The Islamic meaning of bid’ah does not refer to modern forms of technology. Instead, the word only refers to acts of worship.

Explanation of What Bid’ah is.

Literaly and technically

  • The laws of the religion of Islam are comprehensively established through the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. The Qur’aan and the Sunnah serve as the basic sources Islamic law and they esatablish a Sharee’ah that is complete and absolute and does not require any addition.
  • The word bid’ah literally means ‘something that is brought into existence for the first time’ or ‘something new that is made or invented, which did not exist before’. This meaning is general and applies to things related to the religion and also to those things that are not related to the religion (e.g. science and technology).
  • In the Sharee’ah, the word bid’ah has a slightly different and more specific meaning. It refers either to invent a new act of worship, or to practice a lawful act of worship in a way different from the way I was practiced by the Prophet ﷺ and his companions.
  • The scholar, Imaam Ash-Shaatibee defines bid’ah in the following way:

“A bid’ah is any invented act or way that is made to resemble some part of the Sharee’ah and it is followed as an act of the worship of Allah…It only relates to acts of worship”. (ash-Shaatibee)

  • This definition establishes the point that any act that is not directly associated to aspects of religion should not be thought of as being a bid’ah. This means that using microphones, plastic toothbrushes, planes and any other forms of technology that did not exist in the time of the Prophet cannot be considered as being forms of bid’ah. It would be permissible to make use of these forms of technology as long as they do not conflict with injunctions of the religion.
  • An example of technological advances that were not present in the time of the Prophet ﷺ but are in common usage today is that of transport. Even though the motor-car, airplane, etc were not present in the time of the Prophet, it would be entirely permissible to use them. In fact, with regard to modes of transport, Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’aan:
  • According to As-Sa’dee, the last part of this aayah refers to forms of transport that were not around when the Qur’aan was revealed, such as planes and cars.
  • Any bid’ah in the religion is haram. If these modern forms of transport were classed as bid’ah according to the Sharee’ah definition, then Allah ﷻ would have made them haraam. The fact that Allah did not make these forms of transport haraam means that they and other modern technologies cannot be included in the Sharee’ah definition of bid’ah.

In order for an act to be classed as a bid’ah, the following three conditions have to be met:

  • It is an act of worship that is not based on the Qur’aan and authentic Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ .
  • It is something that is done in respect to the worship of Allah ﷻ .
  • It is an act that is done with the intention of pleasing or getting a reward from Allah ﷻ .

Those who follow a particular bid’ah are in fact adding things into the religion. If they do this, then it is as if they are saying that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did not complete his task perfectly. It is our belief that it is beyond any doubt that the Prophet ﷺ passed on the message of Allah without any mistakes. The following hadeeth clarifies this.

The Prophet ﷺ said:

ألا هل بلغت ، قالوا نعم ، قال : اللهم اشهد – ثلاثا – (البخاري ومسلم)

‘Haven’t I conveyed Allah’s Message to you?’ They (the Companions) replied, ‘Yes.’” The Prophet said three times, ‘O Allah! Be witness for it.’

(Reported by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umarin Sahesh al-Bukhaari and Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullaah in Saheeh Muslim with a different wording)

  • Introducing bid’ah into the religion goes against the teachings in the Qur’aan.

This is because Allah says:

  • The religion of Islam is perfect and is in no need of either additions or subtractions. Muslims do not have the authority to invent things in the religion. Instead, they should follow the pure teachings of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ according to the understanding of the Companions. During the sermons the Prophet often emphasized the following:

إن أصدق الحديث كتاب الله وأحسن الهدي هدي محمد وشر الأمور محدثاتها وكل محدثة بدعة وكل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة في النار

…Indeed, the best speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance of the Muhammad ﷺ . The worst affairs are newly-invented matters, and every newly-invented matter is a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is a misguidance, and every form of misguidance (will lead you) to Hellfire. (Sunan An-Nasaa?)

  • The Islamic meaning of bid’ah does not refer to modern forms of technology. Instead, the word only refers to acts of worship.
  • For an act to be a bid’ah, three conditions have to be met.
  • Muslims should follow the pure teachings of Islam.
  1. Explain What Bid’ah is.

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