Dangerous Practices

Innovation in Religion - I

30959 0 1742
Innovation in religion signifies transgressing the texts of the Sharee’ah in issuing rulings, non-observance of the teachings of the Sunnah, following diverse opinions and whims and abandoning the example of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). Imaam Ash-Shaatibi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him defined innovation in religion as a religious way that is invented in order to resemble a Sharee‘ah-based way; the purpose of such an invented way is to overstate the manners of worship to Allah The Almighty. 


Sharee‘ah Texts Condemn Innovation in Religion
Various texts of the Sharee‘ah condemn innovation in religion and warn against it. It was narrated on the authority of Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, that when the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), would give a Khutbah (sermon), his eyes would turn red and his voice would be loud. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), would say: “Indeed, the best speech is the Book of Allah The Almighty, and the best guidance is that of Muhammad, the most evil affairs are the originated ones, and every innovation [in religion] is misguidance…” [Muslim] 


In a Hadeeth narrated by Al-‘Irbaadh ibn Saariyah, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said: “Those of you who outlive me will see enormous differences. You must then follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Abide by it and hold on tight to it [as if] with your eyeteeth. Beware of instigation [in religion], for every instigation is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance.” [Abu Daawood and At-Tirmithi - Hasan Saheeh


It was narrated on the authority of ‘Aa'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said: “Whoever introduces an innovation into this religion, will have it rejected.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim] 


Innovation in Religion is Misguidance that Thwarts Acts of Worship
Introducing an innovation in religion is misguidance and makes one's acts of worship worthless. This applies to the originator of the innovation as well as anyone who follows that innovation. The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said: “Whoever introduces an innovation to this religion, will have it rejected.” An innovator in religion actually thinks that he is doing a good deed, which makes it very unlikely that he would repent for doing it. In this respect, an innovator in religion is different from a non-observant Muslim. It was narrated on the authority of Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), said:“Allah withholds repentance from every instigator of an innovation in the religion.” [Al-Munthiri and At-Tabaraani, Al-Albaani - Hasan


The most dangerous religious innovations are the ones pertaining to creed, such as  the Khawaarij's (an early Islamic sect) belief that a person who commits a major sin thereby becomes a disbeliever;  figurative interpretation of the Names and Attributes of Allah The Almighty (such as interpreting the Istiwaa' (rising) of Allah to mean dominion, His Descent to mean His sending down of commands, His Hand to mean power and so on); believing that some people are exempted from religious obligations; believing in pantheism or incarnation, dedicating acts of worship to the dead;  giving precedence to ‘logic’ over textual proofs; believing in the infallibility of Imaams; and cursing the Companions and calling them unbelievers. Innovators are referred to as “the people of innovation” or “the people of whims”.  


A Malicious Allegation Rebutted
Any saying or action that does not coincide with the teachings of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), is considered to be an innovation in religion and misguidance. However, there are those who maintain that some innovations in religion are good. They justify their claim by what ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, said when he made Ubayy ibn Ka‘b, may Allah be pleased with him, lead the people in congregational Salaat Taraaweeh during Ramadan. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “How good this innovation is!” 


We refute this claim from many angles. For instance, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), performed this Salah with men and women for a few nights, but he stopped performing it in congregation because he feared that it might become obligatory on them. After the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), died and revelation stopped, ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, noticed that some people would perform this Salah individually while others performed it in groups. At this point, ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, gathered them to perform it behind Ubayy ibn Ka‘b and said the phrase stated above. Moreover, ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the rightly-guided caliphs whom the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), ordered us to follow.  The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Follow my Sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs.”
 

If the word “innovation” or its equivalents are used in contexts other than the Islamic one, then in this case, it may be praiseworthy. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Say, “I am not something original among the messengers.”}[Quran 46:9] Allah The Almighty is telling Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi was sallam, to say here that he was not the first messenger, and that messengers were sent before him. In another verse, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And monasticism, which they innovated; We did not prescribe it for them.} [Quran 57:27] This means that Christians themselves originated monasticism. Christians chose to endure the hardships of abstaining from food, drink and marriage and being attached to caves and hermitages, as a reaction to their kings who altered the teachings of their religion. Only a few Christians remained steadfast and became monks. This concept of monasticism does not exist in Islam. In fact, Jihaad is the monasticism of the Muslim Ummah (Nation).  


Extremism Versus Negligence

Some Muslims go to extremes regarding religious innovation. They do not distinguish between innovation in religion and innovation in the worldly aspects of life. A group of Muslims has preferred to adhere to the inherited ways of life that it has been bequeathed, although they only pertain to worldly matters. As a result, while other nations have attained progress in worldly matters, this group remains reliant on other nations for what they invent and manufacture. 


On the other hand, another group of Muslims has not differentiated between forbidden innovation in acts of worship and permitted innovation in aspects of this worldly life; they went to the other extreme, so that they innovated in the religion what Allah The Almighty has not permitted. They did this under the pretext of urbanization and achieving development. 


Concepts become confused, yet it was necessary that each group is aware of its due right. It should be known that in principle, innovation is forbidden in all acts of worship and such matters are restricted to those that have a basis in authentic texts. However, in principle, innovation that leads to progress in this worldly life is permissible, although it must conform to the rules of Sharee’ah


Transactions are basically permissible once its relevant criteria are considered. This means that it is not against the teachings of Islam to manufacture planes, drive cars and build hospitals, orphanages and schools. The permissibility or impermissibility of any worldly activity is determined on the basis of the purpose and manner of usage.  If the purpose and manner of usage is for a good cause, the activity is permissible; and if they are used for an evil purpose the activity is impermissible. Acts of worship such as prayers, dutifulness to parents and wearing Hijab, however, should be performed without increase or decrease, whether we live in the first century or the hundredth century. 


This blessed religion is characterized by its susceptibility to development, on the condition that the teachings of the religion are not altered. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me.}[Quran 10:15] For this reason, we say that innovation in religion is condemned and is absolute misguidance. This ruling applies to both real innovations and additional innovations (the innovations which combine a Sharee‘ah-based act and an originated act. For instance, the prayer for the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), after the Athaan (call to prayer) in a loud voice; celebrating the beginning of a new Hijri year; and celebrating the occasion of Al-Israa' and Mi‘raaj.) Some claim that additional innovations should not be condemned, however, this is incorrect. They must be condemned because the prohibition of innovation in religion is general. 

Innovation in Religion - II

Related Articles

Popular Articles

Dangerous Practices

Hypocrisy is Internal Destruction

Hypocrisy is a chronic disease and a dangerous moral deviation in the life of individuals, communities and nations. Its danger is great and the hypocrites are the cause of this great evil. This danger...More