Performing Salaah behind one who practices Bid’ah.

Q. In one of your previous answers, you mentioned that it was Makrooh to perform salaah behind someone who is involved in bid’ah practices. Can you please elaborate on this, with references from the Hanifi Fiqh, (seeing that many of those who do these practices claim to follow the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa).

I have checked with many other renowned scholars from other countries and they have all endorsed what you have said. However, as a clarification to many of our Muslims over here, I will appreciate it, if you can explain some of the references which are mentioned in the Hanafi Fiqh.

A. First of all, I will like to say that the Fatawas that are issued from Darul Uloom, are not based upon personal opinions or rulings. We are followers of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah, and we rule in accordance to what the Ulama-ul-Haqq (scholars of truth) have ruled. We have no authority to give our personal opinions on any matter of Islam, since we are not Mujtahids. Instead, we adhere to the rulings and explanations of authentic and reliable scholars from the time of the pious predecessors until present. As such, when a fatwa (ruling) is issued on any topic, then it means that it is the same, upon which the majority of the scholars (if not all) have ruled.

To answer your question, we will give the rulings of the great Muftis and scholars who have ruled upon this issue. These Muftis and scholars were indeed from among the greatest scholars at their times, and were looked upon by all other scholars in their countries as the most competent persons to give Islamic rulings, since they possessed great knowledge, understanding, wisdom and piety.

Before giving some of these references, it should be borne in mind that the practices of ‘standing for the customary Tazeem’ and the ‘Celebration of the Prophet’s birthday’ were latter-day inventions which never existed in the beginning centuries of Islam. As such, since these did not come up at the time of the pious predecessors from among the Sahabahs, Tabieen, Tabut Tabieen (including the four great Imams of Fiqh), one will not find writings of these scholars regarding these innovated practices. However, one will certainly find the strict and firm rulings of these scholars against every type of ‘innovation’ which crept into the Ummah during their times.

For example, let’s look at this incident. It is narrated that the great Sahabi, Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) was informed of a group of people who sat in the Masjid after Maghrib Salaah. One among them would say, ‘Recite Allahu Akbar so many times, recite Subhanallah so many times and recite Alhamdulillah so many times’. The group would then do as was requested. Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) arrived at the Masjid and when he heard what they were reciting, he said, ‘I am Abdullah bin Masood. I take an oath by Allah, besides whom there is no one to be worshipped, that you have innovated a dark Bid’ah, or you are regarding yourselves superior to the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A)’. (Kitabul I’tisaam)

The point to note here is that these people were simply glorifying Allah and praising Him. Hence, one will ask, ‘What is the issue with this? Why did Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) stop them and said that it was a dark Bid’ah?’ The answer to this is that Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) saw that these people have invented and introduced in Islam something which was not taught by the Prophet (S.A). The Tasbeeh (Subhanallah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah) were definitely good, however, the form and manner in which they were doing it, was not evident from the teachings of the Prophet (S.A). Hence, Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) who was one of the greatest companions and most learnt among the companions, condemned this act which the people were practicing as a deviated practice, and so, he referred to it as a ‘dark Bid’ah’.

In another tradition, it is narrated that once a man sneezed in the presence of Abdullah bin Umar (R.A) and said, ‘Alhamdulillah Was Salaamu Ala Rasoolillah’. Upon hearing this, Abdullah bin Umar (R.A) immediately rebuked him, saying that the Messenger of Allah (S.A) did not teach his followers to say that. Instead, one has been taught to say ‘Alhamdulillah ala kulli Haal’. (Tirmizi).

The narration shows that the great companion became upset with the person and rebuked him for doing a thing which was not evident from the Prophet (S.A).

It is also recorded in another narration, that on one occasion Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) heard that some people gathered in the Masjid and were reciting ‘laa-ilaaha illallah’ and Darood (Salaah and Salaam) in a loud manner. He went to them and said, ‘This (way of recital) was non-existent during the time of the Prophet (S.A). I regard you as innovators’. Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) continued to repeat this until they were all sent out of the Masjid’. (Fatawa Qadhi Khan).

It must be noted here, that these people were only reciting ‘la-ilaaha illallah’ and Darood Shareef, and both of these are great acts that are highly rewarding. Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) did not condemn what they were reciting, (which was ‘la-ilaaha illallah’ and Darood Shareef), instead, he openly condemned the manner in which they had devised for these good actions, because they were reciting these recitals in a manner that was not taught or practiced by the Prophet (S.A).

Note that while reprimanding the people for their action, Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) said, ‘This method was non-existent during the time of the Prophet (S.A). I regard you as innovators’. This statement (of Abdullah bin Masood) shows clearly that if a form of worship or practice of Islam was not instructed or practiced by the Prophet (S.A), then it will be deemed as an innovation in Islam.

If the Sahabah (companions) did not entertain the ‘bringing about’ of any new Islamic practice, then no one has the right to do so. There are many more incidents like the above which indicate to the great detestation shown by the Sahabahs to practices which were invented by the people, and were not evident from the teachings of the Prophet (S.A).

So, as stated before, the practices which we are speaking about were latter-day inventions and innovations, hence, one will not find explicit statements regarding a ‘specific custom’ from the very early scholars. Nevertheless, the statements, rulings and fatwas of these scholars of the very early generation of Islam show the great detestation, condemnation and disapproval to all those innovated practices that people tried to contrive at their times.

Besides this, we find that when these practices were innovated, the reliable scholars living at that time and after, spoke against them, and condemned these as reprehensible innovations that are against the teachings of Islam.

Before going into some of these references, I will like to focus a little on the practice of ‘standing for the Prophet (S.A)’ or ‘standing for Tazeem (Salaah/Salaam).’

First of all, it must be known that this practice of standing during the singing of the Tazeem is not evident from any of the sources of Islamic teachings. It cannot be established from any practice or statement of the Prophet (S.A) or from any statement or practice of the 124,000 Sahabahs. It also cannot be established from any statement or practice of the thousands of scholars from the Tabieen, and Tab’ut Tabieen (2nd and 3rd generation of Muslims) including the great Imams of Fiqh, Hadith and Tafseer. As mentioned before, these practices were latter-day inventions which were brought into Islam, and were thereafter considered to be a part and parcel of the Islamic teachings.

On account of this, we see that those who practice and propagate these ‘customs’, behave in an arrogant and ignorant manner to those who do not practice them. Their behaviour show to others, that they have actually considered these practices and customs to be ‘Farz’ and ‘essential’ in Islam. The votaries of these customs privately and publicly criticize and condemn those who do not subscribe to their customs, and they revile them by using ‘names’ for them.  It is strange to know that one who leaves out a Nafl (optional) Mustahab or even a Sunnah act in Islam is not condemned in this manner. The votaries of these customs do not even behave in this arrogant manner to those who neglect their five times Salaah. They do not behave in this manner to those who missed their compulsory fasts. They do not even behave in this manner to those Muslims who are consuming intoxicants, and are openly violating the laws of Islam. Their actions therefore, show clearly that the dedication, love, attachment and importance they have for these customs, are much more than that which they have for the Farz (compulsory) duties in Islam. The way in which they condemn and criticize those who do not do their practices, are worst than what they may say to those who intentionally neglect all their Salaah. In certain organizations, instead of making the hijab compulsory upon women in their schools (which is indeed a command from Allah), they have made standing for the Tazeem compulsory. It seems that the propagators of these ‘customs’ have equated their inventions to that of ‘Faraa’iz’ (compulsory duties in Islam).

With these sort of criticisms levied against us, we ask, ‘What wrong have we done? Have we broken the laws of Allah? Have we violated the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A)? Have we gone against the teachings of the Sahabahs and pious predecessors? When we look at our actions, we have realized that we have done none of the above. Instead, we have simply informed the Muslims of the true teachings of Islam by upholding the teachings of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A) and the teachings of the illustrious rightly guided Sahabahs. Those who go against these teachings are to be condemned, not those who are upholding it.

With respect to the act of standing for the Prophet (S.A), we see that there are a few traditions which clearly show that the Prophet (S.A) detested this practice and he forbade his followers from standing for him. In this regard, the great companion, Abu Umamah (R.A) narrates that, ‘The Messenger of Allah (S.A) came to us leaning on a staff and we stood up for him. He said, ‘Do not stand as the non Arabs do, exalting and showing greatness to one another’. (Abu Dawood – Chapter of a man standing up for another man)

This hadith clearly shows that the Prophet (S.A) ordered his companions by saying, ‘Do not stand as the non Arabs do, exalting and showing greatness to one another’. In the hadith, the Prophet (S.A) identified to the Sahabahs that the act of standing in order to show greatness to one another, was a non Arab practice which should not be adopted by Muslims. This hadith tells us that the ‘standing of the Sahabahs’ was in the normal ‘standing manner’ without any special posture or position. It was simply a manner of standing. However, the Prophet (S.A) disliked this and told the companions that they should not stand.

There is another tradition recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh which is narrated from Jabir (R.A). He (Jabir (R.A)) states, ‘The Prophet (S.A) was ill, and we performed Salaah behind him while he was sitting. He looked at us and when he saw that we were standing, he indicated to us that we should sit, (and so we sat). When he completed his salaams, he said, ‘You had almost done the practice of the people of Persia and Rome. They stand for their kings while they (their kings) are sitting. You must not do this’. (Fathul Baari vol.11 pg.60). This hadith as well as the other one narrated by Abu Umama Al Bahili shows that the Prophet (S.A) disliked his followers standing for him, and so he stopped them from standing.

In order to justify their standing for the Prophet (S.A) some people say, ‘The Prophet (S.A) stopped them from standing like the non-Arabs, he did not really stop them from standing’.

To this, we say that the above mentioned hadith of Jabir (R.A) clearly shows the act of standing in itself was a practice of the Persians, Romans and non-Arabs in general. The Prophet (S.A) did not indicate to a special posture of their standing. He clearly told them ‘La Taqoomoo’ (‘Do not stand’), because the mere standing was in itself a non Arab practice which the Prophet (S.A) disliked very much.

As for those who state that the Prophet (S.A) stopped the companions from a ‘special type of standing’, it is upon them to prove this from the teachings of the Prophet (S.A) or the Sahabahs.

Another tradition which clearly shows that the Prophet (S.A) disliked ‘standing for him’ is the narration of Anas (R.A) which has been recorded by Tirmizi, Ahmad and Bukhari in Adabul Mufrad. The hadith states that Anas (R.A) said, ‘There was no one more beloved to them than the Messenger of Allah (S.A). However, whenever they saw him, they never used to stand because they knew of his dislike for that’. (Having quoted this, Imam Tirmizi said, ‘This hadith is good and sound. Hafiz Ibn Hajar also confirmed the soundness of this hadith in Fathul Baari vol.11 pg.60)

While commenting on the above hadith, the Muhaditheen have stated that ‘all the companions did not stand for him, though he was the most beloved to them. He (the Prophet S.A) was very humble and he opposed the habits of the proud, arrogant and tyrant rulers and leaders. He refrained from these non-Arab mannerisms and customs, and instead, he adopted the habits of the Arabs and refrained from the mannerisms and customs of the non-Muslims in their standing, sitting, eating, drinking, wearing, walking and all other actions and pattern of conduct. (Tuhfatul Ahwazee – Sharh of Tirmizi vol.8 pg.29; Mirqaat – Sharh of Mishkaat vol.8 pg.510)

These ahadith bear ample evidence to show the following:
1) The Prophet (S.A) disliked people from standing for him
2) The Prophet (S.A) officially prohibited the practice of standing for him by saying to the Sahabahs, ‘Do not stand for me’.
3) The Sahabahs did not stand for the Prophet (S.A) during his lifetime and after his death.

It is therefore clear that the act of standing for the Prophet (S.A) was a latter-day invention of the innovators. This was never practiced during the early centuries of Islam at the time of the Sahabahs, Tabieen and Tab’ut Tabieen.

It is extremely sad to see that although the Prophet (S.A) clearly issued the order saying, ‘Do not stand’, some Muslims show total neglect to this command, and boldly violate this order by standing for the Prophet (S.A) while claiming to love and obey him.

Some people claim that they stand in order to show respect to the Prophet (S.A) when his blessed name is mentioned. To this, we say if this sort of standing was necessary or commendable, then one would have been required to stand on all occasions when he hears the blessed name of the Prophet (S.A), and not only when he is in a special function or celebration.

If the votaries of standing for this reason are true in their claim, then they are supposed to stand when they call the name of the Prophet (S.A) in Tashahud. They would also need to stand when the Mu’azin calls the blessed name of the Prophet (S.A). While listening to a khutba or lecture, they would also need to stand, since the blessed name of the Prophet (S.A) is called many times. But in all these occasions we see that ‘the standing ones’ do not stand for the Prophet (S.A). In fact, when we recite Darood Shareef at home or in the Masjid, in Salaah and outside of Salaah, no one stands for the Prophet (S.A) on hearing his blessed name. They do not stand even while sending blessings upon him in the Darood Shareef. Allah has mentioned the name of the Prophet (S.A) several times in the Holy Quran, but no Muslim stands when he recites these verses with the name.

In the Holy Quran, Allah has stated: ‘Verily Allah and His angels send blessings upon the Prophet (S.A). O you who believe send blessings and greetings (salutations) upon him’.

However, despite the fact that Allah has commanded us to recite salutations on the Prophet (S.A), we do not stand while reciting Darood because we are not commanded to do so. Allah has only commanded the recitation of Salaah (blessings) and Salaam (salutations, Darood Shareef) and not Qiyaam/standing when we recite these salutations.

Thus, it is clear that the Shariah has not commanded us or exhorted us to stand when the blessed name of the Prophet (S.A) is taken. If it was necessary to stand in respect of the name of the Prophet (S.A), then it would be a greater necessity to stand in respect when the glorious name of Allah is mentioned. But no one ever stands when the name of Allah is mentioned or when glorifications unto Allah are recited.

The fact that people stand only when the Prophet’s name is sung in functions is ample proof that they do not stand in reverence or respect at the mention of the Prophet’s name. If they stood for this reason, then they would have stood whenever they heard the name of the Prophet (S.A), whether in functions, at home or in the masjid. The reality however, is that no one does this. They stand only in selected functions when a certain song is sung and not at all times. Hence, it is clear that people stand during the singing of the ‘Tazeem’ or ‘Salaam’ not because of reverence for the Prophet (S.A), but because of force of custom. They stand because it is customary to stand when the ‘Tazeem/Salaam’ is being recited. They stand because the crowd stands, and this standing was nothing but an invention/innovation of some people. There is absolutely no evidence for this ‘standing’ in the Shariah. Thus, the majority of people stand because it is a custom of these functions which has no source in Islam.

Besides standing for the reason that it is a mere custom, some go beyond this, and claim that they stand because the soul of the Prophet (S.A) presents itself at their functions. This is a very dangerous statement which is a fallacious and highly misleading belief. This belief leads to shirk or association with Allah in an attribute which is exclusive in dignity. It is really a sad state of affair to know that Muslims have started to have this belief that the Prophet (S.A) is actually visiting their functions and is present at these places. This is a deviated and misguided belief which is in total opposition to the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (S.A) and is in contradiction to the creed of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah. The established doctrine/teaching of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah is that the Prophet (S.A) is alive in his blessed grave in Madina, and those who recite ‘Salaams/Salaah’ to him, angels are appointed by Allah to convey these to him, while he is in his blessed grave. He does not come out of his grave to roam the earth attending functions every minute of the day or night. Having this sort of belief is sheer deviation and open ignorance.

With respect to the Islamic verdicts (Fatawa) regarding these issues, the great scholars of Islam who were asked about these matters and lived amongst people who practiced these innovations, gave their answers based on the correct and sound guidelines given by the Sacred Shariah. While answering a question regarding Qiyaam (standing to sing the Tazeem), the late great Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah (A.R) writes, ‘The customary standing for Tazeem (sending Salaams upon the Prophet S.A) in the Milad/Mawlood gatherings is without any proof/source and basis. It is not evident from any source in the Shariah’. (Fatawa Kifayatul Mufti vol.1 pg.159) (Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah was one of the greatest Mufti’s of the Indo-Pak continent who lived from 1872-1952. He was known as the grand Mufti of the Indo-Pak continent during his time, and his fatawas are known to be authentic and sound and well accepted by all the scholars who lived at his time and those who came after until today. His fatawas are compiled in nine volumes under the name Kifayatul Mufti).

Similarly, while answering the question of standing for the Tazeem (the customary standing to sing salaams upon the Prophet S.A), the grand Mufti of Gujurat (state) in India, Mufti Syed Abdur Rahim writes, ‘This standing has no basis in Islam. It is not evident from the teachings of the Prophet (S.A), and also not evident from the statements of the Tabieen and Tab’ut Tabieen. Establishing this ‘standing for Tazeem’ is a Bidah.

In Seerat Shami, it is mentioned that some people have started a custom that at the time of speaking of the Prophet (S.A) they stand. This is a Bidah. (Fatawa Rahimiya vol.2 pg.74).

In ‘Ahsanul Fatawa’, Mufti Rasheed, the great Mufti of Nazamibad, Pakistan writes, ‘Standing (for Tazeem) in the Milad gatherings is a Bidah, there is a clear prohibition for this in the hadith’. (Ahsanul Fatawa vol.1 pg.373)

At another place while answering another question regarding Milad and standing for Tazeem, Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah (A.R) (the former grand Mufti of the Indo-Pak continent) writes, ‘Establishing the gatherings of the customary Milad is not evident in the Shariah. This was not present in the three best generations of Muslims (the Sahabahs, Tabieen and Tab’ut Tabieen) and was also not present during the period of the four Imams of Fiqh (namely, Imams Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi, Ahmad). Also, there is no narration of permissibility or allowance that has been narrated from these great Imams or from the Shariah itself. If standing for the Tazeem/Salaam is done on account of love for the Prophet (S.A) when his name is mentioned, then, to a greater extent, standing should be done when Allah’s name is mentioned, since Allah deserves more respect. However, no one does this. Further to this, one may ask, ‘If one stands out of respect for the Prophet (S.A) then why should this be specific to certain selected functions? Why isn’t it done at home or at the mosque whenever one mentions the blessed name of the Prophet (S.A)? If one is true in his words that he stands for the respect of the Prophet (S.A), then he must stand every time he mentions the name of the Prophet (S.A), or whenever he hears this name. However, no one does this. If one stands because he thinks that the soul of the Prophet (S.A) visits the gathering, then this is even worst, since there is no evidence in the Shariah to support this. Also, at one given time, there are thousands of such gatherings/functions in the world. If it is accepted that the Prophet (S.A) visits all these gatherings at one time, then this has the substance of shirk in it. (Kifayatul Mufti vol.1 pg.157. Published by Darul Isha’at Karachi, Pakistan)

Similarly, another one of the grand Muftis of India, Mufti Azizur Rahman Sahab (whose fatawa were written during the period 1329 A.H – 1334 A.H) has the following:

The grand Mufti was asked, ‘Is the customary Milad and standing for Tazeem permissible or not?
Mufti Azizur Rahman gave the following answer, ‘The customary Milad shareef and the customary standing for Tazeem which comprise of invented and prohibited practices are not permissible. These are innovations’. (Azeezul Fatawa vol.8 pg.98-99. Published by Darul Ishaat, Karachi, Pakistan)

It is also written in Fatawa Haqaniya:-
Question: ‘While sitting in a gathering or function, some people, upon hearing the mention of the Prophet (S.A) stand up and recite Salaat and Salaam upon the Prophet (S.A). What is the ruling of this ‘standing’?

Answer (given by Shaikul Hadith and Mufti Abdul Haqq) ‘Sending blessings and greetings to the Prophet (S.A) is a good action. However, standing at the time of doing this is not evident from the pious predecessors or from the latter day scholars. Besides this, the Prophet (S.A) himself disliked the Sahabahs (companions) standing for him. As such, to stand while sending Salaat and Salaam upon the Prophet (S.A) and to consider it essential is opposing the teachings of the Shariah’. (Fatawa Haqaniya vol.2 pg.72. Fatawa Haqaniya is a compilation of Islamic verdicts issued by one of the leading Islamic Institutes in Pakistan known as Jamia Darul Uloom Haqaniya. Shaikul Hadith, Mufti Abdul Haqq has been one of the great Muftis/scholars of Pakistan. Published by Jamia Darul Uloom Akora Khatak, Nawshera, Pakistan)

Mufti Abdul Haqq (A.R) was also asked about the Miladun Nabi, to which he gave a well explained answer. The question posed to him was:

Question: ‘What do the scholars and Muftis of the Hanafi Mazhab say regarding this matter. In our times, gatherings of Milad shareef are held where talks and advice are given. Some scholars give motivational talks from the Quran and Sunnah, and Islamic songs and poetry are recited regarding Allah, the Prophet (S.A), love for doing good deeds and other beautiful topics. If scholars and common Muslims participate and attend these gatherings, would it be considered as Bidah (innovation) or not?

The answer which was given by the great Mufti and Shaikul Hadith and other leading scholars was:

Answer: ‘Based on the clear explanations given by the great and leading scholars, the gathering termed as Eid Miladun Nabi which in our times, is considered to be a great act of Ibadah and a very good work by some individual scholars and some common Muslims, is nothing but the worst type of Bidah (innovation)’.

‘It must be noted that love and respect for the Prophet (S.A) is an integral part of Imaan. To speak about his entire blessed life from birth to death is an act of great blessings. This however, should not be confined to a special day of the specific month of Rabiul Awwal. Instead, a true lover of the Prophet (S.A) must speak about the life of the Prophet (S.A) everyday in his life. With respect to these, there is absolutely no difference among the Muslims. The issue of dispute and contention is only with regards to the customary celebration which is held in Rabiul Awwal. It must be understood that this is something totally different from showing love and respect for the Prophet (S.A). Both are two different issues, and are not the same.

There were no greater lovers of the Prophet (S.A) than the Sahabahs. Similarly, no one showed more love and respect to the Prophet (S.A) than the Sahabahs. Their love for the Prophet (S.A) was perfect and complete. For the full twenty three years of prophethood, the Sahabahs stayed with the Prophet (S.A). After this, the glorious Caliphate lasted for thirty years. Sahabahs continued to live until 110 A.H, and then the Tabieen and Tab’ut Tabieen continued to live until approximately 220 A.H. Until this period of the third century, no one can give any evidence that during this long period, the gathering of Miladun Nabi was established. In the blessed life of the Prophet (S.A), nothing of the sort occurred and he did not give any permission to celebrate his birthday. The question therefore is, ‘If this act is a blessed one which brings about blessings, then why was it not established at his time? When it is evident that it did not take place at his time, then why should it not be called a Bidah (innovation)? You should not look at the external shape and body of this to consider it a good practice’.

‘(It should be noted that) this custom and innovation was not present during the first 600 years of Islamic History. This (custom) was not an invention of a companion (Sahabi), Tabi’ee, Muhadith, jurist or a saint. In fact, this type of gathering was the invention of an irreligious king in the year 604 A.H in the city of Mosul. While writing about this, Imam Ahmad bin Muhammad Misri Maliki (A.R) states, ‘The king of Irbal, Muzaffar Abu Saeed Kawkari was a spend drift (Musrif). He ordered the scholars of his time to act according to their opinions and judgements and leave off the Mazhab of others. A group of the scholars became inclined to him. He (the king) had gatherings of the Milad during the month of Rabiul Awwal, and he was the first of the kings to innovate this practice’. (Al Qaulul Mu’tamad Fi Amalil Mawlid).

‘One of the main supporter/scholar who supported the irreligious king in this innovation was Umar bin Dahiya Abul Khattab who died in the year 633 A.H. The evil character of this irreligious learnt man is a fact upon which there exists unanimity among the great and pious scholars of Islam. The great scholar, Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani (A.R) says about this scholar who was responsible to a great extent for the innovation of the Miladun Nabi, ‘He was a person who insulted the Jurists of Islam and the pious predecessors of the former times. He had a filthy tongue. He was a foolish man, ignorant, excessively proud, possessed little insight in the affairs of Islam and was negligent’. (Lisaanul Mizaan). Hafiz Ibn Hajar further writes, ‘Allama Ibn Najaar (A.R) said, ‘I have witnessed unanimity of opinion among the people as to him (the scholar Umar bin Dahiya) being a liar and an unreliable person’- (Lisaanul Mizaan)’

It is these two people who came together and invented the practice of Miladun Nabi. Many scholars coming after this period rejected and refuted this celebration and considered it as an evil Bidah. From among these scholars are:
–  Shaikul Islam Ibn Taimiya in his Fatawa
– Imam Naseerudeen Shafi in his ‘Irshaad Al Ikhtiyaar’
– Mujahid Alf Thawi in his ‘Maktoobaat’
– Allama Ibn Ameer Al Hajj Maliki in his ‘Al Madkhal’.

In ‘Al Madkhal’, Allama Ibn Ameer Al Hajj Maliki writes, ‘And from among these invented practices of Bidah, which they hold as being from the great acts of Ibadah and a symbol of Islam is what they do in the month of Rabiul Awwal from the Milad. This is in itself an innovation (Bidah), because this is an excess in Deen and was not from the acts of the pious predecessors of the past’. (Al Madkhal)

Allama Abdur Rahman has written in his Fatawa, ‘Certainly the practice of Milad is a Bidah (innovation). The Prophet (S.A) did not speak about it, he did not do it and the four Khalifas as well as the Imams have not done it’.

Allama Ahmad bin Muhammad Misri Maliki writes, ‘The scholars of the four Mazhabs have full unanimity that this act (of the Milad) is blameworthy’. (Fatawa Haqaniya vol.2 pg.93-95)

What we have seen so far from the quotations of sound and reliable scholars who occupied noble positions among the Muslim Ummah, is that the practices of Miladun Nabi and standing for the Prophet (S.A) are all reprehensible innovations which have no source and origin in Islam. These were latter day inventions which some Muslims brought about in the religion of Islam. However, it is important to note that such practices were not left unchecked. From its beginning time until today, Muslim scholars as well as ardent followers of the Prophet (S.A) continued throughout the ages to condemn and criticize those who practiced these innovations and made it a part of Islam. They also continued to advise the Muslims to stay away from these practices since they were not part of the religion of Islam. Alhamdulillah, through the preaching and teaching of the rightly guided scholars, the majority of Muslims in every era refrained from such innovated practices and held on to the true teachings of the Prophet (S.A).

It is extremely unfortunate to know that while the votaries of such practices have always been in an insignificant minority, they have continued to deceive the general Muslim public by purporting that the majority of Muslims have been practicing these innovations. In addition, when Muslim missionaries were brought to lecture to the people, only such missionaries were brought who were propagators of these innovations, who belong to the small groups of innovators. The common Muslims were thus deluded, thinking that all the Muslims of the different lands practiced these innovations, and that their fathers, grandfathers and ancestors also did the same. This plan/scheme initiated by the votaries of these practices ultimately leads to a dangerous end where these practices have taken such importance in the lives of some common Muslims, that these have become more meaningful and significant than the commands of Allah. The behaviour and conduct of some, have shown that these practices are more important to them than Salaah, fasting, Zakaah and Hajj. In the case of some Muslim women, they are not bothered about wearing the Hijab which is compulsory, but they are very vocal in fighting for the survival of these practices. Some of our Muslim brothers show total neglect to the beard which is essential to keep. They show total disregard to many of the emphasized Sunnah of the Prophet (S.A), yet with all their might and main, they fight to preserve these innovated practices under the ‘disguise of love for the Prophet’ (S.A). (May Allah guide us and have mercy on us)

The other important matter that needs our attention, [having shown that these practices have been considered to be innovations (Bidah)] is to discuss the ruling of performing Salaah behind one who practices Bidah. This in reality, was the theme of the fatwa which you have asked about. In other words, one who does these practices is actually involved in practicing Bidah, hence, performing Salaah behind this person would actually be performing Salaah behind one who practices Bidah.

In this regard, I will like to give the quotations of some of the most authoritative books of the Fiqh of Imam Abu Hanifa.

In one of the most famous and reliable works of the Hanafi Fiqh, known as Durrul Mukhtar, the great jurist says, ‘And the Imamat (leadership) of one who practices Bidah is Makrooh (reprehensible)’. While explaining ‘one who practices Bidah’ the jurist says, ‘A man of Bidah is one who does such practices and has such beliefs which are contrary to what is known from the Prophet (S.A)’. (Durrul Mukhtar vol.1 pg.560).

While explaining the above statement, the expert jurist, Allama Shami (died 1252 A.H), writes, ‘It (Bidah) is to bring about that which is opposing to what has come from the Prophet (S.A) from knowledge, practice, or any other state, in a manner that is doubtful, and it is done being considered as a virtuous act. A person then makes it his religious practice and considers it to be the straight path (that is, the correct thing)’. (Raddul Mukhtar vol.1 pg. 560-561)

The above is an extremely reliable statement which has been accepted by all the great jurists of the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa until present. If no other reference is given, then the above stands sufficient as the official religious verdict (fatwa) of the Hanafi Mazhab on the issue of performing Salaah behind one who practices Bidah. This is so, since the works of Durrul Mukhtar and Raddul Mukhtar have been unanimously accepted by all Hanafi jurists to be the leading and most acceptable works in the Hanafi Mazhab from the latter times.

[Note: Ad Durrul Mukhtar is a commentary of Tanweerul Absaar, which is a famous and renowned text written in the Hanafi Fiqh in the 11th century Hijri by the great expert jurist and scholar, Shamsudeen Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Ahmad Al Khateeb Al Tamartashi (died 1004 A.H).

Allama Tamarshi was the great Imam of Fiqh, and one of the greatest (Faqeeh) legist and jurisprudent during his times. Ad Durrul Mukhtar (the commentary of Tanweerul Absaar) was written by the great jurisprudent/legist of the 11th century Muhammad bin Ali bin Muhammad, known as Allama Ala’udeen Al Haskafi (1025-1088 A.H).

Raddul Mukhtar is a commentary of Ad Durrul Mukhtar, which was written by the great legist/jurisprudent of the 13th century Al Imam As Sayyid Ash Shareef Muhammad Ameen Abideen (1198-1252 A.H), commonly referred to, as Allama Shami and was known to be the greatest scholar of his era. He was known to have great mastery, expertise and ability of the Fiqh of all the Imams. His book Raddul Mukhtar is from those which has gained the highest repute, fame and acceptance in the Hanafi Fiqh amongst all leading Hanafi scholars]

In another one of the well renowned works of the Hanafi Fiqh, Ash Sharhul Kabeer written by the great Faqeeh (legist/jurisprudent) of the 10th century, Ibrahim Al Halabi (died 956 A.H), it states, ‘It is also Makrooh to put a Mubtadi (one who practices Bidah) as the Imam since he is a transgressor (Fasiq) with respect to his beliefs. In fact, his transgression is worse than the transgressor whose transgression is connected to leaving off good practices. This is so, since a transgressor who neglects good actions (Amal) confesses his transgression and fears the consequences. As such, he eventually turns to seeking forgiveness from Allah. The one who practices innovation on the other hand, does not confess to his transgression. He does not fear the consequences and hence, does not seek forgiveness from Allah for his Bidah. An innovator in this case refers to one who has such beliefs which are opposing to the well established beliefs of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah’. (Ghunyat Al Mutamalli being the commentary of Munyat Al Musalli known as Ash Sharhul Kabeer by Ash Shaikh Ibrahim Al Halabi Al Hanafi (died 956 A.H) pg.514)

Similarly, in the renowned and famous Sharh (commentary) of Al Hidaya known as Fathul Qadeer the great Imam of Fiqh of the 7th century, Allama Ibn Al Humaam (died 681 A.H) explains that, ‘It is Makrooh to perform Salaah behind a transgressor, and one who practices Bidah (innovator)’. Allama Ibn Al Humaam goes further in his book to quote from the book Al Muheet saying, ‘And in Al Muheet (it states) if one performs Salaah behind a transgressor or one who practices Bidah (innovation), then he will fall short in the blessings of Salaah in Jamaah (that is, the blessings for Salaah in Jamaah will be less)’. The great Imam then continues by saying, ‘Here, one who practices Bidah refers to that person whose innovations have not made him an unbeliever’. (For in this case, Salaah will not be permissible behind such a person). (Fathul Qadeer vol.1 pg. 304).

(It should be noted that the Fuqaha (legists/jurisprudents) have explained in their respective books that those who practice such innovations that take them out of the Deen of Islam, then performing Salaah behind them will not be permissible at all. As for those who practice such innovations that do not take them out of the Deen of Islam, then performing Salaah behind them will be Makrooh (reprehensible). As mentioned by Allama Ibn Al Humaam, this reprehensibility means that the Thawab (blessings) of the Salaah performed behind such practicers of innovation will decrease).

While explaining the statement mentioned in Al Hidaya, the great Faqeeh (legist) Allama Khwarzimi writes, ‘It is Makrooh to perform Salaah behind one who follows his desires and one who practices Bidah’. (Al Kifaya – Fathul Qadeer vol.1 pg.305)

In another great and renowned book of Hanafi Fiqh, Kanz Ad Daqa’iq by the great Faqeeh (legist/jurisprudent) Imam Abul Barakat Hafiz Ad Deen Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Mahmood An Nasfi (died 710 A.H), it is written, ‘And it is Makrooh (reprehensible) to appoint/make as an Imam, a slave, a desert Arab, a transgressor, and one who practices Bidah’. (Kanz Ad Daqa’iq – Chapter on Imamat pg.28)

While giving a commentary on the above, the celebrated and reputed Hanafi Faqeeh of the 10th century, Allama Zain Ad Deen (commonly known as Ibn Nujaim) writes in his commentary of Kanz Ad Daqa’iq, known as Al Bahr Ar Raa’iq, Ash Shimni has defined it (Bidah) as ‘that which is brought about/introduced, and is opposing to the truth which has come from the Prophet (S.A) from knowledge, practice or situation, in a manner that is doubtful, and done for virtues, and considered to be a correct religious practice and a straight path’. (Al Bahr Ar Ra’iq vol.1 pg.349). In the footnotes of Al Bahr Ra’iq, while discussing the above matter, the great Hanafi Faqeeh Ibn Abideen Shami has written, ‘Allama Ramli (the celebrated Hanafi jurist) has said, Halbi (the great Hanafi Faqeeh) has mentioned in the commentary of Munyatul Musalli that putting a transgressor and an innovator (one who practices Bidah) as an Imam is Makrooh Tahreemi (reprehensible to a grave degree which is closer to becoming Haram). (Al Bahr Ar Ra’iq vol.1 pg. 349)

In another famous and well accepted work of the Hanafi Fiqh, Al Bada’i As Sana’i written by the illustrious Hanafi scholar and legist, Al Imam Ala’udeen Abu Bakr bin Masood Al Kasani (died 587 A.H), it is written, ‘And the Imamat (putting someone as the Imam) of one who follows his desires, and one who practices Bidah is Makrooh. Imam Abu Yusuf has mentioned this in Al Amali. (In it) he said, ‘I consider it Makrooh that the Imam should be one who follows his desires and one who does Bidah. It is so because people will not be motivated to perform Salaah behind such people’. (Al Bada’i As Sana’i vol.1 pg.157)

Imam Al Kasani further writes, ‘And will it be permissible to perform Salaah behind such Imams? Some of our Masha’ikh (great and reputed scholars of the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa) have stated that the Salaah behind one who does Bidah is not permissible. A narration of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R) is narrated in Al Muntaqa that he does not consider it permissible to perform Salaah behind a person of Bidah. The correct opinion is that if the vain practices and Bidah is of such a nature that makes one a kafir, then it will not be permissible to perform Salaah behind this person. If the vain practices and Bidah is of such a nature that it does not make the person a kafir, then Salaah behind him will be valid but it will be Makrooh’. (Al Bada’i As Sanaa’i vol.1 pg.157)

These are only some of the references which have been given in many books of the Hanafi Fiqh. The texts from which I have quoted, are from the most acceptable and renowned books which all Hanafi Jurists/Muftis depend upon for the sound and correct fatawas of the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa. In addition, the other Mazahib of the Imams of Fiqh have ruled against performing Salaah behind one who practices Bidah. In this regard, the Mazhab of Imam Ahmad is that Salaah behind one whose Bidah practices are known must be repeated. This refers to a person who displays his Bidah practices, he speaks about it, and also encourages others to it. (Al Mughni – Ibn Qudama vol.2 pg.185). Imam Malik has clearly ruled that one cannot perform Salaah behind the people of innovation. (Al Mughni – Ibn Qudama vol.2 pg.186)

In conclusion, I will like to say that the matter of Salaah is a very important one. In fact, Salaah is one of the greatest acts of Ibadah to Allah, and Muslims should try their utmost best to perform it in a manner (with all its conditions and requirements), so that it becomes acceptable to Allah. In a similar manner, Imamat/leadership and leading others in Salaah, is a very responsible act, which carries a great amount of accountability with it. The traditions have given many guidelines regarding it, and the great Imams of Fiqh have gone at great length to explain who can lead and who cannot. It is sad to see that today, many Muslims treat this topic with such insignificance that each and every person is given the permission to lead others in Salaah, and become Imams. Many who do not practice Islam, know the laws of Salaah, ignorant of the recitation of the Quran in a proper manner, and involved in many acts of wrongdoings, are handed this honoured and important duty of Imamat. May Allah help us.

That which I have written in my previous answer that ‘performing Salaah behind one who practices Bidah is Makrooh’ is clearly evident and established from all the quotations of the great Hanafi Jurists (as I have shown). These fatawas have already been given and are documented in the works of the great scholars. Unfortunately, some people do not read about these, nor do they find out about them, and when told about these fatawas, they respond in an arrogant manner. Finding out the truth about something is very easy. It’s simply a matter of going back to the authentic sources, and the answers will become clear. But, due to laziness or sheer obstinacy, some do not wish to learn the truth, and others wish to conceal it in order to retain their positions. Scholars and great Muftis were also asked similar questions in the past, and they responded in a like manner. May Allah keep us on the straight path.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan