Celebrating Mawlid

The addition to the tashahhud by Ibn Mas’ud.

After “wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,” and the Mercy of Allah and Blessings, he used to say, “assalamu `alayna min Rabbina,peace upon us from our Lord. Narrated by Al Tabarani in Al Kabir, and the narrators are those of the sound transmitters, as it has been mentioned in Majma’ Al Zawa’id.

The addition to the tashahhud by Abdullah Ibn `Umar.

He added the basmalah at the beginning of the tashahhud. He also added to the talbia, “labbaika wa sa’daika wal khayru bi yadayka wal raghba’u ilayika wal `amalu” This is mentioned in Bukhari, Muslim, et al.

These are some of the developments instituted by the Prophet’s Companions, the scholars, and the honorable members of his nation, which did not exist during the time of the Prophet, and which they deemed good. Are they, then, misguided and guilty of bad innovation?

As for the claim that there is no such thing in religion as good innovation, here are some sayings of the brilliant scholars of Islam belying this claim.

Imam Nawawi said in Sahih Muslim (6-21) “The Prophet’s saying every innovation is a general-particular and it is a reference to most innovations. The linguists say, “Innovation is any act done without a previous pattern, and it is of five different kinds.'” Imam Nawawi also said in Tahzeeb al Asma’ wal Sifaat, “Innovation in religious law is to originate anything which did not exist during the time of the Prophet, and it is divided into good and bad.” He also said, “Al-muhdathat (pl. for muhdatha) is to originate something that has no roots in religious law. In the tradition of religious law it is called innovation, and if it has an origin within the religious law, then it is not innovation. Innovation in religious law is disagreeable, unlike in the language where everything that has been originated without a previous pattern is called innovation regardless of whether it is good or bad.”

Shaykh Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, the commentator on Al Bukhari, said, “Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s time is called innovation, but some are good while others are not.”

Abu Na’eem, narrated from Ibrahim Al Junaid, said, “I heard Ash-Shafi’i saying, “Innovation is of two types; praiseworthy innovation and blameworthy innovation, and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.'”

Imam Albayhaqi narrated in Manaqib Ash-Shafi’i that Ash-Shafi’i  said, “Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Qu’ran, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is a innovation of deception, while a good innovation does not contradict any of these things.”

Al `Izz bin Abdussalam said, at the end of his book, Al Qawa’id, “Innovation is divided into obligatory, forbidden, recommended, disagreeable and permissible, and the way to know which is which is to match it against the religious law.”

Clearly we see from the opinions of these righteous scholars, that to define innovations in worship as wholly negative without exception is ignorant. For these pious knowers, among them Imam Nawawi and Ash-Shafi’i, declared that innovations could be divided into good and bad, based on their compliance or deviance with religious law.

Moreover, the following Prophetic saying is known even to common Muslims, let alone scholars: “He who inaugurates a good practice (sunnatun hasana) in Islam earns the reward of it, and of all who perform it after him, without diminishing their own rewards in the least.” Therefore it is permissible for a Muslim to originate a good practice, even if the Prophet didn’t do it, for the sake of doing good and cultivating the reward. The meaning of inaugurate a good practice (sanna sunnatun hasana) is to establish a practice through personal reasoning (ijtihad) and derivation (istinbat) from the rules of religious law or its general texts. The actions of the Prophet’s Companions and the generation following them which we have stated above is the strongest evidence.

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