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  Innovation in Light of the Perfection of the Shari'ah
Author: Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaimeen
Source: Eng. Trans. By Abu 'Iyad as-Salafi
Article ID : BDH020003  [31061]  
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There is also a third answer which indicates the context of the hadeeth and that is the story of the small band of people who came as a delegation to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and who were in very straitened and difficult circumstances. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) called the people to bestow out their free will for these people. A man from the Ansaar came with a bag of silver which was very heavy in his hands. He placed it in front of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the face of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) began to rejoice out of delight and happiness and he said: "Whoever enacted in Islaam a good sunnah would have its reward and the reward of whoever acted upon it till the day of Judgement." Here the meaning of enacting is the introduction of an action in terms of its execution/performance and not in terms of legislation. Therefore the meaning of: ""Whoever enacted in Islaam a good sunnah" is the one who acted upon it effecting it, and actualising it, not legislating it because legislation is forbidden since: "Every innovation is misguidance."

Know my brothers that a person's following of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is not proper and correct except when the action is in accordance with the Sharee'ah with respect to six matters:

The First: When a person worships Allaah with an act of worship linked to a cause or reason which is not legislated this is an innovation which is rejected from the one who performs it. An example of that is when people awaken on the seventeenth night of the month of Rajab with the proof that it was the night in which the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ascended to the heavens. The tahajjud prayer is indeed an act of worship but when it is linked to this reason it becomes an innovation because it is based and constructed upon a reason which is not established from the Sharee'ah. This description - the agreement of the act of worship with the Sharee'ah in terms of its reason and cause - is an important matter by which the innovatory nature of many things thought to be from the sunnah, when in reality they are not, are made clear.

The Second: Type or Kind: It is also vital that the act of worship agrees with the Sharee'ah in its type. If a person was to worship Allaah with an act of worship whose type or mode has not been legislated, it would not be accepted. An example of that is when a man sacrifices a horse, his sacrifice would not be correct because he has opposed the Sharee'ah in its specification of the type. Sacrifice is not performed except with lamb, cattle, sheep and camels.

The Third: Quantity: If a person desired to increase the prayer (with respect to the number of rakahs) this would become an innovation which is not acceptable since it opposes the Sharee'ah in terms of quantity. If a person was to pray Dhuhr with five rakahs for example, his prayer would not be correct by unanimous agreement.

The Fourth: Manner of Performance: If a person was to perform wudhoo by washing his feet first then wiping his head then his hands and then the face we would say: His wudhoo is void as it is in opposition to the Sharee'ah in the manner of its performance.

The Fifth: Time: If a man was to sacrifice an animal in the first days of Dhul-Hijjah the sacrifice would not be accepted due to its opposition to the Sharee'ah with respect to time. I have heard that some people sacrifce sheep during the month of Ramadaan seeking nearness to Allaah with this sacrifice. This action is an innovation with respect to time because there is nothing by which a person draws nearer to Allaah with sacrificing except the sacrifice of Adhaa, Aqeeqah and that which is given as a gift. As for sacrificing in the month of Ramadaan while believing that there is a reward for this sacrifice similar to the sacrifice on Eedul-Adhaa then that is an innovation. And as for sacrificing merely for the meat then that is permissible.

The Sixth: Place: If a man was to perform I'tikaaf in other than a mosque his I'tikaaf would not be correct. This is because I'tikaaf is not to be performed except in the mosques. If a woman was to say: I wish to perform I'tikaaf in the place of prayer in the house, her I'tikaaf would not be correct due its opposition to the Sharee'ah in terms of time. Another example of this is when a man wishes to perform Tawaaf but finds that it has become constricted (due to the many people) and the area around him has become narrow and constricted so he begins to perform Tawaaf from behind the mosque. His Tawaaf would not be correct because the place for Tawaaf is the House (Ka'bah) Allaah the Exalted said to Ibraheem the Khaleel:

Purify my House for those who perform Tawaaf

Therefore Ibaadah is not considered to be righteous action except when two conditions are present:

The First: Ikhlaas (Sincerity)

The Second: Following and Adherence and this is not correct except by the six abovementioned matters.

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