The third matter is the statement [of the Prophet] – Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him:
“The worst of things are those newly introduced (into the religion).”
Al-Muḥdathāt are the newly introduced matters which did not exist during [the Prophet’s] time – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam. This is evidenced by the statement [of the Prophet] – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam – in the ḥadīth of Al-ʿIrbāḍ b. Sāriyah – Allāh be pleased with him:
“You must follow my Sunnah, and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; adhere strictly to it, and hold on to it with all your strength.”
This is the Sunnah.
“And beware of newly invented matters.”
So whatever is not in accordance with [the Prophet’s] Sunnah and that of his Rightly Guided Caliphs is a newly invented matter. Whatever is not in accordance with the way of the Companions of Allāh’s Messenger – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam – is a newly invented matter; and whatever was not part of the religion during their time can never be part of the religion today. For Allāh the Perfect and Exalted [at that time] revealed to His Messenger – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam:
This day I have perfected your religion for you, and completed my favour upon you, and have chosen Islām to be your religion.
Meaning of Qurān 5:3
So after this, there is nothing but addition and invention [into the religion].
And whoever claims that this innovation is good, then he has [in reality] accused the Prophet – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, whether he realises it or not – of not conveying, not conveying properly what Allāh commanded him to convey, as was explained by Mother of the Believers ʿĀʾishah, Allāh be pleased with her.
So the muḥdathāt are whatever differs with [the Prophet’s] Sunnah – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam. And one cannot enumerate them. How many innovations have their been since the first one to today! How many have spread far and wide amongst the Muslims! None but Allāh can enumerate them! But the successful person is the one who Allāh, the Sublime and Exalted, grants success.
All innovations [in religion] are deviations; and in this there is a refutation of anyone who says that there are good bidaʿ.
“The best guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, and the worst of affairs are those that are newly invented.”
Thus, all innovation in religion is evil and wrong. It is wrong for us in regards to our religion as well as our worldly condition: in our religion, it exposes us to contravening the command of Allāh the Perfect and Exalted to follow this Prophet – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam. And whoever contradicts the commands of the Prophet – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam – has exposed himself to destruction; and we seek Allāh’s protection from that. As for [it being evil] in regards to our worldly life, then this is through the differing of opinions and desires [that innovations cause]. Everyone thinks his own view is right, and this in turn leads to schism, disunity and turning away from each other, spoiling the life – and we ask Allāh’s protection – that the Prophet, ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam, described the believers with when he said:
“The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, compassion and mercy is as a single body: when part of it is hurt, the rest of it responds with sleeplessness and fever.”
Not following [the Sunnah] properly brings about the opposite, and results in what I just mentioned. Thus, neither togetherness, unity, communication, mercy nor compassion are achieved, rather they are replaced by their opposites – may Allāh protect us.