Do I Need a Proof to Recite the 99 Names and the Throne Verse in a Specific Manner?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Is it a bad innovation to recite the 99 names of Allah,to recite a name of Allah for a fixed number or to recite the verse of the Throne after every obligatory prayer?

Answer: Assalamu ‘alaykum,

I hope you are well.

General Principle

One does not need a specific proof to recite verses, supplications, invocations, or litanies, for which a general proof already exists.

That is, it has already been established by means of general proofs, found in the Qur’an and Prophetic practice, that certain actions – reciting the Qur’an, supplicating to Allah, invoking Him, reciting his beautiful names – are praiseworthy and incur benefit and reward.

Because of this, one does not need a further proof to allow him to choose a specific time, manner, or method by which he goes about accomplishing this.

This has been understood as a general principle; ibn ‘Allān, the 11th C Shafiʿi, records that the 7th C Shafiʿi Sultan of Scholars, Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam, argued that if something is already a sunnah, doing it consistently at specific times only does not remove it from its default ruling, that of being a sunnah action.

Examples of this in Practice

In practice, this rule is known implicitly through our scholarly literature, which contains numerous instances of scholars trying out specific litanies, finding that it has incurred certain benefit in their lives, and then sticking to it as a practice, and encouraging others to do the same.
They then have termed such actions they have adopted ‘tried and tested,’ a designation that would have been superfluous were there to already exist a specific textual evidence for their adopted practice.

Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, the 8th C Hanbali and student of Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyya, in his works dealing with spirituality, includes a number of examples of actions he and his teacher engaged in regularly, for which there were no specific proofs.

For example, in his Provisions for the Hereafter, he mentions that he saw that his teacher, ibn Taymiyya, would take a piece of bread or the like from the house when he was leaving it for the Friday prayer to give secretly in charity on the way. He heard his teacher say: If Allah ordered us to offer something in charity before consulting privately with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then giving charity before doing the same with him, the Most High, should be even better and excellent.

In his Ascension of those on the Path, he mentions that something those on the path have tried and found true is the continued repetition of: Yā hayyu yā qayyūm; lā ilāha illā anta [The Living, the Sustainer! There is no God but You!]; whoever does so, it enlivens their heart and mind. He says that his teacher, may God sanctify his spirit, was greatly enamoured with this; he once told him that these two names have a significant impact on the life of the heart, and would intimate that the two in conjunction are God’s greatest name. He also heard him say: Whoever recites for forty days consistently between the Sunnah and Fard prayers of Fajr: Yā hayyu yā qayyūm; lā ilāha illā anta; bi rahmatika astaghīth [The Living, the Sustainer! There is no God but You! By your mercy do I seek your assistance!]; will have his heart enlivened, and it will not die.

None of the adopted actions above enjoy specific proofs, although there are general proofs. For the last supplication cited above, for example, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported to have recited this very supplication whenever a matter burdened him [Tirmidhī].

However, there is no proof that establishes the way in which this general proof was carried out and encouraged in specific form above. This did not prevent scholars from doing so, and many such examples are found throughout the scholarly literature.

Exceptions to the Principle

While this is a largely agreed upon general principle, there do come about certain actions that, although conforming to what has been established above, are yet considered disliked or impermissible.

This is often because the actions in question are considered to militate against the spirit of the law or Prophetic practice; lead to other actions or scenarios that are disliked or permissible; are related to clearly ritual acts of worship like prayer; are based upon fabricated traditions; or cause confusion for the general populace, who may come to believe that such an action is a specific Sunnah or even obligatory.

Because these are guidelines that can admit interpretation, scholars often disagree over rulings.

In the Shafiʿi school, for example, choosing to pray voluntary prayers at set times, such as on Friday night, is disliked. The Beloved Prayer, 12 units of prayer performed between Maghrib and Isha, the first Friday of the holy month of Rajab, or performing a hundred units of prayer on the middle night of the month of Shaʿban, are both intensely disliked.

Transmitted Supplications and Invocations

It is generally recommended to ensure that one commits to what has already been transmitted from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

For example, reciting the Throne Verse after every prayer is an established Sunnah. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is reported to have said: Whoever recites the Throne Verse after every prayer will have nothing prevent him from paradise save death [Nasāʾī]; and: Whoever recites the Throne Verse after every prayer will be under God’s protection until the next prayer [Tabarānī].

Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Shuaib Ally

Shaykh Shuaib Ally is a scholar who has recently returned to Toronto after completing his studies overseas. He started his studies by completing his MA in Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto in 2008. He went on to study in a number of Islamic disciplines privately with scholars in Saudi Arabia, including Tafsir, Qur’anic Sciences, Shafi’i law, Usul, Hadith, Hadith Methodology, Grammar and Balagha. Shaykh Shuaib currently resides in Toronto.

Are Mawlids Promoting Wrong Beliefs?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. At mawlids, people believe that the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) soul will be present. Is this true?

2. In some mawlids, they say some poetry that basically means, “the provider of provision is Muhammad” Is there any truth to this?

3. Can you stand up to give salam to the Prophet (peace be upon him)?

Answer:Walaikum assalam,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

#1. The Coming of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)

This is not what is commemorated. Rather, it is a celebration of the “coming of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)” to the world—when his noble birth is mentioned.

Related to this is the spiritual notion of the “presence” of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), which isn’t a physical (rather, a metaphysical/spiritual) presence, well-established by hadiths: Can You Please Explain the Belief of The “Presence” of the Prophet?

#2. When sound, such texts indicate “means of…” — because Allah provides assistance or withholds by His love and favouring of elect servants—and the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) is His Most Beloved.

Examples from the Companions:

First Poems of Praise for Prophet Muhammad


#3. Standing up for salams is simply a customary expression of love, respect, and rejoicing. Neither standing nor these emotions are wrong—and there is nothing prohibited about such standing…

This became a norm from the 8th/9th Islamic centuries, and was first performed when the great poet al-Sarsari recited lines of praise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the lesson of Imam Taqi al-Din al-Subki (a great Shafi`i jurist, recognized as a mujtahid). Since then, it has been a widely accepted legal position (if not the predominant, historical, position) that such standing is permitted and praiseworthy.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Touzrimounir

What Is the Ruling of Wiping the Neck in Wudu?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

Many people have said to me that wiping the neck is an innovation and is forbidden.

What is the ruling of wiping the neck in wudu?

Answer: Walaikum salam,

1. Wiping the nape [‘the back part of the neck’ – Webster’s] is recommended. [Nur al-Idah, Durral-Mukhtar, Hadiyya al-Ala’iyya]

2. Wiping the front of the neck is disliked and an innovation. [ibid.]

As for Imam Nawawi’s opinion that it is an innovation due to the evidence for it being excessively weak, this was not accepted by many other hadith experts.

Among the wisdom behind wiping the back of the neck is that it is from completely wiping the head, front and back.

And Allah alone gives success.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani.

Photo: Brocken Inaglory

Did I Commit an Innovation by Following My Parents Advice in Praying Supererogatory Prayers?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam ‘aleykum,

In past Ramadans, I prayed voluntary prayers that had no basis in Islamic law, because my parents said that I would get rewarded for it. Did I commit an innovation?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

It is not an innovation (bid`ah) to pray supererogatory prayers (nafawil). [See: The Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’a]

And Allah alone knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Is It an Innovation to Recite the Qur’an Seeking a Cure?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: I am slowly losing hair on my head, I believe it is hereditary. In any case, I was thinking to recite the three Quls (Ikhlas,Falaq and Nas) three times and blow it on water and wipe my hair with that water in hope to seek blessing and Baraka, and to prevent hair loss by Allah’s word. Would this be blameworthy or bid’ah (innovation)?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

May Allah grant you and your family good health.

Reciting or using the Qur’an, as well as the Divine Names and other supplications, for purposes of seeking a cure, either for oneself or for others, is not blameworthy, nor considered a blameworthy innovation. It is rather considered a Sunnah [Sharh Sahih Muslim].

This is because of the following:

The Qur’an Describes itself as a Cure

The Qur’an describes itself as a cure, saying of itself:

We have sent down of the Qur’an what is a cure and mercy for believers [Quran; 17.82];

Say: It is for those who believe, guidance and a cure [Qur’an; 41.44].

Hadith texts Establish using the Qur’an as a Cure

Numerous narrations establish the permissibility of using the Qur’an to seek a cure. For example:

Aisha (may God be pleased with her) reported that “the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him would recite the Mu’awwidhat [the three final chapters of the Qur’an] over a member of his family who had fallen ill” [Muslim].

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri and Ibn ‘Abbas (may God be pleased with them) both relate narrations that establish that the opening chapter of the Qur’an, the Fatiha, can be used to seek a cure. In it, Abu Sa’id recites the Fatiha to successfully cure a man who had been stung by a scorpion, which they later inform the Prophet (peace be upon him) of. The Prophet (peace be upon him) confirms its use for this purpose, asking rhetorically, “What gave it away that it is an incantation for cure (ruqya)?” [Bukhari].

What about Using other Portions of the Qur’an?

Although these narrations only mention the first and last three chapters of the Qur’an, scholars such as Imam al-Nawawi have understood implicitly from them that it is praiseworthy to use any part of the Qur’an or other supplications as incantations to treat sickness and ills [Sharh Sahih Muslim]. Nawawi reasons that the Prophet’s specifically making use of the Mu’awwidhat was because of their comprehensive natures; in them, a person seeks refuge in God from all undesirable things. It does not, as ibn Hajar also notes, preclude using something else from the Qur’an or supplications that are Prophetic, or do not militate against the spirit of transmitted supplications [Fath al-Bari].

Moreover, one does not need a specific piece of evidence for an act that is does not run contrary to the spirit of the law. Sh. ‘Abd al-Ilah al-‘Arfaj and Dr. Sayf al-‘Asri both note in their works on innovation into the religion that the hadith of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri clearly indicate that he did not have specific guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) on using the Fatiha for a cure before choosing to do so, but was not reprimanded for doing so [Mafhum al-Bid’ah; al-Bid’ah al-Idafiyyah].

For that reason, there is no harm in choosing a portion of the Qur’an or other supplication that one feels inclined towards, and using it to seek a cure, by reciting it or reciting it over oneself or another.

Other Uses of the Qur’an as a Cure

Aside from reciting the Qur’an and blowing over oneself or another, our scholarly tradition allows for other related uses that do not militate against the spirit of the tradition. Ibn al-Qayyim holds that many early scholars considered it permissible to write verses of the Qur’an on paper, the wash the ink off in water and drink it, or give it to another, seeking a cure. They considered this to be part of the cure that God had said he placed in the Qur’an [Zad al-Ma’ad]. He mentions that he once fell ill in Makkah, and found himself without access to doctors or medicine. He would take some zamzam water, recite the Fatiha over it, and drink it; he found that this cured him [al-Tibb al-Nabawi]. Nawawi also mentions the permissibility of doing using the Qur’an in this manner [Majmu’].

It is also permissible to pour such water over the body. It is reported that the Prophet visited Thabit b. Qays, who was ill, and recited, “Remove all harm, Lord of all, from Thabit b. Qays al-Shammas,” then mixed some dirt with water and poured it over him [Sunan Abu Dawud]. Ibn Hajar also favorably records a point Ibn Battal had made regarding reciting the Throne Verse over water and then drinking it or pouring it over a sick person [Fath al-Bari].


Based on the foregoing, it is not blameworthy or an innovation to use the Qur’an in the manner in any of the ways described, seeking refuge in Allah through the recitation, his assistance, blessing, and cure of all ills.

Shuaib Ally

Is Acting on Weak Hadiths an Innovation?

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

Text translated by Sr. Shazia Ahmad

Questions: Why did the scholars who follow madhab allow acting on weak hadith? Isn’t this a gross innovation?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

May His blessings and peace be on His Beloved Prophet, the best of creation, and his family, companions, and followers

There is some detail related to this question. What is established according to the imams is that it is not permissible to rely on weak hadiths to derive legal rulings, for in this regard, one does not act on anything other than rigorously authenticated or sound hadith.

Imam al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, said in his introduction of his work, al-Adhkar, “As for legal rulings, such as what is permissible and what isn’t, in buying and selling and marriage and divorce and the like; one does not act upon anything other than the rigorously authenticated hadith or the sound hadith, unless it is for being scrupulous in something related to legal rulings. For example, if a weak hadith has been related regarding the dislikedness of certain types of sales or marriages [s. one may act upon it to be scrupulous] for it is recommended that one avoid such things, but it is not obligatory.”

However, one who looks in the works of fiqh sometimes sees certain rulings that are seemingly built on weak hadiths, which seems to be problematic with what we have just taken. The answer is that the scholars have great differences of opinions when ruling on a hadith, as its soundness or weakness. So, whoever considered a particular hadith sound, acted upon it, and he who considered it weak, did not act upon it.

Someone who does not have a wide understanding of the Islamic sciences and isn’t aware of who considered those hadith sound, could think that one deduced a ruling from a weak hadith. Meanwhile, this person could be unaware that the scholar who deduced that ruling probably doesn’t consider that hadith to be weak., or is following the ijtihad of those hadith masters and fuqaha’ who consider that hadith sound. And this only is one issue, for there are others.

And another matter is that the scholars could deduce a ruling using legal analogy (qiyas) and other principles of legal deduction, that are established according to the ulema, with the difference of opinion amongst the ulema regarding the various methodological bases, so, once the ruling is derived from analogy, then they find a weak hadith that supports that ruling (which was based on sound evidence), and they mention it as a general support.

[f. The weak hadith is not what established the ruling, it was established, in some cases, by qiyas, or other legal bases for deriving rulings, but the ulema mention the weak hadith afterwards in order to give general support to the ruling. A weak hadith is not necessarily fabricated. All it means is that it has a certain amount of weakness such that we don’t have a level of reasonable surety that it was from the words of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Something that we have reasonable surety of is sound and something of an even higher level of surety would make it sahih.]

And the third matter is that there are certain types of hadith that are considered weak by the hadith experts, like the mursal hadith, which means literally the hanging hadith, in which one of the generations after the Companions, transmitted a hadith from the Prophet leaving out mention of which companion narrated it. In this is a difference of opinion as to whether it is proof or not according to the fuqaha. Generally, the ulema of the hadith do not accept this as a sound hadith, because they look at the text alone. But this is differed upon by the fuqaha. [f. the Hanafis accept mursal hadith, the Malikis generally do, each with their own conditions and the Hanbalis use it more extensively.] So, some scholars permit acting upon the mursal hadith in all cases, [f. like the Hanbalis and to a certain extent the Malikis], because of the proofs they have. And our imam, Imam l-Shafi’i, permits acting upon it with conditions that he established and they are mentioned in the books of Usul (principles of jurisprudence). [The hadith itself according to the standard of hadith experts is weak. But the fuqaha have different standards of accepting and rejecting hadith, even the Shafi’is may accept mursal hadith in certain situations, the Hanafis and Malikis accept them to a certain extent, and the Hanbalis are more extensive in their acceptance of these hadith.]

[Faraz notes: The primary concern of the muhaddith (hadith specialist) is the narration of the hadith and the soundness of the text, itself. The primary concern of the fuqaha’ is the actual meaning established in the hadith and that leads to methodological differences in general between them and the hadith scholars, and more particularly within the schools of Islamic law.]

So the person who doesn’t have a wide understanding and is not aware of these differences could have doubts and things will seem confusing to him. After having written the answer above, I saw that Imam al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, mentioned in his introduction to the Majmu`, his magnificent work of comparative fiqh, an explanation about why Imam al-Shirazi, the author of al Muhadhdhab, on which Imam al-Nawawi wrote his Majmu`, accepted mursal hadith and how he uses them. Imam al-Nawawi actually gave exactly the same two answers that I gave.

The text of his answer is, “The author, [f. Imam al-Shirazi] mentions in his work al-Muhadhdhab many hadith that are mursal and he uses them as proof while it is established that it is not permitted to use them as proof in general, in the Shafi`i school. Some of those mursal hadith have been reinforced by one of the matters that have been mentioned that strengthen a mursal hadith, so it became a proof. And some of the mursal hadith, the author mentioned them for general support of an established ruling, a ruling established derived by analogy and other forms of legal reasoning.”

This is what relates to legal rulings, [f. establishing rulings, establishing something to be haram or permissible, establishing certain types of contracts or marriages, transactions,] as for acting upon weak hadith for virtuous deeds, the established ruling is that it is permitted as long as the hadith is not fabricated or excessively weak. Rather, acting on weak hadith for virtuous deed is recommended as mentioned in al-Adhkar.

According to the very words of Imam al-Nawawi, “The ulema have said, both the fuqaha, the hadith experts and others is that it is permitted, rather recommended to act in virtuous deeds, in acts of exhortation and warning [f. when you encourage something or warn against it]. It is permitted to act upon weak hadith as long as they are not fabricated”.

[Faraz notes: It is noteworthy to mentioned that most of the books of hadith science mention that there are three madhhabs regarding weak hadith. 1) that they can be acted upon unconditionally, 2) that they can be acted upon conditionally, 3) that they cannot be acted upon whatsoever. This is attributed to Qadi Abu Bakr bin Arabi al Maliki, and a few other scholars, including Shaykh al Awamm. Others have indicated that this is not an established position of Qadi Abu Bakr, rather it is based on a weak understanding of his words. The position of Qadi Abu Bakr which was made clear by his hadith commentaries and his work Ahkam al Qur’an and others, is the same as the rest of the scholars. So, no significant scholars of Ahl al Sunna said that it is not permitted to act on a weak hadith and this is understood from the words of Imam al-Nawawi who said, “The scholars said, both the fuqaha, the hadith experts and others”. Which scholars? The generality of scholars. And the other opinion is considered to be weak and inconsequential, just like those who say that in our times you can’t act on weak hadith; they themselves are inconsequential.]

And this acting on weak hadith is not an innovation, contrary to what the questioner asked about, because the texts of the Lawgiver and on His behalf, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, have come with strong encouragement to increase in acts of obedience and to devote one’s time to that and have encouraged us to have fear, in certain texts and in others, to have hope. So whoever acts by a weak hadith in virtuous acts and the like has acted by the general guidance that is established in encouraging good works and virtuous deeds.

All that can be said is that the particular hadith specified something of good work and the like. So if what is understood from this weak hadith goes against what is established by sound hadith, it is agreed that one doesn’t act upon it, and what is the overwhelming situation, in hadiths that are like this, is that it is in itself excessively weak or fabricated. Though if it is not going against the sound hadith then acting upon it doesn’t take one out from acting on the texts that encourage one to do good works.

One thing remains: That which is related in such weak hadith of particular reward for particular actions. Even though we do not say that it is established by the Prophet, our good opinion of the generosity of Allah [f. which knows no limits] for the people of His love and people of His obedience make such a reward not far-fetched, rather we can hope for even more.

[Faraz notes:. From the generosity of ALLah, the Prophet said, the reward of a good deed is ten fold up to seven hundred times that reward to several multiplications thereof. And what is the difference between getting ten times a reward to multiplications of seven hundred? Seven hundred times seven hundred times seven hundred. And how? According to one’s sincerity therein and one’s devotion to Allah. In short, the position of Ahl al Sunna is that people don’t act on weak hadith in rulings. But what is a weak hadith are differed upon by the scholars of Sunni Islam, Certain hadith are considered weak by the generality of the hadith scholars although they themselves differ, but the standards of the fuqaha are somewhat different. Amongst the fuqaha, some consider them to be weak and others don’t because of differences in legal methodology, and these differences in methodology are based on sound understanding, unlike divergences from legal methodology that some contemporaries have, normally those who criticize Sunni Islam So generally, one does not act upon weak hadith to establish rulings except when they indicate precaution or recommendation. And one acts upon them in virtuous deeds and virtuous acts in encouraging and warning and when three conditions are met. First, that it not be excessively weak, secondly, that it return to a general principle within the Shariah, and virtuous deeds do return to a general principle in the Shariah, and of course this second condition presupposes that his hadith not go against anything established in the Shariah.

The third condition is that one act upon it without the firm conviction that this particular thing is established from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. However, one is hopeful that it is established, because the hadith is not so weak that it is not from the guidance of the Prophet with certainty, so one is hopeful that it is established and is hopeful for the reward. But one cannot act upon a weak hadith while being aware that it is weak, with firm conviction that it is established. This is what the scholars have said and these three conditions were mentioned by the generality of the scholars and the fuqaha. Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani mentioned it and it is related from him by his student, al-Sakhawi, Imam Jalal al din al Suyuti has mentioned this, Mulli Ali al Qari from among the Hanafi scholars and `Abd al Hayy al Laknawi and others have mentioned this. There is general agreement regarding this, so this is the position of Ahl al-Sunna.] And all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

– Amjad.

السؤال : لماذا يجوِّز أهلُ المذاهب العمل بالحديث الضعيف ؟ أليس فيه ابتداع ؟

الجواب : في هذا الجواب تفصيل وهو : أن المقرر عند الأئمة عدمُ جواز الاعتماد على الحديث الضعيف في استنباط الأحكام إذ لا يعمل فيها إلا بالصحيح أو الحسن ، قال الإمام النووي رحمه الله في مقدمة “الأذكار” :” وأما الأحكام كالحلال والحرام والبيع والنكاح والطلاق وغير ذلك فلا يعمل فيها إلا بالحديث الصحيح أو الحسن ، إلا أن يكون في احتياط في شيء من ذلك كما إذا ورد حديث ضعيف بكراهة بعض البيوع أو الأنكحة ؛ فإن المستحب أن يتنـزه عنه ولكن لا يجب “. اهـ

لكن الناظر في كتب الفقه يجد بعض الأحكام مبنية على حديث ضعيف فقد يشكل هذا مع ما تقدم ، والجوابُ عنه : أنَّ العلماء يختلفون كثيراً في الحكم على الأحاديث تصحيحاً وتضعيفاً فمن صحح الحديث عمل به ومن ضعفه ترك العمل به ، فغير المطلع على من صحح الحديث يظن أن المستدِل به يستدل بحديث ضعيف غير ملاحظ أن ذلك المستدِل لا يسلم ضعف الحديث ، هذا أمر .

وأمرٌ آخر أن العلماء قد يستنبطون حكماً بالقياس ونحوه من الأدلة المقرر عندهم – على اختلافهم فيها – ويجدون حديثاً ضعيفاً يؤيد هذا الحكم المستنبط فيوردون الحديث استئناساً .

وأمر ثالث أن بعض أنواع الحديث الضعيف كالحديث المرسل مختلف في الاحتجاج به، فجوز بعضهم الاحتجاج به مطلقاً لأدلة عندهم ، ويحتج به إمامنا الشافعي رضي الله عنه ورحمه بشروط مقرر كموافقته لقول أكثر العلماء ، فغير المطلع على هذا الخلاف يظن يشكل عليه الأمر .

وبعد كتابة هذا الجواب رأيتُ الإمام النووي رحمه الله في مقدمة “المجموع” قد أجاب عن استدلال الإمام الشيرازي رحمه الله في المهذب بالأحاديث المرسلة بما قدمته من الأمرين الأخيرين ونصُّ عبارته :” فرع : قد استعمل المصنف في المهذب أحاديث كثيرة مرسلة واحتج بها مع أنه لا يجوز الاحتجاج بالمرسل . وجوابه : أن بعضها اعتضد بأحد الأمور المذكورة فصار حجة ، وبعضها ذكره للاستئناس ويكون اعتماده على غيره من قياس وغيره”. اهـ

هذا ما يتعلق بالأحكام ، أما العملُ بالحديث الضعيف في فضائل الأعمال فالمنصوص عليه هو الجواز ما لم يكن موضوعاً أو شديد الضعف بل ذلك مستحبٌ كما في “الأذكار” ، وعبارة الإمام النووي في مقدمة “الأذكار” :” قال العلماءُ من المحدثين والفقهاء وغيرهم : يجوز ويستحب العمل في الفضائل والترغيب والترهيب بالحديث الضعيف ما لم يكن موضوعاً “. اهـ

وليس في هذا ابتداعٌ كما استفهم عنه السائل ؛ لأن نصوص الشرع جاءت بالحث على زيادة الطاعة وصرف الأوقات لها والحث على الخوف تارة والرجاء أخرى ، فالعامل بالحديث الضعيف في الفضائل ونحوها عاملٌ بالإرشاد العام الثابت في الحث على الطاعات والفضائل ، غاية الأمر أن هذا الحديث خصص أمراً من الطاعات ونحوها فإن كان ما أفاده هذا الحديث الضعيف مخالفاً لما أفاده حديث صحيح لم يعمل به باتفاق ، والغالب على ما يكون كذلك أن يكون شديد الضعف أو موضوعاً ، وإن لم يكن مخالفاً فالعمل به لا يخرج عن العمل بالنصوص الصحيحة الحاثة على زيادة الطاعات كما مرَّ .

يبقى الكلامُ على ما يرد في هذه الأحاديث من ذكر ثوابٍ مخصوصٍ على عملٍ مخصوصٍ فإنه وإن كان لا يقطع بثبوتها لكن حُسنُ الظن بكرم الله لأحبابه وأهل طاعته لا يستبعد حصول ذلك بل يتطلع لما هو أبعد منه .

Is it Permitted to Place Flowers on a Grave, or is this an Innovation (Bid`a) in Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Asalamu ‘Aleykum

Is it bid’a or wrong in any way to place flowers on a family grave? There is much argument about this issue in my family.

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
It is permitted to put flowers on a grave.
However, it may be superior to plant something, as opposed to merely place it on the grave, so it can live longer and increase in its benefit to the deceased.
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by a garden in Madina or Makka and heard the voices of two people who were being tortured in their graves. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, remarked, ‘They are being tortured and are not being punished for anything very great.’ Then he said, ‘Rather one of them did not guard himself from urine and the other was involved in back-biting.’ Then he called for a leafless palm branch and broke it into two pieces and put one on each grave. He was asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, why did you do this?’ He said, ‘Perhaps their torture will be lightened for them for as long as these do not dry up – or until they dry up.'”[Bukhari]
Whilst commentating on this tradition (hadith), Mulla `Ali al-Qari writes in his Mirqat al-Mafatih, “Thus, some of the imams of our later scholars have issued legal verdicts (fatwa) which state that it is a sunna to place palm branches and myrtle on the grave as people are accustomed to.” [Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih, also quoted with discussion by Tahtawi in his marginal notes (hashiya) on Maraqi al-Falah]
Ibn `Abidin also comments on this saying, “What is taken from the tradition is the recommendation of placing them [= palm stalk] in following the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Analogy can be made from this for what people customarily do in our times by placing myrtle boughs and the like. A number of the Shafi`is concurred.” [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar `ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar]
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is It a Bid’a (Reprehensible Innovation) to Say “Jumu’a Mubarak” (Blessed Friday) to Other Muslims?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: I was wondering if it is biddah to say Jumma Mubarak to our fellow muslims.  Thank you!

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

I was not able to find any textual basis for the phrase Jumu’a Mubarak (Blessed Friday) in the works of hadith, fiqh, etc. However, as shown below, it is permissible to congratulate someone with such a phrase, based on the general permissibility of congratulating Muslims for special occasions such as Eid.

Eid Mubarak

The majority of jurists permit giving congratulations on Eid. [Mawsu’a Fiqhiyya Kuwaitiyya]

Ibn Amir al-Hajj, the 9th-century (Hijri) Hanafi scholar of Egypt, deemed it recommended due to the numerous sound narrations related of the Companions doing so with phrases like, “May Allah accept from us and you.” (Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum)

He then notes that, in his time, “What is common practice in Syria and Egypt is for people to say Eid Mubarak alayka (Blessed Eid to you), and the like. This [and similar phrases] could be conjoined to that [phrase that is narrated from the Companions] in both being legislated as well as being recommended, as each entails the other. This is because if one’s works are accepted from him in a certain time, then that time is surely a blessed time for him. Not to mention, prayer for blessings (baraka) has been narrated [in the Qur’an and Sunna] with respect to many occasions, and so from that [precedent] can be derived [the legislation/recommendation of] praying for it here [on Eid] as well.” [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

Jumu’a Mubarak

It is narrated in well-authenticated and sound narrations that our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that Friday is an Eid of the Muslims. [Ibn Maja, Sahih Ibn Hibban]

And based on the reasoning by Ibn Amir al-Hajj cited above, we know that like Eid, Friday is a day of much blessing—a day in which one’s works are accepted, one’s sins are forgiven, and one’s prayers are answered.

Furthermore, in his work al-Maqasid al-Hasana, Imam Sakhawi discusses the following phrase that people would often quote as a hadith, “Congratulating in [certain] months and Eids is from what people take on as custom.” He states that the basic “meaning” is certainly narrated from the Companions with respect to Eid specifically, and that there is even a narration [albeit very weak] of doing so on Friday, as well as one [again albeit very weak] of in general congratulating one’s neighbor for any good occasion. Stronger than all of this, however, is what is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim that Talha stood up and congratulated Ka’b on the day Allah forgave the latter. [al-Maqasid al-Hasana]

One can appreciate, then, that Imam Sakhawi—himself a great hadith master, as well as main student of the eminent hadith master Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani—considered the general example of the Companions congratulating each other on blessed occasions as sufficient precedent for the Muslims to do so on special months and “Eids,” which we have shown above to include Friday, as established by sound prophetic reports.

In light of the above, there would be nothing wrong for a person to congratulate his fellow Muslim on Friday with a phrase such as Jumu’a Mubarak. As a “phrase” it is newly invented, yet as a “meaning” it coincides perfectly with the Islamic viewpoint of Friday and its merits.

Lastly, for a detailed exposition on the concept of bid’a in Islam, I would suggest the following article by Sheikh Nuh Keller:

The Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’aAnd Allah knows best.


Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Concept of Bid’a in the Islamic Shari’a


The following is the text of a talk given by Shaikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller at Nottingham and Trent University on Wednesday 25th January 1995.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

There are few topics that generate as much controversy today in Islam as what is sunna and what is bida or reprehensible innovation, perhaps because of the times Muslims live in today and the challenges they face. Without a doubt, one of the greatest events in impact upon Muslims in the last thousand years is the end of the Islamic caliphate at the first of this century, an event that marked not only the passing of temporal, political authority, but in many respects the passing of the consensus of orthodox Sunni Islam as well. No one familiar with the classical literature in any of the Islamic legal sciences, whether Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), hadith, or jurisprudence (fiqh), can fail to be struck by the fact that questions are asked today about basic fundamentals of Islamic Sacred Law (Sharia) and its ancillary disciplines that would not have been asked in the Islamic period not because Islamic scholars were not brilliant enough to produce the questions, but because they already knew the answers.

My talk tonight will aim to clarify some possible misunderstandings of the concept of innovation (bida) in Islam, in light of the prophetic hadith,

“Beware of matters newly begun, for every matter newly begun is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell.”

The sources I use are traditional Islamic sources, and my discussion will centre on three points:

The first point is that scholars say that the above hadith does not refer to all new things without restriction, but only to those which nothing in Sacred Law attests to the validity of. The use of the word “every” in the hadith does not indicate an absolute generalization, for there are many examples of similar generalizations in the Qur’an and sunna that are not applicable without restriction, but rather are qualified by restrictions found in other primary textual evidence.

The second point is that the sunna and way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was to accept new acts initiated in Islam that were of the good and did not conflict with established principles of Sacred Law, and to reject things that were otherwise.

And our third and last point is that new matters in Islam may not be rejected merely because they did not exist in the first century, but must be evaluated and judged according to the comprehensive methodology of Sacred Law, by virtue of which it is and remains the final and universal moral code for all peoples until the end of time.

Our first point, that the hadith does not refer to all new things without restriction, but only to those which nothing in Sacred Law attests to the validity of, may at first seem strange, in view of the wording of the hadith, which says, “every matter newly begun is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell.” Now the word “bida” or “innovation” linguistically means anything new, So our first question must be about the generalizability of the word every in the hadith: does it literally mean that everything new in the world is haram or unlawful? The answer is no. Why?

In answer to this question, we may note that there are many similar generalities in the Qur’an and sunna, all of them admitting of some qualification, such as the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Najm,

“. . . A man can have nothing, except what he strives for” (Qur’an 53:39),

despite there being an overwhelming amount of evidence that a Muslim benefits from the spiritual works of others, for example, from his fellow Muslims, the prayers of angels for him, the funeral prayer over him, charity given by others in his name, and the supplications of believers for him;

Or consider the words of Allah to unbelievers in Surat al-Anbiya,

“Verily you and what you worship apart from Allah are the fuel of hell” (Qur’an 21:98),

“what you worship” being a general expression, while there is no doubt that Jesus, his mother, and the angels were all worshipped apart from Allah, but are not “the fuel of hell”, so are not what is meant by the verse; Or the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Anam about past nations who paid no heed to the warners who were sent to them,

“But when they forgot what they had been reminded of, We opened unto them the doors of everything” (Qur’an 6:44),

though the doors of mercy were not opened unto them; And the hadith related by Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“No one who prays before sunrise and before sunset will enter hell”,

which is a generalised expression that definitely does not mean what its outward generality implies, for someone who prays the dawn and midafternoon prayers and neglects all other prayers and obligatory works is certainly not meant. It is rather a generalization whose intended referent is particular, or a generalization that is qualified by other texts, for when there are fully authenticated hadiths, it is obligatory to reach an accord between them, because they are in reality as a single hadith, the statements that appear without further qualification being qualified by those that furnish the qualification, that the combined implications of all of them may be utilized.

Let us look for a moment at bida or innovation in the light of the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) concerning new matters. Sunna and innovation (bida) are two opposed terms in the language of the Lawgiver (Allah bless him and give him peace), such that neither can be defined without reference to the other, meaning that they are opposites, and things are made clear by their opposites. Many writers have sought to define innovation (bida) without defining the sunna, while it is primary, and have thus fallen into inextricable difficulties and conflicts with the primary textual evidence that contradicts their definition of innovation, whereas if they had first defined the sunna, they would have produced a criterion free of shortcomings.

Sunna, in both the language of the Arabs and the Sacred Law, means way, as is illustrated by the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),

He who inaugurates a good sunna in Islam [dis: Reliance of the Traveller p58.1(2)] …And he who introduces a bad sunna in Islam…”, sunna meaning way or custom. The way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in giving guidance, accepting, and rejecting: this is the sunna. For “good sunna” and “bad sunna” mean a “good way” or “bad way”, and cannot possibly mean anything else. Thus, the meaning of “sunna” is not what most students, let alone ordinary people, understand; namely, that it is the prophetic hadith (as when sunna is contrasted with “Kitab”, i.e. Qur’an, in distinguishing textual sources), or the opposite of the obligatory (as when sunna, i.e. recommended, is contrasted with obligatory in legal contexts), since the former is a technical usage coined by hadith scholars, while the latter is a technical usage coined by legal scholars and specialists in fundamentals of jurisprudence. Both of these are usages of later origin that are not what is meant by sunna here. Rather, the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is his way of acting, ordering, accepting, and rejecting, and the way of his Rightly Guided Caliphs who followed his way acting, ordering, accepting, and rejecting. So practices that are newly begun must be examined in light of the sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his way and path in acceptance or rejection.

Now, there are a great number of hadiths, most of them in the rigorously authenticated (sahih) collections, showing that many of the prophetic Companions initiated new acts, forms of invocation (dhikr), supplications (dua), and so on, that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had never previously done or ordered to be done. Rather, the Companions did them because of their inference and conviction that such acts were of the good that Islam and the Prophet of Islam came with and in general terms urged the like of to be done, in accordance with the word of Allah Most High in Surat al-Hajj,

And do the good, that haply you may succeed” (Qur’an 22:77),

and the hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),

He who inaugurates a good sunna in Islam earns the reward of it and all who perform it after him without diminishing their own rewards in the slightest.”

Though the original context of the hadith was giving charity, the interpretative principle established by the scholarly consensus (def: Reliance of the Traveller b7) of specialists in fundamentals of Sacred Law is that the point of primary texts lies in the generality of their lexical significance, not the specificity of their historical context, without this implying that just anyone may make provisions in the Sacred Law, for Islam is defined by principles and criteria, such that whatever one initiates as a sunna must be subject to its rules, strictures, and primary textual evidence.

From this investigative point of departure, one may observe that many of the prophetic Companions performed various acts through their own personal reasoning, (ijtihad), and that the sunna and way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was both to accept those that were acts of worship and good deeds conformable with what the Sacred Law had established and not in conflict with it; and to reject those which were otherwise. This was his sunna and way, upon which his caliphal successors and Companions proceeded, and from which Islamic scholars (Allah be well pleased with them) have established the rule that any new matter must be judged according to the principles and primary texts of Sacred Law: whatever is attested to by the law as being good is acknowledged as good, and whatever is attested to by the law as being a contravention and bad is rejected as a blameworthy innovation (bida). They sometimes term the former a good innovation (bida hasana) in view of it lexically being termed an innovation , but legally speaking it is not really an innovation but rather an inferable sunna as long as the primary texts of the Sacred Law attest to its being acceptable.

We now turn to the primary textual evidence previously alluded to concerning the acts of the Companions and how the Prophet, (Allah bless him and give him peace) responded to them:

(1) Bukhari and Muslim relate from Abu Hurayra (Allah be well pleased with him) that at the dawn prayer the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to Bilal, “Bilal, tell me which of your acts in Islam you are most hopeful about, for I have heard the footfall of your sandals in paradise“, and he replied, “I have done nothing I am more hopeful about than the fact that I do not perform ablution at any time of the night or day without praying with that ablution whatever has been destined for me to pray.”

Ibn Hajar Asqalani says in Fath al-Bari that the hadith shows it is permissible to use personal reasoning (ijtihad) in choosing times for acts of worship, for Bilal reached the conclusions he mentioned by his own inference, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed him therein.

Similar to this is the hadith in Bukhari about Khubayb (who asked to pray two rakas before being executed by idolaters in Mecca) who was the first to establish the sunna of two rak’as for those who are steadfast in going to their death. These hadiths are explicit evidence that Bilal and Khubayb used their own personal reasoning (ijtihad) in choosing the times of acts of worship, without any previous command or precedent from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) other than the general demand to perform the prayer.

(2) Bukhari and Muslim relate that Rifa’a ibn Rafi said, “When we were praying behind the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he raised his head from bowing and said , “Allah hears whoever praises Him”, a man behind him said, “Our Lord, Yours is the praise, abundantly, wholesomely, and blessedly therein.” When he rose to leave, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked “who said it”, and when the man replied that it was he, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “I saw thirty-odd angels each striving to be the one to write it.” Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari that the hadith indicates the permissibility of initiating new expressions of dhikr in the prayer other than the ones related through hadith texts, as long as they do not contradict those conveyed by the hadith [since the above words were a mere enhancement and addendum to the known, sunna dhikr].

(3) Bukhari relates from Aisha (Allah be well pleased with her) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) dispatched a man at the head of a military expedition who recited the Qur’an for his companions at prayer, finishing each recital with al-Ikhlas (Qur’an 112). When they returned, they mentioned this to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who told them, “Ask him why he does this”, and when they asked him, the man replied, “because it describes the All-merciful, and I love to recite it.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to them, “Tell him Allah loves him.” In spite of this, we do not know of any scholar who holds that doing the above is recommended, for the acts the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to do regularly are superior, though his confirming the like of this illustrates his sunna regarding his acceptance of various forms of obedience and acts of worship, and shows he did not consider the like of this to be a reprehensible innovation (bida), as do the bigots who vie with each other to be the first to brand acts as innovation and misguidance. Further, it will be noticed that all the preceding hadiths are about the prayer, which is the most important of bodily acts of worship, and of which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Pray as you have seen me pray“, despite which he accepted the above examples of personal reasoning because they did not depart from the form defined by the Lawgiver, for every limit must be observed, while there is latitude in everything besides, as long as it is within the general category of being called for by Sacred Law. This is the sunna of the Prophet and his way (Allah bless him and give him peace) and is as clear as can be. Islamic scholars infer from it that every act for which there is evidence in Sacred Law that it is called for and which does not oppose an unequivocal primary text or entail harmful consequences is not included in the category of reprehensible innovation (bida), but rather is of the sunna, even if there should exist something whose performance is superior to it.

(4) Bukhari relates from Abu Said al-Khudri that a band of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) departed on one of their journeys, alighting at the encampment of some desert Arabs whom they asked to be their hosts, but who refused to have them as guests. The leader of the encampment was stung by a scorpion, and his followers tried everything to cure him, and when all had failed, one said, “If you would approach the group camped near you, one of them might have something”. So they came to them and said, “O band of men, our leader has been stung and weve tried everything. Do any of you have something for it?” and one of them replied, “Yes, by Allah, I recite healing words [ruqya, def: Reliance of the Traveller w17] over people, but by Allah, we asked you to be our hosts and you refused, so I will not recite anything unless you give us a fee”. They then agreed upon a herd of sheep, so the man went and began spitting and reciting the Fatiha over the victim until he got up and walked as if he were a camel released from its hobble, nothing the matter with him. They paid the agreed upon fee, which some of the Companions wanted to divide up, but the man who had done the reciting told them, “Do not do so until we reach the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and tell him what has happened, to see what he may order us to do”. They came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and told him what had occurred, and he said, “How did you know it was of the words which heal? You were right. Divide up the herd and give me a share.”

The hadith is explicit that the Companion had no previous knowledge that reciting the Fatiha to heal (ruqya) was countenanced by Sacred Law, but rather did so because of his own personal reasoning (ijtihad), and since it did not contravene anything that had been legislated, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed him therein because it was of his sunna and way to accept and confirm what contained good and did not entail harm, even if it did not proceed from the acts of the Prophet himself (Allah bless him and give him peace) as a definitive precedent.

(5) Bukhari relates from Abu Said al-Khudri that one man heard another reciting al-Ikhlas (Qur’an 112) over and over again, so when morning came he went to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and sarcastically mentioned it to him. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, it equals one-third of the Qur’an.” Daraqutni recorded another version of this hadith in which the man said, “I have a neighbor who prays at night and does not recite anything but al-Ikhlas.” The hadith shows that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed the persons restricting himself to this sura while praying at night, despite its not being what the Prophet himself did (Allah bless him and give him peace), for though the Prophets practice of reciting from the whole Qur’an was superior, the mans act was within the general parameters of the sunna and there was nothing blameworthy about it in any case.

(6) Ahmad and Ibn Hibban relates from Abdullah ibn Burayda that his father said, I entered the mosque with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), where a man was at prayer, supplicating: “O Allah, I ask You by the fact that I testify You are Allah, there is no god but You, the One, the Ultimate, who did not beget and was not begotten, and to whom none is equal”, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, he has asked Allah by His greatest name, which if He is asked by it He gives, and if supplicated He answers”. It is plain that this supplication came spontaneously from the Companion, and since it conformed to what the Sacred Law calls for, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) confirmed it with the highest degree of approbation and acceptance, while it is not known that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had ever taught it to him (Adilla Ahl al-Sunna wa’al-Jamaa, 119-33).

We are now able to return to the hadith with which I began my talk tonight, in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “. . . Beware of matters newly begun, for every innovation is misguidance”. And understand it as expounded by a classic scholar of Islam, Sheikh Muhammad Jurdani, who said:

“Beware of matters newly begun”, distance yourselves and be wary of matters newly innovated that did not previously exist”, i.e. things invented in Islam that contravene the Sacred Law, “for every innovation is misguidance” meaning that every innovation is the opposite of the truth, i.e. falsehood, a hadith that has been related elsewhere as: “for every newly begun matter is innovation, every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in hell” meaning that everyone who is misguided, whether through himself or by following another, is in hell, the hadith referring to matters that are not good innovations with a basis in Sacred Law. It has been stated (by Izz ibn Abd al-Salam) that innovations (bida) fall under the five headings of the Sacred Law (n: i.e. the obligatory, unlawful, recommended, offensive, and permissible): 

(1) The first category comprises innovations that are obligatory , such as recording the Qur’an and the laws of Islam in writing when it was feared that something might be lost from them; the study of the disciplines of Arabic that are necessary to understand the Qur’an and sunna such as grammar, word declension, and lexicography; hadith classification to distinguish between genuine and spurious prophetic traditions; and the philosophical refutations of arguments advanced by the Mu’tazilites and the like.

(2) The second category is that of unlawful innovations such as non- Islamic taxes and levies, giving positions of authority in Sacred Law to those unfit for them, and devoting ones time to learning the beliefs of heretical sects that contravene the tenets of faith of Ahl al-Sunna. 

(3) The third category consists of recommended innovations such as building hostels and schools of Sacred Law, recording the research of Islamic schools of legal thought, writing books on beneficial subjects, extensive research into fundamentals and particular applications of Sacred Law, in-depth studies of Arabic linguistics, the reciting of wirds (def: Reliance of the Traveller w20) by those with a Sufi path, and commemorating the birth (mawlid), of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and wearing ones best and rejoicing at it. 

(4) The fourth category includes innovations that are offensive, such as embellishing mosques, decorating the Qur’an and having a backup man (muballigh) loudly repeat the spoken Allahu Akbar of the imam when the latter’s voice is already clearly audible to those who are praying behind him. 

(5) the fifth category is that of innovations that are permissible, such as sifting flour, using spoons and having more enjoyable food, drink and housing. (al Jawahir al-luluiyya fi sharh al-Arbain al-nawawiyya, 220-21). 

I will conclude my remarks tonight with a translation of Sheikh Abdullah al-Ghimari, who said: In his al-Qawaid al-kubra, “Izz ibn Abd al-Salam classifies innovations (bida), according to their benefit, harm, or indifference, into the five categories of rulings: the obligatory, recommended, unlawful, offensive, and permissible; giving examples of each and mentioning the principles of Sacred Law that verify his classification. His words on the subject display his keen insight and comprehensive knowledge of both the principles of jurisprudence and the human advantages and disadvantages in view of which the Lawgiver has established the rulings of Sacred Law.

Because his classification of innovation (bida) was established on a firm basis in Islamic jurisprudence and legal principles, it was confirmed by Imam Nawawi, Ibn Hajar Asqalani, and the vast majority of Islamic scholars, who received his words with acceptance and viewed it obligatory to apply them to the new events and contingencies that occur with the changing times and the peoples who live in them. One may not support the denial of his classification by clinging to the hadithEvery innovation is misguidance“, because the only form of innovation that is without exception misguidance is that concerning tenets of faith, like the innovations of the Mutazilites, Qadarites, Murjiites, and so on, that contradicted the beliefs of the early Muslims. This is the innovation of misguidance because it is harmful and devoid of benefit. As for innovation in works, meaning the occurrence of an act connected with worship or something else that did not exist in the first century of Islam, it must necessarily be judged according to the five categories mentioned by Izz ibn Abd al-Salam. To claim that such innovation is misguidance without further qualification is simply not applicable to it, for new things are among the exigencies brought into being by the passage of time and generations, and nothing that is new lacks a ruling of Allah Most High that is applicable to it, whether explicitly mentioned in primary texts, or inferable from them in some way. The only reason that Islamic law can be valid for every time and place and be the consummate and most perfect of all divine laws is because it comprises general methodological principles and universal criteria, together with the ability its scholars have been endowed with to understand its primary texts, the knowledge of types of analogy and parallelism, and the other excellences that characterize it. Were we to rule that every new act that has come into being after the first century of Islam is an innovation of misguidance without considering whether it entails benefit or harm, it would invalidate a large share of the fundamental bases of Sacred Law as well as those rulings established by analogical reasoning, and would narrow and limit the Sacred Laws vast and comprehensive scope. (Adilla Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamaa, 145-47).

Wa Jazakum Allahu khayran, wal-hamdu lillahi Rabbil Alamin.


©Nuh Ha Mim Keller 1995

Are Weekly Group Dhikr Gatherings a Reprehensible Innovation (Bid`a)?

Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

Question: Is it wrong to gather weekly, on a specific day, for a group dhikr including the sending of salat and salam on the Prophet, as some followers of some shaykh named Muhammad Zakariyya do? Is this not going against the sunna?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

What is a reprehensible innovation?

Firstly, what is a reprehensible and sinful innovation? It has two essential parts:

a) It was not done by the Prophet and the early generations; and, importantly,

b) It goes against the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna, or is not based on a principle of the Prophetic message.

This is understood from the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Whoever inaugurates in our religion something contrary to our way shall have it rejected.” [Bukhari and Muslim from Sayyida `A’isha (Allah be pleased with her)]

The General Guidance of the Sunna

Second, a fundamental point regarding innovation (bid`a) must be clearly understood. If understood, then many of our queries will (insha Allah) be answered.

There are certain acts of worship which the Shariah has declared recommended (mandub) or highly encouraged (sunna), but without specifying a particular procedure or method for it.

Rewards have been promised for various types of worship, but the actual method of implementation has not been prescribed. This method of worship has been left to the convenience of the people.

In such acts of worship, it is necessary to leave the general permission given by the Shariah. If a particular method is fixed or considered to be superior to other methods, then this will be impermissible and classed as Bid`a. (Taken from Ibn Abidin’s Radd al-Muhtar Imam al-Barkawi’s al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya, and the works of Imam al-Lakhnawi).

Some actions as an example

Let us look at some examples:

It is a great act of reward and merit to perform a good action and dedicate the reward to the soul of a dead person (isaal al-thawab). The one who performs this receives twofold reward, viz; one for carrying out this act of worship, and the other for showing consideration to a fellow Muslim who has passed away.

Now, the Shariah has not prescribed any particular method for performing this act, as in the reward can only be sent by the recitation of the Qur’an or by giving charity, and so forth. Rather, it has been left to the convenience of the individual. If one was to fix a particular method, such that no other method were considered suitable, or believed it to be necessarily superior to others, or if one believed that something that was not a specific Prophetic practice to be a specific Prophetic practice, then this will become an innovation. Of course, deeming something to be an innovation is a legal ruling, which can only be issued by deeply knowledgeable and god-fearing scholars.

However, if a method  was practised without thinking it to be specifically necessary, then it will be totally permissible, and not considered to be a reprehensible innovation, even if it was not prevalent in the time of the blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace).

Sending reward as an example

Sending a reward to the soul of a beloved can be done in many different ways.

For example, if a person was to write a book for the benefit of Muslims with the intention of propagating Islam. After completing this work, they ask Allah to send the rewards of this work to the soul of such and such person, then this is a perfectly acceptable way of sending reward, even though the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) never performed this act, as he did not write a book.

Take the same example of writing a book. The Shariah has ordered us to propagate the message of Islam and its way of life (deen) to others. Now, there are many ways to carry out this propagation (da`wah) work and all of them will be permissible, accepted and rewarded, as long as no one method is deemed specifically necessary to the exclusion of others.

Among these different ways of carrying out the da`wah work is the compilation of a book. This can not be considered an innovation, even though the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) did not write himself, for the simple reason that any permitted method chosen for the purpose of da`wah will be permissible, as long as it does not go against any other fundamental texts or principles of Islam.

Similarly, a scholar conducts daily Hadith or Fiqh lessons at a particular time; let’s say after the prayer of Isha. This is totally permissible, rather recommended, even though this may not be prevalent in the time Of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).

However, if he was to say that this gathering of ours at this particular time, is the specific sunna way of preaching, and it is superior to all the other methods, and the one who fails to attend this lesson does not have any  desire to gain knowledge and so on, then this will become an innovation.

The Companions’ Implementation of the Sunna of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)

There are a large number of hadiths, many from the rigorously authenticated (sahih) collections, showing that many of the prophetic Companions initiated new acts, forms of invocation (dhikr), supplications (dua), and so on, that our Beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had never done himself nor ordered to be done.

Rather, the Companions did them because of their reasoned deduction that such acts were part the general good that the Beloved of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) called towards and encouraged in general ways, as mentioned by Allah Most High in the Qur’an:

“And do the good, that haply you may succeed” (Qur’an 22:77)

The good, of course, is that which the Lawgiver (Allah Most High) has deemed good, either specifically, or in general terms.

The Difference Between Innovation and Following the Sunna

We can see from the foregoing, the delicate difference between the two ways. If a permissible act is performed without deeming it necessary for everyone to perform, then it is not an innovation. It becomes an innovation, however, if it is regarded as a specific Prophetic sunna (when it is not) or binding on all the Muslims, such that those who do not perform it are considered blameworthy.

By understanding this principle, many disputes of ours will no longer remain. It is very important, especially in this time of trials and tribulations that we learn to respect the opinions of others and strive towards establishing unity and love between Muslims, because we are all followers of the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), whose message was based on mercy and love.

Your Specific Question

Coming to your question, this collective method of reciting Salat & Salam on the blessed Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) was initiated by one of the great Hadith and Tasawwuf scholars of India, who is widely respected across the Muslim world as a great authority in both sciences, Shaykh Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandahlawi (Allah be pleased with him and the scholars of this Ummah). The late Shaykh, especially in the last few years of his life, stressed the importance of Tasawwuf, Dhikr of Allah, and generally the establishments of Zawiyas (khanqah).

After the demise of the Shaykh, his disciples carried on with this type of group and group recitation of peace and blessing on the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). Many disciples of his conduct these kinds of gatherings around the world.

In light of the above explanation concerning innovation, it becomes clear that this particular method of group dhikr is permissible, but not regarded as a specific Prophetic sunna, though it is understood from the general sunna encouragement to perform dhikr both alone and in group, as long as there is no other reason of impermissibility (such as undue mixing between men and women).

The recitation of blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is very virtuous and increases love for the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give peace). Love of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is something obligatory for every believer. He (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “None [truly] believes until they love me more than their child, parents, or all creation.” [Muslim and others] He also said (Allah bless him and give him peace), “By the One in whose Hand is my soul, none of you [truly] believe until I am more beloved than your parents or children.” [Ahmad and Bukhari]

However, no particular binding method has been prescribed for sending blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), to the exclusion of other ways. It may be recited individually or collectively. There is no harm in either, as both fall under the general command to send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Yes, if one method was regarded specifically necessary for everyone or necessarily superior, it will become an innovation.

In conclusion, the weekly group dhikr mentioned is permissible, and would be considered an implementation of the general sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and the Divine Command to send blessings on the Beloved of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). However, because it is not a specific sunna of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), one should not believe it specifically binding nor deem those who do not attend to be doing something wrong or blameworthy. For this purpose, some scholars mention that if it is left out once or twice, it would be better, thought this is not in any ways necessary per se.

And Allah knows best, and He alone guides to all that is best in this world and the next.

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, Leicester , UK