How Can I Distinguish between Good and Bad Innovation?

Answered by Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Kharsa


How can I distinguish between good and bad innovation (Bid‘a Hasana) and bad innovation (Bid‘a Sayyi’a)


Innovation (Bid‘a), as defined by scholars, is the introduction of practices that were not present during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Innovations are divided into good (Hasana) and bad (Sayyi’a). To discern between them, one should compare the innovation against the general principles and foundations of Shari‘a. If it aligns with them, it is considered a good innovation, like gathering people for tarawih prayers. If it contradicts them, it is a bad innovation, like excessively decorating mosques.

This classification is understood from the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever introduces into this matter of ours (Islam) something that does not belong to it, it is to be rejected.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

His statement, “something that does not belong to it,” restricts the rejected innovations to those that are contrary to Shari‘a. Innovations that are in accordance with shari‘a are not rejected.

Regarding “Every Innovation is a Misguidance”

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and send him peace) said, “Every innovation is a misguidance” [Muslim]

This is a general statement with specific exceptions. It refers to the majority of innovations, not all.

Imam al-Badr al-Ayni said: “Innovation is of two types: if it falls under something that is deemed commendable in Shari‘a, then it is a good innovation. If it falls under something that is deemed reprehensible in Shari‘a, then it is a bad innovation.” [‘Ayni, ‘Umdat al-Qari]

[Shaykh] Abdul Rahman al-Kharsa

Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Kharsa is a Syrian scholar, born in Damascus in 1971. He obtained his degree in the Arabic Language from the University of Damascus. He received his Islamic education from some of the most prominent scholars of Sham, including Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Taj al-Din al-Kittani, Shaykh Muhammad Karim Rajeh, Shaykh Bashir al-Bari, Shaykh Ibrahim al-Hindi, Shaykh Hisham al-Salahi, among others.

He memorized the Holy Quran and studied the ten Qira‘at (recitations) through the paths of the Shatibiyya and Durra under Shaykh Muhammad Haytham Minini and Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Kurdi.

Shaykh al-Kharsa has taught at Al-Azhar University in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon. He established Quranic centers in several areas in Lebanon and manages a Quranic center in Istanbul, where he is involved in Quran memorization programs and delivers public and private lessons.

He teaches in the Ijaza system at Dar al-Fuqaha in Turkey. His work also includes scholarly research, particularly in verifying texts within the Hanafi school. Notably, he has done the tahqiq of renowned works such as “Tanwir al-Absar” and “Jami‘ al-Bihar” by Imam al-Tumurtashi. May Allah preserve him and continue to make his efforts fruitful.