English translation of Maktubat Imam Rabbani (selective 100) | Mujaddid Alf sani | Sheikh Ahmad sirhindi
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This letter was written to Mir Muhibullah. It gives advice to hold fast to the Sunnat-i saniyya and to avoid bidats:
Hamd be to Allahu ta'ala! I pronounce my benedictions over His Prophets and send my salam to you. My dear brother, Sayyid Mir Muhibullah! The states, the guidance of the faqirs being here are very good. Infinite thanks are due to Allahu ta'ala for this reason. I pray to Allahu ta'ala for your salvation and so that your state will not change and you will make progress in the right way. Nowadays, you have not let us know of what situation you have been in. Your being so far makes it difficult for us to correspond. Giving advice is the first duty in our din and is to follow the Highest of Prophets (May our highest benedictions and salams be over him and all others!). Following him requires carrying out all his sunnats, that is, his commands and prohibitions, and avoiding the bidats, which he dislikes. Even if those bidats looked bright like the breaking of dawn that annihilates the darkness of night, it would be necessary to abstain from all of them. For, there is no nur, no light in any bidat, nor any cure for an ill person. They cannot be medicine for a sick person. For, each bidat either annihilates a sunnat, or it has nothing to do with the Sunnat. However, those bidats which have nothing to do with the Sunnat overflow the Sunnat and are superfluous. So they annihilate the Sunnat. For, to do any command more than commanded means to change the command. Hence, it is understood that each bidat, no matter how it is, annihilates the Sunnat, and is at loggerheads with the Sunnat. There is no goodness or beauty in any bidat. I wish I knew why and how they ever said 'beautiful' about some of the bidats which appeared after the blessings had been completed in this perfect din, Islam, which Allahu ta'ala likes. Why did they not know that when something has been perfected, completed and liked, supplements added to it cannot be beautiful? Any change made in something correct and right is deviation, heresy. If they realized the fact that to say beautiful about something which appeared later in this perfect and complete din would mean to say that the din did not reach perfection or the blessing was not completed, they would not say beautiful about any bidat. O our Allah! Do not call us to account for what we have forgotten or what we have erred on! I send my salam to you and to those being with you.
[The word sunnat has three different meanings in our din. When Book and Sunnat are said together, the Book means the Qur'an and the Sunnat means hadiths. When said Fard and Sunnat fard means Allah's commandments and sunnat means our Prophet's 'sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam' sunnats, that is, his commands. When the word Sunnat is used alone, it means the Shariat, that is, all the rules of Islam. Books of fiqh teach this fact. For example, it is written in Mukhtasar-i Quduri, "He who knows the Sunnat best will become the imam." When explaining this statement, the book Jawhara writes, "In this context Sunnat means the Shariat." See the fifteenth chapter of the third fascicle!
It has now been understood that for purifying the heart it is necessary to follow the Shariat. To follow the Shariat means to do the commandments and to refrain from the prohibitions and bidats.
Bidat means something which has been invented later. They are things which did not exist during the time of our Prophet 'sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam' and his four Khalifas 'radiAllahu 'anhum' and which have been invented later in the din and which people have been doing as worships. For example, since it is necessary to recite the Ayat-al-kursi immediately after each namaz, it is bidat to recite the Salatan tunjina or other prayers first. They should be recited after the Ayat-al- kursi and tasbihs. It is bidat to prostrate and then stand up after finishing the namaz. It is bidat to call the adhan through loudspeakers.
Any change or reform made in the din is bidat. But it is not bidat to use such things as forks, spoons, ties, to drink coffee, tea, or to smoke, for they are not worships; they are customs, habits, and are mubah. They are not haram. To do them does not cause one to omit what the religion commands or to do what it prohibits. It is written in Hadiqa-tun- nadiyya, "If the bidat is something not of the religion or worship but of custom, our religion does not reject it. If we do not intend to do worship, i.e., to attain closeness to Allahu ta'ala but only we think of doing something worldly in eating, drinking, dressing, getting vehicles, building, dwelling and home care, unless these do not prevent us from doing any worship or cause us to commit any prohibited thing, these are not bidat. Our religion does not prohibit them." There are three kinds of bidat:
1 - It is the worst bidat to use -without any darurat (compulsion)- those things which the Shariat says to be the signs of disbelief. On page 467 of Al-bariqa and 696 of Majma' al- anhur, it is written that the 'ulama' said, "It is permissible to use them to deceive (khud'a) the disbelievers in dar al-harb."
2 - Those beliefs which disagree with what is communicated by the savants of the Ahl as-sunnat are also evil bidats.
3 - Those reforms made in the name of worship are bidats in worships and are grave sins. Some 'ulama' divided the bidats in 'ibadat or 'amal into the hasana and sayyia. Al-Imam ar-Rabbani 'rahmatullahi 'alaih' did not say 'bidats' about those bidats which scholars termed 'hasana'. He called them 'sunnat-i-hasana'. He said 'bidats' about those which they termed 'bidat-i-sayyia', and he condemned such bidats. Wahhabis, on the other hand, say 'sayyia' about bidats termed 'hasana' and approved, and they call those who practice such bidats 'disbelievers', 'polytheists'.] [See Second Volume, 23rd letter in the second fascicle of Endless Bliss. ]