Archive for the ‘Novelties’ Category

What is Sunna and what is not

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

An article I read suggests that a congregational supplication after a prayer is discouraged, because neither the Prophet (PBUH) nor the Sahaba (his fellows) have done it.

They may not have done it, but the Prophet (PBUH) never said we couldn’t do it. There is a difference between “not practiced” and “forbidden.”

The problem with issues like that one is that the people who rule in such a way, do so out of concern that something which is not Sunna becomes a regular part of Islam in the minds of the masses. That would establish a Bid`a (novelty) in religion, which the Prophet (PBUH) warned us not to do. The solution to this problem, IMHO, is not to forbid what is not forbidden, but to ensure that it doesn’t become a novelty, by deliberately not doing it on a consistent basis.

Scholars have differed on what constitutes a Sunna (Practice of the Prophet). That’s because following the Sunna is a requirement of Islam. Therefore, knowing what is Sunna and what is not becomes of religious essence.

The Sunna is not simply everything that the Prophet (PBUH) said or did or approved or did not disapprove, but rather what he consistently said and did and encouraged us to follow him on. The scholars have attempted to differentiate between the two by classifying the latter as Sunna Mu’akkada (Emphasized practice). That’s fine. Then, what we are required to follow is the emphasized Sunna.

As usual you gave me the words to clarify the issue. Not practiced and forbidden. A world apart. It opens a new universe.

You may already know this hadeeth, but it illustrates the point very clearly. One day, Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed (RA) invited the Prophet (PBUH) and others to dinner. His aunt, Maymoona, had prepared for them a grilled porcupine! Everyone stretched their hands to grab a bite of it, except the Prophet. Khalid’s face paled like he saw a ghost. He said to the Prophet (PBUH), “Is it forbidden, O Messenger of God?” He answered, “No, but I find myself not agreeing with it!” Narrated by Khaalid and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

So, just because the Prophet didn’t do something is no reason for us not to do it. Only if he told us “don’t do it!”, then we will have to stay away from it. It seems obvious, but in these days of massive confusion and disinformation, the obvious needs to be stated!

That is why the world always needs teachers. They are know to excel in one thing: to repeat and repeat and repeat.

We have so much confusion. Our faith is ripe not with bida but cultural and nationalistic nonsense. Yet, the hadeeth of the simple woman who kept repeating her question to the embarrassment of the Prophet (swas) helps us. She wanted an answer, although it was intimate, she would not give up until she gained knowledge.

We need to simplify Islam. We have so much on the agenda. Let’s forget trying to save the universe and remember how to make salat.

On a personal note: Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward you immensely for your kindness to me. I have been given a trial which in turn seems to be a blessing. It has made me reach deep into my being. Kinda sorta letting go of a lot of pretenses in life, too. I heard a sheik relate a hadeeth about the Prophet (swas) telling some Sahaba (ra) sometimes our deen is like a hot coal in our hands. (I have always been the princess who felt the pea at the bottom of ten mattresses). Your kindness is akin to the cool of the fire for Prophet Ibrahim.

A blessed and happy Eid to you and your loved ones.

Thank you for your kind words.

How do you simplify something which both God and His Messenger have repeatedly said was already simple? By removing the fluff and pork that accumulated on it over the centuries. My blog is my humble way of doing that.

Brother,

All I can respond is to write “Blog on baby blog on!” It takes wisdom to understand simplicity. When endeavoring to resolve a complex problem the walls are everywhere. Once we have the solution it is so simple.

Likewise, our faith has been mingled with politics and men of various ambitions. The simple laity is lazy. We want the ends and care little about the means. For those of us who are foolish, we seek the means. It makes for a lonely road. (Cf. Zen/Sufism).

Your blog serves the purpose of giving the readers solutions without having to do all the homework. Blog on baby blog on.

(Trust me, I do take advantage of your wisdom…I am all over the universe in my thoughts and it helps to have some notion of being grounded).

There is no problem in taking a voyage in a hot-air balloon, as long as you can always land safely on earth 🙂

I guess I have a license, then, to keep blogging? LOL.

Celebrating Israa’ and Mi`raaj

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Got a simple question for you. I was reading that many Muslims are going to celebrate the Isra and Miraj of the Prophet, swas, today. I was unaware of the celebration until yesterday. What is your take. I know I have missed the boat on several things in life, but what is going on. It appears there are masjids in the US that will have special prayers. I kinda feel as I am Rip Van Winkle. When did this start?

Happy Israa’ and Mi`raaj to you. There is no official celebration of the occasion; it’s a new practice of many mosques. The more strict Muslims frown on such practice and call it a Bid`a (novelty), and they would be technically correct, but it’s harmless. A get-together of fellow Muslims to commemorate a seminal event in Islam, the highest honor God has given to any creature, and the launch of the prayer, cannot be a bad thing. Besides, my mosque has a program for the kids. They learn and they play.

Is there such a thing as Bida Hasana?

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

There is a hadeeth that says that every bida (novelty) is a misguidance and every misguidance ends up in Hell, right? Yet, I hear the expression “Bida Hasana” (good novelty). Is there such a thing?

As famous as this quote is, it is actually not a hadeeth! It is a saying of Abdullah ibn Mas`ood, may God have been pleased with him, a fellow of the Propeht (PBUH). Some scholars, such as Al-Albaani have rated it authentic, but the consensus is that those words were not of the Prophet, but of Ibn Mas`ood.

A bid`a is a novelty in religion, not any novelty. Things like TV, telephone and cars are novelties, but they are not bida` (plural of bid`a).

What is a novelty in religion? It’s anything that is added to the religion, removed from it or changes it. Saying that the number of prayers is now six, instead of five, would be a bid`a, for instance.

To create a bid`a, one would have to either mandate something that is not mandated, or forbid something that is not forbidden. Only God can mandate or forbid when it comes to religion. By delegation from God, so could the Prophet, peace be upon him.

This is a serious matter. God warns people often in the Quran not to say, “this is allowed and this is not allowed!” Consider,

“And do not say untruth about what your tongues assert, ‘This is lawful and this is unlawful,’ to invent falsehood about God. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about God will not prosper.” (16:116)

and

“Say, ‘Have you seen what God has sent down to you of provision of which you have made [some] lawful and [some] unlawful?’ Say, ‘Has God permitted you [to do so], or do you invent [something] about God?’ ” (10:59)

Despite that, you’ll find many people who feel they can declare things mandated or forbidden based on shaky evidence. By doing so, they risk being mubtadi`a (novelty starters). May God save us from falling in that trap.

So, can there be a good novelty in religion? No! But novelties such as domes on mosques, carpets in mosques, taking the shoes off before entering a mosque, praying Taraweeh at Ramadhaan eves in congregation in the mosque, etc., all are good things, as long as people do not believe they are required by God or by His Messenger.

Speaking of Taraweeh prayers, the Prophet (PBUH) prayed them in congregation in the mosque on the first and second eves of Ramadhaan. On the third eve, he only prayed `Ishaa’ (night prayer) then he went inside his house and did not come out until the Fajr (dawn) prayer! Clearly, he did not want people to get the impression that Taraweeh prayers in the mosque are a Sunna.

The verses you quoted seem to me to disable all fatwas! How can any scholar then rule on a religious matter?

As long as they say, “And God knows best” at the end of their fatwa (ruling), then they are fine. That makes their fatwa an intellectual exercise in logical deduction based on Usool-ul-Fiqh (the discipline of Foundations of Deduction). Most scholars do that.

Muhammad ibn Al-Mubaarak, may God bless his soul, a Taabi`i (second generation) scholar, had a wonderful, but frightening saying. He said, “A scholar enters between God and the servant, so let him seek an exit!”

Novelties about visiting graves

Monday, March 28th, 2011

In my country some people, mostly Barlewi Muslims, do things like commemorating the 40th day after death of a loved one, gathering together, reading the Quran and passing over the blessing to the dead, reciting the Fatiha (Chapter 1) at the grave site.

As far as I know, these things aren’t allowed in Islam. but someone emailed me an article citing many hadeeths which they say support these practices. I’m attaching the article herewith. I know most of those hadeeths, but I don’t see how they can make from them the conclusions they made.

Can we pass good deeds to the dead? The authentic hadeeth about the three things the deceased continue to benefit from does not mention reciting the Quran.

Am I right in considering these acts as biddah (novelty)? If yes, how can convince the Barelwi people?

The article mixes two issues together: (1) the fact that the dead can benefit from good deeds of the living, and (2) that the practice of the 40th day memorial is sanctioned by Islam. The former is true, but the latter is false. You are right that the evidence they quoted you does not prove the 40th day memorial practice. It is a novelty that traces its roots to ancient Egypt.

Supplicating for the dead is a good deed and this is a consensus of the scholars. The Quran makes that clear,
“Our Lord, forgive us and those of our brothers who were ahead of us in faith” (59:10) and the Prophet (PBUH) frequently supplicated, “O God, forgive our living and our dead…”

Muslims are taught to say the phrase “Rahimahullah” (May God have mercy on him) when referring to the dead. Muslims pray a special funeral prayer for a deceased person before he or she is buried.

As for reciting the Quran at a grave, scholars have differed on that. Abu-Haneefa and Mallik did not like it, because the is no Sunna to support it, but Ash-Shaafi`i, Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan, Judge `Iyaadh and Al-Qaraafi all favor it for the blessing it causes. Ibn Hanbal sees no harm in it. Limiting that recital to Al-Faatiha only is a novelty, however.

Lastly, the article has a number of claims too ridiculous to respond to, but I’ll be happy to address them if you need that; things like “start every journey on a Thursday!”

I’m surrounded by religious novelty

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

How do you deal with a community who is full of bidah (religious novelty) and “modernization of Islam”? They are so hard-headed and go against anybody who speaks up against their practices. I have no other options, either be with them or be alone. Isolating oneself, I know, is dangerous but it’s either that or be around bidah, backbiting, etc. How do you deal with this?

God has praised the believers by describing them as a community which “commands what is right and forbids what is wrong.” Da`wa is sometimes needed for Muslims too. You may be just the person they need. Educate yourself well, then argue with them with wisdom and good preaching, giving evidence supporting your argument. Some of them will listen, insha-Allah. If none of them does, then at least you’ve done your duty toward them.

Part of your education is to know what is bid`a and what is not. Don’t just take somebody’s ruling on it; investigate for yourself. The holy Quran and the noble Hadeeth are there available to you, so check it out yourself.

That said, if you are a person who is easily influenced by others, it may not be a good idea for you to stick around them often.

Baraath is a novelty, right?

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

In my country, people celebrate what is called Baraath, which is a devotion that is held on the eve of 15th of Sha`baan (the eighth month in the Islamic calendar). Many folks have told me that it is a novelty and there should not be any special celebration that night.

But, are there any special events that happened on the 15th of Sha`baan?

There are narrations that suggest that the Quran was descended from the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfoozh) on the 15th of Sha`baan in preparation for Archangel Gabriel to reveal it to the Prophet (PBUH). There are also narrations that suggest that the Qibla (prayer direction) toward Mecca was commanded on the 15th of Sha`baan.

Neither narration is authentic enough, to the best of my knowledge. And even if they were, since the Prophet (PBUH) did not celebrate or commemorate that night or day in any special way, we shouldn’t either.