The laws of the religion of Islam are comprehensively established through the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. The Qur’aan and the Sunnah serve as the basic sources Islamic law and they esatablish a Sharee‘ah that is complete and absolute and does not require any addition.

The word bid‘ah literally means ‘something that is brought into existence for the first time’ or ‘something new that is made or invented, which did not exist before’. This meaning is general and applies to things related to the religion and also to those things that are not related to the religion (e.g. science and technology).

In the Sharee‘ah, the word bid‘ah has a slightly different and more specific meaning. It refers either to invent a new act of worship, or to practice a lawful act of worship in a way different from the way it was practiced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions.

The scholar, Imaam Ash-Shaatibee defines bid‘ah in the following way:

“A bid‘ah is any invented act or way that is made to resemble some part of the Sharee‘ah and it is followed as an act of the worship of Allah…It only relates to acts of worship”. (ash-Shaatibee)

This definition establishes the point that any act that is not directly associated to aspects of religion should not be thought of as being a bid‘ah. This means that using microphones, plastic toothbrushes, planes and any other forms of technology that did not exist in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) cannot be considered as being forms of bid‘ah. It would be permissible to make use of these forms of technology as long as they do not conflict with injunctions of the religion.

An example of technological advances that were not present in the time of the Prophet(peace be upon him) but are in common usage today is that of transport. Even though the motor-car, airplane, etc were not present in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), it would be entirely permissible to use them. In fact, with regard to modes of transport, Allah says in the Qur’aan:

{And (he created) the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and (as) adornment. And He creates that which you do not know}. (Soorat an-Nahl :8)

According to As-Sa’dee, the last part of this aayah refers to forms of transport that were not around when the Qur’aan was revealed, such as planes and cars.

Any bid‘ah in the religion is haram. If these modern forms of transport were classed as bid’ah according to the Sharee‘ah definition, then Allah would have made them haraam. The fact that Allah did not make these forms of transport haraam means that they and other modern technologies cannot be included in the Sharee‘ah definition of bid‘ah.

In order for an act to be classed as a bid‘ah, the following three conditions have to be met:

  • It is an act of worship that is not based on the Qur’aan and authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  • It is something that is done in respect to the worship of Allah.
  • It is an act that is done with the intention of pleasing or getting a reward from Allah.

Those who follow a particular bid‘ah are in fact adding things into the religion. If they do this, then it is as if they are saying that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not complete his task perfectly.

It is our belief that it is beyond any doubt that the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed on the message of Allah without any mistakes. The following hadeeth clarifies this. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said ‘Haven’t I conveyed Allah’s Message to you?’ They (the Companions ) replied, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said three times, ‘O Allah! Be witness for it.’ (Reported by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar in Saheeh al-Bukhaari and Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah in Saheeh Muslim with a different wording)

Introducing bid‘ah into the religion goes against the teachings in the Qur’aan. This is because Allah says:

{…This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…} (Soorat al-Maa’idah :3)

The religion of Islam is perfect and is in no need of either additions or subtractions. Muslims do not have the authority to invent things in the religion. Instead, they should follow the pure teachings of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) according to the understanding of the Companions . During the sermons the Prophet (peace be upon him) often emphasised the following:

{…Indeed, the best speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of the Muhammad . The worst affairs are newly-invented matters, and every newly-invented matter is a bid‘ah, and every bid‘ah is a misguidance, and every form of misguidance (will lead you) to Hellfire}. (Sunan An-Nasaa’i)

The Consequences of Bid’ah

Muslims must follow the teachings in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) according to the understanding and teachings of the Companions . Islam is in no need for additions, subtractions or changes. The laws of Allah are complete.

Allah warned the people against following bid‘ah. In an aayah of the Qur’aan Allah decribes those who follow Bid‘ah as such people who are not following the path of Allah.

The aayah also mentions that these people will be punished.

Allah says:

{And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination}.  (Soorat an-Nisaa:  115)

There are also many ahaadeeth that describe the dangers and consequences of following bid‘ah. One such hadeeth is narrated by ‘Aaishah . She said:

Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not from it, shall have it rejected.” (al-Bukhaari )

This hadeeth shows that any act of worship that is not according to the Sunnah will not be rewarded by Allah. In fact according to the aayah above, the person doing the bid‘ah will be punished by Allah.

In another hadeeth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained the severity of the wrong of following bid’ah. He said:

“…Anyone who makes an innovation or gives protection an innovator, the curse of Allah, the angels, and all persons will fall upon him, and Allah will not accept any obligatory or supererogatory act as recompense from them…”  (Muslim )

The above hadeeth points out the serious consequences for the one who indulges in bid’ah and also the one who accommodates such a person, i.e. Allah’s Curse will be upon such people. It also means that a person following a bid‘ah will find it hard to obey the Sharee’ah because they are acting contrary to it.

Bid‘ah is often followed on the basis of a person’s desires and whims, while she/he claims to be following the Sharee‘ah. For this reason, it is very difficult for this person to leave the bid‘ah and return back to the pure teachings of Islam. If a person does not consider the act as a Bid‘ah, then he will not feel the need to leave the bid‘ah and repent for what he/she did.

Any act of worship that is not according to the Sharee‘ah will be rejected by Allah and the person doing it will be punished. Furthermore, people who follow bid‘ah cannot be considered to be on the Straight Path. ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood said: 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) drew a line for us and then said, ‘This is the path of Allah.’ Then he drew some lines on the right and left of the first one and said, ‘These are other paths and at each one, there is a shaytaan calling to it.’ Then he recited the aayah, ‘This is my straight path, so follow it. And follow no other paths as they will lead you astray from His path.’  ( Ahmad  )

There is only one correct way in Islam. This is following the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the understanding and teachings of the Companions.

This path is the Straight Path which leads to an everlasting life in Paradise.








ICO’s Publications – Islamic Studies curriculum – Grade 7/ Part1