When Bid’ah and Customs Become Ingrained

By Mujlisul Ulama

Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) said: “Some customs become so entrenched that even great Ulama and Sulaha despite their abundance of Taqwa and Tahaarat, remain unaware of these customs. They adopt laxity in this regard. This is due to their good opinion (of people). They are not aware of the motives and beliefs of the masses.

They remain unaware of the corruption which will develop in the wake of these customs in the future. Since these issues are extremely subtle, their gaze is unable to discern the future dangers of these customs. The detection of these corruptions hidden in these customary practices is the special sphere of activity of only such a person whom Allah Ta’ala has created for the specific purpose of eliminating this corruption (stemming from the bid’ah practices).”

Sometimes even senior Ulama of impeccable Taqwa and Knowledge become oblivious of the unsavoury and even haraam customs in which they are enmeshed. However, when their attention is drawn to their misdeed, they swiftly repent and reform.


Hadhrat Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh) illustrated this claim with several episodes of truly great Ulama who were among our Akaabireen. One great Buzrug who was even a Muhaddith condoned and participated in a certain act of Bid’ah. Only after Hadhrat Maulana Ismaeel Shaheed (rahmatullah alayh) had admonished him, did he realize his error. The son (a minor) of one senior Mufti who was also a Buzrug, was allowed to wear gold/ silver bangles. Surprisingly the Mufti Sahib was oblivious of the prohibition of gold and silver for even minor boys. Hadhrat Sayyid Ahmad Baraeilwi (rahmatullah alayh) admonished and reminded him that the  bangles were haraam. Furthermore, right inside the Mufti Sahib’s home, the womenfolk practised a bid’ah custom in which the Mufti Sahib would also participate. Hadhrat Sayyid Ahmad told him: ‘This is shirk.’

A companion who was present, very much annoyed and upset, rebuked the Mufti: “Hadhrat, only Sayyid Saheb is speaking. You are silent You should say something. Why have you acquired knowledge? It appears as if you are bereft of all knowledge.” This senior Mufti Sahib was an Aalim of the Haqq. A Man of the Haqq does not take umbrage when he is admonished for his defects and  errors. The Mufti Sahib responded: “Brother, truly speaking my analogy is like that of a box which is filled with precious stones. However, the box has no understanding of its contents. It does not appreciate the value of the precious stones. Only a jeweller understands this. I have acquired knowledge, but Sayyid Sahib has understood it while I have not. Sayyid Sahib is like the jeweller, and I am the box.”


From these examples, it should be clear that the personal acts of even great Ulama and Auliya, if in conflict with the Shariah, may not be cited as daleel (proof) for any act. This is a common malady among the learned men of this era. When they are bereft of Shar’i arguments or when they are unable to substantiate their practices of ignorance, they quickly refer to some actions of certain senior Ulama to justify their errors. This attitude is dangerous. It is worse than the error committed by the senior Ulama. They had unintentionally committed the errors, but which they quickly abandoned when admonished by another Aalim of Haqq. The pernicious exercise of justifying one’s acts of deviation by citing the errors of senior Ulama as substantiation, is a clear sign of dhalaal (deviation).

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