Q: I want a detailed explanation of the Hadith that reads:
Every novelty is a Bid`ah and every Bid`ah is an act of error and every error shall be consigned to Hellfire.
I hope that you will give me a detailed explanation of the meaning derived from this statement as well as other related topics such as (Part No. 2; Page No. 458) modern inventions such as airplanes and loudspeakers in addition to other similar inventions that we use. Moreover, is it a Bid`ah to print or write down the Glorious Qur'an?
scholars divided innovations into two categories: religious and worldly. An innovation in religion (Bid`ah) means to innovate an act of worship not enacted by Allah (Exalted and Glorified be He). This division is indicated in the above-mentioned Hadith as well as other topic-related Hadith.
Concerning the worldly innovations,
those from among them that are more likely to bring about benefit than cause harm are permissible. Otherwise, they are prohibited. To the latter category belongs newly invented destructive weapons and vehicles.
making use of airplanes, loudspeakers, and other newly invented ordinary machinery that do not entail any legal restriction is not objectionable on the condition that they do not inflict injustice on any one; they do not support any Bid`ah or Munkar (that which is unacceptable or disapproved by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) and are not included in Hadith that warns against Bid'ahs.
printing and writing down the Qur'an is a means of safekeeping, learning, and teaching it. As means have the same ruling of ends, it is legally permitted and so is not a prohibited Bid`ah. In other words, Allah (Exalted be He) undertook safekeeping the Glorious Qur'an and such methods are means to this end.
you are advised to consult such books as "Tanbihul-Ghafilin" by Al-Nahhas, (Part No. 2; Page No. 459) "Al-I'tisam" by Al-Shatiby, "Al-Sunan wal-Mubtada'at", and "Al-Ibda' fi Madarr Al-Ibtida'".May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.