Principles of Bid‘ah – Maulana Manzur Nu‘mani

June 15, 2019

In Rabī‘ al-Thānī of 1354 AH (1935 CE), someone sent a question to Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997 CE) concerning the innovated ritual of calling the Adhān at the grave following burial, asking for a detailed answer. At around the same time, a close friend of Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī, Maulānā ‘Abd al-Ḥafīẓ Khān Ṣāḥib, suggested writing a detailed write-up on the topic, as well as refuting Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s treatise in support of the practice called Īdhān al-Ajr fī Adhān al-Qabr (found in Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 5:657-681). Although specifically on the topic of calling the Adhān at the grave, as part of the introduction, the treatise subsequently authored by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī outlines some general principles on bid‘ah, and how to answer the types of arguments supporters of bid‘ah advance. A PDF of the complete treatise can be found here.

The following is a translation of the introduction (about a quarter of the book).

Before writing on the actual ruling of Sharī‘ah on Adhān at the grave, some prefatory prolegomena are presented that are not specific to this topic but will be helpful in understanding the ruling of all innovations.

First Prolegomenon

The Divine Ordinance was completed in the time of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). On the occasion of Ḥajjat al-Wadā‘ this was conveyed to the entire Ummah via Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace):

اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم

“Today have I completed for you your religion.”

The impetus behind this Divine Announcement was that no need remained any longer for renovating or adding to religion, and nor will there be any need till Resurrection. The rulings that were needed for the guidance of humanity have all been revealed, and the laws for salvation have for all times been completed, and practising on them is definitely adequate for the salvation of an individual, his success and wellbeing. Now, whoever adds something into religion which Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has not taught us, it is as though he is implicitly making the claim that religion was not completed and was in need of this renovation of mine, or his claim is, Allāh forbid, that the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) failed in conveying the message and something that was included within religion he has not conveyed to us and I am now conveying it to people. Anyhow, whatever was not included in religion before cannot be included in religion today, and something which Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has not described as being a cause of nearness to the Divine cannot be a cause of nearness and a means of Divine Pleasure today also.

In the Ṣaḥīḥayn and other collections of Ḥadīth, it is narrated from Ḥaḍrat ‘Ā’ishah Ṣiddīqah (Allāh be pleased with her) that Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said:

من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد

“Whoever introduces into this matter of ours what is not from it, it is rejected.” (Mishkāt, p. 27)

In another transmission of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, it states:

من عمل عملا ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد

“Whoever does an action on which there is no decree from us, it is rejected.”

Imām Dār al-Hijrah Ḥaḍrat Mālik ibn Anas (Allāh have mercy on him) said:

من ابتدع فى الإسلام بدعة يراها حسنة فقد زعم أن محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم خان الرسالة لأن الله يقول: اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم، فما لم يكن يومئذ دينا فلا يكون اليوم دينا

“Whoever innovates an innovation into Islām deeming it good, he has asserted that Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has betrayed the messengership because Allāh says: ‘Today, have I perfected for you your religion.’ Thus, whatever was not religion on that day will not be religion today.” (al-I‘tiṣām, p28)

Second Prolegomenon

Just like the door to new inventions is closed in Sharī‘ah, in the same way no one has the right to specify from one’s own side a specific form and nature or a specific time for virtuous things described in Sharī‘ah for which the lawgiver has not specified any specific methods or boundaries and occasions, and treat [those specifications] like something specified in Sharī‘ah. Based on this, no one has the right, in a virtuous practice that the Sharī‘ah has fixed for a specific time or occasion, to establish it in this manner in other times and occasions, as this is transgressing Allāh’s bounds and is a type of rebellion against the law of Sharī‘ah.

It is narrated from Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) that he passed by a group of those remembering Allāh from whom one would say: “Allāh have mercy on the one who says subḥanAllāh this many times, Allāh have mercy on the one who says alḥamdulillāh this many times,” upon which the attendees would  say so accordingly. When he saw this he said in a highly majestic manner, addressing them:

لقد هديتم لما لم يهتد له نبيكم وإنكم لتمسكون بذنب ضلالة

“Have you been guided to that which your Prophet was not guided to?! Certainly you are holding onto a tail of misguidance.” (Ibn Waḍḍāḥ narrated as mentioned in al-I‘tiṣām)

Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd’s (Allāh be pleased with him) intent was that although there are many virtues to tasbiḥ and taḥmīd that are transmitted, and it is a desirable remembrance, this specific method and manner was not taught by the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), but is your own invention and is thus misguidance.

Imām Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī (Allāh have mercy on him) said in describing innovations:

ومنها التزام الكيفيات والهيئات المعينة كالذكر بهيئة الإجتماع على صوت واحد…ومنها التزام العبادات المعينة في أوقات معينة لم يوجد لها ذلك التعيين فى الشريعة

“From them is adhering strictly to methods and forms that are specific, like remembrance in congregational form in one voice…And from them is strictly adhering to specific rituals at specific times for which that specification is not found in Sharī‘ah.” (al-I‘tiṣām, v1 p20)

Third Prolegomenon

Just like doing less in rituals is an offence, in the same way adding from one’s own side is injustice. For this, the evidences which were cited in demonstrated the first prolegomenon are sufficient. Apart from that, this principle is clearly understood from the following narration of Ḥaḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) which was related by the author of Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn:

إن رجلا يوم العيد أراد أن يصلي قبل صلوة العيد فنهاه علي رضي الله عنه فقال الرجل: يا أمير المؤمنين، إني أعلم أن الله لا يعذب على الصلوة، فقال علي: وإني أعلم أن الله تعالى لا يثيب على فعل حتى يفعله رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أو يحث عليه، فيكون صلوتك عبثا والعبث حرام، فلعله يعذبك به لمخالفتك لرسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم

“A man wanted to pray before the ‘Īd Ṣalāh so ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) forbade him. The man then said: ‘Commander of the Believers, I know for sure that Allāh will not punish for ṣalāh.’ ‘Alī said: ‘And I know for sure that Allāh (Exalted is He) will not give reward for an action that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) did not do or encourage, so your ṣalāh will be futile and futility is forbidden, so He may punish you for that on account of your opposition to the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).” (The author of al-Manār related it in his footnotes as mentioned in al-Junnah, p. 165)

In the commentary of the ḥadīth of Mālik ibn Hubayrah in Bāb al-Ṣaff ‘ala l-Janāzah in Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Mullā ‘Alī Qārī quotes in Mirqāt Sharḥ al-Mishkāt:

ولا يدعو للميت بعد صلوة الجنازة لأنه يشبه الزيادة فى صلوة الجنازة

“One is not to make duā for the deceased after the Janāzah Ṣalāh because it resembles adding to the Janāzah Ṣalāh.” (Mirqāt, v4 p64)

Ḥaḍrat Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq Dehlawī (Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Lama‘āt Sharḥ al-Mishkāt:

فالزيادة في مثله نقصان فى الحقيقة كما لا يزاد فى الأذان بعد التهليل محمد رسول الله وأمثال ذلك كثير

“Adding to the like of this is in reality decreasing, just as ‘Muḥammadurrasūlullāh’ is not added to the Adhān after ‘Lāilāha illAllāh’, and the likes of that are many.”

Fourth Prolegomenon

When some very deviant group or individual introduces an extremely horrible innovation, they would of course claim it to have niceties and perfections, and upon the name of God and religion, will present evidences to popularise it. They will for sure adopt a style of oration from which simple minds can suffer from misunderstanding. Thus, to establish such ugly an innovation as idolatry as being permissible and beautiful, idolaters said:

ما نعبدهم إلا ليقربونا إلى الله زلفى

“We do not worship them but so they bring us very near to Allāh.”

Further, they introduced a terrible innovation in the Ibrāhīmī religion: They would circle the grounds of the Ka‘bah naked just as they were born, and would justify this shameless action as follows: We sin everyday wearing clothes, so how can we circle the godly grounds in those very clothes?! We will circle in the state that Allāh has created us.

It states in the Mighty Qur’ān:

وإذا قيل لهم: أنفقوا مما رزقكم الله قال الذين كفروا للذين آمنوا: أنطعم من لو يشاء الله أطعمه

“When it is said to them: Spend of what Allāh has provided you, those who disbelieve say to those who believe: Are we to feed those had Allāh wished He would have fed?!”

Now, look, how these wicked ones were not giving anything in God’s path, but on their satanic path, they honoured even this miserliness in the garb of “good innovation”, and presented this wicked and anti-humanitarian action under the lofty characteristic of “being content with divine decree” (riḍā bi ‘-qaḍā’).

Well, this was the condition of the disbelievers and idolaters at the time of Jāhiliyyah. But any innovator you see making a claim to belong to the Islāmic religion will describe many benefits for his innovation and will even attempt to present evidences of Sharī‘ah for it.

Imām Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī (Allāh have mercy on him) was absolutely correct in writing:

إنك لا تجد مبتدعا ممن ينسب إلى الملة إلا وهو يستشهد على بدعته بدليل شرعي

“You will not find an innovator attributing [themselves] to religion except they support their innovation with Shar‘ī evidence.” (I‘tiṣām, p. 102)

It is an undeniable reality that there will be one or another aspect of interest or benefit in many innovations, and those are made the cause of misunderstanding for people, and based on them, it will be considered a good thing, or in other words a “good innovation”, all the while it is not necessary that something in which there is some benefit or interest is always good or permissible. The Glorious Qur’ān states clearly about gambling and wine that there is in general some benefits in them for people, but in spite of this, since in the view of Sharī‘ah the aspect of harm is dominant, they are both impermissible.

Fifth Prolegomenon

An action being completely left out in the time of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and noble Ṣaḥābah, while its motives and causes which are present today were present then too, is evidence that the action is not correct in Sharī‘ah, particularly when connected to the topic of rituals. The decree of Ḥaḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) which was quoted with reference to Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn under the third prolegomenon is sufficient to demonstrate this. The narration of Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) cited under the second prolegomenon is also a completely clear demonstration of this. In one version, quoted by the author of Majālis al-Abrār, it occurs that he said to those who were making dhikr collectively in a specific form and manner:

أنا عبد الله بن مسعود، فوالذي لا إله غيره لقد جئتم ببدعة ظلماء أو لقد فقتم على أصحاب محمد عليه السلام علما

“I am ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd. By the One besides Whom there is no deity but Him, you have produced a dark innovation or you have indeed surpassed the companions of Muḥammad (upon him peace) in knowledge.” (Majālis al-Abrār, chapter 18, p133)

After citing this transmission, the author of Majālis al-Abrar states:

هكذا يقال بكل من أتى فى العبادات البدنية المحضة بصفة لم تكن في زمن الصحابة رضي الله عنهم

“The same will be said to everyone who comes up, in purely physical rituals, with a form that was not present in the time of the Ṣaḥābah (Allāh be pleased with them).”

Ḥaḍrat Ḥudhayfah (Allāh be pleased with him) said:

كل عبادة لم يتعبدها أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فلا تبعدوها

“Every ritual not observed by the companions of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), do not observe them” (al-I‘tiṣām, p113)

Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) said:

اتبعوا آثارنا ولا تبتدعوا فقد كفيتم

“Follow our traces and do not innovate, for you have been sufficed.” (al-I‘tiṣam, p54)

Anyhow, this is an undeniable principle: a ritual not established from Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the noble Ṣaḥābah is not correct in Sharī‘ah and is innovation. Ḥanafī jurists have frequently operated on this principle. Thus, the author of al-Hidāyah (Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Faṣl al-Awqāt allatī Yukrahu fīhā ‘l-Ṣalāh:

يكره أن يتنفل بعد طلوع الفجر بأكثر من ركعتي الفجر لأنه عليه السلام لم يزد عليهما مع حرصه على الصلاة

“It is undesirable to perform optional prayers after sunrise more than the two rak‘ats [of sunnah] of Fajr because he (upon him peace) did not add to them despite his eagerness for ṣalāh.” (Hidāyah, 1:53)

And in this very Hidāyah in Bāb al-‘Id, it states:

لا يتنفل فى المصلى قبل صلاة العيد لأن النبي عليه السلام لم يفعل ذلك مع حرصه على الصلاة

“One is not to perform optional prayers in the Muṣallā before the ‘Īd prayer because the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not do so despite his eagerness for ṣalāh.” (Hidāyah, 1:118)

He wrote on Ṣalāt al-Kusūf:

ليس فى الكسوف خطبة لأنه لم ينقل

“There is no Khuṭbah in Kusūf because it is not transmitted.” (Hidāyah, 1:121)

And ‘Allāmah Ḥalabī in Sharḥ Munyat al-Muṣallī, while proving that Ṣalāt al-Raghā’ib and Ṣalāt al-Barā’ah are not correct in Sharī‘ah, wrote:

ومنها أن الصحابة والتابعين ومن بعدهم من الأئمة المجتهدين لم ينقل عنهم هاتان الصلاتان فلو كانتها مشروعتين لما فاتتا عن السلف

“From these [reasons] is that the Ṣahābah and Tābi‘īn and those after them from the Mujtahid Imāms, these two Ṣalāhs have not been reported from them. Had they been correct in Sharī‘ah, they would not have missed the Salaf.”

In Kitāb al-Karāhiyyah of Fatāwā ‘Alamgīrī, it states [with reference to al-Muḥīṭ]:

قراءة الكافرون إلى الآخر مع الجمع مكروهة لأنه بدعة لم تنقل ذلك عن الصحابة ولا عن التابعين رضي الله عنهم

“Reading Sūrah al-Kāfirun to the end in congregation is disliked because it is an innovation not transmitted from the Ṣaḥābah nor from the Tābi‘īn (Allāh be pleased with them).”

It becomes very clear from all of these citations that a ritual not proven from the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and his companions (Allāh be pleased with him), and was invented afterwards, is an innovation and is not correct in Sharī‘ah.

(Adhān e Qabr Kā Taḥqīqī Jāizah, p. 5-14)