What is Bidah in Islam? Bid’ah Meaning, Hadith & Examples

What is Bidah in Islam? Bid'ah Meaning, Hadith & Examples

The word Bidah is derived from the root word Al-Bada, which means to produce anything without precedent. Bidah in Islam can be considered a form of “innovation” in several aspects of life, although it’s not always accepted. As a result, it’s critical to recognize the many varieties of Bidah in Islam.

Bid’ah, as used in Shari’ah terminology, refers to something that has been incorporated into Allah’s religion that lacks any particular or general basis.

For instance, innovative adhkar (dhikr) such as saying Allah’s name on its own (Allah…Allah… Allah) or the pronoun (Hu… Hu… Hu…, meaning “He… He… He…”). This is something new that has been added to the religion with the intention of worshiping Allah, but there is no concrete or broad evidence of this. Thus, it is Bidah in Islam.

Islam is founded on the idea that its principles and all forms of worship can only be based on what Allah (SWT‎) has revealed in the Quran or was told to us by His Messenger (SAW) in his Sunnah. As such, it is not possible to worship Allah (SWT‎) in a manner that is not permitted by Islamic law, even if one has good intentions. During the entire life of the Prophet Muhammed (SAW), Allah (SWT) perfected the religion of Islam with the revelation:

“…This day, I have perfected for you your religion, and completed My favor upon you, and have approved for you Islam as your religion…” [Quran 5:3]

In this article, let’s learn about exactly what is Bidah in Islam, Bidah meaning, Bidah types, Hadiths on Bidah and examples of Bidah with a complete list of common Bidah in Islam,

Types of Bidah in Islam

One type of innovation (Bidah) that deals with worldly matters (not religious matters) is permissible. For example new technology and new machines that may help in day-to-day work. However, there is another type of Bidah that deals with religious issues, and engaging in it is a serious sin.

Religious innovations (Bidahs) are dangerous, and individuals who engage in them will face harsh punishments. Aisha (RA) related a hadith in which the Prophet (PBUH) stated:

“Whoever innovates something into this matter of ours which does not belong to it will have it rejected” [Bukhari 2550]

Any individual who worships Allah in a way that is against Islamic law, the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), or hadith is considered an innovator (in religious matters). These innovations can be little changes to principles that are already ingrained in our faith, such as changing the amount of prayers said or the number of rakats offered in a prayer, or fasting on days that the Sunnah and hadith forbid. The Almighty Allah condemns the innovators in the Holy Quran:

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying [Quran 6:116]

Meaning of Bidah

Shaikh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen said: According to shariah, the definition of bid’ah is:

Worshipping Allah (SWT) in a manner not prescribed by Allah (SWT‎).
This concept is derived from the verse, “Or have they partners with Allah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not ordained?” [Quran: Surah al-Shura 42: Ayah 21]

Worshipping Allah (SWT) in a manner different from that of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) or his rightly instructed successors (al-khulafa’ al-raashidun).

This meaning is taken from the hadith: the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa’, bite on to it with your molar teeth and beware of newly invented matters, for verily every innovation (bid’ah) is a going astray.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi].

Thus, any individual who worships Allah (SWT‎) in a way that Allah (SWT‎) has not prescribed or in a manner that is not in line with the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) or his rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-rashidun), is an innovator. This applies to both innovative worshipping of Allah’s names and attributes as well as His laws and decrees.

Ordinary concerns of habit and custom are not, in Islam, referred to as bid’ah (innovation), although they may be technically classified as such. However, they are not new religious innovations, nor are they what the Prophet (PBUH) was admonishing us to stay away from.

Furthermore, the Islamic concept of bid’ah hasanah, or good innovation, does not exist. [Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, vol. 2, p. 291].

As a result, one should make an effort to stay away from these innovators and Bidah in Islam. What are some methods by which Bidah can be avoided?

How to Avoid Bid’ah?

What is Bid'ah in Islam Bidah Meaning, Hadith & Examples

1) Look into the Qur’an.

To prevent religious ambiguity, one must always consider the Quran and its teachings as nothing less than Allah’s message. Allah states in the Holy Quran:

“…This day, I have perfected for you your religion, and completed My favor upon you, and have approved for you Islam as your religion…” [Quran 5:3]

The Quran is a complete guide to living that clarifies every facet of existence to help people avoid Bidah. As a result, it is the first resource that should be used to address religious inquiries.

“…There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path” [Quran 5:15-16]

2) The Prophet’s (PBUH) Sunnah

The Holy Quran says:

“O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much…” [Quran 5:15]

The Sunnah and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are also excellent means of avoiding Bidah; the Prophet’s deeds, words, and beliefs are added to religion by Allah’s will, and He entrusted His messenger with the mission.

For this reason, the Sunnah and hadith are most helpful in matters of faith.

We should turn first to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) if the Quran and hadith appear insufficient in topics of religion (For example, questions like lab-grown meat being halal or not). It’s critical to gain knowledge about every facet of religion from reliable sources so that you may make an informed choice. May Allah grant us the capacity to act morally, Inshallah.

Hadiths on Bidah in Islam

As Iman Malik (رحمه الله) said: “He who innovates an innovation in Islam regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad has betrayed his trust to deliver the message as Allah says, “This day I have perfected for you your religion.” And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today.” [Al-I’tisam] He also said, “How evil are the people of innovation, we do not give them salaam.” [Al-Ibanah of Ibn Battah (d. 387H), no. 441]

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” [Bukhari, 2550; Muslim, 1718]. According to a report narrated by Muslim: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) will have it rejected.”

In relation to the matter of Bidah (innovation), the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “I warn you of the newly invented-matters (in the religion), and every newly-invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in Hellfire.” [An-Nisa’i].

At the beginning of his lectures, He also used to say” … and the best speech is the speech of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the worst of all affairs are the newly-invented matters (in the religion).” [Muslim].

Reasons Why Bidah Exists

Here are some reasons for the existence of bidah:

1) Misinterpretation or Misunderstanding: Sometimes bidah arises due to misinterpretation or misunderstanding of Islamic teachings. People may introduce new practices thinking they align with Islamic principles, even if they are not rooted in the Quran or the Sunnah.

2) Cultural Influences: Cultural practices and local customs can sometimes be intertwined with religious practices. This integration may lead to the introduction of new elements into religious rituals and beliefs that are not originally part of Islam.

3) Social and Historical Context: Changes in social or historical contexts may lead to the development of new religious practices. Communities facing different challenges or circumstances may adopt new ways of expressing their faith, sometimes deviating from traditional practices.

4) Human Desire for Innovation: Human nature is often inclined towards innovation and creativity. Some individuals or communities may introduce new religious practices with the intention of enhancing their spiritual experience or adapting to changing circumstances.

But if they do not respond to you – then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah ? Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. [Quran 28:50]

“Have you seen him who takes his own desires as his god, and Allah knowing (him as such) left him astray, sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah.” [Quran 45:23]

5) Lack of Knowledge or Education: Ignorance of Islamic teachings or lack of proper religious education can contribute to the introduction of bidah. Individuals may unknowingly innovate in religious matters due to a lack of understanding of established principles.

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As:

I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “Allah does not take away the knowledge, by taking it away from (the hearts of) the people, but takes it away by the death of the religious learned men till when none of the (religious learned men) remains, people will take as their leaders ignorant persons who when consulted will give their verdict without knowledge. So they will go astray and will lead the people astray.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 100)

Dangers of Bidah in Islam

The dangers of bidah in Islam include:

1) Distortion of Pure Faith: Bidah is seen as a deviation from the pure and authentic teachings of Islam as practiced during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions. Innovations may introduce beliefs and practices that were not part of the original revelation, potentially distorting the core principles of Islam.

2) Fragmentation of the Ummah: Bidah can lead to divisions within the Muslim community. Different groups or sects may adopt their own innovations, leading to fragmentation and internal conflicts. This fragmentation is often seen as detrimental to the unity of the ummah (community).

Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“…my Ummah will be fragmented into seventy-three sects. All of them will be in Hell Fire except one sect. They (the Companions) said: Allah’s Messenger, which is that? Whereupon he said: It is one to which I and my companions belong.” [At- Tirmidhi]

3) Risk of Shirk (Associating Partners with Allah): Some scholars argue that certain innovations may border on practices that could be considered as associating partners with Allah (shirk). Introducing new rituals or beliefs without a clear basis in the Quran or Sunnah may be perceived as compromising the monotheistic principles of Islam.

4) Erosion of Authentic Sunnah: Bidah is believed by some to undermine the authority of the authentic Sunnah (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Innovations may overshadow or replace established practices and rituals, potentially diluting the adherence to the Prophet’s teachings.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Islam began as something strange, and it shall return as something strange as it began. So give glad tidings to the strangers.” It was asked, “Who are the strangers?” He replied, “Those that purify and correct what the people have corrupted of my Sunnah” [at-Tabarani]

5) Misguidance: Bidah is often associated with straying from the straight path of Islam. Scholars argue that introducing new practices without a clear basis in the authentic sources of Islamic guidance can lead individuals and communities away from the true teachings of the religion.

6) Innovation in Worship Practices: Innovations in worship practices may be viewed as an attempt to improve or modify the prescribed acts of worship. Scholars who oppose bidah argue that such modifications can be a slippery slope, potentially leading to the alteration of essential aspects of worship.

7) Lack of Accountability: Bidah is often criticized for lacking a clear basis in the Quran or Sunnah, which are considered the primary sources of Islamic guidance. Without a solid foundation in these sources, there may be a lack of accountability and an increased risk of introducing practices that do not align with the core principles of Islam.

Examples of Common Bidah in Islam

  1. Should we celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi (Prophet Muhammad's Birthday)Celebrating the 27th of Rajab, the night of ascension (mi’raj)
  2. Celebrating Mawlid, the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH)birthday
  3. Grieving on the deceased’s third, tenth, fortieth, and annual death anniversary
  4. Celebrating the saints’ annual festival or Urs.
  5. Offering animal sacrifices to saints.
  6. Offering prayers or supplications to the saints, the dead, or any other person besides Allah. (Slogans such as Ya Hussain, Ya Ali, and similar ones are included in this.)
  7. Using or believing in amulets, soothsayers, and lucky charms.Why is Wearing Amulets Haram in Islam and considered Shirk
  8. Expressing your intention to pray aloud.
  9. Erecting monuments on funeral sites. constructing solid graves with bricks and stones
  10. Mourning the martyrs of Karbala or refraining from marriage ceremonies during the first ten days of Muharram.
  11. After each Salah, shaking hands with the person on the left and the one on the right.
  12. Kissing thumbs upon hearing the name of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
  13. Visiting saints’ shrines.
  14. After doing wudu, raising one’s eyes and pointing to the sky while pronouncing the shahada, or declaration of faith. The sunnah only permits the recitation of the shahada.
  15. On Eid day, pray nawafil before Eid prayers.
  16. Holding the view that more prophets or messengers will emerge after Muhammad (PBUH).
  17. Believing that prophets, saints, or other individuals possess unique abilities that set them apart from Allah or that they share traits with Him. For example, thinking that saints are able to grant life or that they are in possession of the earth’s and heaven’s material riches. Among these is the conviction that the Prophet (PBUH) possessed total and unwavering knowledge of the unseen.
  18. Believing that the Prophet (pbuh) was formed from Allah’s Noor, or light.
  19. Believing that everything on the Earth was made just for the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Refer Quran 51:56.
  20. The belief that pious people, such as saints, can reach a high degree of righteousness and are therefore exempt from adhering to sharia law.
  21. Exaggeration when applauding the nice people.
  22. Reciting the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) Naats (Nasheeds/Priases) while playing musical instruments or other methods that mimic singing and melody. This covers the field of qawali, which is widely distributed in the Indo-Pakistan region.
  23. Studying religion only as a means of earning in this world.
  24. The idea behind taqleed. (selecting an imam and adhering only to his decisions in all deen-related affairs)
  25. Indulging in practicing magic, soothsaying, palmistry, astrology, and numerologyone of 7 major sins in islam is witchcraft
  26. Asking someone else to perform their own istikahra. hiring a person to perform Istikhara.
  27. Washing one’s limbs more than three times when performing wudu.
  28. Thinking that the only thing fit for sadaqa (charity) is a black sheep.
  29. Holding the view that the color black is connected to sadness, mourning, and bad news.
  30. Holding the belief that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is present everywhere and/or that he goes to specific “memorial” events.
  31. The belief that speaking or smiling or laughing while performing wudu invalidates the act.
  32. Adhering to the modified notion of tawassul. Saying a du’a to Allah in the name of His Prophet (PBUH) for instance, asking him to grant you something.

This was all about What is Bidah in Islam (Innovation in Religious Matters), its meaning, hadiths and examples. We hope you gained from this. Read more Islamic Blogs or Follow us on social media for daily Islamic reminders.

Kashif Ali

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