Preserving the Purity of the Sources
and Avoiding Innovations
Muslims’ zeal to maintain Islam from innovation must exceed the zeal of anything else. They must preserve the purity of the sources of religion from which our doctrines and beliefs spring. These must be protected from all additions, accretions and innovations. There is nothing more damaging to the religion than two things:
1. Shirk (polytheism)
2. Bid’a (Innovation)
And nothing draws one nearer to His Lord except it was made lawful and recommended to him through the way of Allah and His revelation. Therefore, innovations do not draw him nearer to His Lord; in fact they only take him farther away.
For Allah has completed His religion, and perfected His blessings upon humanity, and He has described to us the means of worship that draw us nearer to Him.
Allah said, “Today I have perfected for you your religion, and completed My favor upon you, and approved for you Islam as religion.” (5:3) The Prophet said, “I have not left that which Allah had ordered you except I ordered you, and nothing that Allah has forbidden you from, except I have forbidden you from.”(21) In another narration “There is nothing that draws you nearer to heaven but I ordered you to do, and there is nothing that draws you nearer to Hell but I warned you from doing.”(22) If that is the case, it is obligatory upon Muslims to restrict themselves to what Allah has set out for us, without making any additions or alterations to it. To follow has become obligatory and to innovate, is forbidden. It is agreed that the best act of worship is the worship performed by the Prophet .
He did not sanction any of the innovations and new practices that are current today among many people. Is what the Prophet taught us not enough for us today? Do we want to do more than the Prophet did and his companions did? Are we more devoted servants of Allah than they were? Without doubt we will die before accomplishing all kinds of worship that Allah ordained to us. Why then do we seek to add innovated worship? Is it conceivable that we have worshipped Allah in all ways of worship (obligatory and advisable) and then sit down and ask for something more?
It is hard to believe that there is a person who could complete all of his obligations, all of the things that are praiseworthy, and all of the things that the Sunnah permits, in the most perfect way and then try to innovate, to invent some new kinds of worship. Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Follow and don’t innovate, for what you have (been given) is already enough.”(23) That is to say, Allah has laid down for you what is enough for you in the Shariah (The law of Allah). Hudheifa, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Every act of worship which the Prophet did not perform, perform it not.”(24)
A little worship, following the Sunnah, is better than a great deal of innovated worship that does not follow it. In fact Allah will not accept any act of this great deal of innovated worship that is not sanctioned by the Sunnah at all. The Prophet said, “Who invents something in this religion of ours, something that does not belong to it, will be rejected,”(25) and he said, “Whoever does a deed unsanctioned by us will have
it rejected.”(26) It will not be accepted from the person who offers it, and indeed, he will be punished, rather than rewarded for it.
(21) al-Shafi’i, Kitab al-umm, 7/289.
(22) Al-Baihaqy in his book Alsunan V 7 P. 76.
(23) al-Tabarani and al-Darami 1/69; Ahmad 1/139.
(24) Al-Baaith Ala Inkaril Bidaa Wal-Hawaadith for Abu Shamah, P. 19 Edited by Darul Fikr Allubnani
(25) Bukhari and Muslim.