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Literalism Of: “... Every Innovation Is Evil ..." And Its Adverse Effects.

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Literalism Of: “... Every Innovation Is Evil ..." And Its Adverse Effects.




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."


Sahih Muslim, Book 4, Hadith 1885: “... would further say: "The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best 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: I am more dear to a Muslim even than his self …"


The literal application of these ahadith and equally literal application of the principles which have been handed down from the classical Ulamah, as well as the lack of knowledge of common man have allowed the heretics to get away with mutilation of deen. It is the belief of heretics, every newly invented practice is innovation (i.e. Bidd'a), and one of the principle of heretics to declare a newly invented practice as innovation is: 'Every Innovation Replaces A Sunnah'. Or they say: 'Every Act/Belief Which Did Not Exist In Time Of RasoolAllah/Sahabah Is Innovation.' or they say: 'Every Act of Worship Not Explicitly Supported Is Innovation.' On the basis of these principles and literalism of hadith they have declared praiseworthy innovations as reprehensible innovations. Demonized scores of Muslims, in fact the majority of Muslims of being Innovators (i.e. Bidd'ati, Mubtadi).


The aim is to analyze the literalism of the hadith, as well as literalism of the principles used by the heretics. This analysis will allow us to put in perspective the correct understanding of the ahadith, as well as correct application of the principle which is misused by the heretics.


Part One A - Siwaak A Sunnah:


General hygiene as well as oral hygiene is very important in Islam. To maintain good oral hygiene RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) himself and also instructed his Sahabah (radiallah ta'ala anhuma ajma'een) to use Siwak. Just to substantiate the use of Siwak by RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), and Sahabah (radiallah ta'ala anhuma ajma'een) some Ahadith:


Sahih Bukhari, Book 4, Number 246: Narrated Hudhaifa: Whenever the Prophet got up at night, he used to clean his mouth with Siwak.


Sahih Bukhari, Book 21, Number 237: Narrated Hudhaifa: Whenever the Prophet got up for Tahajjud prayer he used to clean his mouth (and teeth) with Siwak.


Sahih Bukhari, Book 13, Number 15: Narrated 'Aisha: Abdur Rahman bin Abi Bakr came holding a Siwak with which he was cleaning his teeth. Allah's Apostle looked at him. I requested Abdur-Rahman to give the Siwak to me and after he gave it to me I divided it, chewed it and gave it to Allah's Apostle. Then he cleaned his teeth with it and (at that time) he was resting against my chest.


Sahih Bukhari, Book 4, Number 245: Narrated Abu Burda: My father said, "I came to the Prophet and saw him carrying a Siwak in his hand and cleansing his teeth, saying, 'U' U'," as if he was retching while the Siwak was in his mouth."


In fact RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) has reported to have said:


Sahih Bukhari, Book 13, Number 12: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak for every prayer."


This points out how important the use of Miswak was in sight of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). The use of Siwak before the prayers as well as use of siwaak to maintain oral hygiene in general is both established from authentic Sunnah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam).


Part One B – Modern Means Of Oral Hygiene:


In our modern times the equipment used to maintain a good oral hygiene has changed dramatically. We have in our possession manual tooth brushes, tooth pastes of every kind, oral mouth washes, dental scaler, tooth picks, electrical tooth brushes and the list can go on. All these equipments have pretty much replaced Siwaak, even the religious Muslims who practice deen are using these to maintain good oral hygiene and if someone is really feeling religious then Siwaak is used on Friday.


Part One C – The Bad Toothbrush & Toothpaste:


If replacing of a Sunnah by innovative practice, as well as principle of; act which did not exist in time of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), the Sahabah (radiallah ta'ala anhuma ajma'een) were the criteria to declare a new practice as an innovation, then without doubt use of all the modern equipment for oral hygiene would amount to innovations, and their users be guilty of abandoning the use of Siwaak for oral hygiene, which is Sunnah of beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). This would then qualify user of modern oral hygiene equipment as a Bidd'ati, Mubtadi (i.e. innovator), follower of heresy.


Part On D – The Good Understanding Sunnah:


The modern oral hygiene equipment such as tooth brushes, tooth pastes, mouth washes are not Sunnah of RasoolAllah (salallahu alayhi was'salam). If they are used with the belief that these are not the Sunnah means for oral hygiene especially if their user firmly believes that Siwak was/is Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) as well as the practice of Sahabah (radiallah tallah anhuma ajma'een), then use of this equipment would in no way be reprehensible nor its user would be guilty of practicing reprehensible innovation. Even though these have replaced Sunnah (i.e. use of Siwak) to the great extent for maintaining oral hygiene, and didn't exist in the time of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alay was'salam) nor during the period of three protected generations. They can not be deemed as reprehensible, because their user only uses them to achieve the Sunnah of maintaining oral hygiene, and does not believe that the modern equipment used is Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), nor he considers the use of these as part of deen, his aqeedah is firm in Siwak being Sunnah of beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'salam).


Part Two A: Sunnah Way Of Fighting Jihad:


Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) instructs beloved Prophet Muhammed (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) struggle against the kuffar and the Munafiqeen:


Surah At'Tawbah (9) Verse 73: “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed.”


Surah At'Tahreem (66) Verse 9: “O Prophet! Strive hard against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed).”


In the ayaat the struggle mentioned is of two types. One, military struggle against the non-Muslims who attack Muslims, and two, struggle with tongue. Meaning exposing the evil plans of hypocrites, and military struggle RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) against the Munafiqeen was disapproved, the cited reason for this was that kufar, would assume we are fighting each other.


Here only military struggle against the kuffar is being considered, and the equipment used by beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), and his companions to wage war on the disbelievers:


Sahih Bukhari, Book 59, Hadith 568: “... and when we took him over, he said, "La ilaha illal-Lah." On hearing that, the Ansari man stopped, but I killed him by stabbing him with my spear. When we returned, the Prophet came to know about that and he said, "O Usama! Did you kill him after he had said "La ilaha ilal-Lah?" I said, "But he said so only to save himself." The Prophet kept on repeating that so often that I wished I had not embraced Islam before that day.”


Sahih Bukhari, Book 15, Hadith 70:“… and they left. It was the day of 'Id, and the Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (p.b.u.h) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on! O Bani Arfida," till I got tired. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) asked me, "Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?" I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave.


Sahih Bukhari, Book 49, Hadith 864: “… Allah's Apostle set out for the 'Umra but the pagans of Quraish prevented him from reaching the Ka'ba. So, he slaughtered his sacrifice and got his head shaved at Al-Hudaibiya, and agreed with them that he would perform 'Umra the following year and would not carry weapons except swords and would not stay in Mecca except for the period they al lowed. So, the ...”


Sahih Bukhari, Book 10, Hadith 534: “Narrated Rafi' bin Khadij: We used to offer the Maghrib prayer with the Prophet and after finishing the prayer one of us may go away and could still see as Par as the spots where one's arrow might reach when shot by a bow.”


Sahih Bukhari, Book 60, Hadith 407: Narrated Umar: The properties of Bam An-Nadir were among the booty that Allah gave to His Apostle such Booty were not obtained by any expedition on the part of Muslims, neither with cavalry, nor with camelry. So those properties were for Allah's Apostle only, and he used to provide thereof the yearly expenditure for his wives, and dedicate the rest of its revenues for purchasing arms and horses as war material to be used in Allah's Cause.


The quoted ahadith would give some idea of the weaponry available to the companions of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). Just to surmise, short spears, shields, swords, bow & arrows, cavalry and camelry were used by companions of Prophet Muhammed (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) in their military struggles against the enemies of deen.


Part Two B: Modern Weaponry Of War.


In the modern world the weapons of war have nothing common with what RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) used in his battles against the polytheists of Makkah and Jews of Madinah, Khayber. The weaponry used to wage Jihad against the Soviet Russia in Afghanistan and against the oppressive polytheistic Hindu army of India in Kashmir have nothing common with the Sunnah weaponry used in Jihad by RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) and his companions. Today’s standard Mujahideen weaponry compromises of AK47, RPG, Hand Grenades, Artillery, Anti Tank Mine, Anti Personnel Mines, and Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) knows what else was used.


Part Two C – The Bad Bidd'a Weaponry:


The principle: 'Every Innovation Replaces A Sunnah.' and the principle: 'Every Act/Belief Which Did Not Exist In Time Of RasoolAllah/Sahabah Is Innovation.' if the literal application of these principles is valid then every Mujahid who fought in the way of Allah subhana wa ta'ala with a weapon which is not Sunnah of beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'salam), and not used by the companions is a bidd'ati. The reason should be obvious why they should be denounced as bidd'ati because they have used weaponry which is not Sunnah weaponry of Jihad, nor did these weapons exist in the time of RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam).


Part Two D – The Correct Understanding:


As long as the user of these modern weapons does not consider them Sunnah weaponry, nor considers these weapons as abrogating replacement of Sunnah weaponry, their use in modern battle field to fight the enemy of deen is permissible. It can be safely argued that purpose of Jihad is to protect the deen, lives of Muslims their property, spread deen in lands of infidel and the weapons used to achieve this does not really matter. The use of Sunnah weaponry by RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) was result of what was available in his time, and there is no evidence of him prohibiting use of innovative weaponry.


RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) prohibited the killing of non-combatants, destruction of water sources, live stock, crops, religious places, therefore any modern weapon which result in large scale death (i.e. Nuclear Bomb), destruction of civilian infrastructure, contamination of water sources, are prohibited in Sharia because their nature is as such that they result violation of explicit instructions of beloved Messenger (sallalahu alayhi was'salam). On other hand if the modern weapons can be utilized in a manner which does not result in violation of clear, explicit, emphatic teachings of beloved Messenger (salallahu alayhi was'salam) then any modern weapon is permissible, as long as it does not kill by fire.




The conclusion arrived is clear that the literal reading of these ahadith nor the literal application of the principles is valid. Primarily because the literalism eliminates the Sunnah of Ijtihad, and it eliminates the good innovations. Which RasoolAllah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) said will earn the innovator and its practitioner reward from Allah (subhana wa ta'ala).


The use of modern oral hygiene equipment, modern weaponry, are permissible because there is valid reason for their use, and use of these equipment is in absolute harmony with the principles of deen. In the context it means that oral hygiene is essential and modern equipment are a mean to achieve good oral hygiene. Same rule applies to weaponry, weapons which are in harmony with principles of deen, and help achieve the goals against enemies of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala) are permissible, excluding which are not.


The principle: 'Every Innovation Replaces A Sunnah.'can be valid if interpreted with in context of deen: 'Every Innovation Replaces A Sunnah As Part Of Deen', also the principle: Every Act/Belief Which Did Not Exist In Time Of RasoolAllah/Sahabah Is Innovation.' if interpreted to mean: 'Every Act/Belief Which Did Not Exist In Time Of RasoolAllah/Sahabah As Part Of Deen And Later is Made Part Of Deen Is Innovation.'then these understandings are absolutely valid in light of many ahadith, and the beloved Messenger of Allah (sallalahu alayhi was'salam) said about such innovations: “And the most evil affairs are the innovations; and every innovation is error."


Wama Alayna Ilal Balaghul Mubeen.

Muhammed Ali Razvi

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