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Definition Of Innovation – Sunni & Wahhabi Perspectives.

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Definition Of Innovation – Sunni & Wahhabi Perspectives.




Those who read into controversial religious matters would have come across the term 'Biddah' used to demonise another sect of Muslims. And truth is that many readers wouldnt be aware the meaning of word Biddah, and even if they are aware it would be a translation; 'Innovation'. Its very rare that causal readers would know the exact Shara'ee meaning of this term. And even those who are familiar they would arguing which version of 'Biddah Definition' is correct. The Sunni's and Wahhabi's argue whose definition of Biddah is in accordance to teaching of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam).


The best way to answer the question to to learn these definitions and then judge according to them to see if they fit in the frame of Quran and Sunnah. My First hand experience of these two very different definitions of Biddah taught me a valueable lesson and that is you can not dismiss something without first understanding it properly. The conclusion I arived after learning and applying these two definitions to agreed upon issues of innovation was that regardless of which edefinition is used if it is applied correctly the result will be same.


To illustrate the point, a beleife in legality of suicide in definition of the Wahabiyah would be termed as 'Biddah', hence the ruling would be that its misguidance, leading to hellfire, on the other hand those who lean toward Sufi side, would deem this beleife of legality of suicide as 'Biddah Sai'yah' {i.e.evil Innovation}, and the verdict of misguidance, leading to hellfire will be same. Lets suppose a person when ever sits in car recites Surah Fatihah, only recites it for sake of pleasing Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). In the definition of the Wahabiyah it would not amount to Biddah, they would consider it Biddah in linguistic sense, but not in Sharaee sense, therefore they would give verdict that the person will earn reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). The Ahle Sunnat on other hand will consider this act to be a innovation of the person because this act has originated from him, but will judge it to be a praiseworthy innovation for which there will be reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala).


The real point of contention is whos definition of innovation is fully in accordance with teaching of Quran, and Sunnah. On that point I have to take side and declare that the definition of Sufis is more comprehensive and it is derived using all the evidences avaliable on this subject in Quran and Sunnah, where as the Wahabi one is not fully accordance with Sunnah. To understand matters of deen, to determine the legality of a issue in Islam it doesn't really matter which is used the end result will be same.


Source Of Definitions:


Wahhabi definition I had learnt when I was with Ahle Hadith, a Pakistani Ghair Muqallid Wahabi sect, so there is no gaurantee about its adoption by Arabi Neo-Hanbali Wahhabi's. I have used this definition while dicussing with Hanafi Wahhabi's of India known as Deobandi's and none objected to it, so assumption is they agree to it. Unfortunately no source for their definition was given to me while learning it and even if it was I can not recall it. The sufi definition is gleamed from Urdu book; 'Islam aur Biddat' by Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan Naeemi {rahimullah alayhi ta'ala} for a detailed study of Sufi definition with detail explaination I recogmend readers refer to his work.




Biddah taken literally would give you an english translation of “Innovation”, but in Islamic law Bid'dah has special definition, and its istilah khaas {special terminology} which should not be understood lingustically rather its meaning in the light of Quran and Sunnah.


'Daleel' Explained:


To correctly understanding the definitions of Biddah, one must undrstand the meaning of 'daleel'. Daleel is a Arabic word which means evidence, proof, testimony, substantiation. In the definition of Biddah it is incorporated to mean 'evidence' from Quran and Sunnah. There are two types of evidences:


- Explicit Evidence

- Implicit Evidence


Where ever the word 'daleel' has been used the readers will have understand 'daleel' in meaning of explicit, implicit evidence, unless in places one or the other is specified.


Wahabi Definition Of Biddah:


- Biddah Simple: Any Action/Beleife without daleel[1] from the Qur'an or Sunnah such is deemed as Bidah.


- Biddah Comprehensive: Any Action/Beleife of which there is no Explicit Evidence or Implicit Evidence[2] such is classed as Bidah.


* Innovation for which there is no valid reason, is to be rejected.

* Innovation which is not in harmony with the principles of Islam that is to be rejected.

* Innovation for which there is no sanction from Quran/Sunnah, that is to be rejected.


Sufi Definition Of Biddah:


In Sufi definition of Biddah, anything which is not mentioned in Quran and Ahadith as Fard/Farz { i.e.Compulsary} or is not Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is Biddah. A newly invented matter, a novelty, and every Biddah has to be examined in light of Quran and Sunnah to determine weither its praiseworthy or reprehensiable. Even though the actions of Sahabah which have no evidence from Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam), but evidence shows that it was their Ijtihad; technically is 'Biddah'. Even then their Ijtihad is not reffered as Biddah becaue the word in general is used with negative conotations. Therefore out of respect, and to make sure that people do not attribute Biddah Sai'yah to Sahabah the word 'Sunnah' is used, as in Sunnah of Sahabah to meanpraiseworthy innovation which was result of Ijtihad. If it is in accordance with Quran & Sunnah, then it is Biddah Hasanah.If the Ijtihad is wrong, its Bid'a Sai'yah but there is no punishment on the Mujtahid, only reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) in both out comes.


Part One: The Basic Definition.


- Biddah Hasanah {Praiseworthy Biddah}: Any innovated Practice/Belief with daleel from the Qur'an/Sunnah then it is Biddah Hasanah.


* Innovation for which there is valid reason, it is accepted

* Innovation which is in harmony with the principles of Islam that is to be accepted.

* Innovation for which there is sanction from Quran/Sunnah, that is to be accepted.


- Biddah Sai'yah {BlameWorthy Innovation}: Any innovated Practice/Beleife without daleel from the Qur'an/Sunnah is Bidah Sai'yah.


* Innovation for which there is no valid reason, is to be rejected.

* Innovation which is not in harmony with the principles of Islam that is to be rejected.

* Innovation for which there is no sanction from Quran/Sunnah, that is to be rejected.


Part Two: Detailed Breakdown Of Biddah.




- Amali

- Iqadi


Biddah Amali (Innovation In Acts):


- Hasanah (i.e. praiseworthy)

- Sai'yah (i.e. reprehensiable)


Biddah Itqadi (Innovation In Beleife):


- Hasanah (i.e. praiseworthy)

- Sai'yah (i.e. reprehensiable)


Biddah Amali Hasanah (Innovation Of PraiseWorthy Action):


- Jaiz

- Mustahab

- Wajib


Biddah Amali Sai'yah: (Reprehensive Innovation In Acts):


- Makhruh

- Haram


Biddah Amali Sai'yah Makhruh (Reprehensiable Innovation - Disliked Act):


- Tehrimi

- Tanzihi


Biddah Itqadi Sai'yah: (Reprehensiable Innovation In Beleife):


- Zindiqiyah

- Kuffria

- Shirkia


Wama Alayna Ilal Balaghul Mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razavi






- [1] The original definition had the word 'asal' instead of 'daleel' and translation of it does not make any sense of the sentence, so I have altered it to 'daleel'. I did not enquire to from the person explicitly if asal (i.e. root [evidence]) meant explicit proof or implicit proof, but based on the discussions, and my personel study I concluded asal has to mean explicit, implicit or direct, indirect evidence.


- [2] Indirect evidence is source of Ijtihad therefore it's reffered as 'Ijtihadi evidence' . Where ever this term is used you can assume it means indirect, implicit evidence from Qur'an and Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam).

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