bidʿah

The Humble Heretic

‘Alī b. Abī Khālid – Allāh have mercy on him – reports:

I once said to Aḥmad, “This shaykh – referring to an older man who was with us – is my neighbor. I told him not to keep the company of a certain person, and he would like to hear what you have to say about him: I am referring to Ḥārith Al-Qaṣīr (Al-Ḥārith Al-Muḥāsibī). Many years ago, you saw me with him and told me not to sit with him nor speak with him. I have not spoken to him since that time. This shaykh, however, does sit with him. So what do you say?”

I saw Aḥmad go red with anger, his eyes bulging; I had never before seen him like this. He started to say, “Him! May Allāh do such-and-such to him! Only those well-informed of him know what he really is, only those who really know him know what he is. Al-Mughāzilī, Ya’qūb and so-and-so sat with him, and he caused them to adopt the views of Jahm (Ibn Ṣafwān, leader of the Jahmites). They were destroyed because of him.”

The old man said, “But Abū ‘Abdillāh, he reports ḥadīth, and he is mild and humble; he has done such-and-such [good works].” Abū ‘Abdillāh (Imām Aḥmad) became angry and began repeating, “Let not his humility and softness deceive you”. He also said, “Do not be fooled by his bowed head, he is an evil man; only those well-informed of him through experience know him. Do not speak to him – with all disrespect to him. Are you going to sit with everyone who narrates from Allāh’s Messenger – may the praise and peace of Allāh be upon him – though he be a heretic (mubtadi’)? No, with all disrespect.”

Ṭabaqāt Al-Ḥanābilah, article 325.

Asking for less refutation [signs of Ahl Al-Bidah]

It is reported from Al-‘Abbās b. Al-Walīd that ‘Uqbah said:

I was once with Arṭa’ah b. Al-Mundhir when one of the people in the gathering said, “What do you say about a man who sits with the followers of the Sunnah and mixes with them, but when the followers of Bid’ah are mentioned he says, ‘Spare us from mentioning them, do not talk about them?’” Arṭa’ah said, “He is one of them, do not let him confuse you about his condition.” I felt this was strange, so I went to Al-Awzā’ī – and he used to clarify these matters when they came to him. He said, “Arṭa’ah is right, the matter is as he said; this person forbids talking about [Ahl Al-Bid’ah], so how can [people] be on guard against them if they are not exposed?”

Ibn ‘Asākir, Tārīkh Dimishq 8:15.

Opinionated Enemies of the Sunnah

‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

Verily, the followers of opinion are the enemies of the Sunan (the teachings of Allāh’s Messenger as passed down in hadith): they were unable to preserve them and their meanings escaped them, and when asked [questions] they were too embarrassed to say ‘We don’t know,’ so they opposed the Sunan with their opinions.

Ibn Abī Zamanīn, Uūl Al-Sunnah article 8; Al-Lālakā`ī, Shar Uūl I’tiqād Ahl Al-Sunnah article 201 et al.

Reciting the Quran like a Song

It is reported that a person recited in a melodious [1] way in front of Al-A’mash. He said:

A man once recited in front of Anas [ibn Mālik – Allāh be pleased with him] in this manner and he detested it.

Abū Bakr Al-Khallāl, Al-Amr bil-Ma’rūf wa Al-Nahī ‘an Al-Munkar, p110.

It is reported that Sālim [b. ‘Abdillāh b. ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb] – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked to listen to someone leading the prayer. When he heard the recitation he turned back exclaiming:

Singing! Singing!

Ibn Al-Jawzī, Al-Qussāṣ wa Al-Mudhakkirīn article 183.

It is reported that there was a man who used to lead the prayer in Al-Madīnah. One night, he became euphoric (got carried away by emotion). [2] Al-Qāsim b. Muḥammad recited:

Quran Surah Fussilat: 41,42

Verily it is a mighty and noble Book. Falsehood does not approach it, neither before it nor behind. It is a revelation from the Most Wise, Most Praiseworthy. [Al-Quran, Fussilat: 41, 42]

And he detested [the behavior of the reciter].

Ibid. article 184.

It is reported that Al-Fuḍayl b. ‘Ayyāḍ – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked about reciting the Qurān with melodies,
[1] to which he replied:

This is something they took from singing.

Ibid. article 182

Ibn Dāwūd [‘Abdullāh b. Dāwūd b. ‘Āmir Al-Khuraybī] – Allāh have mercy on him – was once asked by Bishr b. Al-Ḥārith:

If I pass by a man reciting, should I sit and listen? He asked, “Does he become euphoric [2] (because of emotional recitation)?” Bishr replied, “Yes.” Ibn Dāwūd said, “He has shown his bid’ah, do not sit with him.”

Ibid article 186.

Ḥanbal reports:

Abū ‘Abdillāh (Imām Aḥmad) used to detest this innovated recitation which is called Al-Alḥān (melodious, musical recitation).

Ibid. article 187.

And it is reported that Imām Aḥmad said:

“This innovated recitation which is called Al-Alḥān, I detest it.” He was very strict against it. He said, “I believe it resembles singing, and the Qurān is to be preserved from this.”

Ibid. article 188.

There are numerous narrations from Imām Aḥmad about this, amongst them:

When asked about it once he said:

It is something innovated. But [to recite in a beautiful voice is fine] if it is naturally his voice, as was Abū Mūsā [Al-Ash’arī – Allāh be pleased with him].

When asked about reciting with alḥān another time, he replied:

No. [It is allowed] if that is his natural voice, like the voice of Abū Mūsā. As for learning how to recite like this, then no.

He was asked about recitation with melodies and harmonies, to which he replied:

“It is a bid’ah.” It was said to him, ‘They gather to listen to it.” He said, “Allāhul-musta’ān (‘Allāh is the one whose aid is sought’; a statement of sorrow and disapproval.)”

Also, he said:

It is a bid’ah, not to be listened to.

‘Abdullāh b. Yazīd Al-‘Anbarī reports:

A man once asked Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal:

“What do you say about reciting with alḥān?” Abu ‘Abdillāh said, “What is your name?” The man replied, “Muḥammad.” Imām Aḥmad said, “So would you like to be called Mooḥammad?”

Al-Khallāl, op. cit., p99+.

Imām Mālik – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

I do not like reciting in melodies, neither in Ramadan nor at other times, because it resembles singing, and it causes the Qurān to be laughed at. It is said ‘this person is a better reciter than that person (the Quran becomes the subject of rivalry and entertainment).

It has reached me that the slave-girls are taught to recite like this as they are taught how to sing. Do you think this was the way Allāh’s Messenger – peace and blessings be upon him – used to recite?

Al-Qayrawānī, Kitāb Al-Jāmi’ p166.

[1] Arabic: Alḥān. This refers to reciting in a melodious, song-like tone. See notes.

[2] Arabic: Al-ṭarb. This refers to a state of emotional intensity which may bring about physical expression. See notes.

Notes

After relating some of these traditions, Ibn Al-Jawzī states:

Know that melodious musical recitation (Al-Alḥān) is detested for a number of reasons, amongst others: [its reciters] merge letters that are not supposed to be merged, they extend vowels (madd) where there should be no extension, and they omit the hamzah and the doubling of consonants (tashdīd) just in order to preserve the melody. Also, this kind of recitation causes people to get emotionally carried away (al-ṭarb) and it distracts people from pondering the Quran. [3]

Explaining the type of recitation that is praiseworthy and the type that is detestable, Ibn Kathīr states:

What is sought in the Sharī’ah (teachings of Islam) is the type of beautification of the voice that leads to pondering the Quran and seeking to understand it, to submission, humility and compliance with the obedience [of Allah].

As for using voices with novel melodies, composed on distracting and entertaining rhythms and musical rules, then the Quran is far removed from this and is too respected and esteemed to have this approach taken in its delivery.[4]

[3] Ibn Al-Jawzī, Al-Qussāṣ wa Al-Mudhakkirīn p335.

[4] Ibn Kathīr, Faḍā`il Al-Qurān p198.

Guilty by Association

It is reported that Imām Al-Awzā’ī – Allāh have mercy on him – used to say:

Whoever hides his heresy (bid’ah) from us, his companionship is not hidden from us.

Ibn Battah, Al-Ibānah Al-Kubrā article 420.

It is reported that when Sufyān Al-Thawrī – Allāh have mercy on him – came to Baṣrah he started to look into the matter of Al-Rabī’ – i.e. Ibn Ṣabīḥ
(1) – and his status amongst the people. [Sufyān] asked, “What does he believe?” [People] replied, “He believes in nothing but the Sunnah.” He asked, “Who are his companions?” They replied, “The People of Qadr (those who denied Allāh’s pre-decree).” He said, “Then he is a Qadarī (like them).”

Ibid. article 421.

(1) Al-Rabī’ b. Ṣabīḥ is described in biographies as being a truthful reporter, but with a bad memory; a devout worshipper and a mujāhid.

It is reported that Al-Fuḍayl b. ‘Ayyāḍ – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

The souls [of people] are in groups gathered together: those of them that identify with each other come together, and those that are different diverge. It is not possible for an adherent of the Sunnah to incline towards an adherent of Bid’ah except out of hypocrisy (nifāq).

Ibid. article 429.