Bid’ah should be taken seriously. It is important to understand the concept of bid’ah so that we can identify actions that are based on it. Unfortunately, it is not easy to detect as it is guised in actions that are seemingly pious and appear to lead to nearness (qurb) of Allah (swt). To make matters worse the popular speakers don’t pay much attention to it also. They either neglect to mention them or even worse promote it to please people and gain more popularity.
Please refer to our article Definition and Scope of Bid’ah for a better understanding of this evil practice.
Bid’ah is usually mixed with religious practice in such a subtle fashion that the person is deceived into thinking of it as a pious act based on love of Ahlulbayt (as) whereas in reality it is leading him towards the fire of hell. Such are the deceptions of Satan who intends to involve us in evil practices.
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : شرُّ الاُمورِ مُحْدَثاتُها ، ألَا وكُلُّ بِدعةٍ ضلالةٌ ، ألَا و كُلُّ بِدعةٍ ضلالةٌ ، ألَا وكلُّ ضَلالةٍ ففي النّار
The Prophet (s) said: The worst of matters are the innovations (مُحْدَثاتُها). Certainly, every innovation is an error (leading one astray) and every error is destined for Hell.
(Note: The word مُحْدَثاتُها comes from حدث which also means to originate/establish.)
[Amali al-Mufid, p. 188, no. 14]
On the day of judgement it will be unfortunate if we realize that the precious time and energy we expended on deeds that we thought would earn reward are instead a source of punishment. Satan would be very pleased with this.
Bid’ah is a Sin
The sin (and thus the punishment) is multiplied for the one who initiates bid’ah as he is responsible for the actions of all those people who are going to perform it for generations to come.
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : إيّاكَ أنْ تسُنَّ سنّةَ بدعٍة ؛ فإ َّن العبَد إذا َسنَّ سُنّةً سيّئةً َلحَِقهُ ِوْزُرها ِ ووْزُر َمن عمِلَ بها
The Prophet (s) said: Never start a practice based on an innovation; for a man who initiates a bad practice will incur its sin and the sins of the people who act upon it.
[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 77, p. 104, no. 1]
Bid’ah damages sunnah and destroys religion
Bid’ah has a damaging impact on Sunnah. It leads to abandonment of sunnah and eventually as more and more of such practices are added, true religion (sunnah) is destroyed.
امام على عليه السلام : ما اُحدِثتْ بِدعةٌ إلّا تُرِكَ بها سُنَّةٌ ، فاتّقوا البِدعَ والزَموا المِهيعَ ، إنّ عَوازِمَ الاُمورِ أفضَلُها ، وإنَّ مُحدَثاتها شرارُها
Imam Ali (as) said: No sooner is an innovation initiated than it causes the sunnah to be left behind (abandoned). So stay away from innovations and adhere to the clear path. Verily the established traditions are the best while the innovated ones are the worst.
[Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 145, Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 19]
امام على عليه السلام : ما هَدمَ الدِّينَ مثلُ البِدع
Imam Ali (as) said: Nothing destroys religion like the innovations.
[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 78, p. 92, no. 98]
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : من أتى ذا بدْعةٍ فعطَّمهُ فإنَّما يَسْعى في هَدْمِ الإسلام
Rasool Allah (s) said: If one comes across an innovation and appreciates it (sides with it), he has assisted in the demolition of Al Islam.
[Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 3]
Satan deceives through bid’ah
After involving people in bid’ah, Satan casts a deceptive cloud of piety to ensure that the practice becomes well established.
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : مَن عمِلَ في بِدعةٍ خَلّاهُ الشيطانُ والعِبادةَ ، وألْقى عليهِ الخُشوعَ والبُكاءَ
The Prophet (s) said: When a man’s deeds are based on innovation, Satan will leave him to worship (even more) and will incite humility and tears in him (in order to deceive him so that he may continue performing it).
[Bihar ul Anwar, v72, p216, #8]
امام على عليه السلام : إنَّ شَرَّ النّاسِ عندَ الله إمامٌ جائرٌ ضَلَّ و ضُلَّ بهِ، فَأماتَ سُنَّةً مأخوذَةً (مَعلومَةً)، وأحيا بِدعَةً مَتروكَةً
Imam Ali (as) said: Verily the most evil of people in the sight of Allah is the tyrannical leader who himself has gone astray and through whom others go astray. He abolishes established sunnah and revives abandoned innovations.
[Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 164]
The innovators have no religion
A person who performs bid’ah does not care about where he takes his religious injunctions from. Such a person follows his desires and even if performs some actions which happen to be based on sunnah it is out of co-incidence not obedience to Allah (swt).
إنَّما النّاسُ رَجُلانِ مُتَّبِعُ شِرْعَة وَمُبْتَدِعُ بِدْعَةُ
Amir ul momineen (as) said: People are only [one of] of two types: the follower of divine law (shariah) or the innovator of an innovation.
[Ghurar Al Hikam, #73]
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : أهلُ البِدَع شَرُّ الخلقِ و الخليقةِ
The Prophet (s) said: The innovators (ahl-ul-bid’ah) are the worst of all creation.
[Kanz al-Ummal, #1095 and 1126]
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : أهلُ البِدَع كلابُ أهلِ النّار
The Prophet (s) said: The innovators are the dogs of the inmates of hell.
[Kanz al-Ummal, #1125]
Bid’ah leads to abandonment of knowledge
قَدْ خاضُوا بِحارَ الفِتنِ، وأخَذُوا بِالبِدَعِ دُونَ السُّنَنِ، وتَوَغَّلُوا الجَهْلَ، واطَّرَحُوا العِلْمَ
They have plunged into the seas of temptations and have taken to innovation rather than following the practices of the Prophet, and they have gone deep into ignorance while abandoning knowledge.
[Ghural Al Hikam, #43]
Repentence of Bid’ati (innovator) not accepted
The innovator has no chance of escape since even his repentence will not be accepted.
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه: وآلهأبَى اللّهُ لِصَاحِبِ البِدعَةِ بِاتَّوْبَةِ قِيلَ يا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَ كَيفَ ذَلِكَ قالَ إنَّهُ قدْ أشْرِبَ قَلْبُهُ حُبَّها
Rasool-Allah (s) said: Allah (swt) rejects the repentance of the innovator (who introduces bid’ah). It was asked: O Rasool-Allah (s)! And how come that is so? He (s) said: It is because his heart is filled with the love of his (bid’ah).
[Al Kafi V 1 – The Book Of Intellect and Ignorance CH 19 H 4]
رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وآله : أبَى اللهُ لصاحِبِ البدعةِ بالتّوبةِ
The Prophet (s) said: Allah denies the innovator a chance to repent.
[Bihar al-Anwar, v. 72, p. 216, no. 8]
Before we perform any action in the name of religion it is important for us to seek the hadith that it is based on. Without knowledge of hadith there is no way to know if the action is a bid’ah or not.