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Part of a series on Islam
Usul al-fiqh

(The Roots of Jurisprudence)

Scholarly titles

Bid‘ah (Arabic: بدعة‎) is any type of innovation in Islam. Though innovations in worldly matters, such as science, medicine and technology are acceptable and encouraged, Bid`ah within the religion is often seen as a sin or innuendo, and the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, stated as such:

“Whosoever originates an innovation in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” [1][2] In addition, the Qur'an (which Muslims believe is the word of God) states:

" ..This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion."[3]

Similar statements are found in other verses of the Qur'an and other Hadith as well.


According to Sunni Islam

Sunni Islamic scholars have divided bid'ah into two types: innovations in worldly matters and innovations in religious matters.[4]


In worldly matters

Sunni Muslim scholars have divided bid'ah in worldly matters into three types.

  1. Innovations that are purely good - these are permissible under Islamic law. This can include anything from inventions such as watches to customs and culture, given they don't violate the Sharia.
  2. Innovations that are purely evil - these are forbidden under Islamic law. Examples of this type of bid'ah include musical instruments.[5][6]

In religious matters

Religious innovation means inventing a new way of worshipping Allah that was not originally included in the message that Islamic tradition claims was revealed to Muhammad. There is much criticism of bid'ah in the Qur'an and Sunnah, according to Sunni Islam, with Muhammad, his companions, and predecessors all complaining about innovation - particularly the four Sunni Imams (Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man, Malik ibn Anas, Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

Muhammad said:

Whoever establishes an innuendo or accommodates an innovator then upon him is the curse of Allah, His Angels and the whole of mankind.[7]

`Abd Allah ibn `Umar said: "Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good[8]."

Imaam ash-Shaatibee mentions[9]: Ibn Wahb said: From Ibn 'Abbaas, that he said regarding the saying of God: On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black[10], "The faces of Ahl us-Sunnah will become white and the faces of Ahl ul-Bid'ah will become black". Ibn 'Abbaas also said: "Indeed the most detestable of things to Allaah are the innovations[11]".

Sufyaan ath-Thowree mentions: "Innovation is more beloved to Iblees than sin, since a sin may be repented from but innovation is not repented from[12]" and "Whoever listens to an innovator has left the protection of Allaah and is entrusted with the innovation[13]".

Al-Fudayl bin 'Iyaad mentions: "I met the best of people, all of them people of the Sunnah and they used to forbid from accompanying the people of innovation[14]".

Hasan al-Basri mentions: "Do not sit with the people of innovation and desires, nor argue with them, nor listen to them[15]".

Ibraaheem ibn Maysarah mentions: "Whoever honours an innovator has aided in the destruction of Islaam[16]".

Imaam al-Barbahaaree mentions: "The innovators are like scorpions. They bury their heads and bodies in the sand and leave their tails out. When they get the chance they sting; the same with the innovators who conceal themselves amongst the people, when they are able, they do what they desire".[17]

Abu Haatim said: "A sign of the people of innovation is their battling against the people of Narrations[18]".

Abu 'Uthmaan as-Saaboonee said: "The signs of the people of innovation are clear and obvious. The most apparent of their signs is their severe enmity for those who carry the reports of the Prophet[19]".

The late Shaikh Muhammad Uthaimeen, a prominent modern day scholar of Islam, wrote: "And there is no such thing in Islaam as bid’ah hasanah (good innovation)." [20]

When a religious innovation is implemented, it is generally felt that the innovator is assuming that the Sunnah is not good enough, that he must resort to something "better." Even though this statement would be an admission of disbelief [21] - there are some innovations that contain shirk and there are some which allow someone to remain a Muslim, while his action is rejected (regardless of any sincerity it might have had)[22].

According to Shi'a Islam

According to Shi'a beliefs the definition of bid'ah is anything that is introduced to Islam as either being fard, mustahabb, makruh or haram and/or that contradicts the Quran or hadith. Any new good practice that is practiced that does not contradict the Quran or hadith is permissible. However, it is not permissible to say that a new good practice (that does not contradict the Quran or hadith) is obligatory or highly recommended.

For example, one may introduce establishing the tradition of celebrating Muhammad's birthday through recommended acts such as fasting or giving alms. If someone performs the tradition with the intention of recommendation or obligation, the tradition becomes bid'ah.

As a general rule in Shi'a belief, anything is permissible except whatever is prohibited through divine revelation such as the Quran or hadith.[23]


  1. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 2550
  2. ^ Sahih Muslim 1718
  3. ^ Surah al-Ma'idah 5:3
  4. ^ Al-Qawaa'id wal-Usool al-Jaami'ah wal-Furooq wat-Taqaaseem al-Badee'ah an-Naafi'ah by Abd ar-Rahman ibn Naasir as-Sa'di
  5. ^ Fat-hul Baari by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (vol.2, p. 443)
  6. ^ Al Muttaqoon -> The Ruling on Music and Singing
  7. ^ al-Bukhaaree (12/41) and Muslim (9/140)
  8. ^ Abu Shaamah (no. 39)
  9. ^ al-I'tisaam (1/40-45)
  10. ^ Aali Imraan, 3:106
  11. ^ al-Bayhaqee in as-Sunan al-Kubraa (4/316)
  12. ^ al-Laalikaa'ee - Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahlis-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah (no. 238)
  13. ^ Abu Nu'aym in al-Hilyah (7/26) and Ibn Battah (no.444)
  14. ^ al-Laalikaa'ee - Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahlis-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah (no.267)
  15. ^ Sunan ad-Daarimee (1/121)
  16. ^ al-Laalikaa'ee - Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahlis-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah (1/139)
  17. ^ Tabaqaatul-Hanaabilah - Volume 2, Page 44
  18. ^ Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah - al-Laalikaa'ee - Volume 1, Page 179
  19. ^ Abu 'Uthmaan as-Saaboonee, The 'Aqeedah of the (Pious) Predecessors - Page 101
  20. ^ Al Muttaqoon -> Question And Answers On Bid’ah (Innovation)
  21. ^ Microsoft Word - Explanation of The Nullifiers of Islaam.doc
  22. ^ Islam Question and Answer - Does a good intention intercede for one?
  23. ^ :: Bidah (Innovation)

External links

Opposing views

Supporting view

Shi'a view


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