TUESDAY, 16 MARCH 2004 14:26 UMAR MAJID ROSHAN HITS: 1928
One of the main topics of discussion at Muslim gatherings these days is the concept of bidah (innovation or introduction of something new in religion). Before proceeding, one should realize that the learned teachers of Islam have described bidah in two categories. There are types of bidah that are considered good and thus recommended and there are types of bidah that are considered prohibited. One has to realize that due to the difference in the interpretation of the Quran and sayings of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), certain acts are considered innovations by some scholars of Islam but not by others who believe those specific acts to be the pratice of the prphet Muhammad (pbuh) or approved by him. Furthermore, once an act is established as an innovation, the learned men of Islam are not always in agreement as to whether it is a good innovation or of the prohibited type.
Members of Islamic communities are influenced by the teachings of different teachers who naturally are at variance with regards to the issue of what acts are bidah. Each party strongly believes that its own view is the correct one and these discussions and debates in the Muslim get-togethers generally do not lead to any agreements. Instead, they create more hatred and enmity within the community. It leads to backbiting and the people practice their view with regards to the innovation on a much more larger scale and with even more zeal than before.
Unfortunately, at a time when most of us are not practicing the faraidh (obligations) clearly mentioned and agreed upon, we have become engrossed in the practice and preaching of innovations. Even if the innovations are accepted to be good and recommended, they can never replace the obligations. If that occurs, we need to urgently adjust our priorities. In addition, as a concerned Muslim, at times I ponder and ask everyone to think that if discussions about these issues lead to backbiting and antagonism, are we in a position to even discuss such issues these days? Finally, one should learn from various ulema (learned teachers and practitioners of Islam) even if they differ in their interpretations. Yet, priority should be given to the view that is closest to the primary sources of Islam (Quran and the method of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh)).