We do not have permission to veer from or change the method which has been reported from Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam). I am certain that big, big Bid`ahs spring up from such sources. The root of all these sources is as I have mentioned earlier, i.e. it is a Bid`ah to introduce as part of the Deen something which was not reported from Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam), the Sahaabah (radhiAllaahu anhum) or the Taabieen (rahmatullahi alaihim). Sufficing upon this we will hereunder list a few important rules.
Firstly: some people authenticate Bid`ahs by narrating false and incorrect narrations. It is for this reason the one should remember the following rule which the author of Durrul Mukhtaar and Ibn Aabideen Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) have reported. That is, there are three conditions before one practices upon weak narrations. Firstly, the narration must not be excessively weak, for example, none of its narrators must be a liar or accused of lying. Secondly, that thing (stated in the narration) must conform to some general principle of the Shariah. Thirdly, it must not be regarded as a Sunnah practice. [Raddul Mukhtaar, page 128, vol. 1]
It is noted that some people kiss their thumbs upon hearing the blessed name of our Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) during the Athaan and Iqaamat. In substantiating this act of theirs they cite a narration of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiAllaahu anhu), but unfortunately none of the above three conditions apply to this narration.
Firstly, this narration is so fabricated that the experts in the field of Ilm-e-Hadith have classified its content as conjured. Secondly, this narration does not conform to any principle of the Deen. Thirdly, the perpetrators of this act not only consider it a Sunnat, in fact, they regard it as a noteworthy Shi`aar (hallmark) of Islaam. Allaamah Shaami (rahmatullahi alaih) and other seniors have regarded such acts as a slander against Rasulullaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam).
The person who fabricated this narration due to his inanity has not considered the fact that the Athaan and Iqaamat is not called out only once in the day, in fact, they is called out ten times. Now, if it was Sunnat to kiss the thumbs at the time of Athaan and Iqaamat, then in the same way as the Athaan and Iqaamat has been transmitted continuously down the annals of Islaamic history so too would this act also have been transmitted likewise. This Hadith would have been reported in all the Kitaabs and it would have been practised by the entire Ummat from east to west.
The Ulama of the Ummat have expressly stated that if there is an authentic Hadith which contradicts a consistent practice of the Ummat (i.e. a practice which has been carried out by the Ummat during all the eras), then we will interpret this narration as having been abrogated or another suitable interpretation will be made. Nevertheless to practice upon a narration which contradicts the continuous practice of the Ummat is incorrect. Imaam Abu Bakr Raazi (rahmatullahi alaih) has explained this rule in great detail in his Kitaab Ahkaamal Qur`aan. He has stated that based on this our Ulama have issued the ruling that if the horizon is completely clear then the testimony of one or two men for the sighting of the moon of Ramadhaan or Eid is not sufficient. In fact, the group who testify to the sighting of the moon must be so large that there can be no possibility of error. Hence to rely upon the testimony of one or two people would mean that we consider the other thousands of inhabitants of that area to be blind.
Imaam Sarakhsi (rahmatullahi alaih) has listed four reasons for refuting a narration: 1. It is contradictory to the Qur`aan Majeed 2. It is contradictory to the Sunnat-e-Mutawaatirah and Mash-hoorah (unanimous and authentic Sunnat) 3. It is such a mas`alah which applies to every individual yet it is contrary to the general practice 4. This mas`alah was debated upon by the Salf-e-Saaliheen, but they have not given a definite ruling on it. [Usool Sarakhsi, page 364, vol. 1]
He writes regarding the second type: “Similarly a rare Hadith from Khabar-e-Aahaad will be rejected in so far as practicing upon it, if it is contradictory to a Sunnat-e-Mash-hoorah (famous narration). The reason for this is, the narration which is continuous and its chain is unbroken or it is unanimously agreed upon falls under the category of the Qur`aan Majeed regarding its being absolutely certain. That which is doubtful would be rejected when compared to something which is absolutely certain.” [Ibid. page 366]
Hereunder, Imaam Sarakhsi (rahmatullahi alaih) has noted a very delicate point, whose mentioning I feel is necessary at this juncture: “To differentiate narrations between these two types requires great knowledge. It is also a means of proper safeguarding of the Deen. The root cause of Bid`ahs and whimsical opinion is manifested when weak narrations are pitted against the Qur`aan Majeed and Sunnat-e-Mash-hoorah (i.e. there is no proper differentiation between these categories).”
Fourthly, it is extremely necessary to omit such acts wherein there is imitation of the kuffaar, fujjaar and Bid`atees. Because Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) has in many Ahaadith prohibited imitating the kuffaar and fujjaar (open sinners).
In one Hadith it is mentioned: “Whoever imitates a nation is amongst them.” [Mishkaat page 375]
Based on this principle, the Ulama have prohibited the celebration of Tazkirah Shahaadat of Imaam Hussein (radhiAllaahu anhu) which takes place in Muharram. It is stated in Usoolus Sifaar and Jaami`ur Rumooz: “It was asked whether it is permissible to commemorate the occasion of the martyrdom of Hussein (radhiAllaahu anhu) on the 10th Muharram. He replied: „No! Because indeed this is in imitation of the Rawaafidh.‟” [Page 140]
It is established from this principle that all such actions which resemble the Ahle Bid`ah are necessarily to be refrained from.
Fifthly: If there is a doubt in any particular action regarding its being either a Sunnat or Bid`ah, then to omit a Sunnah is better than to commit a Bid`ah [Bahrur Raa`iq, page 21, vol. 2]. It is stated in Raddul Mukhtaar on page 642, vol. 1: “If a ruling (regarding an certain act) is suspended between it being a Sunnat or Bid`ah, then it is preferable to leave out a Sunnat than to perpetrate a Bid`ah.”
From this principle the ruling of all those actions wherein there appears a doubt between it being a Sunnat or Bid`ah is established. Some people aver an action to be a Sunnat and others say it is a Bid`ah.
If you study carefully the notes that I have outlined regarding Sunnat and Bid`ah and understand them, then you will never be faced with a dilemma regarding establishing who are the Ahle Sunnat. I will conclude here on the final bequest of Hadhrat Imaam Rabbaani Mujaddid Alfe Thaani (rahmatullahi alaih): “In the opinion of this humble servant, another path to gaining proximity to Allaah Ta`ala is to follow and adhere to the Sunnat of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and to stay far from any sign of Bid`ah or custom. That person who does not abstain from Bid`ah-e-Hasana just as he abstains from Bid`ah-e-Sayyi`a, will not even get the fragrance of this achievement (proximity to Allaah Ta`ala). To accomplish this nowadays is relatively difficult, because all over there are oceans of Bid`ah wherein people are drowned. Who dares to oppose Bid`ah? Or bring alive a Sunnat?
In this era the Ulama are the ones who initiate the Bid`ah customs and destroy the Sunnat. Those Bid`ahs which have penetrated on all fronts, are not only given consent, in fact, they are even granted the Fatwa of being virtuous. People are even guided towards Bid`ahs.” [Maktoob 54, part 2]
May Allaah Ta`ala grant me, you, your companions and all the Muslims the Taufeeq (guidance) to follow and practice upon the final advices of Hadhrat Mujaddid (rahmatullahi alaih).