Customs and Innovations


And whoever seeks a religion[a way of life] other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers” [Quran-Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that groups of his ummah would follow the enemies of Allah in some of their rituals and customs. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, span by span, cubit by cubit, until even if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah(pbuh), (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else? !” (Hadith-al-Bukhaari )

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (narrated by Ahmad)

The harms in these customs are that realities have become effaced. Furthermore, these customs are the innovations of the Ahl Bid’ah; and the peculiarity of bid’at is that it leaves no Noor in the heart and no Noor of perception leaving a person trapped in such wrongs. Thus you will find all the arguments of the Ahl Bid’ah merely self-gratifying. But a person, who has even the slightest perception of reality, can never accept their proofs, so much so that even though he may not have any counter-argument in mind, but his heart repels their averments.

If these customs were confined to worldly activities, then there would not have been such a case against the customs.

But the misfortune is that customs have been attached to Deen. Thus, one major-harm of these customs is that people carry them out thinking these to be part of Deen. In their entire lives they are not alerted to their error; they continue to think of something which is not Deen, to be an act of Deen.

In worldly customs, sometimes some worldly harm comes to the fore and there is possibility of the custom being abandoned. For example, the harmful and destructive consequences of customs in vogue on the occasion of Nikaah stare the perpetrators in the face. This alerts them and though not out of understanding it to be harmful to their Deen, nevertheless out of realizing the harm to their dunya they abandon the custom. However, how can they be alerted to the harms of the customs they consider to be part of Deen? In fact, there is strong reason for them not being alerted to the harm due to the festivity and revelry in these customs. They enjoy themselves at these functions. Then why should they abandon these practices?

We have had the good fortune of spending time in the company of such people who never observed any custom. Their lives were plain and simple. Observing their lives it has dawned fully upon us that a life of comfort is that which is free of formalities, extravagance and show.

Kandhlah is a town near to where we stay. There was a Buzrug there by the name of Moulana Muzaffar Husain Saheb. When a visitor would come he would ask the visitor: “Did you have meals or would you like to have meals with us?” If the guest answered that he would have meals there, then Moulana used to ask: “Should we prepare fresh meals or serve whatever leftover we have?” If the guest desired freshly cooked food, he would then ask: “What do you prefer?” Whatever the guest enjoyed would then be prepared. Now isn’t there comfort and ease in this?

Since we have seen such people the formalities of people nowadays hold no worth in our eyes. The formalities and customs of these times are pure acts of show and extravagance and which reek of harmful consequences. If a dunya-daar (worldly inclined person) abandons these customs and instead opts for a life of simplicity, then leaving aside immunity from sin, he will not suffer and destroy his mundane life. Look at how many a principality have been destroyed on account of these extravagances.

Many complain about these extravagances, but few really abandon these wasteful customs. A person should only stretch his legs as long as his legs are. But this is not possible in these customs and functions. Everyone should unite to discard these customs.

A simple life is a wonderful boon. And halaal income only provides for a simple life. These extravaganzas are possible only with haraam income.

Due to the lavishness of these times, teachings such as these are regarded to be insulting. The culture of today is to be up-class, haughty, above everyone. A worker or employee is not even considered to be a human being. In everything the effort is to portray one’s status, one’s prestige and one’s extravagance. New clothes, new fashions are necessarily adopted. All these accretions and attachments are nothing but the products of being proud. Then these self-same habits are passed on to juniors and kids until it is endemic to society. In all spheres of life – speaking, eating, sitting, walking – extravagance pervades the lives of society.

The Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu anhum) were not upholders of customary formalities, but the level of their obedience to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is known to the world. The bond which the Sahaabah had with Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was of passionate love; a similar case between a lover and beloved in this world will be difficult to find. But there was no incumbency of even standing when Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) entered. In fact, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) forbade them from this.

In his clothing, in his seating and in his ways Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did not adopt a superior position. Consider that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was not particular on being in front of everyone when walking. Sometimes he would be walking alongside, sometimes behind. The custom of these times would have demanded that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) be ahead of everyone. Reflect over who are more committed to their seniors: the mureedeen of these times to their Shaikhs or the Sahaabah to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)? Experience teaches that where there is external show, there is no reality there.

(From Adabul Asheer of Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahmatullahi Alaih)