them came the Mujtahidin and their followers. Throughout this blessed era, there was not a single incident where  one group called another, transgressors or misguided or prohibited others from following a particular group. There was no such incident where a person would walk into the Masjid and ask the worshippers what school of thought the Imam followed with regard to Surah Fatihah and raising of the hands etc. There was no question of fighting one another due to these differences, nor any disputes, abusive language, mocking and denigrating anyone in that noble area.

Imam Ibn Abdul Barr Al-Qurtubi (rahmatullah alaih) has described in his book, Jami Bayanil Ilm Wafadlihi, the condition of the predecessors with regards to their differences as follows,

“Yahya ibn Sa’id (rahmatullahi alaih) states the people of fatwa always continued issuimg verdicts. One person would issue a fatwa of permissibility while another would issue a verdict of non-permissibility. However, the one who issued the verdict on non-permissibility did not regard his adversary as misguided and destroyed nor vice-versa.”

He has also mentioned in the same book that,

‘Usamah Ibn Zaid (Radhiyallahu Anhu) asked the jurist of Madinah, Qasim Ibn Muhammad (rahmatullah alaih), a question regarding a mas’alah in which there were differing opinions. He replied that from both these opinions, whichever one he adopted would be sufficient for him because the excellent practical example of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) was existent on both sides.

A Doubt and its Response
The people who are unaware of the principles of Deen and the causes of differences may raise the question, “How can one thing be halaal and haraam at the same time in Islam?”

Obviously one has to be correct and the other incorrect. In that case, how can one equally respect both sides. Honesty is to label something wrong which one regards as wrong.

The response to this objection is that the issue is not with regard to general permissibility and non-permissibility because according to the text of Qur’an and Ahadith, certain thing are explicitly haraam, e.g. interest, wine, gambling, bribery, etc.

There can be no two opinions in this issue. The pious predecessors could also not have had differences in these matters. To have any differences in these matters is rejecting the clear-cut commands of the Ummah and is tantamount to misguidance and irreligiousness. If a person creates differences, it will be the requirement of imaan to announce one’s disassociation from such a person. It is prohibited to be tolerant in such a matter.

Toleration and respecting the views of others is only permissible in those aspects where there is no explicit order in the Qur’an and Sunnah or they are mentioned but are not clear-cut. Without any explanation or clarification, it is not possible to practice them. There could possibly be an apparent contradiction in two verses or two narrations. In all these situations, the mujtahid has to ponder over the text of the Qur’an and Sunnah and endeavour to find out what the aim of Shariah is and what laws can be derived from it.

It is possible in such a case that one mujtahid may, after pondering, according to the principles of ijtihad of the Qur’an, sunnah and the practice of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum), arrive at the conclusion that a certain act is permissible while another mujtahid who uses the same principles arrives at the conclusion that the act is not permissible.

Both of them are entitled to reward from Allah Ta’ala. No one is worthy of censure. The one whose opinion was correct is entitled to double reward while the one who was incorrect will receive one reward.

Accordingly, some scholars are of the opinion that in differences of ijtihad, both conflicting views are correct. The reason for this is that Allah does not want one particular action. He is merily testing the obedience of His slaves. When both have used the strength of their ijtihad and their mental capacities according to the correct conditions, both have fulfilled their obligations. Therefore, both are correct. However, the majority of the Ummah and the Mujtahid Imams are of the opinion that in the knowledge of Allah Ta’ala, one of them is correct. Those people who obtain the truth by the means of their ijtihad are successful in all respects and entitled to double reward. Those who exerted themselves but did not reach the truth, are excused. They are not blameworthy. They will receive the reward of their endeavours.

An Important Incident
We use to hold a jalsah every year in Qadyan. Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahmatullahi alaih) used to participate in it. One year when he came, I also joined him. One day at the time of Fajr, I went to see him and found him sitting in the dark, holding his head in grief. I asked him what the matter was. He replied that he was feeling fine. He only regretted wasting his life.

I commented, “Hadhrat, your entire life has been spent in the service of knowledge and in the propagation of Deen. Thousands of your students are Ulama. They are famous and have benefited from you. They are all serving Deen. If your life has been wasted, then whose life has been profitable?.”

Maulana Anwar: I am telling you the truth. I have wasted my life.

Mufti Shafi’: Hadhrat, what is the matter?

Maulana Anwar: The summary of all our endeavours, our life and our lectures was that the Hanafi school of thought is superior to others. We searched for the proofs of the masail of Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullah alaih) and proved them to be stronger than the other Imams.

Now I am pondering and wondering in what I have wasted my life. Was Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alaih) in need of our giving preference to him? Did we have to do him a favour? The people have acknowledge the position which Allah Ta’ala had given him. He is not in need of us.

What is the result of the preference we are giving over Imam Shafi’i, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahmatullahi alaihim) and the jurists of other schools? It is nothing more than saying that our school of thought is correct with the possibility of error while other schools of thought are incorrect with the possibility of being correct. There is no other result besides this in our research.

On the day of resurrection, we will not be informed of the secret of who was correct and who was wrong. There can be no decision in masail of Ijtihad in the world. After all our research, the most we can conclude in the world is that this school is correct and that one is also correct. Or we can say that this school is correct but there is the possibility that it is incorrect and that one is wrong with the possibility that it is correct. This is what will happen in the world. As for the grave, even the angels Munkar and Nakir will not ask whether raising the hands in salah is correct or not raising them is correct. Aameen uttered is correct or audibly. There will be no question regarding these issues in the life of Barzakh as well as in the grave.

These were the words of Hadhrat Shah Sahib (rahmatullah alaih).

Allah Ta’ala will neither disgrace Abu Hanifa, nor Shafi’i, neither Malik nor Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahmatullah alaihim). Allah Ta’ala will not disgrace those to whom He has given the knowledge of His Deen and to whom a great portion of His creation has been attached. They spread the light of guidance everywhere. They spent their lives in spreading the light of the Sunnah. He will not make them stand on the Day of Qiyamah and ask them whether Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullah alaih) was correct or Shafi’i (rahmatullah alaih) was wrong or vice versa.

We went after something that we did not need to bleach in this world, in the life of barzakh or the hereafter and thus wasted our lives. We used our energy for it instead of using it for the correct propagation of Islam which is unanimously accepted by everyone. Today we are not inviting towards the important aspects of Deen which the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) brought. We have been commanded to propagate these aspects and make them widespread. We have been ordered to efface wrong and evil. These essential of Deen are blurred in the eyes of the people. They are being destroyed by us and by others. Those evils which we are supposed to combat are spreading all over. Misguidance and irreligiousness are spreading all over. Polytheism and idol-worship are taking root. The differentiation between halaal and haraam is disappearing but we are engrossed in these subsidiary issues.

I am sitting aggrieved and feeling as if I have wasted my life.

Differences Among the Pious Predecessors
Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) has stated regarding the differences  among the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum),

“From the conflicting views, one is wrong  but the sin of the error has been forgiven”. [Jami’ Bayanil Ilm Wafadlihi, vol. 2, p. 3]

When Imam Malik (rahimahullah) was asked about the differences  among the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum), he replied,

“Some of them were wrong while others were right. The mujtahidin should ponder over the statement and specify one for practice”. [Ibid]

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) has clarified in his statement that both views are not correct. One is correct and the other is wrong. He also said that it is not permissible to dispute and argue over these conflicting statements. If someone is wrong, one should gently inform him of the error. If he accepts the error, well and good and if he does not accept, one should remain silent. There is absolutely no need for squabbles and abusive language.

Imam Malik (rahimahullah) has stated,

“Disputing and arguing regarding knowledge removes the light of knowledge from the heart of man. Someone asked, “If a person has knowledge of the Sunnah, can he dispute in order to protect the Sunnah?”  He replied in the negative and said, “He should inform him of the correct view, if he accepts, well and good, otherwise remain silent. Refrain from disputes”. [Awjazul Masalik vol. 1, p. 15]

Muhammad Ibn Abdur Rahman As-Sayrafi (rahimahullah) asked Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) that if the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) had a difference among themselves in a certain issue, would it be permissible for people to ponder over their statements and decide which one was correct.

Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) replied, “People should not ponder over the statements of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) of Nabi ﷺ “.

Muhammad Ibn Abdur Rahman As-Sayrafi (rahimahullah) then asked whose statement must be practised and how.
He replied, “Adopt any one of them for practice.”

From amongst the Imams of Ijtihad, Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik (rahimahumullah) are of the opinion that if the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) had mutual differences, the jurists of the later eras should ponder over the details and adopt the view that was closest to the Sunnah. Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) on the other hand was of the view that there was no need for even this. There were Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) on both sides. Accordingly, one (i.e. the mujtahid) could adopt either of the two views.

Ubayy’ ibn Ka’b (radhiyallahu anhu) and ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) had a difference of opinion in a certain mas’alah. When ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) heard about it, he was enraged and came out saying how regretful a situation that two of the Sahabah to whom the people look up to, are disputing. People benefit from them with regards to Deen. Then he decided between them as follows,

Ubayy’s (radhiyallahu anhu) opinion is correct but Ibn Mas’ud has also not been deficient in his ijtihad.” Then ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) said that he did not want to see anyone disputing in such issue anymore otherwise he would punish them. [Jami’ Bayanil Ilm Wafadlihi, vol. 2, p. 84]

This statement of Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) indicates that in the issues of ijtihad, one statement is correct but the other is also not worthy of censure. Secondly, it is not suitable to stress too much on issues in which there are differences of opinion. This results in censures, disputes and the danger of quarrels.

According to Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah), the mujtahidin should not redard each other as wrong in their opinions, that is, one should not say to the other, “You are wrong”. [Ibid]

In ijtihadi masail, no one has the right to regard his view as being completely correct and the view of others as being wrong. After making ijtihad and pondering, one can only say regarding one’s own view that it is correct but there is the possibility of it being wrong and it is also possible that the other person’s view being correct.

In short, according to the majority of the scholars, in differences of ijtihad, from the two differing views, one is correct. However, no one has the certain means of specifying the correct view. The possibility of being correct or incorrect lies on both sides. The mujtahid ponders and chooses one aspect for practising.

An Important Statement
Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahimahullah) once stated that the general scholars are engrossed in finding out whose ijtihad is correct and whose is incorrect in ijtihadi masail and they spend most of the energy in this regard. He felt that the result of such ijtihad being correct or incorrect, will not even be announced in the field of reckoning, let alone the world. This is due to the fact that Allah Ta’ala has rewarded the mujtahid one reward even if he is incorrect. His incorrect ijtihad has thus been veiled. It is therefore far-fetched to think that the most noblest Being would announce someone’s error in the field of reckoning and thereby disgrace him.

The result of this is that there will be no decisive result, neither in this world nor in the Hereafter, with regard to the differences the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum), the Tabi’een and the Mujtahidin had. It was made permissible for those who wanted to practice to adopt any view to the preference they gave. The one who practised has absolved himself of the obligation. According to the consensus of opinion, he will not be regarded as one who has discarded a fard. No matter how much research a person does, it is not possible to regard his research as definitely correct and the opposing view as incorrect. Imam Shamsud-Deen Dhahabi (rahimahullah) said that the Differences of the Sahabah (Radhiyallahu Anhum) and the Tabi’een can never be erased till the day of Qiyamah. The reason for this is in that case one group would have to be regarded as difinitely correct while the other definitely wrong and this is not possible.

The Differences Of the Imams
From the Shariah point of view, no aspect can be regarded as wrong in a Mas’alah in which the Sahabah, Tabi’een and Imams had differences. The foundations of both the opinions is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah and their accepted principles.

Consequenty, both categories fall under virtues. The most one can say is that one view is preferred over the other. Accordingly, the obligation of inviting towards virtue and forbidding from evil does not fall on anyone in this regard. To criticize something not in the category of vice is a vice itself.

The pious predecessors had numerous differences with regard to permissibility and non-permissibility but no criticism of one another has ever been transmitted from them as one criticizes as vice. No one ever labelled another as a sinner or transgressor or the perpetrator of a crime. Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah)’s statement reported by Hafiz Ibn Abdul Barr (rahimahullah) bears testimony to this. He has mentioned that it is not permissible for one mujtahid to regard another as wrong.

The Conditions of Ijtihad
There is a proof in the statement of Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) that a mujtahid should not regard another as being wrong because each one has fulfilled his obligation. This will be if the conditions of ijtihad and qiyas are to be found in him and he has the ability to execute ijtihad.

From this it becomes clear that two opposing views will only be respected and none of the mujtahids will be regarded as wrong if the conditions of ijtihad are met. It must not be the ignorant ijtihad propounded by the people of today (like the La-Madhabis, Bid’atis and Modernists) who don’t even know Arabic nor do they have any contact with the Qur’an and Hadith. By means of English translations, they begin practising on the Qur’an and Hadith. Such ijtihad is a sin in itself and the resulting opinion is a sin as well. This is misguidance which has to be reproached.

The Conflict Between Sunnah and Bid’ah
A difference prevalent in our society is one caused by the titles of sunnah and bid’ah (innovation). Many people have discarded the correct principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah and adopted their own opinions. They have formulated new masail. This is the difference which the Qur’an and Sunnah have warned the Muslims about. It is beneficial to terminate this difference or reduce it. However, the Qur’an has provided a special way in which this should be done. The gulf of differences will be reduced in this manner. These are the principles of inviting towards virtue in which the first step is using wisdom and tact, then advice and sympathy and a gentle manner that is palatable to the listener. Finally one has to provide proof in the best possible manner and create an understanding.

Regrettably today, the people of knowledge have discarded these principles. They are only involved in disputes and that too, without any conditions. They use all kinds of means, whether the means are permissible or not. They indulge in lies and fabrications and mock their adversaries in order to defeat them. The result is that the dispute becomes very heated but there is no beneficial result for the people.

The Causes of the Division of the Ummah
The reason for delving into the above-mentioned details was due to the fact that the People of Deen, those involved in reformation and those involved in other religious services have generally discarded these realities.

Now I wish to present some of the causes which, in my opinion, are the reasons for the divisions among the Muslims. Regrettably, these acts are done in the name of serving Deen.

Exceeding Limits
A major factor of division in the Ummah is partisanship and to regard anyone else with an opposing view in ijtihadi masail as being void and a sin and to treat such people as one would treat the misguided and deviated ones.

For those who have not reached the stage of ijtihad, the entire  Ummah is unanimous and logically there is no other alternative for them but to follow a mujtahid imam. The people who, in order to withhold their carnal selves from freedom and worshipping their desires, follow an imam and regard it as a religious expediency, naturally become one jama’ah (group). Similarly, the followers of another imam become another group. If groups are formed in a positive manner limited to ijtihadi masail for the sake of simplifying the matter of practice and learning, there is no harm and no division will be created.

The harmful and negative way is when one, due to one’s own opinion, disputes with others. The second harmful aspect is to exceed the limits in these subsidiary masa’il and spend one’s valuable time and energy in these discussions. All this is done while the fundamentals of Islam are being destroyed and disbelief is spreading throughout the world. We have turned our attention from these essential issues towards unimportant aspects for which the most that can be said, even after all our research, is that this view is preferable over the other. The final outcome of these views as to which one is preferable and which one is not, will not be announced in this world nor in the hereafter. One will not be questioned about them in the field of reckoning nor will any announcement will be made as to which view was correct.

It is neither correct to denigrate a person who holds a differing view in these masail nor it is correct to label him as a criminal. At this point, if one has to examine the saintly group of our society, the Ulama and Fuqaha (jurists), one will find that most of their energies are spent in subsidiary masail.

A Moment to Ponder
The exaggeration of some people have reached the limit that they label the salah of their adversaries as being null and avoid and they label him as one who rejects the Qur’an. They invite towards their school of thought as a rejector of Islam is invited towards Islam and they regard this as the greatest service to Islam.

Perhaps these people are unaware of the attacks on Islam from all four sides or they are deliberately overlooking them. At this point in time, the kufr of Christianity and Communism has enviloped the Islamic countries and circles. Both these forms of disbelief are spreading in the Muslim countries like a flood. Every year, thousands of people are abandoning Islam in Pakistan alone.

On the other hand, hypocrisy and apostasy are robbing the Muslims of their Iman, sometimes in the name of Qadiyanism, sometimes in the garment of Parwezism, rejecting hadith or the freedom of the West which makes every haraam act halaal.

This apostasy and hypocrisy is more dangerous than th former form of disbelief becauee it comes with the titles of Islam and Qur’an. Simple Muslims are easily duped while the western educated youth are attracted in large numbers because the modern education and society have thrown them far away from religious education and Islamic principles. Inspite of being experts in secular education, they do not even have a smattering of basic Islamic teachings.

If a fortunate Muslim escapes the above-mentioned categories of kufr, can he be saved from the poisonous environment of immodesty, pornography, dancing, clubs, music and the cinema??

The Muslims of today who take the name of Islam and the Qur’an are drowned in all kinds of crime and evil conduct. Our shopping centres are filled with falsehood, deceit, interest and gambling. Yet no Jew or Hindu is running our businesses. They are all run by those who call themselves  Muslims. Our governmental offices are the training grounds for bribery, oppression, theft, cruelty and hard-heartedness. The employees are not Englishmen or Hindus. They are the ones who take the name of Muhammad ﷺ and who claim to believe in the hereafter. Our public is grossly ignorant of the Knowledge of Deen and are drowning in ignorance. They are unaware of the essential of Deen. They practise polytheistic customs and are involved in play and amusement.

Under these conditions, is it not compulsory for us to ponder over the matter and find out what Rasulullah ﷺ requires of the people of knowledge? If Rasulullah ﷺ had to ask us in the field of reckoning where we, the claimants of the inheritors of the prophet, were when the Shari’ah was being attacked and the Ummah was in such a deplorable state, will this answers of ours be sufficient  that we wrote a book of rafa yadain (raising the hands in salah), or we explained very clearly the chapter of hasil mahsul to the students of Sharh Jami’, or we delivered very interesting lectures on the ijtihadi issues mentioned in the hadith or we used our journalistic capabilities and throughly disgraced other ulama’?

It is not a despised act to search and investigate subsidiary and ijtihadi masail as long as it remains within limits and is done sincerily to please Allah Ta’ala. However, we see the foundations of Islam being shaken by corruption, the laws of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasool ﷺ being violated, in fact mocked and yet it does not affect us. What hope is there then that we are investigate these subsidiary masail with sincerity? Had there been the slightest vestige of sincerity in it, we would have recognized the needs of Deen under these conditions. Instead of subsidiary issues, we would have been engrossed in the protection of fundamental principles. It is as if we have understood the service of Deen is limited to these subsidiary issues. We have soent all our energies on these aspects. We have left the principles and foundations of Islam open to the incursions of the enemies. Where we should have been fighting and on which frontier have we spent our force?

“Indeed, we belong to Allah and to Him is our return.”

This is the result of extremity in partisanship and sectarianism.

The second major error in these ijtihadi masail is to go beyond the limits of differences and begin disputing, quarelling, fighting and mocking one another which is not permissible in any religion. Regrettably, this is all done in the name of serving religion. When this matter reaches the general masses who follow the ulama, they fight regarding it like a jihad. It is obvious that if a nation fights with itself, where will it have the opportunity to protect its own assets and combat apostasy and disbelief.

This surpassing of the limits has been referred to as tafarruq (division) in the Qur’an and Hadith. It is something different from the permitted difference of opinion. It is mentioned in a verse of the Qur’an,

“Hold firmly onto the rope of Allah and do not be divided”.

In another verse, Allah Ta’ala renders advice and this advice was rendered to all the previous Messengers (alayhimus salaam). He says,

“Establish Deen and do not be divided”.

Abul Aliyah (rahimahullah), the Imam of tafsir, says that establishing Deen refers to sincerity while not being divided means not having mutual enmity. People should live as brothers.

After rendering this advice, the Qur’an mentions the divisions of the Banu Israil and has subsequenrly warned the Muslims not to tread on their path. Allah Azza Wa Jal says,

“They were not divided except after knowledge came to them, having enmity among themselves”.

Abul Aliyah states that the words baghya baynahum indicate that such division which leads to enmity and fighting can never be due to the sake of Deen. [Jami bayanil ilm wafadlihi, vol. 2, p. 84]

The cause of this enmity will only be the world, love for wealth and love for position. The nafs (carnal self) and shaytan beautify these acts by labelling them as acts for the service of Deen.

The limit in this type of difference is the positive aspect as mentioned previously that one should choose a view to adopt for practice and not dispute with the upholders of the opposite view. This is similar to the situation in  this world when a person falls ill, he chooses a doctor for his treatment and places his trust on him only. He practises whatever the doctor says while at the same time he does not go around criticizing other doctors.

When you appoint a lawyer to fight your case, you don’t go around abusing and vilifying other lawyers. This should be your conduct with regard to ijtihadi masail in which there is a difference of opinion.

The Extremism of Groups
We have many religious groups amongst us that are established for teaching Deen, advising people, propagating and reforming. They are doing sterling work in their respective field. There are many Ulama and pious people working in these groups. If these groups unite and distribute the work among themselves to combat the attacks against Deen and help each other to the best of their abilities, each one regards the other as a helping hand for establishing the common purposes of Deen, appreciates the work of other groups as it appreciates its own work, then these different groups can become a colossal strength of Islam even by working within their own perimeters. They would be able to fulfill most of the needs of Deen by work distribution.

However, what is happening is that every group has demarcated its line of action. In practice, it seems as if like each group has regarded the serving of Deen to be limited to its own work, although they may not say so verbally. If a group is not fighting with the other groups, it will certainly not appreciate their work. As a result, a kind of division has been created amomg the groups. After a critical examination, it seems as if the cause is that each group has chosen its own field to work in although everyone’s aim is the same, namely to propagate and protect Deen and to reform the educational, practical and socila lives of the Muslims. Some people have established a Darul Uloom for teaching Deen, some have formed a Jama’at for tabligh to guide people, some have established an organization for Islanic Literature, some have established a Darul Ifta to issue legal verdicts while some have established weekly or monthly journals or newspapers to combat the propaganda against Islam.

All these tasks, although outwardly may seem different, but in reality parts of one whole. It is obvious that each group is working on a different front and their work will also be different. Consequently, each group has made a system and outlined principles and methods for itself to work in, according to its environment in order to simplify matters. It is obvious that the original aim is explicity mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith. Deviating from this path is tantamount to going beyong the boundaries of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

However, this system devised by the people and its principles are neither explicit words of the Qur’an and Sunnah nor is it obligatory for each person to follow them. The responsible people of the organization have adopted these principles for the sake of ease. They themselves make changes in these principles according to the need. To adopt another system due to changing circumstances and environments is not regarded as impermissible  by anyone. However, practical extremism is found in almost every group whereby they have given their system divine status. Whoever does not participate in their system of operation, even though he may be doing such tremendous work of Deen, is not regarded as a brother or partner. If anyone was part of the system, then for aome reason or the other, could not continue participating, he is regarded as being deviated from the original aim and off the path of Deen. He is treated like a person who has deviated from the path of Deen should be treated, even though he may be involved in establishing Deen to a greater extent than before. The result of this extremism gives rise to the perils of partisanship and sectarianism even among religiously-minded people. This kind of partisanship is to be found normally among the ignorant ones.

Discarding the Ambiyas Invitation
The most important factor that has wasted our propagatory and reformative efforts and that has widened the chasm of divisions and disputes is that the authors and ‘Ulama have discarded the Ambiyas methods of propagation and reformation. Instead, they have adopted journalistic methods in order to create weight in their words and endeavoured to make it more effective. It is clear from experience that this is the most luckless method in which there is no vestige of hope in reforming a person in error or misguidance. The modus operandi makes a person more obstinate and instead of reformation, it sows the seeds of enmity in the hearts. The fire of animosity is kindled.

Yes, it may provide some entertainment and pleasure for one’s own kind. By their praises, the authors also begin to feel they have served Deen in a most commendable way.

But ask the people who have addressed by these topics whether their hearts are in the least touched by them or do they have any conviction of the truth of these statements. Is this mocking tone not a way of preventing them from approaching the truth. Does it not make these people the enemies of the one who invites?

The Four Elements of the Ambiyas Invitation
In contrast to that, note the method of propagation of the Messengers of Allah (alayhimus salaam). The words are simple but full of human compassion. After listening to the harshest of speech of their antagonists, they reply in a simple, soft and gentle manner. They do not indulge in passing sarcastic remarks. Their hearts are full of human sympathy having the desire that the person being addressed should somehow accept the message. They plan for this with wisdom. The spirit of the propagation of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) can be understood from the word “nadhir” has has been used for every Nabi in the Qur’an.

The Messengers (alayhimus salaam) have been labelled as bashir and nadhir in the Qur’an in several verses. ‘Nadhir’ means a ‘warner’ but due to deficiency in the English Language, the word ‘warner’ alone does not provide the full meaning. There are different categories of warning. A thief or robber also warns. One is warned by a predator or enemy as well. A kind father warns his son about a scorpion, snake, poison and fire. The first type is merely frightening. A thief, enemy or predator cannot be termed as ‘nadhir’. The secind category, where a kind father warns with sympathy and compassion from harmful of hurtful things, is termed as ‘nadhir’. The Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) have been called ‘nadhir’ to indicate the spirit of their propagation and education. They do not merely convey a message. They endeavour to make their message as effective as possible with complete compassion abd sympathy in order to save the people from destruction.

The principles of the propagation of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) mentioned in the Qur’an are a sort of explanation of the word ‘nadhir’. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Invite to the Path of your Lord with wisdom, good advice and argue with them in a best manner.”

From the etiquette of inviting towards Allah Ta’ala, from the firat one to be mentioned is that of wisdom. This means that the inviter must not merely convey the message to the people, but he should use wisdom and tact, in a suitable time and in an appropriate environment to convey the message in such a manner that is easy for the listener.

The second factor is mau’izah (advice) which means to call sympathetically towards a good act. This shows that it is necessary for the inviter to be sympathetic while speaking.

The third factor is the addition of hasanah to the word ‘mau’izah’ . This is an indication that the subject matter must be conveyed gently and in a convincing manner because sometimes a person is invited towards virtue out of sincere compassion but the topic and the method of conveying is harsh. Such propagation is not effective. Hence the need for it to be gentle and convincing.

In short, this verse has shown that there are three essential factors from among the etiquettes of the propagation of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). Fistly, there must be wisdom and tact. The invitation will then not go to waste. Secondly, one should invite with sympathy and compassion towards a virtuous act. Thirdly, the topic of the invitation should be palatable and gentle.

Finally, the verse has indicated that if the invitation is not accepted even after presenting it in the correct manner, and the opportunity of debate arises, then it must be done in the best possible manner.

‘Allama’ Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) has explained it as follows,

“with gentleness, good advice and an excellent address”. 

In Tafsir Mazhari, it is mentioned that it means one should not express one’s anger nor show the greatness of one’s self. It must be for the sake of Allah Ta’ala in order to proclaim the word of truth. This method of gentle debate, sympathy and good advice is not confined to Muslims only, but the same guidance has been given to the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) when it comes to the non-Muslims as well.

It is stated in a verse of the Qur’an that when the occasion arises to debate with the disbelieving people of the book, it should be done gently, in a good manner with good advice.

The Excellent Example of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam)
Examine each incident of reformation and propagation of the Messengers (alayhimus salaam) in the Qur’an and Hadith and you will find the efforts of their entire lives in this manner.

Nuh (alayhis salaam) spent 950 years inviting his people and explaining it to them with sympathy and compassion. In spite of this, when his nation treated him harshly in an uncultured manner and labelled him as a fool, do you know what reply this accepted Nabi of Allah rendered.

“O my Nation, I am not a fool but I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds.”

The life of our beloved Nabi ﷺ, the leader of the worlds is open testimony to this. After enduring all kinds of torments from his nation, let alone cursing them, he even supplicated for their benefit by saying, “Guide my nation as they do not know.”

The ‘Ulama who received the portion of the inheritance of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) also propagated in a like manner. Shah Ismail Shaheed (rahimahullah) ended delivering a lecture in the Jami’ Masjid of Delhi and was going out when some gangsters stopped him. They said, “We heard you are a bastard.” Maulana replied with complete composure, “You have received the wrong information. The witnesses of my mother’s nikah are still alive today.”

He knew that their aim was merely to abuse and torment. But the inheritor of a Nabi replied in such a manner that he explained a mas’alah in reply to their villification.

The Method of Nubuwwah (Prophethood)
In reality, only the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) or the inheritors if the Ambiya can do the work of reformation and propagation. They sacrifice at every step and are compassionate to the enemies. There is no vestige defamation of any antagonist in their conduct or speech. They do not ponder about passing sarcastic remarks in reply to their antagonists. They do not choose the path of accusation. The effect of this is that after the opposition of a few days, extremely rebellious people had to bow their heads down. They had to obey the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). Today we have regrettably moved so far away from the excellent examples of the prophets that our speech and writing do not contain any effect of their methods.

Today, the perfection of the propagators and reformers is understood to be their accusations and attempts to disgrace the opposition. They utter inappropriate statements. In today’s times, this is referred to as eloquence.

“Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him is our return.”

When Allah Ta’ala despatches His Ambiya to propagate to a tyrant disbeliever like Fir’oun, he gives great Ambiya like Musa and Haroon (alayhimus salaam) the following guidelines,

“Speak gently to him. Perhaps he may come onto the path or fear.”

Today none of our propagators or reformers are greater than Musa and Haroon (alayhimus salaam) and their subjects are not more misguided than Fir’oun. How has it become permissible for them to dispute with someone who has an opposing view to theirs? How can they begin mocking them and then feel pleased with themselves that they have done a great service to Deen? They furthermore harbour hopes that the people will accept their endeavours.

At this point, these are the three factors in my opinion which have disunited the Muslims. Every gathering produces division, every organization results in disagreement, the result of every reformation is discord and the consequence of every propagation is hatred. Would that we gathered and pondered and thought about our own reformation before the reformation of others. This is the actual disease. Our hearts are not bereft of the love of wealth, position, jealousy and dislike for others. We are extremely proud of the fact that we refrain from theft, bribery, interest, wine, dancing and the cinema and we perform Salah and fast. This should not be only for the sake of our position of being ‘Ulama because this position does not allow it. Had we refrained from these acts sincerely for the sake of Allah Ta’ala, we would also have refrained from the love of wealth and position, jealousy, dislike, pride and showing off. The filth of these is not lesser than that of interest and wine. But these internal sins can come together with our turbans and jubbas. Therefore we do not bother about them. This is the factor that is the foundation of all estrangements. May Allah grant us all the ability to refrain from all these calamities so that we can be united and carry oit the work of propagation and reformation according to the enthusiasm and etiquette of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam).

It is not a hidden fact from the thinkers that at this moment, the main cause of the calamities of the Muslims in all places is he division and disunity among themselves. As far as numerical superiority and material means are concerned, throughtout history, the Muslims have never had greater power than what they have today.

When one ponders over the reasons for this disunity, the reason for it is negligence of Allah Ta’ala and the Hereafter. Like other nations, we have also let our reigns in pursuing the temporary wealth and honour of this world.

Our desires are destroying our society, sometimes in the form of political power struggles, business competition and mutual clashes for positions.

Sometimes our religious ideologies and differing systems cause us to mock one another. Had the focus of our attention been kufr and apostasy, as the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) did, in spite of having differences, the different groups of Muslims would have become like one saff (row) and one firm wall.

A Request to the Responsible Ulama
At present, we cannot prevent immoderation in the political and economic fields as well as in the race for honour and positions. However, the different ideologies of our religious groups can be moderated. If we consider the correct purpose of the protection of the fundamental principles of Islam and the combating of the flood of religious apostasy, this is the point of unity on which all the Muslims groups can function together. At that time, they can be effective in combating this flood.

However, a perusal of the conditions indicates that this original aim has been concealed from our sight. Consequently, all the energies of our research and education are spent on masail of differences. They are the subject of our lectures, jalsahs, journals and newspapers. Due to this action of ours, the general public is forced to think that Islam is limited to these two things. Anything contrary to whatever direction they have chosen, is regarded as misguidance and opposition to Islam. As a result, the energy which we were supposed to spend against disbelief, apostasy and the ever-spreading shamelessness in our society, is used up in mutual wrangling. The front rowards which Islam is calling us to fight in and to render sacrifices, has been left vacant for the incursion of the disbelievers.

Our society is full of social evils. Our actions and our conduct have been destroyed. There is deception in our dealings and treaties. Interest, gambling, wine, pork, indecency and adultery has permeated every nook and cranny of our lives. The question is why the inheritors of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) and the responsible people of Deen do not even express half the anger against the rebels of Allah Ta’ala that we express against those who have opposing ideologies from us? Why is the force of iman that we express at the time of idoelogical differences not manifested at this important front. Why is the force of our tongues and our pens not used against the incursion that is made against the principles of Iman and its borders as we use it in the masa’il of differences in the form of a jihad? Why don’t we all become a lead wall in front of the endeavours (of the enemy) to make Muslims apostates?

Why do we not ponder at the mission of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) and the purpose of the Qur’an which brought a revolution in the world, made foreigners in our own, removed the son of Adam (alayhis salaam) from animalism to humanity and which blessed the entire world with Islam. Was it only these masail in which we are wrangling that achieved this? Is the method we have adopted and become embroiled in the way to guide others to the right path and the way of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam).

“Has the time not come that the hearts of the believers bow down to the mention of Allah and the revealed truth.”

When will the time come for us to go beyond our ideological differences and regard the protection of the fundamentals of Islam as our obligations. We should find out about the advancing flood of Christianity and Communism in the country. We should combat using the prophetic model, the scourge of Qadiyanism, rejection of hadith and the organizations established for the uprooting of Deen.

If we do not do this, then what will be our reply to our Nabi Muhammad ﷺ on the day of reckoning when he will say that disbelief was being spread in the name of Islam, continuous efforts were being made to change my Ummah into that of my enemies, open interpolation of the Qur’an and Sunnah was occurring and an open disobedience of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul ﷺ was taking place. Where were the claimants of knowledge at that time? How much of effort and sacrifice did they make for that challenge? How many misguided people were brought onto the right track? Today we should ponder what answer we are going to proffer.

It is my sincere request to those ‘Ulama who have some feeling for Islam and the principle and the aims of iman to keep the delicateness of the purpose in front of them and firstly to make a pledge in their hearts to use their physical and educational capabilities in that front which the Qur’an and Hadith are calling to one.

The ‘Ulama should also pledge to take out the maximum time for this task from their present pre-occupations. Secondly, they should limit their mutual ideological differences to their lessons, writings and fatwas. They should not stir up these differences in public gatherings, newspapers, pamphlets, debates and disputes. They should adopt the prophetic methods even in these circles and refrain from hurtful expressions, denigrating others, mockery and passing remarks like the journalists. Thirdly, they should begin working towards removing the ills of society in a pleasant and compassionate manner. Fourthly, they should spend the energies of their tongues and pens using the wise methods of the Messengers to combat apostasy and the interpolation of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This must be in accordance to the verse of debating in the best manner.

These are the words of a pained heart which have been expressed by my tongue. It was regrettably not my position to do this nor to be so audacious in front of the ‘Ulama. If there are any beneficial points in my talk, adopt them. I have hope that if the ‘Ulama focus their attention in this direction and begin working. Allah Ta’ala will assist according to His promise. We will be able to witness this help with our own eyes.

Differences of the Ummah and the Solution
Moulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (rahimahullah) delivered a lecture with the title “Differences of the Ummah and the Solution” on another occasion. This in reality was a completion of the paper, “Unity of the Ummah”. It is therefore being published together with the latyer to make it a complete discussion, so that the details of the disease and the cure can simultaneously be examined.

When Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmudul Hasan (rahimahullah) was released from the prison of Malta after spending four years of incarceration, he returned to Darul Uloom Deoband and mentioned something very important to a gathering of ‘Ulama.

Those people who knew Shaykhul Hind rahimahullah also know that his imprisonment is not like the imprisonment of normal political leaders. During the war of independence, all his movements were only for the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala in order that the Ummah be reformed and successful. While he was a traveller in a hopeless condition, at the time of his arrest, the sentence that was on his lips gives some indication of his resoluteness and his aim. He said:

“All praises are due to Allah Ta’ala that I have been arrested due to a problem nad not due to sin.”

In the solitude of the jail, when some of his companions saw him in grief, they attempted to console him. He said, “What grief can there be for this problem which one will day terminate. I am grieving whether this hardship  and toil will be accepted by Allah or not.”

One night, after his release, he addressed the ‘Ulama after ‘Isha in Darul Uloom and said,

“I have learnt two lessons in Malta”. On hearing this, everyone shot to attention and wondered what this teacher of all teachers who taught ‘Ulama for eighty years, learnt in the final phase of his life.

He said, “I pondered in the solitude of the prison why the Muslims in the whole world are being destroyed with regard to both, their religious and worldly lives, I concluded that there are two causes for this. One is their discarding the Qur’an and secondly, their mutual differences and disputes. Accordingly, I have come with a firm intention from there to spend the rest of my life in spreading the Qur’an by making its words and meanings common. Madrasahs should be established  to teach the children Qur’an in every village. The adults should be educated with the meanings of the Qur’an in the form of Qur’anic lessons. They should be encouraged to practise on the Qur’anic teachings. Under no circumstances must the mutual disputes and quarrels of the Muslims be tolerated.”

After taking the pulse of the Ummah and diagnosing their diseases, he continuously spent the remaining days of his life in administering the cure in spite of his ill-health, weakness and pre-occupations. He himself started the lessons of the Qur’an in which all the ‘Ulama of the city and great luminaries like Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani rahimahullah and Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani rahimahullah participated. The general public and I myself has the honour of participating. But after this incident, only a few days of Hadhrat (rahimahullah)’s life remained.

Today also, the problems the Muslims are facing have the same two causes if one has to examine them with insight:

1. Discarding the Qur’an and
2. mutual in-fighting

If one ponders, this in-fighting is also caused by abandoning the Qur’an. If we had practised even a little on the Qur’an, our disputes would both have reached this stage.

The Limits of Differences of Opinion
Having differences of opinion is not a despised act if it remains within limits. Man’s creator has placed the emotions of anger and defence in man’s nature according to wisdom. This is essential for man’s existence and progress. But He has kept this emotion for defence against enemies. If its direction changes, either due to erring in recognizing the enemy or specifying him, or due to some other reason, when the enemy changes his direction, he will become the cause of his own destruction. Consequently, the Qur’an has specified the direction of the enemy of the believer,

“Shaytan is your enemy. Always regard him as your enemy.”

This means that the target of the believer’s anger and attack should also be shaytan and satanic forces. When the direction of his war is this way (towards shaytan), it is called jihad in the terminology of the Qur’an. This is the greatest form of worship. It is mentioned in a hadith that jihad is the noblest task in Islam. However, if the direction of the war moves away from here, instead of jihad, it will now be fasad (corruption) to save which, all the messengers (alayhimus salaam) and divine books of Allah were sent. In its apparent form there seems to be no difference between jihad and fasad. The differentiating factor that makes it a jihad is if the focus of attack is Shaytan and the forces of shaytan, otherwise it will be termed as fasad.

The two-nation theory which created Pakistan is the practical detailed outline of this brief statement. The believers of Islam are one united nation and the non-believers are another nation. This should be the direction of their moral struggle.

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) has mentioned one of the wisdoms of jihad. When the emotions of anger and defence which are naturally kept within man, find their natural exit through jihad, the mutual quarrels and in-fighting automatically disappear. The example of this is a roof which does not have gutters for the storm water to flow out. The water will gather on the roof, break it and go through.

Peace and War with Whom?
If we ponder today, this example applies to the whole Islamic world. The hatred of indecency, and immorality has exited the hearts due to satanic teachings, disbelief, apostasy and oppression. The field of dislike, rebellion and enmity is pointed towards one’s own limbs. Fights are caused due to trivial matters. If there is a dot of difference, it is increased and changed into a mountain. This has become the nutrition of the media. Such efforts are made from both sides as if jihad is being implemented. It is as if two warring factions are having a battle. No person looks at himself to see that his own house is flowing away in the deluge.

From Governmental politics till Family life and dealings, all manifest this phenomenon. Those who read the verse, “All the believers are brothers” are physically contending with one another. Where the Qur’an encouraged forgiving, overlooking and forbearing, there battles are taking place.  Where it called one to perform jihad, that front is left desolate for the incursion of the enemies. Alas! Only to Allah can we complain. Where there is a race for positions in assemblies, councils, muncipal boards, government positions and employment, a competition in trade and business, a conflict in properties and lands which is purely a battle for one’s own rights and the leaving of which according to everyone is regarded as high morality and good conduct, there no one is prepared to move an inch.

Firstly, the number of people working for the sake of Deen and religion is very small. Whatever number there is, is used up in subsidiary issues while losing sight of the principal fundamental teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The minutest of issues has become a battleground. Even major sins like backbiting, falsehood, harming Muslims, slander and mocking  are not even considered. Disputes and fights are occuring in the houses of Allah in the name of religion. The matter even reaches the police and the courts.

These religious people do not have so much hatred for those who mock Allah and His Rasul ﷺ, who drink wine and who partake of interest as they have for those who oppose their views.

No person ever looks at the positive or negative aspects to realize that this in no way can permit fighting among the Muslims whereby backbiting, slandering and despising can be tolerated.

A Wrong Endeavour in Reforming
When the focus of our newly educated reformers goes towards the destructive results of these mutual differences, and they consider the cure, they only find the evils in these differences which occur in the name of religion. They only think of solving the problem by effacing these differences. At that time they forget all the battles that are fought purely for personal motives, for which another person’s life, honour and wealth become permissible. Behind these battles, the entire Country becomes embroiled in the flood of hatred but because they have given it the name of new culture and nobility, neither does it remain an illness for the nation nor is there a need to ponder about the cure. Only the mullas are disgraced in these differences and fights. People are only pondering about the cure for this whereas the differences that are occurring in the name of religion, are caused mainly, if one ponders, due to exceeding the limits.  These are not personal rights which can be given preference. They are the differences in interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah which cannot be terminated.

Some of our modern reformers have regarded the entire problem to be limited to these differences and have suggested the cure of removing these differences and establishing a new common school of thought. The whole nation should have the same school of thought so that the root of all differences is effaced.

However, this procedure is neither logically possible in religious issues nor practically possible. Yes, if there are purely secular dealings in which the disputes regards to personal rights, people can overlook their demands and an amicable agreement can be reached. Therefore, the cure for mutual differences is ot to efface the differences in opinion and make everyone conform to one view.

Differences in Opinion and Quarreling
It is not a hidden fact from the people of insight that there are many issues in secular and religious matters in which there can be a difference of opinion. Having a differing view is a natural intellectual requirement. There can only be agreement in two cases:

Either there are no people of insight among the gathering. One person says something and all the others agree with him. Or one deliberately goes against one’s own opinion in order to please the next person. Otherwise, if there is intelligence and honesty, then it is essential to have a difference of opinion. This difference of opinion is never harmful in any condition and in fact, provides food for thought for the others. It is for this reason that opposition parties are regarded as essential in the assemblies.

The differences in the explanation of the unspecified and brief texts of the Qur’an and Hadith have been termed a mercy. This began from the initial era of Islam – the era of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), the Tabi’in and thereafter the mujtahid Imams. The meaning of wiping off these differences which the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) had, cannot be any other but to regard one group of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) as being misled. This is totally in conflict with the with the text of the Qur’an and Hadith. It is for this reason that Hafiz Dhahabi (rahimahullah) said that it is impossible to completely wipe off the difference in opinion which the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) had in any issue.

The Modus Operandi of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and the Mujtahidin (rahimahumullah)
Together with this, it is essential to keep the history of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), the Tabi’in and the Mujtahidin in front of us. There was not a single incident where their differences of opinion led to a fight or argument. In spite of having differences, they performed Salah behind one another and kept all the brotherly contact among themselves. This was a great achievement on their part.

The dispute in political issues among the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) was a preordained issue based on the wisdom of Allah Ta’ala. They fought among themselves with swords but during the beginning of this dissent, when the oppressed Khalifah, ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) was beseiged by the rebels and the rebels made imamat, ‘Uthman (radhiyallahu anhu) told the Muslims to perform Salah behind them. He mentioned a general rule,

“If they do any good act, assist them in it, and when they commit any wrong act, refrain from it.”

By rendering them with this guidance, he played with his life and provided the correct explanation of the verse,

“Assist one another in virtue and piety and do not assist one another in sin and enmity.”

In this way he shut the doors of mutual divisions and quarrels.

At the end of this dissent, when the battle raged between ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) and Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu), the Roman government seized the opportunity and extended its hand of friendship and assistance to Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) in order to win him over to their side. Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu)’s reply was, “Do not be deceived by our differences. If you had to turn your direction towards the Muslims, I will be the first soldier in the army of ‘Ali to combat you.”

This indicates that the fundamental realities of Islam were not hidden from anyone’s view although the differences had become so severe due to the treachery of the hypocrites.

In short, the differences which the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), Tabi’in and Mujtahidin had among themselves in explaining the Qur’an and Hadith, was undoubtedly a mercy. No aspect of it was harmful for the Muslims, neither before nor can it be today. The condition is that it must remain within the limits which they confined themselves to. These differences has no effect on their Salah, Jama’ah, Imamat and social life.

Disputes and Reformation
Other differences in the name of religion that occurred after the first era had the titles of sunnah, bid’ah, etc. Many people discarded the correct principles in interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah and made their own opinion their leaders. They created new issues. This is undoubtedly that division which the Qur’an and Sunnah warns the Muslims about.

Any endeavour to terminate or decrease it was definitely beneficial. However, the Qur’an has mentioned a method of curtailing it as well. These are the principles of inviting towards good from amongst which the first one is wisdom, tact, then rendering good advice sympathetically and calling the people gently towards the correct meaning of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Finally, one has to debate in a best possible manner, that is, to present evidence in order to be clearly understood. Regrettably, the people of knowledge in general and the reformers have forsaken these principles. They are only engrossed in debate, and that too, without any conditions. They mock their adversaries using all kinds of tricks whether they are true or false, permissible or impermissible. The inevitable consequence of this is fighting, arguing and corruption.

The Temporary Cure
Today, when the division of the Muslims has reached its pinnacle, no person is prepared to listen to anything that goes against his own views. There is no such force that can make any group submit to one view. There is only one path to save Islam and the Muslims from mutual fights and the destructive effects of in-fighting and that is, the responsible members of every group should ponder whether the issues they are dabbling in and having differences about, are the fundamental issues of Islam for which the Qur’an was revealed and for which Rasulullah ﷺ was sent. Did Rasulullah ﷺ sacrifice his life for them or are the fundamental issues of Islam are something else. In this country (Pakistan), the Christians are seeing dreams of making it a Christian country by exerting all their energies and using all their formidable means at their disposal. On the other hand, the masses are openly mocking the teachings of Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul ﷺ. Everything is being done in the name of Islam for which the Qur’an and Islam came into this world to wipe out. The people are rejecting the important fundamentals and having become embroiled in research of these secondary issues. If Allah and His Rasul ﷺ have to make a demand from us as to what we did when all these attacks were taking place against Deen, what will be our reply??

I am certain that if any group ponders beyond its present disputes, it will sorely regret its pre-occupation and it will change its direction. The mutual enmity will decrease as a result.

At this point, I am not telling anyone to change his views. I am merely requesting people to find the correct avenue to utilise their energies. The mutual differences should be limited to the lessons in the classroom, fatwas and research journals. Here also, the tone must be gentle according to the principles of propagation of the Qur’an. Regarding the despising of another as poison. Our public jalsah, newspapers and posters should be involved in promoting the unanimous masail and the fundamentals of Islam instead of increasing the mutual differences. Our fight, which has become a transgression, can change into moral struggle. As a result, the attention of the public can be turned away from mutual squabbles towards the correct service of Deen.

The Correct and Incorrect Methods
Many people see the differences of the ‘Ulama in masa’il and ask where they should go to. Hidden in the depth of this statement is the fact that now they are not going to listen to anyone and will do as they please. This innocent question of theirs apparently seems to be correct. Yet if they ponder a little, they will find the answer in their dealings occurring around them.

A person fell ill. There was a difference of opinion among the doctors and physicians regarding his diagnosis. What should they do? Should they not find out about the qualifications of the doctors, or find out from the patients of these doctors or from other experienced people and then choose one doctor for the treatment? Whatever he diagnosis and prescribes will then be accepted. But they don’t go around denigrating the other doctors. Here no one says that because the doctors have a difference of opinion, leave all of them. Do whatever you feel according to your own opinion. Why don’t they do the same with the differences of the ‘Ulama??

Take another example. You have to present a case in court. You consulted the learned lawyer. If there is a difference of opinion among them, no person says that the case should not be brought to the court or do not listen to any lawyer. Do whatever you feel is right in your opinion. What happens is that every person tries to find out in different ways who the best and most reliable lawyer is. He then appoints him as his lawyer while at the same time, although having differences with them, does not regard other lawyers as his enemy. He does not criticize them or fight with them.

Why is this natural and simple principle not applied at the time of the differences of the ‘Ulama. Remember another point at this juncture. In the matter of illness or a court case, if you appointed a wrong doctor or an unreliable doctor, the harm will most certainly affect you. However, in the matters of the differences of the ‘Ulama, there is no danger of any harm. It is mentioned in a hadith that if a person asked a learned man a question and he gave a wrong reply, the sin will not be upon the questioner. The person issuing the fatwa (verdict) will be responsible. The condition is that you found out from such a person whom you trusted, after investigating that he was a reliable learned man, just as you would for a doctor or a lawyer. After spending your energy in finding out from an authentic learned man, you are not responsible for any errors thereafter. Allah Ta’ala will regard you as innocent. Even if he delivers the wrong verdict, there will be no harm or accusation against you. Yes, this should not happen that for a doctor you find out that he has an M.B.B.S degree and what kind of patients are treated more in his surgery, but for an alim, you merely limited yourself to his turban, kurtah and beard and that he can speak in a jalsah. If you did this, then you are not absolved of your responsibility. If he erred in his ruling, you will also be held responsible for the error.

Two Fundamentals of Mutual Wrangling
There are two fundamentals with regard to the disputes that are prevalent today in the name of religion. Firstly, the ‘Ulama of every group and party are involved and secondly, the public that follow them.

If the ‘Ulama, in their research and criticism, refrain from despising and denigrating others, in accordance with the Qur’anic principles of propagation, is there any problem with this? They should turn the direction of their endeavours towards the fundamental issues of Islam in which no group has any difference of opinion. The calamities that are befalling the Muslims are related to these issues. Similarly, the general masses should spend their efforts in finding an authentic aalim and follow his guidance. They should not dispute with other ‘Ulama. The mutual fighting and wrangling, which has made the Muslims useless, can be terminated in spite of having of having all the sects and their differences. There is merely the need to pay a little attention and change the course of action. Now I wish this message of mine reach the people who can do some work in this field. Merely with the name of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala and His Rasul, they should stand up with this compassionate invitation. Many of the difficulties of the Ummah can be removed and our society can be rescued from the destructive cave it has landed itself in.

The Treatment for General Political Disputes
In religious matters, whatever direction a person has chosen, he regards it as the teaching of Allah and His Rasul ﷺ even though in reality, it may be wrong. However, he believes it to be Deen. Under these conditions, the effort must continously be made to sympathetically convince him what the correct path is. However, as long as this view of his does not change, he cannot be invited to change his view and adopt one another in order to strike a deal of reconciliation. He can only be told to keep his differing opinion within limits and not forego the Qur’anic principles of wisdom, advice and debating in a best manner.

Where the matter deals with personal rights and desires, it is very easy. In order to avoid disputes, leave your rights for others. The one who does this, will be honoured in this world and the purpose which has left, can be obtained through another way. He will receive great glad tidings in the hereafter for which the world and all its governments and wealth cannot be a replacement.

Rasulullah ﷺ said,

“I take responsibility to give the person a house in the middle of Jannah who has left disputing un spite of being right.”

In conclusion, I repeat my earlier statement that the root of all our problems is because of adandoning the Qur’an and disputing among ourselves. This mutual dispute is also because of not being aware of the Qur’anic teachings or is as a result of negligence. Partisanship has made these realities concealed from our view.

Although there is a minority of pious people in the world, but there is no lack of them. Regrettably there is a severe drought of such people who can take their heads out of their tiny circles, look outside and answer the call of Islam and the Qur’an.

May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala grant us the ability to tread the path of Deen.

October 27th: The Darkest Day Of Kashmiri History

Why Kashmiris around the world commemorate this day every year.

27th October 1947 is being the darkest day of the Kashmir history, on this unfaithful day when Indian Armed forces with the help of British conspirators landed their forces in the peaceful land of Kashmir. It was 2 pm when first British Imperial Royal Air-forces plane landed on the air strip of Srinagar and it is the day when the illegal occupation of Kashmir started by Indians, it was the same year that Israelis with the help of British disembarked on the shore of Palestine and we can say the 1947 marked as the year of starting of Dual Nakhba, it was to weaken the power of two Muslims nucleus of power of Ottomans empire in Middle East with the illegal occupation of Palestine and other in the heart of Mughal empire with the invasion of Kashmir.

Kashmir known to the world as a paradise on the earth, lies between India, China and Pakistan, size of 86,000 square kilometers, 6000 feet above the seas level, three times the size of Belgium, it is situated at most high altitude and now turned into a prison for 14 million Muslims, since 1947 over 100,000 Kashmiris had been killed in brutal way by Indian army in their attempt to suppress the Kashmiri demand for a Free and Fair referendum, which has been enshrined in UNSC resolution 47 of 1948 (S/726).

The biggest casualty of this catastrophe is the women and children of Kashmir, women have been used as weapon of war. There is no normalcy in Kashmiri peoples lives, there is no freedom of expression, speech, association and movement, even Muslim cannot walk to masjid in group of three, and if they do, they order to shoot to kill as prescribed in Indian ordained draconian laws in Kashmir. Alas, very little attention had been paid by Ummah to bring a peace in valley of Kashmir, as Kashmir is burning for last 70 years, as we glorify India and consume her goods and services. If it is haraam to buy Israeli products then it is haraam to watch Bollywood movies, as one more coca cola we buy and drink is one more bullet into the nozzle of Israelis soldiers, and one more subscription to ZEE Tv or Bollywood movies, one more Kashmiri will die.

To understand the 70 years old dispute of Kashmir one need to look at six most important aspect:

1. Background: Pre Indo-Pak Kashmir
2. Kashmir and Act of Indian independence.
3. Demystified instrument of accession
4. Nehru approached UN and UNSC resolution
5. Status quo
6. Possible role thay can be played by International and Muslim world.

1. Background: Kashmir Pre Indo-Pak independence

When the British left India in 1947, British-controlled states, also called British India, were divided between India and Pakistan in a plebiscite along religious lines. Twelve million Hindus and Muslims fled from one area to another and half a million people lost their lives in the ensuing communal riots. Under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, the paramountcy of the British over about 600 princely states lapsed and these states were free to join India or Pakistan or become sovereign. The Indian National Congress had demanded that the two-nation theory [one for Hindus and another for Muslims] be applied to these princely states as well. In 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and his Muslim League party, however, said that the princely states were sovereign for every purpose. In order to accommodate Jinnah’s point of view, the British enacted article 7(b) of the Indian Independence Act of 1947. (The Indian Act of Independence 1935, clearly state that if a princely state have majority Hindu population, it will automatically be  formed of Hindustan and Muslim majority areas to be formed Pakistan, the sovereign state of Kashmir had a 90% Muslim majority and it should have been awarded to Pakistan).

For some unknown reason head of boundary commission Sir Radcliff left the Kashmir as un-awarded and awarded Ferozpura which was Muslim majority area to India, and this state in North-west Punjab provide India with a vital road link to Kashmir.

Within a few months after independence, Sardar Patel, the Indian home minister, integrated 561 princely states, covering 800,000 square kilometers and containing a population of 86 million, into India. For this reason Patel is often compared with Otto von Bismarck, who unified Germany in the late 19th century. His work was much harder than that of Bismarck, who used “blood and iron” to integrate 39 states, whereas Patel integrated 561 without shedding blood or going to war.

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was one of these princely states. Had it been part of British India, it would have gone to Pakistan, since Muslims constituted about 90 percent of the state’s population. After the lapse of the paramountcy in August 1947, the Maharaja of J&K, Hari Singh, was uninterested in joining either country. He enter into a standstill agreement with India and Pakistan, but Nehru with the help of British imperial Air-force landed Indian forces into the valleys of Srinagar on the 27th October 1947, under the false pretext of that Maharaja Hari Singh had signed an instrument of accession to cede Kashmir to India. This so called Instrument of accession is still to be provided by India into international court of justice, but this document does not exist. Indian landed their armed forces illegally to occupied Kashmir against the will of Kashmiri people.

This illegal act of invasion of Kashmir state by India prelude to the breakout of civil unrest and end up in civil war. Nehru underestimated the situation on ground and took the matter to UN to legitimized their illegal landing of armed forces. UNSC listen to the complaint laid by Nehru and representation by Pakistan in its defense, subsequently passed the resolution, UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948 (S/726) which compelled Indian to hold free and fair plebiscites for three months. Indian PM Nehru accepted the resolution, but since then it has been denied to afford an opportunity for a referendum to facilitate Kashmiri rights of practicing “Right of Self Determination”.

Extract of UNSC Res 47 of 1948 S/726 Para B stipulation 6 to 9


6. The Government of India should undertake to ensure that the Government of the State invite the major political groups to designate responsible representatives to share equitably and fully in the conduct of the administration at the ministerial level while the plebiscite is being prepared and carried out.

7. The Government of India should undertake that there will be established in Jammu and Kashmir a Plebiscite Administration to hold a plebiscite as soon as possible on the question of the accession of the State to India or Pakistan.

8. The Government of India should undertake that there will be delegated by the State to the Plebiscite Administration such powers as the latter considers necessary for holding a fair and impartial plebiscite including, for that purpose only, the direction and supervision of the State forces and police.

9. The Government of India should, at the request of the Plebiscite Administration, make available from the Indian forces such assistance as the Plebiscite Administration may require for the performance of its functions.
The resolution was approved by nine votes against none. The Soviet Union and Ukraine abstained”.

Currently, India, Pakistan, and China control 45 percent, 35 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the original J&K territory. China received about 35,000 square kilometers in Aksai Chin in the 1962 war with India as spoil of war. Indian Kashmir has three regions: Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh. The Indian-controlled Kashmir Valley (IKV), Jammu, and Ladakh have Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist majorities respectively. Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PAK) has a Muslim majority.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars — in 1947-48, 1965, and 1971 — and two out of these were over Kashmir. In addition to this, India has been fighting a covert war in Kashmir since 1989. The two countries came close to a full-scale war in 1999 when some freedom-fighters occupied the peaks in Kashmir overlooking the important Indian highway linking Srinagar to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. It is known as Kargil war, and a full scale war was averted at 11th hour by the direct intervention by Clinton administration.

The Status Quo:

Since the 1947, Kashmir has  remained in the state of emergency and in perpetual curfew. There is no freedom of movement, association, speech and self-expression. In recent years all internet connection have been banned and total communication is tapped.

There is no normal life, even going to masjid in group of 3 will attract the rule of law “ Shot to kill” as prescribed by POTA act Prevention of Terrorist Act.
Kashmir remain the highly militarized zone in the world with 750,000 Indian army and 200,000 BSF Border security forces. It has been witnessed and reported that at every 50 metres, there is an Indian soldier stationed to monitor the movement of Kashmiri people.

Women had become the weapon of War and the biggest casualty of the this tragedy are children and vulnerable women of Kashmir.

In 2005, there had been a discovered of 5000 unmarked mass graves site and international inquiry had been curtailed to blocked the investigation.

Statistical Human Right Violation in Kashmir:
Politically motivated murder over 100,000
Forceful abduction and arbitrary arrests: 17,000
Political prison without legal representation in jails: 32,013
Arson attacks: 7,890
Fake encounters: 2790
Women rape and molested: 21,345
Widows: 19,459
Orphans: 27,089
Violence against women and girls:

Reported crimes against women and girls continued to rise. According to statistics released in August, over 327,000 crimes against women were registered in 2015. Women from marginalized communities continued to face systemic discrimination, making it harder for them to report sexual or other forms of violence.
Source: Amnesty international :

Extrajudicial executions

In April, a former Manipur state policeman told journalists that he had been involved in more than 100 extrajudicial executions in the state between 2002 and 2009. In July, the Supreme Court, hearing a case related to over 1,500 extrajudicial executions in Manipur, ruled that armed forces personnel should not enjoy “blanket immunity” from trials in civilian courts, and that the allegations needed to be looked into.

Sources Amnesty international:
Rape as weapon of War report by Human Right Watch:

Click to access INDIA935.PDF

Documentation of human right violation in Kashmir :

What can we Do to assist the Plight of Muslims of Kashmir:

What international community and Muslim ummah should demand to UN and India and also to South Africa government.

First and foremost as Muslim we must turn to Allah and pray to Him to ease the prevailing suffering on Kashmiri brothers and sisters and ask for His mercy to melt the heart of Muslim ruler and influential leaders in our community to pay attention towards the ongoing violence in Kashmir and use whatever leverage we have whether it may be economic saction, social, political and moral boycott of India in order for them to stop their state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.

Furthermore we must demand the following:

We demand that the United Nation take immediate responsibility and permit the independent Human Rights bodies to do a fact–finding mission into IoK Indian Occupied Kashmir and more specifically the affected areas to investigate the allegations of mass rape, genocide, war crimes, mass graves, arbitrary arrest, forcefully abductions, fake encounters and all other civil and social crimes against Muslims of Kashmir.

These atrocities are being systemically orchestrated against the Muslim of Kashmir people since 1947 and prior thereto to suppress their just struggle to determine their fate.

We demand that the continuing ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Muslims of Kashmir including war crimes and crimes against humanity cease immediately and withdrawal of 750,000 Indian armed forces

We demand that the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide must be immediately investigated, arrested and indicted for international war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We demand the immediate arrest and prosecution of Modi’s RSS ”Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh” right wing ultra-nationalist leaders who spread Islamophobic hate speech and incite violence which is causally linked to the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Muslims of Kashmir.

The Indian Government must implement whatever measures are necessary for the immediate end to all hostilities and atrocities being perpetrated against the Kashmiri people. This must include the recommendations of the Advisory and investigative Commission on Indian Occupied Kashmir State, led by former UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan.

The Indian Government must implement measures for normalize daily lives in Kashmir, allow freedom of speech, freedom of association, access to all civil, social and political liberties. The Indian Government must allow the unhindered access of international humanitarian aid and relief into all affected areas since 1947.

The Indian Government must immediately allow the United Nations and SAHRC South African Human Right Commission, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty international groups as well as independent observers into affected areas with the purpose of protecting the people of Kashmir and documenting the perpetration of gross violation of human rights since 1947.

We demand proper and immediate medical care and unhindered access of medical personnel and supplies including international medical rescue and the Red Cross, Al-Imdaad international, Islamic Relief, Gift of the Giver foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children and similar organizations into all affected areas to provide the necessary urgent services required by the displaced and suffering people of Muslims of Indian occupied Kashmir.

We state that the process of rehabilitation from the effects of brutality, ethnic cleansing and genocide, psychological counseling is of paramount importance to ordinary civilians, women and children abused and devastated in conflict areas.

We demand that the Muslim of Kashmir be accorded their fundamental human rights and freedoms. The Myanmar Government including all its organs of state and military must adhere to and respect the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiris as guaranteed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Notwithstanding the aforesaid, measures must also be implemented for the immediate and unfettered investigation and prosecution of perpetrators under Rome statue and by International Criminal Court in Hague.

We state unequivocally that under her watch the Indian military under the leadership of Commander in Chief Narendra Modi supported by ultra-nationalist and extremist Hindus RSS and other right wing organizations have committed unconscionable deeds such as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide and political extermination.

The respect for international law, international humanitarian law and Geneva conventions must prevail under all circumstances where equality, human dignity, preservation of human life and human rights are paramount.

Most importantly there must be an immediate implementation plan towards the holding for free and fair plebiscites as promised by UN and enshrined in UNSC resolution 47 of 1948, so Kashmiris can practice their right of Self-determination.

The Kashmiris must be guaranteed freedom to practice their religion, the rights to freely associate, freedom of trade, freedom of movement, education, privacy and all other fundamental rights accorded with equality and human dignity.

Issued By:
Salman Khan.
SAKAG “ South Africa Kashmiri Action Group”.
Founder and Chairman SAKAG
082 691 6048

The Bani Isra’il and the Muslim Ummah

[Lecture on the Occasion of Eid at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama rendered by Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Manzoor Nu’mani (rahimahullah)]

Translated by Maulana Zaheer Ishaq

My respected brothers and elders, on this occasion I want to make mention of something which I feel is of utmost importance. Therefore, listen attentively.

Those of you who are briefly acquainted with the subject matter of Qur’an either by studying the translation or by participating in the gatherings of tafsir of the Qur’an will know that from time to time, mention is made of the Bani Israil. The Qur’an Majeed is not a book of history, neither is it a story book, but rather it is a book of guidance. Making mention of the incident of the Bani Israil so often is also for this very purpose.

Who were the Bani Israil? Understand it in this manner that they were the Muslims of that era, who not only believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam), but were of their progeny as well. Hadhrat Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) had a son, Hadhrat Ishaq (alayhis salaam), and Hadhrat Ishaq (alayhis salaam) had a son, Hadhrat Yaqub (alayhis salaam) whose title was Isra’il. Yaqub (alayhis salaam)’s progeny are therefore called the Bani Isra’il (Children of Isra’il).

There were a people who believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). They believed in Ibrahim (alayhis salaam), Ishaq (alayhis salaam), Yaqub (alayhis salaam). During the time of Nabi ﷺ the Bani Isra’il were divided into two groups, those who did not believe in ‘Isa (alayhis salaam), but opposed him although they believed in the Prophets before him. The second group were those who believed in ‘Isa (alayhis salaam). When the Qur’an speaks of Bani Isra’il, reference is made to both these groups. In reality there were of one lineage. Understand their condition that they were like today’s Muslims. We know today’s Muslims accept the Qur’an as Allah’s book and Nabi ﷺ as the final Prophet. Similarly the Bani Isra’il used to believe in the divine book of their time, and in the Prophets of their time. However their condition deteriorated more or less like how we Muslims have deteriorated today.

This was their general condition – as is our general condition. It was not such that during the time of Nabi ﷺ, not even one person amongst them was not on the straight path. In many places in the Qur’an it has been mentioned clearly that amongst the People of the book – the Bani Israil also there were many pious and upright individuals also, as it appears in the Qur’an:

That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. And when they listen to what has been revealed to the Messenger (Nabi ﷺ) you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say, “Our Lord! We believe, so write us down among the witnesses”. [Surah Maidah: 82-83]

In this ayah, mention has been made regarding the Christians of Ethiopia that amongst them there were such upright scholars and pious people in whom there was no pride. Furthermore, Allah Ta’ala mentions their condition that when they listen to the ayat of the Qur’an, they immediately recognize the truth and tears flow from their eyes and they supplicate to Allah Ta’ala saying: “O our Lord! We bring Iman, therefore count us amongst those who testify to the truth.”

Nevertheless, from amongst the People of the book – Bani Israil there were also such individuals who were pious, sincere and brought true Iman but as far as the general masses are concerned, there condition was just as I have mentioned.

In a Hadith, Nabi ﷺ mentioned:

The gist of this hadith is that before the advent of Nabi ﷺ, Allah Ta’ala looked at the entire creation from east to west, north to south, Arab to Non-Arab. Everyone’s lives were totally disliked by Allah Ta’ala, hence making them deserving of Allah’s anger except for the few individuals from the people of the book – Bani Isra’il who were good, upright people, whom Allah Ta’ala was pleased with.

At another juncture in the Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala says:

And (remember) when we took a covenant from the Bani Israil, (saying): Worship none but Allah (alone) and be dutiful and good to parents, and to relatives, and ro orphans and the poor, and speak good to people, and perform Salah and give Zakah. Then you turned away, except a few of you, while you showing aversion. [Surah Baqarah: 83]

In this ayah, Allah Ta’ala makes mention of those major commands which He commanded the Bani Israil with, such as Tawhid (the belief in the Oneness of Allah Ta’ala), to be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, to fulfil the rights of the needy. He also told them to talk kindly to all human kind without exception, to establish Salah (prayer) and to give Zakah.

As you may have already realized, these are the fundamental principles and teachings on which emphasis was placed in the teachings of every Nabi and divine book of Allah Ta’ala. The fundamental teachimgs of the Qur’an and the Shari’ah which Nabi ﷺ brought are the very same. The Bani Israil also received these basic teachings, but what happened thereafter?? Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says:

Thereafter (after a few days) you turned away from these fundamental teachings except for a few individuals from amongst you. [Surah Baqarah: 83]

The Qur’an did not say that you, in general rejected and became renegades (to leave your religion and opt for another), but the Qur’an mentions that your general condition became such that you had no connection left with these teachings whilst you did not verbally falsify or reject. This was the condition of your general masses, though amongst you there were few individuals who were not involved in this general deterioration.

The Qur’an has also emphasised, along with these fundamental principles, that the Bani Israil should not kill one another unjustly, nor should they exile one another from their homes without a good reason. Thereafter the Qur’an clearly mentions that just as they turned away from the fundamental principles, they in exactly the same manner turned away from the other special commands from Allah Ta’ala. However, they practiced on a small portion of the special commands of Allah Ta’ala, in which they saw some personal or national benefit and overlooked the vast majority of Allah’s commands. The Qur’an has drawn a picture of this misconduct of theirs in the following words:

Has your condition become such that you obey some of Allah’s commands and reject others. [Surah Baqarah: 85]

In other words, you treat some commands of Allah Ta’ala as a Mu’min (believer) would treat them and with others you treat the commands as a Kafir (disbeliever) would treat them.

You and I should ponder deeply. Allah Ta’ala regards those commands which are practiced upon as ‘Iman’ (belief) and those commands which are not practiced as Kufr (disbelief). In other words, not practicing upon Allah’s commands is tantamount to Kufr (disbelief) even though a person verbally says he believes. From this we understand what the real Iman is upon in which Allah Ta’ala’s promises are based and what is that actually Kufr upon which Allah Ta’ala severe punishment are based in this world and the hereafter.

The Qur’an informs the Bani Israil of the severe punishment of this behaviour of theirs. Allah Azza Wa Jal says:

Then what is the recompense of those who do among you, except disgrace in the life of this world and on the day of resurrection   they shall be condemned to the most grievous torment. And Allah Ta’ala is not unaware of what you do. [Surah Baqarah:85]

That nation whose condition is such that majority of its followers practice on some commands of Allah Ta’ala and breaks most commands, what can its end result be except that in this world it will be afflicted with perpetual disgrace. Thereafter, their matter will not be completed but rather on the Day of Resurrection they will face an extremely severe punishment.

Now I wish to tell you that after mentioning the condition of Bani Israil and being informed of their history, in reality a mirror has been placed in front of us and as if we have been told that keep on assessing your condition in this mirror and understand well that before you there was a nation who like you were the Muslims of their era and believed in the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam). For a few days they thread on the correct path and Allah’s mercies and blessings enshrouded them.

However, gradually their condition became such that the majority practically turned away from most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. As a result according to the law of Allah Ta’ala all mercies and blessings were snatched away and disgrace and humiliation took their place.

Therefore understand this well that the day your general condition becomes like the Bani Israil, your end result will be exactly the same as theirs. What was the Bani Israil’s end result? At other junctures in the Qur’an much more details are mentioned. At one place Allah Ta’ala says:

So, when the promise came of the first of the two, we sent against you slaves of Ours given to terrible warfare. They entered the very innermost part of your homes. And it was a promise fulfilled.

In this Ayah, Allah Ta’ala clearly states that when the Bani Israil violated the commandments of Allah Ta’ala and chose the path of evil and corruption, we placed over them some of our powerful slaves. Who were these powerful slaves? They were not some pious, Allah fearing people  but rather the worst of the disbelievers and arrogant people. However sometimes when a person wants to punish and diagrace someone, then the bhangis (scavengers) are called to beat him up, in order to disgrace him.

The Qur’an tells us that when the Bani Israil, who were the children of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) broke the commands of Allah Ta’ala and started living according to their desires and passions, Allah placed such disbelievers over them, who were oppressive, unjust, hard hearted and merciless. What did these unjust disbelievers do to the Bani Israil? The Qur’an tells us that city after city, village after village and town after town was completely and totally destroyed. They looted houses, set fire to them, killed, murdered and butchered people. Not only that but it is also recorded in the history of the Bani Israil that the oppressors took the copies of the book of Allah (Taurat) and burnt it in front of their eyes. So besides losing wealth and property, their Deen and spirituality was also destroyed.

My respected elders and brothers! Just as was mentioned, you and I need to assess ourselves in front of this mirror of the Bani Israil and take stock of our lives. By means of the final book, the Qur’an and the final Prophet, Nabi ﷺ, those guidlines and commands which we have been given are the very same guidline and commands which the previous nations used to receive by means of every Nabi, among which the very first is Tauhid. What is Tauhid? Tauhid is not only reciting the kalimah with our tongues. Tauhid is actually a reality; a condition and conviction of the heart. Conviction that Allah Ta’ala, who is alone and has no partners, is the only deity and owner of everything and to worship him alone, to have hope only in Him and to fear only Him. To have firm belief that in this entire system of the universe, only Allah’s commands makes everything happen and nothing happens without His command. Death is only in his hands. Life is only in His hands. Sickness is only in His hands. Honour and disgrace is also only in His hands. Hence worship and submission is only for Him and Du’a is to be made only unto him. To submit only to Him and to love only Him. This is Tauhid. To deviate even a little from this cannot be rolerated by Allah Ta’ala. In fact, to turn our attention even for one moment away from Allah to some other being will never be tolerated by Allah. Let alone thinking that some pious living saint or some saint who has left this world can help in any way, whether it will be in that barakah (blessings) will be received through him in my business, or a court case would be won, or I will receive children. So I swear by Allah Azza Wa Jal, this is clear and open shirk (ascribing partners) with Allah Ta’ala.

After Tauhid the most emphasised commands of Allah are Salah and Zakah. Those people who know and understand the tone and language of the Qur’an and know the status these actions hold which Rasulullah explained to the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and which they understood, they will know that without Salah and Zakah a person cannot be a true believer. With whatever amount of sincerity and importance a Muslim will practice on these two commands, accordingly the light of Iman will enter his hearts and effect of Islam will enter his actions. Regarding Salah, understand this also that just to perform Salah and only read it is insufficient. Rather it is also necessary that the effort should be made to perform the best Salah. The inner and outer aspects of our Salah should gain some similarity with the Salah of Nabi. We should find out from the Ulama in our towns how Nabi ﷺ performed Salah, how his ruku, sajdah, qirat was etc. What was the condition of his heart, on what should we contemplate whilst recting Surah Fatihah or whilst reciting tasbeeh in ruku’ or sajdah?

My dear brothers and elders! To make this effort concerning Salah is Fard (compulsory) upon us. If whilst endeavouring to perform Salah correctly and perfectly we pass away then whatever deficiency remains in our Salah, Allah Ta’ala will forgive us. If there is no effort at all to correct and perfect our Salah then we will have to suffer a great loss.

Concerning Zakah, Nabi ﷺ took an oath and said that Zakah will never ever decrease a person’s wealth. Now, on the one hand is the word of Rasulullah ﷺ and on the other hand is Shaytan’s evil whispering to us that if you give Zakah you will be losing so much wealth. Now let us think for ourselves; do we have more conviction in the words of Rasulullah ﷺ or in our greatest enemy Shaytan’s lies and deception.

Therefore respected friends, inform those ulama’ who are close to you regarding your financial condition and ask them whether Zakah is fard (obligatory) on you or not.

Besides Tauhid, Salah and Zakah, there are many other actions which Allah Ta’ala has commanded us to fulfil such as fasting, pilgrimage etc and there are many qualities which Allah Ta’ala has made incumbent upon us to inculcate into our lives such as honesty, self-sacrifice, kindness, advising politely etc. Similarly, there are many evil actions and qualities which we have been commanded to refrain from. To have concern and to make effort to save oneself from these evil actions and qualities is also necessary. In fact at times these become priority. Due to these evil actions and evil qualities, such rust and dirt become comes on the heart of a person that due to it whatever a good actions a person does, it does not have an effect on his heart and soul.

When one does plating of an old utensil, firstly one cleans off the dirt and rust, otherwise the plating will not remain intact. That is why I mentioned that to make an effort to abstain from those actions due to which rust comes on the heart is sometimes even more important.

Before me there are thousands of youth sitting. I appeal to you, O Youth! O reciters of the kalimah of Muhammad ﷺ! The root of all evils in today’s times is the cinema, T.V and V.C.R. Every form of sin is promoted on it and every evil stems from it. For Allah’s sake, make a resolution to specially shun these evils. I say again, O my beloved youth! I appeal to you, take pity on yourselves, today is a blessed day (day of ‘Id). Today, in fact now, make a pact with yourself that you will not even go near these most terrible forms of evil and filth which not only destroys our wealth but also destroys our health and worse than that destroys our spirituality and our Deen.

Believe me, I take an oath and say that when you go towards the T.V., V.C.R or cinema, Allah Ta’ala becomes angry with you, Angels curse you, Nabi’s ﷺ pure soul becomes restless when he receives news about it, that my ummati (my follower) who takes my name, where is he going to!?

Listen to this also my beloved youth! Whatever sins you have committed, have total regret and ask Allah Ta’ala sincerily to forgive you but do not lose hope. Allah Ta’ala is most Merciful, Most Forgiving. Allah Ta’ala’s Mercy overpowers His anger. Never mind forgiving years of sin, a person may be an idolator and disbeliever all his life, yet Allah Ta’ala forgives him also if he sincerily repents. When a servant of Allah Ta’ala commits a sin and asks Allah Ta’ala to forgive him, Allah Ta’ala forgives him. If he repeatedly commits sins and repeatedly asks Allah Ta’ala sincerely to forgive him, Allah Ta’ala forgives him. Allah doesn’t say: “O my slave! You have disobeyed me for too long, now I will not forgive you”. Allah continues forgiving as long as we continue asking sincerely for forgiveness, and not only does Allah forgive but He loves the one who seeks repentance.

Allamah Ibnul Qayyim has given a beautiful example to illustrate this. After explaining Allah Azza Wa Jal’s quality of Mercy and His Compassion and His Kindness with his slaves, he mentioned an incident of a person who was totally deviated, doing all sorts of evil. He once passed a street where a mother had opened the door and kicked her child out of the house. When the child was out of the house, the mother closed the door from inside. The child, crying and sobbing, carried on walking quite far. Then after reaching a certain point, stopped and thought to himself, where do I go from here, who will care for me, who will look after me lile my mother? With these thoughts in mind, with a broken heart, he returned to his own house. The door was closed. He placed his head on the doorstep and laid down till he fell asleep. The mother came, opened the door, and seeing her beloved child asleep in this condition, took pity on him. Her motherly love overpowered her and she started crying. She picked him up and hugged him, carressed him, kissed him and told him: “O son! You have seen now, who is there for you besides me? You hurt me when you chose to lead a life of evil and disobedience. You angered me against my nature. Now listen! You are mine and I am yours. Whatever I have in my possession is only for you.”

My brothers! This eye opening incident which Allamah Ibnul Qayyim has mentioned is not only a lesson for that one person but it is a great lesson for me, you and all the sinners living in the world. The amount of love and compassion a mother has in her bosom for her children, I swear by Allah Ta’ala, Allah has more love and mercy for His bondsmen than that mother.

Therefore I say, don’t become despondent of Allah’s Mercy. Repent to Allah for all the sins we have committed, show regret, but don’t lose hope of receiving Allah’s mercy. Return towards Allah, lower your head at His doorstep and cry over your sins like how a baby cries. Then see how Allah’s doors of mercy open upon us, then see how Allah enshrouds us in His compassion, how He gives us courage and expands our hearts, how He guides us, how He shows us the correct path, in fact He holds our hands and takes us, how Allah delivers us from a life of total disobedience and negligence to salvation.

My respected elders and friends! We should learn a lesson from from the incidents of the Bani Israil which Allah Ta’ala has mentioned to us in the Qur’an Majeed. As long as the Bani Israil fulfilled the commandments of Allah, He kept them with prosperity, peace, tranquility, happiness and honour and he made them examples for others, but when the majority started breaking most of the divine commands, Allah put a merciless and oppressive enemy to rule over them who appallingly disgraced them.

Now, we should reflect upon our condition in this mirror. Is our condition not exactly the same!? Isn’t there corruption? Isn’t our wealth being usurped and looted? Aren’t our homes, shops, Masajids being set alight? This is all a punishment from Allah Ta’ala, because our majority and in general the Ummah is violating most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. Allah did not have any relationship with the Bani Israil who were the progeny of the Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) nor has Allah Ta’ala any relationship with us – the Ummah of the seal of all Prophets, Nabi ﷺ. What really matters to Allah Ta’ala is our actions and ways and that obedience and worship of ours which is in accordance to the way shown to us by Nabi ﷺ. Is it not true that most of our brothers have violated and disobeyed most of the commands of Allah Ta’ala. If it is true and definitely it is true, then ponder, what should we do to rectify our present condition?

Whatever happens in the world, ponder, can it happen without the command of Allah? Can anything happen in this world because of somebody’s control, somebody’s power or someone’s intention besides Allah’s? Thereafter ponder over the fact that if Allah Ta’ala decides something, is there anyone who can change that decision? No! Never!

Nobody can change the decision made by Allah Ta’ala, nor can anyone even challenge it. May Allah bestow us with true Iman upon this reality that whatever happens to individuals or nations only happens by the decision of Allah, Allah’s treatment neither with individuals nor with nations is without a system. Any nation who obeys the commands of Allah Ta’ala and follows the way of life which is beloved to Allah Ta’ala will be deserving of Allah’s excellent treatment in this world and in the hereafter.

Therefore friends! Today, during this blessed day, make this decision, make this promise to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala, that Insha Allah, I will inculcate every command of Allah in my life and I will make a concerted effort to revive and establish every command of Allah in the entire Ummah.

I do not want to go into intricacies. The basic commands which were given to the Bani Israil are the foundation of that way of life which is pleasing to Allah. Tauhid, Salah, Zakah, kindness to parents, relatives, orphans and the needy and speaking kindly and being kind to all humankind, these are the basic commands which, if practised upon, the temperment of practicing on the whole of Deen will be inculcated. Therefore make a firm intention to fulfill these commands and make an effort and give sacrifice to establish the entire Deen in the entire ummah using this umumi (general) effort.

Alhamdulillah, we are in a time when this umumi (general) effort is taking place in the entire world. If it is done in the correct way, according to the proper principles, keeping in mind the importance of Du’a, then Insha Allah, by means of this effort once again, the direction of the minds, hearts and temperament of this Ummah will be rectified and the inclination to discard Allah’s commands will be terminated. Then Allah Ta’ala will make the decisions of good conditions prevailing and then whatever effort will be made, its results will turn out positive and effective.

My brothers! What I intended to say, Allah Ta’ala made me say. May Allah make me, you and all the Muslims to practice, so that on the day of Qiyamah, I am not taken to task due to the sin of not practicing on what I preach and so that you do not become from amongst those who who will be taken to task for listening to the talks of Deen, yet not changing our lives.

Now, let us from our hearts, turn our attention to Allah Ta’ala, and make Du’a with this firm conviction that Allah is All-Seeing and Omnipresent. Allah Ta’ala countless angels are present. The Masjid’s atmosphere is filled with these angels. We would be able to see them if we possessed ‘real eyes’. Now in the presence of these angels, make them bear witness that we are making a pact we Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.

O Allah! We are Your slaves, present in front of You. We bear witness with our hearts and tongues that there is none worthy of worship besides You, everything is only in Your hands and we bear witness that Muhammad ﷺ is your true Nabi. We have accepted his Deen. We believe in You and in Your Nabi. O Allah! Enlighten our hearts with the Nur (light) of Iman. Do not deprieve anyone of us. O Allah! Grant all those present here the reality of Imaan, these elders, these youth, these beloved ones, these brothers. Bless each one of us with perfect Imaan. O Allah! We confess that our lives until now, most of it has passed in disobeying your commandments. From head to toe, outwardly and inwardly, our entire bodies were used in disobeying your commands. O Allah! We are seeking forgiveness, forgive us, we are repenting, accept our repentance.

On this auspicious day, in this auspicious gathering we all make a firm intention to shun sin and not to disobey You anymore. O Allah! Accept our intentions, and make it firm and sincere. Shaytan and our carnal desires and the ones who drive us to sin. Help us against these two enemies. Without Your help we cannot overpower the. O Allah! Make Deen prevalent. Whoever is involved in the efforts of Deen in whichever way, they are concerned about Deen, O Allah!, accept their efforts and concern. O Allah! Help them and enable them to work in the correct way, protect them from all types of trails, and protect them from Shaytan and their carnal desires.

O Allah! Take pity on us, make a decision of mercy to descend upon us, nobody can alter Your decision. Save us from the Firs of Jahannum and merely out of Your kindness grant us Jannah (Paradise). O Allah! Protect us from negligence. Make us not unmindful of our Aakhirah, Jannah, Jahannam (hell), the grave, the day of resurrection. Have mercy upon us during every stage of the Hereafter.

O Allah! Do not deal with us according to what we deserve according to our evil actions. O Allah! Deal with us according to Your kindness and Mercy.

Rabba Taqabbal Minna Innaka Anata Sami’ al-Aleem. Watub ‘Alayna Innaka Antat Tawaabur-Raheem Wa birahmatika Ya Arham Ar-Rahimeen.

Government And Politics in Islam

By Maulana Manzoor Nu’mani (rahimahullah)

So much for Muslims living in their own independent countries, we will address ourselves to the problem of Muslims who belong to countries where they are in a minority, as in India and China. Since the conditions in these vary greatly from one to the other, a single code of conduct cannot possibly be evolved in the light of Islamic teachings for the political guidance of their Muslim citizens.  We can only enumerate the board principles that can be taken recourse to the circumstances permit or require. 

(1) A time was that when the truth of Musa (alayhis salaam) was revealed to the prestidigitators of Egypt and they bowed in obedience to the Divine faith and entered into its fold, the Fir’awn (pharaoh) felt so greatly outraged that he immediately pronounced a most brutal death on all of them. The tyrant did not spare even his wife the consequences of his wrath. 

In the same way, the pagans of Makkah practiced such ghastly atrocities on the poor, weak people who were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet ﷺ and embrace Islam that a recounting of them can even today make the eyes of the most stout-hearted among us well up with moisture. 

That age of savage cruelty and bestial oppression is now, should the situation in any country become, by any chance, so flagrantly unbearable for Muslims, it will be open to them to migrate to another land, even though it be a non-Muslim one, where they can live peacefully as Muslims, as their co-religionists had done by moving away to Abyssinia at the Prophet’s ﷺ advice, or, if it be not possible to tread the path of the martyrs and lay down their lives gallantly in the cause of Allah every drop of their blood will Insha Allah lend new life and vitality to the faith and be the cause of its resurgence in that very land and for those to whom this too should not be possible due to want of sufficient courage, there is the permission to concern their faith and continue to live in that country, hoping for a happier turn of events and making humble entreaties to Allah. 

“Our Lord; rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from these one who will protect, one who will help.” [Al-Qur’an: Nisa, 10]

(2)  To the best of our knowledge, a situation as grievously dismal as that does not obtain anywhere in the world today. There are, nevertheless, states which aspire not through the crude methods of old but through newer and more subtle ways to the Muslims away from Islam (or, rather, all God-abiding peoples from their spiritual moorings) without placing a legal ban on religion or God-worship. 

The Muslim citizens of these states should resolve to make undivided allegiance to Allah and the Holy faith and constancy of purpose and patient perseverance the spearheads of their policy and do whatever lies in their power to keep the spirit of Islam warm in their homes by imparting to them an aver-all atmosphere of religiousness. They should leave nothing undone on their part to arrange for the religious instruction and training of their rising generations. (It is our considered opinion that all this can be done if the right and the will to do it be there). Judicious and well-meant steps may also be taken. As far as they are possible, to make the powers that be realize the folly of their ways. These steps can be of a political as well as a non-political nature and they can produce results beyond all expectations. The might of the Lord is supreme: His ways are beyond our understanding, and it is an unchanging habit of His and a firm, definite promise that He will make His aid available to those of the faithful who will remain steadfast in his cause dating times of trial and suffering, and instead of giving way to despair, persevere in their efforts as they can in the circumstances. Situations will arise and factors will emerge, as if from nowhere, that will alter the course of things and remove the difficulties in their path.   

With most of the non-Muslim countries the position is that they are not antagonistic to Islam or harbor a fundamental prejudice against God or religion. Their Muslim inhabitants enjoy full freedom of religious belief and practice under the constitution along with the other communities. But since the ideological climate and the sociopolitical structure there are un-Islamic and wholly materialistic, some of their laws come into conflict with the tenets of Islam, or it becomes very difficult to fashion one’s life according to the teachings of Islam in their presence. In some of these countries, the population of Muslims runs into several crores. Take our own homeland, India, the Muslim population lies between four to five crores. These Muslims, naturally, have got to live in the countries of their birth. The question of migration does not at all arise for them as no Muslim country can afford to accommodate so many people within its frontiers. In these circumstances, it is absurd to suppose that they can live permanently in isolation from the governments of their lands nor does the Shariah require them to adopt such an impossible and unnatural course. At the same time, it is impossible for them to participate freely in the government and politics of their countries like any other community, telling themselves that religion had nothing to do with politics and that they could render to God the things that are God’s and to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and still remain good Muslims. That would entirely be opened to the purpose and meaning of Islam. It would mean that although God was the Lord and sovereign of the universe, government and politics did not fall within His Jurisdiction.

Such being the case, what the Muslims of these countries can and should do is to chalk out a positive program of action for themselves with reference to their particular needs and conditions. This program must, however, be inspired by a twofold conviction: firstly that they have to stay Muslims first and last, unflinching in their loyalty to the commands of God and the Prophet ﷺ as far as the circumstances allow and valuing that loyalty above everything else; and, secondly, that they have to confirm to the best standards of citizenship and render unstinted allegiance to their homelands. But it can be achieved only when the Muslims are absolutely clear and their minds on these two points and it is their collective decision.  To  produce the requisite collective consciousness, it may be necessary for them to launch an educative campaign among themselves so that once the decision is taken it may hold good for the entire community functioning as a unit. 

Another matter of crucial importance to the Muslim minorities in non-Muslim states is that, together with their co-religionists in all other parts of the world, it is a question of faith for them too to believe in Islam as the Ideal program of life, both individual and collective. As against it, all other programs are false and worthless. In consequence of this conviction, as from the humanitarian point of view also, It should be their sinceres desire to see that the other communities also adopted it as their own, and the Holy law, as revealed by  Allah in his infinite Mercy, reigned supreme all over the world. But, with all this, that cannot manage to ignore the realities of the situation as prevailing in their countries. They will have to determine their attitude after giving the most careful thought to all the aspects of the problem and with this dictum of the Shariah as their guiding principle: “Wherein lies most of good and least of evil.” In the light of this dictum they can also decide whatever to offer loyal support and co-operation to the governments of their lands in a particular situation or not. 

A living faith in God and a life wedded to the ideals of virtue and service to mankind are equally necessary for all Muslims irrespective of the lands to which they belong. The real reward for these high moral and spiritual qualities lies in the Hereafter, but for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries they are of the greatest advantage in this world as well. They are the safest, surest and the most universally effective means for the overcoming of their difficulties and for ensuring for them a place of honor in society. It is absolutely imperative for them to strive to their utmost to cultivate these qualities and to propagate them in the circle in which they move. If they can bring themselves to it, they will see that success beyond their fondest dreams will kiss their feet. Allah has held out a promise to this effect at various places in the Quran, as in this verse: 

“Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil; for them are glad tidings in the present and in the Hereafter : No change can there be in the  Words of God. This is indeed the Supreme Felicity.” [Quran: Yunus, 7]

Muslims, who in the modern world, are feeling despondent and frustrated at their lot of being placed in the position of a weak minority in the countries of their birth have for them a special message of courage and hope in Surah Yusuf in the Quran. 

The story of Hazrat Yusuf (Alai-hiSalam) teaches us the moral that however weak be the numerical or political position of Muslims in a country they may even be in the minority of one and isolated completely from the rest of the people, religiously as well as racially, if they are true in their faith and righteous in their habits and are also ready to render whatever service they can to fellow citizens and to the State, they are bound to carve out a position of honor and trust for themselves and win the respect and admiration of its inhabitants for their religion. On being questioned by his brothers how a person whom they had pushed into the well could come to rise to such great heights, Hazrat Yusuf (Alaihi-Salam) offers this explanation:

“Behold, he that is righteous and patient, never will Allah suffer the reward to be lost, of those who do good.” [Quran:Yusuf, 10] 

So, this is the unfailing Law of Allah never to suffer the reward of one who believes and does good to be last and that we have said in the preceding paragraph was only an elucidation of this truth. It may not be very easily be convinced logically of its effectiveness in the political field, yet it should also not prove so very difficult, especially in the modern world of democracy and liberalism. But, alas, the spectacle that Muslims are presenting is that while they are eager to take recourse to all sorts of agitational methods for the solution of their political difficulties methods which are totally the product of the materialistic frame of mind and from which no good has ever accrued or can ever accrue, they are not prepared to give a trial to the remedy prescribed by the Qur’an. Indeed, it would seem that their state of mind today was identical to that of the unenlightened group among the Israelites of old as portrayed in the Qur’an in these words: 

“And if they see the way of the right conduct, they will not accept it as the  Way; but if they see the way of error, that is the Way they will adopted.”  [Quran: A’raf,17]

Muslim minorities in non-Muslim lands can also draw a most valuable lesson from the episode of Hudaibiyah in the life of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The treaty of Hudaibiyah had apparently been contracted by the Prophet ﷺ on such weak and humiliating terms that it had become impossible even for a Companion of the unbounded devotion and loyalty of Hazrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) to suppress his disappointment and resentment against it. But the point is, why had the Prophet ﷺ agreed to a humiliating arrangement like that? It was because the Prophet ﷺ had wanted channels of contact to be established between the Muslims and the people of Makkah who were then in the forefront of the campaign of war and hatred against Islam so that the Makkan polytheists could get an opportunity to observe the Muslims and their religion at close quarters and to ponder, in a peaceful atmosphere, over the all-important question of faith he had posed before them. History records that it was this very treaty, shameful and degrading as it looked at first sight, that paved the way for the Makkans to embrace Islam. It was as a consequence of it that outstanding leaders of the Quraish of the caliber Khalid bin  Waleed and Amr bin al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhum), entered into the fold of the Divine faith. The biographers of the Prophet ﷺ and the early historians of Islam are agreed that far more persons accepted the Faith of their own choice and violation within a few years of the singing of the Treaty than during the whole of the preceding 19 or 20 years of the ministry of the Prophet ﷺ. That is why, the Quran has spoken of it as a “Manifest Victory.”

“Verily, We have granted thee a manifest Victory.”   

The unique advantage to which the Prophet ﷺ had turned the seemingly hopeless treaty of Hudaibiyah is today within the reach of the Muslim populations of most of the non-Muslim countries. But the Muslims themselves are so utterly lacking in that life of faith, Islamic morality and devotion to mankind, and that unselfish religious enthusiasm and solicitude for the Hereafter without which they can have no complaint if they fell forlorn and abandoned. If they want to seek an answer to their ills and problems in Islam and the Quran, it is this: “Become Muslims: produce in yourselves the fire of conviction and adopt a life or faith and virtue and an earnest love for humanity and paths will be opened up for you that you cannot conceive of.”

Besides this fundamental principle, a passing reference may also be made to certain question of detail. As we have said before, it is essential for Muslim minorities everywhere to get it into their heads, clearly and once for all, that they have to live and die in the lands of their birth, and, at the same time, stay true to their faith. This is a matter about which a government, in spite of its being a non-Muslim one, can be most sensible and co-operative if it is just and liberal, but if it is otherwise, it can also put all sorts of impediments. Should it, therefore, be possible for Muslims to be helpful in bringing more enlightened and broadminded sections of the possibilities that may be open to them. In a democratic set-up, at the time of elections, for instance, there should be nothing to prevent them from offering support to a political party that may be expected to safeguard their religious and other interests more justly and fruitfully than the other contesting parties. They can also participate in the government if it is felt that they can serve their interests better that way. 

This is the verdict of common sense as well as that of the Shariah. In our support we can cite an instance from the conduct of the Holy Companions who had migrated to Abyssinia at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. During the period of the stay of the Companions in the country, Abyssinia was attacked by a foreign invader, and the Companions prayed more earnestly to Allah for the victory of the Negus.  Their leader, Zubair (radhiyallahu anhu), is also reported to have performed some highly meritorious service for the emperor on the battlefield. Explaining their conduct, one of the immigrant Companions, Umm Salama, has stated that it was because they felt that if the enemy won he would not treat them as generously as the Negus had been doing.  

Finally, Muslim personal law is a part of the religious structure of Islam and no non-Muslim government has the right to interfere with it. Muslims living under non-Muslim system are, as such, required to make every possible effort for the recognition of this principle by their governments. They may also take steps to set up, under the aegis of the Shariah, a separate arrangement of their own for the management of such problems of their individual and social concern as cannot otherwise be taken care of adequately in a non-Muslim State.

Before concluding, we would like to repeat that the Muslims falling in the category of a minority in a country should keep before them for their guidance the Story of Hazrat Yusuf (alayhis salaam) which has been narrated in the Quran in proper detail. There is not an iota of doubt that Muslims cannot fail to secure a position of honor and trust for themselves and their religion in any country they live in provided that they possess real faith, and lead a clean life illumined with God-consciousness and show proper discretion and prove their usefulness to their countrymen and the State. This is the way of God, and “No change can there be in the way of God.”

Islamic Voice Vol. 6, Issue. 2 Feb, 2011

Hanafi Stance On Combining Two Prayers

By Mufti ‘Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf

THERE ARE HADITHS which state the the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would combine two obligatory [Fard] prayers together while travelling. The hadith explain how he would alight from the back of the animal and perform Maghrib followed by ‘Isha, and then resume his journey. There is a difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of these hadiths, i.e. exactly how he performed the two prayers together.

The Hanafis offer the following explanation. Although the Messenger of Allah ﷺ performed the prayers one after another, he actually performed each prayer in its own time. For example, when combining Maghrib and ‘Isha, he would stop a short time prior to  the end of Maghrib and would perform the prayer. Then as soon as the time of ‘Isha would enter, he would perform ‘Isha and then resume his journey.

Other scholars offer the explanation that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would perform both Maghrib and ‘Isha in the time of ‘Isha (i.e. after the Maghrib has expired).

The method offered by the Hanafi school of performing the first prayer toward the end of its time and the second prayer immediately after, at the beginning of its time, is known as jam’ al-suri or “apparent combining” in the terminology of the jurists [fuqaha’]. The method of performing two obligatory [fard] prayers in one prayer time is known as jam al-haqiqi or “real combining.”

There are many hadith which describe combining two prayers. According to Hanafi scholars, the most suitable explanation is that of jam’ al-suri, wherein each prayer is performed in its own time. The Hanafi approach in explaining this issue is in total agreement with the Qur’an and hadiths, both of which emphasize each prayer being performed in its own stipulated time. On the contrary, the jam’ al-haqiqi approach leads to great conflicts between the Qur’an and hadiths.

By the end of the chapter, it will become evident that the Messenger ﷺ never combined two prayers together by actually moving one into the time of the other. It is also important to remember that performing Maghrib and ‘Isha in the time of Maghrib, and Zuhr and ‘Asr in the time of Zuhr, is known as jam al-taqdim or “advanced combining.” Since one of the prayers is performed before its time. Combining them at the time of the later prayer is known as jam’ al-takhir or “delayed combining,” because of of the prayers is delayed from its specific time.

One opinion is that it is permissible to perform jam’ al-haqiqi if one is undertaking a hurried journey. The second opinion is that jam’ al-haqiqi is permissible when undertaking any type of journey; whether it be hurried or relaxed. For some, it is also permissible in the event of heavy rainfall, and some state that it is also permissible in the event of illness.

The view of Imam Abu Hanifa is quite simple. According to him, the Jam’ al-haqiqi method is not permissible except at ‘Arafat (during the pilgrimage), where advance combining takes place between Zuhr and ‘Asr, and at Muzdalifa, where the pilgrims perform delayed combining between Maghrib and ‘Isha. The practice of advanced and delayed combining at these two places is established through the consensus of scholars. Hence, the Hanafis do not permit jam al-haqiqi except in these two instances. They have interpreted the hadiths which mention the combining of two prayers to be Jam al-suri’. This type of combining is permissible at all times, as there can be no doubt concerning the permissibility of two prayers performed in their own times.

1. Allah says,

“Verily, the prayers is enjoined upon the believers at fixed hours (times)”   [al-Qur’an 4:103]

This means every prayer has an appointed time with a beginning, prior to which the prayer is not valid, and an ending, after which the prayer is not to be delayed; otherwise it will become a qada’ or missed prayer. Hence, this verse indicates the importance of performing each prayer in its own time.

2. Allah Ta’ala says,

“Guard strictly the [five obligatory] prayers”  [al-Qur’an 2:238]

This verse is also quite clear about performing prayers at their appointed times and not delaying them.

3. Allah Ta’ala says,

“So woe unto those worshippers [hypocrites] who are negligent in regards to their prayer” [al-Qur’an 107:5]

4. Allah Ta’ala says,

“Then, there succeeded them a posterity who gave up prayers”   [al-Qur’an 19:59]

According to a group of scholars, the words, “who gave up prayers”, mean those who delay the prayers beyond their stipulated times.

In short, these verses of the Qur’an verify that delaying any prayer is undesirable and extremely disliked. Delaying the prayer has been portrayed as the trait of the hypocrites [munafiqin]. For this reason, the hadiths, which seem to inform that the Messenger ﷺ delayed prayer, must be interpreted in a way that corroborates these verses, in order ro remove the notion of undesirability from the Messenger’s ﷺ practice. The only way this can be achieved is by taking the combining mentioned in them to mean “apparent combining.” Now we will look at a few hadiths which are quite explicit in their prohibition of taking a prayer out of its time.

1. Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that the Messenger ﷺ said:

Combining two prayers together without any valid reason is from the major sins (kaba’ir) [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:459, al-Ta’liq al-sabih 2:124]

Thus, combining prayers would not be permissible even in the event of a journey or a rain, just as other major sins are not made permissible in such circumstances.

2. It is narrated from ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) that

he wrote to the people [around the Islamic world] prohibiting them from combining two prayers together. He informed them that combining two prayers is a major sin [al-Ta’liq al-sabih 2:124]

3. ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

I never observed the Messenger of Allah ﷺ perform any prayer out of its time except at Muzdalifa. He combined Maghrib and ‘Isha at Muzdalifa [Sahih al-Bukhari 1:227, Sahih Muslim 1:417, Sharh Ma’ani’l-athar 1:164]

4. In another narration Ibn Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) states:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ combined two prayers while on a journey. He would combine Maghrib and ‘Isha by delaying Maghrib until just before its expiry time and performing ‘Isha immediately as its time entered [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:458]

5. ‘Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, while on a journey, would delay Zuhr and perform ‘Asr early and delay Maghrib and perform ‘Isha early [i.e. perform each prayer in its own time]. [Sharh Ma’ani’l Athar 1:164, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:457]

6. It is related that Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said,

I performed eight rak’ats together [four of Zuhr and four of ‘Asr] and seven rak’ats together [three of Maghrib and four of ‘Isha] with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. One of the narrators says, “I asked Abu’l ‘Sha’tha, “I assume he delayed Zuhr [to the end of its time] and performed ‘Asr as soon as it entered, and delayed Maghrib [likewise] and performed ‘Isha [early]. He replied, “I also think the same” [Sahih Muslim 1:246, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:456]

This Hadith from Sahih Muslim is very precise in its description of combining two prayers. The method described by the narrator is Jam al-suri’.

7. Imam Abu Dawud has transmitted the following report:

The muezzin of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) informed him it was time for prauer. Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) instructed him to continue on a journey. When the red of sunset (shafaq ahmar) had nearly disappeared, he got off from his mount and performed Maghrib. Then he waited until the red had completely dissappeared and performed ‘Isha. He then said, “Whenever the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was in a hurry for some reason, he would do just as I uave done.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 1:178]

As we can see, the method of combining mentioned in the above hadiths is none other than that of jam al-suri’. It is an agreed upon method that no one disputes. How can there be an objection to two prayers being performed together in a way that does not cause them to be performed either before their stipulated time or after it? Undoubtedly, this is not only the safest method of combining two prayers, but it is also the most suitable way to explain the hadiths on the subject of combining.

It is also common knowledge that the Fajr prayer should not be performed before its time or intentionally delayed beyond it. Similarly, other prayers should not be performed out of their stipulated times either, especially not while considering it to be a sunna. This indicates that the sunna method of combining two prayers is jam’ al-suri, as has also been substantiated through the Qur’an and hadiths. This is the Hanafi opinion in this issue.

If it were permissible to practice jam’ al-haqiqi in the event of travel or illness, then why it is confined to some prayers only? Why is it not permissible to perform all the prayers of the day together in the morning before departing on a journey? The reason for this is quite simple. The practice of combining mentioned in the hadiths is not to be taken as Jam’ al-haqiqi but as jam’ al-suri, wherein each prayers remains in its own time, but all prayers are performed one after another.

In the following, we will analyze some hadiths that are normally presented to establish the permissibility of jam’ al-haqiqi.

1. Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

Whenever the Messenger of Allah ﷺ would undertake a hurried journey, he would combine Maghrib and ‘Isha. [Sahih Muslim 1:24]

This narration is sometimes used to prove the permissibility of “real combining,” whereas it just mentions that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ combined two prayers and does not mention that jam’ al-haqiqi was performed. The Hanafis have explained that the Messenger ﷺ performed “apparent combining” and not “real combining,” since the former is the method agreed upon by all scholars.

In this hadith, since Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) does not mention the actual method of combining, we turn to hadith 7 above – also a narration of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) – where he expounds on the method of combining prayers. The method he describes in that narration is none other than jami’ al-suri, so it will be taken as a commentary for this narration.

2. Nafi’ reports,

Whenever ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) had to travel in a hurry, he would combine Maghrib and ‘Isha after the red twilight of sunset disappeared. Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) stated that whenever the Messenger ﷺ was forced to travel in a hurry, he would also combine Maghrib and ‘Isha. [Sahih Muslim 1:245]

3. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:

Once the Messenger ﷺ had to travel quickly due to some emergency in his family. He delayed Maghrib until the red twilight had disappeared, then got off his animal and combined the two prayers. Thereafter, ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) informed everyone that this was the practice of the Messenger ﷺ whenever he had to travel in a hurry. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:124]

These two hadiths seem to be in apparent conflict with the opinion of the Hanafis. However, in reality, if they are understood correctly, they would be found to be in total agreement. This is due to the following reasons:

(a) Firstly, there are two types of shafaq or twilight:, one is the redness (ahmar) seen in the sky after sunset and second is the whiteness (abyad) that remains for a short while after the redness disappears. ‘Allama ‘Ayni states:

It is possible that the twilight refer to in the narrations is the red one. (In the Hanafi school) there are two views regarding the expiry of Maghrib time. Some say it ends when the redness disappears, and others say it ends when the whiteness disappears. Therefore, if the Messenger ﷺ performed both prayers immediately after the redness had disappeared, it means he performed Maghrib during the whiteness, i.e. within its stipulated time (according to the view that Maghrib ends after the whiteness has disappeared), and he also performed ‘Isha within its stipulated time, (according to the view that Maghrib ends with the disappearance of the redness after which ‘Isha begins. [‘Umdat al Qari 3:568]

(b) Another explanation, mentioned in al-Ta’liq as-Sabih, is that these hadith has been mentioned with various differences. Some contain the additions, “the redness was close to disappearing.” This indicates that one of the narrators may have become slight confused regarding the exact wording due to the various reports, so he finally reported it in the words, “after the redness had disappeared,” according to its speculation. This means that in reality it was just prior to the ending of the red twilight that the Messenger ﷺ performed Maghrib, which means it was jam’ al-suri.

(c) Another reason for preferring jam’ al-suri is that is the hadiths of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) on this issue are inconsistent and do not maintain a fixed expression, it would be more preferable to regard hadith 7 above (also narrated by him) as the commentary for the various transmissions of his report. That hadith makes it clear that the method of combining used by the Messenger ﷺ was “apparent combining.” Hence, the combining mentioned in the remaining hadith of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar will also be considered to be “apparent combining.”

4. Mu’adh (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates

during the expedition of Tabuk, whenever the Messenger ﷺ would set out before the sun declined from its meridian, he would delay Zuhr and perform it  just before its expiry time with ‘Asr, and when he would depart after noon he would perform ‘Asr early by combining it with Zuhr (i.e. Zuhr by the end of its time and ‘Asr as soon as it entered), then he would continue his journey. Whenever he would depart before Maghrib, he would delay it and perform it with ‘Isha (i.e. in their respective times), and if he set out after Maghrib he would perform ‘Isha early by combining it with Maghrib. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1:124, Sunan Abi Dawud 1:178]

The following points have been made about this narration:

(a) ‘Allama ‘Ayni states regarding this narration:

This hadith was rejected by Imam Abu Dawud, and it is also reported from him that there is no clear hadith to be found concerning the performance of a prayer before its stipulated time.

(b) Another problem is the strong criticism of Husayn Ibn ‘Abdullah, a narrator in this hadith’s chain, by the hadith experts (muhaddithin). Ibn al-Madini says, “I have abandoned his reports.” Imam Ahmad states, “He has defects.” Ibn Ma’in calls him weak (da’if); and Nasa’i says, “His narrations have been rejected.”

(c) Even if the hadith were accepted for a moment to be authentic, it would still be considered as describing jam’ al-suri for various reasons. It is indicated in the hadith that the Messenger ﷺ would delay the first prayer to the end of its time and perform the second one imnediately thereafter in its own time. The following two narrations of Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) suggests the same explanation:

The Messenger ﷺ performed Zuhr and ‘Asr together and Maghrib and ‘Isha together without (being in the state of) fear or travel.

The Messenger ﷺ performed Zuhr and ‘Asr together and Maghrib and ‘Isha together without (being in the state of) fear or rain. [Sahih Muslim 1:246]

These narrations speak of the Messenger ﷺ combining the prayers even though the circumstances was not of fear, rain or travel. These are the main three circumstances under which one can perform jam’ al-haqiqi according to many scholars besides the Hanafis.

So was he performing jam’ al-haqiqi, as some like to say, even though none of the valid reasons for doing so were present? The correct explanation we could offer here is that these narrations of Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu), as well as the other narrations on this issue, do not speak of the Messenger ﷺ performing jam’ al-haqiqi at all; but rather to his performance of jam’ al-suri.

It could be safely concluded that the Hanafis have followed a safe path in explaining the hadiths in this issue. Their explanation does not contradict the hadiths or Qur’anic verses that strictly enjoin that prayers be performed in their own times. They interpret the hadiths of combining to be based on jam’ al-suri, wherein two prayers are performed one after another – the first prayer at the end of its time and the second prayer immediately thereafter, at the beginning of its time. This seems to be the safest and the most uncontroversial approach to adopt in light of the many narrations on this issue.

One the other hand, taking the various narrations to be based on jam’ al-haqiqi – wherein one prayer is intentionally delayed and performed in the time of the other, or the later prayer is performed in advance during the time of the earlier prayer – will cause these hadiths to contradict the verses and hadiths that encourage prayers to be performed in their own times. Furthermore, those who allow jam’ al-haqiqi have also stated that it is superior not to combine the two prayers but to perform them separately in their own respective times.


[Based on Al-I‘tisam by Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi  (d. 790 H)
Translated by Mawlana Zameelur Rahman]

The  notion  of  “bid‘ah”  in  Islam  is  one  that  is  confusing  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  bid‘ah  accurately  and  with  serious  depth.  Fortunately,  however,  we  have  an  excellent  and  well-researched  work  on  the  subject  in  Arabic  by  the  eminent  pre-modern  scholar,  Imam  Abu  Ishaq  Ibrahim  ibn  Musa  ibn Muhammad  al-Lakhmi  al-Shatibi  (d.  790 H),  called  al-I‘tisam. 

Abu  Ishaq  al-Shatibi  was  a Maliki  Ash‘ari  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,  an  authoritative  work  on  the  subject  of  usul  al-fiqh.  

This  paper  is  primarily  based  on  Imam  al-Shatibi’s  definitive  study  of  bid‘ah  in  his  seminal  work,  al-I‘tisam,  but  will  also  draw  on  other  sources  to  support  some  of  his conclusions.  The  aim  is  to  present  a  coherent  and  satisfactory  examination  of  the  concept  of  bid‘ah,  with  a  treatment  of  all  its  important  aspects,  while  keeping  it  as  short  and  digestible  as  possible. 

A  note  about  methodology:  In  most  cases  when  bid‘ah  is  discussed,  a  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-Shatibi’s  approach  is  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  available  evidence  and  the  statements  of  the  authorities  with  full  academic  rigour.

There  are  two  aspects  to  the  study  of  bid‘ah:  its  usul  (principles)  and  its  furu‘ (peripherals).  Study  of  its  usul  deals  with  the  formulation  of  a theoretical  framework  or  criteria by  which  to  determine  what  constitutes  bid‘ah  and  what  does  not.  Study  of  its  furu‘  deals  with  examples  of  bid‘ah,  determined  by  the  principles  from  its  usul.

Imam  al-Shatibi’s  book  stands  out  as  the  only  work  that  takes  a  serious  and  in-depth look  at  the  subject  of  usul  al-bid‘ah,  of  which  he  was  acutely  aware.  He  mentions  towards the  beginning  of  al-I‘tisam:

“Rarely  has  a  work  been  compiled  on  it  [i.e.  bid‘ah],  and  whatever  has  been  compiled  on  it  is  inadequate  in  these  areas  [i.e.  of  usul  al-bid‘ah].” [al-I’tisam 1:29]

Towards  the  end  of  his  lengthy  work,  he  mentions  two  such  books,  one  by  Muhammad  ibn  Waddah  (d.  287  H)  called  al-Bida‘  wa l-Nahy  ‘anha  and  another  by  Abu  Bakr  al-Turtushi  (d.  520  H),  called  Kitab  al-Hawadith  wa l-Bida‘.  

He  writes:  “I  saw  that  the  topic  of  bid‘ah  was  greatly  neglected  in  the  speech  of  the ‘ulama’,  except  for  brief  transmissions  as  done  by  Ibn  Waddah,  or  side  issues  are produced  that  will  not  satisfy  the  thirsty.  Rather,  complete  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  parts.  Thus,  I  took  up  the  task  myself  to  pay  the  attention  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.”  [Ibid 3:17]

It  is  hoped  the  following  study  of  bid‘ah,  which  aims  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  understand  it.  I have  attempted  to  simplify  technical  discussions  as  far  as  possible.

Lexical  and  Shar‘i  Meanings  of  Bid‘ah
There  are  many  words  commonly  used  by  Muslims  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  by  the  Shari‘ah  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  means  “restraint”  (imsak),  but  was appropriated  by  Islam  to  mean:  “avoiding  food,  drink  and  conjugal  relations  from  dawn to  dusk  with  the  intention  of  fasting,”  and  this  eventually  became  its  popular  and  well-known  meaning  amongst Muslims. 

It  is  important  to  appreciate  this  distinction  in  our  discussion  on  bid‘ah,  as  bid‘ah  too,  like  many  other  words  employed  in  the  Shari‘ah,  has  both  a  lexical  meaning  –  assigned  by  the  Arabs  –  and  a  Shar‘i  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  later.

For  further  clarity  on  this  dual  nature  of  many  words  used  in  the  Shari‘ah,  consider  the following  illustration:  

The  word  kufr  as  co-opted  and  popularised  by  the  Shari‘ah  means:  “Denial  of  what  the Messenger  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him peace)  brought,”  [Imdad al-Fatawa (6:83)], 

and  this  is  borne  out  by  many  texts  of  the  Shari‘ah.  For  example,  in  a  hadith  recorded  in  Sahih  Muslim,  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon him)  asks  Umm  Ma‘bad:  “Who  planted  this  tree,  a  Muslim  or  a  Kafir?”  She  said:  “A  Muslim.”  He  said:  “No  Muslim  plants  a  tree,  which  a  human  being  or  an  animal  or  a  bird  then  eats  from,  except  that  it  will  be  charity  for  him  till  the  Day  of  Resurrection.”  [Sahih  Muslim,    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,  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  Qur’an,  a  derivative  of  the  word  kufr  is  in  fact  used  positively,  where  Allah  says: 

“Whoever  rejects  (yakfur)  false  deities  and  believes  in  Allah,  he  has  indeed  grasped  the firmest  hand.”  [Qur’an  2:256]

Hence,  although  “kufr”  is  never  used  positively  in  its  Shar‘i  meaning,  when  used  in  its literal  sense  as  in  this  verse,  it  can  have  both  positive  and  negative  connotations.  It  will be  shown  that  the  same  is  the  case  with  bid‘ah.

The Linguistic Meaning of Bid‘ah
Linguistically,  bid‘ah  means:  “an  invention  without  a  past precedent”  [Al-I‘tisam, 1:41]

For example, in the following verse of the Qur’an it is used in its linguistic meaning:

“Say:  I  am  not  something  unprecedented  (bid‘)  amongst the  messengers.”   [Qur’an 46:11]

Imam  Ibn  Jarir  al-Tabari  (d.  310 H)  explains  this  as  follows: “Meaning,  I  am  not  the  first  of  the  messengers  of  Allah  which  He  sent  to  His  creation.  Before  me  there  were  many messengers  from  Him  sent  to  nations  before  you.”  [Tafsir al-Tabari, 21:119]

Thus,  according  to  this  linguistic  definition,  anything  that  came  into  existence  without  precedence  in  the  time  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  is  bid‘ah  in  relation  to  him.  Hence,  cars,  computers,  calculators,  microphones,  spectacles,  and  so  on,  are  all  bid‘ah  in  the  linguistic  sense.  It  is  already  clear  that  according  to  the  linguistic meaning,  bid‘ah  is  not  necessarily  unfavourable  and  blameworthy.

The Shar‘i Meaning of Bid‘ah According  to  the  Shari‘ah  –  which  is  determined  by  its  usage  in  the  recorded  sayings  of the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  early  Muslims  –  bid‘ah  is  best defined  as:  

“Adopting  as  religion  (deen)  that  which  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  his  companions  did  not  adopt  as  religion.”
A  similar  definition  given  by  some  scholars  is:

“Adding  or  subtracting  from  the  religion  (deen)  after  the  time  of  the  Sahabah.” [Shaykh Muhammad ibn Pir ‘Ali al-Birgivi, al-Tariqat al-Muhammadiyyah, p. 9] 

The  most  important  aspect  of  this  definition  is  that  it  is  restricted  to  innovations  in religion.  With  this  definition,  which  is  its  dominant  meaning  in  the  usage  of  the  Prophet (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  early  Muslims,  bid‘ah  is,  in  its  entirety, reprehensible,  blameworthy  and  sinful,  and  cannot  be  described  as  good  under  any circumstance.  Moreover,  as  al-Shatibi  explains,  bid‘ah  in  its  Shar‘i  usage  includes religious  innovations  in  four  different  areas:  actions  (af‘al),  omissions  (turuk),  statements  (aqwal)  and  beliefs  (‘aqa’id).  [Al-I‘tisam, 1:55]

Before  supplying  proof  for  this  meaning  of  bid‘ah,  and  demonstrating  that  the  distinction  between  the  lexical  and  Shar‘i  meanings  of  the  term  is  a  necessary  distinction,  I  will  first elaborate  somewhat  on  the  Shar‘i  definition.

Two  Types  of  Proscriptions  in  the  Shari‘ah
Imam  al-Shatibi  explains  that  those  things  that  are  prohibited  or  discouraged  in  the  Shari‘ah  are  of  two  types:

1.  Direct  violations  (mukhalafah  khassah):  these  are  actions,  beliefs,  omissions  or  statements  that  violate  clear  injunctions  of  the  Shari‘ah.  These  can  be  either  haraam  (unlawful)  or  makruh  (undesirable).  Examples  of  haraam  are  murder  and injustice,  and  an  example  of  makruh  is  overspending  (israf)  in  decorating  masjids.  Even  if  these  actions  are  done  in  inventive  ways,  though  they  may  be  regarded  as  “bid‘ah”  linguistically,  according  to  the  Shari‘ah  they  will  fall  under  the  general  prohibition  of  those  acts,  and  will  not  necessarily  be  classed  as  “bid‘ah.”

2.  Opposition  to  the  Shari‘ah  by  introducing  something  new  into  the  religion  which  is  not  from  it.  This  is  what  is  known  customarily  and  legally  as  bid‘ah.  [Ibid. 1:42]

It  is  clear  from  this  distinction  that  bid‘ah  is  different  from  direct  violations.  Thus  it  may happen  that  there  is  no  opposition  to  a  clear  injunction  of  the  Shari‘ah  in  a  certain  matter,  but  merely  because  it  is  something  new  that  is  introduced  into  the  religion,  it  is  classed  as  bid‘ah.  Proscriptions  of  the  first  category  are  not  necessarily  bid‘ah  because,  as  al-Shatibi,  says:  “Violations  –  in  their  capacity  as  violations  –  are  not  instituted  by  anyone  as  paths  which  are  permanently  adopted  in  a  manner  resembling  legislation” (Ibid. 1:76)  which  is  the  nature  of  bid‘ah  in  the  Shari‘ah

However,  these  two  categories  are  not  mutually  exclusive.  Thus,  it  may  be  that  something  is  a  direct  violation  and  is  also  categorised  as  bid‘ah  because  it  is  adopted  as religion.  An  example  given  by  al-Shatibi  is  the  use  of  chandeliers  (thurayya)  in  masjids,  which  is  regarded  as  overspending  (israf)  and  thus,  makruh.  If  someone  was  to  purchase  a  chandelier  specifically  for  the  purpose  of  it  being  installed  in  a  masjid,  believing  it  to  be  spending  in  Allah’s  path  (infaq  fi  sabil   Allah),  this  will  constitute  bid‘ah  (as  it  is  akin  to believing  that  spending  on  a  cause  detested  by  Islam  is  spending  in  Allah’s  path). However,  importantly,  this  is  not  because  of  the  initial  undesirability  of  this  practice,  but  because  of  the  belief  attached  to  it. [Ibid. 2:418] 

Another  example  is  the  bid‘ah  of  the  Qadariyyah  who  rejected  Allah’s  foreordainment  (qadr),  as,  although  this  opposes  the  clear  injunctions  in  the  Qur’an  and  Sunnah  which  obligate  belief  in  Allah’s  foreordainment, since  it  is  adopted  as  religion,  not  only  is  it  a  direct  violation,  but  also  a  bid‘ah.

Ritualistic (ta‘abbudi) and Non-Ritualistic (‘adi) Matters
The  most  important  element  in  the  Shar‘i  definition  of  bid‘ah  is  that  it  is  an  innovation  “in religion.”  In  order  to  understand  the  definition,  therefore,  Imam  al-Shaibi  explores  this aspect  a  little  further.  His  discussion  can  be  summarised  in  the  following  points:  

☆  There  are  two  types  of  matters  related  to  the  Shari‘ah:  umur  ta‘abbudiyyah  (ritualistic  matters)  and  umur  ‘adiyyah  (non-ritualistic  matters). 

☆  In  ta‘abbudi  (ritualistic)  matters,  the  reason  and  purpose  behind  them  is  not understood  (ghayr  ma‘qul  al-ma‘na)  i.e.  they  are  carried  out  ritualistically;  while  in  ‘adi  (non-ritualistic/explicable)  matters,  the  opposite  is  the  case:  the  purpose  and  reason  are  understood  (ma‘qul al-ma‘na).

☆  Ta‘abbudi  laws  dominate  in  a  category  of  affairs  known  as  ‘ibadiyyat  or  “religious  matters,”  that  is  those  things  which  are  essentially  part  of  religion;  they  generally  comprise  of  ritual  acts  of  worship  like  prayer,  fasting,  hajj,  etc.  and  articles  of  faith,  like  belief  in  Allah,  the  afterlife,  and  so  on. 

☆  ‘Adi  laws  dominate  in  a  category  of  affairs  known  as  ‘adiyyat  or  “mundane  matters”  which  are  not  intrinsically  part  of  religion,  but  originally  part  of  the  world,  like  marriage,  buying  and  selling,  eating  and  drinking  etc. [Al-I‘tisam, 2:401]

The  primary  distinction  between  ‘ibadiyyat  or  “religious  matters”  and  ‘adiyyat  or  “mundane matters”  is  that  in  the  latter,  even  if  they  are  performed  in  total  compliance  with  the  Shari‘ah,  unless  there  is  an  intention  of  “complying  with  the  command  of  Allah”  (imtithal  li  amr  Allah),  they bring  no  reward  (thawab);  whereas,  ‘ibadiyyat  are  intrinsically  rewarding.  [al-I‘tisam, 2:218]

Although  this  is  a  general  observation,  it  is  not  a  hard-and-fast  rule.  Thus,  at  times  non-ritualistic  rules  are  found  in  religious  matters  and  ritualistic  rules  are  found  in  mundane  matters.  For  example,  the  number  of  rak‘at  of  salah,  the  period  of  fasting,  the  number  of  rounds  of  tawaf,  the  value  of  Zakat  and  so  on  are  all  ta‘abbudi  laws  within  ‘ibadiyyat;  the  laws  of  inheritance  where  specific  shares  are  stipulated  for  the  heirs  of  the  deceased  are  examples  of  ta‘abbudi  laws within  ‘adiyyat.  The  command  to  spread  Islam,  preserve  its  texts  and  laws,  teach  and  learn,  and  so  on  are  examples  of  ‘adi  (non-ritualistic/explicable)  laws  within  ‘ibadiyyat;  and  the  condition  of  consent  in  monetary transactions  and  marriage  and  the  laws  of  cleaning  one’s  garments  and  body  are examples  of  ‘adi  laws  within  ‘adiyyat

The  reason  for  mentioning  this  distinction  is  that  bid‘ah  only  arises  in  ritualistic  or  ritualised  (ta‘abbudi)  matters,  as  these  are  what  constitutes  religious  innovations;  whereas,  innovations  in  non-ritualistic,  mundane  or  explicable  (‘adi)  matters,  although  they  may  be  sinful,  they  will  not  be  classed  as  bid‘ah  in  its  Shar‘i  usage  so  long  as  they are  not  ritualised  (meaning,  adopted  in  a  religious  way).

Imam  al-Shatibi  writes: 

“As  for  matters  that  are  ta‘abbudi  in  nature,  their  desired  objective  is  pure  submission,  without  any  addition  or  subtraction.”

He  also  supplies  some  evidence  for  this  from  the  Sunnah. Thus,  all  ta‘abbudi  laws  must  be  adhered  to  as  they  are  without  any  changes.  

In  al-I‘tisam,  after  listing  several  examples  of  laws  that  are  ta‘abbudi  in  acts  of  worship,  al-Shatibi  concludes:

“You  know  from  the  intention  of  the  Lawgiver  that  He  has  not  entrusted  any  ta‘abbudi  law  to  the  opinions  of  [His] slaves,  so  nothing  is  left besides  stopping  at  the  limit  He  has  set,  and  adding  to  it  is  bid‘ah  just  as  subtracting  from  it  is  bid‘ah.” [Al-I‘tisam 3:58]

Thus,  in  the  ta‘abbudi  aspects  of  ‘ibadiyyat  –  matters  intrinsic  to  religion  –  any  addition  or  subtraction  is  inescapably  a bid‘ah.  Innovations  in  these  matters  are  therefore  bid‘ah  in  themselves. 

In  ‘adiyyat  and  ‘adi  aspects  of  ‘ibadiyyat,  however,  since  these  are  not  originally  part  of religion  or  are  not  ritualistic  elements  of  religion,  innovations  in  them  will  only  be  classed  as  bid‘ah  when  regarded  as  religious  or  when  they  are  ritualised.  For  example,  ‘aqiqah  is  a  celebration  established  in  the  religion  for  expressing  joy  at the  birth  of  a  child.  Thus,  it is  performed  for  this  ‘adi  reason,  but  is  also  performed  ritualistically,  as  part  of  religion,  since  it  is  established  in  the  Sunnah.  If  someone  decided  to  express  joy  by  another  form  of  celebration,  this  would  be  an  innovation  in  ‘adiyyat.  Such  an  innovation  would  not,  however,  be  regarded  as  bid‘ah,  for  the  very  reason  that  this  would  not be  an  innovation  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  ‘aqiqah,  that  is,  it  is  ritualised,  it  will  also  be  deemed  bid‘ah.  Thus,  al-Shatibi  says: 

“‘Adiyyat  in  their  capacity  as  mundane  (or  non-ritualistic) affairs  contain  no  bid‘ah  in them;  but  bid‘ah  enters  into  them  when  they  are  ritualised  or  assigned  a  ritualistic function.” [Ibid. 2:461]

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  Shari‘ah.  However,  with  respect to  matters  of  worship  and  ritual,  they  were  extremely  careful  that  no  innovation  infiltrates  them.  In  sum,  if  something  does  not  have  a  comprehensible  purpose  (ghayr  ma‘qul  al-ma‘na),  it  cannot  be  added  to,  subtracted  from  or  changed  in  any  way.  If  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.  Thus,  this  can  be  accomplished  in  a number  of  different  ways  that  achieve  that  objective.  On  the other  hand,  the  purpose  of  praying  two  rak‘ahs  in  Fajr  is  incomprehensible  so  to  create changes  in  that,  by,  for  example,  changing  it  to  three  rak‘at,  is  an  example  of  bid‘ah.
By  “incomprehensible”  is  meant  that  a  detailed  understanding  of  its  purpose  is  unavailable  to  us,  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.

Means  or  Wasa’il
“Means”  or  wasa’il  only  arise  in  matters  which  are  not  ta‘abbudi,  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:

“If  there  was  someone  who  journeyed  towards  the  obligation  of  hajj  by  flying  in  the  air  or  walking  on  water,  he  will  not  be  regarded  as  a  person  of  bid‘ah  by  his  movement  in  this  way,  because  the  objective  is  only  to  arrive  at  Makkah  in  order  to  fulfil  the  obligation.” [Ibid. 1:331-2]

Thus,  the  aspect  of  “travel”  in  hajj  is  ‘adi  (non-ritualistic/explicable)  as  it  has  the objective  of  arrival  at  Makkah.  Therefore,  this  can  be  done  in  various  ways  that  are  used  to  achieve  this  underlying  goal,  and  will  not  be  regarded  as  bid‘ah.  Means  are,  thus,  in principle,  non-ritualistic.  Hence,  something  that  is  consciously  adopted  as  a  means  is  not classed  as  bid‘ah,  although  depending  on  its  nature  and  objective,  it  may  be  sinful  or blameworthy. 

An Example
As  a  simple  illustration  of  bid‘ah  in  ‘adiyyat,  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  valid  because  they  are  either  worldly –  ‘adi  –  reasons  or  a  legitimate  Shar‘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  would  draw  closer  to  Allah  or  it  will  bring  him  reward  or  it  will  be  beneficial  for  his  afterlife  and  so  forth,  this  will  make  it  bid‘ah.  As al-Shatibi  says:  “If  the  omission  is  carried  out religiously,  that  is  innovation  in  religion.”  And  then  he  says reiterating  the  central  definition  of  bid‘ah  in  the  Shari‘ah:

“The  one  who  practises  something  besides  the  Sunnah religiously,  that  is  precisely  [the definition  of]  one  who  practises  bid‘ah .” [Al-I‘tisam, 1:54]

The  above  explanation  conveys  the  basic  understanding  of  bid‘ah.  What  remain  are  the proofs  for  this  conception  of  bid‘ah,  and  some  further  details.

Proofs  for  the  Definition  of  Bid‘ah
Imam  al-Shatibi  provides  extensive  textual  documentation  from  the  Qur’an,  Sunnah  and  sayings  of  the  early  Muslims  as  evidence  of  the  blameworthy  character  of  this  definition  of  bid‘ah  in  the  second  chapter  of  his  book,  but  I  will  suffice  with  a  small  selection  of  clear  texts  in  this  section  to  demonstrate  that  what  is  described  above  is  indeed  the  definition  of  bid‘ah.

Hadith  One
In  a  hadith  recorded  by  both  al-Bukhari  and  Muslim  in  their  Sahihs,  the  Prophet  (peace and  blessings  be  upon  him)  said: 

“Whoever  introduces  into  this  matter  of  ours  what  is  not  from it,  it  is  rejected.”  

Ibn  Rajab  al-Hanbali  wrote  in  his  commentary  of  al-Nawawi’s  collection  of  forty  hadiths, Jami‘  al-‘Ulum wa l-Hikam,  under  the  explanation  of  this  hadith:

“And  in  some  of  its  wordings,  ‘Whoever  introduces  into  this  religion  of  ours  what  is  not from  it,  it  is  rejected.’” [Jami‘  al-‘Ulum wa l-Hikam, p. 155] 

Thus,  the  meaning  of  “matter”  in  the  narration  is  “religion.”  Worldly  innovations,  therefore,  like  new  cities,  technologies  and  crafts  are  excluded,  as  these  are  mundane  activities  (‘adiyyat)  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:  “You  are  more  learned  of  the  matters  of  your  world”,  which, based  on  the  context  in  which this  statement  was  said,  means:  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. [al-Tariqat  al-Muhammadiyyah, p. 9]

Also  excluded  from  what  this  hadith  describes  are  new  acts  of  sin  which  are  in  clear violation  of  the  laws  prescribed  in  the  Shari‘ah,  like  theft  in  a new  way  (e.g.  credit  card  fraud);  as  these  fall  not  under  “innovations  in  religion”  but  direct  acts  of  violation,  unless they  are  consciously  adopted  as  religion.  Thus,  what  this  hadith  declares  as  “rejected”  is precisely  the  Shar‘i  definition  of  bid‘ah  described  earlier.

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:

“Hold  fast  to  my  Sunnah  and  the  Sunnah  of  the  rightly-guided  caliphs.  Bite  onto  them with  the  molar  teeth.  And  beware  of  newly  introduced  matters,  for  verily,  every  newly introduced  matter  is  bid‘ah  and  every  bid‘ah  is  misguidance.”  

“Matters”  in  this  narration  is  contrasted  with  the  Sunnah  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and blessings  be  upon  him)  and  his  successors,  Abu  Bakr,  ‘Umar,  ‘Uthman  and  ‘Ali  (may Allah  be  pleased  with  them  all).  “Sunnah”  in  its  Shar‘i  usage  means  “a path  adopted  in  the  religion”,  in  particular,  that  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon him)  and  his  righteous  successors,  Abu  Bakr,  ‘Umar,  ‘Uthman  and  ‘Ali  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them all). [Mulla Jiwan al-Siddiqi, Nur al-Anwar, 1:474-5]

Hence,  in  this  hadith  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  defined  bid‘ah  as  all  matters  of  religion  not  found  in  the  Sunnah,  precisely  the  Shar‘i  definition  explained  above.  Moreover,  in  this  hadith  he  censured  all  bid‘ahs,  without making  any  exception.

Statement  of  Imam  Malik
Imam al-Shatibi narrates in his book: 

Ibn  Habib  al-Maliki  (d.  238)  narrated:  Ibn  al-Majishun  (d.  214)  said:  I  heard  [Imam] Malik  (d.  179)  say:  “Whoever  innovates  into  Islam  a  bid‘ah  (innovation),  deeming  it  good ,  then  verily  he  has  claimed  that  Muhammad  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace)  betrayed  the  role  of  Messenger,  because  Allah  says:  ‘Today  I  have  completed  for  you  your  religion.’  (5:3)  Thus,  whatever  was  not  religion  at  that  time,  is  not  religion  today .” [Al-I‘tisam 1:64]

Ibn  Habib  and  Ibn  al-Majishun  are  both  well-known  authorities  and  transmitters  of  the  Maliki  school.

In  another  version  of  this  statement,  Imam  Malik  begins  with:  “Whoever  innovates  into this  ummah  something  that  its  predecessors  were  not upon…” [Ibid. 2:306 ] 

As  clear  from  the  context  and   time  in  which  this  was  said,  “predecessors”  refers  to  the  Sahabah.  Thus,  all  religious  matters  innovated  after  the  Sahabah  are,  in  Malik’s  usage,  bid‘ah,  and  none  of  them  can  be  described  as  good.  Hence,  we  are  provided  with  a  very  clear  early  formulation  of  the  definition  of  bid‘ah.

Statement  of  Hudhayfah  ibn  al-Yaman
It  is  reported  from  the  Sahabi,  Hudhayfah  ibn  al-Yaman  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him):

“Every  ritual  the  companions  of  the  Messenger  of  Allah  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace)  did  not  render  in  worship  [to  Allah],  do  not  render  it  in  worship  [to  Allah]  –  or  do not  innovate  it  –  for,  verily,  the  early  ones  did  not leave  any  voice  for  the  latter ones…Adopt  the  path  of  those  who  came  before  you.”  [Ibid. 3:53]

Statement  of  ‘Abd  Allah  ibn  Mas‘ud
Ibn  Mas‘ud  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  said:

“Follow,  and  do  not  innovate,  for  verily,  you  have  been  sufficed.”  [Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 1:434]

In  some  versions  there  is  the  addition,  “follow  our  footsteps” [Al-Bida‘ wa l-Nahy ‘anha, p. 17] 

Similar  pronouncements  can  be  found  in  Muhammad  ibn  Waddah’s  al-Bida‘  wa l-Nahy ‘anha  and  al-Shatibi’s  al-I‘tisam.

The  rationale  behind  the  latter  two  statements  is  the  following.  The  Sahabah  superseded  the  ummah  in  the  acquisition  of  virtue  and  reward.  Thus,  in  the  words  of  Ibn  Mas‘ud  their  example  is  sufficient  for  us.  Furthermore,  any  accretion  would  be  regarded  as  bid‘ah  as  it  would  be  to  claim  that  non-Sahabah  are  more  aware  of  religious  virtue  and  more  desirous  of  acting  upon  it  than  the  best  of  generations,  that  of  the  Sahabah.  This  is  why  Imam  Malik  is  reported  to  have  said  in  condemnation  of  bid‘ah:  “Do  you  think  the  people  today  are   more  desirous  of  virtue  than  those  who  have  passed?!”  [Al-I‘tisam, 2:276]

The  pious  ruler,  widely  regarded  as  the  reviver  of  the  first  Islamic  century,  ‘Umar ibn  ‘Abd  al-‘Aziz,  also  said  something  to  this  effect  in  a  statement  which  will  be  quoted  a  little  later.

Al-Shatibi’s  contemporary,  Hafiz  Ibn  Kathir  (d.  774),  expressed  this  principle  under  his explanation  of  verse  46:11  of  his  Qur’anic  commentary  as  follows: 

“As  for  the  Ahl  al-Sunnah  wal-Jama‘ah,  they  say  with  respect to  every  action  and  statement  [which  is  adopted  as  religion  or  is  ritualised],  not  established  from  the  Sahabah   (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  them),  ‘It  is  bid‘ah,’  because  had  it  been  virtuous,  they  would  have  beaten  us  to  it,  since  they  did  not  leave  a  trait  from  the  traits  of  virtue  except  they  hastened  towards  it.”  [Tafsir  al-Qur’an  al-‘Azim, p.  1703] 

There  are,  thus,  a  number  of  clear  statements  from  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him),  the  Sahabah  and  the  early  Muslims  that  any  innovation  into  the  religion  after  the  Sahabah  equates  to  bid‘ah,  which  is  precisely  the  definition  of  bid‘ah  outlined  above.

Proofs for the Detestability of  Bid‘ah
There  are  many  strong  and  unequivocal  condemnations  of  bid‘ah  found  in  the  hadiths  and  statements  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  early  Muslims.  

Hadith  One
In  a  hadith  recorded  by  al-Bukhari  and  Muslim  in  their  Sahihs,  the  Prophet  (peace  and blessings  be  upon  him)  said: 

“Whoever  introduces  therein  an  innovation  or  shelters  an  innovator,  upon  him  is  the curse  of  Allah,  the  Angels  and  all  of  mankind.  Allah  will  accept  neither  a  compulsory  nor  a  voluntary  deed  from  him  on  the  Day  of  Resurrection.”  

Hadith  Two
In  a  hadith  recorded  in  Sahih  Muslim,  Jabir  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  narrates  that the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace)  would  say in  his  sermons: 

“The  best  speech  is  the  Book  of  Allah  and  the  best  example  is  the  example  of  Muhammad.  The  worst  of  affairs  are  their  newly-invented  ones,  and  every  bid‘ah  is  misguidance.”  

In  imitation  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him),  Muslim  leaders  from  both early  and  later  times  repeat  this  formula  in  their  sermons.  

Statements  from the  Early  Muslims
Al-Lalaka’i,  Muhammad  ibn  Nasr  and  al-Bayhaqi  transmit  with  an  authentic  chain  from  ‘Abd  Allah  ibn  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him):

“Every  bid‘ah  is  misguidance,  even  if  people  deem it  good.”  [Jalal  al-Din  al-Suyuti,  al-Amr  bi  l-Ittiba‘ wa l-Nahy ‘an al-Ibtida‘, p. 64]

This  shows  that  in  the  usage  of  Ibn  ‘Umar  there  is  no  situation  in  which  bid‘ah  can  be  good.  Hence,  whenever  it  is  conclusively  proven  that  a  certain  matter  described  as “bid‘ah”  is  good,  this  is  according  to  a  different  usage  of  the  term.

Al-Darimi  narrates  with  an  authentic  chain  from  the  eminent  Tabi‘i,  Hassan  ibn  ‘Atiyyah (d. 130):

“No  people  innovate  a  bid‘ah  into  their  religion,  except  Allah  removes  from  their  sunnahs  the  like  of  it,  and  then  He  will  not  return  it  to  them  till  the  Day  of  Resurrection.”

Note  the  explicit  usage  of  the  phrase  “in  their  religion,”  and  the  absence  of  any  exception,  supporting  the  conclusion  that  bid‘ah  in  the  Shari‘ah  refers  exclusively  to  religious  innovations  and  that  they  are  all  blameworthy  with  no  exception.

It  is  reported  from  the  famous  ascetic,  Fudayl  ibn  ‘Iyad  (107  –  187): 

“Whoever  sits  with  a  champion  of  bid‘ah,  he  will  not  be  given  wisdom.” [Al-I‘tisam 1:149]

It  is  clear  from  these  statements  that  bid‘ah  was  invariably  used  negatively  by  the  early  Muslims,  as  were  its  derivatives,  “ahl  al-bid‘ah,”  (people  of  bid‘ah)  “sahib  al-bid‘ah” (champion  of  bid‘ah)  and  “mubtadi‘”  (innovator).  Even  those  Muslims  today  who mistakenly  defend  the  view  that  bid‘ah  in  its  conventional  and  Shar‘i  usage  can  be  both praiseworthy  and  blameworthy  do  not  use  these  terms  positively.  This  is  a  clear  proof that  in  the  Muslim  conscience,  bid‘ah  has  always  been  thought  of  as  a  negative  principle  and  never  a  positive  one,  when  used  in  its  normal  context.  Whenever  bid‘ah  was  mentioned  by  the  early  Muslims  without  any  qualification,  it  was  the  Shar‘i  meaning  that  was intended.

Imam  al-Shatibi  collected  all  the  negative  consequences  of  bid‘ah  documented  in  the hadiths  and  statements  of  the  early  Muslims  with  their  original  references.  Some  of  these consequences  are  as  follows:  No  worship  will  be  of  benefit  for  the  practitioner  of  bid‘ah;  protection  is  removed  from  his  gatherings;  respect  for  him  helps  in  destroying  Islam;  he  is  cursed  by  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him);  he  grows  distant  from  Allah;  it  prevents  prophetic  intercession;  it  lifts  and  removes  the  blessed  sunnahs;  the  innovator  incurs  the  sin  of  those  who  imitate  him;  it  is  feared  that  he  will  be  deprived  of  repentance;  he  will  be  disgraced  and  incur  the  wrath  of  Allah;  he  will  be  removed  from  the  fountain  on  the  Day  of  Resurrection;  it  is  feared  he  will  be  counted  amongst  the  disbelievers  and  die  a  disbeliever;  his  face  will  be  blackened  on  the  Day  of  Resurrection and  he  will  be  punished  in  the  Fire;  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  disassociated  himself  from  him;  it  is  feared  he  will  be  punished  even  in  this  world,  let  alone  the  afterlife. [Ibid. 1:183]

All  this  –  and  more  –  is  clear  proof  that  bid‘ah,  in  its  popular,  generic,  Shar‘i  usage,  is  always  blameworthy,  and  as  the  statements  of  Ibn  ‘Umar  and  Imam  Malik  clearly  show, there  can  be  no  good  in  it.  Al-Shatibi  lists  several  principles  why  the  condemnations  of bid‘ah  must  be  understood  as  general  and  inclusive  without  any  exceptions.  Some  of  these  principles  are  as  follows:

1.  The  hadiths  condemning  bid‘ah  in  its  totality  are  frequent,  explicit  and  make  no exception.  When  explicit  and  general  texts  are  recurrent  in  this  manner,  a  principle  of  jurisprudence  states  that  it  must  be  accepted  at  face  value  and  may  not  be  restricted  or  qualified.

2.  The  early  Muslims  invariably  used  the  term  negatively,  as  they  did  “ahl  al-bid‘ah,”  “sahib  al-bid‘ah”  and  “mubtadi‘,”  which shows  that  these  terms  were  never  conceived  in  the  Muslim  conscience  as  having  any  goodness  in  them.  In  fact,  the prominent  Maliki  scholar,  al-Qarafi,  related  consensus  on  the  condemnation  of  bid‘ahs,  quoting  from  Ibn  Abi  Zayd  al-Qayranawi  and  others. [Al-I’tisam 1:313] 

Thus,  bid‘ah,  in  its  conventional usage,  must  be  blameworthy  in  totality  with  no  exception.

3.  In  its  conception,  bid‘ah  is  to  deem  something  good  in  religion  which  was  non-existent  in  the  early  period,  while  goodness  and  virtue  in  religion  is  only determined  by  revelation  to  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him),  and was  practised  and  observed  most  fervently  by  his  companions,  so  even  on  this rational  basis  alone,  no  bid‘ah  –  that  is,  religious  innovation  –  can  possibly  be  good.  

‘Umar  ibn  ‘Abd  al-‘Aziz  expressed  this  principle  as  follows,  as  transmitted  by  Ibn  Waddah:

“You  must  adhere  to  the  Sunnah,  because  it  is  a protection  for  you  by  the  permission  of  Allah.  And  know that  the  people  did  not innovate  a  bid‘ah  except  there  has  passed  before  it  that  which  is  a  proof  against  it  and  an  admonition  therein,  for  verily,  the  Sunnah  was  only  instituted  by  one  who  knew what  is  in  variation  from  it  of  error,  slip,  stupidity  and extremism.  So  be  content  for  yourself  with  what  the  people  [i.e.  the  Sahabah]  were  content  with  for  themselves,  for  they  are  the  foremost (Qur’an  9:110)…For,  if  guidance  was what  you  are  upon  then  you  have  beaten  them to  it …Whereas,  verily,  they  are  the foremost .  Indeed  they  have  spoken  on  it  with  what  suffices.” [I‘tisam 1:63-4]

Proofs for the Distinction between the Lexical and Shar‘i  Meanings of Bid‘ah
One  of  the  reasons  for  confusion  over  the  concept  of  bid‘ah  is  that  sometimes  bid‘ah  was  used  in  its  linguistic  meaning  by  the  early  Muslims.  I  will  present  two  well-known examples  of  this,  and  then  demonstrate  that  these  statements  must  be  understood unconventionally  and  linguistically.

Statement  of  ‘Umar
Al-Bukhari  narrates  in  his  Sahih  from  ‘Abd  al-Rahman  ibn  ‘Abd  al-Qari  that  he  said:  “I  went  out  with  ‘Umar  ibn  al-Khattab  (Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  on  a  night  of  Ramadan  to  the  mosque,  when  behold,  the  people  were  in  isolated  groups,  one  man  praying  on  his  own  and  another  leading  a  group  in  prayer.  So  ‘Umar  said:  ‘I  think  it  would  be  better  if  these  [separate  groups]  were  gathered  under  one  reciter.’  Then  he  made  a  resolve,  so  he gathered  them  under  Ubayy  ibn  Ka‘b.  Then  I came  out  with  him on  another  night,  while  their  reciter  led  the  people  in  prayer.  ‘Umar  said:  ‘A  blessed  bid‘ah  this  is!’.” [Fath  al-Bari 4:317-8]

To  understand  ‘Umar’s  usage  of  bid‘ah  in  this  sentence,  it  is  necessary  to  know  a  little  about  the  history  of  this  prayer.  Imam  al-Shatibi  quotes  from  Abu  Dawud’s  Sunan  from Abu  Dharr  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  that  he  said:  “We  fasted  with  the  Messenger of  Allah  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him  peace)  during  Ramadan,  but  he  did  not  stand with  us  [in  prayer]  in  any  part  of  the  month  until  seven  [nights]  remained.  Then  he  stood  with  us  until  a third  of  the  night  had  passed.  When  the  sixth  [remaining  night]  came,  he  did  not  stand  with  us.  When  the  fifth  [remaining  night]  came,  he  stood  with  us  until  a  half  of  the  night  passed.  So  we  said,  ‘We  wish you  had  led  us  in  supererogatory  prayers  during  the  whole  of  tonight.’  He  said,  ‘When  a  man  prays  with  an  imam  until  he  leaves, he  is  reckoned  as  having  spent  a  whole  night  in  prayer.’  When  the  fourth  [remaining  night]  came  he  did  not  stand  with  us.  When  the  third  [remaining  night]  came,  he  gathered  his  family,  his  wives,  and  the  people  and  prayed  with  us  until  we  were  afraid  we  would  miss  success  (falah)  [meaning,  the  pre-dawn  meal  or  suhur].” [Al-I‘tisam, 1:324]  

Al-Shatibi  then  states:  “However,  when  he  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  feared  it  would  become  obligatory  on  the  ummah  he  withheld  from  it.  Thus,  in  the  Sahih  [it  is  narrated]  from  ‘A’ishah  (Allah  be  pleased  with  her)  that  one  night  Allah’s  Messenger  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  prayed  in  the  mosque  and  the  people  followed  him  in  prayer.  The  next  night  he  also  prayed  and  the  people  increased.  On  the  third  or  fourth  night  they  gathered,  but  Allah’s  Messenger  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  did  not  come  out  to  them.  When  morning  came  he  said,  ‘I  saw  what  you  were  doing  and  nothing  but  the  fear  that  it  might  be  enjoined  on  you,  stopped  me  from  coming.’  And  that  was  in  the  month  of  Ramadan.” [Ibid. 1:324-5]

Al-Shatibi  goes  on  to  explain  that,  therefore,  the  reason  the  Prophet  (peace  and blessings  be  upon  him)  abstained  from  the  continued  practice  of  this  special  night  prayer  in  Ramadan  was  for  fear  that  revelation  will  make  it  incumbent  on  the  Muslims  if  they  were  to  observe  it  continuously.  With  the  demise  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be upon  him),  this  barrier  no  longer  remained  as  revelation  had  come  to  an  end.  Hence,  the  original  ruling  of  the  desirability  of  Tarawih  throughout  the  month  returned,  which  was  only  hampered  in  the  time  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  for  a  temporary  fear  that  ended  with  his  death.  Abu  Bakr  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  probably  did  not  attend  to  reviving  this  prayer  due  to  his  other  commitments  and  the  short  period  of  his  caliphate.  ‘Umar  referred  to  it  as  bid’ah  “by  consideration  of  the apparent  situation”,  from  the  perspective  that  Allah’s  Messenger  (Allah  bless  him  and   grant  him  peace)  eventually  left  it  out  and  it  so  happened  that  it  was  not  revived  as  a  continuous  practice  in  the  time  of  Abu  Bakr  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him),  not  that  it  is  bid’ah  in  the  real  sense. [Ibid. 1:326-7] 

This  is  therefore  an  example  of  bid‘ah  being  used  in  its  linguistic  meaning,  not  in  its  Shar‘i  meaning  of  an  actual  innovation  in  religion. Furthermore,  the  practices  of  the  righteous  caliphs  form  part  of  the  Sunnah  as  explicitly mentioned  in  hadith,  so  by  definition,  it  cannot  be  bid‘ah  in  its  Shar‘i  meaning.

Statement  of  al-Shafi‘i
Ibn  Rajab  al-Hanbali  writes  in  his  Jami‘  al-‘Ulum wa l-Hikam:

“Hafiz  Abu  Nu‘aym  narrated  with  his  chain  from  Ibrahim  ibn  Junayd:  Harmalah  ibn  Yahya narrated  to  us,  he  said:  I  heard  al-Shafi‘i  (Allah  have  mercy  on  him)  say:  ‘Bid‘ah  is  two  bid‘ahs:  praiseworthy  bid‘ah  and  blameworthy  bid‘ah.  Thus,  whatever  agrees  with  the Sunnah,  it  is  praiseworthy  and  whatever  conflicts  with  the  Sunnah,  it  is  blameworthy.’  And  he  adduced  as  evidence  the  statement  of  ‘Umar:  ‘What  an  excellent  bid‘ah  this  is!’” [Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa l-Hikam, p. 600]

It  should,  firstly,  be  noted  that  this  statement  of  Imam al-Shafi‘i  is  irreconcilable  with Imam  Malik’s  earlier  statement  that  there  can  be  no  good  in  bid‘ah  if  we  suppose  they meant  the  same  thing  by  the  word  “bid‘ah.”  (Imam  Malik  was senior  to  al-Shafi‘i,  and amongst  his  teachers.)  It  must,  therefore,  be  the  case  that  they  used  bid‘ah  in  different ways.  Al-Shafi‘i  used  it  linguistically  as  proven  by  his  citation  of  the  statement  of  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him).  His  usage  of  bid‘ah  here  was  linguistic,  and  inclusive  of  religious  and  worldly  innovations;  whereas,  Malik  used  it  in  its  Shar‘i  usage.  It  is  due  to  this  irreconcilability  if  a  uniform  meaning  of  the  word  “bid‘ah”  is  assumed  that  the  distinction  between  a  lexical  and  Shar‘i  definition  of  bid‘ah  is  necessary.  Without  this distinction,  it  would  not  be  possible  to  reconcile  such  apparently  conflicting  statements.

Moreover,  it  is  clear  from  al-Shafi‘i’s  methodology  that  he  disallows  innovation  in  religion. Thus,  bid‘ah  in  its  Shar‘i  meaning,  i.e.  innovations  introduced  into  religion  (even  if  there  is  no  direct  opposition  to  the  Sunnah)  is  unanimously  rejected.  Ibn  Hajar  al-‘Asqalani wrote: 

“Al-Shafi‘i  replied  to  the  statement  of  the  one  who  says  nothing  of  the  House  is abandoned  [so  we  ought  to  salute  all  four  corners  of  the  Ka‘bah]  that  we  do  not  omit salutation  of  the  two  corners  in  abandonment  of  the  house  –  and  how  is  it  being  abandoned  when  the  Tawaf  includes  them?  –  but  we  follow the  Sunnah,  both  in  performance  and  in  omission …” [Fath al-Bari, 3:599]

It  is  clear  from  this  statement  that  al-Shafi‘i  did  not  allow accretions  of  a  religious  nature to  what  is  established  in  the  Sunnah. 

Statements of Major Scholars Major  pre-modern  scholars  besides  al-Shatibi  explained  the  distinction  between  the  lexical  and  Shar‘i  meanings  of  bid‘ah.  Three  of  them  are  quoted  below.

Ibn  Kathir  (d.  774  H)  wrote  in  his  commentary  of  verse  2:117  of  the  Qur’an: 

“Bid‘ah  is  of  two  types:  sometimes  it  is  Shar‘i  bid‘ah,  like  his  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  statement:  ‘For  indeed  every  innovation  is  bid‘ah  and  every  bid‘ah  is misguidance,’  and  sometimes  it  is  linguistic  bid‘ah  like  the  statement  of  the  Commander of  the  Believers,  ‘Umar  ibn  al-Khattab  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him),  about  his  unification  of  them  on  the  Tarawih  prayer  and  their  continuous  [practice  of  it]:  ‘An  excellent  bid‘ah  this  is!’” [Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim, p. 191]

Ibn  Hajar  al-‘Asqalani  (d.  852  H)  said: 

“As  for  ‘bida‘,’  it  is  the  plural  of  ‘bid‘ah,’  which  is  everything  that  has  no  precedent  that came  before  [it].  Thus,  linguistically,  it  includes  that  which  is  praised  and  dispraised.  And in  the  convention  of  the  Shari‘ah  it  is  specified  to  what  is  dispraised;  and  if  it  is  used  in  a  praiseworthy  matter,  that  is  according  to  its  linguistic  meaning.” [Fath al-Bari, 13:340]

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795 H) said: 

“Thus,  all  who  innovate  something  and  attribute  it  to  the  religion,  and  it  has  no  basis  in the  religion  to  which it  is  referred,  it  is  misguidance,  and  the  religion  is  free  from  it.  The  matters  of  belief,  actions  and  outward  and  inward  speech  are  equal  in  this.  As  for  what  has  occurred  in  the  speech  of  [some  of  the]  Salaf  in  deeming  some  ‘bid‘ahs’  good,  that  is  only  linguistic  bid‘ahs  not  Shar‘i  bid‘ah” [Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa l-Hikam, p. 597]

Similar  statements  distinguishing  the  lexical  and  Shar‘i  meanings  of  bid‘ah  can  be  found  in  the  writings  of  Muhammad  al-Birgivi  (d.  981  H),  Ibn  Hajar  al-Haythami  (d.  974 H)  and  many  scholars  of  the  later  period.  Al-Shatibi’s  extensive  scholarly  treatment  of  the  texts  of  the  Shari‘ah  and  the  usage  of  the  term  by  the  early  Muslims  conclusively demonstrates  the  true  nature  of  bid‘ah  in  the  Shari‘ah,  so  if  used  otherwise  it  is  either  as  a metaphor  or  due  to  ignorance  of  the  reality  of  bid‘ah. [Al-I‘tisam, 1:45]

Answering Objections
Some  people  contend  that  the  condemnation  of  religious  innovations  is  restricted  to those  innovations  that  directly  clash  with  the  Shari‘ah.  Otherwise,  they  are  not blameworthy,  and  in  fact  may be  permissible  or  even  recommended.  Al-Shatibi  answers  their  doubts  in  the  third  chapter  of  his  book.  Three  of  their  most  commonly  used  evidences  will  be  presented  below  followed  by  their  replies: 

Hadith  of  Jarir  ibn  ‘Abd  Allah  al-Bajali
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said as recorded in Sahih Muslim: 

“Whoever  institutes  a  good  sunnah,  he  will  have  its  reward  and  the  reward  of  those  who practise  it,  and  that  will  not  decrease  from  their  rewards  in  the  least.  And  whoever institutes  a  bad  sunnah,  he  will  have  its  sin  and  the  sins  of  those  who  practise  it,  and  that  will  not  decrease  from  their  sins  in  the  least.”  

The  proponents  of  the  view that  innovations  in  religion  need  not  be  blameworthy  or discouraged  argue  that  this  hadith  proves  that  not  only  can  a  new  practice  that  is introduced  into  religion  be  good  but  may  also  be  the  cause  of  an  immense  amount  of  reward.

The  reply  to  this  argument  is  that  this  conclusion  is  contradicted  by  the  context  in  which  this  statement  was  said. [Ibid. 1:304] 

The  full  context  as  narrated  by  Jarir  ibn  ‘Abd  Allah  al-Bajali  is that  a  group  of  people  came  to  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him  peace)  dressed  in  wool,  and  they  were  desperately  in  need.  He,  therefore,  invited  the  people  to spend  in  charity,  upon  which  a man  emptied  a  purse  of  silver  and  others  followed  suit.  It  was  then  that  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  made  this  statement.

Sadaqah  (charity)  is  established  in  the  Shari‘ah  and  from  the  Sunnah,  but  one  particular aspect  of  it  was  not  being  practised.  Furthermore,  voluntary  charity  is  not  restricted  to  any  ritualistic  (ta‘abbudi)  law,  as  its  purpose  –  which  is  to  alleviate  suffering  –  is  understood  and  is  comprehensible.  Hence,  the  hadith  does  not  refer  to  inventing  something  new  into  the  religion,  but  about  applying  an  ‘adi  law  to  a  situation  that demanded  it.  Mufti  Taqi  Usmani  writes  in  his  commentary  of  this  hadith:  

“This  is  with  respect  to  what  is  established  as  being  good  from  the  Qur’an  and  Sunnah, but  the  people  have  left  it  or  they  have  not  attended  to  one  of  its  aspects,  as  has  occurred  here,  since  the  virtue  of  charity  is  established  from  the  Qur’an  and  Sunnah,  but  the  one  who  attended  to  this  particular  cause  and  produced  charity  first,  inviting  others  to  it,  attained  this  virtue.  As  for  what  is  not  established  as  a righteous  deed  from  the  Qur’an  or  the  Sunnah,  inventing  such  a  deed  is  innovation  that  has  no  connection  to  this  hadith.” [Takmilah Fath al-Mulhim, 5:407]

Furthermore,  it  should  be  noted  that  “sunnah”  in  this  hadith  is  used  in  its  linguistic meaning  of  “path,”  “way”  and  “method,”  which  can  be  both  good  and  bad  as  described  in the  hadith.  However,  according  to  its  Shar‘i  meaning  –  which  is  its  dominant  usage  amongst Muslims  –  it  refers  to  the  religious  example  set  for  us  by  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  his  closest  companions,  and  thus  can  only  be  positive.

The Innovations of the Early Muslims
The  proponents  of  the  view that  religious  innovations  may  be  good  contend,  secondly,  that  the  Sahabah  and  early  Muslims  introduced  many  innovations  in  religion,  including  the  compilation  of  the  Qur’an  and  writing  down  knowledge.  Thus,  they  argue,  if  inventing  new  practices  in  religion  is  for  a  good  purpose,  it  is  praiseworthy.

The  answer  to  this  is  that  these  are  not  bid‘ah,  as  they  are  innovations  in  ‘adi  matters. These  particular  examples  fall  under  what  al-Shatibi  refers  to  as  al-masalih  al-mursalah (unspecified  benefits).  There  are  two  major  differences  between  these  acts  introduced  by the  Sahabah  and  the  early  Muslims  and  what  is  regarded  as  bid‘ah  in  the  Shari‘ah:

1.  The  basis  of  these  innovations  is  understood  and  comprehensible.  In  other  words  they  are  ma‘qul al-ma‘na  or  ‘adi, and  are  not  ta‘abbudi.

2.  They  are  adopted  as  means  and  not  as  ends,  based  on  the  principle  that  “whatever  an  obligation  is  not  complete  without,  that  itself  is  obligatory.”  

A  group  of  the  Sahabah  compiled  the  Qur’an  into  one  volume  in  the  time  of  Abu  Bakr (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  for  fear  that  the  Qur’an  will  be  lost  if  left  to  oral  transmission  alone  as  many  of  the  memorisers  of  the  Qur’an  died  in  battle.  Thus,  for  the  purpose  of  hifz al-shar‘  (preserving  the  Shari‘ah),  the  Sahabah  undertook  this  action.  Hifz al-shar‘  is  something  the  purpose  of  which  can  be  comprehended,  and  it  can  be  practised  in  a  variety  of  different  ways,  depending  on  the  situation  and  on  the  resources  that  are  available.  Furthermore,  its  basis  can  also  be  traced  to  tabligh  al-shar‘ (conveying  the  Shari‘ah),  which  is  from  the  established  teachings  of  the  Qur’an  and  Sunnah.  This  is  also  a  non-ritualistic  (‘adi)  instruction,  as  its  purpose  –  that  is,  to  facilitate  the  message  reaching  others  –  is  understood.  The  same  reasoning  also  applies  to  compiling  knowledge. [al-I‘tisam 3:12-7]

In  sum,  these  “innovations”  were  not  in  ta‘abbudi  matters,  and  therefore  do  not  fall  under  the  meaning  of  bid‘ah  as  intended  in  the  Shari‘ah.  A  clear  indication  of  this  is  that  they  were  adopted  as  means  (wasa’il)  and  not  as  ends  in  themselves  which  is  the  nature of  bid‘ah.

The Scholars’ Division of Bid‘ah into Good and Bad
A  third  proof  presented  by  the  proponents  of  the  view  that  religious  innovation  may  be good  is  that  certain  major  scholars  divided  bid‘ah  into  the  five  juridical  categories,  namely,  fard,  mustahabb/mandub,  mubah,  makruh and  haram.  Al-Shatibi  discusses  the  statements  of  two  prominent  scholars:  al-Qarafi  (d.  684)  and  his  teacher  ‘Izz  al-Din  ibn ‘Abd  al-Salam  (d.  660),  as  both  were  major  scholars  of  usul  al-fiqh.  He  demonstrates  that  there  is  clear  inconsistency  in  their  exposition  of  bid‘ah  which  comes  down  to  a  conflation  of  the  literal  and  Shar‘i  meanings  of  the  word.  I  will  summarise  some  of  his  conclusions  below.

It  should  be  noted  that  al-Qarafi  imitated  ‘Izz  al-Din  ibn  ‘Abd  al-Salam  in  this categorisation,  and  it  is  clear  al-Qarafi  did  not  make  any  distinction  between  a  literal definition  of  bid‘ah  and  a  Shar‘i  definition.  It  appears  that  to  him  they  are  both  the  same. 

Both  al-Qarafi  and  al-‘Izz  state  that  the  method  of  identifying  the  ruling  of  an  innovation (bid‘ah)  is  to  subject  it  to  the  laws  and  principles  of  the  Shari‘ah.  [Al-I‘tisam 1:319] 

Thus,  if  the  laws  prove  that  an  innovation  is  wajib  it  is  wajib,  or  if  they  prove  that  it  is  haraam  it  is  haraam  and  so  forth.  Al-Shatibi’s  first  point  in  response  is  that  if  something  is  proven  to  be  makruh  or  haraam,  they  are  classed  as  direct  violations  and  not  bid‘ah  in  religion.

More  importantly  however,  al-Qarafi,  one  of  the  major  scholars  who  promoted  this  view,  falls  into  a  contradiction  when  he  says:  “The  scholars  (al-ashab)  as  far  as  I  have  seen  are agreed  on  condemning  bid‘ah.” [Al-I‘tisam 1:313] 

Quoting  Ibn  Abi  Zayd  (d.  386), the  prominent  Maliki  jurist,  and  others,  but  then  says:  “The  truth  is  that  it  is  divided  into  five  types,” [ibid]  which  if  taken  literally  would  imply  al-Qarafi  is  openly  violating  the  consensus he  himself  transmitted!  Al-Shatibi  takes  al-Qarafi  to  task  for  this  and  states  he  clearly  “violated  consensus.” [Ibid. 1:322]

A  second  inconsistency  in  al-Qarafi’s  discussion  on  bid‘ah  is  where  he  states:  “If  it  [i.e. bid‘ah]  is  considered  in  a  general  sense,  in  terms  of  it  being  an  innovation  (bid‘ah),  and  ignoring  anything  that  requires  it,  it  is  detested;  for  verily,  all  good  is  in  imitation  and  all  evil  in  innovation ” [Ibid.  1:319] 

Al-Shatibi  points  out  that  this  is  incongruent  with  his  earlier  exposition  as  it  would  imply  a combination  of  two  conflicting  rulings  in  some  matters,  that  of  detestability  and of  obligation.  However,  this  difficulty  is  avoided  if  we  simply  make  the  distinction between  the  lexical  and  Shar‘i  meanings  of  bid‘ah  as  outlined  earlier.

In  examining  ‘Izz  al-Din  ibn  ‘Abd  al-Salam’s  statement,  al-Shatibi  observes  that  the examples  of  “obligatory”  innovations  he  produced  fall  under  the  category  of  al-masalih al-mursalah  explained  above,  which,  he  states,  al-‘Izz  mistook  as  bid‘ah  because  of  their  absence  in  those  specific  forms  in  the  earlier  period.  Al-Shatibi  also  inspects  some  of  the  other  examples  he  uses.  I  will  look  at  a  few  representative  examples  below.

In  the  examples  of  mandub,  al-‘Izz  includes  the  Tarawih  prayer  which  was  examined  earlier  in  the  discussion  of  ‘Umar’s  statement,  “An  excellent  bid‘ah  this  is!”

Al-‘Izz  also  refers  to  Islamic  schools  (madrasahs)  as  an  example  of  mandub  bid‘ahs.  The  reply  to  this  is  that  building  madrasahs  is  not  based  on  a  ta‘abbudi  (ritualistic)  rule,  and is  therefore  not  bid‘ah.  Madrasahs  are  built  with  the  objective  of  conveying  knowledge,  an  important  injunction  of  the  Shari‘ah.  Conveying  knowledge  has  a  comprehensible  purpose  which  is  to  pass  on  the  inherited  sciences  of  the  religion  to  those  who  are  ignorant  of  them,  hence  this  is  an ‘adi  ruling.  It  is  known  that  in  order  to  convey  knowledge  it  is  more  effective  to  have  the  equipments,  books,  instruction  manuals,  instructors  and  students  in  one  place.  And  since  a  madrasah  facilitates  the  interaction  of  all  of  these  things,  it  follows  that  it  is  sensible  to  build  one.  Al-Shatibi  does  however  make  a  caveat,  that  madrasahs  would  be  bid‘ah  in  one  of  two  situations:  

It  would  be  bid‘ah  if  transferring  knowledge  in  the  time  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and blessings  be  upon  him)  and  his  illustrious  companions  was restricted  ritualistically  to  one place.  But  this  is  not  so,  as  we  find  examples  in  their  lifetimes,  of  knowledge  being  taught  in  houses,  markets,  mosques,  during  a  journey  etc.  

Secondly,  if  it  is  believed  madrasahs  are  the  only  place  where  knowledge  can  be  acquired  as  a  religious  conviction,  and  they  are  ritualistically  adopted  in  this  way,  that  would  then  make  them  bid‘ah.  However,  it  is  generally  the  case  that  people  are  not  susceptible  to  the  misunderstanding  that  madrasahs  are  literally  something  that  originates  in  the  example  of  the  early  generations,  because  the  reason  for  constructing  them  (i.e.  the  facilitation  of  instruction)  is  understood  and  comprehensible  to  the  general  mind.  Therefore  it  is  a completely  ‘adi  –  non-ritualistic  –  matter,  and  there  is  little  danger  of  it  becoming  ta‘abbudi  in  the  minds  of  some.  (The  issue  of  a  fear  of  something  being  interpreted  by  the  common  people  as  a  ta‘abbudi  restriction  will  be  discussed  later.)

Al-‘Izz  also  mentioned  “every  act  of  kindness  without  precedent  in  the  first  era.”  as  an  example  of  a  bid‘ah  that  is  mandub.  Al-Shatibi  replies  that  this example  requires  making  the  following  distinctions:

1.  If  the  “act  of  kindness”  is  limited  by  a  ta‘abbudi  restriction,  as  for  example  in Zakah  and  Sadaqat al-Fitr,  a  change  will  certainly  constitute  bid‘ah.

2.  If  there  is  no  ta‘abbudi  restriction  in  “the  act  of  kindness,”  it  would  fall  under  the  general  order  in  the  Qur’an  and  Sunnah  to  be  good  and  kind  to  others.  And  since “kindness”  and  “being  charitable”  is  a  principle  that  is  comprehensible  and explicable,  this  command  can  be  enacted  in  unprecedented  ways.  However,  al-Shatibi  says,  there  are  two  conditions  to  this:  First,  the  normal  rules  of  the  Shari‘ah  apply,  that  the  wealth  is  lawful,  the  charity  is  not  followed  up  by  injury (adha)  and  so  on;  second,  that  there  is  no  insistence  on  a  specific  form  that  gives  the  impression  that  particular  form  is  established  from  the  Sunnah,  for  example,  always  giving  charity  publicly  on  a  particular  day  with  no  ‘adi  reason.  Since  this  gives  the  impression  of  an  innovated  ta‘abbudi  restriction,  it  would  be  cautioned  against  due  to  imitation  of  bid‘ah.  This  will  be  discussed  in  more  detail  below  under  the section  of  relative  bid‘ah.  Of  course,  if  there  is  an  actual  belief  of  a  ta‘abbudi restriction,  that  would  fall  under  the  literal  definition  of  bid‘ah. [Al-I‘tisam 1:347-8]

As  an  example  of  bid‘ah  that  is  mubah,  al-Izz  cites  handshaking  after  Fajr  and  ‘Asr,  which  was  a  common  practice  in  his  time.  Al-Shatibi  replies  that  if  handshaking  after  these  two  prayers  is  not  done  with  the  intention  that  there  is  a  religious  connection  between  handshaking  and  those  prayers  it  will  certainly  not  be  a  “true  bid‘ah”  in  the  way  described  above.  However,  with  persistence  on  it  will  become  a  type  of  bid‘ah  referred  to  as  “relative  bid‘ah,”  that  is,  a  practice  in  which  there  is  a  fear  that  by  persistence  on  it,  it  will  eventually  be  added  to  the  prayers,  the  reason  being  that there  is  no  overtly ‘adi  reason  for  this  specific  practice.  This  principle  will  be  discussed  below  under  the  section  of  relative  bid‘ah.

Moreover,  this  is  an  example  of  where  ‘Izz  al-Din  ibn  ‘Abd  al-Salam  contradicts  himself.  When  he  was  asked  specifically  about  this  practice,  of  shaking  hands  after  Fajr  and  ‘Asr,  he  said  in  his  Fatawa:  “Shaking  hands  after  Fajr  and  ‘Asr  is  from  the  bid‘ahs,  except  for  one  who  arrives  [from  a  journey  at  that  time]…”.  He  goes  on  to  explain  that  this  is  not  from  the  example  of  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  and  “all  good  is  in  imitation  of  the  Messenger.” [Kitab al-Fatawa, p. 46-7]

The  Nature  of  the  Evidences  Furnished  by  the  People  of  Bid‘ah
People  who  engage  in  bid‘ah  do  not  recognise  what  they  do  as  bid‘ah.  On  the  contrary,  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”  for  their  bid‘ahs  from  the  sources  of  the  Shari‘ah.  Al-Shatibi  devotes  an  entire  chapter  to  explaining  the  kinds  of  proof  presented  by  the  people  of  bid‘ah.  He  shows  that  there  is  always  a progression  from  personal  whim and  opinion  to  seeking  out  the  evidence,  as  opposed  to allowing  the  evidences  to  explain  themselves  based  on  the  understanding  of  the  earlier generations.  The  primary  distinguishing  characteristic  of  the  evidences  they  supply  is that  they  are  always  unclear  (mutashabih).  An  example  he  gives  is  the  bid‘ah  of  the Mu‘tazilah  of  their  belief  that  the  Qur’an  is  created,  as  opposed  to  the  belief  of  the  Ahl  al-Sunnah  that  it  is  uncreated.  They  quote  the  verse,  “Allah  is  the  Creator  of  all  things,” (39:62)  as  proof  of  this  claim,  which  is  an  unclear  form  of  evidence.  [Al-I‘tsam 2:44]

Al-Shatibi  explains  that  on  such  shaky  grounds,  anyone  can  support  any  conclusion  they  like  from  the  scriptural  texts.  For  example,  a  Christian  can  take  support  from  the  verse, “And  His  word  that  He  cast upon  Maryam,”  (4:100)  as  proof  that  ‘Isa  (peace  be  upon him)  is  a  partner  with  Allah  (Great  and  Glorious  is  He). [Al-I‘tsam 2:124] 

He  further  says:  “Likewise,  it  is possible  for  every  person  who  follows  the  ambiguous  evidences  or  distorts  the applications  [of  the  evidences]  or  interprets  verses  in  a  way they  were  not  understood  by the  pious  Salaf  or  holds  fast  to  weak  hadiths  or  takes  evidences  on  face  value  to  draw  support  for  every  action,  statement  or  belief  that  agrees  with  his  objective  from  a  verse or  hadith  that  did  not  intend  that  at all.  The  proof  for  this  is  that  every  sect  that  has become  famous  for  its  heresy  (bid‘ah)  draws  support  from verses  or  hadiths.” [Ibid. 2:125]  

I  will  take  a  look  at  some  of  these  invalid  arguments  which are  used  by  the  people  of bid‘ah  in  the  section  on  “examples”  below.

True Bid‘ah and Relative Bid‘ah
In  the  fifth  chapter  of  al-I‘tisam,  al-Shatibi  discusses  an  important  categorisation  of bid‘ah  which  was  alluded  to  earlier.  Bid‘ah  –  in  its  Shar‘i  usage  –  divides  into  two  types: bid‘ah  haqiqiyyah  and bid‘ah  idafiyyahBid‘ah  haqiqiyyah  (true  bid‘ah)  is  bid‘ah  as explained  above.

Bid‘ah  idafiyyah  (relative  bid‘ah)  is  a  kind  of  innovation  that  was  also  regarded  as  “bid‘ah”  by  the  early  Muslims.  In  its  basic  conception,  it  is  a  matter  that  consists  of  two  elements:  one  that  is  established  in  the  Shari‘ah  and  a  second  element  that  is  innovation.  That  is,  its  specific  procedure,  conditions,  details  and  times  are  not proven  in  the  Shari‘ah,  though  they  are  required  as  these  specifications  are  performed  in  such  a  way  as  to  give  the  impression  that  they  are  part  of  religion.  This  is  best  demonstrated  by  means  of  examples:

Voluntary  (nafl)  practices  like  dhikr,  optional  prayer  and  optional  fasts  are  recommended and  praiseworthy,  and  these  voluntary  acts  of  worship  have  the  inherent  property  of “flexibility”  (tawsi‘ah).  If  one  performs  voluntary  worship  (i.e.  recitation  of  Qur’an,  dhikr, supplication,  fasting  and  prayers)  with  a  sequence  or  number  that  is  not  exactly established  from  the  Sunnah,  even  with  continuity  (dawam),  that  individual  is  acting  within  the  remits  of  the  flexibility  allowed  for  by  the  voluntary  nature  of  these  acts  of  worship.  This  is  as  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  said  in  a  hadith  recorded  by  al-Bukhari  and  Muslim  in  their  Sahihs: “You  should  do  [voluntary]  deeds  as  much  as   you  are  able”  which  he  said  specifically  in  the  context  of voluntary  prayer  performed  by  an  individual  with  continuity.  This  is  of  course  with  the condition  that  this  prayer  does  not  adversely  affect  one’s  self  or  his  responsibilities  to  others,  as  explicitly  mentioned  in  the  hadiths.

Voluntary  worship  was  originally  intended  to  be  performed  in  isolation,  not  in  public.  Thus,  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  said:  “The  best  of  your  prayer  is  in your  homes  except  the  prescribed  prayers.”  Thus,  in  the  early  period,  voluntary  worship  was  not  done  publicly  except  rarely,  unlike  wajib  and  sunnah prayers  (e.g.  ‘Id  and  Tarawih  prayers).  If,  however,  a particular  form  of  optional  worship  is  done  with  insistence  (iltizam)  and  continuity  (mudawamah)  publicly,  it  will  become  what  is  known  as  “bid‘ah  idafiyyah”  (relative  bid‘ah),  even  if  the  person  doing  it  does  not  have  the  intention  of  specifying  that  act  to  that  form  and  time.  The  reason  for  this  is  that  those  acts  that  are  performed  in  this  way  –  i.e.  specific  forms  of  worship  done  in  public  –  are  precisely  how  the  early  Muslims would  practise  sunnah  and  wajib  acts.  Thus,  an  impression  may  easily  be  created  that  the  voluntary  act  is  sunnah  or  wajib,  which  if  in  fact  believed  would  make  it  a  “true  bid‘ah”  (bid‘ah  haqiqiyyah);  but  if  only  the  impression  is  created  and  the  public  are  made  susceptible  to  that  belief,  it  would  be  counted  as bid‘ah  idafiyyah. [ibid. 2:232-5 ]

This  is  why  the  Sahabah  left out  acts  that  are  originally  permissible  for  fear  of  it  being treated  as  sunnah.  For  example,  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  forbade  the  people  from  following  the  traces  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and searching  for  places  where  he  prayed,  as  recorded  in  the  Musannaf  of  ‘Abd  al-Razzaq. [Ibid. 2:236]

However,  if  one  were  to  do  this  merely  as  an  expression  of  love  or  longing  for  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him),  and  not  as  a  sunnah  act,  it  would  certainly  be  permissible  and  not  bid‘ah.  But  ‘Umar  forbade  it  for  fear  of  it  being  treated  as  a  sunnah.  After  listing  a  number  of  other  examples,  al-Shatibi  states: “And  all  of  this  is  a  path  to  not treating  what  is  not  sunnah  as  sunnah.”  [Ibid. 2:237]

An  example  from  the  teachings  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  is  the hadith  recorded  in  the  Sahihs  of  al-Bukhari  and  Muslim:   

“None  of  you  should  fast  one  or  two  days  before  Ramadan.”

One  of  the  reasons  given  for  this  by  the  commentators  is  that  there  is  a  fear  of  such voluntary  fasts  being  joined  to  the  obligatory  fast,  so  people  may  begin  to  believe  that  these  voluntary  fasts  are  also  obligatory. 

After  explaining  a  number  of  examples,  al-Shatibi  puts  down  a  basic  statement  defining  this  principle: 

“Every  action  the  basis  of  which  is  established  in  the  Shari‘ah  but  in  publicising  its practice  or  maintaining  continuity  therein  is  feared  that  it  will  be  believed  that  it  is sunnah,  it  is  required  that  it  be  totally  abandoned  as  a  path  to  blocking  the  means.” [Ibid. 2:333]

From the  definition,  it  is  clear  that  the  principle  is  subjective,  as  it  is  contingent  on  a  “fear.”  If  what  is  feared  is  actualised  in  some  of  the  common  people,  there  is  no  doubt the  bid‘ah  would  be  true  bid‘ah  (bid‘ah  haqiqiyyah)  for  those  individuals,  and  bid‘ah  idafiyyah  for  those  who  persist  on  it  without  that  belief.  Additional  specifications  in  the performance  of  a  voluntary  act,  like  doing  so  in  congregation,  out  in  public,  with  continuity,  and  under  people  who  are  followed  as  religious  authorities,  combine  to  make  a  voluntary  action  bid‘ah  idafiyyah,  unless  there  is  a  very  clear  ‘adi  reason  for  doing  so  (As  discussed  earlier  in  the  example  of  madrasah).

The  reason  is  that  it  is  easy  to  see  how  laypeople  will  begin  to  believe  what  is  not  sunnah  or  wajib  as  being  sunnah  or  wajib. In  sum,  “bid‘ah  idafiyyah”  can  be  understood  as  behaving  in  the  way  a  person  advocating  “true  bid‘ah”  would  behave,  as  an  individual  normally  will  only  insist  and  persist  publicly  on  a  non-sunnah  act  in  a  very  specific  way  if  he  believes  it  to  be  sunnah.

Below  I  will  look  at  a  few examples  where  bid‘ah  idafiyyah  was  censured  by  the  early  Muslims  and  in  the  statements  of  later  jurists. 

Ibn  Waddah  narrates  from  al-Sha‘bi  that  ‘Umar  ibn  al-Khattab  would  beat  those  who  openly  fasted  the  entire  month  of  Rajab.  Ibn  Waddah  explained:  “Its  purpose  is  for  fear that  they  would  adopt  it  as  a  sunnah  just  like  Ramadan.” [Ibn Waddah, p. 51]

If  a  person  fasts  the  entire  month  of  Rajab  as  his  private  practice,  that  would  fall  under the  general  recommendation  of  optional  fasts  (unless  it  adversely  affects  his  other obligations).  However,  if  a group  did  this  publicly,  there  is  an  imminent  fear  of  it  being treated  as  sunnah.  Since  this  group  fasted  the  entire  month  of  Rajab  openly  (and  the narration  mentions  that  they  were  known  by  the  collective  title  “Rajabiyyun”),  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  forbade  them  from  doing  so  as  it  may  lead  to  true  bid‘ah.

Ibn  Waddah  narrates  from Khalid  al-Ashajj:

“We  were  in  the  mosque  of  Madinah  and  a  storyteller  told  us  tales,  and  he  began  to select  the  verses  of  prostration  from  the  Qur’an  and  prostrate  and  we  prostrated  with  him. Then  an  old  man  emerged  and  he  opposed  us,  saying:  ‘If  you  are  on  something,  verily  you  are  superior  to  the  companions  of  the  Messenger  of  Allah  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him peace).’  We  inquired  about  him, and  we  said,  ‘Who  is  this  old  man?’  They  said,  ‘It  is  ‘Abd  Allah  ibn  ‘Umar.’” [Ibid. p. 29]

Reading  the  verses  of  prostration  and  prostrating  upon  doing  so  is  established  in  the  Sunnah.  However,  specifying  them  for  recitation  and  then  doing  that  in  congregation  creates  the  impression  that  this  procedure  is  sunnah,  even  if  it  is  not  believed  so.  Hence, the  act  is  not  “true  bid‘ah”  but  “relative  bid‘ah”  and  was  condemned  by  Ibn  ‘Umar  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him).

Al-Darimi  narrates  in  his  Sunan  with  a  good  chain  that  a  group  of  Muslims  would  perform  dhikr  in  a  particular  way,  with  the  head  of  the  circle  instructing  the  people  to  recite  certain  numbers  of  different  forms  of  dhikr.  Ibn  Mas‘ud  condemned  them, saying:

“These  are  the  companions  of  your  Prophet  widely-available…By  the  One  in  Whose  hand  is  my  soul,  indeed  you  are  on  a  religion  which  is  more  guided  than  the  religion  of  Muhammad  or  you  have  opened  the  door  to  misguidance  [by  practising  innovation].”  [Sunan  al-Darimi, 1:287]

Reciting  any  number  of  dhikr  is  to  be  commended,  but  when  it  is  done  openly  and  in congregation  under  the  guidance  of  one  who  is  regarded  as  a  religious  authority,  that  particular  number  and  form  may  be  conceived  by  the  ignorant  as  being  sunnah.  Hence,  Ibn  Mas‘ud  condemned  it  as  bid‘ah.
In  all  of  these  examples,  although  it  cannot  be  ascertained  with  certainty  that  the  people  practising  these  acts  did  so  with  the  belief  that  they  are  specifically  part  of  the  Sunnah,  but  because  they  imitated  or  resembled  the  way  a  person  who  does  believe  this  would  behave,  the  Sahabah  forbade  them  from practising  them.

The  prominent  early  Hanafi  jurist  and  muhaddith,  Abu  Bakr  al-Jassas  al-Razi  (305  –  370 H),  comments  on  a  ruling  transmitted  from  the  founders  of  the  Hanafi  madhhab,  that  it  is  prohibited  to  fix  a  particular  chapter  of  the  Qur’an  to  a  particular  rak‘ah  of  prayer.  Since  his  explanation  is  both  lucid  and  instructive,  I  will  quote  its  translation: 

“Abu  Ja‘far  [al-Tahawi]  said:  It  is  makruh  (prohibitively  disliked)  to  adopt  a  part  of  the  Qur’an  for  a  specific  part  of  the  prayers.

“And  that  is  because  if  that  was  to  be  permitted,  it  would  not  be  assured  that  with  the passage  of  time  people  will  believe  it  is  sunnah  or  wajib ;  as  has  occurred  today  in  the understanding  of  many  of  the  ignorant  people  in  the  like  of  it,  so  when  the  recitation  of Surat  al-Jumu‘ah  is  left  out  on  the  night  of  Friday,  and  Alif  Lam  Mim  Tanzil  al-Sajdah  [is left  out]  on  the  day  of  Friday,  they  find  it  strange.  Thus,  the  people  of  knowledge  intended  to  preserve  the  religion  and  protect  it  from  adding  to  it  what  is  not  from  it .

“[This  is]  just  as  was  narrated  from  some  of  the  Salaf  [their]  hatred  of  fasting  six  days  of Shawwal  [consecutively,  immediately  after  Ramadan]  despite  what  is  narrated  in  hadith [of  its  desirability],  for  fear  that  persistence  on  it  will  be  a  cause  for  it  being  appended  to  the  obligatory  [fast  of  Ramadan].

“[And  it  is]  just  as  was  narrated  from  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him peace)  that  it  is  prohibited  to  fast  on  Friday,  unless  [one  keeps  a  fast]  the  day  before  it,  and  unless  it  coincides  with  a day  one  of  us  used  to  fast  [anyway].” [Sharh Mukhtasar  al-Tahawi, 8:525-6]

Imam  al-Nawawi  was  asked  about  the  persistent  practice  of  some  people  of  reading Surat  al-An‘am  in  the  last  rak‘ah  of  Tarawih  on  the  seventh  night  of  Ramadan.  He replied:

“This  is  not  a  sunnah  but  a  detestable  bid‘ah  and  for  its  detestability  are  reasons:  from them  is  the  impression  of  it  being  sunnah …Thus,  every  worshipper  should  refrain  from this  practice  and  should  relay  its  condemnation,  for  indeed  it  is  established  in  authentic hadiths  that  newly-invented  matters  are  prohibited  and  that  every  bid‘ah  is  misguidance,  and  this  practice  has  not  been  transmitted  from  any  of  the  Salaf .” [Fatawa l-Imam al-Nawawi, 1:25-6]

In  this  section,  I  will  take  a  brief  look  –  in  light  of  the  principles  of  bid‘ah  outlined  above –  at  some  common  practices  about  which  people  are  unsure  whether  they  constitute  bid‘ah  or  not.  I hope  that  in  the  course  of  analysing  these  examples,  further  light  is  shed  on  some  important  principles  relating  to  bid‘ah,  specifically,  and  the  method  of  drawing  proof  from  the  Shari‘ah,  generally.  The  first  two  practices  are  examples  that  al-Shatibi  himself  addressed  in  quite  some  detail.  Although,  he  briefly  makes  mention  of  the  third  example,  he  does  not  elaborate  on  it  as  he  does  the  first  two.

Example One: Loud Group Dhikr in Unison
Al-Shatibi  discusses  the  practice  of  “loud  group  dhikr  in  unison”  which  is  basically  a congregational  recital  of  dhikr  in  one  voice.  Some  people  do  this  as  a  specific  ritual  practice,  i.e.  in  a  ta‘abbudi  way,  to  attain  reward  and  closeness  to  Allah.  My  purpose  here  is  not  to  give  an  unequivocal  ruling  on  this  practice  but  to  use  it  as  an  example  to  illustrate  faulty,  ambiguous  (mutashabih),  evidences  used  by  people  of  bid‘ah.

Some  argue  that  this  is  included  in  the  general  evidences  recommending  dhikr.  For example,  the  Qur’an  says:

“O  you  who  believe,  make  mention  of  Allah,  with  excessive  dhikr”  (33:41)   

“And  make  mention  of  Allah  much  so  that  you  are  successful.”  (8:45)

However,  al-Shatibi  explains  that  this  is  based  on  the  mistaken  assumption  that  the generality  of  a  word  implies  the  permissibility  of  everything  that  can  be  imagined  to  occur  from  its  meaning.  However,  this  is  not  the  case  in  matters  of  ritual.  In  brief,  this  form  of  evidence  attempts  to  put  in  practice  absolute  statements  (mutlaqat)  before  examining  their  restricted  application  as established  from  the  early  Muslims  (muqayyidat). [Al-I‘tisam 2:62]  

To  understand  the  invalidity  of  such  an  argument,  consider  the  following  example.  A  verse  of  the  Qur’an  states:

“O  you  who  believe!  Bow  down  in  ruku‘  and  in  prostration  and  worship  your  Lord.” (22:77)

Based  on  the  command  in  this  verse  to  bow  down,  can  one  deduce  the  recommendation  or  obligation  of  performing  stand-alone  ruku‘s  outside  of  Salah,  as  the  verse  gives  a  general  command  to  bow?  The  answer  is  that  this  is  precisely  the  mistaken  type  of  reasoning  explained  above,  as  in  such  ritualistic  matters  one  must  take  into  consideration  the  restricted  application  first before  applying  the  generalities.  Furthermore,  if  a  stand-alone  ruku‘  was  a  valid  interpretation  and  application  of  the  general  command  in  the  verse,  would  not  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  Sahabah  be  the  first  to  have  comprehended  this  meaning  and  acted  upon  it?  If  we  were  to  take  this  invalid  form  of  argumentation  to  its  extreme,  one  may  just  as  well  deduce  from the words  “worship  your  Lord”  any  form  of  ritual  worship,  like  yoga,  believing  that  this  a  fulfilment  of  this  command!  But,  of  course,  all  Muslims  recognise  that  this  is  incorrect.  The  reason  is  that  it  is  based  on  this  faulty  reasoning.

Thus,  in  ritual  acts,  it  is  wrong  to  approach  general  evidences  to  prove  specific  practices.  It  is  necessary  to  find  specific  evidence.  Hence,  in  this  case,  group  dhikr  in  unison  would not  be  bid‘ah  if  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace)  and  Sahabah  performed  dhikr  in  this  way.  

The  above  was  an  analysis  of  what  would  not  count  as  proof  for  the  validity  of  this  practice.  If  it  was  established  that  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  Sahabah  did  engage  in  this  practice  of  performing  loud  group  dhikr  in  unison,  that  would  be  a  valid  support  for  believing  that  it  is  sunnah  and  not  bid‘ah.  There  are  some  authentic  hadiths  which  do  suggest  that  groups  of  Sahabah  did  dhikr.  A  hadith  in  Sahih  Muslim  for  example  states  that  angels  convey  the  news  of  “gatherings  of  dhikr”  in  which  the  people  are  saying  Allahu  akbar  and  subhan  Allah.  
However,  al-Shatibi  argues  that  this  hadith  and  those  like  it  are  ambiguous  as  they  do  not  clarify  whether  this  was  done  audibly  or  quietly,  in  unison  or  individually.  Thus,  it  may  easily  apply  to  what  was  known  to  be  a  common  practice  amongst the  Sahabah,  of  gathering  in  one  place  while  each  of  them  performed  individual  worship,  whether  recitation  of  Qur’an,  recitation  of  dhikr,  or  optional  prayer. [Al-I‘tisam 2:94-5]

Some  scholars  have,  however,  understood  the  meaning  of  loud  group  dhikr  in  unison  from this  hadith,  for  example  ‘Abd  al-Haqq  Muhaddith  Dihlawi. [See:  ‘Abd  al-Hayy  al-Laknawi,  Sibahat  al-Fikr  fi  l-Jahr  bi  l-Dhikr,  ed.  ‘Abd  al-Fattah  Abu Ghuddah, Dar al-Salam, pp. 63-66]

However,  for  lay  Muslims  it  is  advisable  to  follow  the  most  cautious  path,  based  on  the prophetic  advice:

“Leave  that  which  causes  you  to  doubt  for  that  which  does  not  cause  you  to  doubt.”

There  are  many  forms  of  dhikr  established  in  the  Sunnah,  like  reciting  tahlil,  takbir, tasbih,  tahmid,  hawqalah  and  other  litanies  which  may  be  practised  privately  and  inaudibly,  and  there  is  no  doubt  in  the  sunnah-status  of  this  practice. This  accepted  sunnah  can  easily  replace  the  forms  of  dhikr  in  which  there  is  doubt. [For  a  comprehensive  collection  of  dhikrs  established  from  the  Sunnah,  see  al-Adhkar  min  Kalam Sayyid al-Abrar  by  Muhyi al-Din al-Nawawi]

Because  the  flipside  of  the  benefit  attained  from  performing  this  doubtful  form  of  dhikr  is  that  one  would  be  engaging  in  bid‘ah  haqiqiyyah  in  the  situation  that  this  was in  reality  not  a  practice  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  Sahabah,  the  danger  in  practising  it  far  outweighs  the  benefits  of  performing  it. 

It  should  be  noted  that  the  above  discussion  applies  only  to  the  situation  in  which  loud  group  dhikr  in  unison  is  done  ritually  (ta‘abbudan),  as  a  formal  form  of  dhikr.  However,  some  Muslim  scholars  and  teachers  use  it  as  a  means  of  instruction,  as  loudly  reciting  some  forms  of  dhikr  together  is  a  useful  way  to  make  people  learn  certain  formulae.  If  done  in  this  way  there  is  no  harm  as  this  has  a  comprehensible  purpose  (ma‘qul  al-ma‘na)  and  is  adopted  as  a means.  Furthermore,  many  Sufi  disciplinarians  justify  their  use  of  this  practice  by  stating  that  it  is  a  means  to  improve  concentration  in  the  heart  of the  spiritual  novice,  so  as  to  achieve  a  state  of  remembrance  that  came  naturally  to  the  Sahabah  merely  by  accompanying  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him).  In  order  to  compensate  for  the  loss  of  the  effect  of  that  companionship,  the  Sufi  teachers  prescribe  these  practices,  only  as  a  means. [Tasawwuf kiya hey pp. 17-26]

In  this  case,  too,  since  it  is  not  performed  ritualistically  but  as  a  means,  it  cannot  be  regarded  as  bid‘ah.  

Example  Two:  Audible  Group  Du‘a  after  Salah
Another  practice  al-Shatibi  discusses  is  the  continuous  practice  of  group  du‘a  after  the obligatory  prayers.  In  the  case  of  group  du‘a  itself,  where  one  person  leads  the  congregation  in  du‘a  by  reciting  the  supplications  audibly  and  the  others  say  “amin,”  we  don’t  have  the  immediate  problem that  we  did  with  audible  group  dhikr  in  unison.  With  the  latter  there  is  a  question  over  its  very  existence  in  the  early  period.  However,  audible  group  du‘a  is  established  from  the  Salaf.  The  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  said:

“A  group  does  not  congregate,  one  of  them  supplicating  and  the  rest  of  them saying amin,  except  Allah  answers  them.” [Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, 10:267]

Shaykh  Muhammad  Yusuf  al-Kandhlewi  has  a  section  in  his  celebrated  Hayat  al-Sahabah devoted  to  the  instances  where  the  Sahabah  performed  group  du‘a. [see: Hayat  al-Sahabah,  Shaykh  Muhammad  Yusuf  Kandhlewi,  ed.  Bashshar  ‘Awwad  Ma‘ruf, Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 4:443-6]

Al-Shatibi  also  accepts  that  group  du‘a  in  general  is  approved.  [Al-I‘tisam 2:313]

The  issue  here,  however,  is  doing  it  perpetually  after  the  congregational  Salahs,  such  that  an  impression  is  created  that  it  is  sunnah  at  that  time  and  that  it  is  attached  to  these  prayers.  The  evidence  from  the  example  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be upon  him)  and  his  companions  shows  that  there  is  flexibility  (tawsi‘ah)  in  the  practice  of  group  du‘a.  Thus,  if  done  on  some  occasions  in  a  manner  that  does  not  give  the impression  of  it  being  restricted  to  a  specific  time  or  place,  this  would  faithfully  represent  an  adherence  to  the  evidence  of  this  flexibility.  However,  when  it  is  insisted  on  at  one  particular  time  without  proof,  the  general  evidence  does  not  support  the  practice.  Rather,  the  opposite  is  true  because  “insisting  on  matters  that  are  not  insisted  on  in  the  Shari‘ah,  its  nature  is  that  legislation  will  be  understood,  especially  with  those  taken  as  authorities  [i.e.  imams]  and  in  the  places  where  people  gather  like  masjids”  [Ibid. 2:59-60] 

Thus,  drawing  on  the  general  proofs  encouraging  group  du‘a  for  practising  it  specifically  after  Salah  is  a  type  of  faulty evidence  which  al-Shatibi  says  is  an  example  “distorting  the  proofs  from  their  places.”  [Ibid] 

The  general  encouragement  towards  group  du‘a  has  a particular  application  of  flexibility.  But  if  acted  upon  at  a  specific  time  and  place,  in  conjunction  with  a  particular  worship,  sticking  fervently  to  it  so  it  appears  as  if  a  desired  goal  in  the  Shari‘ah  (maqsud  bi  al-shar‘),  then  the  general  evidence  does  not  support  it.  This  is  what  al-Shatibi  says  is known  as  “two  different  applications”  (ikhtilaf  al-manatayn),  where  the  application  of  the  evidence  is  flexibility,  and  what  the  claimant  is  attempting  to  prove  –  i.e.  adopting  du‘a  after  Salah  audibly  for  the  attendees  always  just  as  sunnahs  are  performed  is  restricted  and  specified.  Thus,  the  evidence  is invalid.  This  practice  would  therefore  be  an  example  of  “relative  bid‘ah.” [Ibid.  2:262]

One  person  in  al-Shatibi’s  time  who  was  in  favour  of  perpetual  group  du‘a  after  the  obligatory  prayers  argued  that  there  is  no  prohibition  of  group  du‘a,  and  there  is  general  encouragement  towards  it,  and  the  omission  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  Sahabah  of  this  practice  specifically  after  the  prayers  is  not  a  proof  of  its  detestability.  Al-Shatibi  replies  that  the  person  is  right  that  there  is  no  prohibition  of  group  du‘a  and  there  is  general  encouragement  towards  it,  which is  why  he  says  if  done  occasionally  after  the  obligatory  prayers  there  is  no  problem  as  this  would  fall  under  the  general  recommendation.  But  if  done  perpetually  it  will  give  the  impression  to  laypeople  that  it  is  a  sunnah  at that  particular  time  which  is  a  ritualistic  (ta‘abbudi)  restriction.  Thus,  it  falls  under  bid‘ah  idafiyyah.

Furthermore,  with  respect  to  the  omission  of  the  early  generations,  al-Shatibi  explains that  there  is  detail  to  this  with  respect  to  ritualistic  matters  that  were  omitted  by  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  Sahabah.  In  such  scenarios,  there  are  two  possibilities:

1.  There  was  no  stimulant  (ma‘na muqtadi  lahu)  in  the  time  of  the  Prophet  (peace  be upon  him)  for  determining  that  ritualistic  ruling.  For  example,  as  was  mentioned  earlier  the  shares  of  inheritance  fixed  for  the  heirs  of  the  deceased  are  ritualistic  (ta‘abbudi)  in  Islam.  However,  there  is  a  particular  scenario  in  which  only  the grandfather  of  the  deceased  and  his  brothers  remain,  which  was  not  addressed  by  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  because  there  was  no  need  to  address  this  scenario  at  the  time.  Thus,  the  Sahabah  and  the  later  scholars  issued  a  ruling  on  this  scenario  based  on  the  general  patterns  they  saw  in  the  rules  of  inheritance.  Such  an  innovation  in  ritualistic  matters  is  allowed  as  it  is  based  on  a  new  circumstance  which  the  Shari‘ah  needs  to  address.

2.  The  stimulant  was  present,  yet  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  and  the  Sahabah  did  not  endorse  it  or  practise  it.  This  is  equivalent  to  the  Shari‘ah  purposely  choosing  to  restrict  that  action  within  those  limits.  Thus  any  change  would  be  bid‘ah. [Al-I‘tisam, 2:263-5]

It  is  in  this  vein  that  al-Shafi‘i  said,  as  mentioned  earlier,  “we  follow  the  sunnah,  both  in performance  and  in  omission.”  Similarly,  Mulla  ‘Ali  al-Qari  said:   

“Adherence  –  just  as  it  is  in  performance,  it  is  in  omission  too  –  so  whoever  persists [ritualistically]  on  a  practice  the  lawgiver  did  not do,  he  is  an  innovator.”  [Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, 1:94-5]

For  example,  some  people  in  the  time  of  al-Shatibi  argued  that  group  du‘a  is  more  likely to  be  accepted  as  mentioned  in  hadith,  and  this  can  be  combined  with  the  general recommendation  of  du‘a  after  Salah,  and  thus  it  is  argued  group  du‘a  should  be  practised after  Salah.  It  is  precisely  this  thinking  in  ritualistic  matters  that  makes  it  bid‘ah  as  this reason  was  present  in  the  early  period  and  the  Sahabah  would  be  more  deserving  of comprehending  it  and  being  the  first to  act  upon  it. [Al-I‘tisam 2, p. 267 & 274]

Example Three: The Annual  Mawlid Celebration on Rabi‘  al-Awwal
Al-Shatibi  discusses  many  examples  of  bid‘ah  idafiyyah  that  he  says  are  close  to  bid‘ah  haqiqiyya,  like  inventing  an  Adhan  and  Iqamah  for  the  ‘Id  prayers.  He  also  answers  the  question  of  ‘Uthman’s  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him)  introduction  of  a  second  Adhan  for  Jumu‘ah.  The  basic  reply  is  that  before  ‘Uthman’s  time,  the  Adhan  was  called  immediately  before  the  sermon.  Although  this  was  sufficient  when  the  Muslims  were  small  in  number,  as  the  population  grew  in  ‘Uthman’s  time,  an  earlier  call  to  prayer  was  required.  Thus  he  patterned  Jumu‘ah  after  the  normal  prayers  where  Adhan  was  called  at  its  start  time,  and  maintained  the  later  Adhan  established  from  the  Sunnah.  Thus,  this  was  an  addition  due  to  changing  circumstances  that  called  for  a  reasoned  response. Furthermore,  the  practices  of  the  early  caliphs  form  part  of  the  Sunnah  as  explicitly mentioned  in  hadith,  so  by  definition,  it  cannot  be  bid‘ah  in  its  Shar‘i  meaning.  [Al-I‘tisam 2:305]

Another  type  of  bid‘ah  idafiyyah  al-Shatibi  discusses  is  what  is  called  taqyid  al-mutlaq (restricting  the  absolute).  For  example,  a  person  selects  a  day  of  the  week,  say  Wednesday,  or  a  date  of  the  month,  like  the  23rd,  which  has  not  been  specified  in  the  Shari‘ah,  and  then  begins  to  always  fast  on  those  days,  not  because  the  person  has  more  energy  (nashat)  or  free-time  (faragh)  or  due  to  convenience  (wifaq),  but  only  due  to  resolve,  planning  and  determination  (tasmim).  This  is  different  from a  person  who  has  a  daily  habit  of  awrad  or  optional  worship,  as  this  is  based  on  convenience,  and  not  ultimately  on  determination  and  planning.  Taqyid  al-mutlaq  is  a form  of  relative  bid‘ah. [Ibid. 2:293-4]

Although  al-Shatibi  does  not  present  it  as  an  example  of  this  particular  principle,  the annual  mawlid  celebration  performed  in  the  month  of  Rabi‘  al-Awwal  is  an  example  of taqyid  al-mutlaq.  Remembering  the  birth  of  the  Prophet  (peace  and  blessings  be  upon  him)  just  as  remembering  any  aspect  of  his  life  is  praiseworthy  and  beneficial,  but  when  it  is  done  permanently  on  a  particular  day of  the  year  without  any  non-ritualistic  or  comprehensible  (‘adi)  basis,  it  very  easily  creates  the  impression  that  that  particular  day  is  superior  for  this  practice,  but  there  is  no  proof  for  this  from  the  sources  of  the  Shari‘ah  or  the  example  of  the  early  generations.  Thus,  if  it  is  performed  in  this  way  without  any  particular  belief  attached  to  it,  it  would  be  a  relative  bid‘ah  (bid‘ah  idafiyyah).  However,  in  the  case  of  the  annual  mawlid  celebration,  the  fear  of  it  being  ritualised  has  actually  been  realised,  and  many  Muslims  in  fact  believe  that  a  particular  day  or  month  of  the  year  is  religiously  superior  to  any  other  time  for  that  remembrance.  Many  Muslims  adopt  it  literally  as  a  formal  religious  festival  or  “‘Id,”  which  is  why  al-Shatibi  included  “adopting the  day  of  the  prophetic  birth  as  an  ‘Id”  amongst  a  number  of  actions  he  listed  as  examples  of  bid‘ah  in  al-I‘tisam. [see: al-I‘tisam 1:46] 

He  also  said  in  his  collection  of  fatwas: 

“Establishing  the  mawlid  in  the  way  that  is  customary  amongst the  people  is  an  innovated  bid‘ah  and  every  bid‘ah  is  misguidance.” [Al-Mi‘yar  al-Mu‘rib, 7:102-3]

The  reason  he  adds  “in  the  way  that  is  customary  amongst the  people”  is  that  if  the restrictions  customarily  bound  to  the  mawlid  celebration,  like  the  date,  were  removed,  and  it  consisted  only  of  a remembrance  of  the  prophetic  biography  or  the  prophetic  birth,  this  would  certainly  not  be  an  innovation  in  religion.  Many  Muslims  actually  believe  that  since  he  was  born  on  a  particular  day  of  Rabi‘  al-Awwal,  it  is  better  and  preferable  to  do  this  remembrance  on  this  day of  Rabi‘.  This  would  make  the  act  for  those  Muslims  bid‘ah haqiqiyyah  as  the  stimulant  for  this  practice  (ma‘na muqtadi  lahu)  was  present  in  the time  of  the  Sahabah.  Thus  the  implication  of  this  reasoning  is  that  the  Sahabah  failed  to recognise  the  virtue  of  that  day,  and  the  reward  of  recollecting  the  birth  on  that  date,  and  the  later  people  were  able  to  comprehend  that  virtue.  And  this  is  absurd.  

I  will  end  with  a  quote  on  this  issue  from a  Maliki  contemporary  of  al-Shatibi,  Abu  ‘Abd Allah  al-Haffar  (d.  811  H).  As  the  passage  is  long,  I will  avoid  quoting  the  Arabic  text.  At  one  point  in  his  statement,  al-Haffar  errs  in  his  reasoning,  which  I  hope  readers  will  now be  able  to  appreciate.  (I  will  highlight  the  error  in  an  end-note.)  Al-Haffar  writes:

“The  pious  predecessors,  and  they  are  the  companions  of  the  Messenger  of  Allah  (Allah bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  and  their  successors,  would  not  congregate  on  the  night  of  mawlid  for  worship,  and  they  would  not  practise  more  therein  than  the  rest of  the nights  of  the  year  because  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him  and  grant  him  peace)  is  not  to  be venerated  except  in  a  way  his  veneration  has  been  legislated. [This  is  where  al-Haffar  slips,  as  “veneration”  or  “respect”  is  a  comprehensible  (‘adi)  matter,  and  is  not  ritualistic  (ta‘abbudi).  People  may  demonstrate  their  respect,  adoration  and  love  for  the  Prophet  (peace  be  upon  him)  in  different  ways.  Yes,  if  this  matter  is  performed  in  such  a  way  that  a  ritualistic  restriction  is  clearly  understood  or  a  ritualistic  restriction  is  actually  believed,  as  is  the  case  with  the  annual  mawlid  celebration,  that  is  when  it  is  no  longer  ‘adi  and  becomes  an  addition  into  religion.  This  is  similar  to  the  example  of  sadaqah  discussed  earlier.  The  valid  points  to  take   from  al-Haffar’s  statement  are  what  he  continues  to  say,  “The  proof  that  the  Salaf…”] 

His  veneration  is  from  the  greatest  of  nearing  acts  to  Allah,  but  nearness  is  sought  to  Allah  (Great  is  His  Majesty)  only  by  what  is  legislated.  The  proof  that  the  Salaf  would  not add  therein  anything  extra  to  the  rest of  the  nights  is  that  they  differed  over  it  [i.e.  the  date  of  his  birth].  It  was  said  that  he  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace)  was  born  in  Ramadan  and  it  was  said  in  Rabi‘,  and  the  day  [of  Rabi‘]  in  which  he  was  born  has  been  disputed  according  to  four  opinions.  Hence,  if  worship  was  established  in  the  night  of  the  day  in  which  he  was  born  due  to  the  birth  of  the  best  of  creation  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him peace),  that  would  indeed  be  known  and  famous,  and  no  disagreement  would  arise  therein.  However,  an  excess  in  veneration  has  not  been  legislated.  Do  you  not  see  that  Friday  is  the  best day  on  which  the  sun  rose,  and  the  best  that  is  done  on  a  virtuous  day  is  fasting,  yet  the  Prophet  (Allah  bless  him and  grant  him  peace)  forbade  fasting  on  Friday  despite  its  great  excellence?  This  proves  that  no  worship  is  to  be  established  in  a  time  or  place  unless  it  is  legislated  and  what  is  not  legislated  is  not  to  be  done,  since  the  latter  part  of  this  ummah  will  not  bring  greater  guidance  than  what  the  first part  of  it  brought.  And  if  this  door  was  to  be  opened,  a  group  will  indeed  come  and  say  the  day  of  his  migration  to  Madinah  was  a  day  in  which  Allah  honoured  Islam  so  congregate  in  it  and  worship,  and  others  will  say  the  night  in  which  he  was  taken  on  a  night  journey  he  acquired  glory  the  extent  of  which  cannot  be  imagined  so  worship  is  to  be  established  therein.  This  will  not  stop  at  a limit.  All  good  is  in  following  the  pious  Salaf,  for  which  Allah  chose  them.  Thus,  what  they  did,  we  do,  and  what  they  left,  we  leave.  Once  this  is  established,  it  is  apparent  that  to  congregate  on  this  night  is  not  required  in  the  Shari‘ah. Rather,  one  is  ordered  to  leave  it.”  [Al-Mi‘yar  al-Mu‘rib,  7:99-100]

Also Read: The Concept of Bid’ah – Between the Two Extremes

Ta’ziyat – To Offer Condolence

[Mujlisul Ulama]

Ta’ziyat is to offer condolence to the closed relatives of the deceased.

In Kitaab Zaheeriyyah it is stated that Ta’ziyat is an act of much merit. Rasulullah ﷺ said:

“He who consoles one afflicted with sadness, Allah will cloak him with the garments of piety and Allah will have mercy of his soul.”

Hadhrat Imam Hasan bin Ziyad says that Ta’ziyat should be made once only. It is not an act to be repeated.

The time in which Ta’ziyat is valid, is the period of three days from the time of death. After the expiry of three days it is Makrooh to offer Ta’ziyat. However, if one happens to be absent during this period or the concerned relative of the desceased is absent then Ta’ziyat could be made at any time after the three days have expired.

It is “aulaa” (best and of greater merit) to offer one’s condolence after burial, not before burial although it is permissible. However, if the relatives of the deceased are overcome with extreme grief then making Ta’ziyat before burial will be appropriate.

In Siraajul Wihaaj it is said:

“It is Mustahab to offer condolence to all the relatives of the mayyit excepting young women (Ta’ziyat will not be offered to them). Only the mahaareem of the young women may offer Ta’ziyat to them.”

It is Mustahab for the one offering condolence to say to the relatives:

Ghafaral-lahu Ta’alaa li may-yitika wa ta jaawaza anhu wa tagham-madahu bi rah mati hi wa razaqa kas sabra alaa museebatika wa ajara ka alaa mautihi

Translation: May Allah Ta’ala forgive your Mayyit; and overlook his (faults); and cover him in His Mercy; and grant you patience over his difficulty, and may He reward you over his (the mayyit’s) death.”

The Books Of Mufti Taqi?

[Mujlisul Ulama]

QUESTION:  Please  advise  regarding  the  books on  Tasawwuf  and  spiritual  advices  by  Mufti  Taqi Usmani.  Should  I  study  these  books?

ANSWER:  Generally,  the  books  on  Tasawwuf  authored  by  Mufti  Taqi  will  be  correct.  However,  we  do  not  advise  that  his  books  should  be  studied.  Although  Mufti  Taqi  is  an  Aalim  of  the  Deoband School  of  Thought,  he  has drifted  from  the  Minhaaj  of  the  Akaabir  Ulama  of  Deoband.  He  has  become  a  liberal. 

His  dalliance  with  the  kuffaar  capitalist  bankers,  and  his  association  with  the  fussaaq  and  fujjaar  rulers  of  Pakistan  have  desensitized  his  initial  inhibitions  to  deviation  and baatil.  He  mingles  freely  with  the  people  of  baatil.  Having  drifted  from  the  Tareeqah  of  the  Akaabir  of  Deoband,  he  has  effectively  become  a  bootlicker  of  the  Pakistani  government. 

Association  with  kuffaarfussaaq  and  fujjaar  exercises  a  dangerously  detrimental  effect on  Imaan.  On  this  issue, Hadhrat  Maulana  Ashraf  Ali  Thanvi  (Rahmatullah  alayh)  said:

“Nooraaniyat (spiritual  light)  is  extinguished  by  association  with  kuffaar  and  fujjaar.  In  the  wake  of  such  association,  zulmat  (spiritual  darkness)  develops.  The  knowledge  which  emanates  from  the  niches  of  Nubuwwat  is  adorned  with  Noor.  On  the  contrary,  what  emerges  from  the  heart  of  the  faasiq  is  zulmat.”

When  a  man  freely  mingles  and  associates  with  kuffaarfussaaq  and  fujjaar,  then  by  imperceptible  degrees  his  Imaan and  Akhlaaq  are  eroded. Without  him  realizing,  he becomes  the  victim  of  his  nafs  and  shaitaan.  The  Haqq  becomes  blurred  in  consequence  of  the  zulmat   overwhelming  his  nooraaniyat  which  is  ultimately  displaced  and  extinguished.  Then  this Aalim  joins  the  fraternity  of  the  ulama-e-soo’  in  whose  gatherings,  seminars  and  conferences  he  is  at  home.  This  is  the  fate  that  has  overtaken  Mufti  Taqi  to  whom  we  all  once  upon  a  time  looked  up  to  and  believed  that  he  would  be  able  to  offer guidance,  direction  and solutions  for  the  ills  of  the Ummah  of  this  era.  Alas!  He  has  fallen  from  that  lofty  expected  pedestal  to  the  depths  of  bootlicking governments  and  kuffaar  riba bankers  of  the  West.

It  is  necessary  to  abstain  from  reading  even  his  Tasawwuf  books.  Everything  has  an  athr (impression/effect)  which  may  be  good  or  bad,  beneficial  or  harmful.  Hadhrat  Maulana  Ashraf  Ali  Thanvi  (Rahmatullah alayh)  said  that  even  a  book  of  Arabic  grammar  written  by  a  faasiq  should  not  be  used  for  study  since  the  fisq  of  the  faasiq  author  permeating  the book  will  exercise  a  spiritually  and  intellectually  detrimental  effect  on  the  reader. 

Mufti  Taqi’s  association  with    fussaaq/fujjaar rulers,  kuffaar   riba-bankers  and  the  ulama-e-soo’  fraternity  is  total.  The  satanic  athr  (effect)  of  this haraam  association  is  his bootlicking  of  the  Pakistani  government,  his  displacement  of  the  Sunnah  from  his  Madrasah  and  his  incremental  liberalism.  This  evil  metamorphosis  which  he  has  undergone  as  a  result  of  the evil  association  is  manifest  in  the  jinnah  hat  he  dons.  The  jinnah  cap  is  the  garb  of  fussaaq  political  rulers  who  have  made  Pakistan  a  kufr  state  from  the  very  inception  despite  having  bamboozled  the then  Ulama  with  the  chimera  of  establishing  an  ‘Islamic’  state.  He  abandoned  the  simple  Sunnah  headgear  of  his  Akaabir  Deobandi predecessors  for  this  hat  of  fussaaq  who  rule  the  land  in  accordance  with  the  demands  of  the  kufr  laws  of  the West.

The  zulmat  of  fisq  and  fujoor  is  manifest  in  Mufti  Taqi’s  haraam,  most  reprehensible  act  of  kicking  out  from  his  Madrasah  Rasulullah’s  system  of eating.  Mufti  Taqi  displaced  the  Sunnah  of  eating  on  the  floor,  and  introduced  in  its  place  western  tables  and  chairs for  all  the  students  who  are  supposed  to  become  Heirs  of  the  Ambiya  (Alayhimus  salaam)  – Wala  houla  wala  quwwata! 

He  flirts  with  the  capitalist  kuffaar  bankers,  not  for  nothing.  He  flies  in  style  at  kuffaar  expense  to  the  West    to  legalize  the  riba  products  of  the  capitalist  bankers.  He  unnecessarily  indulges  in  haraam  travelling  styles  to  answer  the  call  of  the  bankers  in  the  West.  On  his    unnecessary  journeys,  he    reacts  with  the  prostitute  air-hostesses,  taking  contaminated  food  from  their  immoral  hands. What  athr  does  he  expect  from  such  association?  In  these  haraam  trips  to  the  West  he  is  not  serving  Islam  and  the  Ummah.  He  serves  the  kuffaar  capitalists,  and  what  for?  For  the  haraam  boodle  of  tens  of  thousands  of  dollars  which  they  pay  for  halaalizing  their  riba  products.  Mufti  Taqi’s  function  is  to   provide  by  hook or  crook  Fiqhi  arguments  to  halaalize  the  riba  products.  The  bankers  pay  handsomely  for  such  haraam  services. 

His  total  participation  in  Pakistan’s  haraam  independence  day  celebrations,  and  his  lauding  of  accolades  on  the  corrupt  Pakistani  authorities  and  portraying  that  evil  state  in  glowing  light  display  the  effect  which  the zulmat  is  exercising  on  Mufti  Taqi’s  thinking.  This  topic  shall  be  further  pursued, Insha-Allah.

Although  it  pains  us  to  criticize  Mufti  Taqi  who  is  supposed  to  be  a  senior  Aalim  of  Deoband,  silence  on  his  deviation  will  render  us  as  “Dumb  Shayaateen”  in  the  words  of  Rasulullah  (Sallallahu alayhi  wasallam).  There  is  the  imperative  need  to  forewarn  the  Ummah  about  his  deviation  so  that  Muslims  are  not  deceived  into  deviation.

Furthermore,  there  is  no  need  to  read  his  books  on  Tasawwuf  when  the  kutub  of  the  Authorities  of  Tasawwuf  are  available  in  abundance.  Read the  kitaabs  of  Hadhrat  Maulana Ashraf  Ali  Thanvi,  Hadhrat  Maulana  Masihullah,  Hadhrat Maulana  Muhammad  Zakariyyah  and  the  books  of  Imaam  Ghazaali  (Rahmatullah alayhim). When  the  books  of  such  noble  masters  of  Tasawwuf  are  available,  there  is  then  no  need  to  read  the  books  of  juniors,  especially  juniors  who have  strayed  from  the  Path  of  their  illustrious   Masters.