Community FAQs & Fatwas Islamic Character Islamic Law

Is Saying Jumu’ah Mubarak an Innovation?

hugThe Question

Recently, I saw a lecture on YouTube with a man claiming that saying, “jumu`ah mubārak (a blessed Friday)” on Fridays is an innovation? Is that true?

The Answer

Scholars of fatwā (legal opinions) divided acts into worship and customs. Both are central to our faith, and scholars gave each a tremendous amount of attention. For that reason, the first Ph.D. granted at al-Azhar University in the 20’s was on Islam and Custom.

Customs and Cultures are Embraced by Islām

Custom is so important that it forms one of the five major axioms of Islamic law. Al-Qādi al- Hussein al-Shāf’i wrote, “Utilization of custom is one of the five principles that Islamic Law rests on.”

Imām al-Syūtti mentioned them in Kawkab al-Sāti saying,

jummah

“Certainty does not remove doubt, and Islam removes every harm.
Hardship brings ease and custom (for fiqh) is a reference point
A few added a fifth: that every act of a person is based his intention.”

Custom in the Tradition

`Abdullah bin Masūd used to say, “What the Muslims deem as good is good.”

In Imām al-Bukhāri’s collection of authentic hadīth (saying or tradition of the Prophet ﷺ – peace be upon him), under the chapter on commerce, we find an interesting title for the 95th section:

بَابُ مَنْ أَجْرَى أَمْرَ الأَمْصَارِ عَلَ مَا يَتَعَارَفُونَ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي الْبُيُوعِ وَالإِجَارَةِ وَالْمِكْيَالِ، وَالْوَزْنِ، وَسُنَنِهِمْ عَلَ نِيَّاتِهِمْ وَمَذَا هِبِهِمِ الْمَشْهُورَةِ

Chapter: Where there is no fixed judgement, the traditions and conventions of a community are referred to – Customs and Norms is an Important Part of our Faith

Commenting on this, Imām bin Hajar wrote, “The purpose of this title is to establish the reliance on custom in Islamic law.”

That is not to say that any custom is recognized by Islam. For more on that, consult a local scholar or see the books of usūl al-fiqh (principles of Islamic jurisprudence).

The Ruling on Customs and Day to Day Affairs is Permissibility

Imām Ibn Taymiyyah wrote, the foundations of Imām Ahmed’school are two:

  1. Customs are permissible unless there is a clear text that forbids them.
  2. Acts of worship are forbidden (to invent) unless there is a clear text that allows them.

Then, he defined custom saying, “Customs are habits of people pertaining to food, drink, clothing, transportation, speech and other such normal day to day activities. Thus, they should not be forbidden unless by Allah or his Messenger  through an explicit text, a general one or a proper analogy. If not, then the general ruling for them is permissibility.”

We understood from Ibn Taymiyyah’s definition that customs divide into two parts: words and deeds.

Ibn Hajar said, “Custom plays a role in determining the explicit meaning of words.” Implying that if a person uses a word that is exclusive to his culture, the known custom is used to determine its implications. For that reason, Imam al-Dardīr noted that the Māliki’s coined an axiom, “Customs are like conditions.” From the important usage of words are greetings and salutations.

Greetings

Scholars agree that greetings fall under mu`amalāt (day-to-day activities), and they are part of customs that are related to speech. Since the general ruling on customs in permissibility, then greetings that are free of evil are considered permissible. For that reason, when Talha (a great companion of the Prophet ﷺ) greeted K`ab with the good news of the latter’s forgiveness, the former was not censured by the Prophet , K`ab or the other companions (Allah be pleased with them all).

Based on this important principle and the large number of general texts that encourage us to speak well and be gentle to others, it is a stretch to say that such a greeting in an innovation. Imām al-Sakhāwi noted this in al-Tahina bi al-Shūr wa al-‘Ayād (Greetings Upon Months and Holidays) in greater detail.

May Allah bless us with tawfiq (success).

Suhaib Webb

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

12 Comments

  • JazakAllahu Khairan. This entire website has been a fantastic resource making scholarly information easy to understand. May Allah swt reward you. Ameen and grant you the highest levels of jannah. Ameen.

  • JazakAllahu hayr for this article, ya Imam.

    “Certainty does not remove doubt” – I think, You should write: “Certainty does not remove BY a doubt” (“Certainty is not canceled by a doubt”), or something like this. Maybe I am wrong, sorry my bad English.

    As-Salamy Aleykum 🙂

    • Ah, that makes quite a bit more simple sense. I was confused by the wording in the article. It is really something the opposite – “doubt does not remove certainty”?

  • Jazak Allah khair.
    By the way the translation “Certainty does not remove doubt” may be wrong. Perhaps it should be “Certainty is not removed by doubt”.
    Thanks

  • Salam,

    English is not my mother language, but I have been speaking it for more than 20 years. “innovation” means a positive change. I understand that when you say “innovation”, you are referring to “bidah” which was forbidden by the Prophet (pbuh). So, isn’t there another word that better expresses “bidah”? I think, for example, “reformation” is a more neutral change, which means it could be negative. But, again, in the modern English, at least in the circles where I am working at, innovation is a change that does good and positive things.

    With the help of Google Translate, here are some more words that may better express “bidah”:
    disruption
    degeneration
    addition (partially expresses the fact that bidah is a new thing added unnecessarily to the core of Islam)
    attachment (partially expresses the fact that bidah is a new thing added unnecessarily to the core of Islam)

    In general, I think we, Muslims, don’t want to be seen as people against something positive: innovation. Although you did not mean that, most non-Muslims will not understand what you meant will immediately associate Muslims to a model which rejects innovation. Yet, this is absolutely not true. The first revelation of Quran is “Ikra”, which means to read and find new and better (i.e., innovate) different ways of understanding Allahu Teala.

    Best regards.

    • I’ve always thought so too. What about “embellishment”? It contains meanings of “addition”, “unnecessary”, and has a slight negative connotation. I mean, innovation can frequently be a necessary or useful new way of doing things but embellishment by its inherent meaning is not necessary.

  • Wouldn’t a pre-requisite for a scholar to make decisions on cultural norms be, that the scholar must first actually understand the culture? I have observed that merely being local to the country doesn’t cut it. Free societies are so complex today that a lower middle class crowd of one race has a very different culture and language norms of relating to one another compared to another demographic. Rural norms are different from urban norms in the same country, as the pace and space and reference points by which life is lived, are very different.

  • Mashallah a very interesting article. It just goes to show that the seen of Allah (swt) is a complete seen. An excellent explanation by the sheikh.

    I read through the article a little quickly maybe I missed it. However, I believe you might have forgot to mention that Allah (SWT) knows best.

  • Assalaamu alaikum [wbwr]

    Thank you for this post. Jazak Allāh Khair.
    I like to say Jumu’ah Mubarak with a feeling of love in my heart for Allāh, my fellow man, and basically, to acknowledge that Friday is a very special and beloved day!

    Some regard Friday as a Holy Day, even as Sunday is a Holy Day inshallah.

    For someone to tell me that it is bidah to bless this day with the words Jumu’ah Mubarak, for me, only points to their own ignorance of the Mercy of Allāh Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. For certainly Ayat 18:88 is an important Ayat to remember, along with the entire Heart of the [Holy Qur’an: 10:37, 32:2].

    Alhamdulillah.
    Wa salaams.

  • Assalamualaikum,

    1. Is it that this statement falls under customary speech? From whose custom? Starting where? Or is it that as Sh. Fawzan and others say, that this statement falls under du’a and dhikr, which would fall under worship….which must be legistated from the Kitab and Sunnah?

    2. It this from a hadith and is it the complete saying or partial. Abdullah bin Masūd used to say, “What the Muslims deem as good is good.”

    3. Imam Bukhari’s statement from the chapter on commerce; is this meant also in speech or was it mentioned specifically about trade?

    4. Is there an example from The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) or the 3 generations where this statement was used?

    Jazak Allahu Khairan

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