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Is CongregationalDhi k r aB id\u2019 a? \u2013 Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
Lamp Post Productions \u2013 Turning Back On The Lights \u2013ww w .la mppost pro d uc ti o n s.o rg
Is CongregationalDh ikr aBid \u2019a?
By Abdullah bin Hamid Ali

There are many challenges facing the Muslim Ummah today both internally and externally. The external challenges are many and plain for the eye to see, while the internal challenges are a bit more insidious and sinister, but also serve the aims and objectives of both the overt and covert enemies ofAl-Islam. In particular, what is most distressing for many Muslims is trying to establish certainty in that one\u2019s practice and understanding of the religion is one that is rooted in the long-standing and unbroken tradition. This leads in many cases to the avoidance of any suspect or unfamiliar practices, ideologies, and slogans that might actually bring one\u2019s faith to the brink of perdition and destruction. Some accuse others of practicing innovation (bid\u2019a) in the religion upon hearing a statement or witnessing a practice that one has never seen before, in spite of the fact that the greater majority of Muslims are still ill-educated, mis-educated, or not fully acquainted with many of the broad Islamic teachings. Reservation about

apparently novel practices is the most natural of reactions for any Muslim seeking

to ensure that he/she is not in violation of the Messenger\u2019s commandments or his normative and prescribed way of acting. However, ignorance or faulty understandings should never be granted the authority of a religious verdict, especially when that verdict leads to accusations of sin launched against fellow believers.

Properly UnderstandingBi d \u2019a

A good believer always tries to avail his self by becoming fully acquainted with both the label he is designating to an act as well as a complete understanding of the act he is designating the label of innovation to. As discussed in my article \u201cThe Absolute Truth About Sunnah and Bid\u2019a,\u201d it was established thatbid\u2019a in the view of the overwhelming majority of scholars is subject to the five legal rulings of Islam: compulsory (wajiba), forbidden (muharrama), disliked (makruha), recommended (manduba), and neutral (mubaha). On this basis and other things, it was established thatbid\u2019a divides into two broad categories: good (hasana) and bad (sayyi\u2019a), or praiseworthy (mahmuda) and blameworthy (madhmuma). As in the words of Imam Shafi\u2019i, \u201c'Innovation is two types(al-

bid`atu bid`atan): approved innovation (bid`a mahmuda) and disapproved
innovation (bid`a madhmuma). Whatever conforms to the Sunna is approved
(mahmud) and whatever opposes it is abominable (madhmum).\u201d For the Prophet

(pbuh) said, \u201cWhoever introduces into this affair of ours what is not from it, it is rejected.\u201d And since things that are in conformity with the aims and objectives of the Shariah are \u201cfrom it,\u201d they are not to be declared as being blameworthy

Is CongregationalDhi k r aB id\u2019 a? \u2013 Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
Lamp Post Productions \u2013 Turning Back On The Lights \u2013ww w .la mppost pro d uc ti o n s.o rg
innovations (bida\u2019) even if they have no established precedent from the early
period of the Salaf. Atleast, this is how it was understood by the majority.

Imam al-Shatibi (d. 790 a.h.), a scholar of Islamic Spain (Andalusia), on the other hand, declares in his book,al-\u2018Itisam, that there is no such thing as a good innovation (bid\u2019a). Imam al-Shatibi is pivotal in modern-day Salafi arguments and their insistence on there being only one form ofbid\u2019a: blameworthy. But as my argument clarified, the difference between Imam al-Shatibi\u2019s argument and that of the majority was only a matter of semantics, since al-Shatibi deems anything originating from one of the primary or secondary sources accepted by any of the Four Imams to be in conformity with the Sunnah. Hence, it should not be called a\u2018bid\u2019a\u2019 (innovation), while the majority classified anything happening anew outside of the early period of the Salaf as either a good or bad innovation (bid\u2019a).

The Meaning ofDhi kr

The word, \u2018dhikr,\u2019 is an Arabic word that originates from the trilateral verb, \u2018dha- ka-ra,\u2019 which means \u2018to recall, to remind, or to make mention of something.\u2019 In its original usage it is synonymous with the Arabic word\u2018sharaf\u2019 (nobility), as in Allah\u2019s saying, \u201c\u2026And We have elevated for you your mention (dhikr)\u201d [94: 4]. It translates as \u2018mention, remembrance, or reminder.\u2019 And it is sometimes used as a reference and designation to the Qur\u2019an, as in Allah\u2019s saying, \u201cAnd ask the People of the Reminder if you know not\u201d [16: 43; 21: 7] And as in His saying, \u201cAnd We have revealed to you the Reminder that you\u2019d clarify to people what has been revealed to them\u201d [16: 44].

At any rate, the three basic meanings of the word \u2018dhikr\u2019 imply [1] the pronouncement of something on the tongue, [2] calling something to mind that one has forgotten or become heedless of, and [3] reminding another of something. For this reason, Ibn Taymiyya said,

\u201cSo when someone asking a question means [for us] to specify the thing that the name is being given to, we make reference to it with any name that that thing given that [particular] name is known by. The name might be a proper name (\u2018alam),1 or it might be a description (sifa),2 as in the case of one who asks about His saying, \u201cAnd whoever turns away from mydhikr\u2026\u201d [20: 124]. [The questioner might ask] What is His\u2018dhikr?\u2019 It is said to him, \u201cIt is the Qur\u2019an,\u201d for example, or

1 Like the name \u2018Mary.\u2019
2 Like the names, \u2018Hope,\u2019 \u2018Faith,\u2019 \u2018Integrity,\u2019 or \u2018Felicity.\u2019
Is CongregationalDhi k r aB id\u2019 a? \u2013 Abdullah bin Hamid Ali
Lamp Post Productions \u2013 Turning Back On The Lights \u2013ww w .la mppost pro d uc ti o n s.o rg

\u201cIt is what He has revealed of Books.\u201d For verily\u2018dhikr\u2019 is a\u2018masdar\u2019 (infinitive). And the\u2018masdar\u2019 at times is ascribed to the active participle3, and at times it is ascribed to the passive participle4. So when it is said, \u2018Thed hikr of Allah\u2019 according to the second meaning, it is a reference to \u2018mention made of Him,\u2019 like the servant\u2019s saying,

\u201cSubhan Allah! Wal-Hamdu lillah! Wa La ilaha illa Allah! Wa Allahu
Akbar!\u201d But when it is stated according to the first meaning, it refers to
\u2018what He makes mention of.\u2019 And it is His word (kalam)\u2026\u201d5
Quotes from Scripture

The Qur\u2019an says, \u201cThere is a beautiful example for you in Allah\u2019s Messenger for whomever hopes in Allah and The Last Day, and remembers Allah much\u201d [33: 21]. Due to the homonymous nature of the word\u2018dhikr,\u2019 this verse could also be translated as, \u201c\u2026and make mention of Allah much.\u201d The first translation implies that \u2018dhikr\u2019 is no more than remembering in one\u2019s heart and mind who and what Allah is, while the second translation implies that one actually transfers what comes to mind to the tongue in the form of words.

This same probability is found in all of the following statements,
\u201c\u2026Those who dodhikr of Allah standing, sitting, and while on their sides\u2026\u201d
[Koran 3: 191]
\u201cThe world is cursed; cursed is all that is in it except for thedhikr of Allah, and a
learned person and one learning...\u201d6
\u201cWhoever the Qu\u2019ran and thedhikr of Me busies him from asking Me, I\u2019ll give
him the best of what I give those who ask.\u201d7

In each of these cases, the\u2018dhikr\u2019 of Allah may be construed as meaning either \u2018remembering Allah\u2019 or \u2018making mention of Allah with the tongue.\u2019 But this is not the case in the following quote from the divine hadith, which quotes Allah as saying,

\u201cIf he doesdhikr of Me in an assembly, I\u2019ll dodhikr of him in an assembly better
than it.\u201d8
Meaning, \u201cIf he mentions Me\u2026, I\u2019ll mention him\u2026\u201d It must be

3 In this case, it would translate as meaning \u201cAnd whoever turns away from making mention of Me\u2026\u201d
4 In this case it would translate as, \u201cAnd whoever turns away from what I make mention of\u2026\u201d
5 Ibn Taymiyya, Ahmad. Majmu\u2019at al-Fatawa, Dar al-Jil, 1418/1998, 13/179
6 Ibn Majah, Kitab Al-Zuhd: 2, and Tirmidhi, Kitab Al-Zuhd: 14
7T irm id h i, Thawab al-Qur\u2019an: 25

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