Bidah

Bidah is the Life and the Truth: its adversary is death and illusion.

Bidah is the fissure of Love, through which the Speech before Speech runs.

And she graces the novation compute: blessings upon the trader in the marketplace, who exchanges old contracts for new.

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One thought on “Bidah

  1. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but of course Al Badi’ – the Incomparable, the Innovator, the creator of unprecedented things – is one of the traditional 99 Asma al Husna. And this is what is so… tragic… about what has happened within Islam. This is a vital force, necessary for all change and evolution, that has been consigned to the Islamic ‘Shadow’. And without it, the religion stultifies in the most stifling conservatism, forever caught up in the mind-numbing details of a sunna that developed for a quite other time, place and people.

    Of course, there is something more sinister to all of this. Ibn Taymiyyah’s diatribes against Bid’ah were a deliberate part of his attempt to undermine the popularity and influence of Sufism – he used an over-egged interpretation of these now infamous hadiths that came through ‘Aisha to try to show that Sufi ideas and practice were willful ‘innovations’ in religion. And he knew what he was doing: he understood the power of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s teaching, and he dreaded it.

    Then this all re-emerges several hundred years later with Abd al-Wahhab, where the charge of Bid’ah becomes a weapon to strike at the (thoroughly Sufized) Ottoman Empire, and to curry favour with the ambitious – but ultra-conservative – house of Saud.

    Bid’ah is politics, not spirituality. Because the whole conception of the Abrahamic Deen – the continual renewal and updating of ‘the antique religion’ through a succession of Prophets and Messengers – hinges on the Divine Innovation. But while God moves on – “Every day He is in a new business” – for Mankind (at least, for men with grey beards and white turbans) there is still an obsessive preoccupation with events that happened 1400 years ago.

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