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Deciphering: "...every Innovation Is Evil ..." In Light Of Ijtihad.


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Deciphering: "...Every Innovation Is Evil ..." In Light Of Ijtihad.

 

Introduction:

 

It has been argued time, and time again by vast majority proponents of Wahabism that every innovation is misguidance. And to support their claim everyone of parrot family will either quote the Arabic wording of Ahadith or at least will know the translation of these two ahadith:

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1885: “... and would further say: "The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the beet of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are the innovations; and every innovation is error." He would further say: I am more dear to a Muslim even than his self …"

 

Sunnan Abu Dawood, Book 40, Number 4590: “… for those of you who live after me will see great disagreement. You must then follow my sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it. Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error."

 

The aim of this article is to access the claim in light of concept of Ijtihad, and demonstrate literalism of these two ahadith is contradictory to the concept of Ijtihad, and eliminates the very root of Ijtihaad. And inshallah if my memory does justice at the end the correct meaning of these two ahadith will also be briefly explained.

 

Evidence Of Ijtihaad:

 

- Ijtihad was taught to Sahabah (alayhi ridwan) by Prophet Muhammed (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). Our beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) reported to have said:

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 18, Hadith 4261: “'Amr b. al-'As reported that he heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When a judge gives a decision, having tried his best to decide correctly and is right, there are two rewards for him; and if he gave a judgment after having tried his best (to arrive at a correct decision) but erred, there is one reward for him.”

 

Sahih Bukhari, Book 92, Hadith 450: “Narrated 'Amr bin Al-'As: That he heard Allah's Apostle saying, "If a judge gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct (i.e. agrees with Allah and His Apostle's verdict) he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, (i.e. against that of Allah and His Apostle) even then he will get a reward."

 

These two ahadith make it clear that if a Judge gives a verdict according to his own understanding and his understanding is correct Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) will give him double the reward, and even if the Mujtahid errors in his judgment Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) will grant him single reward.

 

One very important Hadith which is a clear proof for Ijtihaad:

 

Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 24, Hadith 3585: “Narrated Mu'adh ibn Jabal: Some companions of Mu'adh ibn Jabal said: When the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) intended to send Mu'adh ibn Jabal to the Yemen, he asked: How will you judge when the occasion of deciding a case arises? He replied: I shall judge in accordance with Allah's Book. He asked: If you do not find any guidance in Allah's Book? He replied: (I shall act) in accordance with the Sunnah of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him). He asked: If you do not find any guidance in the Sunnah of the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and in Allah's Book? He replied: I shall do my best to form an opinion and I shall spare no effort.The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) then patted him on the breast and said: Praise be to Allah Who has helped the messenger of the Apostle of Allah to find something which pleases the Apostle of Allah.”

 

Our beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) ensures that Mu'adh Ibn Jabal (radiallah ta'ala anh) understands that if new matters arise which have not been dealt in the Quran, Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) then the Sahabi practices Ijtihad, and arrives at a understanding which accords the Quran and Sunnah.

 

The Side Effect Of Literalism:

 

- The very nature, purpose of Ijtihad is to innovate, strive and formulate a understanding which is in accordance with teaching of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) of a matter which is not taught in Quran and Sunnah of beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), hence the new innovation requires a judgment in light of Quran and Sunnah which is in accordance with the spirit of Islam. If every innovation is misguidance then there can be no Ijtihad because everything which did not originate from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala), RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), would automatically be shar (i.e. evil), misguidance, that is if the Ahadith of innovation are taken literally.

 

Teaching of Ijtihad is proof that Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) himself understood that deen would evolve, practices, acts, beliefs, customs, would emerge which have to be judged in light of Quran, Sunnah, and then decide on the validity/invalidity of these practices, acts, beliefs, customs. And chance of some practice being a legitimate on the basis of Ijtihad is proof that not every innovation is evil, misguidance.

 

Explanation Of Ahadith:

 

- The literalism of: ... every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error.” is too restrictive, and it contradicts the teachings where beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) told of reward for good innovations, punishment for bad innovations. It also eliminates the existence, the need of Ijtihaad, because every innovative practice, custom, belief, act would be misguidance. Yet RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) approved the practice of Ijtihad for matters which are not taught in Quran, Sunnah, this means that not all innovations are misguidance, only some, and some can be valid.

 

- The two ahadith have been isolated from other ahadith which explain the meanings of these ahadith:

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 18, Number 4267: “... and then said: 'A'isha informed me that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: He who did any act for which there is no sanction from our behalf, that is to be rejected.”

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 18, Number 4266: 'A'isha reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who innovates things in our affairs for which there is no valid (reason) (commits sin) and these are to be rejected.”

 

Sahih Bukhari Book 49, Hadith 861: Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected."

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1885: “..."The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the beet of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are the innovations; and everyinnovation is error." He would further say: …"

 

The out is that an innovation for which there is no sanction Allah (subhana wa ta'ala), RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) nor a valid reason, and contradicts the principles of religion of Islam it is to be rejected. Such innovations are the most evil, and every such innovation is error.

 

Conclusion:

 

- To realize which of the innovations are error, misguidance, evil, and earn hellfire, and displeasure of Lord, RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) taught the Sahabah (radiallah tallah anhuma ajma'een) method of Ijtihaad, and encouraged them to practice it when new matters rise which have not been dealt in the book of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) and Sunnah of beloved Rasool (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). Thus not every innovation is error but only innovations which have no sanction, contradict the principles of Islam, and have no valid reason are evil, and misguidance.

 

Wama Alayna Ilal Balaghul Mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razvi

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