Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

Sunni, Shia, Whabbi, Salafi, Berelvi, Sufi and Deobandi: The Different Islamic Perspectives on Creativity in Islam

Written By

Cameron Iqbal

Submitted: December 4th, 2021 Reviewed: January 27th, 2022 Published: March 18th, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.102905

IntechOpen
Creativity Edited by Sílvio Manuel Brito

From the Edited Volume

Creativity [Working Title]

Ph.D. Sílvio Manuel Da Rocha Brito

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to understand how seven different Islamic sects namely Sunni, Shia, Whabbi, Salafi, Berelvi, Sufi and Deobandi have different perspectives when it comes to creativity (bid’ah). Each participant provided a unique insight into their understanding and interpretations of Islamic scriptures and texts in relation to creativity, and to determine how creativity in Islam is assessed. This study provides a unique understanding of differences and similarities of creativity and innovation and explains how each participant’s sect analyses and affords its own perspective on creativity.

Keywords

  • Quran
  • Islam
  • Ahadith
  • creativity (bid’ah) and sects

1. Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to understand how seven different sects in Islam, namely Sunni, Shia, Whabbi, Salafi, Berelvi, Sufi and Deobandi (Seven Sects) have different perspectives on creativity in Islam.1 As Islam is a complete way of life and the religious, financial and political platforms must be part of the assessment of creativity. Creativity in Islam can only be assessed by educated and intellectually qualified Islamic Ulema(scholars) that hold the relevant knowledge and are authentic Ulemas. This chapter will explore the stages of Islamic creative thinking, legal reasoning and deductive reasoning in Islam relating to the seven different Ulemasbelonging to seven different Islamic sects. The Ulemaswill provide a unique insight into their understanding and interpretations of Islamic scriptures and texts in relation to creativity and how their perceptions and practices of differing Islamic traditions compare with each other concerning creativity.

Prior to this study, there has been research conducted examining how creativity is effective in Islam [2]. However, that research did not focus on how Seven Sects assesses creativity. It does not look at the required support of ulemasand the application of Islamic reasoning to determine effective and approved creativity in Islam. It also does not examine how creativity is rejected in Islam. The need for this study was due to gaps in other studies. This study will explore the stage of Islamic creative thinking, legal reasoning, and deductive reasoning in Islam differs between Seven Sects and this comparison and differences have yet to be researched.

This study was conducted by examining seven different leading Islamic traditions based in the UK. Each sect provided unique insight into their understanding and interpretations of Islamic scriptures and texts in relation to creativity and its assessment. This study demonstrates how perceptions and practices of differing Islamic traditions compare with each other.2 The uniqueness of creativity research in Islam is the explorative nature of this research that lends itself to qualitative studies, such as religious ethnography and discourse analysis will form two key approaches [3]. Religious ethnography will assist in eliciting responses from each of the Seven Sect’s representatives, and discourse analysis will be used to identify different perspectives [4].

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2. Literature review

2.1 Creativity and innovation: The Quran (recitation)

Islam came at a time when there was prevalent ignorance in pre-Islamic Arabia. The Quran guided Muslims to be creative and to use their creativity for the benefit of humanity and in accordance with Sharia law and Islamic principles [5]. The Quran promoted creativity by providing examples of creativity to inspire and make Muslims understand in a greater depth. The Quran created a system that allowed Muslims to become focused on helping people and societies by being inventors of new theories and ideas. Science, math, biology, languages, culture, geography, psychology, sociology, algorithms, and many other areas began to take shape, assisting and creating new building blocks that lead to the great Islamic civilisations that followed.

Before examples are provided of the Quran promoting creativity, it is important to first examine an unsupported supposition amongst many Muslims. Muslims believe that Allah is the creator of the universe, therefore a question sometimes arises that can the word ‘to create’ or the Arabic word ‘khalq’ be used in reference to human beings. It is a consensus (Ijma) amongst the Scholars that Allah is the creator of all creation but it is sometimes debated whether can Muslims or people be referred to as a creator? The Quran uses the word ‘khalq’ when addressing and referring to the people, it states: ‘You only worship idols besides Allah and you create (khalq) a lie.’ [6]. This is clear evidence that the Arabic word ‘khalq’ can be used in reference to human invention and creativity as Allah has used it to highlight the lies created.

Another example, where Allah describes his creativity and also identifies creativity of the people in the Quran, is in the verse: ‘Then we made the seed a clot, then we made the clot a lump of flesh, then we made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then we clothed the bones with flesh, then we caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators’ [7]. The verse ends with ‘so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators’, firstly, this confirms that Allah is the best of creators as He has created from nothingness. Secondly, Allah confirms that He is not the only creator, but He is the best. Thirdly, as for human beings, Allah states He is the best, therefore, if human beings create or are creative then that is acceptable in Islam as they can never be better than Allah for what He has created. Fourthly, Allah accepts that creativity or creation by human beings will be limited to their needs and intellect, as the above verse relating to the creation of a human being by Allah, can only vest in Allah as He has the intelligence, creativity and power to be that creative. It appears by this verse that Allah sets the creativity framework in Islam by acknowledging that He is ‘the best of the creators’ He is acknowledging that there will be creative thinkers and creators less blessed than Allah who will also create and be creative and innovative.

The Quranis seen as a creative miracle as it holds accounts of the past and the future and cannot be duplicated by human beings. Allah, knowing this, provides three creative challenges to all of creation including the Muslims to display creative intellect. In the first challenge He states: ‘Say: ‘If all mankind and the jinn3would come together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce its like even though they exerted all and their strength in aiding one another’ [8]. There is also the verse: ‘Knowing that they have failed in their creativity, He challenges them again to become creative by issuing a second challenge He states:‘Or do they say that he has invented it? Say (to them), ‘Bring ten invented chapters like it, and call (for help) on whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful’[9]. Also, ‘The humans and Jinns, unable to successfully complete the creative task of providing 10 Chapters, Allah further challenges them lowering the degree of the challenge to a single chapter only where He states: ‘And if you all are in doubt about what I have revealed to My servant, bring a single chapter4like it, and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful’ [10].

Allah in His three challenges challenged the whole of creation to create a chapter as He has done in the Quran. Allah’s challenge was also towards those that spoke Arabic eloquently and they too after attempting to draft a chapter of the Quran were unable to successfully produce a chapter like that in the Quran. This is an example of Islam promoting creativity and asking people to become creative and innovators and even asking the whole creation to team up together to challenge Islam. This very challenge threatens the very fabric of Islamic existence but still remains today open to the whole of mankind to participate in.

2.2 Creativity and innovation: the sunnah of prophet Muhammad (pbuH)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuH) understood that all answers can be obtained from the Quran and that if any matters required clarification, then Muslims could go to Islamic scholars who are learned in the Quran, Ahadith, and Sunnah. The Prophet (pbuH) required Muslims to be learned and acquire knowledge throughout their lifetime. It is important to explain that many sects—including Salafi, Deobandi, and Wahabi—do not believe in Ahadith and Sunnah but rely solely on the Quran. They believe that any individual can translate the Quran. The Sunni, Sufi, Shia, and Berelvi sects believe the contrary. Such debates have led to segregation between the sects, causing difficulties for dialogue and rapport5 [11].

To provide an example, the Prophet (pbuH) states: ‘O Abu Huraira! I have thought that none will ask me about it before you as I know your longing for the (learning of) Ahadiths.’ [12]. It was reported in the same Hadiththat Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote to Abu Bakr bin Hazm who stated ‘Look for the knowledge of hadith and get it’ written, as I am afraid that religious knowledge will vanish and the religious learned men will pass away (die)…

Scholars at the time of the Prophet pbuH were afraid that there may be a dispute about the reliance on the Ahadithand for that reason asked for the Ahadithto be written so that it may never be forgotten. As the Prophet pbuH Himself highlighted the learning of the Ahadithsand di not object to learning them qualifies a Muslim to rely upon them for guidance. This same understanding can be applied to all Ahadiths.

In relation to the Sunnah, the Quran states: ‘Your companion (Muhammad) is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he speak of his own desire. It is (only) the revelation with which he is inspired’ [13]. Therefore, Muslims are required to believe that the Quranand Sunnah6 go hand in hand together as their sources of legislated law. The confusion between the sects relation to Ahadithand Sunnahis just a misunderstanding.

To understand the importance of knowledge in Islam from which creativity is derived, it is important to examine the first revelation to Prophet pbuH which was: ‘Read in the name of your Lord Who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Most Honourable, Who taught (to write) with the pen. Taught man what he knew not.’ [14].

This is a very important revelation as the first revelation in Islam is asking the Prophet (pbuH) to read. By reading this revelation the reader would understand, by understanding the reader would gain knowledge and by gaining knowledge the reader would bring about new ideas and creativity. Allah is then saying ‘He created man from a clot’, ‘Who taught (to write) with the pen’ and ‘Taught man what he knew not’, this is very important as Allah is telling the Prophet (pbuH) His creative nature. He is telling the Prophet (pbuH) that He taught man and provided knowledge and creativity to man as ‘pen’ is a creative idea.

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3. Questions and responses from the seven sects relating to the questions asked

The participants from the Seven Sects were asked the following semi-structured questions:

  1. In Islam, what is creativity?

  2. Do different traditions have different perceptions of creativity in Islam?

  3. Does Islam promote creativity?

  4. How do you view creativity?

  5. Does Islam limit creativity?

  6. Does Islamic Law block the expansion of creativity in Islam due to its stringent rules on ethics?

  7. Do you believe Islam should have a greater contribution to creativity?

  8. What is the process of determining creativity in Islam in the absence of any guidelines that one can follow?

  9. What would you say has been the biggest prevention in the rise of Islamic creativity?

SectResponse to Question 1Response to Question 2Response to Question 3Response to Question 4Response to Question 5Response to Question 6Response to Question 7Response to Question 8Response to Question 9
1SunniIn Islam, creativity (bida’h) is to create and Islam is not against it.There are limitations on creativity definition, some people have a complete ban. There is a good innovation and then there is also bad innovation. Good innovation is something good that does not contradict with Islam. The bad is that contradicts Islam. We do not see anything that would complete stop creativity. Or else in the Quran, which came after such as the pulpit in the Mosque, something that is not against Islam, you cannot say anything against it. If Islam was against innovation then things that have been derived would not have been done. Islam does not ban creativity.Yes, Islam states things that are not against Islam, and benefit people is fine. For example, the translation of the Quran, benefits people and does not go against Islam. There are some technologies that benefit people and Islam allows thatThe Quran allows creativity and we are not against itThere are limitations, just that rule or obligations of Islam is not contradicted then that cannot be agreed to If Allah and Prophet pbuH state that there are four rakat (stages) in a prayer and someone reads five, then they have gone against Islam and its rule. This will be rejected.No, absolutely does not block it, a person must follow the rules of Islam and Islam will not stop you. According to Islam, there are certain rules that allow and permit people to do certain things and it is not against IslamAbsolutely, I believe that in Islam the trouble started when people started to interpret innovation in a manner that prevented people to push forward for creativity… …Some people believe that they do not understand the limit of Islam and then they do not wish to cross that limit… Islam does not allow you to put your intelligence on the back foot, this is not acceptable in Islam. The Quran states: ‘Oh intelligent people the wisdom is for you…’ That is why the Quran has directed the intelligent people to seek knowledge. In other religions, the intelligence stopped when creativity stopped. I believe that a person in Deen (religion) will expand Deen by expanding Deen through creativity. Question: Deen and Bida’h are two different things: Answer: Yes, there are so many technologies that they benefit from. Now the news can travel faster, and people can travel faster, and that benefits people. When the loudspeaker was introduced, people placed a fatwa on it, whenever a new thing appears, some people attempt to discredit it by labelling it wrong. Allah has given intelligence so that people can understand and be responsible and be knowledgeableThere are rules in Islam such as permissible, obligatory, unlawful etc… A person must contact an Ulema for this. If you do not know if something is good or bad, or permitted or not permitted then an Ulema can tell you. But if something is against Islam then no that is not permittedIn every society, there are people that are against creativity and knowledge. In Islam, there are these hardliner people, and these people start placing fatwa on people. Then research will be stopped as a result of this. The authentic Ulema should only decide and the hardliner people should not listen to.
2ShiaIn Islam, where there is ignorance then there will be concerns and there will be rejection. It does not mean that thing does not exist. I do not know medicine but I cannot deny its existence. After Ibn Hasina etc, for 500 years they have been creative and after that, they have not done anything practical.[no response]Yes, Islam has asked Muslims to obtain knowledge even if you have to China. The word China was never said by the Prophet pbuH but knowledge was important and people just accepted that was said as it was good to obtain knowledge.It was discussed that how is it that we can obtain knowledge from a religion that is not Islam, it was said that you (Muslims) have a right over knowledge so should.Islam is creative as it mentions test-tube babies and the internet in the Quran.Islam has not provided people with freedom but rather has asked them to remain within guidelines.Islam has rules, Islam does not prevent from spending money but not on yourself, Islam does not prevent you from ownership, but stops you from taking someone else’s, Islam does not stop you from eating well but stops you from kicking a hungry person away. In Islam, there are rules that must be followed for the benefit of you and the people…Islam has not provided people with freedom but rather has asked them to remain within guidelines.The biggest thing is the intention of creating, secondly Islam has not provided people with freedom but rather has asked them to remain within guidelines. It is the intention and that creation how it benefits the people, and looking at all this then a conclusion can be reached.There is a concern, that Muslims have not contributed… It is because Islam wants Muslims to follow it and Muslims want Islam to follow them…
Muslims see Islam as a commodity that they can mould to their satisfaction.
If Muslims want to achieve success and creativity then they need the Quran and the knowledge of the Ahl Ul Bayt and… after that… even if Muslims wanted to step on the surface of the sun they would find a way to do so.
3WahabbiThe answer to this is the Hadith of the Prophet pbuH who states: ‘He who innovates, or creates or brings into Deen (Islam) and that thing is not part of the Deen, that thing will be rejected’. So anything which Prophet pbuH did not teach or did not practice or anything the Sahabah, the Companions (of the Prophet pbuH) never understood as Deen and also the students of the Sahabah, those that came after them and what they class as out of Deen is classed as bida’h. The three generations that we talk about… anything to do with Deen was present in these three times that will be classed as-Sunnah and contrary to that will be bidah, something new to Islam.Others… will see bida’h with a different point of view… Others (Salafi)… will see practices of sects as bida’hIn terms of Deen no, things which are already set for us, we have to follow them, in terms of creativity in terms of duniyah (world) and we create things in this world, that we have to make sure we remain in the guidelines of IslamA lot of people have a misunderstanding that means the cars we drive… the houses we live in… the planes we travel in are also bidah… these things were not present during the great era of Sahabah. In the Hadith, it states: ‘He, who innovates in this matter of Deen’… anything to do with worldly things… there is no stoppage to that. The Prophet pbuH states that ‘all bida’h is misguided’ and will lead you astray and will not keep you on the right path.Creativity, innovation or bida’h has no place in Islam. Deen is complete and there is no room that we can start saying that we can start bringing this thing into Islam or that thing into Islam, Islam does not allow that.You need to ask a MuftiIn terms of duniya, the West has exceeded in science and technology and definitely Muslims, must make sure they remain in the guidelines of Quran and Sunnah, must contribute…Within Muslim groups there are certain scholars and certain Ulema’s will sit down and assess a situation or … a product and then will make a judgement and say this complies with Quran, Sunnah or Shariah, or if it does not comply… they will say this thing is wrong or haram…
On a world level, scholars… get together and discuss issues… and accordingly, they will pass their judgements…
Back in the days, when Islam was one unit, the government was run through the Islamic jurisprudence, the Quran and Sunnah, and they fund Scholars and they will do their researches. The whole idea was to benefit mankind and humanity, since this is not the case and has not been the case for several centuries… greed has crept into…gone away from the Deen and Islam, the true teachings of Prophet pbuH… Therefore, anything that we do we do not look at it from a universal point of view and we have gone away from the Deen and the love of the duniyah has come into our hearts so that has stopped us from creativity.
4DeobandiImam Nawani says something that was not in the time of Prophet pbuH is bida’h.
Whatever was not in the time of the Prophet pbuH is bida’h (bad bida’h).
Question: Celebrating the birth of the Prophet pbuH what category would that fall in?
Answer: If it was celebrated in those times by the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet pbuH) then yes.
Yes everyone has their own different opinions regarding bida’h.There are two types of bidah, the good bida’h and bad bida’h.I go along with the view of my teachers.Islam limits, there is good bida’h and bad bidah which must fall into seven categories, permitted, obligatory, recommended, unlawful…NoI do not know the answer to thisThere are seven types as I have said, you have to view it under that, is it permitted, obligatory, recommended, unlawful… You have to view it under those categoriesIt is not the religion itself, it is probably the people.
5BarelviBida’h means, it has come from the word badah which means something new and innovative. According to many Ulemas something not in the time of Prophet pbuH.There is one interpretation… but different schools of thought have taken control of this issue from different angles… not every innovation is bad… in Bukhari… every bidah is misguidance and… leads to hell-fire.
The collection of Hadith… was not at the time of Prophet pbuH.
… Is Sahih Al Bukhari a good bidah or bad bidah? … People are acting on it and successfully practising Islam… There are some schools of thoughts that say all bidah is bad bidah.
… Our pious predecessors have given us… what good and bad bidah is…
Everything is allowed unless proven wrong…
If in Islam something wrong and Islam will not praise
I personally view bidah as seeing something and seeing what Islam says about it, is it good for me… Does it take me closer to Allah…to Prophet pbuH and does not have any physical and spiritual harm then we will promote that…if there is no Quranic injunction against it or any injunction against Hadith against it then we will promote it.
If there is solid proof or Quranic or injunction or from hadith then we will reject it…
In Islam, Islam does not basically block bidah… Islam is a Deen, a religion that has come for all times, so it means that after 20 30 40 50 years new things will take place… and if they are beneficial to the Muslim for example the iPhone, people can read the Quran on it… even those that say bidah is wrong they even use iphone as well.
Islam will only block the expansion of bidah if it seems this bidah is taking people away from the right path.
Islam does have a great contribution to bidah. There are many things that Islam allows us to do, for example, the carpet infront of us, it has prayer marks on it, it wasn’t at the time of the Prophet pbuH, but we have the marks to tell me where they need to stand for prayer and the space they have.
If this form of bidah carries on… it will be allowed
All the work that needed to be done has been done by the pious predecessors and the Ulema. People need to look at their life… all the groundwork has been done…
Acknowledging the works of… Imam Nawani (ra) Imam Tabrezi (ra)… great men who worked in the field… if we do not acknowledge that work and do not rely upon their trust and on their hard work then we will be misguided.
Our pious predecessors Allah has given them much more… than this generation… every time and every era were much closer to the time of the Prophet pbuH and is better than the time coming after it.
… people undermining… the Ulema
The biggest prevention… in creativity… is lack of knowledge in the minds of the people and they need to be taught and they can only be taught if they have interest…
The other thing that is blocking creativity is where we have small groups of self styled scholars, self styled Imams, self styled teachers, can speak good English… get on the media… and think he can speak Islam… but have no authenticity… they are extreme people have extreme mind and they always say we stick to what was in the times of the Prophet pbuH and everything after that is haram and they are the biggest hindrance and the Prophet pbuH came to make the world creative… but people have become ignorant… to the true teachings of Islam
6SalafiAllah has completed the religion and chosen Islam for you. Islam cannot create something as it states that ‘if it’s not in my way it is rejected’. There are two types of bida’h, the good bida’h and bida’h according to Shariah LawYes—some practice ShirkPeople create bida’h Islam does notBida’h is to bring something new to Shariah from Islam. People do not know its bida’h they think it is true or else they will not do bida’h.
Something new that was not there before
In its entirety. If ‘it’s not of my way its rejected’Everything in worldly life is permissible unless we have [sacred] text to prohibit it e.g. alcoholYes it is permissible, there should be engineers and scientistsIf its haram or halal. If you create perfume then it’s okay, if you create alcohol then no.All good comes from practising religion—Muslims have left practising
7SufiThere are two definitions, one is anything new that was not there in the past, second is in the quran and Sunnah and complies with itThere are different explanations, but the definition is the same…
There has been development in Islam and that is bida’h, e.g. the form of the Quran was not there before, and that is being read by Shia, Salafi…
There has been a great development in the grammar of Arabic that is bida’h, that is a development and that is good bida’h. Also, a watch, that was not there in the past. Also, prayer timetable in your mobile phone, the way you live that is a development.
However, at weddings, the way we do weddings that is a development…
The use of loudspeaker and radio that is a good development, a good bida’h…
In the past people were fighting with swords and arrows and now there are bombs… This is a development…
There are two types, one is the one that is against Quran and Sunnah, that is forbidden…
There are certain sects that are bida’h and it is haram (unlawful)
There is bida’h hasnah (good bidah) such as prayers, celebrating the birth of the Prophet pbuH… prayers of ramzan… Reading behind the Imam… This is good bida’h
There are two definitions, one is anything new that was not there in the past, second is in the quran and Sunnah and complies with itNo, if it is Sunnah and Quran then it is a good thing…No, if it is Sunnah and Quran then it is a good thing… If there is no proof then that is Bidah Seeyah (forbidden bida’h) and the Prophet pbuH said that person will enter hell-fire…
… The way we celebrate weddings with music and dancing that is wrong…
A good development according to Quran and Sunnah such as heart surgery
There should substantial contributions… Some have made watches… Ibn Hasina [expert in eye operations]… Muslims have done great developmentsHas to be according to Quran, Sunnah and HadithWe have become lazy, we have started fighting between ourself… If I am doing a good job, the other person will say that is bad bida’h to stop me from doing it even though he himself is doing it…
There is a lot of advancement and Muslims should be part of it… some developments have to be seen if that is according to Quran and Sunnah… and if we advance then that is good bida’h

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4. Analysis and interpretation

This study examined how the Seven Sect Islam assesses creativity. Seven interviews were carried out with ulemasfrom seven different sects: Imam Nasar (Sunni), Imam Alvi (Shia), Imam Chisti (Barelvi), Imam Rasab (Sufi), Imam Dawud (Salafi), Imam Younas (Wahabi), and Imam Huzayf (Deobandi).

Islam is a religion that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad pbuH that incentivised the seeking of any knowledge for its believers [10]. It is important to note that Islam views knowledge as a base of human intelligence and creativity as a branch of that intelligence. Therefore when Islam refers to knowledge it is sometimes referring to creativity too. In the pursuit of any knowledge, Islam provides rewards in the hereafter to Muslims for any knowledge gained in this world. Islam incentivises the thought process of creativity, the journey and the destination of accumulating knowledge and creativity and those rewards are rewarded separately at each stage. Islam makes it lucrative for Muslims to seek any knowledge and as the Prophet pbuH states: ‘The best of people are those that bring the most benefit to the rest of mankind’ [15].

Islam leads Muslims to question not only the existence of man but also the creation of mountains, trees, space and so forth [16]. Islam holds itself out to be questioned so that through such questioning knowledge can be gained progressing to the creation of theories and leading to creativity. Islam openly challenges its followers and non-believers to creativity even at the threat of its own existence [8, 10]. Islam uses itself as a mechanism, providing a platform to Muslims to bounce ideas against and advancing ones understanding and mind to grasp what Allah has created, why it was created and the open challenge by Allah to mankind to do better than what He has done [8, 10, 12, 17].

As a universal religion, Islam places great importance on creativity and innovation to create an Ummatan Wasatana ‘Middle Ummah’, a balanced society that avoids extravagances making it a practical and fair religion that is in the middle path avoiding the extremes and excesses. Islam requires its followers to be moderated on belief (Aqidah), in acts of worship (Ibadah), in their understanding of Islamic Law (Shariah Law) and morals and manners (Akhlaq). By being moderate it will allow the Muslims to see the liberal side of society and the extreme side of society making it a fair religion that is able to view the whole of society and its creativity will then assist the whole of society too.

However, despite Islam seeking to create a ‘Middle Ummah’, Muslims have been faced with great difficulties due to religious interpretations of the terms bid’ah(innovation) and ijtihad(critical legal thinking) and the application of these processes. Many Islamic sects use terms: bid’ah, ijtihad, kufr(disbelief or denial) and shirk(avoid or neglect in the Oneness of Allah) to counter opposing views when the topic of creativity or innovation arises.

From the interviews, all informants understood what bida’hmeant in Islam. Imam Nasar (Sunni) explained that the definition of bida’hmeans to create and Islam is not against bida’h. Imam Alvi (Shia) highlighted that just because bida’hhas controversy surrounding it, it does not mean it does not exist in Islam. He indicated that Muslims are not implementing bida’h. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) provided an interpretation that the word bida’hcomes from the word badah, which means something new in Islam. Imam Rasab (Sufi) similarly to Imam Chisti (Barelvi) explained that it is something new. Imam Dawud (Salafi) provided his interpretation of bida’hwhich is what was accepted at the time of the Prophet pbuH. He explained that there is good bida’hand bad bida’h. Imam Younas (Wahabi) explained that it is something new to Islam. Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) described that bida’his what was not at the time of the Prophet pbuH. Imam Dawud (Salafi) and Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) responses placed a negative outlook upon their understanding of bida’has times have since changed from the Prophet pbuH’s time.

4.1 Islam promoting creativity

On the question of Islam promoting creativity, Imam Nasar (Sunni) explained that Islam does promote creativity but only those things that are not against Islam. He provided an example that the translation of the Quran was a new creative idea after the demise of the Prophet pbuH. He stated that this benefits people and does not go against Islam. He also stated that some technologies that benefit people are allowed under Islam. Imam Alvi (Shia) agreed that Islam promotes creativity. He explained that Islam has asked Muslims to obtain knowledge even if you have to go to China. He explained that the word ‘China’ was never said by the Prophet pbuH but knowledge was so important and people just accepted that He pbuH had said it as it was good to obtain knowledge. He described that currently, people may feel that to be creative, one must obtain Western knowledge or from people that follow a different religion than Islam. He provided a response to that and said that Muslims have a right over knowledge so they should go where knowledge is even to other religions. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) believes that Islam allows all forms of creativity unless particular creativity is wrong. He highlighted that if Islam views something as wrong that thing will not be praised. Imam Rasab (Sufi) emphasised that Islam promoted creativity and it is divided into two categories: the good and bad bid’ah.

Imam Dawud (Salafi) explained that people create bida’hIslam does not. Imam Younas (Wahabi) explained In terms of deen(Islam) there is no creativity, things which are already set for us, we have to follow them, in terms of creativity in terms of duniyah(world) and we create things in this world, but we have to make sure we remain in the guidelines of Islam. Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) similarly to Imam Rasab described that there are two types of bidah, the good bid’ahand bad bida’h. Imam Dawud (Salafi) comments regarding the promoting of creativity vesting with humans and not Islam creates the possibility that Salafi may have negative reflections upon what bida’his as Islam promotes creativity.

4.2 Differing perceptions of creativity in Islam

The Quranhas acknowledged that human beings are able to create (khalq) [6] and be inventive. The Prophet pbuH also understood that to obtain creativity a Muslim has to gain knowledge and through knowledge, a Muslim would obtain a creative imagination (khayal). A Muslim imagination cannot become an automatic creation, therefore, his creative ideas are always within the confinement of Islam even at the very beginning. The Quran states: ‘Allah will raise in rank those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge’ [18]. The Prophet pbuH states: ‘The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim’ [19] and further stating: ‘One who treads a path in search of knowledge has his path to Paradise made easy by God…’ [20]. The Prophet pbuH is clearly indicating that knowledge is very important for Muslims and telling them that if you go in search of knowledge then their path to paradise will be made easy. This Ahadithdoes not state, you will achieve the knowledge that you set out to gain, but only that you will be rewarded on deciding to go to seek knowledge. This is important as the Prophet pbuH is incentivising the journey to knowledge, not the destination, as not all knowledge leads to creativity.

Despite having such clear direction from the Quranand the Hadith, Muslims remain absent from seeking knowledge that may lead to creativity and innovation due to numerous interpretations of the Quran, Hadithand Sunnah. Sects including Salafi, Deobandiand Wahabihave certain reservations with the Ahadithsand Sunnahbut rely solely on the Quran, which they interpret themselves. They believe that any individual is capable of translating the Quran. The Sunnis, Shia, Sufiand Barelvisects believe the contrary and rely on the Ahadithand Sunnahto interpret the Quran[11].

On the question of there being different perceptions of bida’hin Islam, Imam Nasar (Sunni) explained that some people have a complete ban on bida’h. He explained that in the Sunni sect, there are limitations on creativity definition but never a complete ban. He indicated that if Islam was against innovation then things that have been derived from Islam and Islam would not have been successful. He suggested that Islam does not ban creativity but seeks its progression.

Imam Chisti (Barelvi) explained that there is one interpretation but different schools of thought have taken control of this issue from different angles. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) suggested that due to this control Muslims are not able to be creative. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) in his response to those that attempt to control the explanations of bida’h provided an example of Sahih Al Bukhari a collection of Ahadiths; he asked if they were a good thing or a bad thing as they came after the time of the Prophet (pbuH).

Imam Rasab (Sufi) said that there are different explanations, but the definition is the same. He provided his own examples of Arabic grammar, the book version of the Quran, prayer timetable and even the mobile phone. He said that these developments are a benefit and accepted in Islam. Imam Dawud (Salafi) response was that there are different perceptions of bida’hin Islam and that some practised shirk. Imam Dawud (Salafi) comments emphasise that some sects fall outside the limits Islam has set.

Imam Younas (Wahabi) and Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) both agreed with Imam Chisti (Barelvi) that there is one interpretation but different meanings. There are many different interpretations of the Quranand Hadithrelating to bida’h, but Allah states that: ‘And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers - We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination’ [21]. Allah is giving a warning that if any believer separates from the Prophet pbuH guidance, which includes the Prophet pbuH’s guidance on bid’ahthen his abode will be hell. Despite this clear warning, many Muslim Ulemasspecifically in Salafi, Deobandiand Wahabitake the literal meaning of the Hadith: ‘The most evil affairs are the innovations (bida), and every innovation (bida) is an error’ [22]. These sects have reservations about Hadithsdue to the word Hadithnot appearing in the Quran, and their position becomes contradictory as they rely upon a Hadithdespite having reservations about their authenticity as a source of guidance. However, Sunni, Shia, Sufiand Barelviare more open to the idea of relying on Ahadith[23] and despite the word Ahadithnot appearing in the Quran, they believe that Hadithis the guidance from the Prophet pbuH and that is what Allah refers to when He states: ‘And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear…’.

In relation to the Sunnah, the Quran states: ‘Your companion (Muhammad) is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he speak of his own desire. It is (only) the revelation with which he is inspired’ [13]. Therefore Muslims are required to believe that the Quran, the Ahadithand Sunnahgo hand in hand together as sources of law.

4.3 Each sect own view of creativity

Imam Nasar (Sunni), Imam Alvi (Shia), Imam Chisti (Barelvi) and Imam Rasab (Sufi) all agree that creativity is a necessity. Imam Dawud (Salafi) believed that bida’his wrong or else people will not be doing it but did not provide any further response. Imam Younas (Wahabi) believed that there is a misunderstanding amongst people as to what it means but indicated towards the practices of the Prophet pbuH, and Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) believed that he has been taught by his teacher is correct and did not wish to provide his opinion.

The Prophet (pbuH) states: ‘The best speech is that which is embodied in the Book of Allah, the Al Quran; and the best guidance is the guidance given by me, Mohamed. The most evil affairs are the innovations (bid’ah), and every innovation (bid’ah) is an error’ [24]. This is where the confusion stems between the Muslims. The reference to bid’ahin this Ahadithhere is relating to the creation of statements that oppose what has already been clarified in the Quran and the guidance provided by the Prophet pbuH, therefore, it is permissible to innovate that, which benefits the religion and are compliant with Sharia Law.

4.4 Islam limiting creativity

On the question of Islam limiting creativity, Imam Nasar (Sunni) believes that there are limitations on creativity, which is for a Muslim to comply with the rule or obligations of Islam and that the creativity should not contradict Islamic principles or else it will be rejected. Imam Alvi (Shia) stated that Islam has not provided people with freedom but rather has asked them to remain within guidelines and that they should be within the Islamic guidelines. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) explained that if there is no Quranicinjunction against it or any injunction against it, or there is no Hadithagainst it then Islam will promote that creativity. However, he explained that if there is solid proof or Quranicinjunction or creativity goes against the hadiththen Islam will reject that creative idea.

Imam Rasab (Sufi) explained that if Sunnahand Quranare complied with then it is good bida’hand Islam will not restrict it. Imam Dawud (Salafi) explained that Islam rejects bida’hin its entirety. He explained that Prophet (pbuH) stated that if it is not of my way then it is rejected.

Imam Younas (Wahabi) explained that there is a complete ban on creativity, innovation or bida’hand it has no place in Islam. He stated that Islam is complete and there is no room that Muslims can start saying that new innovations will be brought about within Islam. Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) stated that Islam does limit creativity but as there is good bid’ahand bad bida’hit must fall into the categories set out in Shariah Lawsuch as permitted, obligatory, recommended, unlawful and offensive/disliked.

However, the Prophet (pbuH) states: ‘If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected’ [25]. Therefore, the Prophet pbuH permitted bid’ah, but only opposed it when it was not in harmony with Islam. Furthermore, this Ahadithconfirms that introduction of new innovations or ideas are welcomed if they were in conformity with Islamic principles and beliefs. At the time of the Prophet (pbuH), there were many new inventions and innovations, therefore, the issue surrounding bida’hmust only refer to religion and religious practices, not inventions and creative ideas that do not change the Islamic principles.

Bid’ahonly has any legal standing if it complies with Shariah Lawand the Sunnahof the Prophet (pbuH). Bid’ahis being used as a tool to prevent free-thinking of ideas, which affects and withers away the critical legal thinking (ijtihad) process of the Muslims due to the substantial opposition to those that commit good bid’ah.

In response to those that oppose good bid’ah, the following Hadithstates: ‘He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without theirs being diminished in any respect’ [26]. Sects, such as Deobandi, Salafiand Wahabiprovide limitations that go far beyond the required limitations required by Islam, preventing their followers from being creative by propagating the understanding that innovation is wrong. Sunni, Shia, Barelviand Sufiare utilising this Hadithto spread and promote creativity in Islam.

The difficulties due to religious interpretations or applications of bid’ah, qiyas, [27] ijtihad, kufrand shirkwhen addressing the topic of creativity or innovation are based upon peer pressure, ignorance, lack of knowledge in Islamic teachings which leads to a schism preventing an ijmato finally put these matters to rest. However, in the absence of an ijma, Muslims are to only look at the inventions and creative thoughts of the Muslims that have had a positive impact on the Western civilisation [4] to reach a conclusion that Islam does not prevent or limit creativity.

4.5 Islamic law (Shariah Law) and creativity in Islam

On the question of Shariah Law blocking creativity due to its ethics, Imam Nasar (Sunni) disagreed that Shariah Lawblocked creativity. He stated that if a Muslim needs to follow the rules of Islam and Islam will not stop you. He explained that there are certain rules that allow and permit people to do certain things and which are not against Islam. Imam Alvi (Shia) stated that Islam has rules and these rules that must be followed and if they benefit you and people then Shariah Lawwill not block it.

Imam Chisti (Barelvi) explained that Islam does not basically block bid’ah, and if that bid’ahis beneficial to the Muslims then Shariah Lawwill not stand in your way. Shariah Lawwill only block the expansion of bida’hif it seems that the bida’his taking people away from the right path. Imam Rasab (Sufi) explained that Shariah Lawdoes not block bida’hif it is in agreement with the Quran and the Sunnah and if it is a good thing. There are guidelines that need to be followed to be in compliance with Shariah Law.

Imam Dawud (Salafi) explained that everything in worldly life is permissible unless we have sacred text prohibiting it. Imam Younas (Wahabi) proposed that a Mufti be approached to seek an answer to this question and Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) said Shariah Lawdoes not block bida’hand explained the need to look at the categories of Shariah Lawto seek compliance with it.

However, these interpretations prevent an open dialogue about creativity in the Islamic world. The importance of Quranicexegesis, Hadithand jurisprudence (fiqh) are important when addressing Shariah Lawbut for any argument to be valid in Islam it must have the backing of, and be in compliant with Shariah Lawand the Sunnahor else the interpretation has no validity.

An Islamic ruling under Shariah Lawagainst al-ʾaḥkām al-khamsa(the five status), which form part of fiqhwhen deciding bida’hdiscovered that Islam does not prevent innovations unless it attempts to change the religious ideology or religious framework that covers the principles of Islam as then that would be unlawful. The al-ʾaḥkām al-khamsaunder Shariah Lawis: obligatory, recommended, unlawful, offensive/disliked, and permissible. Out of the ‘five status’, only ‘unlawful’ status prevents certain bida’hfrom taking place that is against the Islamic principles. As a result, the Muslims are able to validate their creative ideas and innovations from the four remaining statuses in Islam. Shariah Lawpropagates Al-tafkir al-ibda’l(Creative Thinking) by making it a law upon all Muslims to be creative thinkers.

The literal meaning of the Hadith: ‘Every Bidah is misguidance and every path of misguidance goes to hell’ [28] in light of the verse of the Quran: ‘This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion’ [17] does not conform to this Quranicverse as it raises the question as to why Allah would prevent Muslims from being creative or being intellectually advance when He Himself has provided examples of His brilliance and then challenged the Muslims to create as He has and then incentivises them to do so [7, 29, 30, 31].

4.6 Islamic contribution to creativity

It has been a challenging time for Ulemas, who have attempted to bring the legal process in Shariah Lawmore close to the social norms in our society. As a result of the differing interpretations between sects, there is a substantial misinterpretation of the Quranand the Hadithsurrounding bid’ahresulting in the reduction of creativity in Islam. The Ulemasin different sects have to guide and provide a balance between religion and worldly affairs, and it is this difficulty and possible fear that may have led Ulemasto interpret all creativity and innovation as bid’ah. The Hadithstates: ‘Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets’ therefore, the Ulemasare the inheritors from Prophet Muhammad (pbuH). This is a great responsibility and many Islamic Ulemasare too fearful to make a mistake resulting in the notion that it is safer not to do something than to do it thereby depicting that Islam is limiting innovation when it is really some Ulemasfear of the responsibility that they carry.

All informants, except for Imam Huzayf (Deobandi), believed that Islam or more specifically Muslims should have a greater contribution to creativity as Islam permits creativity. Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) did not have a response to this question.

All informants believed that if bid’ahlooked to change the principles of Islam then that bid’ahwill be rejected, but if the bid’ahlooked to benefit the world having no direct changes to Islamic principles then that bid’ahwill be accepted.

The Hadith states: ‘If a question relates to your worldly matters you would know better about it, but if it relates to your religion then to me it belongs’ [32]. The Prophet (pbuH) has confirmed that the Muslims know better when it comes to their worldly affairs, which include necessities and through necessities comes creativity and innovation. The Prophet (pbuH) has confirmed that bid’ah is permissible in Islam, and He (pbuH) has also confirmed that it is up to the Muslim to decide his worldly affairs. Therefore, if the Ulemas and their congregations decide that they will not be creative or innovative then that is a choice that they have made as Shariah Law does restrict innovation but limits its function to avoid unlawfulness. Other than that, Shariah Law is not an obstacle to creativity but makes it an obligation to participate in creativity and innovation to assist Islam.

4.7 Prevention of creativity in Islam

There are political, financial and international obstacles leading to environmental effects that prevent the rise of Islamic creativity. Imam Nasar (Sunni) stated that in every society, there are people that are against creativity and knowledge. In Islam, there are these ‘hardliner’ people, and these people start placing fatwa(decree) on people resulting in creative research being stopped. The authentic Ulemashould only decide and the ‘hardliner’ people should not be listened to.

Imam Alvi (Shia) stated that Muslims have not contributed to creativity, for some time, it is because Islam wants Muslims to follow it, and Muslims want Islam to follow them which leads to misunderstanding and stagnation of creativity. He stated that Muslims see Islam as a commodity that they can mould to their satisfaction. He explained that if Muslims want to achieve success and creativity then they need the Quranand the knowledge and guidance of the Ulema. Imam Chisti (Barelvi) stated that the biggest prevention in creativity is lack of knowledge in the minds of the people. He highlighted that Muslims lack interest.

The other thing that is blocking creativity according to Imam Chisti (Beralvi) is small groups of self-styled scholars, self-styled Imams and self-styled teachers, who can speak good English but have no authenticity and misinterpret Islam. Imam Rasab (Sufi) stated that Muslims have become lazy and have started fighting between themselves. He explained that if a particular Muslim is doing a good job, the other person will say that is bad bida’hto stop him from doing it even though he himself may be doing it.

Imam Dawud (Salafi) stated that all good comes from practising religion and Muslims have left practising. Imam Younas (Wahabi) believes that the whole idea was to benefit mankind and humanity, since this is not the case anymore and has not been the case for several centuries, greed has crept in and Muslims have gone away from their religion. Imam Huzayf (Deobandi) stated it is not the religion itself, it is probably the Muslims that are the prevention to creativity.

4.8 Mechanisms needed to assess creativity in Islam

All informants believed that the guidelines to follow when addressing creativity in Islam must include either all or some of the following stages: the intention (of the creator), the Quran, the Sunnah, the Hadith, Shariah Lawand the Ulema.

This study provides an Islamic Creativity Framework with reliance on the Quran, Hadithand the Sunnah, which embeds authority in Islam and provides clear guidance and direction to Muslims to be creative. Abd-Allah in his study ‘Innovation and Creativity in Islam’ [33] does not provide a methodology in assessing creativity in Islam but provides a methodology in promoting creativity. He also uses the methodology of ijtihad[33] to further the promotion of creativity in Islam but does not provide a connection or a process linking Ijtihadto the Quran, Sunnah, the Ahadithand Qiyas.

Similarly to Abd-Allah’s work Al-Karasneh and Jubran study of ‘Islamic Perspective of Creativity: A Model for Teachers of Social Studies as Leaders’ [34] use the content analysis approach of the Quran to determine a model for teachers in social studies as leaders. Al-Karasneh and Jubran do not propose an Islamic creative framework despite the Quran being an analysis of their research. Their methodology relies heavily upon the primary source in Islam which is the Quran. They confirm that there is not a developed Islamic methodology of creativity and possibly for this reason they have created a methodology to teach creativity in Islam.

Al-Karasneh and Jubran then rely upon ijtihad(and Shariah lawas a secondary source) as a good methodology in reaching creative ideas and new solutions. They then rely upon Quranicverses. The difficulty with their research is that some verses of the Qurancannot be taken in their literal form. The Quranrequires an interpretation that is found within the hadithand Sunnahand explained by Ulemas. Al-Karasneh and Jubran have not done this. They have attempted to translate the Quranwithout any authority and as a result, they have not actually explained anything as there is no interpretation to back up the verses of the Quranthat they have cited. This study has cited the Quranic verses and backed them up with Sunnahand Ahadiths.

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5. Conclusion

The Seven Sects each have their own interpretations of scriptures, whoever, what binds them is the similarities and not the differences. Unfortunately, the differences between them are what separate them, creating the possibility of further debate which exceeds the bounds of open dialogue and rather leads to some sects being neglectful of the other’s beliefs. What is apparent is that the Seven Sects do believe that creativity can be accepted but for some (Whabbi, Salafi and Deobandi) this is limited to what was acceptable in the 6th Century. Despite advancements in technology at the very least on a social level, it is difficult to accept that innovation can only be accepted to what was available in the sixth century. Sunni, Shia, Berelvi and Sufi have a contrary view that innovation is acceptable, provided it brings about good to a greater amount of people. Islamic creativity it appears, is accepted widely, but may be due to religious and political aspects there is influence on certain sects not to accept, what can be defined as a wider acceptance of Islamic creativity by its followers. The scope of this study does not extend further than this and further academic contribution will be required to answer such research questions.

References

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  6. 6. The Holy Quran 29:17
  7. 7. The Holy Quran 23:14
  8. 8. The Holy Quran 17:88
  9. 9. The Holy Quran 11:13
  10. 10. The Holy Quran 2:23
  11. 11. Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 3, Hadith No. 56 and 98
  12. 12. Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 3, Hadith No. 098
  13. 13. The Holy Quran 53:2-4
  14. 14. The Holy Quran 96:1-5
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  16. 16. The Holy Quran 18:22
  17. 17. The Holy Quran 6:125
  18. 18. The Holy Quran 58:11
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  20. 20. The Holy Quran 4:80
  21. 21. The Holy Quran 4:115
  22. 22. Sunan Al Tirmizi/Tirmidhi, Hadith Collection, Vol. 2. p. 39
  23. 23. The Holy Quran 4:136
  24. 24. Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 1885
  25. 25. Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 49, Hadith No. 861
  26. 26. Sahih Muslim, Book 34, Hadith No. 6466
  27. 27. Imam Ali bin Muhammad al-Aamadi, Al-Risalah, Kitab al-Risāla Fī Uṣūl al-Fiqh. p. 477
  28. 28. Wasail al shia, Vol. 11. p. 511
  29. 29. Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 422
  30. 30. Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith No. 1631
  31. 31. Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Book 19, Hadith No. 3634
  32. 32. Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 12086
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Notes

  • As a matter of openness and transparency, the author confirms that the research in this chapter from part of another chapter namely Islamic Creativity Framework [1] and such works have also been published with the same publisher. The previous works [1] focused on the Islamic Creativity Framework, but this chapter focuses only on the responses of the Seven Sects. This chapter includes new research and may have some repetition.
  • There are approximately 72 different Islamic followings and traditions, all with different interpretations of the Quran, Sunnah, and the Ahadith.
  • Jinn are the creation of Allah, made out of a smokeless flame, which exist alongside Muslims but cannot see the Jinn. The Jinn can see the human beings.
  • The smallest chapter in the Quran is Al-Kawthar, which consists of only three verses, Allah is challenging the whole of creation to be creative and create just three verses of the Quran.
  • For example, the Prophet (pbuH) states, “O Abu Huraira! I have thought that none will ask me about it before you as I know your longing for the (learning of) Ahadith” [11]. It was reported in the same hadith that Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote to Abu Bakr bin Hazm, who stated, “Look for the knowledge of hadith and get it written, as I am afraid that religious knowledge will vanish and the religious learned men will pass away (die)” [11].
  • The Sunnah is the primary source of law, legal ways, orders and acts of worships and statements of the Prophet pbuH that Muslims are to follow.

Written By

Cameron Iqbal

Submitted: December 4th, 2021 Reviewed: January 27th, 2022 Published: March 18th, 2022