Abdullah on Bid’ah: Rejection of apparently good or small innovations

Salamah al-Hamdani reported: We used to sit by the door of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, before dawn prayer. When he came out, we would walk with him to the mosque. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari came to us and he said to him, “O Abu Abdur Rahman, I recently saw something in the mosque that I detested and yet, praise be to Allah, I saw nothing but good.” Ibn Mas’ud said, “What was it?” Abu Musa said, “If you wait long enough, you will see it. I saw people sitting in the mosque in circles waiting for prayer. A man in each circle had pebbles and he would tell them to exalt Allah one hundred times and they would do so, then declare there is no God but Allah one hundred times and they would do so, then glorify Allah one hundred times and they would do so.” Ibn Mas’ud said, “What did you say to them?” Abu Musa said, “I did not say anything to them. I was waiting for your opinion or order.” Ibn Mas’ud said, “Would you not order them to count their sins and guarantee for them that their good deeds would not be wasted?” We went along with him until he reached one of these circles and he stood over it, saying, “What is this I see you doing?” They said, “O Abu Abdur Rahman, they are pebbles by which we count the exaltation of Allah, declaration of His oneness, and His glorification.” Ibn Mas’ud said, “Count your sins, for I guarantee that none of your good deeds will be wasted. Woe to you, nation of Muhammad! How quickly do you run to your destruction! Here are his companions, may Allah be pleased with them, numerous around you, these are his clothes yet to fade, these are his utensils yet to break. By the One in whose hand is my soul, perhaps you are upon a religion better guided than the religion of Muhammad? Or have you opened the door of misguidance?” They said, “By Allah, O Abu Abdur Rahman, we intended nothing but good.” Ibn Mas’ud said, “How many intend good but are not right! The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, informed us that people would recite the Quran and it would not reach beyond their throats. By Allah, I do not know that perhaps many of them are among you!” Then he turned away from them. ‘Amr ibn Salamah said, “We saw most of them in these circles attacking us on the day of Nahrawan with the Khawarij.”

Source: Musnad al-Dārimī 211

Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

عَنْ سَلَمَة الْهَمْدَانِيّ قَالَ كُنَّا نَجْلِسُ عَلَى بَابِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مَسْعُودٍ رضي الله عنه قَبْلَ صَلَاةِ الْغَدَاةِ فَإِذَا خَرَجَ مَشَيْنَا مَعَهُ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ فَجَاءَنَا أَبُو مُوسَى الأَشْعَرِيُّ فَقَالَ لَهُ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ آنِفاً أَمْراً أَنْكَرْتُهُ وَلَمْ أَرَ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ إِلَاّ خَيْراً قَالَ فَمَا هُوَ فَقَالَ إِنْ عِشْتَ فَسَتَرَاهُ قَالَ رَأَيْتُ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ قَوْماً حِلَقاً جُلُوساً يَنْتَظِرُونَ الصَّلَاةَ فِي كُلِّ حَلْقَةٍ رَجُلٌ وَفي أَيْدِيهِمْ حَصًى فَيَقُولُ كَبِّرُوا مِائَةً فَيُكَبِّرُونَ مِائَةً فَيَقُولُ هَلِّلُوا مِائَةً فَيُهَلِّلُونَ مِائَةً وَيَقُولُ سَبِّحُوا مِائَةً فَيُسَبِّحُونَ مِائَةً قَالَ فَمَاذَا قُلْتَ لَهُمْ قَالَ مَا قُلْتُ لَهُمْ شَيْئاً انْتِظَارَ رَأْيِكَ أَوِ انْتِظَارَ أَمْرِكَ قَالَ أَفَلَا أَمَرْتَهُمْ أَنْ يَعُدُّوا سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَضَمِنْتَ لَهُمْ أَنْ لَا يَضِيعَ مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِمْ ثُمَّ مَضَى وَمَضَيْنَا مَعَهُ حَتَّى أَتَى حَلْقَةً مِنْ تِلْكَ الْحِلَقِ فَوَقَفَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَقَالَ مَا هَذَا الَّذِى أَرَاكُمْ تَصْنَعُونَ قَالُوا يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ حَصًى نَعُدُّ بِهِ التَّكْبِيرَ وَالتَّهْلِيلَ وَالتَّسْبِيحَ قَالَ فَعُدُّوا سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ فَأَنَا ضَامِنٌ أَنْ لَا يَضِيعَ مِنْ حَسَنَاتِكُمْ شَيْءٌ وَيْحَكُمْ يَا أُمَّةَ مُحَمَّدٍ مَا أَسْرَعَ هَلَكَتَكُمْ هَؤُلَاءِ صَحَابَةُ نَبِيِّكُمْ رضي الله عنهم مُتَوَافِرُونَ وَهَذِهِ ثِيَابُهُ لَمْ تَبْلَ وَآنِيَتُهُ لَمْ تُكْسَرْ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي فِي يَدِهِ إِنَّكُمْ لَعَلَى مِلَّةٍ هِيَ أَهْدَى مِنْ مِلَّةِ مُحَمَّدٍ أَوْ مُفْتَتِحِوا بَابِ ضَلَالَةٍ قَالُوا وَاللَّهِ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مَا أَرَدْنَا إِلَاّ الْخَيْرَ قَالَ وَكَمْ مِنْ مُرِيدٍ لِلْخَيْرِ لَنْ يُصِيبَهُ إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَدَّثَنَا أَنَّ قَوْماً يَقْرَءُونَ الْقُرْآنَ لَا يُجَاوِزُ تَرَاقِيَهُمْ وَايْمُ اللَّهِ مَا أَدْرِى لَعَلَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ مِنْكُمْ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّى عَنْهُمْ فَقَالَ عَمْرُو بْنُ سَلِمَةَ رَأَيْنَا عَامَّةَ أُولَئِكَ الْحِلَقِ يُطَاعِنُونَا يَوْمَ النَّهْرَوَانِ مَعَ الْخَوَارِجِ

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