The correct Meaning of the term “Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah”
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:
<<Let the one who seeks the vastness of Paradise remain steadfast to the Majority.>>
‘The Jama^ah’ is ‘the majority’ who are the 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. Allah Willed for two noble scholars to emerge with a mission to refute the misguidance of the Mu^tazilah, the Mushabihah and other sects, and to reaffirm the true creed. These two scholars are Abu Al-Hasan Al-Ash^ariyy and Abu Mansur Al-Maturidiyy, May Allah reward them greatly. 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.
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 Ash^ariyyah or Maturidiyyah in school of knowledge. The Hafidh 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 is the same creed held by the Asha^irah and Maturidiyyah. 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. 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.
Moreover many scholars authored many books specifically to elucidate the creed of Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jama^ah.
An ayah in the Qur’an means:
“Allah will send forth the people whom He highly accepts 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 Musa Al-Ash^ariyy and said: “Those people will be the descendants of this man.””
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.