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Praiseworthy-Reprehensible Sunnah- Refuting Claim Sunnah Does Not Mean Innovation.

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Praiseworthy-Reprehensible Sunnah- Refuting Claim Sunnah Does Not Mean Innovation.

 

Introduction:

 

Definition of innovation as well as legitimacy of praiseworthy innovations and the practicing of praiseworthy innovations is disputed. As a result of this dispute there is great deal of tribulation in Ummah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) in form of Wahhabi edicts brandishing the Ahle Sunnat as innovators and ahlul jahanum (i.e. people of hellfire). This fitna can not be eliminated until the fundamental cause of tribulation isn't solved and that is the definition of innovation But if two academics attempt to explain their position of definition innovation from Qur’an/Sunnah then the evidences used by both parties become subject of dispute due to both sides having their own interpretations. In such circumstances it has become very difficult to reconcile two definitions of innovations with one another but it is not impossible.[1] Even though a reconciliation is possible between the two definitions of innovations it is not required to reconcile them rather the definition which accords the teaching of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) should be taught.[2]

 

The Wahhabi definition of innovation[3] is based on those ahadith which point to evilness of innovations and on other hand the definition of Ahle Sunnat is based on all the ahadith on subject of innovations; ahadith which point to reprehensible innovations and ahadith informing of reward for praiseworthy innovations. Therefore we have two categories of innovation (i.e. Praiseworthy & Reprehensible) and it is the category of praiseworthy innovation as well as its evidences which Wahhabis object to.

 

Hadith Of Reprehensible Innovation:

 

Khadim presented the following hadith as evidence to prove to a Wahhabi that in Islam the notion of praiseworthy innovations is not repugnant and there is reward for praiseworthy innovations:

 

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."

 

The Hadith clearly states: “He who introduced some good Sunnah in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, ...” and “And he who introduced some evil practice Sunnah in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), ...” yet his counter argument was: “This hadith does not mention new biddah. Also its about reviving a Sunnah which people forgotten and neglected.”[4] His second point; the hadith is referring to forgotten/neglected Sunnahs has been already addressed in separate article and his first point in which he states that this hadith is not about innovations[5] will be discussed in this article.

 

Innovation & Sunnah Of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam):

 

Ahadith use many words to imply innovations: “... Wa iyyaqum wa muhdasatil ummuri fa innaha dhalalatun … bi Sunnati wa sunnati wa sunnati khulafa ar'rashideenal mahdiy'yeen”[6] here the word Sunnah as well as Muhdasa is used. In another hadith words Sunnah, muhdasa, and bidda are used to mean innovations: "bi sunnati wa sunnati khulafa ar'rashideenal mahdi'yeen … qullu muhdasa'tin bida´h, wa qullu bida´tin dalala."[7] therefore the word bidda does not have to be used to imply innovation. Rather any of the words muhdasa, haddasa, bidda, Sunnah, or even if none of these words are used but the sentence indicates bidda it will be understood as bidda as is in the case of: “... and monasticism, which they innovated (i.e. ibtada); We did not prescribe it for them ...”[8]

 

Another version of Sahih Muslims hadith states: “... 'If anyone revives a Sunnah of my Sunnahs and dies afterward then for him is a reward like (that of) those who ... if anyone innovates a bidda of misguidance (i.e. ibtada'a bid'ata dhalalata) with which Allah and His Messenger (saw) are not pleased then he gets a sin like ...”[9] here the word Sunnah has been replaced with bidda indicating that the in Arabic language word bidda can be a substitute for Sunnah in this Hadith. Even though the text of the hadith is tempered with but it still is evidence for substitution of words.

 

Conclusion:

 

The words, Sunnah, Muhdasa, Bidda, Ibtida, are used to denote innovations in context of ahadith verse of Quran. And the interpretation of Wahhabis itself supports Ahle Sunnat's position that word Sunnah is in meaning of innovation (i.e. bidda) in hadith of Sahih Muslim.

 

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razavi

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Footnotes:

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- [1] Sufi definition consists of two categories praiseworthy & reprehensible innovations, the Wahhabi consists of 'Shar'aee Innovation' (i.e. Legislative Innovation), 'Ghair Shar'aee Innovation' (i.e. Non-Legislative Innovation). What ever Wahhabi's term as Innovation in sense of deen is 'Reprehensible Innovation' in jargon of Sufis, and whatever the Wahhabi's term 'Ghair-Shar'aee Innovation' in techincal jargon of Sufis its 'Praiseworthy Innovation'. This was just the brief harmonization (insha'allah ta'ala ul aziz) in near future khadim will write a comprehensive article on how the two definitions can be harmonized.

 

- [2] This is because the fahdeelat (i.e. superiority), the barakah (i.e. blessing) is in definition of innovation which is in full accordance with teaching of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) and which is supported by the praiseworthy innovations of companion of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam).

 

- [3] Readers should note that the definition which the Wahhabi's adhere to predates their sect which emerged in the 17th century from Najd. Seikh Ahmad Sarhindi al Farooqi (alayhi rehma) popularly known has Mujadid Alif Saani, Imam e Rabbani used the definition of innovation which Wahhabis used some 100 year after him. The blame upon Wahhabi's is that they did not apply this definition of innovation has it was applied by the scholars of Ahle Sunnat likes of Seikh Ahmad Sarhindi (alayhi rehma). Instead they distorted it, invented their own Wahhabi rules and interpreted the definition of innovation according to them.

 

- [4] Note his comment: “Also its about reviving a Sunnah which people forgotten and neglected.” is referring to this part of hadith: “He who introduced some good Sunnah in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, ...” if it is accepted that in the hadith new innovations are not being discussed but only reviving of Sunnahs which have been dead then the second part: “And he who introduced some evil Sunnah in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), ...” would imply that anyone who revives evil Sunnahs of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) for him as well as for Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) there would be punishment. And we all know anyone who considers any Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) evil or believes that there is punishment for Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) such a person is kaffir. The only acceptable understanding of the hadith is that it generally refers to innovations in both parts of the hadith. 1) If one was to argue for some “x” reasons the Sunnah in: “He who introduced some good Sunnah ...” refers to Sunnah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) and then argues that his position of hadith: “He who introduced some good Sunnah ...” referring to reviving of Sunnahs is therefore correct. 2) Also he states that second Sunnah in: “And he who introduced some evil Sunnah ...” refers to reprehensible innovation and not Sunnah of Rasoolallah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) therefore he is free of possible charge of apostasy. Response to such a person would be as fallowing: If the meaning of reviving the Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is derived from hadith of Sahih Muslim without mutilating it then the implications are that the very concept of reviving Sunnah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is praiseworthy innovation in Islam and this does not harm the position of Ahle Sunnat rather supports it, therefore it is accepted by Ahle Sunnat. If the interpretation is derived after mutilating the hadith then there is no need to respond to such heretical rejection and mutilation of Prophets words. On the second part of hadith if Sunnah is understood to mean evil innovation then the person has to accept that in the first part of the hadith of Sahih Muslim the the word Sunnah can mean praiseworthy innovation. The possibility of multiple interpretations is accordance with jawami al kalim (i.e. shortest expression bearing widest meanings) nature of ahadith. To summarize; in first part of hadith of Sahih Muslim if it is interpreted with aid of hadith of Tirmadhi then the interpretation of reviving Sunnah of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) is praiseworthy innovation in Islam, and in second part innovating anything which does not accord with teaching of Quran and Sunnah, not sanctioned by Quran and Sunnah, not in harmony with teachings of Islam is evil innovation. Regardless of how a Wahhabi interprets this Hadith the position of Ahle Sunnat is not refuted rather supported with their own interpretations.

 

- [5] His saying that this hadith isn't about innovations was probally just a reflex response or not knowing how to deal with this difficulty in typical Wahhabi way. I am only responding to this point because I feel that brother who wrote above was reasonably knowledgeable about deen and if he can commit such a blunder many other less fortunate will also fall into same pit.

 

- [6] i.e. “... beware of innovations in our affairs for that are misguidance … my Sunnah (i.e. practices) and Sunnah (i.e. innovations/practices) of rightly guided Khulafah.” [Ref: Tirmadhi, B44, Chap15, H2685]

 

- [7] i.e. “... my Sunnah and Sunnah (i.e. innovation, practice) of the rightly-guided caliphs. … Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error.” [Ref: Dawood, B40, H4590]

 

- [8] i.e. “... wa rahbaniy'yata nibtada'uha makatab'naha alayhim ...” [Ref: Surah 57:27]

 

- [9] “... 'If anyone revives a Sunnah of my Sunnahs and dies afterward 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 (i.e. ibtada'a bid'ata dhalalata) 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]

 

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