Such distinctions and categorisations have been oft repeated by the people of innovation and misguidance in order to cause doubt and confusion amongst the Muslims. One of the most prominent figureheads was the Sūfī Barailwī ʿAbdul Samʿi Rāmpūrī in his book Anwār al-Saṭiʿa who propounded the idea of good and bad bidʿah and then the latter days Sufi Barailwis propagated this. (Cf. Anwār al-Saṭiʿa [pp.35, 47].
The late Pākistānī Ḥadīth Master, Shaikh Hafiz Muḥammad Gondalwī answers this categorisation and says,
“I say this categorisation which has been cited from some of the scholars, then some of them did hold this opinion (ie a good and bad bidʿah) whereas others disagreed with this categorisation and considered every innovation to be evil and bad. Their difference is a linguistic one, the scholars who uphold this categorisation explain the aforementioned definition as something which had no basis at all during the life of the Messenger of Allāh (sallalahu alyhi wasallam). So on this basis innovations can be categorised. On the contrary the scholars who also use this definition for bidʿah and do not believe in this categorisation take the Sharīʿah meaning and definition of bidʿah and thus they say anything which has no evidence from the Sharīʿah regarding its permissibility during he life of the Messenger of Allāh (sallalahu alyhi wasallam) is an innovation.”
He then goes onto cite Mulla ʿAlī Qārī quoting al-Nawawī as saying,
“Bidʿah is every action which has no prior example and in the Sharīʿah it is inventing something new which was not practised during the time of the Messenger of Allāh (sallalahu alyhi wasallam).” (Mulla ʿAlī Qārī, Mirqāt Sharh Mishkāt [1:367].
Shaikh Muḥammad Gondalwī goes onto mention the statement of Ibn Ḥajr al-Haithamī where he said the scholars who categorised bidʿah as good and bad, did so on the basis of its linguistic meaning and the scholars who said every innovation is misguidance took the Sharīʿah meaning. [Shaikh Muḥammad Gondalwī, al-Iṣlaḥ [2:277-285]
Taken from Every Innovation is misguidance of Shaikh Mahmud Ahmad Mirpuri.