Religious Innovation and its consequences

We are blessed and grateful to Allah SWT in that He has sent us a religion that has been completed for us. By following the path of the Prophet SAWS, we do not want for anything as our faith has been presented in its entirety.

To add anything to our religion from the point where our Prophet SAWS declared it’s completion is considered an act of innovation and it is not permitted.

In fact, the Prophet SAWS explicitly warned us against innovating in our worship to Allah SWT as this is a misguidance.

The imam mentioned a hadith in relation to this reminder and it is translated to say:

The Prophet SAWS said ‘So hold fast to my sunnah and the examples of the rightly guided caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold to it fast. Beware of new things in faith because every innovation is misguidance.

We were also reminded of the hadith in which the Prophet SAWS was heard saying:

Whoever innovated in our mission that is not of it, it is rejected.

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to first be sure as to what denotes innovation and how we can identify this habit within ourselves.

Firstly, the act of innovation differs from disobedience as disobedience is doing something knowing that it is something that Allah SWT does not want us to do. Examples of this may be things like lying, stealing etc.

Innovation on the other hand is something that is being done without realisation because the person doing such an act believes it to be pleasing to Allah SWT and therefore believes it will get them closer to their Lord.

This is more dangerous in some ways than disobedience. Reason being is that with doing something you know to be wrong, there is still a potential for one to feel guilt and for one to seek forgiveness for it in the future.

Compare that to something which you are doing that is wrong but you aren’t even aware that it is impermissible and therefore the opportunity to repent for it will never present itself unless you identify it to be an innovation.

The problem we have is that we live in a time and a place of great innovation and misinformation. There are a lot of things being done in the name of our faith that are innovations and we need to be mindful of this.

But how does one protect themselves from innovative acts? After all, one reminder isn’t enough to be able to list the countless things that are being done in the name of our faith.

What is needed is a process by which we are able to identify those acts that are innovations and thus protect ourselves from them.

The first step of that process is seeking guidance and protection from Allah SWT against innovation. This comes from ensuring that we are in a state of consistent remembrance of Allah SWT and that we are in supplication to Him consistently to protect and guide us on the right path. This requires dedication and humility in worship.

The next step comes from being active on our faith. It is not enough that we declare ourselves Muslim and be done with that. We need to constantly strive and aim to learn and gain knowledge in our deen.

To study and contemplate on the Quran is the first practical step of this. If there is something that is being done that is directly contradictory of the Quran then we know straight away that this is innovation and thus we should avoid it.

The other practical step we need to take alongside the study of the Quran is the study and understanding of the sunnah of the Prophet SAWS. He was the living embodiment of the Quran and so if the act that we are following was not done by him then we need to ask ourselves if this is an innovation.

One point often made at this point is that we are not all scholars of hadith and therefore it is often not possible to carry out this practical point. This is where the masjid, the imam and the knowledgeable scholars amongst us then hold that responsibility to inform us as to the hadith which backs up the act that we are questioning.

If one finds that there is no satisfactory answer provided and that there is opinion that the act is questionable and possibly innovation then we are taught that the best course of action is that we avoid it through caution.

Ultimately we need to remember that our faith is one of intention and sincerity. If we make a sincere effort to rid ourselves of acts of innovation then we will be rewarded for this effort. The imam reminded us of this through the reference in the Glorious Quran in Sura Al-Nahl, ayat 42 which is translated to say:

Such as are steadfast and put their trust in Allah.

Dear brothers and sisters, to think that we can rid ourselves of all innovations is simply not feasible. There will always be those who think that innovation is good as well as others who simply don’t know better. However, with the reminder today, we can take steps to ensure that we do not fall into this trap and instead follow the path of our beloved Prophet SAWS who perfected and completed our religion for us.

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Innovations in the sacred month of Rajab

Allah SWT says in Sura Al-Imran ayat 31&32:


Say, O Muhammed, “If you should love Allah, the follow me, so Allah will love you and forgive your sins. And Allah is forgiving and merciful.


Say “Obey Allah and the Messenger”. But if they turn away –then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.


Dear brothers and sisters, in this ayat, Allah SWT is requesting our Prophet SAWS to tell us how to attain Allah SWT’s love and forgiveness. As this is essentially the aim of every Muslim, we should start here.


And it continues to state that this achieved by following Muhammed SAWS, his commandments and his actions.


Therefore, anything that is not part of this is considered an innovation in Islam and it leads to misguidance away from the straight path.


With the month of Rajab approaching in the Islamic calendar, this leads us onto the topic of innovations that are found in this month.


The Prophet SWS mentions innovation in the following hadith:


Verily Allah has blocked repentance from every innovator.


My brothers, it is evident from the above hadith that a lot of importance is given to the sin of misleading people through innovations in our faith. Even with the best of intentions, one can find themselves causing great sin by practicing acts which are not from the Quran or Sunnah of the Prophet SAWS.


In the current times it has become ever more difficult to deal with innovation. We don’t all have access to the scholars of yesteryear and nor do we have a single source of information on worldly matters than we haven’t heard bad things about.


These days the internet is full of people with opinion on everybody else. No scholar or sheikh is without critics nor is any practice without an alternative opinion.


One must be acutely aware that Shaytaan is attacking us from all fronts. It is not just enough to declare oneself a Muslim and be happy with such a feat. No, it is an on-going battle to remain on the right path because Shaytaan has paved many paths that deviate from the right and true path.

It is our test to look for this and remain on the straight path and away from deviations from the Quran and Sunna.


The main innovation during this month is one of celebration of the 27th night of Rajab. This was the night when the Prophet SWS ascended to the heavens. This is regarded as an innovation because the night is not unanimously thought of as the 27th night of the month and because there is no documentation of the companions of the Prophet SWS celebrating this night in the years after the event.


Other innovations being warned of this month are fasting for the sake of this month, praying extra prayers on Fridays for the sake of this month, sacrifice for the sake of this month and performing Umrah for the sake of this month.


My dear brothers, it is at this point that one must take a step back from the warnings being provided here on these innovations.


Just in Manchester alone, there is a good size of the community that engage in some or all of the practices above. And alongside them is a good size of the community that agrees that the above practices are innovations.


Such division on matters of faith are common these days and so it is only befitting of a khutba relating to the topic of innovation that we best equip ourselves with guarding against the punishment of such a thing.


First and foremost is intention. The aim of every Muslim is to please their Lord with their worship – whatever form it should be. And so if we begin each act in his name then we can safeguard ourselves with the knowledge that our intention was correct even when we are being led astray in matters of faith.


Those who wish to arm themselves further in this regard should aim to recite Dua Istkihara which is the guidance dua for matters that require council with Allah SWT. This again serves to safeguard us as we are seeking his guidance in matters that we are unsure of thus ensuring that our sincerity in worship remains intact.


Finally, we should aim to conduct our own research on matters we are unsure of. Seek out reliable sources of knowledge, preferably in person but also online as these are the times in which we live. Conduct sound research with cross-referencing on points and reaching sound conclusions all the while reminding ourselves that Allah knows best.


We live in an age where innovation is rife and the true path is sometimes hard to tread upon but with the right intention and methods of seeking truth from innovation, we can still be successful inshAllah.


May Allah SWT protect us from innovative acts. May Allah SWT equip us to discover truth from falsehood. And may Allah SWT reward us for our intention in our acts of worship.

Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.


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