The concept of a ‘good innovation’ & the meaning of a ‘good Sunnah’
27 Aug 2011 06:22 GMT
 
I know that practices like celebrating the Prophet's birthday and honoring the 27th of Rajab are innovations. However, there is a group of people who are arguing that they are good innovations and that such practices can be defended by the following hadîth: "Whoever starts in Islam a good practice (sunnah), he gets the reward of it and the reward of all those that act on it. And whosoever starts in Islam an evil practice (sunnah), he gets the evil of it and the evil of all those that act on it."

Answered by

Sheikh Sâlim al-Qarnî

There is nothing in our religion that is known as a “good innovation” because the word innovation (bid`ah) in Islamic discourse means to introduce into the religion something that is alien to it. On the other hand, there is such a thing as a “good Sunnah” as mentioned in a hadîth that can be found in Sahîh Muslim.

Jarîr narrates:

Some desert Arabs clad in woolen clothes came to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He saw them in a sad plight as they had been in dire need. He exhorted the people to give charity, but they showed some reluctance until (signs) of anger could be seen on his face. Then a person from the Ansâr came with a purse full of silver. Then another person came forth and then others followed suit until signs of happiness could be seen on his face.

Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever starts in Islam a good practice (sunnah hasanah) and is emulated by others in doing so will get the reward of it and the reward of all those who act upon it without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And whosoever starts in Islam an evil practice (sunnah sayyi’ah) and is emulated by others will bear the sin of it and the sin of all those who act on it without their burden being diminished in the least. [Sahîh Muslim: (1017)]

This is talking about the person who takes the initiative to do something that complies with Islamic teachings. Whoever does this will be engaging in a good Sunnah.

This is not referring to any sort of innovation. An innovation can never be good, because it is, by definition, something that contradicts with the religion. An innovation is something that neither the Prophet (peace be upon him) did nor the people who followed him.

Therefore, innovations would include observing the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday or engaging in special observances on the occasion of his night journey and ascension (al-isrâ’ wa al-mi`râj).

May Allah guide us all.

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Answered by: Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmân al-`Ajlân
Professor at the Mecca Grand Mosque


The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever starts in Islam a good practice (sunnah hasanah) and is emulated by others in doing so will get the reward of it and the reward of all those who act upon it without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And whosoever starts in Islam an evil practice (sunnah sayyi’ah) and is emulated by others will bear the sin of it and the sin of all those who act on it without their burden being diminished in the least. [Sahîh Muslim: (1017)]

A Muslim is obligated to preserve and uphold the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to eschew innovations.

The meaning of “good Sunnah” in this hadîth – and Allah knows best – is to renew a Sunnah of our Prophet (peace be upon him) that has disappeared, been forgotten, or has become neglected.

It does not mean to initiate a new practice that has no basis in Islamic teachings. That would be an innovation.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours that is not part of it, then it will be rejected.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today



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