The second aspect: Goldziher claimed that the Arabs did not come up with this concept and its practical applications; because it was found beforehand with the pagan Arabs ... From thence, the attachment of the Muslims to the Sunnah is like the attachment of the Arabs to the traditions of their ancestors...to the end of what he said.
Goldziher, with this statement of his, intends as usual to render what is Islamic to internal and external factors, so that he denies it every originality, renewal, or innovation.
(We do not deny that pagan Arabs were following their ancestors, worshiping their deities, guided by the traditions of their ancestors and holding fast to their beliefs and idols; because they found their fathers assiduously devoted to them, applying those traditions and guided by their footsteps. But there is disparity between the concept of Sunnah in that era and its concept in the Islamic era. It is not a set of amended old Arabic views as Goldziher said, but took its concept counterfactually to the traditions of the pagan Arabs; because it has become a legislative source, having its probativeness in the determination of provisions, and its source became divine, due to it being issued from Allah, but related in the Messenger’s own words, and because it addressed topics and issues, which treat problems and concepts of the new religion, and because it was issued as divine commands one is not permitted to deviate from, unlike the pagan Arabs who can deviate from the ways of their ancestors. Obedience of the Messenger in what he says, does, or decides is a religious duty the Muslims has no escape from turning away from. Therefore, the concept of Sunnah in the two eras is different and completely disparate. The pagans stick to the traditions of their ancestors in view of fanaticism, and the Muslims follow the Sunnah of their Prophet in view of worship).
The inference of (Goldziher) to the Hadith of the Messenger, which calls the Muslims to follow the ways of those who came before them, etc ... He had doubted this Hadith at first; because he said of it: (attributed to the Prophet) and did not say: (the Prophet said), and he misinterpreted it secondly, because the intention of the Prophet was not to call the Muslims to cling to the traditions of their pagan ancestors, but a call to stick to the Sunnah of the Prophet and the footsteps of his noble Companions, and not to differ and disunite in the future, not to dissociate oneself from the community (of Muslims) and to avert sedition as much as possible. The Prophet told of all these matters in other Statements (1), and urged Muslims to adhere to the proper Sunnah, join the opinion of the community, avoid discord and dispute, no matter what, and obey the person in position of trust and authority, so as not to divide the opinion of the community and the strength of the Muslims goes forth in a scatter.
That confirmation of his was an announcement from his part of what will occur in his nation from separation and difference, and urged them to avoid them. It is understood from this Hadith also, a call upon the Muslims to cling to the Sunnah of the Prophet and that of his Companions, so as not to imitate the Jews, the Christians, the Romans, the Persians and other nations; and from here was the unsound inference of (Goldziher) to this Hadith in this context (2).
(1) There are those, which Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan (4597): (Even though those before you, from the people of the Book, split according to seventy-two denomination, this religion with split into seventy-three: seventy-two of which are in the hell fire and one in Paradise, which is the community (of Muslims).
(2) Criticism of the Orientalist discourse (1/412-413).