What Constitutes Innovation (Bid’ah)?


What Constitutes Innovation (Bid’ah)?

When we speak of innovation in Islam, we are speaking strictly
of religious acts and deeds. In a hadith the Messenger of Allah

“He who innovates something in this matter of ours that
is not of it will have it rejected.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

In another report he said:

“He who does an act which our matter is not (in agree-
ment) with will have it rejected.” (Muslim)

These citations indicate what the Messenger meant by innova-
tion as a strictly religious act. So no act is labeled innovation
{bid’ah) unless it has been promoted or introduced as a religion.
If an act or deed is non-religious it is not considered innova-
tion. The material and physical products cannot be called
bid’ah. For instance, the technical innovations or developments
in the mode of transportation from horses and camels to cars
and jet planes are not called innovations. Indeed, Islam ap-
plauds loudly any technical development that makes the acts of
‘ebadah easy and convenient. The technical developments are
part of the custodianship or stewardship (khilaafaship) that
man has been endowed with. In other words the theological
innovations are illegal whereas the technical innovations are
not. After all, Allah (SWT) states:

“And (He has created) horses, mules and don-
keys, for you to ride and use for show and He
will yet create things of which have no knowl-

(Al Qur’an, 16:8;

Allah in the verse has prophesied the creation of advanced ve-
hicles from a simple car to orient express to the sophisticated

machinery, engine, and rockets. The lightning speed with
which we advanced in computers, chips, lasers, satellites, fab-
ric, technology etc. are highly honored as they may lead some
to the realization of the power of Almighty Allah.

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