The Concept of Bid’ah in Islam: In The Light of The Qur’an and Sunnah
Salman Abdul Quayyum
Ziaut Huq Qutubuddin
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In the parlance of Islam, there is a constant mention of the Quran and the Sunnah as the source of all laws. Quran, as the word of Allah contains all the underlying principles that separate the good from the bad. Sunnah, as the way these principles were implemented by the Prophet (saw) provides the broad pattern that emphasizes the goodness of the good and badness of the bad.
From the point of view of the Islamic teachings, special technical terminologies are used to give a ruling on all human actions û be they hasanat (good and pious deeds) or sayyeat (bad and sinful deeds). Good actions are halal, allowed, admissible, legal, legitimate and praiseworthy. Bad deeds are haram, forbidden, prohibited, unlawful, reprehensible, and cursed.
There are two more concepts of paramount importance that define the uniqueness of Islam on the one hand and the integrity of a Muslim on the other. One is Shirk, i.e. taking partners with Allah, which tantamount to lowing Allah’s incomparable status. Taking partners with Allah is totally unacceptable in Islam. In other words, the strictness of Islam on this issue is absolutely unique compared to any other religion. The other, Bid’ah, i.e. evolving new practices in Islam. Theoretically, some of these new practices could be within the framework given in the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), while there could be others which disregard the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw). Hence, new practices could be categorized as either acceptable or unacceptable Bid’ah. However, in the strict sense of the word Bid’ah is the direct opposite of Sunnah. As such, it actually applies only to the new practices that are not acceptable.
This treatise attempts to dispel the unnecessary reservation about Bid’ah that prevails among some Muslims. It highlights the true meaning of the liberal ways of the Prophet(saw), and presents a common-sense approach to his humane Sunnah.