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Explaining Hadith – ‘Innovation Is Misguidance Even If People See It As Something Good.’ In Light Of Events Which Lead To Compilation Of Quran.


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Introduction:

According to the principles of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat innovative practices which are based on Sunnahs of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) are praiseworthy innovations for which there will be reward from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) if they are followed by people. Especially if the innovative practices are combinations of acts of worship[1], combines acts of charity[2] and serves as a means of spreading Islamic knowledge. The Khawarij and those influenced by Kharijite definition of innovation, oppose the Muslims and hold to position; every practice, festivity, custom, which was [not mentioned explicitly by name and method of enacting it was not taught and] not sanctioned by Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) is [reprehensible] innovation.


Every Innovation Is Misguidance They Say:

Commonly the following Ahadith are quoted by opponents to refute position of Ahle Sunnat, the Ahadith: “Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error." [Ref: Abu Dawood, B40, H4590] “And the most evil affairs are the innovations; and every innovation is error." [Ref: Muslim, B4, H1885] From lingustic point of view anything which did not exist in the time of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) would be innovation. From Shar’i perspective innovation is everything which contradicts principles of deen and which is not sanctioned by deen, Ahadith establish this: “He who did any act for which there is no sanction from our behalf, that is to be rejected.” [Ref: Muslim, B18, H4267] "If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected." [Ref: Bukhari B49, H861] “He who innovates things in our affairs for which there is no valid (reason) and these are to be rejected.” [Ref: Muslim, B18, H4266] Therefore from Shar’i perspective innovation is every newly-invented belief, action, object which goes against the principles of Deen and is not in harmony with teaching of Deen. Hence every such novelty is innovation and every such innovation is an misguidance, and every such misguidance takes to hellfire. To argue every innovation is misguidances without restricting ‘every’ to specific type of innovation [which I have defined above] would establish contradiction between the Ahadith of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam). Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) has reportedly said: “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.”[Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] He who called (people) to righteous (i.e. innovation), there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6470] If every innovation was misguidance which took to hell then why would he inform the companions of reward for introducing good practices in Islam! This evidence supports the understanding that ‘every’ is not unrestricted but restricted to particular type of innovation [which contradicts the principles of Deen and which has no sanction in Deen]. Therefore the understanding of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat about the newly-invented practices is correct because neither of these practices in reality and in essence contradict any aspect of Deen. Instead these customs, practices, festivities, in essence contained acts of worship, charity, and serve as platform for spread of Islamic knowledge hence they accord the Prophetic guidelines.

Heretics Advance A New Argument:

The opponents of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat have advanced a new argument; there is no good innovation even if the people something good in some innovative custom, practice or festivity. There this argument is based on th following Hadith:
“Abdullaah Ibn 'Umar (radi allahu anhu) said, "Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good."[3] Presenting their position in bit more detail; any innovated festivity, custom, practice, even if it contains acts of worship, charity, and is source of Islamic education, even then it is still a innovation. Despite all these it is without any goodness it and is misguidance which takes to hell fire. The simple response to this argument is; innovation in Shari’a is defined as acts, beliefs or activities which contradicts and go against the principles of Deen, and which has no sanction in deen, therefore such innovations are misguidance even if the people see good in them.

Hadhrat Abu Bakr Disagrees And Then Agrees With Hadhrat Umar:

After the death of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) there was mass apostasy from Islam. Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) decided to take action against the apostates. The result was numerous battles fought in Arabian Peninsula which are now known as ‘Apostasy Wars’. During one such battle the Muslim army fighting Musailma the Liar had suffered major causualties including seventy companions who had memorized the Quran. After this battle Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) visited Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) and said: "Casualties were heavy among the Qurra' of the! Qur'an (i.e. those who knew the Qur'an by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra' on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." In response to this suggestion Hadhrat Abu Bakr said: “Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) responded by saying: "By Allah, that is a good project.” The Hadith continues to narrate words of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu): "`Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which `Umar had realized." Upon realizing the importance of preserving the Quranic script Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) called Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu). After narrating the discussion between him and Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) he said to him: “You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Messenger. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it in one book.” Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) then said to Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu): "How will you do something which Allah's Messenger did not do?" Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) replied to him by saying: "By Allah, it is a good project.” Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) further narrated: “Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and `Umar.”[4]

Investigating The Incident In Light Of Teaching Of Islam:

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) refused to carry out something which Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) did not do himself, citing the very same reason. Why would Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) refused to collect the Quranic script? Was the mentioned reason: “Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?"  the only reason on basis of which he refused or is there more to it? There is more going then what meets the eye. Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) must have been aware of the following Hadith of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam): “It was narrated from Abdullah bin Mas'ud that the Messenger of Allah said: "Verily there are two things - words and guidance. The best words are the words of Allah, and the best guidance in the guidance of Muhammad. Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a going-stray. [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H46] And the following Hadith specificly refers to leaders of Muslims: “It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud that the Prophet said: “Among those in charge of you, after I am gone, will be men who extinguish the Sunnah and follow innovation. They will delay the prayer from its proper time.” I said: “O Messenger of Allah, if I live to see them, what should I do?” He said: “You ask me, O Ibn ‘Abd, what you should do? There is no obedience to one who disobeys Allah.” [Ref: Ibn Majah, B24, H2865] Hence his reluctance was based on the understanding that if he collects the Quran in a book format then he would be introducing a reprehensible innovation.[5] Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) was aware of the Ahadith known to Hadrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) and he also knew that Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) is also familiar with the following Hadith: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever introduces a good practice that is followed, he will receive its reward and a reward equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their reward in their slightest. And whoever introduces a bad practice that is followed, he will receive its sin and a burden of sin equivalent to that of those who follow it, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H203] Hence he responded to Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) by saying: "By Allah, that is a good project.” [Ref: Bukhari, B61, H509] Afterwards Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) questioned the collection of Quran and after much effort he was convinced that collection of Quran into book format was a good act.

Responding To - Every Innovation Misguidance Even If Good:

Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu), Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) and Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) agreed to do something which Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) did not instruct or himself did. They saw good in collecting the Quran into book format after initial resistance. After realizing the suggestion of Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) is a good suggestion and collection of Quran as a book is a good thing both companions agreed to carry out this task. If the following Hadith is taken literally then collection of Quran was misguidance even though three companions saw good in it : "Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good." Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) restarted a practice which all the companions stopped because Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) stopped it. Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) collected all the people in Masjid under one Qari and remarked: “… 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent innovation this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, …”[6] This indicates Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) introduced a innovation. Now if it is accepted that Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) had performed Taraweeh prayers and Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) was merely reviving the Sunnah of Taraweeh prayers. Then the innovation is reintroducing something which Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) stopped (– i.e. Taraweeh under one Imam). Based on the literalism of the Hadith if every innovation is misguidance despite one seeing goodness it the innovation then Hadhrat Umar’s (radiallah ta’ala anhu) excellent innovation was misguidance.

A Fair Argument Against Injustice Of Heretics:


If a innovation is good by its nature even though Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) did not do and which companions did not do then that innovation will remain a good innovation even if the people don’t see good in it. Especially if the innovation is based on the principle of worship and principle of charitiable deeds. The goodness of acts, beliefs, practices, customs, festivities, is judged on the criteria if the asal (i.e. foundation) is found in Quran/Sunnah. The praiseworthy innovations which Hadhrat Umar (radiallah ta’ala anhu) suggested he will be rewareded, according to following Hadith: : “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.”[Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] The misguidance of acts, beliefs, practices, customs, festivities, is determined by if the activities/beliefs contradict the Quran and Sunnah. If a festivity, custom, practice, act is against the explicit Shar’i injunctions then such will remain misguidance even if the people see good in it. To sum it all, any innovation which contradicts any principle or teaching of Islam, a act which was not sanctioned in deen, and for which there was no valid reason then such innovations are misguidance even if the people see something good in them.

Conclusion:

Every innovation is not evil because Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) has informed of reward for those who innovate good practices. Secondly if every innovation was misguidance or error even if the people see something good in it then compilation of Quran and Hadhrat Umars’s (radiallah ta’ala anhu) collecting the people of Masjid under one Qari would be without any good and a misguidance. Not just the literalist understanding of the Hadith contradicts another Hadith which states one who innovates praiseworthy practice for him there is reward and those who follow the invented practice get equale amount of reward. Hence the meaning of Hadith is; every innovation which contradicts principles of Islam and contains acts which are not from Sunnah nor does it have a valid reason then such innovation is misguidance and without goodness. This explanation of the Hadith in the light of other Ahadith detracts nothing from position of Ahle Sunnat but rather defends and supports it.


Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi.

Footnotes:

- [1] Such as performing of Nawafil, recitation of Quran, invoking Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in dua.

- [2] Such as inviting the poor as well as family members and then for sake of Allah’s (subhanahu wa ta’ala) pleasure provide them with food.

- [3] Related: by Ad-Darimee, Abu Shamaah (no. 39), Ibn Nasr in as-Sunnah (no. 82), al-Laalikaa'ee in Sharh Usoolul-Ftiqaad (no. 126) & Sharh I'tiqad Ahl as-Sunnah (1/92), and by al-Bayhaqee in al-Madkhal (no. 191). Its authentic; Ahkaam al-Janaa'iz (258) and Islah al-Masajid (13). Salim Al-Hilaali said: "Its isnaad (chain of narration) is as authentic as the sun!"

- [4] “Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people! of Yamama had been killed (i.e., a number of the Prophet's Companions who fought against Musailama). (I went to him) and found `Umar bin Al- Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said (to me), "`Umar has come to me and said: "Casualties were heavy among the Qurra' of the! Qur'an (i.e. those who knew the Qur'an by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place among the Qurra' on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Qur'an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur'an be collected." I said to `Umar, "How can you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" `Umar said, "By Allah, that is a good project. "Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal till Allah opened my chest for it and I began to realize the good in the idea which `Umar had realized." Then Abu Bakr said (to me). 'You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for Allah's Messenger. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur'an and collect it in one book)." By Allah If they had ordered me to shift one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this ordering me to collect the Qur'an. Then I said to Abu Bakr, "How will you do something which Allah's Messenger did not do?" Abu Bakr replied, "By Allah, it is a good project." Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and `Umar. So I started looking for the Qur'an and collecting it from (what was written on) palmed stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, till I found the last Verse of Surat at-Tauba (Repentance) with Abi Khuza`ima Al-Ansari, and I did not find it with anybody other than him. The Verse is: 'Verily there has come unto you an Apostle (Muhammad) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty..(till the end of Surat-Baraa' (at-Tauba) (9.128-129) Then the complete manuscripts (copy) of the Qur'an remained with Abu Bakr till he died, then with `Umar till the end of his life, and then with Hafsa, the daughter of `Umar.” [Ref: Bukhari, B61, H509]

- [5] There can be absolutely no other reason to refuse to collect the Quran in a single book format apart from being responsible for introducing a reprehensible innovation. There could be no other motive for Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) and Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) to question and argue against the suggestion. If they didn’t fear introducing innovation then did they fear the kids will learn the Quran? Or did they fear that by making the Quran available in written form will result in education of everyone? Common sense dictates their fears was that they may be guilty of introducing innovation into deen and their reasoning was simple; Prophet (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) did not do it so why should I/we? I can almost hear Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radiallah ta’ala anhu) and Hadhrat Zaid bin Thabit (radiallah ta’ala anhu) saying to Hadhrat Umar(radiallah ta’ala anhu); if there was any goodness in it then Messenger (sallallahu alayhi was’sallam) would have instructed us to carry out the task in his life time.

- [6] “Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said: "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night." [Ref: Bukhari, B32, H227]

Edited by MuhammedAli
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