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The Emergence of Innovation

Innovation (in Islaam) was initiated as a result of bad intention, for a man opposed the
Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, and said to him 'be fair because you were not'.
Consequently, several men followed this man and became dissidents (Al-Khawaarij).
Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said in this respect:

"The principles of innovation were based on the refutation of Sunnah principles using
doubt and whims, like Iblees (Satan) when he doubted Allaah's commands according to
his whims." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa, 3/286-287)

Peculiar to the innovators are their ignorant view of Allaah, increasing divisions and
severe hatred. Ibn Al-Qayyim, rahimahu Allaah, said about the innovators:

"If you look at innovators you will find that they are different, divided into sects and as
far as worshipping is concerned, you will not find that two of them are adopting the same
method. They would introduce innovations to each other. More than that, you will find
that their innovations culminate into disbelief. For instance, you will find the son accusing
his father of disbelief, the brother accusing his brother of disbelief, and the neighbour
accusing his neighbour of disbelief. They are in constant conflict and hate each other,
their differences cost them their lives and their discourse has never been common."
(Mukhtasar Al-Sawaa'iq Al-Mursalah, 2/425).

Therefore, their divisions paradoxically unites them on the hatred of the Sunnah and its
people, so woe to the innovators in what their hands have earned. Their evil deeds
overshadow all evil, and the damage they have inflicted upon the Muslim Ummah is bigger
than that caused by sinners. Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah says:

"The leaders of innovation inflict more damage upon the Ummah than sinners. That is why
the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, ordered the killing of the Khawaarij and
warned against the killing of the unjust followers." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa 7/284)

With the foregoing in mind, we must confront the innovators, point out their deviations
and protect the Ummah from their evil acts by spreading the religious science and the
principles of Ahlus-Sunna Wal-Jamaa'ah's 'Aqeedah (creed) and by advising people how
to acquire it (i.e. 'Aqeedah) from its people. 'Abdullaah Ibn Mas'ood says: "seek
knowledge before it is seized, and it's seizure means the disappearance of scholars. Do
not delve deeply into knowledge, do not innovate and stick to the old (i.e. the authentic)."

However, it is not fair to label anything new as innovation because it might be unknown
or misinterpreted. This has been explained by Shaikh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah: "what has
been proved abominable, based on the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, whether it be innovations
or non- innovations, when said or practised by a person, this person may have some
excuse due to his Ijtihaad (individual judgment over a matter, if he is a scholar) or
permissible Taqleed (imitation) of a scholar when this person is an 'Aaammee
(Islaamically uneducated) (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa, 10/371-372).

We should bear in mind that innovators are not equal in knowledge, ignorance,
competence, approval, belief and hypocrisy. This has been explained by Shaikh Al-Islaam
Ibn Taymiyyah:

"Among the innovators, there are the hypocrite and the atheist; these are non-believers.
This type of people is found more among the Rafidites (a Shiate sect) and Al-Jahamiyyah
(a sect who denies Allaah's attributes, among other serious deviations). Their leaders
were known to be hypocrites and atheists. However, among those who innovate is that
who is a believer but has some degree of ignorance and injustice which has led him to
deviate from the Sunnah. Such person is not a Kaafir (a disbeliever) nor a hypocrite. He
may be sinful or disobedient but he might as well be forgiven and excused because he has
mistakenly misinterpreted the issue." (Majmoo' Al-Fataawa 3/353)