الحمد لله وحده، والصلاة والسلام على من لا نبي بعده، وعلى آله وصحبه، أما بعد
With regard to the signs and descriptions of Ahlus Sunnah (the people of the Sunnah), Imaam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullaah) said:
“From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah leave the statements of the people for it (i.e. the Sunnah), whilst Ahlul Bid’ah (the people of innovation) leave it for the statements of the people.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah review the statements of the people according to it; hence that which is in compliance with it; then they accept it, and that which opposes it; then they reject it. Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah review them in accordance to the opinions of men, hence that which is in compliance from it with their opinions; then they accept it, and that which opposes it; then they leave it and give it an alternative interpretation.
From them; is that at the time of contention; Ahlus Sunnah call to judging by way of it – irrespective of the opinions of men as well as their intellects. Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah; at the time of contention call to the judgment by way of the opinions of men as well as their intellects.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah – if the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is proven to be authentic to them; then they do not cease from acting in accordance to it and believing in its necessitating requirements – such that it should comply with it in agreeable consistency. Rather they hasten to act upon it without paying attention to that which agrees with it or opposes it. Ash-Shaafi’ee cited this point in many of his books and denounced the one that says: ‘I shall not put a hadeeth into implementation until I come to know of who utilized it in statement and inclined to it (i.e. held a particular view/opinion).’ Rather it is obligatory for the one whom the authentic Sunnah has reached that he encounters it and should act toward it with that which the companions would have acted towards it when they had heard it from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). So he brings himself to being at the level of the one who heard it from him (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Ash-Shaafi’ee said:
‘The people are agreed upon the fact that for the one upon whom the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has been clearly illustrated to; then it is not for him to leave it for the statement of anyone else.’
This is from the greatest signs of Ahlus Sunnah – that they do not leave it once it has been proven certain (i.e. authentic) to them for the statement of anyone from the people – whoever he may be.
From them; is that they do not affiliate themselves to a particular article nor to a particular person – other than the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). So they do not have a title by way of which they are known nor an attribution by way of which they attribute themselves to – when other than them attribute themselves to the newly invented statements and their masters. Just as some of the Imaams of the Sunnah used to say when asked concerning it that:
‘The Sunnah is that which has no other name for it other than the Sunnah.’
Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah at times attribute themselves to statements on occasions – such as the Qadariyyah and the Murji-ah, or to the one who states something on other occasions – such as the Haashimiyyah and the Najjaariyyah and the Daraariyyah. On other occasions it could be to an action – such as the Khawaarij and the Raafidhah, and Ahlus Sunnah are free of these attributions – in their entirety; and their attribution is but to the hadeeth and the Sunnah.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah aid the authentic hadeeth and the Salafi narrations/reports, whilst Ahlul Bid’ah aid their own statements and their own ideologies.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah – when they mention the Sunnah and when they dispatch the call to it; the hearts of Ahlul Bid’ah are at aversion from that, and so they have a stake in His saying, The Most High:
وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَحْدَهُ وَلَّوْا عَلَىٰ أَدْبَارِهِمْ نُفُورًا
((And when you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’aan, they turn their backs in aversion.)) (Al-Israa: 46)
Ahlul Bid’ah – when their shuyookh and their statements are mentioned to them; they rejoice at it, so they are as He, The Most High said:
وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ اشْمَأَزَّتْ قُلُوبُ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ الَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِ إِذَا هُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ
((And when Allaah is mentioned alone, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with aversion, and when those [whom they worship] besides Him are mentioned; then they rejoice.)) (Az-Zumar: 45)
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah know the truth and are merciful to the creation; so they have an immense stake from knowledge and mercy, and their Lord, The Most High, has encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge. Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah belie with the truth and declare the creation to be disbelievers, so they have no knowledge and no mercy, and when the proofs of Ahlus Sunnah are established over them; they deflect toward imprisonment of them and punishment of them if they have capability over them – inheritors of Pharaoh. For indeed when the proofs of Moosaa were established over him and it was not possible for him to come up with an answer for it; he said:
قَالَ لَئِنِ اتَّخَذْتَ إِلَٰهًا غَيْرِي لَأَجْعَلَنَّكَ مِنَ الْمَسْجُونِينَ
((He [Pharaoh] said; “If you take a deity other than me, I will certainly make you among those that are imprisoned.”)) (Ash-Shu’araa: 29)
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah make allegiance and show enmity on the basis of the Sunnah of their Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah make allegiance and show enmity upon the basis of statements that they innovated.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah do not erroneously establish principles by way of which they pass judgement and with which they then stipulate the pursuance of from their opponents as well as judging over those that oppose them with wicked sinfulness and takfeer (declaring a Muslim to be an unbeliever). Rather they (Ahlus Sunnah) have principles; that being The Book and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and that which the companions were upon.
From them; is that Ahlus Sunnah – if it is said to them: Allaah, The Most High said or: His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said; then their hearts pause in aspiration at that, and they do not transgress over it toward anyone else besides it, nor do they pay attention to that which was said by so and so. Whilst Ahlul Bid’ah are in opposition to that.
From them; is that Ahlul Bid’ah take from the Sunnah that which agrees with their desires – whether it is authentic or weak. They likewise leave that which does not agree with their desires from the authentic Ahaadeeth, thus if they are incapacitated from rejection or response to it; they then take to committing sinuous outrage upon it through false reprehensible interpretations which in actuality is a distortion of it from its correct position. Ahlus Sunnah however have no desire in other than it.”
(Taken from: Mukhtasar as-Sawaa’iq al-Mursalah ‘alal Jahmiyyah wal Mu’attalah vol 4 p.1603-1607)