I heard that there are different types of innovation (bidah). What are they?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
There are two definitions of bidah (innovation). The first linguistic and the second technical.
The word bidah linguistically means introducing something new, whereas it's technical is “that belief or action which was not in practice during the blessed age of Rasoolullah (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) but was introduced after him.” (Mirqat Vol 1, P368)
The Messenger of Allah (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “…avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an misguidance.” (Mishkaat, P 30).
Scholars commentating on the above Hadith state that from a Shariah point of view every type of bidah is wrong and sinful. However, bidah can be divided into a number of categories when considered in the linguistic definition.
Firstly bidah can be classed in to two types.
1. Bidah Ittiqadi (innovation in belief)
2. Bidah Amali (innovation in action)
Bidah Ittiqadi is that new belief which came in to Islam after the time of Prophet Muhammad (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam). E.g. Jabriyya, Qadriyya, Qadyanism.
“It is Makruh …to pray behind an Imam who is a Bidati. Bidati is that person whose beliefs contradict to that which has been conveyed to us from Rasoolullah (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam).” (Durrul Mukhtar, Vol 1, P 414)
The above text indicates that new beliefs (aqeedah) are bidah.
Bidah Amali: “Bidah is that innovation (action) which was not there in the blessed age of Rasoolullah (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam).” (Mirqat Vol 1, P368)
If the innovation was brought into practice in the age of the Sahabah (ridiyal lahu anhum ajmaeen) then this should not be called bidah but rather the Sunnah of the Sahabah (ridiyal lahu anhum ajmaeen).
Bidah Amali (innovated action) can be classified in to two categories’:
Bidah Hasanah (praiseworthy innovation), that action which does not contradict with the Quran and the Sunnah and was brought into practice after the time of the Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam)
Bidah Saiyyiah (offensive innovation) that action which was not practiced in the blessed age of the Holy Prophet (sallal lahu alayhi wa sallam) and which contradicts the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.
The above two types are then classified in to further four categories.
“Bidah is either Waajib, for example to learn Nahw (Arabic syntax) … or it is Haraam for example, the introduction of new beliefs like the Sects Jabriyya, Qadriyya … or it is Mustahab for example, to construct religious institutions and every good thing which was not there in the first era of the Islamic century or to make congregation in the Taraweeh prayers … or it is Makruh for example decoration of mosques … or it is Jaiz for example, to shake hands after the (Fajr) prayers …” (Mirqat Vol 1, P368)
Similar text to the above is also mentioned in Raddul Muhtar (Vol 1, P414). These indicate that bidah at times is not only jaiz but can be mustahab and even wajib.
Only Allah Knows Best
Darul Ifta Birmingham