Alhamdulillah, nahmaduhu wa nasta’eenuhu was nastaghfir Wa nauthu billahi min shururi anfusinaa wa min sayyiaati a’maalina May yahdillahu fa laa mudhilla lah Was may yudhlil fa laa haadiya lah Wa nashhadu allah ilaha illallah wahdahu laa shareeka lah wa nashhadu anna muhammadan abduhu wa rasulullah All praise and thanks is due to Allah. We praise Allah, we seek assistance and forgiveness from Allah. And we seek refuge in Allah from our lower selves and from the wrongs we commit. Whoever Allah guides no one can misguide, and whoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. And we bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but God, the One who is unique and has no partners. And we bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and messenger. َيل َو َج َع ْلنا َ ُث َّم َق َّف ْي َنا َع َلى َآثارهم ب ُر ُس ِل َنا َو َق َّف ْْي َنا ب ِع َيس ى ْابن َم ْرَي َم َو َآت ْي َنا ُه ْاْلنج ُُ َّ ْ ْ َ َ َِ َ ِ ْ َ َ َ َ ُ َ َ ْ ِ ً َّ َ ْ َ َ ِ ً َ ْ َ َ ً َ ْ َ ُ ِ ُ َ ِ َّ ِ َ َّ وب ال ِذين اتبعوه رأفة ورحمة ْورهبا ِني ْة ابتدعوها ما كت ْبناها َعلي ِهم ِإَّل ِفي قل ِ َّ َ ْ ْ َ الله َف َما َر َع ْو َها َح َّق ر َع َْايت َها َف َآت ْي َنا َّالذ َ ْين َآم ُنوا م ْْن ُه ْم أ ْج َر ُهم ِ ِ ِ ِ اب ِتغاء ِرضو ِان ِ ََ َ ٌ ْ ُ ْ َ ُ ن 57:27 اسقو ِ وك ِثير ِمنهم ف And thereupon We caused our apostles to follow in their footsteps; and We caused them to be followed by Jesus, the son of Mary, upon whom We bestowed the Gospel; and in the hearts of those who [truly] followed him We engendered compassion and mercy. But as for monastic asceticism - We did not enjoin it upon them: they invented it themselves out of a desire for God’s goodly acceptance. But then, they did not observe it as it ought to have been observed: and so We granted their recompense unto such of them as had attained to faith, whereas many of them became iniquitous. In this Khutbah I will be drawing on the work of by Umar Faruq Abd-Allah from the An-Nawawi Institution. Two of the most contentious concepts of Islam, bid‘a (innovation) and ijtihad (critical thinking) has given Islam great historical mobility, yet at the same time maintained Islam’s originality and preservation as a dynamic faith. The fastest growing ideology in the world today. http://www.nawawi.org/downloads/article4.pdf The allegation that something is bid‘a is often made rashly, marginalizing new ideas and making creativity difficult. For some Muslims, the term has become a means by which their own ideas are justified and the ideas of others made erroneous…. So much so that they are even brave enough to declare critical thinking and creative Muslims as “out of the fold of Islam” As a result of this attitude, the intellectual health and wealth of the Muslim community is suffering tremendously. The concept of bid‘a, contrary to its use today, tended to be negative one. The allegation that something was a bid‘a meant that it violated the tribal code or a tribal custom. It constituted a hateful innovation caused by deviating from the ways of patriarchs of past. Make example of how the different sects in Islam makes the other wrong by the use of the word Bid’a The concept of Ijtihad suffers the same fate. Some restrict its use so severely that it ceases to be functional. “The doors of Ijtihad has been closed” Have to be a Mujtahid No ordinary person are allowed to “free think” when it comes to religious matters. Others apply it so freely that it becomes arbitrary and undermines any semblance of authenticity. Then there are those who “think so freely and creatively” that everything is justified and made “good” for their own good. In the pre-Islamic context, the Prophet Muhammad’s condemnation of idolatry was seen as a bid‘a, a concrete threat to the tribal order of Arabia. The Prophet made the opposite claim and turned the bid‘a controversy on its head, by asserting the Abraham was a Patriarch and the Arabs have deviated from the practice of this patriarch. So the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) cleverly used the concept of bid’ah to his own benefit. With the advent of Islam, the term sunna came to be closely connected with the normative teaching and conduct of the Prophet Muhammad, whereas Sunna before the advent of Islam referred to the customs and practices of the tribes. Later, after the demise of the Prophet (saw) bid‘a became contrasted with sunna (established tradition). And we see today how the Muslim community is pushed to extremes, either you follow the sunnah strictly or you are committing bid’ah But the Quran continues to give us the guidance to stay in the balance: ً ك َج َع ْل َنا ُك ْم أُم ًَّة َو َس ِّ ُ ْ ُ ُ َّ َ َ ون ن ال ى ل ع َاء د ه ش ا و ن و ك ت ل ا ط َ اس َو َي ُك َ َ َ َِو َك َذل ِ الرَّ سُو ُل َعلَ ْي ُك ْم َش ِهي ًدا And we intended for you to be a Nation just balanced.... So that you may become testimony of that to mankind and the Prophet testimony to you. We cannot say everything is a bid’a in the literal sense of the word otherwise we would have to question everything that came into existence after the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) passed away. And similarly we cannot say that every practice of ours would have to be within the Sunnah in the literal sense of the word otherwise all our practices from wearing knitted sock to brushing teeth has to be questioned. An intriguing reference to bid‘a is the second caliph ‘Umar’s decision to institute Tarawih prayers during the nights of Ramadan, which he introduced within a decade of the Prophet’s death. The Prophet once led his Companions in similar prayers for a few nights of Ramadan shortly before his death, but discontinued the practice, expressing concern that if he continued leading the vigils, God would give them obligatory status through revelation, and the additional obligation would impose an excessive burden upon the Muslim community. During his caliphate, ‘Umar observed the people praying either individually or in small groups in the Prophet’s mosque during the nights of Ramadan. He took the decision to make them a single group behind one prayer leader, instituting the Ramadan vigil as a group prayer. Entering the mosque on a following night, he saw the congregation praying together and declared: “What an excellent bid‘a is this!” Did Umar violate the sunnah of the Prophet which states: Kullu bid’atin dalaala wa kullu dalaalata fin naar - “Every innovation is misguidance, and the path of every misguidance leads to the Fire.”? Or did he institute something for his community that he as a leader felt was beneficial in terms of creating unity? It was an innovation, for the GREATER GOOD Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr was among those who held that bid‘a was strictly ritualistic: “As for making innovations in the practical workings of this world, no constriction and no fault pertains to one who does so.” Technological progress, crafts, building projects, urban development, and the like does not constitute bid‘a according to him. The fundamental reason for bid‘a retrictions is so that Islam can continue to be conserved and preserved. The criteria of bid‘a impose a restrictive frame on creative ideas to ensure continuity with tradition and conformity with legal principle. However the same can be said, that if we look at the gradual nature of Islam’s existence and subsequent growth, it was through bid’a and Ijtihad. Hence, one cannot negate the use of these concepts as we evolve through a technological age and still maintain a sense of Islamicity. The constructive potential of bid‘a as a regulatory instrument is reinforced in Islamic law by the intellectual process of ijtihad, which has extensive legal authority and serves as a complement to the notion of bid‘a. By nature, ijtihad is empowering, forward-looking, and creative. Al-Baji, a traditional Sunni jurist, defined ijtihad as “expending one’s fullest [intellectual] capacity in search of the right ruling.” The word Ijtihad is derived from the same root as jihad. Their common radical, JaHaDa, denotes expending the fullest effort to achieve a difficult but worthy goal. The concept of jihad is not “Holy war”, but essentially an active ethical principle for improving the world through personal and group effort. Its high point, however, is the inner struggle for discipline and self-knowledge. In other words, Jihad and Ijtihad is a constant striving toward the better, or the greater good, be it on a physical or cognitive level. Dr Fazlur Rahman speaks of ijtihad as an intellectual and moral jihad or, more concretely, as “the effort to understand the meaning of a relevant text or precedent in the past, containing a rule, and to alter that rule by extending or restricting or otherwise modifying it in such a manner that a new situation can be subsumed under it by a new solution.” George Makdisi, Ph.D., emeritus professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Pennsylvania notes, that Ijtihad is evident of the existence of classical Islamic schools of thought and it was imperative for them to use it to create the Shariah law many decades after the demise of the Prophet (pbuh) Ijtihad is inherently creative and optimistic. The Prophet promised that those who performed it assiduously would be rewarded in the next world, even if their answers were technically incorrect. He stated: “If a judge [hakim] does ijtihad and gets the right answer, he receives two rewards, and, if he is mistaken, he gets one.” ‘Ali ibn al-Qassar, ed. Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Sulaymani, Al-Muqaddima fi al-Usul, (Beirut: Dar al Gharb al-Islami, 1996), 114-115; Sulayman ibn Khalaf al-Baji, ed. ‘Abd al-Majid al-Turki, Ihkam al-Fusul Ihkam fi Ahkam al-Usul, 2 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1995), 2:714-716; ‘Ubayd-Allah ibn ‘Umar al-Dabbusi, ed. Mahmud Tawfiq al-Rifa‘i, Al-Asrar fi al-Usul wa al-Furu‘ fi Taqwim Adillat al-Shar‘, 4 vols.(Amman: Wizarat al-Awqaf, 1999), 3:114-116; Ibn Amir al-Hajj, Al-Taqrir wa alTahbir, 3 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1983), 3:306.The Ibadis took essentially the same position. See al-Kindi, Bayan al-Shar’, 1:92-93. Abu Zayd al-Dabusi (died 430 A.H.), a prominent Sunni jurist, noted that what may be allowable in one time or place may become prohibited in another, because of changing circumstances, just as what was prohibited may become allowable by the same criterion. He added that changing times and places are not the only considerations; there are others, such as the particular realities of a person’s social group. What is beneficial for one segment of society may be harmful for another. 48 We need to ask ourselves, after having a clear understanding of the diversity within sexuality: From what basis, in what context and for what purpose was it concluded approx.1200 years ago that homosexuality is synonymous to the act of sodomy and that homosexuality is punishable by death? The renowned Sunni jurist al-Qarafi asserted that there was scholarly consensus (ijma‘) on harshly reprimanding religious scholars who handed down legal judgments mechanically without performing ijtihad and merely followed the ancient texts in their books literally without regard for new realities on the ground. The fault of such jurists was inexcusable and constituted disobedience of God.49 A great jurist of the next generation, Ibn al-Qayyim, commented on al-Qarafi’s opinion, saying: This is pure understanding of the law. Whoever issues legal rulings to the people merely on the basis of what is transmitted in the compendia despite differences in their customs, usages, times, places, conditions, and the special circumstances of their situations has gone astray and leads others astray. His crime against the religion is greater than the crime of a physician who gives people medical prescriptions without regard to the differences of their climes, norms, the times they live in, and their physical conditions but merely in accordance with what he finds written down in some medical manual about people with similar anatomies. Such a person is an ignorant physician; the other is an ignorant legal scholar but more detrimental. So we need to state boldly: By regurgitating 1200 year scholars’ conclusions on homosexuality without a valid ijtihadic process followed regarding homosexuality as we understand it today, is unIslamic. And the process of ijtihad must be informed by all the sciences for it to carry enough weight. As Allah mentions in the Quran: Fas’al ahladh dhikri in kuntum laa ta’lamoon – Ask those who with knowledge (who remembers it) if you don’t know. Barakallahu lee wa lakum fil quranil kareem Wa nafa’nee wa iyyakum bil aayaati wa dhikril hakeem Innahu jawaadun malikun barrun rabbur ra’oofur raheem May Allah bless me and you through the guidance of this noble Quran And may it teachings and remembrances benefit me and you Truly Allah is the possessor of wealth, the sovereign, the all good, the one who has authority over us, the all-loving and allmerciful. Sit between Khutbahs For more than a millennium, the process of speculative ijtihad was the monopoly of traditional scholars, and the requirements they set for it remained largely unchallenged. It is vital for Muslims today to have an authentic and sophisticated understanding of bid‘a as a regulatory mechanism and of ijtihad as a process for inducing Islamic creativity. In Islam, like other faith traditions —whether of innovation and heresy, creativity or the lack of it— are never set in stone, nor do they emerge from a vacuum. Classical Islamic thought was the product of a particular socio-political milieu. Contrary to the Activist cliché that there is no separation of Religion and State in Islam, Muslim religious establishments for more than a millennium were largely free of governmental control. Unlike the Muslim world today, the classical Islamic world was culturally advanced, economically and militarily formidable, and relatively stable politically. Above all, as Dr Fazlur Rahman stresses, it produced generations of thinkers who were self-assured and psychologically invincible in confronting new challenges. Unlike the Muslim world today, the classical Islamic world was culturally advanced, economically and militarily formidable, and relatively stable politically. Above all, as Fazlur Rahman stresses, it produced generations of thinkers who were self-assured and psychologically invincible in confronting new challenges. It should be sufficiently clear from what has preceded that the concept of bid‘a should constitute a standard of excellence and not a blanket condemnation of every unfamiliar practice or new solution. It should set the guidelines for critical thought, not prevent them. It should foster personal and group expression and not stifle it. Sound conception of the process of ijtihad should serve as a positive source of inspiration for the entire Muslim community, scholars and non-scholars alike, in the search for meaningful answers to contemporary challenges. Allahummansur man nasra deena Muhammad; Allahummansuril mujahideena fee qulli makaan; Allahumma Yassir wa laa tu’assir Allahumma tammim bil ghayr wa antal kareemu muyassir O Allah, assist those who assist the cause of Muhammad O Allah, assist all those who strive towards good in every place O Allah, make things easy for us and remove difficulty O Allah, complete us in Goodness, Truly You are the most noble of all those who provides assistance. Innallaha wa malaa’ikatahu yusolloona alan nabi… yaa ayyuhallatheena aamanu sollu alayhi wa sallimoo tasleema. Wa aakhiri da’waanaa anil hamdu lillahi rabbil aalameen Truly Allah and the Angels sends blessings and salutations on the Prophet Muhammad, O you who believe, send greetings and salutations upon him. And the final word is that all praise and thanks is due to Allah, the Authority over all creation. َّ َّللا أَ ْك َب ُر َو َّللاُ َيعْ لَ ُم َما ِ ْك م َِن ْال ِك َتا ِ َّ ب َوأَق ِِم الص َََّل َة إِنَّ الص َََّل َة َت ْن َهى َع ِن ْال َفحْ َشاء َو ْالمُن َك ِر َولَذ ِْك ُر َ ا ْت ُل َما أُوح َِي إِلَي ُون َ َتصْ َنع 29:45 Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do. Let us stand for prayer!