When a young Muslim decides to study Islam, he will sooner or later realize that his family might have some wrong practices which he will identify as Bidah. A Bidah is a religious innovation, which means it is an act of worship or a belief which either did not exist in the era of the prophet (peace be upon him) or which has been modified from its original form. Sadly there are many Bidah prevalent in Muslim societies today and many of them are so common that the average Muslim finds it very difficult to accept that the religious practices of his family are wrong.
For the practicing Muslim who does accept it, there is another problem, which is avoiding situations were he is forced to either break family relations or commit a Bidah. You see, in a normal situation we can sit with our relatives and discuss differences and if they do something we disagree with, we can just walk away but sometimes a youngster might find himself in a situation in which his family are very emotional and calling the practice a Bidah could lead to a major family fight, the following are the most common cases:
1) The Funeral:
The amount of Bidah associated with people’s deaths and the rituals that follow are so many that Dr Bilal Philips has a four page appendix listing them at the end of his book “Funeral rites in Islam” so if you are attending a funeral, you are very likely to encounter at least one if not many baseless practices. What do you do? Imagine walking up to the old lady crying and reading Yaseen Khatam over her dead brother and telling her what she is doing is Bidah? Not a good idea! Or what about shouting her son for sprinkling rosewater on you since you are in the company of the body? What to do? What to do?
My advice is that people are very emotional at this time having just lost a loved one so it is not the right time or place to correct them as it will cause more harm than good. Speak to people at other times and educate them on the correct method of dealing with death and benefiting the dead so that they will be prepared and might not commit the Bidah in future, if they still do it, your job is already done by explaining it to them. Secondly, avoid those situations were Bidah will definitely occur, so don’t go into the house if there is a group of strange men sitting there swaying from side to side screaming ILLALLAH, ILLALLAH! Rather show up for the funeral later, join the Janazah Salah, accompany the body to the grave and give condolences to the family then go straight home as that is all Islam asks of you. Don’t stick around and wait for a situation were you are put on the spot to fight or join in. it is also advisable to make a will stating how you want your funeral to take place and say, “Don’t do Bidah over my dead body!”
At weddings people might put hankies on their heads while making a mass Dua or spin an egg in front of the bride to chase away the evil eye or whatever other bidah are common in different cultures. Or the other extreme will include music, intermingling and dancing so what do you do? I personally stay away from weddings unless I am sure there is no dancing, music or any other fitnah.
Unlike a funeral, we are not obligated to attend weddings so don’t put yourself in such a situation. You can always meet the lucky person later and congratulate and make Dua for them so just away from such situations altogether and teach people about the Islamic method of marriage and its importance on some other occasion. I do not advice you to storm into the wedding and takeoff with the groom in front of everyone that his wedding is Haram and Bidah. That is not the proper manner of correcting people.
3) Family Gatherings:
If your family are involved in Bidah, you most probably will find it happening at family gatherings, it is not advisable to get involved in an argument about it at the gathering as that will just create negative feelings and might break family ties. If you know there is Bidah at the beginning, arrive a little late, if you know it is at the ending then excuse yourself and leave a little early, if it happens in between then use that as a bathroom break or a chance to phone your friend.
My point is that we must stay away from innovations yet at the same time be wise in our dealings with others. Breaking family ties and having bad character are major sins just as Bidah is, so it is senseless to commit one while avoiding the other. Stay away from situations in which you know there will be Bidah and advice people privately in a nice manner on a separate occasion. Insha Allah these steps will help us stay on the straight path and bring our families closer to Allah.