This is the discussion of An-Nawawi’s hadith #5: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected.”
Anything new introduced into Islam will not be better or even equal to what we already have in Islam.
If the introduced action was supposedly an act of worship, it will not be accepted by Allah. The person will not be rewarded for it and the deed will be rejected. If the action was related to worldly matters or worldly transactions, then that action is null and void as it goes against the principles of the shari’ah.
There is another narration of the same hadith with slightly different wording. It says: “Whoever does an act that is not in accord with our matter shall have it rejected.” This narration doesn’t leave room for one to argue, “Well, I didn’t introduce it, I just followed it…”
Islam is Submitting and Following
This concept is very important for Muslims – especially today, in a world where rebelling is glorified. Islam is about submission to Allah.
The essential message of this hadith is that Islam is about following and not innovating.
Islam is following what Allah has stated in the Qur’an and what the Prophet (peace be upon him) ha taught. It is not inventing new ways of worship and new custom or practices that have no justification in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Hence, every deed, statement or practice must be judged in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. (6:162)
Rule of Thumb: Two Kinds of Acts
There are two types of act that jurists distinguish: rites of worship (ibadaat)and worldly transactions and dealing (mu’amalaat). Ibadaat are deeds done solely for worshipping Alla and getting closer to Him. Mu’amalaat are act done with a worldly purpose in mind. A good rule of thumb is:
If an act is supposedly an act of worship, then there must be direct and clear evidence for it. In this case, the burden of proofis to show that the act is sanctioned by the shari’ah. If there is no such clear proof, the act is not considered proper or acceptable. One the other hand, with respect to worldly dealings, an act is considered legal and valid a long a there is no specific violation of any principle of the shari’ah.
The Components of Acts of Worship
For acts of worship, Ibn Uthaymeen says that all of these components of the act must be in accord with the shari’ah:
- Cause: If the reason for such an act is not sanctioned by the shari’ah, then it will be rejected. For example, gathering and celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) never did so, neither did any of the companion.
- Type: For example, if a person wants to sacrifice a horse for Eid, it will be rejected.
- Amount: For example, praying 6 rak’ah for ‘asr.
- Manner: we have to make wudhu in the sequence in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us.
- Timing: We have to fast in Ramadan. We can’t randomly pick another month – say, like Sha’ban 🙂
- Place: In hajj we have to go Arafah on the Day of Arafah, and not Muzdalifah 🙂
Generally, violating any of the above are causes to have one’s act rejected. Such acts cannot be considered acts of worship of Allah.
There is much more leeway and flexibility with worldly transactions and dealings. We are free to meet our needs in any way we wish as long as we don’t violate certain principles laid down by the shari’ah.
If the shari’ah lays down a specific principle or law and then someone implements a new principle or law in place of it, that new principle or law shall be rejected.
Also, if the worldly transaction is something that the shari’ah has strictly prohibited, then it shall be rejected. For example, two people who were suckled by the same woman are forbidden to get married.
This hadith demonstrates the importance of knowledge. Al-Sindi stated that distinguishing innovations from what is permissble and the sunnah is very important and sometimes very difficult. It requires good knowledge of the Qur’an, sunnah, consensus and what they point to.
Al-Sindi states that many innovations, due to ignorance, are taken as sunnah and many sunnah acts are considered innovations. The only way this can be rectified is through knowledge and study of the Qur’an and sunnah.
That concludes hadith #5. InshaAllah we will begin with hadith #6 next time (“That which is lawful is clear….”)