Source: Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen
Understanding the Hadeeth: “Whoever Introduces a Good Sunnah”1
Question: How can we refute the people of innovation who support their innovated practices with the hadeeth, “Whoever introduced a good sunnah in Islam…”?
Answer: We can refute this statement by saying: The one who said, “He who introduced some good sunnah in Islam which was followed after him” is the same one who said, “Hold fast to my sunnah and to the sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Khulafaa’ after me. And beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hell-fire.”
And building on this, his statement, “Whoever introduced a good sunnah in Islam…” was uttered due to the following incident, which is that the during the Farewell Pilgrimage Prophet was encouraging the Companions to give charity to a group of people who had come from Madhar, and so a man came forward with a purse full of silver and placed it in front of the Prophet, and so the Prophet said, “He who introduced some good sunnah in Islam which was followed after him will have the reward for it as well as the reward of whoever else does that until the Day of Judgement.”
So since we know the rationale behind this hadeeth and understand it in the correct way, then it becomes clear that the intended meaning of “introducing a sunnah” is introducing an action which is accordance with the Sunnah, and not introducing something new into the Divine Legislation, for the act of providing the Divine Legislation belongs only to Allah and His messenger. The meaning of the hadeeth, “whoever introduces a good sunnah” is that one initiates a practice that is in accordance with the Sunnah which people emulate him in doing so – in that case he receives the reward for his action and the reward of whoever else does that act.
This is the precise meaning of this hadeeth, or it could alternatively be understood that the intended meaning of “whoever introduces a good sunnah” is: whoever introduces means by which worship is enacted and the people follow him in this, such as authoring a book, or organizing and arranging information in a systematic way, building schools, or other similar things which act as a means for achieving some legislated objective.
So, if a person introduces one of these means which brings about a legislated objective and this thing is not something which is prohibited in-and-of itself, then this would be included in the meaning of the hadeeth.
However, if the meaning of the hadeeth was that a person has permission to introduce something new into the Divine Legislation, then this would entail that the Islamic religion was not perfected during the lifetime of the Prophet, and it would entail that every nation would have their own Divine Legislation and ways. So if anyone believes this – that performing this innovated action is a something good – then his thinking is mistaken. For this belief belies the statement of the Prophet that “every innovation is a misguidance”.
- Source: Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, from “Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa ibn ‘Uthaymeen“ 2/295
- Translated by Khalil Klopfenstein