post

Definition of Bid’ah in Islam

Question 273: Salam, My question is what is the definition of Fitna especially in modern world. Is there anything called Bidat e Hasana? What is the definition of Bid’ah in Islam?

Answer 273: Bid’ah literally means something new, as the Quran describes Allah (swt) as the originator of the heavens and the earth (بَدِيعُ السَّمَوتِ وَالاَرضِ)[1] (badi’ meaning originator and bid’ah are words of the same root) and in Islamic terms, means to relate to religion what isn’t part of religion.

There are two points regarding the description of bid’ah:

1- Bid’ah is a type of bringing about change in religion by adding or omitting something from it. Therefore, any type of change and newness that has nothing to do with religion and is considered something normal isn’t bid’ah. For instance, if a nation chooses a certain day as a day of celebration and joy, not with the intention of relating such matter to religion and saying that religion has asked for such a thing, it isn’t considered bid’ah, although it needs to be analyzed from other points of view to make sure that it isn’t haram for any other reasons (but it isn’t bid’ah).

One can conclude from this that many of the developments and innovations that take place in arts, sports, industry etc. have nothing to do with bid’ah and the only thing that needs to be determined about them is if they are halal or not, nothing more.

2- What is meant by something being new and of no previous record in Islam is for it to not have any accordance with any Islamic laws and in no way fit under any of its guidelines or not be considered an application and instance of an Islamic assertion or doctrine.[2]

In other words, if one says that a certain act is haram or wajib or mustahabb or makrooh, while nothing in religion can be found to justify and explain what relationship this act has with religion, it is bid’ah, or else it isn’t. According to this explanation, many of the doubts and questions that might come up on bid’ah for many can easily be solved and answered. For instance, a great deal of Muslims all over the world celebrate the birthday of the holy Prophet (pbuh) while some consider this act as bid’ah! But according to what we said, bid’ah doesn’t apply here because even if we assume that such an act hasn’t been encouraged (although we might be able to say it has been) by Islam, yet it fits under another category that we are sure that Islam has indeed encouraged and is one of the clear principles of our religion, which is the showing of love and affection to the Prophet (pbuh) and his household (as).

None of the different Islamic sects have ever doubted that bid’ah is extremely forbidden and haram. Naraqi, one of the great Shia scholars says: “There is a consensus by all Muslim nations that bid’ah is haram and its being haram is a clear Islamic principle.”[3] The biggest reason for bid’ah being haram are the many hadiths that can be claimed that they reach the level of tawatur (when a hadith has been narrated so much by many different narrators, in a way that one becomes sure that all of the narrators can’t be mistaken or lying and that the tradition is authentic) that both Shias and Sunnis have narrated saying: “Adding something to religion that has no previous record in religion is bid’ah and all bid’ah is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hellfire.”[4]

Although all Islamic sects see bid’ah as haram, but since its essence isn’t completely clear, sometimes some groups and individuals have gone too far in confronting it and have accused other Muslims of being kafirs while such accusations are incorrect.

A certain group consider any form of worship that wasn’t practiced during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) or the khalifas as bid’ah and haram, and believe that one should stay away from these acts. For instance, a famous Hanbali scholar had announced theology haram and called it the root and cause of all bid’ahs and misguidance.[5] He writes that any inner knowledge that people claim they have that can’t be found in the Quran and tradition is bid’ah and no one has the right to act according to it and invite others to it. He calls upon all Muslims to return to the old religion that was in practice during the time of the first three khalifahs.[6]

These radical beliefs were strengthened in the theories of Ibn Teymiyyah and after him, by Muhammad ibn Abdil-Wahhab and ended in many Muslims being seen as innovators in religion and even mushriks (polygamists). Suleiman ibn Sahman al-Najdi, the grandson of Muhammad ibn Abdil-Wahhab, speaks of the common bid’ahs of the Muslims saying: “The four altars that are built in the mosques for each of the four Islamic sects (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafe’i and Maleki), reciting the Quran with a high voice, sending blessings on the Prophet (pbuh) (salawat), reciting supplications and doxologies after the adhan and on the night of Friday, the nights of Ramadhan, the night of Eidul-Fitr and Eidul-Adha, gathering for birthdays and deaths of great religious individuals and singing songs on birthdays with a specific tone, mixing poems with sending blessings on the Prophet (pbuh) and Quranic recitation and reciting them after Tarawih prayers, holding dhikr beads for saying dhikr, raising one’s voice while saying the dhikr of لا اله الا الله during taking the dead for burial and while splashing water on their graves after burial, wearing long sufi like clothes, hanging swords and flags in Huseiniyyahs and other places where gatherings are held, beating on tambourines and other musical instruments that make the same sounds such as trumpets, repeating the great name of Allah and His other names etc. are all bid’ah.[7] These fanatical beliefs have caused the killing and massacre of Muslims all over the world.

In response to these extremist beliefs, we say that if we are to look at the laws of Islam like this, then we can no longer accept any change in Muslim lives. We would all have to pray using the same clothes worn during the advent of Islam, think of the same things that they would think of, and pay respect to our dead the same that they would. It is clear that this type of being religious is accepted by no Islamic scholar. All scholars, including Shia scholars have been against these overindulgences and have criticized them in their books.

Because of this, Shia scholars and some Sunni scholars, have divided bid’ah into two groups; haram and halal bid’ah. The author of Jawahir says that some scholars like Muhaqqiq and Sheikh Tusi say that bid’ah is of two types; haram and halal.[8] Shafe’I has been quoted saying that bid’ah is of two types; desirable and undesirable. Bid’ah that is in accordance with Islamic tradition is desirable, while bid’ah which against it is undesirable.[9]

The great Allamah Majlisi says: “In Islamic law, bid’ah refers to something innovated in religion after the demise of the Prophet (pbuh) (that one considers as a part of religion) and there is no general or specific law or principle that applies to it.”[10] Naraqi, also a great Shia scholar, accepts this viewpoint saying: “Bid’ah means for someone other than the Shari’ (the true legislator of Islamic law, being Allah) to falsely claim that something is part of religion without any religious proof or evidence. But if a certain act that hasn’t been specifically “legislated” by religion is done by someone not in way that shows that it is part of religion, it is no longer forbidden because of being bid’ah, although it might be haram because of another reason (but it surely isn’t bid’ah).[11] Shatebi, a Sunni faqih (fiqh expert), has the same viewpoint and says: “Bid’ah is a way in religion that has been added and has no base in Islamic law. But on the outside, it looks like it is part of Islamic law and is mistaken with it.”[12] Therefore, if a Muslim practices something new that isn’t part of religion without relating it to religion, and without doing it with the intention that it is part of religion, it is permissible.

[1] . Surah Baqarah, verse 117.

[2] . With the help of Manshure Aqa’ed of Ayatullah Subhani, pp. 219 and on.

[3] . Awa’idul-Ayyam, pp. 319, quoted by Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[4] . Biharul-Anwar, vol. 2, pg. 126. “کل محدثة بدعة و کل بدعة ضلالة و کل ضلالة في النار”.

[5] . Tabaqatul-Hanabilah, vol. 2, pp. 19,27, 34, 37 according to the site of The Islamic Encyclopedia.

[6] . Tabaqatul-Hanabilah, vol. 2, pg. 35, according to the quote of Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[7] . Majmu’atul-Tafsir of Ibn Teymiyyah, pg. 340, quoted by ibid.

[8] . Jawahirul-Kalam, vol. 11, pg. 300, quoted by ibid.

[9] . Fathul-Bari fi Sharh Sahihul-Bukhari, vol. 17, pg. 10, quoted by ibid.

[10] . Biharul-Anwar, vol. 74, pg. 202: “و البدعة في الشرع ماحدث بعد الرسول ]بماانه من الدين[ و لم يکن فيه نص علي الخصوص و لايکون داخلاً في بعض العمومات”.

[11] . Awa’idul-Ayyam,pg. 110, quoted by Dr. Yaqub Ali Burji in the weblog of religions and sects.

[12] . Al’I’tisam, Library of Maktabatul-Riyadh al-Hadithah, vol. 1, pg. 127 quoted by ibid.

post

Rules concerning playing Musical instruments

Question 110: Assalamu Alaikum! What is the Shi’a stand on musical instruments, I started out as Sunni and was told I could not play them, thanks in advance for you time! Allahu Akabar!

Answer 110: In any given scenario, the obligation of a jurist lies not in dictating the ruling pertaining to a particular scenario, but rather providing a general ruling. After which, the general public is left with the responsibility of practically applying that ruling. Having said this, if a musical instrument isn’t exploited in a haraam manner, its use would not be considered haraam. The legitimacy in using these musical instruments lies in their method of application. In other words, when determining if using a musical instrument is halaal, one should consider the kind of music being played and the environment it is suited to. If the music played is becoming of immoral and corrupt gatherings, it would be deemed haraam. If this isn’t the case, such music would be considered halaal. Furthermore, it is possible for a particular instrument to have been considered at one time an instrument of haraam due to its common use in haraam gatherings. However, in another time, the same instrument may lose that characteristic of being a tool of haraam, and its use – along with the music created by it – would be considered halaal.

Sayyid Sistani (ha) says: music is an art that has spread far and wide during these days. Some varieties of this art are permissible while others are forbidden; therefore, it is permissible to listen to the first while it is forbidden to listen to the latter.

Music that is permissible is the music that does not entail entertainment in gatherings held for that purpose. Forbidden music is the music that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings.

The expression “the music or the song that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings” does not mean that the music or the song’s tune amuses the heart or changes the mental state because there is nothing wrong in it. The expression actually means that the person listening to the music or the song’s tune —especially if he is an expert in these matters— can distinguish that this tune is used in the entertainment and amusement gatherings or that it is similar to the tunes used therein. (See the question-answer section below.)

It is permissible to visit places where halãl music is being played, and it is permissible to listen to it as long as it is halãl.

It is permissible to visit public places where music is being played, even if it is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings, provided that one does not intentionally listen to it: for example, passengers on course, waiting areas for visitors, public parks, restaurants and cafes, etc —even if the music played there is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings— because there is no problem in hearing forbidden tunes without intending to listen to it.

It is permissible for adults as well as children to learn the art of halãl music in music schools or other places as long as their visits to such places do not have any negative effect on their proper upbringing.

Singing (al-ghinã’) is harãm: doing it, listening to it, or living of it. By “singing — al-ghinã’,” I mean an amusing statement expressed in the tunes that are suitable for those who provide entertainment and amusement.

It is not permissible to recite the Holy Qur’ãn, supplications (du‘ãs), and words of praise in tunes that are commensurate to entertainment and amusement gatherings.

Based on obligatory precaution, one must refrain from reciting other non-amusing statements, in poetry or prose, in that tune. (See the question-answer section below.)

The prohibition of intentionally listening and giving ear to harãm songs and music has beenmentioned in the holy tradition. The Messenger of Allãh (s.a.w.) said, “And the person with the [sin of] singing (al-ghinã’) will be raised [on the day of resurrection] blind, deaf and dumb. The person with [the sin of] adultery, of wood-wind, and of drum will also be raised in the same way.”[1]

He also said, “Whoever listens to the entertainment (song and music), lead will be melted inside his ear on the Day of Judgment.”[2] He also said, “Singing and music are enchantment for adultery.”[3] That is, it is a stepping stone or a way that leads to adultery. It is permissible for a woman to dance in front of her husband to please and arouse him. But it is not permissible for her to dance in front of other men; based on obligatory precaution, she must not dance in front of other women also. (See the question-answer section below.)

It is permissible to applaud in a marriage ceremony, religious gatherings, seminars, and other functions. This is equally permissible for women and men[4]. [5]

For further information in this regards, please read the following answer:

Index: Rules concerning music use in graduation party, answer 087.

[1] . As-Sayyid al-Khu’I, al-Masa’ilu ‘sh-Shar’iyya, vol. 2, p. 22.

[2] . Ibid.

[3] . Ibid, p. 23.

[4] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), rules concerning Music, singing & dancing » General Rules.

[5] . Adopted from answer 087 (Index: Rules concerning music use in graduation party).

post

Rules concerning music use in graduation party

Question 087: A/S. I want to have a graduation party for my 8th grade daughter iA. Only her school friends, which happen to be non-Muslim.

We don’t listen to music, obviously. But, I’m not sure how the kids will react to a no sound party. I heard that if you listen to music made from a computer, (like auto tune), AND u can’t tell the difference to what instrument is being used, it’s halal. Any suggestions or answers? Thanks in advance.

Answer 087:  If music does not befit frivolous gatherings, then it is not haram. Otherwise, listening to songs and mutrib music which befits frivolous gatherings is haram, according to Ayatollah Sistani.

Btw, distinguishing whether or not a specific music such as rap music is a type of instance or applicability of haram or halal, is the responsibility of each person. Because, any individuals that have an even a concise understanding of music can differentiate between music that is mutrib and befits frivolous gatherings and music that is not like that. Therefore, even if revolutionary or war songs are mutrib and befit frivolous gathering then listening to that type of music will also be haram.[1]

Sayyid Sistani (ha) says: music is an art that has spread far and wide during these days. Some varieties of this art are permissible while others are forbidden; therefore, it is permissible to listen to the first while it is forbidden to listen to the latter.

Music that is permissible is the music that does not entail entertainment in gatherings held for that purpose. Forbidden music is the music that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings.

The expression “the music or the song that is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings” does not mean that the music or the song’s tune amuses the heart or changes the mental state because there is nothing wrong in it. The expression actually means that the person listening to the music or the song’s tune —especially if he is an expert in these matters— can distinguish that this tune is used in the entertainment and amusement gatherings or that it is similar to the tunes used therein. (See the question-answer section below.)

It is permissible to visit places where halãl music is being played, and it is permissible to listen to it as long as it is halãl.

It is permissible to visit public places where music is being played, even if it is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings, provided that one does not intentionally listen to it: for example, passengers on course, waiting areas for visitors, public parks, restaurants and cafes, etc —even if the music played there is suitable for entertainment and amusement gatherings— because there is no problem in hearing forbidden tunes without intending to listen to it.

It is permissible for adults as well as children to learn the art of halãl music in music schools or other places as long as their visits to such places do not have any negative effect on their proper upbringing.

Singing (al-ghinã’) is harãm: doing it, listening to it, or living of it. By “singing — al-ghinã’,” I mean an amusing statement expressed in the tunes that are suitable for those who provide entertainment and amusement.

It is not permissible to recite the Holy Qur’ãn, supplications (du‘ãs), and words of praise in tunes that are commensurate to entertainment and amusement gatherings.

Based on obligatory precaution, one must refrain from reciting other non-amusing statements, in poetry or prose, in that tune. (See the question-answer section below.)

The prohibition of intentionally listening and giving ear to harãm songs and music has beenmentioned in the holy tradition. The Messenger of Allãh (s.a.w.) said, “And the person with the [sin of] singing (al-ghinã’) will be raised [on the day of resurrection] blind, deaf and dumb. The person with [the sin of] adultery, of wood-wind, and of drum will also be raised in the same way.”[2]

He also said, “Whoever listens to the entertainment (song and music), lead will be melted inside his ear on the Day of Judgment.”[3] He also said, “Singing and music are enchantment for adultery.”[4] That is, it is a stepping stone or a way that leads to adultery. It is permissible for a woman to dance in front of her husband to please and arouse him. But it is not permissible for her to dance in front of other men; based on obligatory precaution, she must not dance in front of other women also. (See the question-answer section below.)

It is permissible to applaud in a marriage ceremony, religious gatherings, seminars, and other functions. This is equally permissible for women and men.[5]

[1] . Seyyed Mojtaba Hoseini, Porsesha va Pasokha, pg. 169; Imam Khomeini, Al-Makasebul-Muharramah, vol. 1, pp. 198-224; Ali Hoseini, Al-Musiqi, pp.16-17; Tabrizi, Istifta’at, questions 10, 46, 47 and 1048; Fazel, Jame’ul-Masa’il, vol. 1, issues 974, 978 and 979.

[2] . As-Sayyid al-Khu’I, al-Masa’ilu ‘sh-Shar’iyya, vol. 2, p. 22.

[3] . Ibid.

[4] . Ibid, p. 23.

[5] . The official website of the office of Sayyid Sistani (ha), rules concerning Music, singing & dancing » General Rules.