Following from my earlier post on Ulum al-Quran, the follow-up is the study of Science of Hadith i.e. to take the definitions and define the parameters of the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW. I've included one of the series of lectures by Sheikh Navaid Aziz, subhan Allah.
From Lughrawi or linguistic meaning, Sunnah is defined as Sirah (History) and Tareeq (Path or way that you follow). From conventional meaning, each respected specialists of Islamic Sciences have its own definition:
1. Muhadithin (Scholars of Hadith) defined Sunnah as that which is attributed to Prophet SAW i.e. statement, action or acceptance and which the Prophet SAW sifat Halaqiah (physical description) and sifat al-Huluqiha (character).
2. Fuqaha (Scholars of Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence) defined Sunnah as a synonym for Mustahab (recommended). In Islam all our actions fall under 5 categories - Fard (obligatory), Mustahab, Mandhu and Sunnah (recommended), Mubah (neither disliked nor preferred), Makruh (disliked) and Haram (prohibited).
3. Scholars of Usul Fiqh (specialised in rules applied to the text of the Quran and Sunnah to derive Fiqh) defined Sunnah as anything that is established from Prophet SAW i.e. statement, action and acceptance that is suitable as proof other than Quran, Sunnah, Ijmah (consensus of Ulama) and Qiyas (analogy).
4. Scholars of Aqidah defined Sunnah as anything that the Syariah approves. The antonym is bid'ah, which is coming from Aqidah perspective in terms of ibadah only.
What I took away from this video is that it is essential to understand factual history of Islam in order to make an informed decision on discerning between true hadith and those which are false. And when quoting a Sunnah, be mindful which angle it was taken from based on the perspective of the 4 specialists of Islamic Sciences. Here is a link on An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith.
Afternote: Imam Bukhari prayed 2 raka'at to Allah SWT, asking for divine guidance if he should compile a hadeeth. Allah SWT has blessed us with such pious predecessors who were able to preserve the hadeeth till it reaches us today, subhan Allah. Shouldn't we follow it and continue its preservation?