Excerpt from Ihya

بيان البغض في الله أعلم أن كل من يحب في الله لا بد أن يبغض في الله فإنك إن أحببت إنسانا لأنه مطيع لله ومحبوب عند الله فإن عصاه فلا بد أن تبغضه لأنه عاص لله وممقوت عند الله ومن أحب بسبب فبالضرورة يبغض لضده وهذان متلازمان لا ينفصل أحدهما عن الآخر وهو مطرد في الحب و البغض في العادات ولكن كل واحد من الحب و البغض داء دفين في القلب وإنما يترشح عند الغلبة ويترشح بظهور أفعال المحبين و المبغضين في المقاربة و المباعدة وفي المخالفة و الموافقة فإذا ظهر في الفعل سمي موالاة ومعاداة ولذلك قال الله تعالى هل واليت في وليا وهل عاديت في عدوا كما نقلناه وهذا واضح في حق من لم يظهر لك إلا طاعاته تقدر على أن تحبه أو لم يظهر لك إلا فسقه وفجوره وأخلاقه المسيئة فتقدر على أن تبغضه وإنما المشكل إذا اختلطت الطاعات بالمعاصي فإنك تقول كيف أجمع بين البغض و المحبة وهما متناقضان وكذلك تتناقض ثمرتهما من الموافقة و المخالفة و الموالاة و المعاداة و أقول ذلك غير متناقض في حق الله تعالى كما لا يتناقض في الحظوظ البشرية فإنه مهما اجتمع في شخص واحد خصال يحب بعضها ويكره بعضها فإنك تحبه من وجه وتبغضه من وجه فمن زوجة حسناء فاجرة أو ولد ذكى خدوم ولكنه فاسق فإنه يحبه من وجه ويبغضه من وجه ويكون معه على حالة بين حالتين إذ لو فرض له ثلاثة أولاد أحدهم ذكي بار و الآخر بليد عاق و الآخر بليد بار أو ذكى عاق فإنه يصادف نفسه معهم على ثلاثة أحوال متفاوتة بحسب تفاوت خصالهم فكذلك ينبغي أن تكون حالك بالإضافة إلى من غلب عليه الفجور ومن غلبت عليه الطاعة ومن اجتمع فيه كلاهما متفاوتة على ثلاث مراتب وذلك بأن تعطى كل صفة حظها من البغض و الحب و الإعراض و الإقبال و الصحبة و القطيعة وسائر الأفعال الصادرة منه فإن قلت كل مسلم فإسلامه طاعة منه فكيف ابغضه مع الإسلام فأقول تحبه لإسلامه وتبغضه لمعصيته وتكون معه على حالة لو قستها بحال كافر أو فاجر أدركت تفرقة بينهما وتلك التفرقة حب للإسلام وقضاء لحقه وقدر الجناية على حق الله و الطاعة له كالجناية على حقك و الطاعة لك فمن وافقك على غرض وخالفك في آخر فكن معه على حالة متوسطة بين الانقباض و الاسترسال وبين الإقبال و الأعراض وبين التودد إليه و التوحش عنه ولا تبالغ في إكرامه مبالغتك في إكرام من يوافقك على جميع أغراضك ولا تبالغ في إهانته مبالغتك في إهانة من خالفك في جميع أغراضك ثم ذلك التوسط تارة يكون ميله إلى طرف الإهانة عند غلبة الجناية وتارة إلى طرف المجاملة والإكرام عند غلبة الموافقة فهكذا ينبغي أن يكون فيمن يطيع الله تعالى ويعصيه ويتعرض لرضاه مرة و لسخطه أخرى فإن قلت فيماذا يمكن إظهار البغض فأقول أما في القول فبكف اللسان عن مكالمته ومحادثته مرة وبالاستخفاف و التغليظ في القول أخرى وأما في الفعل فبقطع السعي في إعانته مرة وبالسعي في إساءته وإفساده مآربه أخرى وبعض هذا أشد من بعض وهي بحسب درجات الفسق و المعصية الصادرة منه أما ما يجري مجرى الهفوة التي يعلم انه متندم عليها ولا يصر عليها فالأولى فيه الستر و الإغماض أما ما أصر عليه من صغيرة أو كبيرة فإن كان ممن تأكدت بينك وبينه مودة وصحبة وأخوة فله حكم آخر وسيأتي وفيه خلاف بين العلماء وأما إذا لم تتأكد أخوة وصحبة فلا بد من إظهار أثر البغض إما في الإعراض و التباعد عنه وقلة الالتفات إليه وإما في الاستخفاف وتغليظ القول عليه وهذا أشد من الإعراض وهو بحسب غلظ المعصية وخفتها وكذلك في الفعل أيضا رتبتان إحداهما قطع المعونة و الرفق و النصرة عنه وهو اقل الدرجات و الأخرى السعي في إفساد أغراضه عليه كفعل الأعداء المبغضين وهذا لا بد منه ولكن فيما يفسد عليه طريق المعصية أما ما لا يؤثر فيه فلا مثاله رجل عصى الله بشرب الخمر وقد خطب امرأة لو تيسر له نكاحها لكان مغبوطا بها بالمال و الجمال و الجاه إلا أن ذلك لا يؤثر في منعه من شرب الخمر ولا في بعث وتحريض عليه فإذا قدرت على إعانته ليتم له غرضه ومقصوده وقدرت على تشويشه ليفوته غرضه فليس لك السعي في تشويشه أما الإعانة فلو تركتها إظهارا للغضب عليه في فسقه فلا بأس وليس يجب تركها إذ ربما يكون لك نية في أن تتلطف بإعانته وإظهار الشفقة عليه ليعتقد مودتك ويقبل نصحك فهذا حسن وإن لم يظهر لك ولكن رأيت أن تعينه على غرضه قضاء لحق إسلامه فذلك ليس بممنوع بل هو الأحسن إن كانت معصيته بالجناية على حقك أو حق من يتعلق بك وفيه نزل قوله تعالى ولا يأتل أولوا الفضل منكم و السعة إلى قوله تعالى ألا تحبون أن يغفر الله لكم إذ تكلم مسطح بن أثاثة في واقعة الإفك حديث كلام مسطح في الإفك وهجر أبي بكر له حتى نزلت ولا يأتل أولوا الفضل منكم الآية متفق عليه من حديث عائشة فحلف أبو بكر أن يقطع عنه رفقه وقد كان يواسيه بالمال فنزلت الآية مع عظم معصية مسطح وأية معصية تزيد على التعرض لحرم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وإطالة اللسان في مثل عائشة رضي الله عنها إلا أن الصديق رضي الله عنه كان كالمجني عليه في نفسه بتلك الواقعة و العفو عمن ظلم و الإحسان إلى من أساء من أخلاق الصديقين وإنما يحسن الإحسان إلى من ظلمك فأما من ظلم غيرك وعصى الله به فلا يحسن إحسانك إليه لأن في الإحسان إلى الظالم إساءة إلى المظلوم وحق المظلوم أولى بالمراعاة وتقوية قلبه بالإعراض عن الظالم أحب إلى الله من تقوية قلب الظالم فأما إذا كنت أنت المظلوم فالأحسن في حقك العفو و الصفح وطرق السلف قد اختلفت في إظهار البغض مع أهل المعاصي وكلهم اتفقوا على إظهار البغض للظلمة و المبتدعة وكل من عصى الله بمعصية متعدية منه إلى غيره فأما من عصى الله في نفسه فمنهم من نظر بعين الرحمة إلى العصاة كلهم ومنهم من شدد الإنكار واختار المهاجرة فقد كان أحمد بن حنبل يهجر الأكابر في أدنى كلمة حتى هجر يحيى بن معين لقوله إني لا أسأل أحدا شيئا ولو حمل السلطان إلي شيئا لأخذته وهجر الحارث المحاسبي في تصنيفه في الرد على المعتزلة و قال إنك لا بد تورد أولا شبهتهم و تحمل الناس على التفكر فيها ثم ترد عليهم وهجر أبا ثور في تأويله قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم أن الله خلق آدم على صورته حديث أن الله خلق آدم على صورته أخرجه مسلم من حديث أبي هريرة وهذا أمر يختلف باختلاف النية وتختلف النية باختلاف الحال فإن كان الغالب على القلب النظر إلى اضطرار الخلق وعجزهم وأنهم مسخرون لما قدروا له أورث هذا تساهلا في المعاداة و البغض وله وجه ولكن قد تلتبس به المداهنة فأكثر البواعث على الإغضاء عن المعاصي المداهنة ومراعاة القلوب و الخوف من وحشتها ونفارها وقد يلبس الشيطان ذلك على الغبي الأحمق بأنه ينظر بعين الرحمة ومحك ذلك أن ينظر إليه بعين الرحمة إن جنى على خاص حقه ويقول إنه قد سخر له و القدر لا ينفع منه الحذر وكيف لا يفعله وقد كتب عليه فمثل هذا قد تصح له نية في الإغماض عن الجناية على حق الله وإن كان يغتاظ عند الجناية على حقه ويترحم عند الجناية على حق الله فهذا مداهن مغرور بمكيدة من مكايد الشيطان فليتنبه له فإن قلت فأقل الدرجات في إظهار البغض الهجر و الإعراض وقطع الرفق و الإعانة فهل يجب ذلك حتى يعصي العبد بتركه فأقول لا يدخل ذلك في ظاهر العلم تحت التكليف و الإيجاب فإنا نعلم أن الذين شربوا الخمر و تعاطوا الفواحش في زمان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والصحابة ما كانوا يهجرون بالكلية بل كانوا منقسمين فيهم إلى من يغلظ القول عليه ويظهر البعض له و إلى من يعرض عنه ولا يتعرض له و إلى من ينظر إليه بعين الرحمة ولا يؤثر المقاطعة و التباعد فهذه دقائق دينية تختلف فيها طرق السالكين لطريق الآخرة ويكون عمل كل واحد على ما يقتضيه حاله ووقته ومقتضى الأحوال في هذه الأمور إما مكروهة أو مندوبة فتكون في رتبة الفضائل ولا تنتهي إلى التحريم و الإيجاب فإن الداخل تحت التكليف أصل المعرفة لله تعالى وأصل الحب وذلك قد لا يتعدى من المحبوب إلى غيره وإنما المتعدى إفراط الحب و استيلاؤه وذلك لا يدخل في الفتوى وتحت ظاهر التكليف في حق عوام الخلق أصلا بيان مراتب الذين يبغضون في الله وكيفية معاملتهم فإن قلت إظهار البغض و العداوة بالفعل إن لم يكن واجبا فلا شك أنه مندوب إليه و العصاة و الفساق على مراتب مختلفة فكيف ينال الفضل بمعاملتهم وهل يسلك بجميعهم مسلكا واحدا أم لا فأعلم أن المخالف لأمر الله سبحانه لا يخلو إما أن يكون مخالفا في عقده أو في عمله و المخالف في العقد إما مبتدع أو كافر والمبتدع إما داع إلى بدعته أو ساكت و الساكت إما بعجزه أو باختياره فأقسام الفساد في الاعتقاد ثلاثة الأول الكفر فالكافر إن كان محاربا فهو يستحق القتل و الإرقاق وليس بعد هذين إهانة وأما الذمي فإنه لا يجوز إيذاؤه إلا بالإعراض عنه و التحقير له بالاضرار إلى أضيق الطريق وبترك المفاتحة بالسلام فإذا قال السلام عليك قلت وعليك والأولى الكف عن مخالطته ومعاملته ومواكلته وأما الانبساط معه والاسترسال إليه كما يسترسل إلى الأصدقاء فهو مكروه كراهة شديدة يكاد ينتهي ما يقوى منها إلى حد التحريم قال تعالى لا تجد قوما يؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر يوادون من حاد الله ورسوله ولو كانوا آباءهم أو أبناءهم الآية وقال صلى الله عليه وسلم المسلم والمشرك لا تتراءى ناراهما حديث المؤمن والمشرك لا تتراءى ناراهما رواه أبو داود و الترمذي من حديث جرير أنا بريء من كل مسلم يقيم بين أظهر المشركين قالوا يا رسول الله ولم قال لا تراءى ناراهما رواه النسائي مرسلا وقال البخاري الصحيح أنه مرسل وقال عز وجل يا أيها الذين آمنوا لا تتخذوا عدوي وعدوكم أولياء الآية الثاني المبتدع الذي يدعو إلى بدعته فإن كانت البدعة بحيث يكفر بها فأمره أشد من الذمي لأنه لا يقر بجزية ولا يسامح بعقد ذمة وإن كان ممن لا يكفر به فأمره بينه وبين الله أخف من أمر الكافر لا محالة ولكن الأمر في الإنكار عليه أشد منه على الكافر لأن شر الكافر غير متعد فإن المسلمين اعتقدوا كفره فلا يلتفتون إلى قوله إذ لا يدعى لنفسه الإسلام واعتقاد الحق أما المبتدع الذي يدعوا إلا البدعة ويزعم أن ما يدعو إليه حق فهو سبب لغواية الخلق فشره متعد فالاستحباب في إظهار بغضه ومعاداته والانقطاع عنه وتحقيره والتشنيع عليه ببدعته وتنفير الناس عنه أشد وان سلم في خلوة فلا بأس برد جوابه وان علمت أن الإعراض عنه والسكوت عن جوابه يقبح في نفسه بدعته ويؤثر في زجرة فترك الجواب أولى لأن جواب الإسلام وان كان واجبا فيسقط بأذني غرض فيه مصلحة حتى يسقط بكون الإنسان في الحمام أو في قضاء حاجته وغرض الزجر أهم من هذه الأغراض وان كان في ملأ فترك الجواب أول تنفيرا للناس عنه وتقبيحا لبدعته في أعينهم وكذلك الأولى كف الإحسان إليه والإعانة له لا سيما فيما يظهر للخلق قال عليه السلام من انتهر صاحب بدعة ملأ الله قلبه أمنا وإيمانا ومن أهان صاحب بدعة أمنه الله يوم الفزع الأكبر من ألان له وأكرمه أو لقيه ببشر فقد استخف بما أنزل الله على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم حديث من انتهر صاحب بدعة ملأ الله قلبه أمنا وإيمانا الحديث أخرجه أبو نعيم في الحلية و الهروي في ذم الكلام من حديث ابن عمر بسند ضعيف الثالث المبتدع العامي الذي لا يقدر على الدعوة ولا يخاف الاقتداء به فأمره أهون فالأولى أن لا يقابح بالتغليظ و الإهانة بل يتلطف به في النصح فإن قلوب العوام سريعة التقلب فإن لم ينفع النصح وكان في الإعراض عنه تقبيح لبدعته في عينه تأكد الاستحباب في الإعراض وإن علم أن ذلك لا يؤثر فيه لجمود طبعه ورسوخ عقده في قلبه فالإعراض أولى لأن البدعة إذا لم يبالغ في تقبيحها شاعت بين الخلق وعم فسادها وأما العاصي بفعله وعمله لا باعتقاده فلا يخلو إما أن يكون بحيث يتأذى به غيره كالظلم و الغضب وشهادة الزور و الغيبة و التضريب بين الناس و المشي بالنميمة وأمثالها أو كان مما لا يقتصر عليه ويؤذى غيره وذلك ينقسم إلى ما يدعو غيره إلى الفساد كصاحب الماخور الذى يجمع بين الرجال والنساء ويهيء أسباب الشرب والفساد لأهل الفساد أو لا يدعو غيره إلى فعله كالذي يشرب ويزني وهذا الذي لا يدعو غيره إما أن يكون عصيانه بكبيرة أو بصغيرة وكل واحد فأما أن يكون مصرا عليه أو غير مصر فهذه التقسيمات يتحصل منها ثلاثة أقسام ولكل قسم منها رتبة وبعضها أشد من بعض ولا نسلك بالكل مسلكا واحدا القسم الأول وهو أشدها ما يتضرر به الناس كالظلم و الغصب وشهادة الزور و الغيبة و النميمة فهؤلاء الأولى الإعراض عنهم وترك مخالطتهم و الانقباض عن معاملتهم لأن المعصية شديدة فيما يرجع إلى إيذاء الخلق ثم هؤلاء ينقسمون إلى من يظلم في الدماء وإلى من يظلم في الأموال وإلى من يظلم في الأعراض وبعضها أشد من بعض فالاستحباب في إهانتهم و الإعراض عنهم مؤكد جدا و مهما كان يتوقع من الإهانة زجرا لهم أو لغيرهم كان الأمر فيه آكد وأشد الثاني صاحب الماخور الذي يهيء أسباب الفساد ويسهل طرقه على الخلق فهذا لا يؤذي الخلق في دنياهم ولكن يختلس بفعله دينهم وإن كان وفق رضاهم فهو قريب من الأول ولكنه أخف منه فإن المعصية بين العبد و بين الله تعالى إلى العفو أقرب ولكن من حيث إنه متعد على الجملة إلى غيره فهو شديد وهذا أيضا يقتضي الإهانة و الإعراض و المقاطعة وترك جواب السلام إذا ظن أن فيه نوعا من الزجر له أو لغيره الثالث الذي يفسق في نفسه بشرب خمر أو ترك واجب أو مقارفة محظور يخصه فالأمر فيه أخف ولكنه في وقت مباشرته إن صودف يجب منعه بما يمتنع به منه ولو بالضرب و الاستخفاف فإن النهي عن المنكر واجب وإذا فرغ منه وعلم أن ذلك من عادته وهو مصر عليه فإن تحقق أن نصحه يمنعه عن العود إليه وجب النصح وإن لم يتحقق ولكنه كان يرجو فالأفضل النصح و الزجر بالتلطف أو بالتغليظ إن كان هو الأنفع فأما الإعراض عن جواب سلامه و الكف عن مخالطته حيث يعلم أنه يصر وأن النصح ليس ينفعه فهذا فيه نظر وسير العلماء فيه مختلفة و الصحيح أن ذلك يختلف باختلاف نية الرجل فعند هذا يقال الأعمال بالنيات إذ في الرفق و النظر بعين الرحمة إلى الخلق نوع من التواضع وفي العنف و الإعراض نوع من الزجر و المستفتي فيه القلب فما يراه أميل إلى هواه ومقتضى طبعه فالأولى ضده إذ قد يكون استخفافه وعنفه عن كبر وعجب و التذاذ بإظهار العلو و الإدلال بالصلاح وقد يكون رفقه عن مداهنة واستمالة قلب للوصول به إلى غرض أو الخوف من تأثير وحشته ونفرته في جاه أو مال بظن قريب أو بعيد وكل ذلك مردد على إشارات الشيطان وبعيد عن أعمال أهل الآخرة وكل راغب في أعمال الدين مجتهد مع نفسه في التفتيش عن هذه الدقائق ومراقبة هذه الأحوال و القلب هو المفتي فيه وقد يصيب الحق في اجتهاده وقد يخطيء وقد يقدم على اتباع هواه وهو عالم به وقد يقدم وهو بحكم الغرور ظان انه عامل لله وسالك طريق الآخرة وسيأتي بيان هذه الدقائق في كتاب الغرور من ربع المهلكات ويدل على تخفيف الأمر في الفسق القاصر الذي هو بين العبد وبين الله ما روى أن شارب خمر ضرب بين يدي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو يعود فقال واحد من الصحابة لعنه الله ما أكثر ما يشرب فقال صلى الله عليه وسلم لا تكن عونا للشيطان على أخيك حديث إن شارب خمر ضرب بين يدي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الحديث وفيه لا تكن عونا للشيطان على أخيك أخرجه البخاري من حديث أبي هريرة أو لفظا هذا معناه وكان هذا إشارة إلى أن الرفق أولى من العنف و التغليظ

Know that all who love for Allāh must hate for Allāh, since when you love a person because he obeys Allāh and is beloved to Allāh, then if he disobeys Him, you must then hate him because he disobeys Allāh and is disliked by Him. One who loves for a cause, he must then, by necessity, hate on account of its opposite. These two things are concomitants [of one another], one not separating from the other. This also applies to love and hate in non-religious matters.

However, both love and hate are conditions buried in the heart, and it only comes out at the point of being overpowering. It comes out with the appearance of the acts of lovers and haters – in becoming near or distant, in disunity or unity. When it becomes manifest in action, it is called: friendliness (muwālāt) or hostility (mu‘ādāt). This is why Allāh (Exalted is He) said: “Have you befriended a friend of Mine and have you shown hostility to an enemy of Mine?” [1] as we have quoted.

This is obvious with respect to one whose obedience alone is obvious to you, since you are able to love him; or one whose wickedness and sinfulness and his bad characteristics alone are obvious to you, since you are able to hate him. The problem is only when acts of obedience are mixed with sins. Then you will ask: “Can I combine hate and love, when they are opposites?! Likewise, the conflict in their fruits, whether unity or disunity, friendliness or hostility?”

I say: This is not a contradiction with respect to Allāh (Exalted is He) just as it is not a contradiction in human feelings: since whenever traits come together in a single person, some of which are desired and some of which are disliked, you will love him from one angle and hate him from another. One who has a beautiful sinful wife, or a smart and helpful but sinful son, he will love them from one perspective and hate them from another, and he will be with them in a condition between the two conditions. If it were supposed that one has three sons: one is smart and obedient, the other idiotic and disobedient and the third, idiotic and obedient or smart and disobedient, he will find himself in three variant states with them according to the variation in their qualities; and so should your condition vary according to three levels with respect to one dominated by wickedness, one dominated by obedience, and one in whom both are combined – and that is by giving each characteristic its share of hate and love, aversion and attachment, companionship and disassociation, and all actions proceeding from them.

If you ask: Every Muslim’s acceptance of Islām is obedience from him, so how can I hate him despite him being Muslim? I say: You love him for his being Muslim and you hate him for his sin, and you will be with him in a condition, had you analogised it to the condition of a disbeliever or a wicked person, you will perceive a difference between them – and that difference is the love for being Muslim and fulfilment of its due.

The degree of violating the right of Allāh (Exalted is He) and obedience to Him is like violating your right and obedience to you. Thus, one who agrees with you in an agenda of yours, and disagrees with you in another, you will be with him in an intermediary state between being completely closed off and completely opening up, and between attachment and aversion, and between love for him and alienation from him, and so you will not go into excess in honouring him in the way you would go into excess in honouring one who agrees with you in all your agendas, and nor will you go into excess in dishonouring him in the way you would go into excess in dishonouring one who disagrees with you in all your agendas. Further, this intermediary [state] will at times incline towards the side of dishonouring when there is a dominance of violation, and at times to the side of being gentle and honouring when there is dominance of agreement. And so should one be with one who obeys Allāh (Exalted is He) and disobeys Him, at times coming into His pleasure and at times into His displeasure.

If you ask: How should hatred be shown? I say: As far as speech is concerned, [it is] sometimes by restraining the tongue from speaking to and conversing with him, and sometimes by belittling and being harsh in words. As far as practice is concerned, [it is] at times by cutting off efforts made to assist him, and at times by making efforts to harm him and spoil his objectives. Some of these are more severe than others, and it is in accordance with the degrees of sin and wickedness that emerge from him.

As for what occurs as a slip that one knows he is remorseful over and will not persist on it, it is better to keep it concealed and turn a blind eye to it. As for what he persists on, whether a minor or major sin, if it is from someone between yourself and whom love, friendship and brotherhood have been established, it has a different rule that will come later, and there is disagreement in it between the scholars. As far as when brotherhood and friendship are not established is concerned, there must be some expression of the outcome of hatred, either in aversion and being distant from him and paying little attention to him, or in belittling and using harsh words about him – and this is more severe than aversion, and it is in accordance with the heaviness or lightness of the sin.

Likewise, in terms of action, there are also two degrees. One is cutting off support, help and assistance from him, and this is the least degree. The other is working towards spoiling his objectives, just like the action of enemies who harbour hate, and this is necessary, but [only] in what will make the means towards sin hard for him, and in something that will have an effect on him. As for something that will not have an effect on him, then no.

An example of this is a man who disobeys Allāh by drinking wine, and he had proposed to a woman had it been possible for him to marry her, he would be happy with her for reasons of wealth, beauty and status, but it will have no effect in stopping him from drinking wine, nor in pushing him and encouraging him towards it. If you are able to help him to accomplish his objective and purpose, and you are also able to entangle him so he loses his objective, you may not make an effort to entangle him. As for helping him, if you were to leave it for the purpose of showing hatred towards him on account of his sinfulness, there is no problem; but leaving it is not necessary, since you may have an intention in being gentle in giving him support and showing him pity so that he believes you have love [for him] and accepts your advice – then this is good. And if you do not anticipate that from him, but you feel that you [ought to] help him in his purpose in fulfilment of the right of him being a Muslim, then that is not prohibited. In fact, this is best when his sin is a violation of your right or the right of one connected to you.

On this, was revealed His (Exalted is He) statement: “Possessors of bounty and expanse amongst you must not take oath,” up to His (Exalted is He) statement: “Do you not love that Allāh forgives you?” (Qur’ān, 24:22) when Misṭaḥ ibn Uthāthah spoke on the Incident of Slander and Abū Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) took an oath that he will cut off his support from him, while he would support him with money, upon which this verse was revealed despite the enormity of Misṭaḥ’s sin. Which sin exceeds violating the sanctity of the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and extending the tongue over the like of ‘Ā’ishah (Allāh be pleased with her)?! However, al-Ṣiddīq (Allāh be pleased with him) was like one who was violated against in respect to himself in that incident, and pardoning one who wrongs [oneself] and showing good to one who is bad [to oneself] is from the characteristics of the Truthful Saints [ṣiddīqīn], and it is only good to be good to the one who oppressed you [and not others].

As for one who oppresses another, and disobeys Allāh thereby, it is not good to show goodness to him, since in showing goodness to the oppressor there is hurt to the oppressed, and the right of the one oppressed is more deserving of being observed, and strengthening his heart by turning away from the oppressor is more beloved to Allāh than strengthening the heart of the oppressor. But when you yourself are the one oppressed, it is best with respect to you to pardon and overlook. The ways of the pious predecessors, Allāh be pleased with them, would differ in expressing hatred for the sake of Allāh towards the perpetrators of sins, whereas all of them agreed on expressing hatred for the oppressors and innovators, and all who disobeyed Allāh with a sin that extends from himself to others.

But as for one who disobeys Allāh by himself, some of them looked at all sinners with the eye of compassion and some of them were strong in condemnation and chose disassociation. Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, may Allāh have mercy on him, would disassociate from the Elders in the slightest matter, such that he abandoned Yaḥyā ibn Ma‘īn on account of his statement: “I will not ask anyone anything, but if the sulṭān brought something to me I will take it.” He abandoned Ḥārith al-Muḥāsibī for compiling a refutation of the Mu‘tazilah, saying: “You must first present their doubts and drive people to contemplating about them, and then refute them.” He abandoned Abū Thawr on account of his figurative interpretation of his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) statement: “Allāh surely created Ādam in His/his image.”

This is a matter that varies based on the difference in intention, and intention differs based on different conditions. If what dominates the heart is looking at the compulsion of creation and their helplessness, and that they are subject to what has been decreed for them, that creates some ease in hostility and hatred, and it has some grounds, but it may be confused with sycophancy (mudāhanah), since the majority of motives in turning a blind eye to sins is sycophancy and observing [people’s] feelings and fearing desertion and aversion from them; the Satan may mix that up to the stupid fool with looking [at the sinner] with the eye of compassion. The test of that is that one looks at him with the eye of compassion if he violates his personal right and says: “It was out of his control, caution is of no avail from the [Divine] Decree, and how could he not do it when it was written from him?” For such a person, it would be valid for him to turn a blind eye to violation of Allāh’s (Exalted is He) right. But if he becomes enraged at a violation of his own right and shows mercy to violation of the right of Allāh (Exalted is He), this is a sycophant deluded by a ploy from the ploys of Satan, and so should be aware of that.

If you ask: The least degree of showing hatred is disassociation and aversion, and cutting off support and assistance, but is that obligatory such that a person will be sinful for not doing so? I say: In External Knowledge, this does not fall under compulsion and obligation, since we know that those who drank wine and perpetrated evils in the time of the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the Companions were not abandoned totally, but were divided amongst them to those who would use harsh words and express hatred for him and those who would turn away from him and not interact with him and those who would look at him with the eye of compassion and not give preference to dissociation and being distant.

Thus, these are religious subtleties in which the ways of those who are treading on the path of ākhirah differ, and the practice of each one is according to what his condition and time demands. The demand of the circumstances in these matters is either reprehensible or desirable, so it will be at the rank of virtues, and will not end up at being prohibited or made obligatory – since that which is included within obligation is the essence of recognition of Allāh (Exalted is He) and the essence of love, and that may not extend from the One Loved to another. [Love] that extends is only excessive love and one that overpowers [the heart], and that is not at all included in fatwā or under external obligation with respect to the common people.

If you say: Showing hatred and enmity in practice, if not obligatory, it is undoubtedly desirable, and sinners and wicked people are of different degrees, so how will distinction be achieved in dealing with them? Will they all be dealt with equally?

Know that the one who opposes the command of Allāh (Glorified is He) is not devoid of either opposing [Him] in his belief or in his practice, and the one opposing [Him] in belief is either an innovator or a disbeliever, and the innovator is either propagating his innovation or is silent and the one silent is [silent] either because of his inability or out of choice. Thus, the categories of corruption in belief are three:

First is disbelief. If the disbeliever is a muḥārib (resident of Dārul Ḥarb), he is deserving of killing and enslaving [2], and there is no dishonouring beyond this. As for the dhimmī (resident of Dārul Islām), he may not be harmed, except by turning away from him and belittling him by forcing him onto the narrowest path and not initiating the salām, but when he says assalāmu ‘alayka, you say wa ‘alayka, and it is better to hold back from mixing with him, dealing with him and eating with him. As for opening up to him completely just as one opens up to friends, it is reprehensible with severe reprehensibility, that which becomes intense of it almost leading to the degree of being ḥarām. Allāh (Exalted is He) says: “You will not find a group believing in Allāh and the Last Day loving one who has opposed Allāh and His Messenger, even if they are their parents, their children…” (Qur’ān, 58:22) And he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “The Muslim and idolater, their [respective] fires are not to be visible to one another.” [3] He (Great and Glorious is He) said: “O you who believe, do not treat My enemy and your enemy as supporters.” (Qur’ān, 60:1)

The second is the innovator that propagates his innovation. If the innovation is such that he disbelieves on account of it, his matter is worse than a dhimmī (non-Muslim resident of Dārul Islām), as he does not agree to the Jizya and nor does he accept the contract of Dhimma.

But if it is of that which he does not disbelieve on account of, his matter between himself and Allāh is undoubtedly lighter than the matter of a disbeliever, but the matter in condemning him is more severe than it is for a disbeliever, because the evil of a disbeliever does not extend [beyond himself] as Muslims believe he is a disbeliever so will pay no attention to his speech as he makes no claim for himself of being a Muslim and believing the truth. As for the innovator who propagates his innovation, and claims what he calls to is true, he is a cause for the misguidance of people, and thus his evil does extend [beyond himself], so the desirability of expressing hatred of him and hostility towards him, disassociation from him and belittling him, and disparaging him for his innovation, and driving people away from him, is greater. If he says salām in private, there is no problem with replying to him, but if he knows that by turning away from him and keeping quiet from answering him will make his innovation seem disgusting to himself and will have an effect in deterring him, it will be better not to reply, because although answering the salām is obligatory, it is eliminated by the smallest objective in which there is some interest, such that it is eliminated because of a person being in the public bath or is relieving himself, and the objective of deterrence is far more important than these objectives.

If he is within a group, not answering is better in order to drive people away from him and to make his innovation seem disgusting in their eyes. Likewise, it is better to withhold being good and help from him, especially in that which is apparent to the people. He (upon him blessing and peace) said: “Whoever scolds a person of innovation, Allāh will fill his heart with peace and faith, and whoever debases a person of innovation, Allāh will grant him security on the Day of the Greatest Terror, and whoever is soft with him, honours him or meets him with cheerfulness, he has belittled what Allāh sent down on Muḥammad” [4], Allāh bless him and grant him peace.

The third is the lay innovator who is not able to propagate, and it is not feared that he will be taken as an authority. His matter is lighter. It is better to not open up with harshness and dishonouring, but gentleness is to be adopted with him in giving advice, since the hearts of the laypeople change quickly. But if advice is of no benefit and in turning away from him his innovation will seem ugly in his eyes, the desirability of turning away becomes strengthened. But if it is known that this will have no effect on him because of the stubbornness of his nature and the firmness of his belief in his heart, it is [still] better to avoid him because when showing disgust at innovation is not stressed upon, it will spread amongst people and its corruption will become widespread.

As for the one who sins in terms of practice and action, not in belief, he is not devoid of it either being such that others are harmed by it, like oppression, usurpation, false witness, backbiting, stirring up between people, carrying tales, and the likes of these which are not limited to him but harms others [or not]; and this divides into that which invites others to evil like the owner of a pub who brings together men and women and facilitates the means for drinking and corruption for the corrupt people; or it does not invite others to the act, like the one who drinks and fornicates. This – the one that does not invite others – its sin is either major or minor, and in each one he may either be persistent on it or not.

From these divisions, three types are achieved, and each type has a level, some of which are more severe than the others, so we will not follow the same path in all.

The first type, and that is the worst of them, is the one that people are harmed by, like oppression, usurpation, false testimony, backbiting and carrying tales. It is best to turn away from them, not mix with them, and to hold back from dealing with them, because the sin that goes back to harming people is severe. Further, they divide into those who cause injustice in blood and to those who cause injustice in property and those who cause injustice in honour, some being worse than others. The desirability of dishonouring them and turning away from them is emphasised a lot, and whenever deterrence of them or others is expected from dishonouring [them], the matter in this is even more emphasised and stronger.

Second, the owner of the pub who facilitates the means to sin and makes the paths towards it easy for people. He does not harm people in their present life, but by his action destroys their religion, even if it accords with their desires. Thus, it is close to the first but less than it, because a sin between the Slave and Allāh (Exalted is He) is more likely to be pardoned. But since it, in general, extends to others, it is severe. Thus this too demands dishonouring, turning away and disassociation, and to not answer the salām when one feels there will be some degree of deterrence to him or another.

The third is the one who commits debauchery by himself, in drinking wine, leaving out an obligation, or perpetrating an evil that is limited to himself. The matter in this is lighter, but at the time of committing it, if discovered, it is necessary to stop him with something that will make him desist from it, even if it is hitting and belittling, because prohibiting evil is obligatory. But once he finishes from it, and one knows that is from his normal practice and he is persistent on it, if he is sure that advising him will stop him from going back to it, giving advice is necessary, and if he is not sure but he hopes, it is best to give advice and scold him with gentleness, or with harshness if that will be more beneficial.

As for avoiding answering his salām, and holding back from mixing with him since he knows that he will persist and that advice will not be of benefit to him, this is something in which there is consideration, and the ways of the Scholars in this differ. The truth is that this differs based on the varying intention of a person. Thus, at this juncture it will be said: “Actions are based on intentions”; since in gentleness and looking with the eye of compassion at creation there is a degree of humbleness, and in harshness and turning away, there is a degree of deterrence. The one asked for a verdict on this is the heart. That which he finds to be closer to his passion and the demand of his nature, it is best to [do] its opposite, since belittling him and being harsh with him may be on account of arrogance and vanity and deriving enjoyment from showing superiority and showing off one’s piety; while one’s gentleness may be on account of sycophancy and attracting his heart to achieve one’s own interests, or for fear of the consequence to one’s reputation and wealth of being alienated and estranged [from him] based on a near or distant speculation – all of this is wavering based on allusions of Satan, and far removed from the Acts of the People of Ākhirah.

Those who desire to [practice on] acts [required by] religion apply judgement with respect to themselves in investigating these subtleties and monitoring these states. The heart is the one that issues a decree in this, and it may acquire the truth in its judgement and it may not. One may proceed in following his desire while knowing this, and he may proceed while in a delusionary state believing he is acting for Allāh and treading the path of ākhirah. An explanation of these subtleties will come in the Book of Delusion in the Quarter on Destroyers.

The matter being lighter for sinfulness that is limited [to the sinner himself], and when it is between the Slave and Allāh (Exalted is He), is indicated by what has been narrated that a drinker of wine was struck several times before the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and he kept going back [to it], so one of the Companions said: “Allāh curse him, how much he drinks!” The Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “Do not be a support for the Satan over your brother,” or an expression of this meaning. This was an indication that going easy is better than cruelty and being harsh [in such a case].

(Iḥyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn, Dār al-Minhāj, 4:43-57)

Those who Categorise Bid’ah into Good and Evil] [In regards to] his statement “every bid’ah is misguidance”, ‘Ali al-Qari’ said: In al-Azhar it says, “This means every evil bid’ah is misguidance, due to his (upon him blessing and peace) statement ‘One who establishes a good practice (sunnatan hasana) in Islam, he will have its reward and the reward of those who practice it.’[1] Abu Bakr and ‘Umar collected the Qur’an, Zayd wrote it in the mushaf and it was reworked in the time of ‘Uthman.”[2]

Al-Nawawi said: “Bid’ah is everything done without a prior example and, in the Shari’ah, it is an invention of that which did not exist in the era of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). And his statement, ‘Every bid’ah is misguidance’ is a general [statement that is] qualified (‘amm makhsus).

Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din ibn ‘Abd al-Salam said at the end of Kitab al-Qawa’id: ‘Bid’ah is either obligatory (wajib) like learning Nahw to understand the words of Allah and His Messenger, the composition of Usul al-Fiqh and the discourse of narrator-criticism (al-jarh wa l-ta’dil); or prohibited (haram) like the path of the Jabariyyah, the Qadariyyah, the Murji’ah, the Mujassimah, and refuting these groups is from the obligatory bid’ahs because the protection of the Shari’ah from these bid’ahs is a communal obligation (fard kifayah); or recommended (mandub) like creating an endowment or [creating] schools, and every performance of a good deed not known in the early period, and like Tarawih i.e. in a general congregation, and the discourse of the minutiae of the Sufis; or disliked (makruh) like decorating mosques and adorning mushafs [meaning according to Shafi’is, as according to Hanafis it is permissible]; or permissible (mubah) like shaking hands after Subh and ‘Asr [i.e. also according to Shafi’is for otherwise according to Hanafis it is disliked], increasing delicacies in food and drink and making houses spacious, and extending [one’s] sleeves. And some of these have been disputed [i.e. as we previously set forth].’

Al-Shafi’i said, ‘That which is invented from whatever conflicts with the Book, the Sunnah, the narration (athar) or ijma’, is misguidance, and that which is invented of good from whatever does not conflict with any of these, it is not blameworthy.’ ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) said about the standing [in prayer] during Ramadan ‘a wonderful bid’ah!’” This is the end of the statement of Shaykh [al-Nawawi] in Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa l-Lughat.

It was narrated from ibn Mas’ud: “Whatever the Muslims deem to be good is good according to Allah.” And in a marfu’ hadith [it states]: “My Ummah will not agree on misguidance.” [All] this was [mentioned] in [al-Qari’s] Mirqat.

[Imam Al-Shatibi’s Response to the Categorisers]

The Muhaqqiq [verifier] al-Shatibi, in the third chapter of the first volume of Kitab al-I’tisam, discussed the statement of Shaykh ‘Izz al-Din and his student al-Qarafi in categorising bid’ah, that “this is not indicated by a proof from the Shari’ah, neither from the texts of the Shari’ah nor from its principles, since if something from the Shari’ah proved the obligation, recommendation or permissibility [of an act] it would not then be a bid’ah. It would be an act included in the generality of actions that are prescribed, or those in which an option is given. Thus, combining in these matters between bid’ah and the evidences proving their obligation, recommendation or permissibility is a combination between two mutually exclusive things. As for the disliked (makruh) from the divisions and the prohibited (haram), it is conceded from one perspective that they are [divisions of] bid’ah, [but] not from another perspective, since if an evidence were to prove that an act is prohibited or disliked that would not substantiate it being a bid’ah, due to the possibility that it is a sin (ma’siyah) like murder, theft, drinking wine etc., so this [kind of] division is not considered in bid’ah; however, [the division of] disliked and prohibited [is acceptable in bid’ah] according to how it is cited in a particular topic. Hence, what al-Qarafi mentioned from the scholars regarding agreement on the condemnation of bid’ahs is correct, and the manner in which he divided it is incorrect.

“Astonishingly, he related agreement [on this division] despite having encountered opposition and despite his knowledge of what this entails in breaking ijma’. It appears as though he only followed in this division his teacher without deliberation, since ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, as is apparent from him, designated al-masalih al-mursalah (public interests lacking specific proofs) as bid’ahs, building on [the premise], and Allah knows best, that they are not included in their individual parts under specific texts, although it agrees with the principles of the Shari’ah. Hereof, he made the principles as the signifiers of them [i.e. al-masalih al-mursalah] being approved by designating them using the term “bid’ahs” and this is from the perspective of the absence of specific evidence on the issue and approval of them from the perspective of their inclusion under principles [of public interest]. And since he built [this] on [the premise] of depending on those principles, they are equal according to him to actions included under specific texts, and he became one of those expressing [the principle of] al-masalih al-mursalah, but he called them bid’ahs in phraseology just as ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) designated the gathering for standing [in prayer] during Ramadan in the mosque as a bid’ah, [the explanation of] which is to come if Allah (Most High) wills.[3]

“As for al-Qarafi, he has no excuse in transmitting these divisions in a manner not intended by his teacher or [in a manner] intended by people, because he opposed everybody in that division. Thus, he became one who opposed ijma’.

Al-Shatibi verified in this book of his all that pertains to the exposition of the definitions of bid’ah, its types, its rules and its being blameworthy deviance, and he removed every doubt the innovators attach to it in a manner not [requiring] any addition to it.[4] So all praise belongs to Allah and all reward is from Him.

Verification of the Meaning of Bid’ah and its Definitions: A Brief Study

The weak servant (Allah pardon him) concluded from the words of our teachers and their instructions that:

The starting point in legal bid’ah (bid’ah shar’iyyah) is the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), “he who innovates in this matter of ours what is not from it, is rejected.” The meaning of “matter” as they expressed it is that [bid’ah] is not used unconditionally except for matters invented in the religion, not for every matter that is invented.[5] As such, the likes of increasing dishes, vehicles and other such things from permissible matters, are excluded. Rather, some of the formalities which people do not do in order to seek nearness [to Allah] and seek reward are also [excluded] from the definition of legal bid’ah (bid’ah shar’iyyah), although it is included in linguistic bid’ah (bid’ah lughwiyyah), since these acts are not carried out by those who carry them out while believing and intending them to be from the religion. Thus, they are not at all from inventions in the religion. Likewise, his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) statement “what is not from it” indicates that the matters which have a basis in the Book or his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) sunnah or from the example of the rightly guided caliphs, or from the normal activities of the generality of the predecessors (salaf) (Allah be pleased with them), or the valid legal judgement (al-ijtihad al-mu’tabar) with its preconditions based on the texts are not designated as innovations or legal bid’ah, since these sources are all from the religion textually (tansisan) or by inference (ta’lilan), as has been stipulated in its place.

[The Innovations of the Caliphs]

Al-Shatibi said, “From the speech of the rightly guided caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Allah have mercy on him) which the ‘ulama took an interest in and preserved and [which] would please Malik (Allah have mercy on him) much is that he said ‘Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the rulers after him introduced [many] practices (sunan). Adopting them is a confirmation of the Book of Allah and completion of obedience to Allah and strength in the religion of Allah. No one has [the right] to change and alter them or consider something contradicting them. He who acts upon them is guided and he who seeks assistance by means of them will be helped, and he who opposes them follows other than the way of the believers and Allah will turn him to that which he has turned and make him enter hell; and it is an evil resort [based on Qur’an 4:115].’ It is deserving that this [statement] be pleasing to them [i.e. the ‘ulama], for it is a brief statement combining beautiful principles from the sunnah.

“From these [beautiful principles] is what we are [discussing] here because his statement ‘No one has [the right] to change and alter them or consider something contradicting them’ is decisive about the entire matter of innovation. His statement ‘He who acts upon them is guided…’ to the end of the statement, is praise for the adherent of the sunnah and condemnation of one who opposes it, using as a proof that which indicates this, that is Allah’s statement (Glorified is He) ‘And whoever acts hostilely to the Messenger after that guidance has become manifest to him, and follows other than the way of the believers, We will turn him to that to which he has (himself) turned and make him enter hell; and it is an evil resort.’ (4:115)

“From these [principles] is that which the rulers over the matter [of Islam] practiced after the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), it is a sunnah, containing no bid’ah at all, even if a specific text from the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is unknown, since what proves it [being sunnah and not bid’ah] in general has been transmitted, that is the text of the hadith of al-‘Irbad ibn Sariyyah (Allah be pleased with him) where he said therein: ‘Adhere to my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided Caliphs and cling to it with your molars. Be wary of newly-invented matters.’ Hence, he (upon him be peace), as you see, yoked together the sunnah of the righteous caliphs and his sunnah and [said] that part of adherence to his sunnah is adherence to their sunnah, that innovations are contrary to this and are not from them at all. [This is] because they (Allah be pleased with them), in what they practiced, were either following the sunnah of their Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) itself or following what they understood from his sunnah in general and the elaboration of the manner [of this understanding] is hidden to others. This kind of [action] is not an increase on [the sunnah], and its clarification is to come, by the power of Allah. [The clarification] of [which is]: Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim transmitted from Yahya ibn Adam about the statement of the pious predecessors ‘the sunnah of Abu Bakr and Umar’ that the meaning of it is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) died while he was on that sunnah and that the statement of another is not required along with the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). What he said is correct in itself for it is from that which the hadith of al-‘Irbad (Allah be pleased with him) bears out. There is, therefore, no excess to what has been established in the Prophetic sunnah, but [since] it is feared that it may be abrogated by another sunnah, the ‘ulama depend on the consideration of the actions of the caliphs after him to know that that is the [sunnah] which the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) died upon and nothing abrogated it, because they would take the latest matter from his command.” [Here] ends [the quote from al-Shatibi].

[The Meaning of Legal Bid’ah]

The upshot is that legal bid’ah is an invented matter which does not have substantiation from the four sources of the religion, while believing it to be from the religion, and something in which one expects to be rewarded from Allah and gain good deeds. According to this, whatever the Lawgiver commanded as an obligation or recommendation of seeking knowledge, memorising it, spreading it, supporting the religion, defending it, purifying the souls and refining them[6], if its compliance in this age is dependent on acquiring the ways and means which the predecessors (salaf) could do without, due to reasons and states specific to them, like the composition of the sciences and compilation of books, building schools in specific ways etc. taking up these means is not from legal bid’ah. It is established in Usul al-Fiqh that that which an obligation is not completed except by means of it, it is itself obligatory and whatever something prescribed depends on, it too is prescribed, so it is a part of the religion by judgement, and is not from innovation in the religion of that which is not from it.[7]

This is similar to a doctor instructing a patient to use a certain ointment which is not found in the market, so the patient took all of its ingredients without excess or shortage and proportioned it into a good standing ointment by himself. Preoccupation with the principles of proportioning and working the mind to [acquire] its methods, although it is not part of what the doctor explicitly instructed, it is nonetheless included in it by judgement, as is clear. Yes, if he increased in the mixture of the medicine or decreased from it, or changed the medicine for another medicine or changed the times of its use or freely chose its measurements, for example, in spite of the instruction of the doctor treating [him], then in this there is opposition to his instruction and interference in his job which is not for others to interfere in.

This is the condition of the laws of the Shari’ah: it is not permitted to add to them or decrease from them, or take them out of their times and limits, or restrict something general or generalise something restricted, or specify its modalities and modes by mere opinion and guesswork.

[The Etymology of Bid’ah]

The Muhaqqiq al-Shatibi said in al-I’tisam, “The root [meaning] of the root [letters] bd is to invent something without a past precedent. Hereof is His statement, (Most High) ‘Originator (badi’) of the Heavens and earth. When He decrees a thing, He says unto it only: Be! and it is.’ (2:117, 6:101) i.e. their inventor without a past precedent, and His statement (Most High) ‘Say: I am no new thing (bid’) among the messengers (of Allah)’ (46:9) i.e. I was not the first to come with a message from Allah to [His] servants, rather many Messengers came before me. It is said ‘such and such a person innovated a bid’ah’ i.e. he invented a method not preceded by one who preceded [him]; and it is said ‘this is a novel (badi’) matter’ in regards to something considered good which has no precedent in [its] goodness, so it is as though nothing that is similar to it or resembling it preceded it. From this meaning, bid’ah was called bid’ah. Thus, its extraction in order to practice it is an innovation (ibtida’), its mode is a bid’ah, and the action done in this way is called bid’ah. In this sense, the action which has no evidence in the Shari’ah is called bid’ah which is the generalised usage of a linguistically more restricted [meaning] in accordance with how it is mentioned by the power of Allah.” Then he said, “Bid’ah is, therefore, an invented method in the religion which resembles [the prescribed law of] the Shari’ah, by the performance of which is sought an excess in devotion to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He).”

[Relative Bid’ah (al-bida’ al-idafiyyah)][8]

Then he said in another place, “Often an action is originally licit but begins to take the course of bid’ah. The explanation of this is that an action that is recommended, for example, and a performer performs it in the privacy of his own [space] upon its first assignment of recommendation. If the performer restricts [himself] to this degree there is no harm and it takes its course [of recommendation] when he remains on this in his private [space] without persistently exhibiting it. Rather, when he exhibits it, he does not exhibit it as the ruling of the persistent acts like the regular sunnahs and the compulsory obligations. This, then, is sound and there is no problem in it. The basis of this is the recommendation of Allah’s Messenger of concealing supererogatory [prayers] and performing [them] within the houses. His statement, “The best of prayers is your prayer in your houses besides the prescribed [prayers]” limits exhibition [of prayer] to the obligations, as you see, even if this was in his mosque, in the Sacred Mosque or in the mosque of Jerusalem to [the extent that] they [i.e. the jurists] said that supererogatory [prayer] in the house is better than it is in one of these three mosques as is required by the outward [meaning] of the hadith. The sunnahs like the two Ids, the Eclipse Prayer (al-khusuf), the Rain Prayer (al-istisqa) and those resembling them take the course of the obligatory prayers in exhibition. The ruling of concealment remains in [prayers] besides these, and hereof the pious predecessors (Allah be pleased with them) persevered in the concealment of [good] deeds in what they were able as it was easy for them to follow [his] tradition and his practice (upon him be peace) because he is the example and the standard.”

He said, “The reason for innovation being included here is that all that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) persisted in of supererogatory [prayers] and exhibited them in congregations, they are sunnah, so performing a supererogatory [prayer] which is not sunnah in the manner a sunnah is performed is removal of the supererogatory [prayer] from the place specified for it in the Shari’ah. Moreover, as a consequence of this, the laity and those who have no knowledge about it believe that it is a sunnah and this is a great iniquity, because believing of what is not a sunnah [to be a sunnah] and performing it to the degree a sunnah is performed is akin to changing the Shari’ah, just as if it is believed about an obligation that it is not an obligation or what is not an obligation that it is an obligation and then this is practiced in accordance with one’s belief, for indeed that is an iniquity. Thus, an action originally begins correctly, then its removal from its place by belief and practice is a kind of corruption of the laws of the Shari’ah.”

He said in another place, “Of the relative bid’ahs (al-bida’ al-idafiyya) which are close to actual [bid’ah] is that the origin of the [act of] worship is licit but it is removed from its original legislation without evidence, imagining that it remains upon its original [ruling] under the requirement of the evidence, and that [i.e. relative bid’ah] is by restricting the generality of these [rulings, based] on opinion or generalising its restriction. In sum, it is removed from its limit to [another] limit.”

He said, “From this [kind of bid’ah] is specifying virtuous days with various types of worship which have not been specifically legislated like specifying a certain day with such and such rak’ats or with such and such charity or a specific night with standing such and such rak’ats or completing the Qur’an in it or whatever resembles that, since that specification and acting upon it, when it is not because of the rule of expediency or by an objective the like of which is intended by those of intellect, free-time and activity, it is an excess legislation. There is no proof in support of it in saying that the virtue of this time is established over other than it so it is good to place rituals in it because we say: Is this goodness established on a sound basis or not? If it is established, then that is our opinion just as it is established in the standing of the nights of Ramadan and the fasting of the three days of every month and fasting Monday and Thursday, and if it is not established, then what are you relying on in this? The intellect does not deem [something] good or bad and the Shari’ah does not support it, so nothing remains but it being an innovation in that specification.”

[Implications of Tark (not doing something)]

He said in another place, “Here is a principle on this matter [of tark], may Allah benefit by it those who are just to themselves, which is that silence of the Lawgiver on the ruling of an issue or leaving something is of two types:

“One of them is that he remains silent about it or leaves it because there is no incentive to it, requiring it; [and there is] no necessitating [factor] due to which it was assigned and a cause for it being assigned did not occur. [This is] akin to the legal cases (nawazil) that occurred after the death of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) because they were non-existent. Moreover, he remained silent about them despite their coming into existence, as they only occurred [as legal cases] after that [i.e. his death]. Thus, the scholars of Shari’ah need to examine them and apply them in accordance with what is evident from the universals by which the religion was perfected. All that the pious predecessors deliberated on of that which is not from the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) practice, in a specific [manner] of which the meaning is intelligible, refers to this type. When the causes of this type occur, it is necessary to look into it and apply it in accordance with its principles if it is from the customs, or from the rituals which cannot be limited to what was transmitted, like the rules of forgetfulness (al-sahw wa l-nisyan) in the performance of rituals. There is no problem in this type because the principles of the Shari’ah are available and the underlying causes of these rules were not there in the age of revelation so silence about them specifically is not a ruling requiring permission to leave [the act] or anything else. Rather, when the cases are presented it is referred back to its principles and it will be found by means of them. None besides a mujtahid can find it and only the mujtahids characterised by knowledge of Usul al-Fiqh can find it.

“And the second type is that the Lawgiver is silent about a specific ruling or leaves a matter from the matters, and its necessitating factor that requires it is present, and its underlying cause in the age of revelation and in the time after it was existent and established, but an additional command to what is the general law in the likes of it was not specified therein and there was no decrease from it. Since the factor necessitating the legalisation of the specific rational ruling was existent and then it was not legislated and no attention was paid to its extraction, it would be clear that any excess to what is established here is a superfluous bid’ah and contrary to the intent of the Lawgiver, since it is understood that he intended to halt at what is defined [in the Shari’ah] with no addition to it and no subtraction from it.”

Then he said, “Indeed, here, silence over the ruling of the performance of an act or leaving [it] when the factor demanding it is present, is [equivalent to] the consensus of all who are silent that there is no excess to what was, since if that [excess] was suitable according to the Shari’ah or permissible they would have done it, and they would be more deserving of comprehending it and beating [us] in practicing it, because it is not correct that the legal cause was ineffective in the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the caliphs after him and then it came into effect . For this [reason] Malik said, ‘Do you believe people today are more desirous of good than those who have passed?’”[9]

In sum, all good is in the sunnah and following the pious predecessors who are stars of guidance and signposts of integrity. “After the Truth what is there saving error? How then are ye turned away?” (10:32)

[The Hadith “Whatever the Muslims deem to be good is good according to Allah”] [It is mentioned in Majalis al-Abrar:] [In the subject] of innovation, [according] to a learned scholar (fadil): It remains for us to verify [the narration] ‘whatever the Muslims deem to be good…’ to its end, since many people have become accustomed to adducing this narration as proof for the non-detestability of what they have become accustomed to of bid’ahs. This deduction is incorrect. The hadith is against them, not for them, because it is part of a hadith halted at ibn Mas’ud (mawquf ‘ala bni mas’ud), narrated by Ahmad, al-Bazzar, al-Tabrani and others as such: “Indeed Allah (Most High) looked at the hearts of the servants and chose Muhammad and sent him with His message. Then he looked at the hearts of the servants and chose for him companions and made them helpers and supporters of his religion, so whatever the Muslims deem to be good, it is good according to Allah, and whatever the Muslims deem to be bad, it is bad according to Allah.”

There is no doubt that the definite particle (lam) in “the Muslims” is not for the entirety of the genus, so it is not contrary to his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) statement “My nation will divide into 73 groups all of which are in the Fire except one” because every group from the Muslim nation believe its religious character is good, by which it is necessitated that no group of them will be in the Fire, and likewise some Muslims deem something good while others deem it bad, so it results in good being indistinguishable from bad.

Thus, [the definite particle] is either for particularity (‘ahd) and the particularised object (ma’hud) is what he mentioned in his statement “and chose for him companions”, in which case the intended meaning would be the Muslims from the Companions only; or for encompassment (istighraq) of the special features (khasa’is) of that genus so by Muslims is meant the people of sound judgement (ijtihad) who have perfected the attribute of Islam, turning the general (mutlaq) into the perfect (kamil) because the general in the absence of a qualifier turns into the perfect particular (fard kamil) which is the mujtahid [in this case], thus it becomes ‘whatever the Companions or the people of sound judgement deem to be good is good according to Allah and whatever the Companions or the people of sound judgement deem to be bad is bad according to Allah’; and it is possible that [the definite particle] is for actual encompassment so the meaning becomes ‘whatever all the Muslims deem to be good or bad is as such according to Allah’, and whatever is disputed, attention then is given to the three generations whose greatness has been corroborated [in the hadiths]. [End of quote from Majalis al-Abrar] [Hafiz Al-Lakhnawi wrote after quoting the above:] The most obvious and correct of the three interpretations of the definite particle is the first interpretation as indicated by the fa (so) prefixed to “whatever the Muslims deem to be good.” The latter two interpretations would be considered if the speech was without fa or was with waw (and) as is commonly used on their tongues, and since [this is] not [the case, that is] not [considered].

A group have attributed this hadith to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and said Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said “Whatever the Muslims deem to be good is good according to Allah.” From them is Imam al-Razi in al-Tafsir al-Kabir and al-‘Ayni in Sharh al-Hidayah and others from its commentators. However, ibn Nujaym said in al-Ashbah wa l-Naza’ir: Al-‘Ala’i said, “I did not find a basis for it in marfu’ form in any of the books of hadiths or with a weak chain after lengthy research and much investigation and inquiry, and it is only one of the sayings of ibn Mas’ud halted at him (mawquf ‘alayhi).” [Here] ends a summarised [passage on the discussion of this narration] from Tuhfat al-Akhyar by al-Hafiz al-Lakhnawi.[10]

And from what we transmitted to you about this narration you know that the supporters of bid’ahs adhering to it is not justified because it is a narration halted at ibn Mas’ud, and acting on the statement of a Companion and the obligation of practicing it is disputed. Furthermore, the purpose behind it [i.e. the statement] is: whatever they, either all the Muslims or the Companions in particular, agreed upon, is good, as you now from what has preceded. Preserve this for it is beneficial. Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) knows best.

[Conclusion]

By this account which we reviewed from the instructions of our praiseworthy teacher [Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan] and others of the ‘ulama of this field (Allah have mercy on them), it [should] be clear to you, if Allah (Most High) wills, legal bid’ah in its entirety is evil and blameworthy and is not divided into good and bad, or obligatory, recommended and disliked, and other divisions. So his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) statement in the hadith of the chapter “every bid’ah is misguidance” is understood by us as general.

Those who specify it as evil bid’ah and divide bid’ah into types seem not to have been over particular about the use of this word and they shifted from the legal definition to the linguistic definition and construed it as legal[11], as the statement of al-Zurqani in Sharh al-Mawahib indicates where he said: “It is linguistically what is done without a past precedent and is used in the Shar’iah in this sense also. It divides into obligatory [bid’ah] like knowledge of the evidences of the dialectical theologians (mutakallimin) to refute the atheists and innovators; recommended, like compiling books, building schools and endowments; permissible, like expanding foods and drinks; prohibited, like errors produced in [the recitation of] the Qur’an; and disliked, like the effect of something the detestability of which is proven textually.” Al-Nawawi said, “the hadith is from the general [statement that is] qualified and this is not negated by its emphasis on ‘all’, because that does not prevent qualification as [in] His statement (Most High) ‘Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord’ (46:25)[12].” And Allah (Glorified and High is He) knows best what is right.

Fath al-Mulhim, vol 5, pp. 328-336