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This particular discussion really frustrates me. I recently got into the debates about the right group of Ahlus-Sunnah. Probably I will not repeat to research these discussions again. It is just frustrating to see Maturidis, Asharis and Atharis debating whether, who is Ahlus-Sunnah and who is Ahlul-Bidah (from an Aqeedah perspective).

The question: Are there scholars, who affirmed that all those three groups (Atharis, Maturidis, Asharis) are Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jamaah? (meaning in the technical definition, not in the meaning of being other than Shia)

Additional thoughts: This debate really only creates division, if is debated under laymen. Also, if we exclude one of those groups, a large percentage of the Muslim Ummah will fall under the category of Ahlul Bidah out of nowhere in opposition to this Hadith:

And [it is reported] in al-Tirmidhi from Ibn ‘Abbas, he said: The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “The hand of Allah is with the Jama‘ah.” [It is] an uncommon hadith.

So the majority of Muslims can’t be misguided in this issue. Everyone, who excludes one large group, must explain this particular point.

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Yes, Imam as Saffarini (a relied upon Athari scholar) has affirmed that the Atharis, Ash'aris and Maturidis are apart of Ahl-Al Sunnah:

The Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah are in three groups: the Athari whose Imam is Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, the Ash’ari whose Imam is Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari, and the Maturidi whose Imam is Abu Mansur al-Maturidi

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Ahlus-Sunnah is described in the following ahadith:

It was narrated from Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan that he said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood among us and said: “Those who came before you of the people of the Book split into seventy-two sects, and this ummah will split into seventy-three: seventy-two are in Hell and one in Paradise, and that is the Jama‘ah (main body of Muslims).” Abu Dawud (4597) and classed as Sahih by Shaykul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmu’ al-Fatawa (3/345), by al-I’raqi in Takhrij al-Ihya’ (9/133) and by al-Hakim (1/128) who said: “It is an important hadith that represents a basic principle.” It was classed as Hasan by Ibn Hajar in Takhrij al-Kashshaf (63), and thematised in As-Sahihah (1/404-14 - #204)

in another narration, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

My Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of whom will be in Hell except one group.” They said: ‘Who are they, O Messenger of Allah’? He said: “(Those who follow) that which I and my companions follow.” This is mentioned in the hadith of ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr, which was recorded and graded as an expounded (Mufassirun) Hasan Gharib narration by at-Tirmidhi (2641) and classed as Hasan by al-I’raqi in Ahkam al-Qur’an (3/432) as well as in Takhrij al-Ihya’ (3/284)

The two categories, namely the general and specific meaning of Ahlus-Sunnah in relation with sects, such as Asharis/Maturidi (philosophers and those who do not accept certain traits of Allah like “His described” hands), Murji‘ah, Khawarij (Takfiris) and so on, is well explained in this article.

The hadith references should be also understood as everything which is described in the Qur‘an and in the authentic ahadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) and from the Sahabah, is the Sunnah because that is what they have followed and displayed at its best.

All of those name calling such as Maturidi or Ashari, as well as the extreme orthodox followership describing themselves as Hanafi or Maliki, and so on, came later. Non of those great scholars of those Madhahab have known that those schools of thoughts will be established and named after their Imam as such or that people would label themselves as such followers in those times. All of this came later and is still present to this day, which creates a lot of misunderstandings, discussions and hate.

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