A New Book On The Issue Of Bidah
I recently came across the very useful work on innovation (bidah) by the Saudi Shafi jurist resident in al-Ahsa, Dr Abd al-Ilah al-Arfaj. His work takes a novel and brave approach in tackling the subject, not least due to hostile elements within his homeland whom he is hoping to engage in dialogue.
One of the unique features of the work is the authors analysis of modern fatawa related to bidah which have been issued by respected figures of the Salafi movement such as Shaykhs: Ibn Baz, al-Uthaimin, al-Jibrin, al-Fawzan, Bakr Abu Zayd, al-Albani et al. Through the examination of 20 issues around which fatawa by the above mentioned scholars have been issued he proceeds to identify some interesting findings. We hope to share more on this in the future inshAllah, or perhaps hope for Shaykh Abd al-Ilah himself to enlighten us (as he speaks fluent English).
Three Ahsai Scholars Views
I will suffice here with three quotes from Ahsai scholars that the author cited in his work, all of these representing the majority (janhur) position on the understanding of bidah. I have sufficed with these three as a number of people have expressed interest in knowing of the Ahsai scholars view on these issues. What readers may also note is that the first two quotes deal specifically with the issue of an action not being performed by the early Muslims (Salaf) not necessitating it being labelled as a reprehensible innovation. Shaykh Abd al-Ilah cited the following in his work (p.77-79)
Ahsai Hanbali Scholar On Loud Recitation Of Salawat After The Adhan
Shaykh Abdullah bin Fayruz al-Hanbali(d.1175) Allah have mercy on him was asked regarding the ruling of the loud reciting of Salat and Salam after the Adhan upon the minaret on the night of Friday, he replied:
Salat after the Adhan upon the minarets is not an innovation, because they -the callers to prayer- when they mention the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) do so after the Adhan from the minaret, and there is no innovation in this.
If it is supposed that the specification of this time -meaning after the Adhan- in this place -meaning upon the minaret- with Salat upon -the Master- of the chidren of Adnan (Allah bless him and give him peace)- is an innovation- as this ignoramus claims…Does he not know -meaning the critic- that innovation falls within five legal rulings, such as the authoring of books, recording of hadith, organising issues of language, history, narrator disparagement and authentication (jarh wa tadil), recording of language, tafsir and other than it…
Thus there is no harm in it (K:loud recitation of Salawat after the Adhan), rather in it are numerous benefits, from it is that everyone who hears it sends salat upon him, and from them are that he knows -meaning is reminded- of Friday night, thus the people are aware of it and know -meaning remember- its night, and send abundant Salat upon him (Allah bless him and give him peace).
Note: Shaykh Muhammad al-Saffarini al-Hanbali and Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Razini were also signatories to this fatwa which was authored around 1165 Hijri.
Ahsai Shafi Scholar On Loud Recitation Of Tahlil After Prayers
Shaykh Hussain bin Ahmad al-Dawsari al-Shafi Allah have mercy on him was a scholar from the 13th century Hijri. In his answer to a question regarding the legal ruling of the ten tahlils (tahlilat al-ashr) after the prayer, and legal ruling of reciting them loudly he replied:
From the principles of the Madhab -meaning al-Shafi- is that every matter regarding which there is no prohibition it is permitted to do it. All those who claim the unlawfulness of a matter or its being disliked and which has not been prohibited by Allah and His Messenger place themselves in great danger…
The intelligent one should not be deceived by understanding of some ignoramuses of his words (Allah bless him and give him peace): “Every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance”. For these ignoramuses do not know what is meant by the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), for if they knew they would understand that innovation is subdivided into five categories, and that this general hadith is specified by his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words: “He who introduces is this matter of ours that which is not from it, it is rejected”.
And also by his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words: “He who inaugarates a good sunnah earns the reward of it and those who perform it till the Day of Judgement”. Thus he (Allah bless him and give him peace) named that good which would be introduced after him as being sunnah. Therefore every innovation which is not from the religion nor righteous actions is misguidance.
If we were to say: Everything which has been introduced is an innovation of misguidance then the religion would be defunct. This is because every book in our hands today is from the newly introduced matters, even Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not author any books, and it is not reported from any of his companions that they authored a book organised into chapters, thus all written books are a newly introduced innovation.
Rather even the Quran, al-Hajjaj-Ibn Yusuf- introduced into it that which the companions did not introduce (Allah be pleased with them all). And al-Hajjaj was the most corrupt of the people of his time. He was the one who divided the Quran into Juz’, and Ahzab and Ashar, and vowelled it. Thus according to the claims of theses ignoramuses we should abandon books because they are a newly introduced innovation. And we should abandon the Quran due to that which was introduced into it, or that it should be written without vowelling because its vowelling is an innovation, and if it were written without vowelling reading it would be difficult for the majority of the creation as most of them are common folk…
Ahsai Hanafi Scholar On Bidah Being Of Two Types
Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Muhammad al-Mulla al-Hanafi (d.1270) Allah have mercy on him said:
Know that the rulings of the sacred law are of two categories. Principles (Usul) which are beliefs, and branches (Furu) which are the outward transactions. Innovation in the principles (usul) is more severe than innovation in the branches…
The scholars have mentioned that innovation is subdivided into two categories. One them is praiseworthy and the other is reprehensible. Imam al-Shafi Allah have mercy on him said: “Newly innovated matters are of two types, the first of them is the introduction of that which conflicts with the Quran, Sunnah, a narration or consensus, this is an innovation of misguidance. Second: That which is introduced from the good, and there is no conflict of it with anyone one of these (meaning the Quran, Sunnah, a narration or consensus). Thus this is a newly introduced matter which is not reprehensible.”