What is Bida’h or Bida’t (بدعة)?


Q1. What is Bida’h or Bida’t (بدعة)? How many types are of Bida’h ? Is all types of Bida’h prohibited in Islam ?

Q2. What is “Bid’ah Hasana”? Is it Permissible?

Q3. A new thing introduced by Khulfa-e-Rashideen like 20 Rakah of Taraweeh, 2nd Azan of Jumah etc is also Bida’h? If not Why?


Wa Alaikum As Salaam,

The scholars of the Ummah have given the definition of Bid’ah in many different ways, however the gist and summary is the same. Some of these definitions are:

1) Imam Nawawi writes: ‘Bid’ah is any invented thing that was not present at the time of the Messenger of Allah (S.A).’ (Mirqaat)

2) Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani writes: ‘Bid’ah is that which is newly invented and there is no origin for it in the Shariah.’ (Fathul Baari)

3) Imam Shafi (A.R) has stated: ‘Bid’ah is any newly invented thing which opposes the Book of Allah or the Sunnah or the traditions or Ijma, then this is Bid’ah Dhalaal (innovation of misguidance)’. (Fathul Baari)

4) Hafiz Ibn Rajab Hanbali writes: ‘The meaning of Bid’ah is any new thing which has no origin indicating towards it in the Shariah. As for that which there is an origin indicating towards it from the Shariah, then it is not a Bid’ah even though it is a Bid’ah literally. (Jamiul Uloom Wal Hikam).

5) Hafiz Badrudeen Aini has written: ‘Bid’ah in reality means the act of bringing about something which was not present at the time of the Prophet (S.A)’. (Umadatul Qaari).

6) Allama Abu Ishaq Shatbi writes: ‘Bid’ah is a path in religion which has been invented, and seeks a resemblance to the Sacred Shariah. The purpose for practicing upon it is the same purpose one will have in practicing the Shariah itself’. (Al Hisaam)

From all these definitions it is established that Bid’ah is such a newly created, invented and innovated religious act which has no Shar’i evidence or source. The Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Shar’i Qiyas give no indication to it. That which has not been evident expressively or indicatively from the Prophet (S.A) through his words, actions approvals or disapprovals is not Deen and it cannot be evident in the Shariah.

Those things, the allowance of which has been granted through the words of the Prophet (S.A), his actions, approvals and disapprovals, and its presence was found during the time of the Prophet (S.A) or the period of the first three generations is not Bid’ah.

The meaning of Bid’ah which has been explained so far is the Shar’i technical meaning and in the Ahadith the word Bid’ah carries the above Shar’i meanings. However, during the first generation (i.e. the Sahabahs) and Tabieen times, sometimes, every new act (thing) was called Bid’ah (using its literal meaning) whether the act was evident in Shariah or not, eg. Umar (R.A) said about Taraweeh, ‘What a good Bid’ah this is’.

The usage of the word ‘bid’ah’ in these cases was only based on its literal meaning which is more general than the Shar’i meaning (for Bid’ah). Due to its literal meaning, and giving consideration to the word Bid’ah from a literal meaning point of view, Imam Shafi has explained that Bid’ah is of two types: 1) Mahmooda – (Good) 2) Mazmooma – (Bad)

Imam Shafi says: Bid’ah is of two types, good and bad. Whatever is in conformity to the Sunnah then it is good and whatever opposes it (the Sunnah) then it is bad. (Fathul Baari)

Similarly, Allama Izzudeen bin Abdis Salaam, giving consideration to its general meaning has divided Bid’ah into five types.

1) Waajib

2) Haram

3) Mandoob

4) Makrooh

5) Mubah

The gist of it is that Bid’ah with respect to its literal definition and implication, is sometimes good and sometimes bad. But with respect to the Shar’i technical meaning of Bid’ah it is never good, it is always bad.

Shar’i Bid’ah is of two types:

1) Bid’ah Itiqaadi (Bid’ah in beliefs)

2) Bid’ah Amali (Bid’ah in actions)

1) Bid’ah Itiqaadi is that a person or group chooses/adopts certain beliefs and ideologies which are opposing to the beliefs and ideologies of the Prophet (S.A) and the pious predecessors e.g. To believe that the Prophet (S.A) is Alimul Ghaib (knower of the unseen), or Hazir and Nazir (present everywhere and looking everywhere) or Mukhtar Kul (having full power and control).

In the same way the beliefs of the deviated sects (i.e. Shia, Khawarij, Mutazila, Qadriya, Jabriya etc) are all Bid’ah Itiqaadi. According to the Shar’i meaning of Bid’ah, they are all Ahlul Bid’ah (people of Bid’ah).

2) Bid’ah Amali (Bid’ah in actions) is that a person’s belief is correct but adopts certain practices which are not evident from the Prophet (S.A) or the pious predecessors e.g. building shrines over the grave, putting lights over the graves etc.

The 20 rakaah of Taraweeh is not known to be bid’ah in the Shariah, seeing that the idea of performing Taraweeh Salaat in Jamaat as well as performing 20 rakaats were already established during the life of the Prophet (SAS), and these were known to Umar (RA). What Umar (RA) referred to as Bid’ah was the fact that he gathered all the Muslims under one Imam for Taraweeh Salaah, instead of having them in small groups as they did before. This, he did in the presence of the Sahabahs and they all agreed to it. The other Khalifahs after him like Uthman (RA) and Ali (RA), as well as the other Sahabahs and Tabieen Scholars implemented this without hesitation and disapproval. Based on the explaination of ‘Bidah’ which I gave before, this act does not fall within the category of Bid’ah in Deen (religion). The usage of the word bid’ah by Umar (RA) was in its literal sense, which means that the manner in which he gathered all the Muslims under one Imam for Salaah at Taraweeh was not done in this way by the Prophet (SAS).

With respect to the 2nd Azan of Juma which was introduced by Uthman (RA), this also is not considered to be bidah in deen (religion). Uthman did this on account of a need at that time, and it was done in the presence of the great Sahabahs who approved it.

After the time of Uthman (RA), Ali (RA) and all the other Muslim leaders and great scholars implemented and practiced it without hesitation and disapproval. Here again, the definition which has been given for ‘bidah’ by the great scholars, show that this act of Uthman (RA) does not fall into the category of bid’ah in deen.

And Allah knows best,
Mufti Waseem Khan