Quantifying Bid’ah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه

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Ash-Shaykh al-‘Allaamah Muhammad ibn Salih al-Uthaymeen رحمه الله تعالى beautifully broke-down and explained how an innovation (bid’ah) can be quantified in Deen. He رحمه الله تعالى stated that for any act of worship to be accepted, it must fulfil the following six conditions:

1. The worship must be in accordance with Shari’ah in its reasons. Any person who worships Allâh by doing an act of worship that is not done for a reason proven in Shari’ah – is doing an act of worship that will be rejected and is not enjoined by Allâh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم.

2. The act of worship should be in accordance with Shari’ah in its type or nature. For example, if a person were to sacrifice a horse, that would be contrary to the Shari’ah in the nature of the action. Because a sacrifice can only involve an animal of the an’aam class (cattle type) like a cow, sheep or camel etc.

3. The act of worship must be in accordance with Shari’ah in its amount. If someone were to say that he was going to pray Dhuhr salah as six rak’ah, would this act of worship be in accordance with Shari’ah? Not at all, because it is not in accordance with it in terms of the amount or number.

4. The act of worship must be in accordance with Shari’ah in how it is done. If a person does an act of worship that is acceptable in its type, amount and reason, but he goes against Shari’ah in the manner in which he does it, then it is not valid. For example, a man breaks wind etc. and does wudoo’, but he washes his feet and then wipes his head, then washes his hands, then washes his face – is his wudoo’ valid? Not at all, because he has gone against Shari’ah in the way in which he did it.

5. The act of worship must be in accordance with Shari’ah with regard to its timing. For example, if a person fasts Ramadan in Sha’ban or in Shawwaal; or he prays Dhuhr before the sun has passed its zenith, or after the shadow of an object becomes equal in length to it – because if he prays before the sun has passed its zenith he is praying before the time has come; so if he prays after the shadow of an object becomes equal in length to it he is praying after the time has gone –his prayer is not valid.

6. The act of worship must be in accordance with Shari’ah with regard to the place where it is done. If a person stands in Muzdalifah on the day of ‘Arafah, this standing is not valid, because the act of worship is not in accordance with Shari’ah with regard to the place where it is done. Similarly, for example, if a person were to do i’tikaaf in his own house, that would not be valid, because the place of i’tikaaf is the masjid.

[See also ‘Fataawa Islamiyyah’, 4/178]

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So with regard to these six factors, an act of worship is not regarded as being in conformity with Shari’ah unless it combines all six: Reason, Type, Amount, Manner, Time and Place. With these factors, it will inevitably become clearer for Muslims to identify bid’ah whenever or wherever it is introduced or performed.

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For a more detailed discussion on bid’ah, feel free to visit:
An in-depth Analysis of Bid’ah

Further reading:

A Clarification of Doubts Regarding Innovation
Is there a Bid’ah Husna?
Q&A on Bid’ah
Further Explanation

See also ‘Sunnah-Bid’ah Diagram

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May Allaah Safeguard us from the evils of innovation in the Deen of al-Islam and from those who allow their desires to cloud their judgement and religious obligations.

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