Many question if Umar’s actions really were a bid’ah and the reason as to why Imam Ali (as) did not attempt to stop those innovations. Is this true, or did Imam Ali (as) attempt to stop innovations such as Taraweeh?
In Sahih al-Bukhari, we find the main proof used to show that the prayer now known as “Taraweeh” (تراويح) was done during the time of the prophet (sawa):
Narrated `Aisha the mother of the faithful believers:
One night Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) offered the prayer in the Mosque and the people followed him. The next night he also offered the prayer and too many people gathered. On the third and the fourth nights more people gathered, but Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) did not come out to them. In the morning he said, “I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. the prayer) might be enjoined on you, stopped me from coming to you.” And that happened in the month of Ramadan.
Source: Sahih al-Bukhari 1129
Umar then re-instated what the prophet (sawa) forbade:
‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Abdul Qari said,
“I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night.”
Source: Sahih al-Bukhari 2010
The Mukhalafeen use the first hadith to justify this “excellent Bid’a” that Umar proclaimed he invented. Apparently, Umar found it fitting to re-establish what the Prophet (sawa) forbade for whatever reason.
The Shia version of the story however is more elaborate:
Imam al-Sadiq (as) and al-Baqir (as) were asked about the Nafila (recommended) prayers in congregation on the nights during the month of Ramadhaan. So they would reply: “Verily when the Messenger of Allah (sawa) prayed the final al-`isha, he would return home, then leave in the final hours of the night to the mosque so he stands and prays. So he left the first night of the month of Ramadhaan to pray as he prays, so the people made rows behind him, so he (the Prophet) fled from them to his home and left them. This was repeated for three nights.
So the Prophet (sawa) stood during the third day on the pulpit, praised Allah (Swt) and then said: “Oh People, verily the congregational prayers during the nights of the month of Ramadhaan is an innovation (bid’a), and the Duha prayers (صلاة الضحى) is an innovation. Therefore do not gather at night during the month of Ramadhaan for the night prayers. And do not pray the Duha prayers since it is a sin. Verily every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance is on a path to the hellfire.
He then came down (from the pulpit) while saying: “Little of the sunnah is better than much of the innovations.”
Sanad: Muhammad b. `Ali b. al-Husayn by his isnads from Zurara and Muhammad b. Muslim and al-Fudayl who said the above hadith
Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia (Aale Bayt), Volume 8, Page 45, Hadith #1 (See Image 1 below)
Grading: Shaikh Hadi al-Najafi said the hadith is Sahih (الرواية صحيحة الإسناد) [Mawsu’atu ahadith ahlulbayt (as), Volume 4, Hadith #2, Page 286-287 (See Image 2 below)]
Now the question is asked – why didn’t Imam Ali (as) try stop it during his reign as recognized caliph?
Actually, he did:
Abi Abdillah (as) was asked about the prayers at the mosque during the month of Ramadhaan, he said: When Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) went forth to Kufa, he ordered al-Hassan (as) to call to the people: “There are no congregational prayers in the month of Ramadhaan. So al-Hassan bin Ali (as) called to the people by what Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) ordered him, so when the people these words they chanted: “Oh Umar! Oh Umar!”.
So when al-Hassan bin Ali (as) returned to Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as), he (Ali) asked: “What is this noise? So (al-Hassan) replied: “Oh Ameer al-Mu’mineen, the people are chanting: “Oh Umar! Oh Umar!”. Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) said: “tell them ‘pray.’”
Sanad: `Ali b. al-Hasan b. Faddal from Ahmad b. al-Hasan from `Amr b. Sa`d al-Mada’ini from Musaddaq b. Sadaqa from `Ammar who said the above hadith
Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia (Aale Bayt), Volume 8, Page 46, Hadith #2 (See Image 1 below)
Grading: Shaikh Hadi al-Najafi said the hadith is Reliable (الرواية معتبرة الإسناد.) [Mawsu’atu ahadith ahlulbayt (as), Volume 4, Hadith #3, Page 287 (See Image 2 below)]
in another hadith:
Abi Abdillah (as) and Abi Ja’far (as) said: “When Ameer al-Mu’mineen (as) was in Kufa, the people came to him and said: “Appoint for us an Imam (of prayer) to lead us in Ramadhaan. So he replied to them: “No” and he forbade them from congregating in it. So when the evening came (the people) would say: “Cry (for) Ramadhaan, Oh Ramadhaan” So Haarith al-ahwar came from among people (to Ali) and said: “Oh Ameer al-Mu’mineen, the people are causing a fuss and dislike your words. He replied: “Leave them to do want, and let them pray with whom they want” then he said (the following ayah) “And whoever [..] follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.” (4:115)
Sanad: Muhammad b. Idris in the end of as-Sara’ir transmitting from the book of Abu ‘l-Qasim Ja`far b. Muhammad b. Qulawayh who said the above hadith
Source: Wasaa’il al-Shia (Aale Bayt), Volume 8, Page 47, Hadith #5 (See Image 1 below)