Straight path has been laid out


The Spirit Of Islam

Khalid Baig

ONCE some Jewish scholars said to Sayyidna Umar bin Khattab (RA), “The Qur’an contains a verse that if it had been revealed to us, we would have designated a day to celebrate its revelation.” Upon enquiry they mentioned the verse: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3] “Yes, I know, the time and place when it was revealed,” he replied. Indeed it was a historic day. It was the day of Arafa during the farewell Hajj of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
This verse announced the completion of a historic process that had started with the coming to earth of Sayyidna Adam (AS). Allah sent His guidance with him and informed him that in the generations to come there would be additional messengers. The process continued through the 124,000 prophets who were sent to different lands at different times. It culminated with the coming of the Last Messenger (PBUH). He received revelations over a twenty-three year period. Then during the Farewell Hajj, on the plain of Arafat, in the presence of nearly 150,000 companions, this verse announced that it was all done!
The full significance of this message must never escape us. Islam is unlike all previous revealed religions in one crucial respect. All of them came with expiration dates. Islam has none. The Guidance from Allah had been completed. The religion had been perfected. There would be no new message, no new prophet, no new Shariah, and no new command until the Last Day! The Straight Path has been laid out. Our job is only to follow it, not to try to discover new paths. In Jumuah khutbahs this Ummah has been repeating the hadith: “I warn you of the newly invented matters (in the religion), and every newly invented matter is bidah, and every bidah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” (al-Nasaa’ee)
In Islamic terminology, Sunnah and Bidah are antonyms. Sunnah literally means path, and it is the path shown to us by the Prophet (PBUH). This includes the Shariah teachings derived from Quran, Hadith, the consensus of the companions, and the ijtehad of the qualified imams. Bidah means adding or changing articles of faith or religious practices. It can take many forms. One may change the occasion of a prescribed act, thereby extending it to occasions for which it was not meant. One may add restrictions on a desired act that the Shariah had not imposed. One may change the style or form of such an act. One may start doing something collectively that was to be performed individually. Or one may change the Shariah status of an act from permissible to mandatory. Of course, one may also add a ritual where none existed. These are all forms of bidah. They are all forbidden.
One factor that helps the propagation of bidahs is the attitude that treats religion as hobby rather than as the serious business of submitting to the command of Allah A. Pure submission may be “boring.” It demands sacrifice. Bidahs are fun. But in reality bidahs are a tremendous burden. Islamic teachings are simple and easy and life would be much simpler if all bidahs were removed from it.
When a person dies, Islam teaches that others should be providing food to the bereaved family. Bidah requires the exact opposite, that the bereaved should feed all the visitors ¯ a widespread practice in the Muslim communities in Asia. Other bidahs are also like that. A burden. And the burden in the Hereafter will be much bigger, for “every bidah is in the Fire.”
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