The correct Meaning of the term “Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah”
I start in the name of Allah, The Merciful. Complete praise is due to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. Praise be to Allah for guiding us to this true path, for without His guidance, we would not be guided. May Allah raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam, his pure companions, his kind relatives and followers, and may Allah protect his nation from that which he fears for it.
O followers of Islam; Know that Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah are the majority of the Muslim nation. They are the people who rightfully followed the methodology of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam. They include the companions and those who followed them in the essence of belief. They are the people referred to in the Hadith of the Messenger of Allah when he said what means:
<<Let the one who seeks the vastness of Paradise remain steadfast to the majority.>>
The Jama^ah are the majority of true followers of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam. It happened that after the year 260 after Hijrah, the perverted innovative beliefs of the Mu^tazilah, the Mushabihah and other sects started to spread. The Mushabihah are those who liken Allah to His creations. Technically they are known as Anthropomorphist. So by His eternal decree, Allah willed for two noble scholars to emerge with a mission to refute the misguidance of the Mu^tazilah, and the Mushabihah, and other sects, and to reaffirm the true creed. These two scholars are Abu Hasan Al-Ash^ariyy and Abu Mansurin Al-Maturidiyy, May Allah reward them. They both rose to clarify and emancipate the creed of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah, the creed to which the companions and their righteous followers held strong to.
Using referential and logical proofs, they asserted the correct creed and refuted the false creed of the Mu^tazilah, the Mushabihah, and other sects, most of which resemble Allah to the creation. As a result Al-Ash^ariyy and Al-Maturidiyy are both referred to as the ancestors of the people of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah, since their day onwards. Since then, the people of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah are known as either Asha^irah, Ash^ariyyah or Maturidiyyah in school of knowledge. The Hafidh Al-Murtada Az-Zabidiyy in his book Sharh Ihya’ ^Ulumid-Din said:
“If the term Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah is used broadly, it refers to the people who took the knowledge from the route of Al-Ash^ariyy named Al-Ash^ariyyah, or the people who took their knowledge from the route of Al-Maturidiyy named Al-Maturidiyyah.”
So the true creed, the one held by the righteous Salaf (meaning the Muslims of the first three centuries after the migration of Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam from Makkah to Madinah) is the same creed held by the Asha^irah and Maturidiyyah followers who proceeded. They make hundreds of millions of Muslims and are the majority. They include the followers of the schools of Jurisprudence such as; Ash-Shafi^iyyah, Al-Hanafiyyah, the true Hanbaliyyah and Al-Malikiyyah, may Allah have mercy upon all of them. The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam also informed us that the majority of people from his nation will not go astray. Hence success will be granted to those who remain steadfast to their true path. This is why it is important to hold closely to the creed of the majority of Muslims.
Also the knowledge of the Creed is the best knowledge one can attain, because it explains the essentials of the faith. Further to this, when the Messenger of Allah was asked about the best of deeds, he said what means:
<<To believe in Allah and His Messenger>>
Related by Al-Bukhariyy.
Our Imam Ash-Shafi^iyy exercised precision in learning this knowledge as did Imam Abi Hanifah, Imam Malik and Imam Ahmad, may Allah reward them greatly.
Moreover many scholars authored many books specifically to elucidate the creed of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah. Such is the book named “Al-^Aqidat-Tahawiyyah” by the righteous Salafi Imam Abu Ja^far At-Tahawiyy and the book “Hada’iqul-Fusul Wa-Jawahirul-^Uqul” by Imam Muhammad Ibn Hibatal-Makkiyy. This book came to be known as “Al-^Aqidas-Salahiyyah” (The Salahaiyyah Creed) after he gave it as a gift to Sultan Salahud-Din Al-Ayyubiyy who ordered that this book be taught to the children in the schools and broadcast from the top of the minarets.
In his book he said:
“And The Maker of this universe is not encompassed by it. Allah is strictly clear of resembling any of it. He existed and no place was brought into existence and He is now as He was eternally of perfection. He is attributed with all proper perfection, not the shortfall of place and is clear of change encompassed by time and space. The one who has attributed to Him the upper direction has exceeded and exaggerated the limits of sound comprehension.”
This creed is taught in the university of Al-Azhar in Egypt and the University of Az-Zaytunah in Tunis, and by the rest of the Arabs of the west. As it is taught in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, the nations of Ash-Sham which are Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, India, Africa, Al-Bukharah, Daghistan, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Muslim nations.
An ayah in the Qur’an means:
“Allah will send forth the people whom He loves and they love Allah”
In their elucidation to this ayah, the Hafidhs Ibn ^Asakir and Al-Hakim said:
“When this ayah was revealed upon the Prophet of Allah sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam in his gathering, he pointed to a companion by the name of Abu Musal-Ash^ariyy and said: “Those people will be the descendants of this man.””
The Imam Al-Qushayriyy added saying: “The followers of Abul-Hasan Ash^ariyy are among those people.”
More Profoundly, Imam Al-Bukhariyy said in his book Sahih Al-Bukhariyy and Imam Muslim in the Chapter about the emergence of the people of Al-Ash^ariyy and Yemen, that Abu Musa said that the Prophet said what means:
<<They are of my nation and I am for them.>>
Al-Bukhariyy related in his Sahih about ^Umran Ibnul-Husayn, may Allah reward him that people from Abu Tamim approached the Prophet one day. He said to them what means:
<<Adhere to the good news I have given you O people of Tamim. They said: “We heard your promises, now deliver them to us.” After saying this twice, the Prophet’s facial expressions changed into sadness to how they chose this world over the Hereafter. Then people from Yemen came to him. He said to them: “O people of Yemen, remain steadfast to the good news I have given you for the people of Tamim have rejected it.” They said what means: “We have accepted it in good faith. O Messenger of Allah, we come to you in search of more knowledge about the Religion, and to ask you about the beginning of existence.” He said what means: “Allah existed eternally and nothing else existed.” >>This means that Allah existed without a beginning to His existence, and before He created the passing of time, the place, the throne (ceiling of Paradise), the heavens, the entity, the mobility, the stillness, nor any other creation, then He created the creation. And after He created the creation, He is as He was, without a place, without a “How” to His existence and without being in any direction.
We praise Allah, The Exalted for the virtue of being on this Sunnah Creed as was Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam, his companions and those who righteously followed them and those whom the Prophet praised for their strong hold to the creed. For the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam said in what was relayed by Imam Ahmed, Al-Bazzar, At-Tabaraniyy, and Al-Hakim what means:
<<Constantinople will be conquered, a commendable leader is that leader, and a commendable army is that army.>>
It happened that Constantinople was conquered after 900 years by Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih Al-Maturidiyy who was a Sunni Muslim holding strong to the creed that Allah exists without a place and loved the true Sufi and used to perform tawassul by the Prophet of Allah sallallahu ^alayhi wa-sallam. Thus far, millions of Muslims historically and around the world from east to west hold strong to this creed. The Ash-^ariyyah and the Maturidiyyah are the people of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah, the people who will be saved on the Day of Judgment.
Exalted is my Lord and all praise is due to The Lord of the Worlds.