The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does an action that we have not commanded shall have that action rejected.” [Sahih Muslim]
Abdullah ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu) narrated: “We would come with Abdullah ibn Masud to the Masjid. One day Abu Musa al-Ashari came, looking worried, and asked whether Abu Abdur-Rehman (Ibn Masud) had come out. We said ‘No,’ so he also sat waiting. When Ibn Masud came out Abu Musa said, ‘Just now I saw an innovation but it looks good in seeing.’ Ibn Masud said, ‘What did you see?’ Abu Musa said, ‘I saw a group sitting in a circle waiting for us. They had pebbles in their hands. In every circle there was a man who said, ‘Say Takbeer one hundred times’ so they said Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) one hundred times. Then he said, ‘Say Tahleel one hundred times’ so they said Tahleel (Alhamdulillah) one hundred times, and likewise they said Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah) one hundred times.’ Ibn Masud said, ‘Then what did you say?’ Abu Musa said, ‘I did not say anything and I waited for you.’”
“Whilst talking both reached the Masjid and observed the recitation in the manner described by Abu Musa. Addressing the people of one circle Ibn Masud asked, ‘What is going on?’ They said, ‘These are pebbles and on them we are reciting Takbeer, Tahleel and Tasbeeh of Allah.’ Ibn Masud said, ‘Instead of this you better count your sins. I stand in surety that Allah will not allow your virtues to go to waste. Alas O Ummah of Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), how soon you are spoiled. What a number of Sahabah are still amongst you. The clothes of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) are still not worn out. The utensils he used are still intact. And so you think that you are following a way which is better than the Prophet’s and gives better guidance? Are you not opening a door of deviation through this Bidah (innovation in religious matters)?’ The people replied apologetically, ‘By Allah our Neeyah (intention) was good.’ Ibn Masud said, ‘What a number of men there are that intend good but never reach that good.’” [Narrated by Ad-Daarimee in As-Sunan]
The above Athar is very clear in showing that when a certain permitted way of glorifying Allah (through word or deed), is performed in the setting of a new method, in the hope of getting reward from Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), then that practice is an innovation which can only bring evil results. This is apparent in the statement of Ibn Masud (radi Allahu anhu), “Instead of this you better count your sins.” Also note how Ibn Masud (radi Allahu anhu) did not accept their having good intentions as justification for Bidah.
The core of the matter is that nothing, from anyone, no matter how learned or pious, can be better in any way from the Messenger’s Sunnah. Therefore, Ibn Masud questioned: “And so you think that you are following a way which is better than the Prophet’s and gives better guidance?”
Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said, “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Quran 5:3] Thus, those who innovate a Bidah in Islam regarding it as something good are actually claiming that Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) betrayed his trust to deliver Allah’s Message completely and perfectly! [Understanding the Evil of Bidah by Abu Muntasir Ibn Mohar Ali]