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Hadith Of Praiseworthy/reprehensible Innovation: Critical Analysis Of A Interpretation.


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Hadith Of Praiseworthy/Reprehensible Innovation: Critical Analysis Of A Interpretation.

 

Introduction.

 

Hadith of praiseworthy and blameworthy innovation can be explained in many different ways without contradicting the established facts from Qur’an or Sunnah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam). The first part of the article will explain why the hadith in discussion belongs to a specific genre of ahadith which does not necessitate direct link between the hadith of Sahih Muslim and others. In the second part this article will focus on one specific interpretation which is presented by the Wahhabiya and their like minded individuals to refute the legitimacy of praiseworthy innovations in Islam. In the last and finale part of the article khadim will explain the meaning of the hadith of Sahih Muslim in the context of ahadith of reprehensible innovation.

 

Hadith Of Reprehensible Innovation.

 

Sahih Muslim, Book 034, Number 6466: "… them in succession until signs of happiness could be seen on his (sacred) face. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: He who introduced some good practice (i.e. Sunnah) in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil practice (i.e. Sunnah) in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without theirs being diminished in any respect."

 

Part One: A Genre Of Hadith.

 

It is narrated: “The servant does not introduce good practice which is followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.”[1] another hadith with similar theme states: “No one calls to guidance without having the same reward as those who follow him, without diminishing their rewards at all. And no one calls to error without having the same burdens as they do, without diminishing their burdens at all.”[2] One version of hadith states: “If anyone revives a Sunnah of my Sunnahs and dies afterward s then for him is a reward like (that of) those who conduct themselves on it without deducting anything from their rewards. And if anyone innovates a bidda of misguidance with which Allah and His Messenger (saw) are not pleased then he gets a sin like the sins of those who observe it and nothing is deducted from the sins of the people.”[Ref: Tirmadhi, B44, Chap15, H2686] yet another version states: “O son, that is from my Sunnah, and he who revives my Sunnah has indeed revived me and he who revives me will be with me in paradise.”[3] and finally another hadith states: “Whoever teaches some knowledge will have the reward of the one who acts upon it, without that detracting from his reward in the slightest.”[4]

 

Importantly the hadith of praiseworthy, blameworthy innovation belongs to a category of ahadith which inform the believers of reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) for either innovating a practice, propagating Islam, reviving a Sunnah, and inform of equale reward for those who fallow their footsteps. One set of ahadith makes mention of hadith praiseworthy, blameworthy innovations, the second set of ahadith mentions reviving of forgotten Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), the third type of hadith discusses teaching of knowledge, the fourth type of hadith talks about inviting to amr bil maroof. Therefore it would be absolutely ludicrous to use of one set of ahadith to distort the apparent meaning of another set of ahadith beyond recognition. Yes, it is possible to interpret all these ahadith harmoniously with one another but those interpretations do not impact negatively on the position of Ahle Sunnat (i.e. praiseworthy innovations can legitimately be part of Islam). There is no requirement for interpretation of any of these ahadith, and if they were to be interpreted no valid interpretation can exclude another valid interpretation. The nature of RasoolAllah's (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) speech is such that it can be interpreted to mean many thing. As a believer we should accept all valid interpretations without practicing selectivism because this is demonstration of firmly believing in Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) and in His beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam).

 

Part Two: Harmonizing Ahadith.

 

Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) has stated: “He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” The Wahhabi's interpret this hadith exclusively to mean: “He who [revived forgotten, neglected Sunnah] which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it..” in order to deny/reject the other possible interpretations. Even though this Wahhabi interpretation is acceptable[5] in light of: “If anyone revives[6] a Sunnah out of my Sunnahs and dies afterwards then for him is a reward like (that of) those who conduct themselves on it without deducting anything from their rewards.”[7] but in the context of hadith of Sahih Muslim the exclusivity of their interpretation is extremely heretical. The reason why this explanation is heretical is obvious that it can only derived after completely mutilating the hadith of Sahih Muslim.

 

A interpretation which does not omit the contents of hadith of Sahih Muslim but rather incorporate them as well is safer then the mutilation of Hadith. One such interpretation is if the concept of reviving Sunnah/Practice of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is itself considered a good Sunnah (i.e. practice, innovation) introduced in Islam then the meaning of hadith of Muslim would be: “He who introduced some good Sunnah in Islam [i.e. reviving of neglected, forgotten Sunnahs] which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” With this interpretation the literal meaning of Sahih Muslim's hadith remains intact and hadith of Tirmadhi is incorporated into it's text to give a interpretation which does not refute the literal implications on which position of Ahle Sunnat is based but it refutes the exclusiveness of Wahhabi interpretation.[8] With this interpretation the reviving of Sunnahs of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) becomes a praiseworthy innovation and this interpretation does not contradict the position of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat but rather this interpretation is a valid interpretation due to hadith being shortest of expressions bearing widest of meanings.

 

Part Three: Explanation of Reprehensible Innovations.

 

It is clear that the hadith of praiseworthy/blameworthy innovations can be interpreted in a manner to include the meaning of reviving the forgotten or neglected Sunnahs of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam). And it is also clear that this is a interpretation, a valid interpretation at that, but the literal text of the hadith of Sahih Muslim is definitive which can be subject of further interpretations. It has been established that according to the interpretation in part two the very concept of reviving Sunnahs of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is a praiseworthy innovation in Islam. Therefore the only excuse source of disharmony in Ahle Sunnats position is the hadith of: "… qullu muhdasa'tin bida´h, wa qullu bida´tin dalala ..." once this hadith is explained then alhamdulillah the position of Ahle Sunnat is haq which no batal can knock down with their heretical ways.

 

Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) has reported to have said: “And the most evil affairs are the innovations; and every innovation is error."[9] on the basis of this the heretical Wahhabiya argue that 'every' innovation is evil misguidance. Yet in Arabic qullu (i.e. every) isn’t used always to mean all, every, but it is used to mean all or every in a specific category. That category of innovations is of type which: “... is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, ...”[10] or “... any act for which there is no sanction from our behalf, ...”[11] or “... for which there is no valid (reason) (commits sin) and these are to be rejected.”[12] Those innovations which; are in harmony with principles of our deen, are compromised of various Sunnahs that are sanctioned by Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) and for them there is valid justification then they should not be rejected. They are not the evil type of innovations which we are instructed to reject, but rather they are praiseworthy innovations, good innovations about which Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) stated: “He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.

 

Conclusion:

 

The position of Ahle Sunnat is that in deen praiseworthy innovations can be made part of Islam with Ijtihad as Sahih Bukhari, Tafsir Ibn Kathir is part of Islam. And if the hadith of Sahih Muslim is not mutilated but the content of it are kept as it is. Then the text of hadith of Tirmadhi is incorporated into the text of hadith of Sahih Muslim. According to to this interpretation the very concept of reviving Sunnahs of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is a praiseworthy innovation in Islam. Instead of refuting the position of Ahle Sunnat the Wahhabi interpretation substantiates it.

 

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razavi

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Footnotes:

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- [1] “Jarir b. 'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The servant does not introduce good practice which is followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6468] In Urdu translation book of Zakat, chapter of sadaqah another hadith is recorded: ”… Let a man give charity from his dinars, his dirhams, his clothing, his wheat or his dates – even if it is only half a date.’ A man from the Ansaar brought a package which he could hardly carry in his hand, then another and another came, until there were two piles, of food and clothing, and I saw the face of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) beaming with joy. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever starts a good Sunnah (i.e. practice) in Islam will have his own reward and a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward, and whoever starts a bad Sunnah in Islam will have to bear the burden of his own sin and a burden equal to that of those who followed him, without it detracting in the least from their burden.” [an'Nisaa’i, V2, H465]

 

- [2] “Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “No one calls to guidance without having the same reward as those who follow him, without diminishing their rewards at all. And no one calls to error without having the same burdens as they do, without diminishing their burdens at all.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, B15, Chap9, H41] "Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who called (people) to righteous, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, N6470]

 

- [3] Sayyidina Anas Ibn Malik (ra) reported that Allah's Messenger (saw) said to him: “Son, if you can begin the morning and the evening without the hatred towards anyone then do it.” He then said to me: “O son, that is from my Sunnah, and he who revives my Sunnah has indeed revived me and he who revives me will be with me in paradise.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B44, Chap15, H2687]

 

- [4] Note classified Hasan by anthropomorphist Albani: “Sabl bin Mu’ddh bin Anas narrated from his father that the Prophet i said: “Whoever teaches some knowledge will have the reward of the one who acts upon it, without that detracting from his reward in the slightest.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, Book of Sunnah, Hadith 247]

 

- [5] The meaning is acceptable because takhseesi (i.e. specific) meaning can be given to a hadith/verse on the basis of hadith/verse but that interpretation can not supersede the literal reading of hadith/verse. And the interpretations derived from hadith/verse can be valid/invalid but these interpretations do not close the door for other interpretations from same hadith/verse because the nature of Qur’an/Hadith is jawami al kalim (i.e. shortest expression bearing widest meanings).

 

- [6] The matan (i.e. text) of the hadith has been tempered with. I assume a narrators knowingly/unknowingly took the explanation of the hadith and narrated it as Prophet's (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) statement.

 

- [7] “Kathir Ibn Abdullah (who was Ibn Amr Ibn Awf Al Muzani) reported from his father on the authority of his grandfather that the Prophet (saw) said to Bilal Ibn Harith (ra): “Know!” He said: “I will learn, O Messenger of Allah (saw). He said: 'If anyone revives a Sunnah of my Sunnahs and dies afterwards then for him is a reward like (that of) those who conduct themselves on it without deducting anything from their rewards. And if anyone innovates a bidda of misguidance with which Allah and His Messenger (saw) are not pleased then he gets a sin like the sins of those who observe it and nothing is deducted from the sins of the people.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B44, Chap15, H2686]

 

- [8] The Wahhabi position of exclusiveness (i.e. this hadith refers to reviving the forgotten, neglected Sunnahs only) is refuted because the act, the concept, the philosophy of reviving forgotten, neglected Sunnahs of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) itself has is a praiseworthy innovation in Islam. Therefore one who revives neglected, forgotten Sunnahs of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) and those who fallow in his footsteps by making it his mission to revive the forgotten Sunnahs of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) will equally be rewarded then the ones whose example he fallowed. And those who act on revived Sunnahs of beloved RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) this too will earn the reviver and the enactor equale reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala).

 

- [9] Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1885: “... 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 …"

 

- [10] 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."

 

- [11] Sahih Muslim, Book 18, Number 4267: “Sa'd b. Ibrahim reported: I asked Qasim b. Muhammad about a person who had three dwelling houses and he willed away the third part of every one of these houses; he (Qasim b. Muhammad) said: All of them could be combined in one house; 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.”

 

- [12] 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.”

 

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