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Bid’ah is the word for innovation in Arabic . It simply refers to any new addition in Islam that didn’t exist before, regardless of whether it is well meaning or malicious. In other words, worshiping Allah in a manner that is not prescribed by Allah or which is not found in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his rightly guided companions is innovation (bid'ah).

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Whoever introduces a new thing in our affair (Deen) which is not part of it will have it rejected.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim(.

Effects of innovation

Al-Hafiz Ibn al-Qayyim has described seven phases in which Shaytan destroys the believers; one of these phases is Bid’ah.  According to him, when a person engages in bid’ah (innovation), he believes that he is doing a good deed so he invites others as well.  The person committing bid’ah doesn’t recognize that he is doing something wrong.

Another great danger is that practicing or advocating bid’ah often involves inadvertently forging lies against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)).  The Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "To forge a lie against me is not like forging a lie against any person; whoever forges a lie against me, let him have his seat in Hell-Fire.” (Sahih Bukhari).

Also ,in a tradition reported by Sahih Muslim, the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings of Allah be upon him was heard saying:"… Whoever innovates a practice in Islam, he would receive its sin and the sin of those who practice it, that would not reduce anything from that sin.”

In fact, innovation makes one to go astray whilst thinking one is on the right path. Such are the great losers as said by Allah in the glorious Qur'an: Translation of meaning:

"Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds?. "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works"?

Many are those who intend good but never attain their target, and as Islam is not a whimsical religion, a Muslim must try to do everything concerning his worship and daily life according to the teachings of Islam without excesses. Scholars must be referred to in times of inability to understand certain Islamic injunctions.  Amr ibn Yahya narrated that his father told him, "We used to sit at Abdullah Ibn Masood’s house before Fajr prayer. when he leaves we would follow him to the masjid. Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari then came to us and asked us, ‘Has Abu Abdurrahman (Abdullah Ibn Masood) come out yet?’ We said, ‘No’, so he sat with us till he emerged. We all stood up when he came out. He (Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari) said, ‘O Abu Abdurrahman, I just saw something which I did not recognize, and I did not see, all thanks to Allah, but good.’ He (Ibn Masood) said, ‘What is it?’ He (Abu Musa) said, ‘If you live you will see it. I saw in the masjid people sitting in circles waiting for the prayer. In each circle there is a leader, and they have stones in their hands. He (the leader) would say, ‘Say Takbir (Allahu Akbar) 100 times’, so they say Takbir 100 times. He (the leader) would then say, ‘Say Tahlil (La Ilaha Illa Allah) 100 times’, so they say Tahlil 100 times. He (the leader) would then say, ‘Say Tasbih (Subhana Allah) 100 times’, so they say Tasbih 100 times. Ibn Masood said, ‘Did you not order them to count their evil deeds, and guarantee them that none of their good deeds will be lost?’ Then he and we left till we reached one of the circles. Then he (Ibn Masood) stood next to the circle and said, ‘What are you doing?’ They said, ‘O Abu Abdurrahman, (these are) stones that we count our Takbir, Tahlil, tasbih, and Tah’mid (Alhumdu’lillah).’ Ibn Masood said, ‘Count your evil deeds, for I guarantee that none of your good deeds will be lost. What is the matter with you, O nation of Muhammad? How soon you come to your destruction! The companions (of Muhammad) are still many, these are his clothes still not worn out and his cookware did not break yet. By whom my soul is in His Hands, you are either following a religion better than Muhammad’s or followers of a way of evil.’ They said, ‘By Allah, O Abu Abdurrahman, we sought only what is good.’ Ibn Masood said, ‘Many people seek good, but they do not reach to it. The Messenger told us some people who read the Qur’an will not have the Qur’an leave their throats (i.e. get to their hearts). By Allah I do not know if most of you are from them.’ Then he left them. Amr Ibn Salamah said, ‘We saw most of those people fighting against us, in the battle of Nahrawan with the Khawarij.’" (Tirmidhi).

Once a man sneezed in the presence of Ibn Umar and said, "Praise be to Allah and peace be upon the Messenger.’ Ibn Umar chastised the man and said, "The Prophet has only taught us to say Alhumdu’lillah." (Tirmidhi(.

 So whenever we do an act pertaining to Islam, we should know why we are doing that act. We should know the proofs from the Qur’an and the Sunnah to save ourselves and to better educate people.

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