An excerpt from the book "Kalimah 'Ilmiyyah Hadiyyah fi al-Bid'ah wa Ahkamuha" by Wahbi Sulaiman Ghawiji al-Albani.

Ahadith Supporting the Agreement of the Scholars Concerning the Specification of the Hadith
“Every Innovation is Misguidance”

1) Muslim, al-Nasa’i and ibn Majah relate from Jarir bin ‘Abdullah al-Bajali who said: the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever introduces some good practice in Islam will have the reward of it, as well as the reward of those who act on it after him, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And whoever introduces some evil practice in Islam will bear the burden of it as well as the burden of those who act on it after him, without theirs being diminished in any respect.”

al-Nawawi said: In it is encouragement for originating good deeds and enacting good practices and a warning against baseless and repugnant acts. In the hadith is a specification of his (saw) saying: “Every new matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance.” What is meant by it are new matters which are baseless and innovations which are blameworthy. Sundi said in a commentary on ibn Majah: His saying “a good practice” means an accepted path which people follow. The distinction between a good and bad practice is in its accordance with the foundations of the Law or its failure to do so.

2) ibn Majah relates with a sound chain that Abu Hurairah (ra) said: the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever introduces something good and is followed (by others) will have the reward of it completely. As for the reward of those who follow him, their reward will not be diminished at all. And whoever introduces something evil and is followed (by others) will carry the burden of it completely. As for the burden of those who follow him, their burden will not be diminished at all.”

3) Ahmad, al-Bazzar and al-Tabrani in al-Awsat – with a fair chain – relate that Hudhaifah (ra) said: the Messnger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever introduces something good and is followed (by others); he will have the reward of it as well as the reward of those who follow him, without their reward being diminished at all. And whoever introduces something evil and is followed (by others); he will carry the burden of it as well as the burden of those who follow him, without their burden being diminished at all”

4) Tabrani relates – with a fair chain also – from Wathilah bin al-Asqa’ (ra) from the Prophet (saw) who said: “Whoever introduces a good practice will have reward for it for whoever acts on it during his lifetime and after his death, until it is left off. And whoever introduces an evil practice will bear the sin of it, until it is left off. And whoever dies defending (the land of the Muslims) in the path of Allah, the act of defending continues (to be written) for him, until he is resurrected on the Day of Resurrection.”

The muhaddith, the jurist, ‘Abdullah al-Sadiq, after mentioning the preceding ahadith said: So these ahadith speak clearly about the division of innovation into good and bad: the good (innovation) is that which is in conformity with the foundation of the Shari’ah. And this is even if it is a new matter with regard to its form for it is permissible according to its type because of its coming within the rules of the Shari’ah or the generality of ayat or hadith. For this reason it is termed good and the reward of it continues with those who practice it after his death. The bad (innovation) is that which contradicts the rules of the Shari’ah and it is reprehensible and a misguided innovation.

al-Ubbiyy said in a commentary on Sahih Muslim: Included in a good practice is an approved innovation such as the standing (for Tarawih) in Ramadan; and being present in the minaret in the time immediately after the adhan and at the central doors and when the Imam enters; and performing subh at the rising of dawn. All of that are things which assist acts of worship which the Shari’ah testifies to. And ‘Ali and ‘Umar used to encourage people to perform Salah of subh after the rising of dawn.

And the meaning of establishing a practice is to originate it by means of exertion and derivation from the rules of Shari’ah or the generality of the texts.

5) Bukhari and Muslim relate from ‘A’ishah (ra) who said: the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it, will have it rejected.” And in the narration of Muslim: “He who does an act which our matter is not (in agreement) with, will have it rejected.” And in some versions: “He who innovates something in our religion that is not of it, will have it rejected.”

ibn Rajab said: This hadith indicates by its wording that every action without a basis in the Shari’ah is rejected. And it indicates by its understanding that every action which does have a basis in the Shari’ah is not rejected. It is said in the Hanafi madhab, which does not accept understanding the opposite of the text: Certainly the text is silent concerning everything besides that which it speaks about. The acceptability of a newly innovated matter which is in conformity with the principles of the religion is (for them) derived from other texts.

al-Hafiz says in al-Fath: This hadith is counted as one of the foundations of Islam, and as one of its maxims, for its meaning is: whoever originates something in the religion which does not have any support in the fundamentals (of the religion) then he should not pay any attention to it.

Shaikh ‘Abdullah al-Sadiq said: This hadith specifies the hadith, “Every innovation is misguidance” and clarifies what is meant by it as is evident. Because if every innovation is misguidance without exception the hadith would have said: “Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours, will have it rejected.” However since he said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it, will have it rejected” it informs us that innovations are of two kinds: that which is not of the religion because of its conflicting with its rules and evidences so it is rejected and it is a misguided innovation. And that which is of the religion because it has support from the principles (of religion) or is supported by evidence so it is acceptable and correct. And it is a good practice.

6) Ahmad, Abu Dawud and ibn Abi Shaibah relate – with a sound, continuous chain – to Mu’adh ibn Jabal (ra) who said: “We were performing Salah when a man arrived who had missed part of the Salah. The person next to him indicated to him: ‘You missed such-and-such’ so he performed it.” He said: “We were between bowing and prostrating and standing and sitting. So I came and had missed part of the Salah. It was indicated to me what I had missed.” I said: “I do not find him in any state except that I am in that state. So I was with them in the state which I found them upon. Then when the Prophet (saw) completed, I stood and prayed.” The Messenger of Allah (saw) faced the people and said: “Who said such-and-such?” They replied: “Mu’adh ibn Jabal.” So he said: “Mu’adh has initiated a practice for you so follow him in it. If any of you comes and has missed something of the Salah, then let him pray with the Imam. Then when the Imam completes (the Salah) let him perform that which he missed out.” And its chain is authentic.

Shaikh ‘Abdullah al-Sadiq said: It is understood from the hadith of Mu’adh that the ma’mums differing with the Imam in the actions of Salah was allowed. Since the man used to pray that which he had missed (of the Salah) and he differed with the Imam in Ruku’ or Sujud or Qiyam. Thereafter he completed (the Salah) with him. Then when Mu’adh did what he did and the Prophet (saw) commanded following (the Imam), the permissibility of differing (with the Imam) was abrogated and it became obligatory to follow him in the actions of Salah. And that which is abrogated is not permitted to act upon by consensus of the scholars.

From this it is known that the view of ibn Hazm, that the traveler should shorten his Salah when praying behind an Imam who is a resident, is invalid. For if he shortens his Salah then he differs with the Imam, and this has been abrogated and acting on something abrogated is invalid. Therefore his Salah is invalid. Just as if he had faced Bait al-Muqaddas in his Salah, then it would be invalid. And the invalidity of his view is also known from another angle: it is known from necessity that a delegation of Arabs visited the Prophet (saw) in Madinah and performed Salah with him. Nobody said: “Shorten the Salah” although the Prophet (saw) did say to the people of Makkah during his pilgrimage: “Complete your Salah for we are travelers.” From this we know that the delegation completed the Salah with the Prophet (saw) since it is incomprehensible that he ordered them to shorten the Salah and this has not been related to us. Rather this is impossible for the Sahabah, who were eager to relate his sayings and actions, especially those which were connected to Salah, which is one of the most important pillars of religion. And this is an unavoidable proof against the followers of ibn Hazm which they are incapable of getting away from.

7) Ahamd relates – with a chain, the narrators of which are reliable – from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (ra) that he saw a vision: He was writing (Surah) Sad and when he reached the point of prostration he saw the inkpot, the pen and everything in his presence fall down prostrate. He said: ‘I narrated it to the Prophet (saw) and he never left off prostrating (at this point).’ The commentator on al-Targhib, Shaikh Mustafa ‘Ammarah said: This was when he arrived at His saying: “He begged forgiveness from his Lord and fell down prone, prostrating, and repented.”

8) ibn Majah relates in his Sunan – with a chain whose narrators are reliable – from Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib, that Bilal (ra) came to the Prophet (saw) to call him to the Salah of Fajr. It was said to him: “He is sleeping.” He replied: “Salah is better than sleep, Salah is better than sleep.” So it became established as part of the adhan of Fajr and the matter became confirmed upon that. And in the narration of al-Tabrani the Prophet (saw) said to Bilal: “How excellent this is! Include it in your adhan.”

9) al-Bukhari relates from Rifa’ah bin Rafi’ (ra) that he said: “We were praying one day behind the Prophet (saw).When he raised his head from Ruku’ he said: ‘Allah listens to the one who praises Him.’ So a man behind him said: ‘Our Lord to You is all praise - many, good and blessed praise.’ Then when he completed (the Salah) the Prophet (saw) said: “Who is the one who said that?” The man replied: “I.” He (saw) said: “I saw more than thirty angels rushing to see which of them would write it down first.”

al-Hafiz ibn Hajr said in al-Fath al-Bari: “It is inferred from this the permissibility of originating dhikr in the Salah which is not transmitted, if it does not conflict with those which are transmitted.”

10) The Messenger of Allah (saw) grieved over Khubaib bin ‘Adi al-Awsi and the five who were martyred with him in the expedition of al-Raji’, even though Khubaib introduced a Salah which may be rightly termed as the Salah of death. It is mentioned that when he was about to be killed he said to the polytheists: “Allow me to perform two raka’at of Salah.” So they left him and he prayed the Salah. It then became a practice for all those about to be killed to pray two raka’at of Salah. Thereafter Khubaib said: “Were it not that you would have said, ‘He is afraid of death’ I would have increased the Salah. I don’t care about any hardship – my death is for Allah.” Then he recited:

“I do not care – when I am being killed as a Muslim -
In which way I die for the sake of Allah

Because this is for the Essence of God, and if He wishes
He will bless my torn limbs and broken joints”