How many ḥadīths or sunnan have been narrated. Have all of them reached to every human being without changes? How do you explain the term maḥfūz?
We believe ḥadīth and sunnah are two different things. The term ḥadīth refers to the narratives reported through individual-to-individual whereas the term sunnah is applied to the practices constituted by the Prophet (sws) as part of the religion. These practices have been transmitted from generation-to-generation. All the generations passed them on with their consensus to the next one. This renders the sunan absolutely authentic. None can challenge their authenticity. Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi has included a list of such actions in the exordium to his book 'Mīzān' titled 'uṣūl-o-mabādī'. You can refer to it in order to know how many of these are absolutely authentic. On the contrary one cannot declare the individual-to-individual narratives as absolutely authentic. However, after due investigation in the isnād and text of a narrative one obtains probable knowledge. When one is positive regarding the authenticity of a ḥadīth he is obliged to follow it.
Translated by: Abid Mahmood Hashmi