Our beloved Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s pace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever innovates something into this religion of ours will have it rejected.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari)
Amongst the worst evils that has afflicted this ummah is the evil of innovations. Some of these innovations are based on weak hadith, which cannot be authentically traced back to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and should therefore not be acted upon. Others are based on whims and desires, and still others are even based on shirk or making partners with Allah.
Some of the common innovations are mentioned below:
1. Kissing One’s Thumbs and Rubbing One’s Eyes With Them
It is all too common to see Muslims kiss their thumbs and then rub their eyes when the Prophet’s name is mentioned, peace be upon him. The basis of this act is a fabricated narration reported with a chain of narration full of unknown narrators, that says it will cure any eye diseases. To follow it is an act of ignorance.
2. Du’a in a Group
This is amongst the innovations that have become so common that many Muslims actually believe that it is a sunnah. Yet this act has no basis in Qur’an or even weak hadith! In many masjids, there is a joint du’a made after every salah, where the imam makes du’a aloud and the congregation says ‘ameen’. There is no doubt that this is an act of innovation, as the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, never did such a congregational du’a after salah, nor did the companions after him, or their Successors after that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When a drought afflicted the Muslims during ‘Umar’s Caliphate, ‘Umar himself was the one who made du’a, and he also ordered ‘Abbas to make individual du’a as well. He did not however order the Companions to make joint du’a behind him. Congregation is permissible on a few occasions as illustrated in the sunnah. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would make du’a during the Friday khutbah and during the witr prayer in congregation, but to make it a habit other than that is innovation.
3. To Clasp One’s Hands to One’s Chest During Du’a
This is contrary to the proper nature of du’a, as the Sunnah is to ask with the palms outwards.
4. Tawassul with the Status of the Prophet
You can find a detailed discussion of this concept here. The way that a person does is that they say: ‘O Allah! I ask you by virtue of the status of Your Prophet, peace be upon him, that you grant me such and such.’ This type of action has not been mentioned as permissible in either the Qur’an or the sunnah so it should be avoided. It was not something that the Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, ever practiced, and no group of people ever loved the Prophet more than them, may Allah have mercy on their souls.
5. To Specify the Unspecified
What is meant here is that a person specifies a certain time of place to make du’a that is not specified in the Shariah. For example, they may make it a habit to make a specific du’a for each tawaf believing them to be from the sunnah, when there is nothing in the Qur’an or Sunnah to support this. Other examples include making a wish when blowing out candles, or for the new year etc. The Sunnah specifices that we should not isolate specific occasions for specific types of du’a, unless this was a practice of the Propeht, peace and blessings be upn him, like for example when entering the masjid etc.