Day 25: Shun Innovation
Innovation here is not creativity with technology, (Scenario 1) ok! Don’t get it twisted, we’re talking about newly invented matters in the religion (Scenario 2). While the former in some ways aid religious efforts, the latter destroys faith explicitly. For instance, flying an aircraft for hajj makes it easier to complete the holy pilgrimage — scenario 1. On the other hand, coming up with a make-shift location for hajj instead of the Haraam in Mecca negates eeman — scenario 2. So scenario 1 is a positive one, which is welcomed and scenario 2 is a negative one that is frowned at.
Muslims today have dangled into innovative matters in totality. We make comparison of Islam with other faiths, trying to promulgate practices alien to Islam in the name of propagation. Imagine a Muslim musician producing “Islamic songs”. When asked what’s the reason for indulging in such innovative practice, the response was: “some Muslims listen to gospel songs, hence the need to give them an Islamic version of the gospel songs” — sounds funny isn’t it? The intention may be good, but the action is null and void as this is alien to the pristine Islamic practice.
This issue of introducing something which doesn’t belong to the Shariah is associated with the concept that Islam is a complete religion. Allah tells us in Surah Al-Ma’idah (5): ayat 3 thus:
“Today have I perfected your religion for you, and I have completed my favours upon you, and I have chosen for you Islam as your Religion.”
Since it is complete, there is no need for additions or deletions to the religion. Therefore to introduce some new matter into Islam or to delete something from it is an affront to Allah and the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam.
It was narrated on the authority of the Mother of the Believers, Umm 'Abdillah 'Aishah, radiyallahu 'anha, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said: "Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours (i.e. into Islam) something that does not belong to it, it is to be rejected."
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
According to the version of Imam Muslim, (it reads): "Whosoever works a work which has for it no command of ours is to be rejected."
- This hadith is one of utmost importance to the Muslim. It is used as a criterion for judging external actions or performance of Ibadah.
- If an action is not done in accordance with the Shariah or the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu ’alayhi wasallam, it will be rejected and not accepted by Allah.
- The acceptance of actions of Ibadah is based on two conditions:
- The intention - such action should be done with sincerity, for the sake of only Allah.
- It should be done in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wassalam.
- It is clearly understandable that the sunnah of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wassalam is meant to be followed in entirety. However, this is more related to ibadah and not other custom related matters.
- If certain actions are taken as ibadah where in reality they are not, then it will lead to bid’ah in the long run. For instance today, you find some group of extremist who call Muslims kuffar because they use cuttleries while eating.
- In worldly dealings and transactions (Al-Mu’amalat), if someone modifies the principles of the dealings and this violates the Shariah, then that dealing or transaction is rejected.
- If there are two ways of fulfilling an obligation, we should follow the easier way. For instance, if the weather is cold, then we have the choice of using warm water for wudu’. We shouldn’t use cold water and inflict discomfort on ourselves, trying to show that we are stronger Muslims and hoping for extra rewards.
This hadith sets a criterion for the Muslim by which he can assess and evaluate his actions to ensure their rightfulness and acceptability. There is an hadith which tells the story of three men who only wanted to do 'good deeds' all the time. One said he will not get married, the second one said he will pray all night and not sleep, and the third said he will fast every day. When the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, heard this, he said that he, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, was the most pious and righteous amongst the people and yet he did not do the things the way the men wanted to do them. This shows that the actions that the three men thought were ibadah would have resulted in bid’ah as they weren’t practiced by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam.