Some thoughts on bid’ah and my travels as a Muslim

My trip to Cape Town this week proved to be more of a challenge than I expected. Maybe challenge is an overstatement. My usual routine when visiting our offices in Cape Town is to take a break around lunchtime, drive down to the local mosque and read my salaah for Dhuhr and Asr as is allowed for travellers, depending on which madhab you follow of course. Nonetheless, the issue of madhab is not what got me to change my routine. 

Given my recent insistence on following through on my principled objection to the inclusion of the moon and star on any place of worship, I realised as I drove past the mosque that it was also adorned with that pagan symbol, and so, sadly, the mosque that I enjoyed praying at before which is literally down the road from the office, suddenly became off limits to me. And so I had to return to my hotel room instead, and read my salaah in isolation. 

I need to take the time to prepare an informative poster/letter to the trustees of every mosque that has these symbols innocently embellishing the houses of Allah, so that instead of just turning away in disappointment, I might be able to get them to reconsider its inclusion in the designs of the mosques throughout South Africa, Insha-Allah. 

Change has to start somewhere, right? And despite my efforts to encourage more engagement on Tumblr around this issue, it seems that the pointless debates of Sunni versus Shia will dominate because it’s so much easier to demonstrate your prowess as an aspiring scholar. It reminds me of that old adage that we should sweep our own doorsteps before worrying about others. It’s easier to be distracted by issues external to our own homes than to have to actually acknowledge shortcomings in our own lives. 

Another point I was reminded of was the local Jamiat’s statement that this is not considered a bid’ah because its absence is not considered un-Islamic. If that be true as a definition of bid’ah, wouldn’t 99% of bid’ah that exists be classified in the same category and therefore be deemed acceptable?

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