REFUTING THE CLAIMED EVIDENCE
(1) Claimed Evidence:
When ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab radi Allaahu anhu, was the Khalifah,he ordered Ubayy bin Ka’b and Tameem ad-Daaree to stand and lead the people in prayer during Ramadaan and when he went out to the mosque while the people were all united behind one imaam and said, “What a good bid’ah this is. But the prayer which they do not perform but sleep at its time is better than the one they are performing .” [Bukhari]
(a) Firstly, it becomes necessary to explain the context of what happened. When the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam first emigrated to Madeenah, the Muslims prayed tarawih individually, and then for three nights they prayed in congregation behind the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam. After this, he stopped them doing so saying, “I feared that it would become obligatory upon you.” So after this the Muslims would pray individually or in small congregations throughout the rule of Abu Bakr, and the beginning of ‘Umar’s rule. Then ‘Umar came to the masjid and saw the Muslims praying in small groups behind different Imaams, so he collected them together in one congregation behind one Imaam and made the aforementioned statement [Bukhari].
So how can this action of ‘Umar be understood to be a new act of worship when the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam did it during his lifetime?
Secondly, the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam gave the reason why he stopped the congregational prayer, because revelation was still descending, and he feared that praying in congregation might become obligatory upon his nation and hence make the religion hard upon them.
After the death of Rasulallaah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, revelation ceased so this concern was no longer necessary. Hence Umar raddi Allaahu anhu reinstated the tarawih prayer in congregation during his rule because he knew that his action could not be made obligatory upon the Ummah.
Thirdly, all the companions agreed upon this action of ‘Umar, thus there was a consensus (ijma) on it. And the scholars of Usool (fundamental principles) have stated that ijma cannot occur except when there is a clear text for it in the Sharee’ah.
So what is the correct understanding of ‘Umar’s words, “a good bid’ah”? The word bid’ah here is to be understood in its linguistic sense, “something new,” because tarawih in one congregation was not present during the rule of Abu Bakr and the beginning of ‘Umar’s rule, hence in that sense it was something new. The Sharee’ah sense (defined earlier) cannot be understood here because it does not fulfil the conditions of being a new act of worship.So, don’t say that ‘Umar (ra) did a “good bid’ah” (may Allah prtotect us from misunderstanding about sahaba) rather the reality is he revived the sunnah of tararweh prayer .
(b) Abu Yusuf said, “I asked Abu Hanifah about the tarawih and what ‘Umar did and he said, ‘The tarawih is a stressed Sunnah, and ‘Umar did not do that from his own opinion, nor was there in his action any innovation, and he did not enjoin it except that there was a foundation for it with him and authorisation from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.’” [Sharh Mukhtaar as quoted from him in al- Ibdaa of Shaykh Ali Mahfooz p80]
(c) Imaam Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him,said: “Any words from the Salaf considering something as a good Bid’ah were meant in the linguistic and not the Islamic sense, such as the saying of ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, when he saw people praying Taraaweeh in congregation, that “This is a good Bid’ah.””
(d) Shaikhul-Islam said that if Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) in his lifetime points towards an action to be recommended (Mustahabb) or obligatory but it is not acted upon until after his death then such an action is linguistically called Bidah because it is a new action.
Shaikhul-Islam further explained that during the life-time of Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam), people used to establish the Qiyam of Ramadaan in Jama’ah but on the third or fourth night Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) explained that nothing prohibited him from coming out to pray with the companions except the fear that Taraweeh might be made obligatory upon the Ummah… So, the excuse of not coming out to pray was the fear of obligation and it is established that if there was no such fear then Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) would have come out. Such a fear was non-existent at the time of Umar (because the revelation was completed) and so Umar gathered the people behind one Imam and the Masjid was lit up (with the people who joined in the Jamaah) and this (delightful) atmosphere came into existence. So, this action of gathering in the Masjid behind one Imam, was not performed by the people before and thus, Umar called it a Bidah because it is a new action in the linguistic form. And it is not a Bidah in the Sharee’ah because the Sunnah has established that it is a righteous action if there was no fear of obligation, and this fear vanished with the death of Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam).�
Shaikhul-Islam also says that Salat Taraweeh is not a Bidah in the Sharee’ah rather it is a Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger and he (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) performed it, and he said, ‘Allah has made the fasts of Ramadaan obligatory upon you and made Qiyaam a Sunnah.’ Also praying it in the Jama’ah is not a Bidah because Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) is known to have performed this prayer in Jama’ah in the beginning of the Ramadaan for two nights, rather three nights. He (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) also established this Salaat many times during the last ten days and he (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) said, ‘If a man prays behind the Imam until he (the Imam) completes his prayer then the reward of performing Qiyaam during the whole night will be recorded for him.’ � and this saying of his (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) is an encouragement to perform Qiyaam behind the Imam and it further establishes that Qiyaam is a Sunnah and people used to pray in groups during his (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) time and he (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) approved of them and his (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) approval is a Sunnah. [See, Iqtida Sirat al-Mustaqeem. Quoted from 'Hukm al-Ihtifal bil-Mawlid war-Radd ala man ajaaz' by Shaikh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem Aal-Shaikh (rahimahullah)]
(2) Claimed Evidence:
Jareer Ibn ‘Abdullaah Al-Bujali may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever introduces a good practice (sunnah) in Islaam will get the reward of performing it and that of all those who perform it until the Day of Resurrection; Whoever introduces a bad practice in Islaam will get the punishment of performing it and that of all those who do it until the Day of Resurrection.”(Muslim).
Firstly, Imaam Ash-Shaatibi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, answered those who attempt to use this Hadeeth as evidence of the permissibility of innovating by saying: “Using this Hadeeth as an evidence (to innovate) implies that different evidences (Ahaadeeth) contradict one another (because in other Ahadeeth, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam unequivocally warned against innovating).”
Then he said: “The context of this Hadeeth is that it was said in a situation where charity was being given, and charity is something already legislated. The proof of this is actually to be found in the very same Hadeeth, if you were to read it all, as Jareer Ibn ‘Abdullaah Al-Bujali, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “We were with the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (in the Masjid) just after dawn one day when some people entered barefooted and clad in woollen matting (or covered with sleeveless woollen blankets) with their swords hung around their necks. Most of them belonged to the tribe of Mudhar. The face of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam turned pale due to their wretched condition. Then, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went into his house, re-emerged and commanded Bilaal to call the Adhaan, and the Iqaamah and then he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam led the prayer. After the prayer, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallamstood up and addressed people saying (that which translates as):
“O mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allaah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allaah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (An-Nisaa’: 1)
“O you who have believed! Fear Allaah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allaah. Indeed, Allaah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Al-Hashr: 18).
Then, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Give in charity from (what you possess of) Deenaars (gold coins) Dirhams (silver coins) a Saa’ (a small measure of weight) of wheat or even a Saa’ of dates.” until he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Give, even if it as little as half a date” Thereupon, a man from the Ansaar (residents of Madeenah) came with a bag of food which was so heavy that it was difficult for him to carry. Thereafter, people came successively until I saw two huge piles of food and clothes, and the Prophet’s face was bright as a glittering golden coin (due to his happiness). Then the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever introduces a good practice in Islaam will get the reward of performing it and that of all those who perform it until the Day of Resurrection; Whoever introduces a bad practice in Islaam will get the punishment of performing it and that of all those who do it until the Day of Resurrection.””(Muslim).
Therefore, it is obvious that this Hadeeth refers to deeds that are already legislated and proven to already exist in the religion, which in this case was charity given by a certain companion of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
So the statement of the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam “a good sunnah” was said at a time when the people were reluctant to give charity, so one man started to give the charity and others followed him in it. Thus, he revived a Sunnah at a time when the people were reluctant to practice it, and this is the meaning of “a good sunnah.”
Secondly, the word ‘sunnah’ which is used in this hadith cannot be understood to mean the Sunnah of Rasulallaah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, because that would imply that there is something bad in the Sunnah; rather it is to be understood in its linguistic meaning of ‘practice’.
Thirdly, the hadith uses the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and the Sharee’ah has already defined in its totality all that is good and all that is bad. This is what is pointed to in the statement of Imaam ash Shaafi’ee in his refutation of Istihsaan (declaring something to be good) when he said, “Whoever declares something to be good, he has declared it part of Sharee’ah.” [ar-Risaala]
(3) Claimed Evidence:
The collection of the Qur’aan into one book after the death of Rasulallaah sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam and the statement of Abu Bakr, “How can we do that which was not done by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” [Bukhari].
The proof, according to them, being that the companions collected the Qur’aan in a book form after the time of the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam without him enjoining it – hence it being an innovation which the companions agreed upon as being good.
Upon closer examination this is actually an evidence against these people, not for them. When ‘Umar came to Abu Bakr and said that the Qur’aan had to be collected as a book, he did not argue on the basis of bid’ah hasanah, rather he argued on the basis of necessity – because many of the people who memorised the Qur’aan by heart were being martyred, and therefore the Qur’aan was in danger of being lost and hence it had to be collected in book form. When Abu Bakr replied, he did not say, “Oh yes I agree with you, this is a bid’ah hasanah,” rather he argued that the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam did not do this, so how could they? It was only after the necessity was made clear to him that he agreed.
It should be noted that, Gathering the Qur’aan has basis in the Sharee’ah (Read – THE WRITTEN COMPILATION OF THE QURAN) because the Prophet (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) approved and ordered writing of the Qur’aan, though it was inscribed in the dispersed form. The Sahabah collected it in one book in order to preserve it.
So, in conclusion, the collection of the Qur’aan as a book was something the companions agreed upon due to necessity, not considering it to a good bid’ah.
(4) Claimed Evidence:
Documentation of the Hadeeth also has roots in the Sharee’ah. Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) ordered writing of some Ahadeeth for some Sahabahupon request (Read -COMPILATION OF HADEETH) . The documentation was prohibited in general at the time of Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam) fearing that something might be added to the Qur’aan which was not from it. After the death of Allah’s Messenger (sallalalhu alaihi wa-sallam), the cause (behind this prohibition) ended (because the Qur’aan had been completed and the arrangement of verses were also determined). So, the Muslims wrote down the Sunnah in order to preserve it from being lost. May Allah grant them good returns for their efforts in safeguarding the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger from being disoriented.
(5) Claimed Evidence:
Ibn Mas’ood, may Allaah be pleased with him,said: “What the Muslims see as good is good in the sight of Allaah and what they see as bad is bad in the sight of Allaah.” (Ahmad).
As-Sindi, may Allaah have mercy upon him said: “It is obvious that he was referring to the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and he was talking exclusively about those things that they had aunanimous consensus on, it does not include others.”
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