What Does Bid'at Mean?

Bid'at means something that was invented afterwards. They are things that had not existed during the time of our Prophet and his four caliphs 'radiy-Allahu anhum' which were fabricated and done in the name of worships. For example, since it is necessary to recite the (ayat [1] called) Ayat-al-Kursi [2] immediately after the (five daily prayers called) salat, it is bid'at to recite the (prayer termed) 'Salatan Tunjina' [3] or to say other prayers. These must be recited after Ayat-ul-Kursi and telling the tasbihs [4]. It is bid'at to prostrate and then get up after finishing salat and saying dua (personal, individual prayer.) It is bid'at to call the azan [5] through loudspeakers. Every kind of change and reform in the religion is bid'at. On the other hand, it is not bid'at to use forks and spoons, to wear ties, to drink coffee or tea, or to smoke cigarettes, for they are not worships, but habits, and they are mubah [1]. They are not haram [1].

Statements made by Islamic scholars about smoking are quoted and explained in detail in the (Turkish) book Se'adet-i ebediyye (Endless Bliss). There are three types of bid'at:

1 – It is the worst bid'at to use things which Islam says are symbols of disbelief.
2 – Kinds of belief not conforming with what the Ahl-i sunnat [8] scholars communicate are also bad bid'ats.
3 – Renovations and reforms done as worships are bid'ats and are grave sins.

Faithfulness is what becomes a man, even when wronged;
If a person is true, Allah will him uphold.

[1] ayat: A verse of al-Qur'an al-karim; al-ayat al-karima.
[2] Ayat-al-kursi: one of the ayats in the Qur'an. It explains the greatness of Allahu ta'ala and the fact that His power is infinite.
[3] Salatan tunjina: the word salat means both prayer and namaz. Muslims send their prayers to Allahu ta'ala so that the Prophet's grade will go up and he will be given more goodness. Such prayers are called salat, too. Allahu ta'ala loves those who pray so. He rescues them from troubles. Salatan tunjina means to invoke a blessing on the Prophet in order to get rid of troubles.
[4] tasbih: may be used for the word taqdees, though there is a very subtle difference between their meanings.
[5] Azan: at each prayer time, a Muslim goes up the minaret and calls all Muslims to prayer. He has to recite prescribed words. Meanings of these Arabic words are explained in the eleventh chapter.
[6] mubah: (act, thing) neither ordered nor prohibited; permitted.
[7] haram: an action, word or thought prohibited by Allahu ta'ala.
[8] Ahl as-Sunna (wa'l-Jama'a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.