This is further to my question on ‘Some Observation on Sunnah‘, please clarify my following doubt.
God says He will protect Qur’an from corruption in the Qur’an (15:9). Is there any such protection for Sunnah?
Suppose if the Muslim scholars all over the world consider a Bid`ah to be a Sunnah with complete consensus. It is not impossible for such a thing to happen. Then your definition of Sunnah becomes falsified.
The security of the Qur’an as well as the Sunnah is an intellectual and logical reality substantiated by the historical transmission of these two sources of Islam. The Qur’an has not felt need to make any declarations or claims about the security of the Qur’an or the Sunnah over time. If you look closely at the referred verse of Surah Al-Hijr, you shall see that the real stress in the referred verse is to refute the claims of those who were trying to promote the idea that the Qur’an is not a revelation from God, but is taught by Jinn and other invisible creatures. The Qur’an says that the rejecters say:
You, upon whom this admonition is revealed, you are a man possessed. Why do you not bring to us angels, if you are truthful [that this is a revelation of God]. (15: 6 – 7)
Refuting this objection of the rejecters, the Qur’an says:
We do not send angels except for a just decision and [when the angels come down to implement the just decision,] then no respite shall be granted to them. [The Prophet is not possessed,] We have revealed the admonition and We are its protectors. (15: 8 – 9)
It should be clear from the foregoing explanation of the context of the referred verses that the actual stress of the verse is to refute the unfounded claim of the rejecters. It is only as a corollary that the protection of the Qur’an, in general, is derived from this verse.
The primary basis of believing in the security of the Qur’an and the Sunnah is the nature of the transmission of these two sources, rather than any verse of the Qur’an.
As for your second question, it is in fact, as impossible that the whole Muslim community can start considering a bid`ah to be a Sunnah with complete consensus, as it is to believe that the whole Muslim community can start considering a statement to be a verse of the Qur’an, which actually is not, with complete consensus. Your concern is not factual but is actually based on a very unrealistic assumption. Please keep in mind that the only way a bid`ah could have been adopted by the whole Muslim community, with complete consensus, was if the generation of the companions had added that bid`ah to the corpus of Islam, with complete consensus. Such an assumption is clearly against the Qur’an. After the generation of the companions, the Muslim community had expanded so tremendously that nothing could have been added to the already existing corpus of Islam by the whole Muslim community all over the world, with complete consensus.
I hope this helps.
October 25, 2001