The word Bidah is from the root word Al-Bada - which means to create something without precedence. It is a kind of ‘innovation’ in different matters of life; however it is something that is not always acceptable. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between the different kinds of Bidah. One kind, innovation, concerns the worldly affairs and is permissible. There is however another kind of Bidah which concerns matters of religion and it is a great sin to indulge in it.
It is dangerous to introduce things in religion and there is a great punishment for those involved in these acts. According to a hadith narrated by Aisha (RA), the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever innovates something into this matter of ours which does not belong to it will have it rejected” (Bukhari 2550).
Anyone who worships Allah in a manner not acceptable or prescribed in Islam and not in accordance with hadith and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is an innovator. These innovations can be slight alterations in concepts that are already a part of the religion, such as increasing or decreasing the number of prayers or the rakats in a prayer and fasting on days that are forbidden in Sunnah and hadith. In the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty warns us about the innovators:
And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying (Quran 6:116).
Hence one must try to avoid these innovators and innovations. What are some of the ways through which one can avoid Bidah?
Look in the Quran
To avoid any confusion in matters of religion, one must always look at the Quran and its teachings as what can be better than the word of Allah. In the Holy Quran, Allah says:
“…This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as your religion…” (Quran 5:3).
The Quran is a complete way of being and sheds light upon each aspect of life so as to avoid Bidah. Hence, it is the first place one should refer to, to clarify the questions of religion.
“…There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path” (Quran 5:15-16).
Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)
The Quran says:
“O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much…” (Quran 5:15).
The Sunnah and hadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is also a great way to avoid Bidah – the actions, sayings and beliefs of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) add to the religion by the will of Allah and He trusted His messenger with His word. Hence the Sunnah and hadith best serve the matters of religion.
If the Quran and hadith prove insufficient when it comes to matters of religion, then the companions of the Prophet (PBUH) should be our first choice. It is important to be aware of all aspects of religion from authentic sources and then make an informed decision. May Allah give us the ability to do the right thing (Ameen).