While “Sunnah” linguistically means “Path”, Bid’ah can relatively be defined as a diversion from the path. Though Bid’ah, in the technical [shar’i] sense, is an action introduced into the religion which has no general or specific basis for it – a supposed act of drawing nearer to Allaah ﷻ which has no basis in the Shari’ah.
Imam as-Suyuti [d. 1505 CE]: “Bid’ah is a term that describes an action that clashes and conflicts with [what is established] in the Shar’iah, and engaging in the action obligates [unsanctioned] additions or deductions – and the Salaf abhorred bid’ah, and would keep away from [all forms] of Bid’ah”. ~ [“al-Amr bi’l-Itbaa'” – 1/24 | Imam as-Suyuti]
Imam al-Baghawi [d. 1122 CE]: “The Sahabah, The Tabi’een, their followers, and those who came after them from the compilers of the Sunan, with one accord, unanimously agreed upon opposing and repugning the people of Bid’ah, and forsaking them.” ~ [“Sharh as-Sunnah” 1/227 | Imam al-Baghawi]
Imam ash-Shatibi [d. 1388 CE]: “The Saved Sect, and they are the ‘Ahlul-Sunnah’, are ordered to oppose and rebut the people of Bid’ah, expel them [from their circles], making an example of those who incline towards Bid’ah [to deter others], and we are ordered to oppose them just as they are ordered to align themselves with us [Ahlul-Sunnah] by returning to the Jama’ah.” ~ [“al-Isabah” – 1/120 | Imam ash-Shatibi]
Imam Abu ‘Uthman al-Sabuni [d. 1057 CE]: “…[and the people of Sunnah] hate the people of Bid’ah who introduce into the religion what was never from it, and they do not love them, and they do not accompany them.” ~ [“‘Aqidat-ul-Salaf Ashab-ul-Hadith” – 1/118 | Imam Abu ‘Uthman al-Sabuni]
Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī [d. 748 CE] was once asked to help wash a body before a Janazah, and when the face of the man was uncovered, he recognised him and refused to help, saying: “Come attend to your man. I will not wash him. I used to see him accompany a man of Bid’ah.” ~ [“al-Ibaanah” – 2/467 | Ibn Battah]
Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah [d. 1328]: “The testimony of one who calls to Bid’ah is not accepted, no one is to pray behind them, and knowledge is not taken from them, and no one is to marry them. This is a punishment for them until they cease [their call to] Bid’ah. And thus, they [the Salaf] would differentiate between the one who calls to Bid’ah and the one who does not call to Bid’ah. The caller to Bid’ah publicises evil, and is deserving of the punishment, unlike the one who conceals his Bid’ah, for this individual [who conceals] is not worse than the hypocrites whom the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ would accept their publicised impressions, while leaving their hidden deeds to Allaah. Concerning these individuals is what is reported in the narrations: ‘If the sin is concealed, then it harms no one except the sinner, and if the sin is publicised and not condemned, then its harms are collective.’ and the report: ‘if the people see an evil but do not change it, perhaps Allaah ﷻ would collectively punish them.'” ~ [“Majmu’ Fataawah Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah” – 28/205]
Ibrahim Ibn Maysarah [d. 749 CE] – “Whoever honours a Man of Bid’ah has aided in the destruction of Islam.” ~ [“Shu’ab al-Imaan” | Imam al-Bayhaqi] (Imam al-Albani: Da’eef) — but it is an interesting narration.
When ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar [d. 693 CE] was informed of ‘the Qadariyyah’ [a heterodoxical group], he said: “Tell them I am free from them, and that they are free from me.” ~ [“Sharh as-Sunnah” 1/227 | Imam al-Baghawi]
Salaam ibn Abi Mutee’ said a man from the people of Ahwaa’ [those who engage in Bid’ah and follow their whims] asked Ayyūb Al-Sakhtiyānī [d. 748 CE], “I would like to ask you about a word.” Ayyub refused, saying, “Not even half a word.” ~ [“Sharh as-Sunnah” 1/227 | Imam al-Baghawi]
Asma’, the grandmother of Sa’eed ibn ‘Aamir, said: “Two men from the People of Ahwaa’ entered upon Muhammad ibn Sireen [d. 728 CE], and said: ‘We would like to relate a hadith to you’ — he replied, ‘No.’ They then said, ‘Then let us recite to you a verse from the Book of Allaah’ — he replied, “Either you leave or I leave.”
However, we have to be fair and just in our dealings. Allaah ﷻ said: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” [The Qur’an – 5/8]
Ibn Abi’l ‘Izz al-Hanafi “Love and hatred appropriately corresponds to the level of good and evil traits existing within the person, for an individual may embody certain traits that evoke accordance or evoke opposition, [or causes] for love and hatred, where they are loved from one perspective and hated from another. Judgement is in favour of the side that overcomes.” ~ [“Sharh ‘Aqidatul Tahawiyyah” 1/434 | Ibn Abi’l ‘Izz al-Hanafi]
Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah [d. 1328]: “If within one man exists good and evil; wickedness, obedience, and sinfulness; Sunnah and Bid’ah; then they are rightfully dealt with accordance that corresponds to their level of good, and they are dealt opposition that corresponds to their level of evil. Joined, within one individual, what obligates honour and dishonour, like a poor thief: whose hand is cut for theft, but is accorded an amount from the treasury what fulfils his needs. This is the principle that the People of Sunnah, the Jama’ah, have agreed upon.” ~ [“Majmu’ Fataawah Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah” – 28/209]
Allahu’l Musta’an. No human enterprise is free from error, and perhaps I may have erred in my translations. May Allaah forgive my shortcomings. I would normally include a screenshot of the excerpt, but I suppose you understand how impractical that would be given the nature of the document.
Translated by: Abu Dawūd [Mustafa b. Saalih] al-Ḥushayshi