DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF BID’AH (INNOVATION)
His statement that the Meelad Shareef can also not be Mubah because the Ijma’ of the followers of Islam is that anything that is a Bid’ah (innovation) in religion cannot be Mubah, is one that is not accepted. This is because Bid’ah (innovations) are not classified only as Haraam or Makruh, but they can also be Mubah as well as Mandub or Wajib.
Imam al-Nawawi (radi Allahu anhu) says in “Tahdhib al-Asma wal Lugat”: “Bid’ah in the Shari’ah is the invention of that which was not there in the period of the Messenger of Allah, and it is divided into two categories, Hasanah (or good) and Qabihah (or evil).”
Shaikh Izzuddin Ibn Abd al-Salaam (radi Allahu anhu) writes in “al-Qawa’id”: “Bid’ah is divided into Wajib, Haraam, Mandub, Makruh and Mubah. And the way to know to which category it belongs is to examine it together with the laws of Shari’ah. If it falls with those laws that deal with what is Wajib, then it is Wajib; if with those laws that deal with what is Haraam, then it is Haraam; if with the laws dealing with what is Mandub, then Mandub; if the laws dealing with what is Makruh, then Makruh; if with the laws dealing with what is Mubah, then Mubah”.
After this he went on to give examples of the five kinds of Bid’ah and wrote: “As for Bid’ah that is Mandub, its examples are the setting up of inns and educational institutions and very good action which was not there in the first age. Among the latter are Tarawih, discussion on the intricacies of Tasawwuf and debates. And among these is the convening of assemblies for deduction of laws in connection with problems providing that the motive thereof is to seek the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala”.
Al-Baihaqi (radi Allahu anhu) in “Manaqib al-Shafi’i” has transmitted with his isnad (chain of narrators) from Imam al-Shafi’i (radi Allahu anhu) himself, that he said: “The new things that are brought about are of two kinds. One kind is that which is brought about, inconsistent with something in the Quran or the Sunnah or with some Athar or some Ijma’. This is the category of Bid’ah Dalalah (heretic innovation). The second kind is that which is brought about from good things which are not inconsistent with any of the above”.
Umar (radi Allahu anhu) did say about standing in prayer in the month of Ramadaan, “What a good Bid’ah this is!” meaning that this is a new thing which was not there before and being a new thing it does not contradict anything that went before.
THE BID’AH THAT IS MANDUB
This refutes al-Fakihani’s statement that the Milad Shareef cannot also be Mubah. But on the contrary it is a Bid’ah that is Makruh.This is because the Meelad Shareef is of that category of new matters which involve no inconsistency with anything in the Quran or the Sunnah, or with any Athar or Ijma’. Thus, this is not blameworthy (i.e. from the point of view of the Shari’ah, there is no evil in it), as in the statement of Imam al-Shafi’i (radi Allahu anhu) and it is a good action which, even though (in its present form) was not done in the first age, was brought about afterwards.
The invitation to partake of food and drink in which there is no sin, is an act of goodness for sure. Therefore, in connection with the Meelad Shareef, that assembly in which someone, out of his lawfully earned wealth, invites his family, relatives and friends to partake of food and drink in which there is no action against the Shari’ah – that assembly is a Bid’ah (innovation) that is Mandub (commendable), as is clear from the above quoted statements of Shaikh Izzuddin Ibn Abd al-Salam (radi Allahu anhu).
HARAAM AND MAKRUH THINGS
In connection with the second manner al-Fakihani has described and criticised, his criticism is in itself correct. There is no doubt that the assembly (mahfil) is Haraam where men, women, youths and little boys are freely mixed, and which there is dancing and music, with musical instruments in busy use, or where women assemble separately and sing in raised voices. But this does not mean that to arrange for the Meelad Shareef has been deemed Haraam. On the contrary, in the above instances the reason for their being Haraam is not assembling to celebrate the Meelad Shareef but is due to those things which are Haraam in the Shari’ah and have become mixed with the blessed assembly. (And if these things are not indulged in, then the Meelad Shareef would be as assembly for remembering Muhammad Mustafa – sallal laahu alaihi wasallam – and would thus be full of goodness and blessings).
Furthermore, if these kinds of actions were to take place say, in the assembly for Salatul-Jumu’ah, then it is evident that would be a reprehensible step and an evil matter.However from this the criticism of the original assembly for Salatul-Jumu’ah does not necessarily ensue. It has been seen that some of these kinds of actions also take place on the nights of Ramadaan Shareef, when people assemble for Salatut-Tarawih. Now on the basis of those actions can one conceivably criticise assembling for Salatut-Tarawih? Definitely not! However, we will say that the original assembly for Salatut-Tarawih is Sunnah and an act of virtue and Ibadah, but that those above mentioned actions, which have become mixed with it, are evil and repulsive.
Similarly, we say in connection with the celebration of the Meelad Shareef that the assembly is itself Mandub (commendable) and an act of virtue, but the above mentioned kinds of other actions, which have become mixed with it, are blameworthy and unlawful.
REFUTATION OF THE FINAL OBJECTION
In conclusion, al-Fakihani stated that Rabi-ul-Awwal is the month not only of the birth of the Noble Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), but also of his demise. Therefore, instead of grief and sorrow, exhibiting joy and happiness is neither better nor suitable. In reply to this, first of all we submit that the birth of the Noble Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is the greatest favour of Allah granted to us, and that his death is the greatest affliction for us. However, the Shari’ah has encouraged us to show our gratitude for favours has taught us to observe patient, perseverance, silence and calm in the face of afflictions. The Shari’ah has ordered us to offer the Aqiqah on the birth of a child, which is an expression of gratitude and happiness on the birth of that child. But the Shari’ah has not ordered us to sacrifice any animal on the death of someone, nor to do any such action. On the contrary, it has prohibited wailing and lamentation.Thus the laws of the Shari’ah indicate that to exhibit happiness in this holy month in connection with the birth of the Noble Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), is better than showing grief at his demise.
Ibn Rajab (radi Allahu anhu) in his “Kitab al-Lata’if” wrote criticising the Rawafid (A Shia sect) that because of the martyrdom of Imam Husain (radi Allahu anhu) they have made Ashura (the 10th of Muharram) a day of mourning, whereas Allah and His Messenger (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), have prohibited taking the days of affliction on the Prophets and the days of their deaths (alaihimus-salaam) as days of mourning. What then is the justification for taking days of mourning for those who are not prophets?
STAND-POINT OF IBN AL-HAJ
Imam Abu Abdullah Ibn al-Haj (radi Allahu anhu) has discussed the subject of the Milad Shareef with great maturity and insight in his book “al-Madkhal”. To sum up his discussion, he has praised celebrating the Milad Shareef with joy and happiness and exhibiting gratitude to Allah, therefor. And he has criticised those Haraam and prohibited things which have been included in it. Here, I quote his discussion section–wise.