Is there Good Biddah and Bad Biddah?
- by Ustadh Abdus Shakur Brooks
The word 'biddah' has two usages:
(1) a linguistic usage, meaning how the word is used in normal language (referring to something that has not been done previously, whether good or bad).
(2) a shariah usage, meaning how it is
used in the primary sources of shariah (in this case, Hadith)
According to the shariah meaning, The term biddah is bad/repugnant with out exception. In other words, it has come via Hadith of the Prophet ﺻﻠﯽ الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ ﻋﻠﯿﮧ ﻭﺍٓﻟﮧ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ that biddah is misguidance.
The Prophet ﺻﻠﯽ الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ ﻋﻠﯿﮧ ﻭﺍٓﻟﮧ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ stated. "All biddah is misguidance". (Abu Dawud 4607, Tirmidhi 2676, Ibn Majah 42)
Based on this statement of the prophet ﺻﻠﯽ الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ ﻋﻠﯿﮧ ﻭﺍٓﻟﮧ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ, biddah is considered misguidance with out exception, thus there can he no such thing as good biddah. (See Al-Itisam of imam Shatibi 1/245)
However, there are several scholars who classify biddah into two types (good and bad). They did so based on the linguistic meaning of the term (not the shariah meaning). Imam lbn Hajar Al-Haitami stated:
Those scholars who divided biddah into good biddah and bad biddah, did so based on its linguistic meaning, while those who maintained that all biddah is misguidance were using the term according to the shariah meaning (Al- Fatawa Al-Hadithiyyah, pg 200)
An example of biddah being used in the linguistic sense to mean good biddah is when Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered the people together for Tarawih prayer saying, "What a good biddah this is!" (Muwatta, 248)
Therefore, those who say there is only bad biddah are referring to the usage of the term from a Shariah context. Those who say that there is good and bad biddah are referring to the linguistic sense of the word. Both are correct as long as each are using the term in its proper sense with out misusing the terms.