Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunnah or Bid’ah... a doubt ?

If we assume that a doubt does surface regarding an issue and the laymen cannot distinguish between Sunnah and Bid’ah then the obvious and safest path would be to abandon this act and not approach it. If there is a doubt as to whether a thing is bid’ah, Sunnah, Mustahab or permissible then the safest path is to abandon it altogether. There is consensus amongst the Ulama that this is the safest path to tread. In this regard Hadhrat Wabista bin Ma’bad reports from Rasulullaah , “A sin is that which agitates your nafs and places your heart in doubt. Even though people (even ‘muftis’) give you a ruling.” [Ahmed/Darmi/Mishkaat, vol.1, page 242]

Hadhrat Attiyah Assa’di states, “Rasulullaah said, ‘None of you will ever reach the state of piety, until such time that he abandons those things in which there is no harm, because then he will become a means to those things in which there is harm.’” [Tirmidhi / Ibn Majah / Mishkaat, vol. 1, page 242]

Nabi SAWW said to Hadhrat Ma’aaz when he deputed him as a governor to Yemen, “… Without having knowledge, you should never make any decision or ruling. If you are presented with any issue wherein there is doubt, then do not decide until the matter becomes clear or you have written to me.” [Ibn Majah, page 6]

Hadhrat Nu`maan bin Basheer t [passed away 64 A.H.] reports that Nabi said, “Halaal is clear and Haraam is clear. Between these two there are things which are doubtful, of which many people are unaware. The person who saves himself from these doubtful things has saved his Deen and honour and whosoever indulges in them, then (it is as if) he has indulged in Haraam. Just like the animal that grazes on the edge of the pasture, soon it will trespass.” [Bukhaari, vol. 1, page 13 / Ibn Majah, page 296]

It is crystal clear from these narrations that the only saviour of one’s Imaan and honour insofar as matters of doubt are concerned is to abandon them and not involve oneself in them. One should not destroy one’s everlasting existence by indulging in doubtful acts. One should especially save oneself from indulging in acts which lead to kufr, bid`ah and deviation. In fact, Nabi SAWW has expressly stated that one should avoid doubtful things. In this regard, Hadhrat Hasan bin Ali [passed away 50 A.H.] stated that Nabi said, “Leave that in which there is doubt for that wherein there is no doubt, because in goodness there is contentment and in evil, doubt.” [Mustadrak, vol. 2, page 12]

It is clearly stated in one Hadith that Nabi loved beginning things from his right. With regard to this, Hadhrat Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood t said, “None of you should leave any portion of his Salaat for shaitaan. Upon completing your Salaat on your left, do not make it binding upon yourself to turn around (only) to the right, because I witnessed Rasulullaah SAWW also turning to his left side.” [Agreed Upon Mishkaat, vol. 1, page 78]

In commenting on this Hadith, the famous Muhaqqiq, Allamah Muhammad Taahir Hanafi (rahmatullah alayh) [passed away 986 A.H.] stated, “That person who insists upon a Mandoob or Mustahab act such that he makes it binding and never wavers from it, then it is as though shaitaan has placed him on the road of deviation. What is the condition of that person who persists on bid`ah and evil.” [Majma`ul Bahaar, vol. 244]

The same views are shared by Allamah Teebi Al-Hanafi [passed away 743 A.H.] in the Sharah of Mishkaat and Hadhrat Mullah Ali Qaari (rahmatullah alayhima) in Mirkaat [page 353, vol. 2], which clearly proves that whosoever persists on Mandoob or Mustahab, such that they never practice against it, are under shaitaan’s influence, and he shares a part of their deed. Allamah Barkali Al-Hanafi (rahmatullah alayh) [passed away 981A.H.] writes, “Know that to execute an act of Bid`ah is worse than omitting a Sunnah. The proof is that the Fuqahaa (rahmatullah alayh) have stated that if a doubt occurs between any act being either Sunnah or Bid`ah, then it is necessary to omit such an act.”

It is stated in Fatawa Aalamgiri, “That which hangs between (being) Sunnah or Bid`ah must be abandoned.” [Aalamgiri, vol. 1, page 179]

Allamah Shaami (rahmatullah alayh) states, “If any issue hinges between being (either) Sunnah or bid`ah, then to abandon a Sunnah is preferable to executing a bid`ah.” [Shaami, vol. 1, page 200]

Qaadhi Ebrahim Saheb Al-Hanafi (rahmatullah alayh) states, “That thing in which there is a doubt between it being either a Sunnah or bid`ah, should be abandoned, because it is necessary to abandon bid`ah and it is not incumbent to practice upon a Sunnah.” [Nafaaisul Azhaar, Tarjuma Majaalisul Abraar, page 129]

In fact, Allamah Ibn Nujaim Al-Hanafi (rahmatullah alayh) writes, “It is necessary to abandon that Waajib act, just as is with a Sunnah, if there appears a doubt between it and a bid`ah.” [Bahrur Raa`iq, vol. 2, page 165]

This text makes it abundantly clear that if by executing an act from the angle of it being a Sunnah, but a bid’ah necessarily results from it, then it becomes necessary to abandon that act altogether. That Sunnah will be omitted because it gives rise to a bid’ah. Leave alone Sunnah acts, if this applies to even Waajib acts, then they too should be abandoned. This is done so as not to spread and propagate a bid’ah. Bid`ahs are so abhorred in Islam that they are not be offered any leeway at all. In order to prevent a bid’ah from being propagated and spread, Sunnah, Mustahab and even Waajib acts are sacrificed!

O readers! If you understand properly the meaning of obedience to Allaah Ta`ala and if you love Nabi SAWW, then there is only one path to follow --- that is the Sunnah of Nabi SAWW, and to tread the footsteps of the Sahaabah , Tabieen and Tabe Tabieen (rahmatullah alayhim). Adopt those beliefs and practices which they adhered to. It should not be that you are as the words of Hadhrat Abdullaah ibn Umar state (which in reality are the words of Nabi SAWW), that you gather in the Masjid and are deprived of Imaan, “Such a time will dawn on people where they will gather in the Musaajid, whilst they are devoid of Imaan.” [Mustadrak, vol. 4, page 443]

This is that very same Ibn Umar t who walked out of a Masjid because they practiced tathweeb. In summary, even the smallest of acts is beneficial if executed with sincerity and in accordance to the Sunnah. On the other hand, even the greatest of deeds which is carried out whilst the heart accommodates shirk and bid’ah, means nothing in the Sight of Allaah Ta`ala.

May Allaah Ta`ala grant us all sincerity of intentions and proper following of the Sunnah.

by Shaykh Sarfraz Khan Safdar

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