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Bidʿa ( Arabic بدعة, DMG bidʿa ) is a concept of Islamic theology and jurisprudence that characterizes a religious innovation that cannot be traced back to the Koran and the Sunna , but is based solely on human considerations. In principle, such innovations are considered inadmissible, but there is also the concept of “good innovation”. This is particularly widespread in the Hanafi school of law . Innovations that have no religious content are generally considered to be unproblematic.

Basics of bidʿa rejection

The reason for a strict attitude towards renewal can be derived from the following hadith :

“Indeed, the truest message ( aṣdaq al-ḥadith ) is the Book of Allah, the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, the worst of things are innovations, every innovation is heresy and every heresy is error and every error leads to hell. "

- Translation by Ignaz Goldziher

In addition to the hadiths , which have been traced back to either Mohammed or his companions, there were already writings in the late 9th century on the subject of the Bida . A work by the Andalusian Abū Bakr al-Turtūschī († 1126 in Alexandria ) from Tortosa has been published in Spanish under the title El libro de las novedades y las innovaciones .

The good Bidʿa

In addition to the reprehensible innovation, there is also the concept of good or praiseworthy or permitted innovation ( bidʿa ḥasana , bidʿa maḥmūda , bidʿa mubāḥa ). The discussion about what is considered a good “innovation” and what is considered a bad “innovation” - and thus heresy - is old. Thus ashShaafi'ee quoted as saying: "An innovation that the Koran, a Sunna, a Athar or the consensus contradicts, is a heretical innovation. But if something new is introduced that is not bad in itself and does not contradict the aforementioned authorities of religious life, that is a laudable, not reprehensible innovation. "

Especially in the Hanafi madhhab , which knows the legal instrument of istiḥsān (discretion), in the early modern period people liked to fall back on the concept of permitted or good innovation. For example, the Hanafit ʿAlī al-Qārī (d. 1606) defended the organizational form of ritual prayer that existed in Mecca at the time, in which members of the various Sunni schools of law prayed in separate groups one after the other or side by side, against critics as a "good innovation" ( bidʿa ḥasana ) and referred in this connection to the saying of the Prophet's companion ʿAbdallāh ibn Masʿūd : "What the Muslims consider good is also good with God" ( mā ra'ā-hu l-muslimūn ḥasanan fa-huwa ʿinda Llāhi ḥasanun ) .

Attitude of Muslims towards Bidʿa

While Muslims have been weighing up whether a renewal is a good bidʿa or a bad bidʿa since the Middle Ages , one finds especially among Wahhabi and Salafist Muslims a strict rejection of any renewal, in extreme cases up to the rejection of any inventions of the modern age, such as electricity and Computer.


  • Maribel Fierro: The treatises against innovations (kutub al-bida ') . In: Der Islam , 69/2 (1992), 204-246. doi : 10.1515 / islm.1992.69.2.204 .
  • Ignaz Goldziher: Hadith and Sunna. In: Muhammadan Studies. 2. Reprint. Georg Olms Verlagbuchhandlung, Hildesheim 1961. II, pp. 22-27. Digitized
  • Vardit Rispler-Chaim: Toward a new understanding of the term bidʿa. In: Der Islam , 68/2 (1991), 320–328. doi : 10.1515 / islm.1991.68.2.320 .
  • Idrīs ibn Baidakīn at-Turkumānī: Kitāb al-lumaʿ fī-l-ḥawādiṯ wal-bidaʿ: A pamphlet against inadmissible innovations . Ed. Ṣubḥī Labīb. 2 vols. Steiner, Wiesbaden, 1986.
  • Abū Bakr al-Ṭurṭūšī : Kitāb al-ḥawādiṯ wa-l-bidaʿ. El libro de las novedades y las innovaciones. Traducción y estudio: Maribel Fierro. (Fuentes Arabico-Hispanas, 14). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid 1993, ISBN 84-00-07372-X .

Individual evidence

  1. Mark Sedgwick Islam & Muslims: A Guide to Diverse Experience in a Modern World Islam & Muslims: A Guide to Diverse Experience in a Modern World 2006 ISBN 978-1-473-64391-8 Chapter: The islamic ideal
  2. See Goldziher, p. 26 (based on al-Baihaqī : Manāqib aš-Šāfiʿī ).
  3. See his treatise Lisān al-ihtidāʾ fī l-iqtidāʾ Ms. Berlin Ms 2124, f. 104a. For further examples from the Hanafi area, cf. Haim Gerber: Islamic Law and Society, 1600-1800. Leiden 1999, p. 98f.
  4. Mark Sedgwick: Islam & Muslims: A Guide to Diverse Experience in a Modern World . Boston, MA 2006, ISBN 978-1-473-64391-8 , Chapter: The islamic ideal .
  5. ^ Sayyed M. Deen: Science Under Islam: Rise, Decline and Revival . 2007, ISBN 978-1-847-99942-9 , p. 127 (English).