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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Definition and Scope of Bid'ah

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shuaybi

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Definition of bid'ah (innovation in religion)
Although the definition of bid'ah is simple and straight forward, people are often confused and are unable to differentiate between sunnah (practice of the Prophet), bid'ah (innovation in religion) and mub'ah (neutral non-religious actions). Simply stated, anything added (increased) in religion or in the name of religion is bid'ah irrespective of the motive or reason for the addition, even if the intention is that of extreme love and devotion.

Quote

   و بهذا الإسناد عن أحمد بن أبي عبد الله عن عبد الله بن محمد الحجال عن عاصم بن حميد رفعه قال جاء رجل إلى أمير المؤمنين ع فقال أخبرني عن السنة و البدعة و عن الجماعة و عن الفرقة فقال أمير المؤمنين ع السنة ما سن رسول الله ص و البدعة ما أحدث من بعده و الجماعة أهل الحق و إن كانوا قليلا و الفرقة أهل الباطل و إن كانوا كثيرا 

A man came to Amir al-Mumineen (عليه السلام), and said: Inform me about al-sunnah, al-bid'ah, al-jama'ah, and al-firqah. So Amir al-Mumineen (عليه السلام) said: al-sunnah is whatever the Messenger of Allah (s) performed, al-bid'ah is whatever has been innovated after him (s), al-jama'ah are the people of truth, even if they are little, and al-firqah are the people of falsehood even if they are a lot.

[al-Sadooq, Ma`aani al-Akhbaar (Qom: Inshārāt Islāmī, 1361), pg. 154 - 155, hadeeth # 3]

Domain of bid'ah
It is important to understand that bid'ah pertains only to religious actions. By religious actions we mean those actions that define an individual's religious identity. These are the actions that are performed in the name of religion and are connected one way or another to the religious choice of the individual. All other actions can be termed as non-religious and they may be classified as mub'ah - being neither good nor bad from a religious point of view and which merit neither reward nor punishment.

Non-religious actions
These are the actions that don't define the religious identity and are usually practiced by people across all religions. Some examples are travelling by a car, wearing a cultural dress, speaking a particular language and following a regional diet. None of these define the religious identity of the individual. The distinction between religious and non-religious actions is important otherwise all the modern inventions and cultural practices would (God forbid!) come under bid'ah - since they were not practiced by the Holy Prophet (s). 

Clarification on some confusing actions
Certain religious actions are performed using means that did not exist during the time of the Prophet (s). For example praying on a carpet, using a loudspeaker for adhaan or playing audio recording of a dua. Are these bid'ah? It depends on the intention of the performer and which aspect of the action he/she considers as part of religion. If the carpet or loudspeaker is considered as an obligatory or recommended part of religion then it is a bid'ah. If the performer simply uses it out of convenience and understands that its use itself is not a part of religion then it is not a bid'ah. Carpets, loudspeakers and audio technology are also used by non-Muslims for other purposes so they don't define a religious identity and therefore cannot be bid'ah if used with the intention of convenience. 

Bid'at-ul-hasanah (Good Bid'ah)
In the school of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام), there is no concept of bid'at-ul-hasanah (good innovation). This concept was invented by the Ahlul Sunnah in order to justify the bid'ah of their caliphs. For example, after establishing the Tarawih prayers in the month of Ramadhan, Umar bin Khattab remarked: "How good this bid'ah is!". The scholars of Ahlul Sunnah have confused the people by complicating the simple definition of bid'ah, created different categories of bid'ah, and wrote lengthy tortuous explanations using reason and logic. See for example: The Concept of Bid'ah in the Shari'ah

Some people argue that if a new practice is established in the name of religion and there are no express statements of Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) forbidding it then it is not a bid'ah. This line of argument is the same as those who practice bid'at-al-hasanah.

Actions should be based only on Sunnah

Quote

وعن عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن خالد، عن أبيه، عن أبي إسماعيل إبراهيم بن إسحاق الأزدي، عن أبي عثمان العبدي، عن جعفر، عن آبائه، عن أمير المؤمنين ( عليه السلام ) قال: قال رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله ): لا قول إلا بعمل، ولا قول و لا عمل إلا بنية، ولا قول و لا عمل و لا نية إلا بإصابة السنة. ورواه الشيخ مرسلا عن الرضا ( عليه السلام )، نحوه. ورواه المفيد في ( المقنعة ) مرسلا. ورواه البرقي في ( المحاسن ) عن أبيه، بالإسناد.

The Messenger of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) said: There is no saying but through action (la qawl illa bi amal), and there is no saying and no action but by intention (la qawl va la amal illa bi niyyah), and there is no saying and no action and no intention but by achieving the Sunnah (la qawl wa la amal va la niyyah illa b'isabatil sunnah).

[Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, H 207, Ch. 22, h9]

According to the above hadith every saying, action and intention should be based on sunnah. Whatever is not done to fulfill the sunnah has no value and no merit in the eyes of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

Better to have fewer actions
Nowadays, adherants of the Usuli school are steeped in innovations. They are worried that if all the practices are weakened there will not be much to do. The following hadith should be an eye-opener for them:

Quote

The Holy Prophet (s) said: Few actions in sunnah are better than many in bid'ah.

[Al-Tūsī, Tahdhīb al-Aḥkām, 10 vols., (Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, 4th Edition, 1407 AH), vol. 3, pg. 70, hadeeth # 29]

Duty of the scholars in the face of bid'ah

Quote

"When innovations emerge it is obligatory for the scholars to make their knowledge public (I.e. expose the bid'ah), otherwise, Allah will send la'anat (condemn) on them." 
[Al Kafi Chapter: 19, Hadith: 157, Number: 2]


(Also published on blog:  https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/08/22/definition-and-scope-of-bidah)

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      Because it has been easy enough to observe, almost in real time, what the impact has been on peoples' behaviour. People can lie about their opinions and their analysis of reality but they tend to behave in a manner that reflects their true understanding of a situation.
      There were enough videos coming out of China about the hospitals being built, the roads being disinfected, the guards at the ground level of apartment blocks restricting who could enter or leave, to tell anyone regardless of cognitive ability that this was a serious virus. This was not flu.
      So we did not need to rely on what the Chinese said, all we needed to do was observe what they did.
      So you did not need to know the R value of the virus, you did not need to know the difference between different types of mortality rates and so on. All you needed to know were the extreme measures those on the front line were taking because they were terrified and act appropriately.
      Conclusion
      CV19 forces us to drop misconceptions, ideologies, beliefs and every other artifice that we have created.
      It forces us to try and understand nature with the cognitive and analytical skills that we have.
      It provides evidence for those who Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has given the greatest quantitive skills for measuring and understanding what is going on and which will likely be essential for policy making at a global and national level, but at the same time there is enough quantitative evidence that is easy to understand and even qualitative data that no individual need feel unqualified in terms of making the decisions that will help preserve their lives.
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
         0
      This story is about a tea party, but actually it isn't about the party.
      It isn't about the party that Anna Pavlovna holds, the one that many people know about but about whose subsequent events they remain unfamiliar. In fact if I wanted to I could try really hard and remind myself of the time I attended, but as I said that's not really the purpose of this story.
      You see Sakina many people arrive at Anna Pavlovna's party with high hopes and expectations. They have a self-image of their literary prowess and they want to be able to tell everyone else that not only did they attend but that they experienced everything else that happened afterwards as well.
      I was a bit like that to be honest. The first time I went I was about your age. I'd heard a lot about Anna Pavlovna's world and I wanted to be able to casually mention to friends and associates that I'd been. And so I would try so very very hard to get to know the attendees and to be honest it was impossible. I made many attempts and never got further than the entrance to the party itself.
      So I tried a different tack.
      I'd try less hard.
      Instead of trying to get as far into this world as I could and meet as many people as I could, as quickly as I could, I would take the opposite approach.
      I would only spend so much time at the party and I would stop, no matter how engaging the characters and no matter how interesting the stories that they had to tell.
      And the next day I would come back to where I had left off and the people and the stories would still be there and slowly but surely I'd have the impetus to find out a little more about them and the following day a little bit more and so on.
      In fact their lives became a little soap opera for me that went on for over a year and that's how I finished War & Peace.
    • By Abdul-Hadi in Chasing Islam
         6
      [In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful]

      Some people may object to my embrace of Islam. "Oh, Islam is such a difficult and demanding religion" they will say "It's too difficult to be a Muslim, especially in the West". I wholeheartedly disagree.

      Islam is not difficult at all, unless you allow it to be. Submission to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the natural state that humans were created for, so I have not found it terribly difficult at all thus far and even if it was, that doesn't mean that it's not worth pursuing (actually, challenges are good for us because they force us to persevere and grow in the process of overcoming). Religion and faith are not toys to be played with and put away on a shelf until the next time that you have a job interview, wind up in jail, or face an illness- Religion and faith are aspects of the human experience that should fundamentally change us as people, and always for the better.

      This is the difference between a fulfilling life and a life of constant desire for the cheap thrills of this world (which never satisfy), religion is the difference between heaven & hell; as Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) sees all we do + his judgment of us will ultimately come down to how perfectly we submitted, how closely we followed his commands, and the weight of our sins of both commission & omission in this life (sins of omission would be neglecting salah, charity, or treatment of his creation, etc).

      I honestly never thought I was going to be able to embrace Islam. There are enough posts on SC where I sound apprehensive and lean in that direction. What I have noticed is that within the past week, I have thrown myself into developing my practice of Islam with a much greater sense of mindfulness than I ever did with my Christianity. I believe that this is because in Christianity, we expect God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to "work within us" and change us without having to put in much effort ourselves besides reading the bible and praying daily. If we expect someone else, even our concept of God, to do this work for us it will likely not be done. We have to put forth the effort to change ourselves and develop our religion and Insha'Allah, we will become better, more complete human beings. In just a week, I have gone from near-total ignorance of the Quran, inability to pray without reading off a sheet, and praying "when I remembered" to keeping salah, memorizing the process of offering my five daily prayers, and setting five alarms on my phone (complete with an adhan for added immersion). I've even been able to commit short surahs to memory (in Arabic nonetheless!) so that I can offer my prayers properly as they were modeled by the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). I never in my wildest dreams even two weeks ago, imagined that I would be capable of doing this, so I am both excited and at the same time, feeling a sense of serenity- that this really is "it" and that I have found the path that I belong on in order to develop as a person.

      Today, I received my misbaha (dhikr beads) and have begun to offer dhikr, starting with the tasbih of Fatima (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) this afternoon. I have also ordered a modest prayer rug. Now I find myself wondering what my next steps are to improve my practice of Islam; namely what other parts of my religion can I begin to practice and what parts of myself I can work on improving. Although I am just a "baby Muslim", I truly feel as if I am changing for the better and that perhaps I should give myself just a bit more credit than I do for how far I have personally come in such a short period of time.

      However, as easy as practicing Islam has been for me + as natural as it feels, I realize that my experience is just that- my experience. Brothers and sisters all across the planet, many in this nation of mine (America), may not have such an easy time adhering to their faith. For some (Uyghurs in China, Bosnians), the practice of Islam comes with the very real risk of persecution & death from the unjust & tyrannical, but nonetheless they keep the faith without probably ever making blog posts like this one. I believe that all of us, including the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) can learn something about fidelity, devotion, perseverance and not least of all courage, from these brave brothers and sisters in these countries that are much more hostile to Islam.

      How do you think I can improve my religious practice from here on out?

      How can you improve yours?
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
         16
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
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