Types of Bid`ah

Q 2: How many types of Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) are there? Is every Bid‘ah misguidance? If yes, are the diacritical marks used in the writing of the Qur’an, such as Dammah (a small curl-like diacritic standing for the short vowel /u/), Fathah (a small diagonal line placed above a letter to stand for the short vowel /a/), Kasrah (a small diagonal line placed below a letter to stand for the short vowel /i/), Sukun (a circle-shaped diacritic placed above a letter with no vowel), Nuqtah (dots and diereses placed above and below Arabic letters to distinguish between them) or Nabrah (a carrier on which the letter Hamzah is placed in cases of Kasr) an act of Bid‘ah, as the Qur’an was written during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) without any diacritical marks? Is the writing of these marks an act of Bid‘ah? Is this Bid‘ah a deviation from what is right?

A: Bid‘ah (i.e. An invented or newly introduced thing) is divided into Bid‘ah in religion and ordinary Bid‘ah. The ordinary Bid‘ah includes all newly manufactured products and inventions. The basic rule regarding ordinary Bid‘ah is permissibility unless otherwise stipulated by Shar‘y (Islamic legal) evidence. As for Bid‘ah in religion: It includes anything that is innovated and contradicts (Part No. 2; Page No. 464) Allah’s Legislation, such as offering collective Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) in unison, commemorating birthdays, celebrating the night of mid-Sha‘ban and the twenty seventh of Rajab, the mourning ceremony held forty days after the death of a person, recitation of the Qur’an for the dead in front of the grave, and so on. However, there are no classifications of Bid‘ahs in religion with regard to rulings. In general, every Bid‘ah in religion is misguidance. It is authentically reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he said: Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected. (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) In another narration, it is reported that he (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who does an action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected. (Related by Muslim) There is another narration on the authority of Al-`Irbad ibn Sariyah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: One day the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) led us in Salah (Prayer) then he faced us and gave us an earnest exhortation that caused our eyes to flow with tears and our hearts to tremble. Someone said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is like a farewell exhortation, so what do you advise us.’ He (peace be upon him) said, ‘I advise you to fear Allah, and to listen and obey, even if it is an Ethiopian slave (appointed as a ruler over you), because whosoever among you shall live after me shall see much difference. So, I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah (way) and the Sunnah of the righteous, Rightly-guided Caliphs, hold fast to it and bite onto it with your molars (i.e. Cling firmly to it). Beware of newly-invented matters (in religion), for every newly-invented matter is a Bid‘ah, and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).’ (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al-Tirmidhy, and Ibn Majah) Regarding the dots and diacritical marks used in the Qur’an, they are not considered Bid‘ah, even though they did not exist during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is regarded as a Maslahah Mursalah (unrestricted public interest) indicated by Shar‘y evidence enjoining the duty of preserving the Qur’an in general. (Part No. 2; Page No. 465) We recommend you to read Al-I‘tisam, a book written by Al-Shatiby who discussed this issue at length.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.