Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Heretical Innovation of Distorted Beliefs (Bid'ah Dalalah) and Superstitious Practices among Muslim Society in Malaysia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Heretical Innovation of Distorted Beliefs (Bid'ah Dalalah) and Superstitious Practices among Muslim Society in Malaysia

Article excerpt


The teaching of Islam has warned and reminded Muslim society regarding the threat of superstitious practices after the period of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Various distorted beliefs, such as shamanism and fortune-telling, have simultaneously spread all over the Muslim world including Malaysia. Among several causal of heretical innovation of distorted belief is ignorance and lack of religious knowledge. This article higlights contributing factors of Malays' involvement in superstitious practices which stresses on their perception, beliefs and practices. The writing of this article is based on the study conducted through qualitative methods using observation and interview. Selected key informants from religious affairs departments and political leadership are selected as respondents of the study. The result found that lack of religious education, ignorance, the influence of shamanism and strong belief in mystic and magic are accepted to contribute to the occurence of superstitious practices. These causal factors need to be addressed in the very best possible manner by the Islamic affairs authorities in order to prevent futher society involvement.

Keywords: Bid'ah Dalalah, Superstition, Heretical Innovation, Distorted Belief, Malay Society, Islam

1. Introduction

1.1 A Brief Introduction on Heretical Innovation of Distorted Beliefs (Bid'ah Dalalah) and Superstitious Practices

Distorted beliefs and practices are the manisfestations of the existence of the Jahiliyyah Arab society before the dawning of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was aware of instances of distortion of faith would begin with new practices that would contradict the Islamic faith and Islamic law. Thus, the Prophet (pbuh) was reported to have said that all new practices are heretical innovations to avoid spiritual and syariah deviation for the last generations of the ummah (Abd-Allah, 2006). The debate about the matter was even discussed by Muhammad al-Ghazali in his kitab (book) Laisa min al-Islam. He too mentioned about the phenomena of the spread of the distorted beliefs and heretic innovations across Arabia such as the emergence of several deviant spiritual groups.

In the Malaysian context, this phenomena is also presented to the 40th Discourse of the National Fatwa Committee for Islamic affairs of Malaysia on the 9th August 1996. The committee had discussed the topic of distorted beliefs and talisman from the Islamic perspective. The discourse finally decided that the practice of worshipping and seeking help as practiced by the shamans are considered acts of polytheism. In addition, the use of talismans for self-protection to be invincible, to gain influence, to soften the heart, to keep away the jinns and the likes are also considered as acts of polytheism and deviating from the basic teachings of Islam (e-Fatwa, 1996).

The above mentioned practices are in concordance to the practices of seeking the shamans and believing in the power of talisman. According to (Abdul Manam, 2008), among the shamans, there are those who deviate in their practices and actions such as the worshipping of the spirits, use of dirty and forbidden substances and beliefs which are against the Islamic faith and Islamic law. In addition, as Abdul Fatah (1999) notes, the Malay society is easily exposed to the spiritual influence which may result in the deviant form of Islamic faith. Spiritual influence referred to here including worship particular places considered holy, or persons considered saints and the belief that the shamans have absolute power. These practices are classified as heretical innovation of distorted beliefs. The emergence of this beliefs results in the appearance of various deviant teachings among the Malay community such as the teachings of Ayah Pin, Al-Arqam and so on. With such a background, the Malay community is readily exposed to negative elements that would soon result in the erosion of the Islamic faith of the ummah. …

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