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Refuting Amar Iqbal’s Claim; Whoever Introduces Good Sunnah In Islam, Does Not Mention New Innovation.


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Introduction:

Definition of innovation legitimacy of praiseworthy innovations and engagin in praiseworthy innovations is has become subject of dispute. As a result of this dispute there is great deal of tribulation in Ummah of beloved Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam). A the extremist faction regularly churns out edicts; brandishing Muslims as innovators and telling them they’re from people of hell. This affliction can not be eliminated until the fundamental cause of tribulation isn't solved and that is the definition of innovation. 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.  This is because; the fahdeelat (i.e. merit) is in definition of innovation which is in accordance with teaching of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam) and it is backed by the actions of companion of Prophet (sallalahu alayhi was'sallam). The Wahhabi definition is based on those Ahadith which point to evilness of innovations.[2] In contrast Islamic understanding is based on all the Ahadith on subject of innovation;  including Ahadith of evil innovation and Ahadith which inform of reward for introducing and for those who engage in praiseworthy practices.Therefore we have two categories of innovation. Out of which praiseworthy category is objected by Wahhabis. This article is response to brother Amar Iqbal.[3]

Discussion With Brother Amar Iqbal My Former Wahhabi Associate:

Amar Iqbal - [Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2011 22:12:48 +0000]: “Salaam, Please send me the hadith about innovating of good in Muslim which you quoted when we briefly met. Jzk.”  MuhammedAli - [Sent: 05/12/2011 02:30] -: "Jarir b. Abdullah reported that some desert Arabs clad in woollen clothes came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). He saw them in sad plight as they had been hard pressed by need. He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted people to give charity, but they showed some reluctance until (signs) of anger could be seen on his face. Then a person from the Ansar came with a purse containing silver. Then came another person and then other persons followed 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 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 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 their's being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] "Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who called (people) to righteousness, 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, H6470] The first Hadith is clear, doesn’t require interpretation. The second one is to be interpreted in light of first Hadith. Amar Iqbal - [Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2011 20:17:18 +0000] -: This hadith does not mention new biddah? Also its about reviving a sunnah which people forgotton and neglected. In addition giving charity is very clear in the Deen. Where have U taken ur understanding from? What's the understanding of the first three generations on this? Wassalam.”

Hadith Of Praiseworthy And Blameworthy Innovation:

Hadith was presented as evidence to Wahhabi in order to prove; in Islam the notion of praiseworthy innovations is not repugnant and there is permission and reward for introducing in Islam praiseworthy praise worthy practices.  The Hadith clearly states “He who introduced some good Sunnah in Islam ...” and “And he who introduced some evil practice Sunnah in Islam ...” He responded with: “This hadith does not mention new innovation (i.e. bidda). Also its about reviving a Sunnah which people forgotten and neglected.” His second point; the hadith is referring to forgotten/neglected Sunnahs has been already addressed in separate article, here. And his first point, this hadith is not about new innovations, will be discussed in this article.

Evil Of Distortion Of Hadith And Its Evil Result:

Brother Amar Iqbal said:
“Also its about reviving a Sunnah which people forgotten and neglected.” His comment is referring to this part of 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] If he is believed that in the Hadith new innovations are not being discussed but the words are regarding reviving of prophetic Sunnahs then contextually the second part of Hadith is also referring to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). And this would imply that anyone who revives evil Sunnahs of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) for him as well as for Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) there would be punishment: And he who introduced some evil 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 their's being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] We all know anyone who considers any Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) evil or believes that there is punishment for Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) for evil Sunnahs such a person is disbeliever. The only acceptable understanding of the Hadith is that it generally referrs to innovations in both parts of the Hadith.

Novel Attempt To Discard Bitter Pill:

If one was to say; second Sunnah refers to reprehensible innovation and not Sunnah of Rasoolallah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam):
“And he who introduced some evil Sunnah ...” Therefore he is free of possible charge of apostasy. And for some weird reason states; the word Sunnah refers to Sunnah of beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) in following part of Hadith: “He who introduced some good Sunnah ...”  Then argues that therefore Hadith is about reviving of Sunnahs. Firstly if the meaning of reviving the Sunnah of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is derived from Hadith of Sahih Muslim without mutilating natural meaning of Hadith then the implications are; the very concept of reviving Sunnahs of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is praiseworthy innovation in Islam. Note this interpretation is weak because concept of reviving prophetic Sunnahs itself is a Sunnah. Even then this interpretation does not harm the position of Muslims rather supports it and is based on it. If the interpretation is derived after mutilating the Hadith then there is no need to respond to such heretical rejection and mutilation of prophetic words. Secondly if in second part of Hadith word 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 and over all statement does give meaning of praiseworthy innovative Sunnah. Regardless of how a Wahhabi interprets this Hadith the position of Ahle Sunnat is not refuted rather supported with their own interpretations.

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

Ahadith use many words to imply innovations. For example in the following Ahadith word Sunnah of Caliphs is used to denote innovated practices of righteous Caliphs:
“Beware of the newly invented matters, for indeed they are astray (i.e. misguidance). Whoever among you sees that, then he must stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa, cling to it with the molars.'" [Ref: Tirmadhi, B39, H2676] “He then said: I enjoin you to fear Allah, and to hear and obey even if it be an Abyssinian slave, for those of you who live after me will see great disagreement. You must then follow my Sunnah and Sunnah (i.e.innovative practices) of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it.” [Ref: Dawood, B40, H4590] In the same Hadith words Muhdasa and Bidda are used to mean innovation: Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error.” [Ref: Dawood, B40, H4590] Therefore the word innovation does not have to be used to imply innovation. Rather any of the words muhdasa, bidda, Sunnah, or even if none of these words are used but the sentence indicates innovation it will be understood as innovation as is in the case of: “... and monasticism, which they innovated (i.e. ibtada); We did not prescribe it for them …” [Ref: 57:27]

Hadith Of Muslim And Its Meaning:

Brother Amar Iqbal said:
“Also its about reviving a sunnah which people forgotton and neglected. In addition giving charity is very clear in the deen.” Sunnah of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is already part of Islam. Hence by reving what is already part of Islam one does not introduce prophetic Sunnah into Islam. Introducing into Islam a Sunnah which is not part of it is innovation and Hadith obviously is talking about introducing into Islam which is not part of it: “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. And he who introduced some evil practice 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 their's being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] Therefore the natural meaning of Hadit is; Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) told of equal reward for introducing into Islam and practicing praiseworthy/rewardworthy innovation. And told of equal responsibility for introducing evil innovation into Islam and for those who follow evil innovation.

Evidence That Word Sunnah Is Perfect Subsitute For Bidda:

Coming to Hadith which was quoted as evidence of good innovation. Part of same Hadith is following prophetic words:
And he who introduced some evil 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 their's being diminished in any respect." [Ref: Muslim, B34, H6466] Another version of Hadith states: “He said: "That indeed whoever revives a Sunnah from my Sunnah which has died after me, then for him is a reward similar to whoever acts upon it without diminishing anything from their rewards. And whoever introduces an erroneous innovation which Allah is not pleased with, nor His Messenger, then he shall receive sins similar to whoever acts upon it, without that diminishing anything from the sins of the people.'" [Ref: Tirmadhi, B39, H2677] “… that the Messenger of Allah said: 'Whoever revives a Sunnah of mine, which people then act upon, will have a reward equivalent to that of those who act upon it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. And whoever introduces an innovation (Bid'ah) that is acted upon, will have a burden of sins equivalent to that of those who act upon it, withot that detracting from the burden of those who act upon it in the slightest.'"[4] [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H209] In these Ahadith of word Sunnah has been replaced with Bidda indicating that the in Arabic language word Bidda can be a substitute for Sunnah in context of this. Alhasil the Hadith from Sahih of Imam Muslim (rahimullah) does reffer to innovations which are not part of Islam.

Conclusion:

The words, Sunnah, Muhdasa, Bidda, Ibtida, are used to denote innovations in context of Ahadith and verses of Quran. Wahhabi may disbelieve in good Sunnah portion of statement referring to good innovations but will be forced to turn the second part of Hadith toward evil innovation. And this interpretation itself would support Islamic position; word Sunnah is in meaning of innovated Sunnah. The difference would be that we the Muslims would believe it to be referring to both prophetic statements and Wahhabi would be damage controlling by turning the evil Sunnah part toward innovation. Truth of matter is decided on the fact; Sunnahs of Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) are already part of Islam and by reviving them one would not be introducing them into Islam. This Hadith and like it are telling of reward for introducing good Sunnahs into Islam. Innovation is not part of Islam and not part of Sunnah. Hence natural meaning of which is; reward being told is for introducing good innovations into Islam.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

Footnotes:


[1] Islamic definition consists of two categories praiseworthy and reprehensible innovations. The Wahhabi definition consists of legal innovation and non-legal, or linguistic innovation. What ever Wahhabi term as, innovation, or legal innovation in sense of Deen, is, reprehensible innovation,  in jargon Muslims. Whatever the Wahhabi terms linguistic/non-legal innovation in termonology of Islamic scholarship it is praiseworthy innovation. The real difference is principles used to interpret these definitions. Wahhabis disbelieve in introducing good innovation/practices into Islam which are not Sunnah hence they employ their rules to prohibit their introduction.

- [2] Readers should note that the definition which the Wahhabi's adhere to predates their sect [emerged in the 17th century from Najd]. Seikh Ahmad Sarhindi al-Farooqi (alayhi rehma) popularly known has Mujadid Alif Thaani, Imam al-Rabbani used the definition of innovation which Wahhabis used some 100 year after. Before him Hanbali Shaykh, Ibn Rajab (rahimullah alayhi ta’ala) used this definition. The blame upon Wahhabis is; 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 methodological principles and interpreted the definition of innovation according to them.

- [3] Brother Amar Iqbal and his friend Bilal were my associates during my college years. They introduced me and guided me on numerous ocasions regarding matters of Deen. They had recommended me [Wahhabi] books and introduced me to Omar Bakri’s Al-Muhajiroon and if I recall correctly it was these brothers who recommended that I read Omar Bakri’s booklet, The Creed Of Ahlus Sunnah. These two brothers knowingly and unknowingly became part of my journey to Wahhabism. Brother Amar is brother of good heart, good conduct and sincere intentions for his Deen but misguided due to choosing others as guide to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) when he should have remained upon path of the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam).

- [4] Another narration of same Hadith: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say: 'Whoever revives a Sunnah of mine that dies out after I am gone, he will have a reward equivalent to that of those among the people who act upon it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever introduces an innovation (Bid'ah) with which Allah and his Messenger are not pleased, he will have a (burden of) sin equivalent to that of those among the people who act upon it, without that detracting from their sins in the slightest.'" [Ref: Ibn Majah, B1, H210]

Edited by MuhammedAli
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