Bid'ah I'tiqadiyyah (Innovated Belief) And Bid'ah 'Amaliyyah (Innovated Actions)
The word Bid'ah as mentioned in the Holy Qur'an:
The literary meaning of Bid'ah (in the dictionary) is Innovation, Novelty. In the following lines we will see where in the Holy Qur'an this word has been used and with which meaning. Says the Holy Qur'an:
"Say; I am no Bringer of New Fangled Doctrine Among the Apostles" (Al-Ahqaf - 9)
"The Originator of the heavens and The Earth" (A-Baqara-117)
"But Monasticism (which) they invented - We ordained it not for them" (Al-Hadeed-27)
In these ayahs from the Holy Qur'an the word Bid'ah has been used in its literary meaning. Its definition in the technical language of the Shari'at is different. In the Holy Qur'an it has been used to mean to invent and to create a new thing, whereas its technical meaning is as written in the book Mirqat (under Bab-ul I'tisaam bil Kitab Was-Sunnah) "that belief or action which was not in practice during the blessed age of Rasulullah (SAW) but was introduced after him". From this statement we can ascertain that Bid'ah is of two kinds. Bid'ah I'tiqaadi (Innovation in Belief) Bid'ah 'Amali (Innovation in Action).
The difference between Bid'ah I'tiqadi and Bid'ah 'Amali:
Bid'ah I'tiqaadi (Innovated Belief) - Is that new belief (which is in contradiction with the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah) which found its way into Islam after the blessed age of the Holy Prophet (SAW). Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Polytheism are not Bid'ah I'taqaadi as these beliefs were in practice before and during the time of the Prophet (SAW) and also because they do not claim themselves to be Muslim. Whereas, the Jabriyya, Qadriyya, Batiniyya, Wahabiyya, Bahaism, Qadyanism, Shi'asm etc., etc., are Bid'ah I'taqaadi (innovations in belief) because they came into being after the blessed age of the Prophet (SAW) and also claim themselves to be Muslims.
Bid'ah Hasana (Evidence from the Holy Qur'an) Allah Ta'ala says in the Holy Qur'an :
"And we placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him (Jesus), butMonasticism they invented We ordained it not for them- only seeking Allah's pleasure and they observed it not with the right observance" (Al-Hadeed-27)
and then He says:
"So We give those of them who believe their Rewards" (Al-Hadeed-27)
From the above verses we see that the followers of Hadhrat Isa (AS) invented Bid'ah Hasana i.e. Monasticism and Allah Ta'ala raises them and also promises them reward. But those who did not foster it (Monasticism) with right observance were reproved.
Note: that those who invented this Bid'ah are not admonished, but those who did not observe it rightly are reprimanded; This proves that Bid'ah Hasana is a good thing and has an incentive for reward.
The first Hadith of Mishkaat-ul-Masabih under Bab-ul-i'tisaam says "Whosoever introduces a new belief in our religion which contradicts with it is rejected". We have translated the word 'MA' in the Hadith as belief because another name for religion is belief, and not as actions as actions are subsidiary and take the secondary place.
Lets take an Example; A person who does not pray the daily Salaat will be sinful but not a disbeliever (Kafir) while a person whose beliefs are in contradiction with the beliefs of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'ah will either be of the misguided (stray) ones or a disbeliever. This shows that where the word Bid'ah is mentioned it means innovation in belief and not action. Again in the book Mishkat under Kitab-ul-Imaan it says that when Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Omar (RA) was told that some person had given him salaams he said, "I have had news that he (the person who has given salaams) has become Bid'ati, if it is so then don't return him by salaams". How did he become Bid'ati? It is said that he had become a Qadriyya. Qadriyya is that sect which believes that man has got full power to do whatever he wishes and that he himself creates his actions. They also disbelieve in destiny. Such a person is called a Bid'ati or Mubtadi'.
Durr-e-Mukhtar (Bab-ul-Imaamat) says,"It is Makruh to pray behind an Imam who is a Bid'ati. Bid'ah is that belief (I'tiqaad) which contradicts that which has been conveyed to us from Rasulullah (SAW)".
This shows that new fangled beliefs are Bid'ahs and wherever the Hadiths have mentioned about punishments for Bid'atis these punishments are meant for those who practice Bid'ah in beliefs i.e. those beliefs which are in contradiction with Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'ah. A Hadith says, "He who exalts those people who commit Bid'ahs has helped in demolishing Islam".
Fatawa Rashidiyya, writes in its first volume (Page 90) under Kitabul Bid'ah: "Such threats of punishments for Bid'atis are meant for those who have innovated a belief (aqeedha) which contradicts with that of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'ah for e.g.. the Wahabiyya, the Shi'ah Rawafidh, the Khwarij, the Mutazila etc."
Bid'ah 'Amali (Innovated Actions) - Is that action which came into practice after the blessed period of Rasulullah(SAW) be it secular or religious, in the time of the Sahaba al-Kiraam or after them. Mirqat Bab-ul-I'tisam says, "In the Shariat Bid'ah is that innovation which was not there in the blessed age of Rasulullah (SAW)". The book Ashi'atul Lam'aat under the same chapter says, "Bid'ah is that which came into being after the blessed period of Rasulullah (SAW).
So, from the above definitions of Bid'ah we see that a Bid'ah 'Amali (innovated action) can be religious or secular but it has to be after the blessed period of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and even that action which was introduced into Islam in the age of the respected Sahaba will be considered Bid'ah.
NOTE: If the innovation was brought into practice in the age of the Sahaba then we should not call it Bid'ah but Sunnah of the Sahaba as it is respectful to call it so, though it is a Bid'ah Hasana. Because the word Bid'ah is mostly understood to mean Bid'ah Sayyi'a (vile innovation).
Sayyedina Omar (RA) in the time of his caliphate, called the people to perform Tarawih prayers in congregation (Jamaat), whereas it used to be prayed individually in the time of the Holy Prophet (SAW) and commented on seeing the Jamaat, "This is a very nice Bid'ah".
Bid'ah 'Amali (innovated action) is classified in two:
Bid'ah Hasana (praiseworthy innovation) & Bid'ah Sayyi'a (Offensive innovation).
Bid'ah Hasana is that action which does not contradict with the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah and was brought into practice after the time of the Holy Prophet (SAW). For example, to construct religious institutions, to print the Holy Qur'an in the press, to hold gatherings of Maulidun Nabi, to eat nice food and to put on attractive clothes etc. etc., Bid'ah Hasana is not only permissible (Jaiz)) but at times it can be appreciable (Mustahhab) and even essential (Wajib) as you will see later on.
Bid'ah Sayyi'a is that action which was not in practice in the blessed age of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) and which contradicts the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah for example to say that Khutba of Eid before that of salaat. Bid'ah Sayyi'a can further be classified as Makruh Tanzihi or Makruh Tahrimi or even Haraam.
~ Ustadh Abu Muzaffar Shafi