The Noble Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace) said: “All innovations are misguidance, and all misguidance leads to Hell.”1 That is to say, according to the verse,
This day have I perfected for you your religion,(5:3)
not to care for the rules of the Illustrious Shari‘a and principles of the Prophet’s (UWBP) practices after they have been completed and perfected and to adopt new creations, or God forbid, create innovations, which infers considering them to be deficient, is misguidance and leads to Hell-fire.
There are degrees in the practices:2 some are compulsory; these may not be given up. This sort are described in detail in the Illustrious Shari‘a. They are incontestable and can in no way be changed. Another sort are voluntary, and these are of two sorts:
One sort includes those practices related to worship. They too are described in the books of the Shari‘a and to change them is innovation. The other sort is known as “conduct” (adab); these practices are mentioned in the books of the Prophet’s (UWBP) biography. Opposition to them cannot be called innovation, but it is opposition of a sort to the Prophet’s (UWBP) conduct and means not benefiting from its light and true courtesy. Following this sort entails emulating him in customary, natural acts and dealings, which are known through unanimous reports. For example, there are numerous practices showing the conduct of speaking, and explaining the principles of eating, drinking, and sleeping, and social relations. Practices of this sort are called “conduct.” The person who practises them transforms his habitual actions into worship and receives significant effulgence. Practising the smallest aspect of such conduct recalls God’s Messenger (Upon whom be blessings and peace), which imparts a light to his heart.
The most important among the practices are those that symbolize Islam and are connected with its ‘marks.’ The marks of Islam are worship, concern the community, and quite simply are general rights of a sort. Just as the whole community benefits from one person doing them, so too if he gives them up, the whole community is answerable. There can be no hypocrisy in the performance of marks of this sort, and they should be proclaimed openly. Even if they are of the voluntary sort, they are still more important than personal obligatory acts.
Muslim, Jum‘a, 43; Abu Da’ud, Sunna, 5; Nasa’i, ‘Idayn, 22; Ibn Maja, Muqaddima, 6, 7; Darimi, Muqaddima, 16, 23; Musnad, iii, 310, 371; iv, 126, 127.
See, Darimi, Muqaddima, 49; al-Tabarani, al-Mu‘jam al-Awsat, iv, 215; al-Daylami, al-Musnad, ii, 345.