Hadith 05: Innovations (Bidah)

“On the authority of the Mother of the Faithful, Umm Abdullah, Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.’” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)


This hadith was narrated by The Mother of the Faithful, Aisha (r), whose kunya was Umm Abdullah. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (r) and the most beloved wife of the Prophet (s). She married the Prophet (s) at a young age and matured under his (s) guidance. She was a distinguished jurist, and narrated 2210 hadith.

“Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.”

This hadith refers to matters that are ‘introduced’ or innovated to the religion of Islam. In Arabic this is known as bidah.  The religion of Islam is complete, and there is no need to introduce anything new. As Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“This day I have perfected and completed your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Surah al-Maaidah:3)

‘This matter of ours’ as it is refered to in this hadith, is the religion of Islam. The Prophet (s) refered it to is as an amr or ‘matter’ to imply that it is something that the Muslims are concerned or busy with. All of the Muslims actions are concerned with or related to this matter.

Any opinion, view or practice, that is not found in, or derived from, the Qur’an or theSunnah of the Prophet (s), has no place in Islam.

If the introduced matter relates to worship, it will be rejected by Allah. Even if one perceives that the act they are doing – be it spinning around in circles, punishing their body, or celebrating the Prophet’s (s) birthday – will draw them closer to Allah (swt), this action will not be accepted by Allah (swt) if it was not practiced by the Prophet (s). Allah (swt) is the only One who knows how He (swt) should be worshipped, and He has shown us the example of the best type of worship in the practice of the Prophet (s). Thus, the general principle is, if it is an act of worship, there must be clear evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah for it.

In relation to wordly matters, the general principle is that all actions are allowed unless they specifically prohibited. Here, our concern should be whether the act violates any of the principles in the Shareeah. There are the obvious examples of adultery, fornication, taking intoxicants or dealing in interest (riba). But this hadith would also relate to acts such as a Muslim woman seeking to get married without the consent of her male guardian. This  is in contradiction to the rules laid out in the Shareeah, and would therefore be rejected by Allah (swt).

This shows us the importance of seeking a deeper knowledge of our religion. If we don’t know what our religion teaches us, then how can we know if we are acting in accordance with it? How can we be sure that we are staying on the ‘Straight Path’? As Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“And verily, this is My Straight Path, so follow it. And follow not [other] paths, for they separate you away from this path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious.” (Surah al-Anaam:153)

Extracted from Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi (Vol 1) by Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo Pages 435-449

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