[Video]: Religious Innovation And Whether it Can Be Divided Into Five Categories | Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Religious Innovation And Whether it Can Be Divided Into Five Categories | Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

The Questioner:

What is religious innovation (bidʿah) and what are its categories? And is dividing it into five different categories as the Shaykh al-ʿIzz ʿAbdul-Salām did correct? And what did Ibn ʿAbdul-Salām intend by his division of religious innovation (bidʿah)? Please enlighten us regarding this and may Allāh reward you.

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn:

“All praise is due to Allāh the Lord of creation, and I send the prayers of peace and invoke the blessings of Allāh upon our Prophet Muḥammad as well as his family and companions altogether. Bidʿah in the Arabic language is fiʿlah [upon the Arabic morphological scale] from badʿ and it means to create something without a previously existing precedent.

And from this comes the statement of Allāh the Exalted: ‘The Originator (Badīʿ) of the heavens and the earth…’ [Sūrah al-Baqarah 2:117] Meaning: the initiator of them because Allāh the Glorified and Exalted created them both without a previously exiting precedent. This is what bidʿah means in the Arabic language.

As for the meaning of bidʿah in Islāmic law, then it is every doctrine, or statement or action through which an individual worships Allāh the Mighty and Majestic, but it is not from what has come from the legislation of Allāh the Glorified and Exalted.And the religious innovation (bidʿah) with all of its categories, rather I say that the religious innovation (bidʿah) has no more than one category which has been clarified by the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) in his statement: ‘And beware of newly invented matters, since every religious innovation (bidʿah) is misguidance.’

So every religious innovation (bidʿah) in Islāmic law is misguidance and does not divide into anything more than that. And this religious innovation (bidʿah) which constitutes misguidance, regardless of whether it occurs in doctrine, statement or action; it is all rejected from whoever promotes it and it is not to be accepted from him due to the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) which has been authentically reported from the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah: ‘Whoever does an action which is not in accordance with our affair will have it rejected.’ So the religious innovation (bidʿah) is not divided into five categories or anything more than that or less.

Instead, it is but a single category according to the wording of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) who is the most knowledgeable of the creation regarding what he says. And the most sincere of the creation regarding his advice, and the most eloquent of the creation regarding what he says. And the speech of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) is free of complication; nothing about it is complicated. It is clear and straightforward.And the division of bidʿah according to the people of knowledge like al-ʿIzz ʿAbdul-Salām and other than him, they divided the term bidʿah in a linguistic sense in which we are able to say about something that it contains bidʿa but in reality it is not considered from Islāmic law because it enters into other generalities and as such is only considered a bidʿah in a linguistic sense but it is not a bidʿah as it relates to Islāmic legislation.

So I most certainly say to the brother who posed the question as well as other than him surely dividing bidʿah into five categories or more than that or less; some people have understood from this something evil such that they have entered into the religion of Allāh what is not from it with the claim that it is a good religious innovation (bidʿah).And they have distorted the speech of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) claiming that the meaning of the statement ‘every religious innovation (bidʿah) is misguidance’ means that every evil religious innovation (bidʿah) is misguidance. And this without a doubt is an additional comment added to the [speech of the] Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ).

And it implies that the speech of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) was deficient in clarification because if we say that the ḥadīth should be understood as every evil religious innovation (bidʿah) is misguidance, there really isn’t any benefit to the statement at all because the evil is evil and misguidance regardless of whether it is religious innovation (bidʿah) or otherwise like illicit sexual relations for example, it is well-known for being unlawful in Islāmic law. And its impermissibility is not due to religious innovation (bidʿah). And in spite of this we say that it is considered from misguidance and transgression.

So those people who reinterpret the ḥadīth as every religious innovation (bidʿah) is evil and misguidance; those people without a doubt have objected to the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) and found fault in his clarification (ﷺ). And there can be no doubt that the Messenger (ﷺ) was the greatest of the people in terms of clarification and the most eloquent of them in his speech and the most sincere of them regarding his intentions and motives.

And there was no inability to articulate in his speech nor was there anything hidden. I say that this division that al-ʿIzz ʿAbdul-Salām held as well as other than him from the people of knowledge has caused some people to embrace an evil understanding, while they are really imposters as it relates to knowledge.And as a result they have distorted the speech of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ).

Certainly, I say and repeat myself, that every innovation (bidʿah) in the religion of Allāh is most definitely misguidance. And religious innovation (bidʿah) is not divided into categories. Rather, all of them are evil and constitute misguidance.And certainly the Prophet (ﷺ) said at the end of the ḥadīth that was narrated in al-Nasāʾī: ‘And every misguidance is in the Hellfire.’ So it is upon an individual to demonstrate the proper etiquettes as it relates to Allāh and His Messenger and he should not assert his own opinion in opposition to Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ).

Nor should he enter anything into the religion of Allāh which is not from it and he should not legislate for himself what is not pleasing to Him because Allāh says: ‘…and I’m pleased with Islām as your religion…’ [Sūrah al-Māʾidah 5:3]

So everything that and individual is able to use to worship his Lord from the things that Allāh has not legislated then it is not from the religion of Allāh. And surely I have spoken extensively in this response because of its importance.Because many of the people who desire good, have fallen into this evil; and I mean the evil of religious innovation (bidʿah) and they are unable to rid themselves of it.

However, if they were to reflect to themselves and realize that this; and I mean this tendency towards religious innovation (bidʿah) in the religion of Allāh, it involves a great impossibility in the religion of Allāh and that is that the religion to be deficient. Because these religious innovations (bidʿa) mean that they complete the religion of Allāh the Glorified and Exalted and Allāh says:This day, I have perfected your religion for you…’ [Sūrah al-Māʾidah 5:3] And there can be no doubt that they are a deficiency in the religion of an individual and they do not increase anyone except in being further from Allāh. And Allāh is the granter of success.”

Translated By: Abul-Layth Qāsim Mutiva

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