A word on the terminology, meaning and etymological definition of the Sunnah (1-2)
The Sunnah in the language
The Sunnah in the language: derived from the verb (sanna) with a diacritical opening (Fat'ha), indicating the short vowel /a/ above the consonant s?n devoid of diacritical dots, and germination of the n?n , or from (sanana), and this substance implies the flow of the thing and its steadiness in ease (1), implying that the thing has been repeated until it became a rule.
It has several meanings:
1 - The continual condition and the normative, followed way, whether good or bad. This meaning for the Sunnah is the original and predominant one. Ibn Al-Atheer said: (there was a recurrence in the Statement (Hadith), the mention of: (the Sunnah) and what derives from it by conjugation; the origin in it is the way and condition...) (2), and to qualify it as good way and condition or bad one, rather comes by way of description and addition.
From the description, his saying - peace be upon him -: (He who sets “sanna” a good precedent “sunnatan hasanatan” in Islam, there is a reward for him for this (act of goodness) and reward of that also who acted according to it subsequently, without any deduction from their rewards; and he who sets “sanna” in Islam an evil precedent “sunnatan sayyi’atan”, there is upon him the burden of that, and the burden of him also who acted upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their burden.) (3).
And from the addition, you take the word (sunnatan) praise or slander, depending on the genitive. In his saying - peace be upon him -: (You must follow my Tradition “sunnaty” and that of “sunnata” the rightly-guided, upright successors. Hold on to it firmly, bite upon it with your back teeth.) (4) the Sunnah turns out to be a good and commendable one.
And in his saying - peace be upon him -: (The most hated persons to Allah are three: A person who deviates from the right conduct, i.e., an evil doer, in the Haram (sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina); a person who seeks that the tradition of “sunnata” the pre-Islamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam...) (5).
And his saying - peace be upon him -: (You will follow the ways of “sunana” those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit, so much so that even if they entered a lizard’s hole, you would follow them. We asked, O Messenger of Allah (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians? He responded: who else?). (6). The Sunnah here would turn out to be bad and reprehensible.
Its linguistic origin is taken from your saying: "I coursed “sanantu” the water if I carried on pouring it. In the tongue of the Arab tribes: spewed “sanna” on him water: poured it, and it was said: flowed it in a soft manner...
He spewed “sanna” the water on his face: ie: he poured “sabbahu” it on his face in an easy way. Al Jawhari said: I coursed “sanantu” the water on my face, ie: flowed it “arsaltuhu” in a non-dispersive manner ... In the Statement of the urination of the Bedouin in the mosque: (He called for a bucket of water and spewed it “sannahu” on it) (7) ie: poured it, and spewing “assannu”: pouring at ease ... In the Statement of Amr ibn Al-‘Aas - may Allah be pleased with him – at his death: (then spew “fa-sunnu” on me soil in a flowing manner “sannan”) (8) ie: put it in an easy manner. (9).
The Arab tribes likened the followed way and continual condition to the poured thing, due to the consecutiveness of its parts following a single process. Thus, from the linguistic designation came the word Sunnah in the Holy Quran; Allah Almighty said: (And what is there to keep back men from believing, now that Guidance has come to them, nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord, but that (they ask that) the ways of “sunnatu” the ancients be repeated with them, or the Wrath be brought to them face to face?) (Al-Kahf: 55).
And the Almighty said: (This was (Our) the way “sunnata” with the apostles We sent before you: you will find no change in Our way “sunnatina”.) (Al-Isra’: 77).
(1) See: Maqayees Al-Lughah (3 / 60)
(2) An-Nihaayah Fi-Ghareeb Al-Hadeeth, p. 449
(3) Narrated by Muslim, Kitab Al-Zakat, the section of the instruction on the charity, even with half a date, No. (1017)
(4) Narrated by Abu Dawood, Kitab As-Sunnah, section of the necessity of the Sunnah (4607) and Tirmidhi, Kitab Al-‘Ilm, section of what came in the adoption of the Prophetic Sunnah and avoidance of innovations No. (2678), and said: sound and authentic Statement.
(5) Narrated by Bukhari, Kitab Ad-Diyyat, section of who seeks to shed the blood of somebody unlawfully, (6882)
(6) Narrated by Bukhari, Kitab Al-I’tisam Bil-kitab Was-Sunnah, section of the saying of the Prophet peace be upon him "You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you." No. (7320)
(7) Narrated by Bukhari, Kitab Al-Wudhu’, section of the Prophet - peace be upon him - and the people letting the Bedouin until he finished urinating in the mosque, No.(57, 58), and Muslim, Kitab At-Taharah, section of the duty to wash off the urine and other impurities if it happened in the mosque, No. (284).
(8) Narrated by Muslim, Kitab Al-Iman, section of the fact that Islam destroys that which is before it. No. (121).
(9) Lisaan-ul-‘Arab 13/227, and see: Al-Qaamoos Al-Muhee? 4 / 239, and Al-Mu’jam Al-Wasee? 1 / 455, 456