Episode (6): The Sunnah terminologically (2-2)
2 – And it was said: it is – ie: the Sunnah –his utterances - peace be upon him-, his actions, his endorsements, his natural and ethical qualities, and all of his accounts; whether before or after the mission, as well as the sayings of the companions and their actions.
Among those who adopted this definition, the Imam Abu Hanifa Nu'man ibn Thabit - may Allah be pleased with him - deceased in 150 AH; it was reported that he said: "Whatever came to us from the side of the companions, we followed them, and whatever came to us from the side of the successors, we looked to converging them."
And said: "If I do not find in the Book of Allah or the Tradition of His Messenger, I consider the word of his companions, whichever I wished; and leave the word of whichever I wished, then again, I do not step beyond their word to that of others."(1).
As if the Sunnah for Abu Hanifa is specific to the Marfu’ (narration attributed to the Prophet specifically) and Mawquf (narration attributed to a companion) only, while other than that, among the Maqtu’ (narration attributed to a successor), is not. Perhaps his basis in adopting this definition, his saying- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him -: (You ought to follow my Tradition and that of the rightly-guided, upright successors; bite upon it with your back teeth)(2).
3 - And was said: it is – ie: the Sunnah - his utterances - peace be upon him -, his actions, his endorsements, his natural and moral attributes, and all his accounts, whether before or after the mission, as well as the statements of the companions, the followers, and their actions.
Among those who adopted this definition; Al-Hafidh Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Al-Hussein known as Al-Bayhaqi, deceased in 458 AH, where he called his book – in which he collected what came from the Prophet - peace be upon him - and the edicts of the companions, the followers and their actions - the Major Work of the Prophet’s Sunnahs (As-Sunan Al-Kubraa), as if the Sunnah for him includes: the Marfu’ (narration attributed to the Prophet specifically), Mawquf (narration attributed to a companion) and Maqtu’ (narration attributed to a successor).
He might have based his adoption of this definition on: the fact that the companions were in contact with the Messenger of Allah - peace be upon him - and witnessed the revelation and descent, and that the followers intermingled with the companions, mixed with them and heard from them, so much so that their words and actions were worthy of acceptance than others, and became part of the concept of Sunnah.
(1) The Principles of As-Sarkhasi (1 / 313).
(2) This Statement was narrated by Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan, Kital Al-‘Ilm (Book of Knowledge), section of what came on following the Sunnah and avoiding innovations. No (2676), and said: a sound, authentic Statement, and narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan, Kitab As-Sunnah (Book of Tradition of the Prophet), the section on the adherence to the Sunnah. No (4607), and Ibn Majah in As-Sunan, the Introduction: section on following the Tradition of the rightly-guided, upright successors. No (42, 43), and Imam Ahmad in his Musnad (4 / 126, 127), all are according to the Statement of Al-‘Arbadh bin Saariyah - may Allah be pleased with him.