Imam Ash-Shafi’i on Evil and Good Bida’ah: A Refutation of the Pseudo-Salafi Weakening of His Narration
Compiled by Abu Layth – SeekingIlm.com
Alhamdulillah for the ability given to us to research the claims of the pseudo-salafis for ourselves, and having the chains of serfdom to pseudo-salafi “Shaykhs” removed from our necks! For our brethren shackled in pseudo-salafi Saudi Arabia do not have the ability to freely search out the truth! May Allah free them from the oppression of the Wahhabi propaganda machine funded by oil dollars, Amin! All of us reading this article should thank Allah ta’ala for this ability!
Several years ago we compiled statements of Imam Ash-Shafi’i (rahmatullah ‘alayh), the forefather of this Ummah that standardized Usul Al-Fiqh with his Risalah, in which he held that there existed good bida’ah and evil bida’ah. We recently came upon some quotes from some pseudo-salafi “Shaykhs”, particularly Salim Al-Hilali and ‘Ali Al-Halabi – students of al-Albani who claimed these reports were weak. In this article we will refute the baseless accusation and expose such ignorance in this science.
Imam Al-Bayhaqi, in what was called the greatest biographical work on Imam ash-Shafi’i by Taqiyud-Din As-Subki –Manaqib Al-Imam Ash-Shafi’i, narrates the following report from Imam Ash-Shafi’i:
“Innovated matters in religion (min Al-Umur) are of two kinds: 1) Whatever is innovated and contravenes the Book, or the Sunnah, or a narration, or Ijma‘ (consensus) – then that is an innovation of misguidance. 2) Whatever is innovated of [any and all good things [min al-khayr] and that does not contradict any of these – then this is a novelty which is not blameworthy. And ‘Umar (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) said concerning the night-prayer in the month of Ramadan: ‘ni’matu bida’at hadhihi‘ what a good innovation this is’ meaning it was innovated without having existed before and, even so, there was nothing in it that contradicted the above.”
This clearly refutes the claim by the pseudo-salafis that Imam Ash-Shafi’i only meant bida’ah “linguistically”, as here he clearly says min al-Umur – which means ‘from the religion’ as it is an allusion to the hadith of The Nabi ‘alayhis salam where He stated ‘min amrinaa hadha – this affair [religion] of ours’. Furthermore he is utilizing it regarding an act of worship that was abandoned as well as not performed by the Prophet Muhammad; we mean here a) He abandoned tarawih as the Sahih hadith states b) he never gathered the people behind one Imam in doing this Salah, c) he did not read the entire Qur’an throughout the month of Ramadan etc. Furthermore, it proves that Imam Ash-Shafi’i utilized the statement of Umar ibn Al-Khattab to prove the existence of “good bida’ah”. So the question arises is this report Sahih from Imam ash-Shafi’i?
Claim of Weakness by Pseudo-Salafi:
The claim regarding this chain by Salim Al-Hilali and ‘Ali Al-Halabi, pseudo-salafi propagandists and students of Muhammad al-Albani is that Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Fadl is that he is somehow unknown as ‘he did not find a biography for him فإني لم أجد له ترجمة‘ ((In the horrible work labeled “al-Bida’ah” of Hilali and Usul Al-Bid’ah by Al-Halabi, a work full of lies and distortions indeed! )) in the works of Jarh and Ta’dil.
The Sunni Response:
This chain is certainly Sahih by the standards of the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah. We truly wonder if Salim al-Hilali and co. truly ever looked for the biographical information on Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl as-Sayrafi! For it did not take long for a non-scholar, such as myself, to find his entry within the very well known work Siyar Al-’Alam An-Nubala’ of Imam Adh-Dhahabi. The entry, in its entirety is as follows:
“5901: Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan As-Sayrafi [died 412 A.H]
As-Sayrafi, The Shaykh, the Thiqah (trustworthy), The Ma’mun (the reliable), Abu Sa’id, Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan as-Sayrafi, ibn Abi ‘Amru An-Naysaburi. [He then mentions the narrating of him from al-‘Asamm – the one who he is narrating this from in this athar under review] [Those who] Reported from him, Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Khatib, Abu Salih Al-Mu’adhdhin, Abu Isma’il Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-Harawi […] “
This is not the only well known work his biographical data is recorded in. In Kitab Al-Wafi bil-Wafiyat of Shaykh Salahud-Din as-Safadi we also find his biographical entry:
[Excerpt taken from Vol. 5 page 59 of Al-Wafi bil-Wafiyat of Imam Salahud-Din Khalil ibn Aybak As-Safadi [764 A.H] published by Dar Al-Ihya At-turath al-Arabi]:
“Ibn Shadhan Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Al-Fadl ibn Shadhan, Abu Sa’id ibn ‘Amru An-Naysaburi As-Sayrafi, one of the well known trustworthy (thiqaat) scholars. Those who reported from him are al-Khatib, Al-Bayhaqi, and a large group [of scholars]. He died in the year 412 a.h.”
These are two well known works, available to the masses of Muslims by free download or by purchasing the multiple printed editions, and we thank Allah for allowing us the ability to find the truth!
The problem for Salim Al-Hilali and his cohorts in deception does not stop here however. For there is another completely different narration of this principle by Imam Ash-Shafi’i found in Hilyat al-Awliya:
The difference here is the chain and the wording at the end the narration, “And he sought proof with the words of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab regarding the prayer in Ramadan: “This is a good bida’ah!”
Salim Al-Hilali says about this chain:
ففي سنده عبدالله بن محمد العطشي، ذكره الخطيب البغدادي في “تاريخه” والسمعاني في”الأنساب” ولم يذكرا فيه جرحاً ولا تعديلاً.
“In its chain is Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-’Atshi, he was mentioned by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi in his “Tarikh”, and As-Sam’ani in Al-Ansaab, and no criticism or praise was mentioned regarding him!”
Therefore, he is “unknown” for no Jarh or ta’dil has been mentioned regarding him! Imam As-Sam’ani in his Ansaab does mention him as the pseudo-salafis claim:
وأبو القاسم عبد الله بن محمد بن عبدوس العطشي المقرىء، من أهل بغداد، حدث عن إبراهيم بن عبد الله بن الجنيد، وحماد بن الحسن بن عنبسة الوراق، وعلي بن حرب الطائي، ومحمد بن إسحاق الصغاني. روى عنه أبو بكر محمد بن الحسين الآجري وأبو حفص بن شاهين، ويوسف بن عمر القواس وغيرهم. مات في ذي الحجة سنة سبع عشرة وثلاثمائة.
…He was from the people of Baghdad…those that reported from him were Abu Bakr [..] Al-Aajuri, Abu Hafs ibn Shahin and Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas, and other than them.
If the pseudo-salafis argue that he is “Majhul-Al-Haal“, for in such a case no one has criticized him nor has anyone praised him on record, then his unknowness (jahalah) is raised for there are more than two trustworthy narrators who narrate from him; Ibn Shahin and Abu Bakr Al-Aajuri – who is credited for many works that have been preserved throughout the generations, and Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas. As for Yusuf ibn ‘Umar al-Qawwas then Al-Khatib said he was a Hafith andThiqah, Dhahabi describes him as a “Master of Hadith, Thiqah!” [Siyar Al-‘Alam An-Nubala’: entry 6843]
Therefore his “majhul al-haal” is lifted from him. We have compiled many statements from the scholars of hadith who held this position to be sound; namely Ibn Abdul Barr, Ibn As-Salah, Al-Qastalani, Ad-Daraqutni, Ibn Hibban, Imam Al-Bazzar, Imam An-Nawawi and many others.
What further strengthens the standing of Shaykh Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al-’Atshi is the fact that this is corroborated authentically through the chain of Imam Al-Bayhaqi that we mentioned above.
Conclusion and Warning
This text from Imam Ash-Shafi’i is preserved and Sahih. The Shafi’is have utilized this text as proof throughout their works defining bida’ah, and they have upheld the view of Imam Ash-Shafi’i throughout the ages. Even Ibn Taymiyyah – an arch enemy to the Sunni creed who died in Ahlus Sunnah’s prison for his deviance – held this text to be authentic in his Majmu’ Al-Fatawa [20/163] with the words:
رواه البيهقي باسناده الصحيح
“It is reported by Al-Bayhaqi with a Sahih chain!”
I call upon all of the pseudo-salafis to recant their position that this is not authentic upon Imam Ash-Shafi’i, and such includes the pseudo-salafis on the internet such as Sahab, Ahlul-Hadith, and in English the distorter, Umm Abdullah on her devious blog who wrote a misleading article quoting her deviant and deceptive Imam, Salim Al-Hilali claiming these narrations were weak [as of Aug 1st 2010 she has said she will remove it]!
All of this shows that the deviant pseudo-salafi cult, as we have shown many times on SeekingIlm.com, will go to any means necessary to distort the Sunni understanding of Bida’ah. They will lie, cheat, and deceive the masses in their works labeling men who are established as trustworthy, weak, and those weak as trustworthy. We warn you all from their deviance and treachery and ask Allah to save you all from their propaganda Amin!
May Allah bless the Prophet Muhammad, His Family, and those that follow him Amin!
Salamu ‘alaykum Um Abdullah,
Firstly, we are happy that you have decided to take down the lies of Hilali and Halabi. By doing so, the masses will no longer doubt these aathaar being from Imam Ash-Shafi’i (rahimahullah), and victory is for the Sunnis!
Secondly, I meant by distorter, one who takes an individuals’ words and manipulates them away from what was intended. This is exactly what you have done with the words of Imam Ash-Shafi’i here. Your interpretation, as you labeled it, of his words does not come from any of his students or any of those with isnaad back to him.
Instead, the Shafi’is, those authorized from him to preserve his school, and therefore those having chains back to him, including here Imam Al-Bayhaqi in this chain – being taught through the Sunni method, have clearly stated that this athar does not mean what you folk interpret it as.
There are two refutations within the linguistic usage of this hadith to show that he meant this is in the Shari’i sense, which you and your cohorts in distortion continue to ignore:
1) “Innovated matters in religion are of two kinds”
He clearly states “min al-umur” which is an allusion to the religion itself; the law! If you reject this premise of ours, then you must reject your own utilization of the many ahadith of the Nabi ‘alayhis salam who said “min amrinaa” from this din [affair] of ours…as such an interpretation of “man ‘amila amalan laysa ‘alayhi amrunaa’ or man ahdatha fi amrina hadha, ma laysa minhu’, would also not be “shari’i” but linguistic. In other words, Imam ash-Shafi’i is using the same terminology of the Nabi ‘alayhis salam to convey his intent. This point is clear and can be seen from the aathaar from him.
2) The very fact that he recognizes in this athar that ‘Umar’s act was “new” from the religion. Look carefully at his words:
And ‘Umar (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) said concerning the night-prayer in the month of Ramadan: ‘ni’matu bida’at hadhihi’ what a good innovation this is’ meaning it was innovated without having existed before and, even so, there was nothing in it that contradicted the above.
and he is saying this within the context of the first point; that this is a bida’ah from within the religion (min al-umur) – that it is an act of WORSHIP that did not EXIST – which is counter to what ever pseudo-salafi argues. He is refuting your own argument by saying it was an act that did not exist within the religion, whereas you and your comrades are saying “it did exist”.
And what shows that this act specifically did not exist is:
a) He ‘alayhis salam abandoned tarawih as the Sahih hadith states b) he never gathered the people behind one Imam in doing this Salah, c) he did not read the entire Qur’an throughout the month of Ramadan in Qiyam etc. d) He (‘alayhis salam) did not specify a certain amount of raka’aat in this affair as Taqi As-Subki, Zarkashi, and As-Suyuti stated ‘nowhere in the Sahih is the number of raka’as prayed by the Prophet (saaws) in the first three nights of Ramadan, before he stopped, specified…’ [Suyuti’s Masabih pps 9 and 19]
Furthermore, the very narrator of this athar, Shaykhul-Islam, Al-Hafith, Imam Al-Bayhaqi says right after narrating this athar from Rabi’ in his Manaqib,
“Similarly, debating with the people on innovations – when they make public their innovations or bing up their insinuations – to refute them and expose their fallacies: even if this is an innovation, nevertheless, it is a praiseworthy one because it consists in refuting what we just mentioned. The Prophet (saaws) was asked about Qadar and so were the Sahabah, and they replied with the answers that reported from them. At that time, they contented themselves with the words of the Prophet (saaws) and, thereafter, with the reports to that effect. However, in our time, the innovators do not content themselves with such reports nor do they accept them. Therefore, it is necessary to refute their insinuations – when they make them public – with what they themselves consider proofs. And success is through Allah!”
He clearly understood from this, just as he understood from the one who narrated it from him, that this view of Imam Ash-Shafi’i justifies the bida’ah of refuting in detail the people of misguidance. And in Al-Bayhaqi’s view, as you can see further down in his commentary on this, this extends to his time with the revival of Sunni Kalaam to refute the people of deviation – i.e. the Mu’tazilah etc. Even ash-Shafi’i himself used Sunni Kalaam to refute the insinuations waged upon Al-Muzani by a Mu’tazili.
So this athar, and Halabi and Hilali know it, cannot be interpreted differently than what Shafi’i said. His words are clear, and your distortions of his words go down in flames when his words are analyzed carefully!
May Allah grant us all tawfeeq Amin!
Next, you need to provide substantial evidence that the ‘كل’ mentioned in the hadith is not referring to each, every, and all types of bid’ah, otherwise, you should not waste your time. The best approach in this matter is to take the thahir and leave-off all this nonsense.
The salaf us salih created many actions IN WORSHIP that were never done by the Prophet Muhammad (saaws), innovating into the religion of Islam what was never found before! I will give you one example shortly, but your claim of literalism with this hadith is also ridiculous considering, as we have shown, that the literal meaning could be “most” and not “all”, as shown in previous comments. To continue:
Secondly, with regards to what ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said, it is very clear that he was not talking about something totally new, but he was referring to something which was being revived while it had been gone i.e.the issue was proceeded by a clear evidence.
Clear? Only clear to someone who refuses to analyze the aathaar pertaining to this issue such as your cohorts in crime! Certainly this act of Umar’s had never been done by the Nabi Muhammad ‘alayhis salam for several reasons, including the following, and we demand that you answer the following two points if you are truthful:
a) Where did he recite the entire Qur’an in qiyam al-Layl in ramadan?
b) Where did he gather the Muslims behind one Imam and do this act throughout the entirety of ramadan?
But of course this matter is clear! The Nabi ‘alayhis salam never had done this act prior and thus Imam Ash-Shafi’i knew very well the legal import of ‘Umar’s words and actions!
As for Ibn ‘Umar’s words that you quote:
عن نافع عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما قوله: “كل بدعة ضلالة وإن رآها الناس حسنة” وذكره محمد بن نصر المروزي في كتاب السنة بسند صحيح’
From Nafi’ who narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘Anhumaa) his saying:
“Every bid’ah is misguidance even if the people deem it to be good.” [It was mentioned by Muhammad b. Nasr al-Marwazi in Kitab as-Sunnah with authentic chain]
We wonder if Ibn Umar (radiya allahu anhu) held this view authentically. We request an isnad. However, even if he did say this he clearly contradicted the rightly guided Caliphs. For example, he (radiya Allahu anhu) seemingly called the adhaan innovated by Uthman ibn ‘affan a “bida’ah” for ‘Uthman (rh) invented an adhaan of the Jumu’ah!
Narrated As-Saib bin Yazid: In the life-time of the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar, the Adhan for the Jumua prayer used to be pronounced when the Imam sat on the pulpit. But during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman when the Muslims increased in number, a third Adhan at Az-Zaura’ was added. Abu ‘Abdullah said, “Az-Zaura’ is a place in the market of Medina.”
Narrated As-Saib bin Yazid: The person who increased the number of Adhans for the Jumua prayers to three was Uthman bin Affan and it was when the number of the (Muslim) people of Medina had increased. In the life-time of the Prophet there was only one Muadh-dhin and the Adhan used to be pronounced only after the Imam had taken his seat (i.e. on the pulpit).
[both in the book of Jumu’ah Salah in Sahih Al-Bukhaari]
Imam az-Zuhri is authentically to have said that Uthman “INNOVATED” this action:
حدثنا ابن علية عن برد الزهري قال كان الاذان عند خروج الامام فأحدث أمير المؤمنين عثمان على الزوراء ليجتمع الناس .
Ibn Abi Shaybah authentically narrates from Ibn Umar that he said:
حدثنا شبابة قال حدثنا هشيم بن الغاز عن نافع عن ابن عمر قال الاذان الاول يوم الجمعة بدعة
“The first adhan on the day of Jumu’ah is a Bida’ah!”
As well as the following athar:
حدثنا وكيع قال حدثنا بن الغاز قال سألت نافعا مولى ابن عمر الاذان الاول يوم الجمعة بدعة فقال ابن عمر بدعة
“Ibn Al-Ghaz said that Nafi’ the mawla of Ibn Umar asked Ibn Umar regarding the first adhaan for the day of Jumu’ah being a bida’ah. Ibn Umar said: “Bida’ah!”
From what we have just shown you from both ‘Umar and ‘Uthman (radiya Allahu ‘anhum), they believed that there was a good innovation in religion! It is their interpretation we follow as the Nabi ‘alayhis salam said : “….and be upon the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs!”
So we ask you, Did Ibn Umar mean to disparage this established act by Uthman, an act that was implemented by the Muslims and established by them? Or did he mean that this innovation (bida’ah) was acceptable and good?
We hope you can answer our demands!
Also, as stated before, the tabi’in innovated into the religion many actions that the Nabi ‘alayhis salam did, some of them being:
-Sa’d ibn Ibrahim Az-Zuhri fasting and reciting the entire Qur’an in one day every day, not the Sunnah of the Nabi (’alayhis salaam).
[’Ibar of Adh-Dhahabi, Yaaf’i in Mira’t Al Janan, and others]
-Sulaym At-Tujibi reciting the entire Qur’an 3 (some say 4) times in a day inside and outside of Salah. [An Nawawi in his Tibyaan, Ibn Kathir in his Bidayah and others]
-Zaynul ‘Aabideen making 1000 raka’at daily until his death. Bida’ah! – [Imam Adh-Dhahabi in his ‘Ibar]
-Uways Al-Qarani saying “This is the night of ruku’” and making ruku’ until the end of the night. Or “this is the night of sajdah” and making sajdah until the end of the night. [Abu Nu’aym in his Al-Hilya]
-Masruq ibn Al-’Ajda’ (saahib ibn mas’ud) sleeping only in his sajdah in Salah: Dhahabi in his ‘ibar and many others as well.
-Sa’id ibn Jubair (and then Abu Hanifa) reciting the entire Qur’an in one raka’ah. Bida’ah! [An Nawawi’s tibyaan]
And lastly, further proof that the Nabi meant “most” and not “all” comes from his words:
فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَنْ سَنَّ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ سُنَّةً حَسَنَةً فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا وَلَا يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أُجُورِهِمْ شَيْءٌ وَمَنْ سَنَّ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ سُنَّةً سَيِّئَةً فَعُمِلَ بِهَا بَعْدَهُ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ مِثْلُ وِزْرِ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهَا وَلَا يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَوْزَارِهِمْ شَيْءٌ
“Whoever institutes a good practice in Islam has its reward and the reward of all those who practice it until the day of judgement without lessening the rewards of the latter. And whoever institutes a bad practice in Islam beards its onus and the onus of all those who practice it until the Day of Judgment without lessening the onus of the latter.”
The term Sanna (translated here as institutes) means to start an act without precedent. Proof that the word means such is found within the Sunnah as well:
وكان خبيب هو سن لكل مسلم قتل صبرا الصلاة
Translated at the above link as: “So, it was Khubaib who set the tradition without prior precedent for any Muslim sentenced to death in captivity, to offer a two-rakat prayer (before being killed).”
And so our Nabi ‘alayhis salam encouraged encouraged creating acts that are “good”, that do not contradict his established Sunnah or the Ijma’ of the Muslims etc. Such was the understanding of the salaf as well as we have shown throughout this site.
Abu Zayd says:
Brother you have not brought anything new at this point because you have not showed any credible sources that bid’ah which is referred in the hadith is only talking about some bid’ah and not all bid’ah. Stop beating around the bush and come to terms with yourself.
The extra adhan which is done in Jum’ah was an ijtihad of ‘Uthman (radiya Allahu ‘Anahu) and Ibn ‘Umar did point out the fact that it is a bid’ah (cf: musnaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah). And just in case you are to cite the hadith which says, “be upon my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs,” than the best explanation is given by Abu Muhammad (Ibn Hazm) when he said:
إما أن نأخذ بسنن الخلفاء الراشدين كلها فهذا لا سبيل إليه لأنهم قد اختلفوا، وإما أن نردها كلها فهذا ضلال مبين، لأن من سننهم ما هو موافق لسنة رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -، وإما أن نأخذ من سننهم ما كان موافقا لكتاب الله ولسنة رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم- وهذا هو قولنا
“..Be it that we take all of the sunan of the right guided caliph, then there is no way of achieving this this as they differed. And if we rejected all of it, then this is clear misguidance because from their sunan is that which is in accordance with the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam). Or we take from their sunan that is in agreement to the book of Allah and to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam)…and this is our saying.”
In other words, I have a hadith telling me to stay away from ‘kull’ bid’ah and you are running around with statements of the fallible, this is not going to help you proof your case.
May Allah reward Abu Muhammad (Ibn Hazm) when he stated:
“It is not lawful to abandon what has been reported in the Qur’an nor what has been confirmed from the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu ‘Alayhi Wa Salam) on a account of a saying of a companion or other than him, be he the narrator of the hadith, or not.” (issue 93 in Kitab al-Usool of al-Muhalla)
Brother Abu Zayd,
I want to thank you for accepting the fact that you do not follow the Rightly guided Caliphs and their understanding of Bida’ah. We have shown to you that bida’ah can be good, and that as long as it does not contradict any of the principles of the law it is acceptable. The Khulafa’ Ar-Rashidin understood it as such and they implemented it, hence the labeling an act of Tarawih a bida’ah – as the Nabi ‘alayhis salam had never done this SPECIFIC act with all of its characteristics, and hence the creation of a totally new adhaan by Imam ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan (radiya Allahu ‘anhu) – described as a bida’ah and an innovation, yet done by the Sahabah thereafter.
What you still do not seem to understand is that the law reconciles itself. You see it is a contradiction – mainly that Uthman innovated into the deen without precedent, whereas the Sunnis see his understanding as one of reconciliation between all of the actions and statements of the Prophet Muhammad.
1) That he condemned MOST bida’ah.
2) That he recommended creating bida’ah which were hasanah. As proven by the hadith ‘man sanna fil islami sunnat hasanah‘
3) That the rightly guided Caliphs, who we are obliged to follow, understood the proofs as a whole not in a singular fashion as yourself.
So the only one who needs to “come to terms with their self” is you, as you have decided quite literally abandon the way of the rightly guided caliphs and by extension the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.
Imam Ash-Shafi’i did make this matter clear for the Muslims, and it goes to show that the pseudo-salafis are upon a different religion than the righteous Salaf!