Praise be to Allaah.
1. Allaah described His awliyaa’ (close friends) as having two characteristics: Eemaan (faith) and Taqwa (piety, awareness of Allaah). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“No doubt! Verily, the Awliyaa’ of Allaah [i.e., those who believe in the Oneness of Allaah and fear Allaah much and love Allaah much], nor fear shall be upon them nor shall they grieve, - those who believe (in the Oneness of Allaah) and used to fear Allaah much” [Yoonus 10:62-63]
2. The true awliyaa’ of Allaah do not go against what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) brought. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned against innovated matters in religion, because Allaah has perfected His religion and completed His favour upon His slaves. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [al-Maa’idah 5:3].
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.”
3. Therefore one can distinguish between the walee (close friend) of Allaah and the walee of the Shaytaan, by looking at the person’s character, behaviour and religious commitment – does he pray regularly in jamaa’ah in the mosque, for example? Does he avoid wrongfully consuming people’s property? Does he avoid going against Islam by either adding or taking away anything? And so on…
4. It is not permissible for a Muslim to innovate any dhikr to recite regularly or to tell others to do so – such as awraad/wird, ma’thooraat or du’aas. The adhkaar that were reported in the saheeh Sunnah are sufficient for this, otherwise a person is an innovator or one who calls others to bid’ah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 2550; Muslim, 1718). According to a report narrated by Muslim: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) will have it rejected.”
Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“This hadeeth represents one of the most important principles in Islam. It is like a scale against which the external appearances of deeds are measured, just as the hadeeth “Actions are but by intention” is the scale against which the inner motivations of actions are measured. Just as every deed which is not done for the sake of Allaah will bring no reward for the one who does it, so also every deed which is not in accordance with the way of Allaah and His Messenger will be rejected and thrown back at the one who does it. Anyone who innovates new things in the religion and does things for which Allaah and His Messenger have not granted permission, this is not a part of the religion at all.” (Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam, 1/180).
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“This hadeeth is one of the most important basic principles of Islam, and it is one of the most concise and comprehensive sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). It clearly states that innovations and newly invented matters will be rejected. The second report adds another idea, which is that some of those who follow the innovations of others may become stubborn when they are presented with the evidence of the first report which says, “Whoever innovates something…” They may say, “I am not innovating anything”. But he may in this case be presented with the evidence of the second report, which says, “Whoever does any action…” This clearly shows that all innovated actions will be rejected, whether the one who does them innovates them himself or is following someone else who innovated it… This hadeeth is one that should be learned by heart and used to denounce evil actions and be spread as evidence so that all people may use it.” (Sharh Muslim, 12/16).
5. Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“No doubt adhkaar and du’aa’s are among the best forms of worship, and worship is one of the matters in which there is no room for personal opinions – we have to follow what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did and taught, not our own whims and desires or innovations. The du’aa’s and adhkaar of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) are the best that anyone could find. The one who follows this way will be safe and sound, and the benefits and positive results that he will gain are beyond description. Any other du’aa’s and adhkaar may be haraam or they may be makrooh; they may involve shirk even though most people do not realize that – the details of this would take too long to explain here.
No one has the right to teach the people any kinds of du’aa’s or adhkaar apart from those that are mentioned in the Sunnah, or to make it a kind of regular worship which he expects the people to do regularly as they do the five daily prayers – this is the innovation in religion which Allaah does not allow… As for adopting a wird or regularly reciting a dhikr that is not prescribed in sharee’ah, this is one of the things that is not allowed. The du’aa’s and adhkaar prescribed by sharee’ah are the best that anyone could ever hope to find, and no one ignores them in favour of newly-invented, innovated adhkaar except one who is ignorant, negligent or a wrongdoer.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/510-511).
And Allaah knows best.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid