In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Imaam Ibnul Jawzi [rahimahullaah] said:
If someone says: “You have praised the Sunnah and rebuked innovation in religious affairs, so what is Sunnah and what is innovation in religion? That is because indeed we see every innovator in religious affairs claiming that he is from Ahlus Sunnah”.
The response: Sunnah in the Arabic language means ‘At-Tareeq – The path’, and there is no doubt that those who are well versed in transmission and are people of authentic narrations – those who follow the authentic narrations of the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] and the narrations of his companions- are ‘Ahlus Sunnah – The People of Sunnah’, because indeed they adhere to the path in which no newly invented matter in the religion has been innovated; rather newly invented matters and innovations in religious affairs occurred after the death of Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] and his companions.
‘Abdullaah Bin Abee Salamah said that Sa’d Bin Maalik [radiyallaahu-anhu] heard a man saying: [ لَبَّيْكَ ذَا ٱلۡمَعَارِجِ – Labbayka Dhal Ma’aarij – Here I am answering your call O Lord of the ways of ascent]; so Sa’d said, “We did not used to say this during the era of Allaah’s Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]”.
A man informed Abdullaah Bin Mas’ood [radiyallaahu-anhu] that a group of people were gathered in the Masjid after Maghrib, and a man amongst them says, “Say ‘Allaahu Akbar’ such and such many times; say ‘Subhaanallaah’ such and such many times; and say ‘Alhamdulil laah’ such and such many times”. Abdullaah [radiyallaahu-anhu] said, “If you see them doing that, come to me and let me know about their gathering”. So, he [i.e. the man] came to them and sat, and when he heard what they were saying, he got up and called Ibn Mas’ood and he came, and he was a tough man; so he said, “I am Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood; by the One besides whom no other deity has the right to be worshipped except He, you have brought an innovation in religion based on wrong doing, and [maybe] you think that you have been given excellence in knowledge over the companions of Muhammad [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam]”. Then Amr Bin Utbah said, “Astaghfirullaah – I seek Allaah’s forgiveness”; so he [Ibn Mas’ood] said: “The path of the Sunnah is obligated on you, so hold on to it; but if you go right or left, you will go far astray”. [An Excerpt from Talbees Iblees with the checking of Shaikh Zayd Bin Haadee [rahimahullaah] pages 20-21. Slightly paraphrased]
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Refuting the Notion of Bid’ah Hasanah (Good Innovation) in Worship – Parts 1-8