Refutation of Good Bidah (Saying of Umar bin Al Khattab Ra)

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Ahlul Bidah use the statement of Good Bidah by Umar bin Al Khattab (ra) to show that bidah has various interpretation which is far from true since anything that supports sunnah or revives is bidah hasanah & anything that opposes it is bidah dalalah
The issue raised by the Ahlul Bidah against Ahlus Sunnah is the congregational prayer of Taraweeh which was done by Umar (RA) and the Opponents; upon the statement of Umar: قال ‏ ‏عمر ‏ ‏نعم البدعة هذه
States not every state Umar (RA) introduced the congregational Jamaath to Ummah. By this statement.

Bidah has various interpretations and its linguistic and the interpretation of Shariah both are different:

a) Imam Ibne Katheer said:

Mujahid and As-Suddi said that this is the linguistic meaning, for all new matters are called Bid`ah. Muslim recorded the Messenger of Allah saying,

(.every innovation (in religion) is a Bid`ah.)

There are two types of Bid`ah, religious, as mentioned in the Hadith:

(...every innovation is a Bid`ah and every Bid`ah is heresy.)

And there is a linguistic Bid`ah, such as the statement of the Leader of the faithful `Umar bin Al-Khattab when he gathered the Muslims to pray the Tarawih prayer in congregation (which was also an earlier practice of the Prophet ) and said, "What a good Bid`ah this is.''[Tafsir of Surah al-Baqrah ayah 117]


b) Imaam ash-Shaatibee (rahima-hullaah) mentions:

Linguistically bid'ah (innovation) means 'a newly invented matter'. And in Shariah he defines as follows and in the case of Shairah is as given below :

طريقة في الدين مخترعة تضاهي الشرعية، يقصَد بالسلوك عليها المبالغة في التعبد لله سبحانه

Thus "A newly invented way [beliefs or action] in the religion, in imitation of the Sharee'ah (prescribed Law), by which nearness to Allaah is sought, [but] not being supported by any authentic proof - neither in its foundations, nor in the manner in which it is performed)).[Ref : al-I'tisaam of ash-Shaatibee (1/37)]

In order to understand thi we need to :

1. Narrate the whole hadith in full , not just the portion :
2. Are there any reference from Quran and hadith for this action of Umar (RA)
3 The need and circumstance at the time of the Prophet to the time of Umar Bin Al Khattaab (RA) .

Point 1:

‏وعن ‏ ‏ابن شهاب ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عروة بن الزبير ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عبد الرحمن بن عبد القاري ‏ ‏أنه قال
‏خرجت مع ‏ ‏عمر بن الخطاب ‏ ‏رضي الله عنه ‏ ‏ليلة في رمضان إلى المسجد فإذا الناس ‏ ‏أوزاع ‏ ‏متفرقون ‏ ‏يصلي الرجل لنفسه ويصلي الرجل فيصلي بصلاته ‏ ‏الرهط ‏ ‏فقال ‏ ‏عمر ‏ ‏إني أرى لو جمعت هؤلاء على قارئ واحد لكان أمثل ثم عزم فجمعهم على ‏ ‏أبي بن كعب ‏ ‏ثم خرجت معه ليلة أخرى والناس يصلون بصلاة قارئهم قال ‏ ‏عمر ‏ ‏نعم البدعة هذه والتي ينامون عنها أفضل من التي يقومون يريد آخر الليل وكان الناس يقومون أوله

Ibn Shihab said, "Allah's Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate." 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a , this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night."

From the hadith we come to know the following points:

1. Prophet (SAW) passed away.
2. People did keep praying Qi yam Ramadan in mosques
3. Umar gathered the people under one Imaam (Ubayy bin Ka'b)
4. Umar comments and then compares this act to the people who prayed between those who were sleeping
5. Reference from Quran and Hadith for this act of Sahaba:

As already mentioned Sunnah is not what Prophet (SAW) did , but also his commands and approval also:

The narration which already provided is enough to state that this act is a Sunnah and not any innovation in religion.

عليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين من بعدي

“I urge you to adhere to my Sunnahs and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided khaleefahs after me"
So it’s the command of Rasoolullah to obey the Khulafau Rashideen , and this command is from the Sunnah :

﴿يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِى الاٌّمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِى شَىْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ ذلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً

(59. O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination"

Now Quran asks us to obey Allah and his messenger and also those who are in authority? Umar Bin Al Khattab was indeed the authoritative figure in Islam and did he go anything to the Sunnah From the first proof itself its understood, it’s not against the Sunnah, Further we can add to more evidences for this act:

Proof 3: Prophet himself performed Salathul Taraweeh in Jamaát

كتاب صحيح البخاري
1077 - حدثنا عبد الله بن يوسف قال أخبرنا مالك عن ابن شهاب عن عروة بن الزبير عن عائشة أم المؤمنين رضي الله عنها
أن رسول صلى الله عليه وسلم صلى ذات ليلة في المسجد فصلى بصلاته ناس ثم صلى من القابلة فكثر الناس ثم اجتمعوا من الليلة الثالثة أو الرابعة فلم يخرج إليهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فلما أصبح قال ( قد رأيت الذي صنعتم ولم يمنعني من الخروج إليكم إلا أنني خشيت أن تفرض عليكم ) . وذلك في رمضان

Narrated 'Urwa:
That he was informed by 'Aisha, "Allah's Apostle went out in the middle of the night and prayed in the mosque and some men prayed behind him. In the morning, the people spoke about it and then a large number of them gathered and prayed behind him (on the second night). In the next morning the people again talked about it and on the third night the mosque was full with a large number of people. Allah's Apostle came out and the people prayed behind him. On the fourth night the Mosque was overwhelmed with people and could not accommodate them, but the Prophet came out (only) for the morning prayer. When the morning prayer was finished he recited Tashah-hud and (addressing the people) said, "Amma ba'du, your presence was not hidden from me but I was afraid lest the night prayer (Qiyam) should be enjoined on you and you might not be able to carry it on." So, Allah's Apostle died and the situation remained like that (i.e. people prayed individually)

The need and circumstance at the time of the Prophet to the time of Umar Bin Al Khattab (RA) .

At the time of Prophet :

1. Prophet was alive
2. Revelations and laws of Shariah kept coming to him from Allah
3. Prophet himself prayed with the people and continued for 3 nights.
4. Prophet stopped praying fearing that it would be made compulsory since Prophet was alive and revelation
kept coming onto him and seeing the enthusiasm of the Sahaba it might have been made compulsory.
5. Had the law been established as compulsory, if anyone missed the prayer, then he would be blamed for such action.

At the time of Umar bin Al Khattab:

1. Prophet passed away.
2. Deen was complete and there was NOTHING to ADD or DELETE in Shariah.
3. Prophet himself peformed for 3 nights in congregation.
4. The fear of making it compulsory no longer holds valid
5. The blame of avoiding such prayer is no longer valid since the prayer is not a compulsory one and with the wafath of Rasoolullah there is no more additions in Deen to take place
6. From the examples from both the narrations we know that Prophet (SAW) , whose mercy can be understood again from this event. He stopped it for a reason so that it's not a burden for us for it to be made compulsory
7. Umar Bin Al –Khattab only revivied this Sunnah since on what grounds Prophet had stopped , it no longer holds valid
8. Prophet stopped for a specific reason and need because of his mercy towards us
9. Umar only revived the Sunnah for the reason why Prophet stopped no longer is valid

Now coming to the wordings of Umar : نعم البدعة هذه some people attribute that we can invent good things in religion and this is not blameworthy.

And they use the statements of Imaam Shafie from Manaaqib Shafie of Baihaqi and also from Abu Nuayms Ilya Al Awliya as follows:

البدعة بدعتان: بدعة محمودة، وبدعة مذمومة، فما وافق السنة، فهو محمود، وما خالف السنة، فهو مذموم

There are two types of Bidah , Bida praise worthy and Bidah blame worthy and anything that supports the Sunnah is Bidah Hasanah and that opposes to it is Bidah Dalaalah This wording of Umar and this statement of Imaam Shafie is used for promoting and innovating things in Deen and they say we are doing its good and agreed upon there is no fault:Now what did Imaam Shafie mean by this its clearly explained by a) Ibn Rajab Al Hanbali in his Sharah of Forty hadith of Imam Nawawi as follows:

ومراد الشافعي - رحمه الله - ما ذكرناه مِنْ قبلُ : أنَّ البدعة المذمومة ما ليس لها أصل منَ الشريعة يُرجع إليه ، وهي البدعةُ في إطلاق الشرع ، وأما البدعة المحمودة فما وافق السنة ، يعني : ما كان لها أصلٌ مِنَ السنة يُرجع إليه ، وإنَّما هي بدعةٌ لغةً لا شرعاً ؛ لموافقتها السنة إ.هـ . (جامع العلوم والحكم - ح 28)

So what Imaam Shafie is saying about is the linguistic Bidah and has nothing to do with good or bad in Shariah for in Shariah there is nothing to be added or deleted and it needs to have a base to return to :
Also you can find the same Sharah in Albani’s Salatul Taraweeh Sheikh Salih Al Fawzaan in his Sharah of Kitaab Thawheed the same explanation from b) Shaykh Albani’s explanation you can see below:

لم يقصد به البدعة بمعناها الشرعي الذي هو إحداث شيء في الدين على غير مثال سابق لما
علمت إنه رضي الله عنه لم يحدث شيئا بل أحيا أكثر من سنة نبوية كريمة وإنما قصد البدعة بمعنى من معانيها اللغوية وهو الأمر الحديث الجديد الذي لم يكن معروفا قبيل إيجاده ".

It’s a linguistic Bidah what Umar told and has nothing to do with adding or deleting things in Shariah Umar only revived the Sunnah , which was kept away by Prophet for his mercy upon us.(end)

Now two more Imaams to give the complete anaylsis of the statement of Umar

c) Shaatibi in al Itisaam says a beautiful explanation on this

وأما قسم المندوب فليس من البدع بحال وتبيين ذلك بالنظر في الأمثلة التي مثل لها بصلاة التراويح في رمضان جماعة في المسجد . فقد قام بها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في المسجد واجتمع الناس خلفه

As for the category of recommendation it is not from bid’ahs in any situation. This may be clarified by considering the examples used in support of it, like Salat al-Tarawih during Ramadan in congregation in the mosque, since the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) established it and the people gathered behind him.

فخرج أبو داود عن أبي ذر قال :
"صمنا مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رمضان ، فلم يقم بنا شيئاً من الشهر حتى بقي سبع ، فقام بنا حتى ذهب ثلث الليل ، فلما كانت السادسة لم يقم بنا ؟ فلما كانت الخامسة قام بنا حتى ذهب شطر الليل فقلنا : يا رسول الله لو نفلتنا قيام هذه الليلة ؟ ـ قال ـ فقال : إن الرجل إذا صلى مع الإمام حتى ينصرف حسب له قيام الليلة ، قال : فلما كانت الرابعة لم يقم ، فلما كانت الثالثة جمع أهله ونساءه والناس ، فقام بنا حتى خشينا أن يفوتنا الفلاح ـ قال ـ قلت : وما الفلاح ؟ قال : السحور ". ثم لم يقم بنا بقية الشهر ، ونحوه في الترمذي ، وقال فيه حسنً صحيح

“Abu Dawud transmitted from Abu Dharr [that] he said: We fasted with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) during Ramadan, but he did not stand with us [in prayer] in any part of the month till seven [nights] remained; then he stood with us till a third of the night had passed. When the sixth [remaining night] came, he did not stand with us. When the fifth [remaining night] came, he stood with us till a half of the night passed. So we said, ‘We wish you had led us in supererogatory prayers during the whole of tonight.’ He said, ‘When a man prays with an imam till he goes, he is reckoned as having spent a whole night in prayer.’ When the fourth [remaining night] came he did not stand with us. When the third [remaining night] came, he gathered his family, his wives, and the people and prayed with us till we were afraid we should miss success [The sub-narrator] asked: ‘What is success?’ He said: ‘Suhur Then he did not stand with us for the remainder of the month.’ Al-Tirmidhi [narrated something] similar to this and he said in it ’sound and authentic (hasan sahih).
لكنه صلى الله عليه وسلم لما خاف افتراضه على الأمة أمسك عن ذلك ، ففي الصحيح عن عائشة رضي الله عنها : "أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم صلى في المسجد ذات ليلة فصلى بصلاته ناس ، ثم صلى القابلة فكثر الناس ثم اجتمعوا الليلة الثالثة أو الرابعة فلم يخرج إليهم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، فلما أصبح قال :
قد رأيت الذي صنعتم ، فلم يمنعني من الخروج إلا أني خشيت أن يفرض عليكم " ، وذلك في رمضان ، وخرجه مالك في الموطأ

“However when he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) feared it would become obligatory on the ummah he withheld from it. Thus, in the Sahih [it is narrated] from ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) that one night Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prayed in the mosque and the people followed him in prayer. The next night he also prayed and the people increased. On the third or fourth night they gathered, but Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not come out to them. When morning came he said, ‘I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it might be enjoined on you, stopped me from coming.’ And that was in the month of Ramadan. Malik also transmitted it in al-Muwatta.

فتأملوا ففي هذا الحديث ما يدل على كونها سنة ، فإن قيامه أولاً بهم دليل على صحة القيام في المسجد جماعة في رمضان وامتناعه بعد ذلك من الخروج خشية الافتراض لا يدل على امتناعه مطلقاً ، لأن زمانه كان زمان زحي وتشريع ، فيمكن أن يوحى إليه إذا عمل به الناس بالألزام ، فلما زالت علة التشريع بموت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رجع الأمر إلى أصله ، وقد ثبت الجواز فلا ناسخ له

“Pay careful attention, for in this hadith is that which proves it is sunnah since his standing [in prayer] with them first is a proof for the standing in the mosque in congregation during Ramadan and his prohibition to come out after that, for fear of it becoming obligatory, does not prove it is absolutely prohibited because his age was the age of revelation and legislation, so it was possible revelation would come to him if he practiced it with the people with persistence. Thus when the cause of legislation disappeared with the death of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the matter returned to its origin, and the permissibility is established, as nothing abrogated it.

وإنما لم يقم ذلك أبو بكر رضي الله عنه لأحد أمرين : إما لأنه رأى أن قيام الناس آخر الليل وما هم به عليه كان أفضل عنده من جمعهم على إمام أول الليل ذكره الطرطوشي ، وإما لضيق زمانه رضي الله عنه عن النظر في هذه الفروع ، مع شغله بأهل الردة وغير ذلك مما هو أوكد من صلاة التراويح .
فلما تمهد الإسلام في زمن عمر رضي الله عنه ورأى الناس في المسجد أوزاعاً ـ كما جاء في الخبر ـ قال : لو جمعت الناس على قارىء واحد لكان أمثل ، فلما تم له ذلك نبه على أن قيامهم آخر الليل أفضل ، ثم اتفق السلف على صحة ذلك وإقراره ، والأمة لا تجتمع على ضلالة .
وقد نص الأصوليون أن الإجماع لا يكون إلا عن دليل شرعي

“Abu Bakr did not establish it for one of two reasons: either because he saw people standing in the last part of the night and what they were on was better according to him than their gathering under an imam in the first part of the night - this was mentioned by al-Turtushi; or because of the shortness of his time to look into these peripheral matters along with his preoccupations with the apostates and other than that which was more pressing than Salat al-Tarawih. And when Islam became established in the time of ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with him) and he saw people in the mosque scattered, as has come in the narration, he said, ‘it would better if these [people] gathered under one reciter’ and when that was done for him, he drew attention to the prayer in the last part of the night being better. Then the predecessors agreed on the correctness of this and its approval, and the ummah does not agree on misguidance. Legal theorists have explicated that ijma’ is not but a [result] of evidence from the Shari’a.

فإن قيل : فقد سماها عمر رضي الله عنه بدعة وحسنها بقوله : نعمت البدعة هذه وإذا ثبتت بدعة مستحسنة في الشرع ثبت مطلق الاستحسان في البدع .
فالجواب : إنما سماها بدعة باعتبار ظاهر الحال من حيث تركها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، واتفق أن لم تقع في زمان أبي بكر رضي الله عنه ، لا أنها بدعة في المعنى ، فمن سماها بدعة بهذا الاعتبار فلا مشاحة في الأساسي ، وعند ذلك فلا يجوز أن يستدل بها على جواز الابتداع بالمعنى المتكلم فيه ، لأنه نوع من تحريف الكلم عن مواضعه ،

“If it is said that Umar (Allah be pleased with him) called it a bid’ah and deemed it good by his statement ‘what a blessed bid’ah this is’ so when one bid’ah is deemed good in the Shar’iah, the general [principle] of deeming bid’ah good is established. The response is: ‘Umar only called it bid’ah by consideration of the apparent situation from the perspective that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) left it and it so happened that it did not occur in the time of Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him), not that it is bid’ah in the [proper] sense. Thus, whoever calls it bid’ah by this consideration there is no fundamental quarrel, and thereupon it is not permissible to adduce this as proof for the permissibility of innovation in the sense discussed [previously], because that is a kind of distortion of words from their [proper] contexts.(end)

d) Imaam Ibn Abdul Birr in Tamheed gives the same understanding

وفيه : أن قيام رمضان سنة من سنن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، مندوب إليها ، مرغوب فيها ، ولم يسن منها عمر بن الخطاب إذ أحياها إلا ما كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يحبه ويرضاه ، ولم يمنع من المواظبة عليه إلا خشية أن يفرض على أمته ، وكان بالمؤمنين رؤوفا رحيما - صلى الله عليه وسلم - ، فلما علم ذلك عمر من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلم أن الفرائض لا يزاد فيها ولا ينقص منها بعد موته عليه الصلاة والسلام : أقامها للناس وأحياها وأمر بها ، وذلك سنة أربع عشرة من الهجرة ، وذلك شيء ادخره الله له وفضَّله به .

This indicates that praying qiyaam in Ramadaan is one of the Sunnahs of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and is recommended and encouraged. It was not introduced by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, rather he revived something that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) loved and approved of. Nothing stopped him from doing it regularly except the fear that it might be made obligatory upon his ummah. He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was kind and compassionate towards his ummah. ‘Umar knew from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that the obligatory duties would not be increased or decreased after his death (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), so he revived this practice and enjoined it upon the people. That happened in 14 AH, and ‘Umar has the honour of being the one who revived this Sunnah.

e) Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said
With regard to qiyaam in Ramadaan, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) introduced this to his ummah, and he led them in prayer for a number of nights, because at his time they used to pray in congregation and individually. But he did not persist in leading them in one congregation, lest that be made obligatory for them. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, sharee’ah was established (and would not change after that). When ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) became caliph, he united them behind one imam, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, who united the people in one congregation on the orders of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) was one of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, of whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after me; cling tightly to it.” So what he did was Sunnah but he said, “What a good innovation this is,” because it was an innovation in the linguistic sense, as they were doing something that they had not done during the life of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), i.e., gathering to do this, but it is Sunnah in the shar’i sense.”[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/234, 235]

Lastly own son of Umar bin al Khattab Ra said

f) Ibn e umar r.a said
Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good."[kitab al sunnah page 24 hadees 82, sharah asool aiteqaad ahlus sunnah wal jamah hadees 126, al mudakhal behqi hadees 191]
Related links
a) Did Omar change the words of Adhaan in Fjr?

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