Innovation in Islam

Imam Muslim related from the route of Jarir Ibn Abdullah, that the Prophet said:

The one who innovates a good innovation in Islam has its reward and the reward of those who would practice with it until the Day of Judgementwithout lessening the rewards of those who practice with it. The one who innovates the innovation of misguidance, would take the sin for it and the sin of those who practice with it until the Day of Judgementwithout lessening the sin of those who practice with it.

The one who innovates a good innovation in Islam has its reward and the reward of those who would practice with it until the Day of Judgementwithout lessening the rewards of those who practice with it. The one who innovates the innovation of misguidance, would take the sin for it and the sin of those who practice with it until the Day of Judgementwithout lessening the sin of those who practice with it. This hadith, which is confirmed and of the sahih classification, is a foundation for proving the validity of the good innovations in Islam. The good innovation is called the 'liked innovation'. The saying of the Prophet in the hadith refers to the good innovation as opposed to the bad innovation signifying that it includes those innovations that comply with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Every innovation innovated by the people of knowledge that complies with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet is a good innovation, as indicated by the above-mentioned hadith of the Prophet:

He who innovates a good innovation in Islam would have the reward of it and of those who practice with it until the Day of Judgementwithout lessening the reward of those who practice with it. The Prophet mentioned this hadith in relation to a specific incident which occurred when a group of very poor people came to the Prophet. They were so poor that they could not afford an article of clothing for boththe upper and lower part of their bodies. Out of their poverty, they covered their bodies by wearing a sheet of material with an opening cut in it for the head. These people were not inhabitants of al-Madinah, though they had come there out of their love and desire to meet the Prophet. When the Prophet saw their state of poverty, the expression on his face changed to sadness. The Prophet urged the Muslims to contribute and pay in charity to those needy people what would be enough to lift their sadness and their need. One man stood up, came forward, and put something between the hands of the Prophet as a contribution to those people. Another came forward with a contribution, then a third, and a fourth. One brought food and another clothing--until a large quantity gathered between the hands of the Prophet. At that time, the face of the Prophet expressed happiness, and he said: "He who innovates a good innovation in Islam, would have its reward and the reward of those who practice with it until the Day of Judgement--without lessening any of the rewards of those who practice with it." Although the Prophet stated this hadith at that specific incident, the meaning is general and covers the general cases. It is not permissible to claim that this hadith applies only to charity because the Prophet used a general term in this hadith. He did not specify the reward to 'He who spends in charity,' rather he said: 'He who innovates a good innovation.' The Prophet used a general term in this hadith, even though it was revealed for a specific incident. It is the rule among the scholars that if an ayah or hadith was revealed for a specific incident or a specific reason yet a general term was used in that ayah or hadith, then the criterion would be in the general meaning of the term and not by the specificity of the incident. Any Muslim who knows of an innovation innovated by the pious Muslim scholars which complies with the Qur'an and the hadith, let him step forward and apply it. All such innovations which comply with the Qur'an and the hadith are covered and included by the hadith of the Prophet:

He who innovates a good innovation in Islam has its reward and the reward of those who practice with it until the Day of Judgement. Hence this hadith is a foundation to affirm and confirm the validity of the good innovation in Islam. Moreover, the practices of the Companions and what we have witnessed from the pious Muslims stand as more proof of the validity of the good innovations. Some people falsely claim that anything that was innovated after the Prophet is an innovation of misguidance. Their statement contradicts the saying of the Prophet previously mentioned; and it contradicts the doings of the Companions and their followers. One example of a good innovation is that which was done by Yahya Ibn Ya^mar--adding the dots above and below some of the Arabic letters in the Qur'an. Those who wrote down the Revelation that came down on the Prophet wrote the ayat of the Qur'an without the dots that are present today in the Arabic letters.

Courtesy: Association of Islamic Charitable Projects Web site. For more articles please go to ISRA`s Home page.

© 2007 Islamic Studies and Research Association (ISRA)



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