Abu Shama; he divided it into bid`a mustahsana / hasana on the one hand, and bid`a mustaqbaha on the other, itself subdivided into muharram and makruh. In al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith Cairo ed. (p. 13);

al-Tal-Hanafi; he divided it into either bid`a mustahsana (approved), such as mubaha yuthab `alayha (permitted innovation which merits reward), or bid`a mustaqbaha (disapproved), such as makruha or muharrama. In Kitab al-luma` fi al-hawadith wa al-bida` (Stuttgart, 1986) 1:37;

Ibn al-Hajj al-`Abdari al-Maliki, who followed al-Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam's classification. Madkhal al-shar` al-sharif (Cairo, 1336 H) 2:115;

al-Tahanawi al-Hanafi, who also followed Ibn `Abd al-Salam. Kashshaf istilahat al-funun (Beirut, 1966) 1:133-135;

al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in his commentary of `Umar's saying related by Bukhari about Salat al-Tarawih: "What a fine innovation this is" (ni`mat al-bid`a hadhih):

The root meaning of innovation is what is produced without precedent. It is applied in the law in opposition to the Sunna and is therefore blameworthy. Strictly speaking, if it is part of what is classified as commendable by the law then it is a good innovation (hasana), while if it is part of what is classified as blameworthy by the law then it is blameworthy (mustaqbaha), otherwise it falls in the category of what is permitted indifferently (mubah). It can be divided into the known five categories."

4. Certain people still object:

"What about the hadith: kullu bida'tin dalala:   "Every innovation is a misguidance"? Doesn't the term "every" include all innovations?"

Such an objection stems from the misinterpretation of the term kull ("every") in the hadith to be all-encompassing without exception, whereas in Arabic it may mean "Nearly all" or "the vast majority." This is how al-Shafi`i understood it or else he would have never allowed for any innovation whatsoever to be considered good, and he is considered a hujja or "Proof," that is, a reference without peer for questions regarding the Arabic language. The stylistic figure of meaning the part by the whole, or synechdoche in English, is in Arabic: `abbara `an al-kathrati bi al-kulliyya. This is illustrated by the use of kull in verse 46:25 of the Qur'an in a selective or partial sense not a universal sense:

Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings.

Thus the dwellings were not destroyed although "all" things had been destroyed. "All" here means specifically the lives of the unbelievers of `Ad and their properties, except their houses. The same applies with Balkis's expression when she says that she has been given power over "everything" in Surat al-Naml, whereas she has not power over Sulayman and his kingdom.

In conclusion, the position of the majority of the scholars is clear: "To invent" (ahdatha - Your browser may not support display of this image.) a "new practice" (bid'at - Your browser may not support display of this image.) may refer either to the matter that is new linguistically speaking (lafzan), e.g. stone masjids, all the Islamic sciences, writing books about religion, etc. or the matter that is new legally speaking (shar`an - Your browser may not support display of this image.), e.g. a sixth daily prayer. Since bid`a usually applies to innovations in religion in the legal sense, the former kind of "new matter" does not qualify as a bid`a and therefore is not prohibited. The celebration of mawlid falls under its heading. This is the ruling of all the major scholars on the definition of bid`a. Whoever denies this definition is either ignorant, or actually giving a new definition which is not from the majority of scholars but from one's own whim. Their claim that they are "sticking to the sunna" is an empty claim which does not fool anybody but themselves and those they misguide. When asked to substantiate it with the criteria of scholarship in the light of the evidence against them, they keep repeating the claim, like parrots, ignoring or affecting to ignore the difference between the claim and the reality of the claim. Their purported "avoidance of the bid`a" is similarly based on their own whimsical conviction that they are right although they stray from the larger group. May Allah guide them.