As per Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'at, they are real Muslims and true followers of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) (meaning - Ahle Sunnah), and 4 Khulafa-e-Rashideen (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین) (meaning - Jama'at). This is the reason they are known as Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'a. Their distinctive features are as follows.
(1) In the issues of fiqh, they follow the interpretations of 4 Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Maalik, Imam Shaffi'i and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, as most authentic.
No sect or individual in the Islamic history so far has questioned the Islamic faith of the above 4 Imams of Fiqh. Meaning, all 4 Imams are authentic teachers of Islam.
Therefore, the Muslim Ummah is united that whoever follows any of the Imams of fiqh, is on the right path of Islam.
(2) The basic Islamic creed (Iman) is the essential part of Islamic fiqh. Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'a believe in the teachings of the above 4 Imams of Fiqh in Islamic faith. As a matter of fact, the famous Imams of theology; Imam Ash'ari, Imam Mathuridhi and Imam Tahawi essentially were the followers of the above Imams of Fiqh.
(3) With the above facts in view, it is established that the followers of Imams of Fiqh who are known as Hanafi, Maaliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali are not different Groups. Rather they follow different teachers / jurists within the Group of Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'a. We are positive that this fact cannot be disputed by anyone in the world.
As against the above, the Salafi Groups have disregarded all the 4 Imams. In the Book of Judgments from Al-Insaaf, Ibn Taymiyyah said - "He who makes it compulsory to follow an Imam, then his repentance is sought and if he does not repent then he is killed.".
Salafis encourage Muslims to study their misinterpreted versions of Quran and their published altered Ahadith books and deduce Islamic rules on their own. They also ask people to judge Imams' rulings independently and reject their rulings if they find fault in them. We do not understand how can an ordinary person, who does not know much about the religion, can evaluate the work of the greatest teachers of Islam? Even to understand an Imam's ruling and become an authentic Mufti who gives opinions on Islamic issues, one has to emulate the great Imams and spend his life time under the guidance of great Islamic teachers. Indeed, what Ibn Taymiyyah did was an effective ploy to deviate Muslims from the authentic Islamic teachings.
Salafis also changed the concept of oneness of God (Tawheed). They have created an Idol Sky God who sits in the skies, separated from his creatures.Salafis mention a Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) Hadith which says that 'Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) created Adam (علیھ السلا م ) on his image. They misinterpret this Hadith and say that since Adam (علیھ السلا م ) has a face, eyes, hands, foot, therefore Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) is a big human being and others are small human beings. (La haula wala Quwwata Illa Billah)It is in Quran - 'Nothing is like Him' (Ash-Shu'ra - 11).They also mention a Hadith (Muslim and Muatta) that, when Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) asked a slave girl where is Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ), she replied 'in the sky' and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) did not say anything. They also misinterpret many other Quranic verses and Ahadith to confine Allah's ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) Unity (Zaat) into a Human-like body and try to limit Him into the skies.When someone says that Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) is in Skies, does it mean that He is only in skies and not on planets or anywhere else? Read the following Quranic verses.
It is in Quran - وَهُوَ الَّذِي فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلَـٰهٌ وَفِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَـٰهٌ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ- (Meaning - It is He, Who is Allah ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) in skies and Allah( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) on Earth; and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge. (Az-Zukhruf - 84).It is in Quran - Allah( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) is the light (existence) of the Skies and Earth’. (An-Noor -35).It is in Quran - He is the First, and the Last, He is the Manifest (apparent) and the Immanent (actually present through out the material world) and is knower of all things’. (Al-Hadeed – 3).It is in Quran - Whichever side you turn, you will find Allah (SWT); Verily ( in truth ) Allah – ( سبحانہ و تعا لی ) is Omnipresent (existing everywhere every moment) and Omniscient ( infinitely wise ). ( Al-Baqra – 115 ).It is in Quran - Transcendent (magnificent) is your Lord, the Lord of All-Greatness, far above what they ascribe to Him (As-Saafaat - 180).Salafis follow Athari (textualist) School of thought in Islamic Jurisprudence. Nobody knows about the origins of this school of thought and nobody knows who was the Imam of this school of thought. This school of thought seems to be the brain child of some misguided scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah and his students and intellectual heirs. Salafis claim that Imam Ahmad was the follower of this school of thought. (Astaghfirullah). It is indeed a slander on this great Imam.
Similarly, Shias do not follow the above 4 Imams. They follow different schools of thought in Fiqh.
(4) There are certain Groups of Muslims like Ilyasi Salafis (Tabhlighee Salafis), Deobandi Salafis and Maududi Salafis (Jamat-e-Islami Salafis) who claim that since they follow Imams of fiqh, they should be categorized as Ahle Sunnah. This claim on their part is false in view of the following facts.(a) They accept Ibn Taymiyyah as authentic scholar of Islam and always refer his statements, Fatawas and books in their articles. They also accept all Salafi Scholars, upto Uthaymin, Al-Bani and Ibn Baz.
(b) They all claim Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) is physically sitting on the skies. They all do not celebrate Milad and oppose Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'a in their practices of visiting of Muslim graves and many other issues.
(c) Their united stand is that the Green Dome of Prophet Mohammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) should be destroyed and three graves should be flattened to earth.(d) They support Saudis' action of converting Prophet Mohammad( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) house in Makka into a Public Toilet for use by millions of people, 24 hours of the day.(e) They support removal of authentic Ahadith from Ahadith books of Imam Bukhari, Muslim and others. They consider Al-Bani, who has changed the entire Hadith literature of Islam, as great Islamic Scholar.(f) They accept the translation of Quran titled "Noble Quran" done by Salafis as authentic.(g) There are some differences of opinion among them, therefore, sometimes they differ with each other on some fiqh issues. But overall, their basic faith is heavily influenced by Salafi beliefs.(h) Tabhlighees, Deobandies, Jamat-e-Islami and the like minded groups race with each other to humiliate the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ). Their Akabir Ulema are notoriously famous in insulting the Prophet of Islam ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ). Read their statements in their books given in the following link.
(5) Like Ilyasi Salafis, Deobandi Salafis and Maududi Salafis, etc., there is another group of Babas, Maulanas and Godmen who call themselves Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'a. This Group consists of sorcerers, hypnotists who are good at "vision hold juggling", mantras, spiritual gimmicks and witch craft in the name of Sufi healing. The followers of this group have no relationship with Islam whatsoever. Certain Muslim individuals also learn these evil techniques and claim that they are Sufis.
It is observed that people belonging to all Muslim sects approach these people for quick fix solutions to their day to day problems.
These so called Sufi Babas and Godmen perform sorcery and witch Crafts in great secrecy, therefore, it is generally not known who is approaching them for help. We advise our brothers and sisters never to get in touch with these Sufi Babas and so called Maulanas because they take the assistance of evil spirits in their witch craft.
(6) The Islamic Shariah is amply elaborated in the rulings of our 4 Imams of Fiqh. A person who does not accept or care about Islamic Sharia, cannot be regarded as Sufi. In Islam, the basis of Tasawwuf is Shariah.
Some groups equate Tasawwuf with mysticism theories of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, etc., and say that it is possible to be close to Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) from outside the ambiance of Islamic Sharia. These are all futile talk. Therefore, followers of Vilayat Khan /Inayat Khan Group and like minded, cannot be regarded as Sufis or Ahle Sunnah because they have separated themselves from Islamic Sharia.
(7) Deobandis, Tabhlighees, etc., claim that they also follow the great traditions of Sufism and identify themselves with Silsila-e-Ashrafia which is associated with Ashraf Ali Thanvi.Who is Ashraf Ali Thanvi? They refer to him as Hakim-ul-Ummah and there is a Sufi Silsilah called "Silsila-e-Ashrifia" attributed with him.
Let us see what Ashraf Ali Thanvi has written in his book 'Risala Imdad, page 34-35, Imdad Al-Mataab'e, Thana Bhavan publication.QUOTE - It is 'Satisfactory and consoling' to say ' La Ilaha Illallah - Ashraf Ali Rasulullah' and 'Allahumma Salle Ala Sayyedina Wa Nabi'eena Ashraf Ali', and there is nothing wrong in saying this. UNQUOTE (Lahaula wala quwwata illah billah). Watch this video reference.
The above statement of Ashraf Ali Thanvi is similar in nature with Mirza Gulam Ahmad Qadiyani (1835-1908), who claimed himself to be a Nabi. His followers are known as Qadiyanis or Ahmadiyya who were declared as Non-Muslims in 1974 by Pakistani Parliament.In his book Hifzul Iman, page 7 Ashraf Ali Thanvi wrote "The type of knowledge of Unseen given by Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) to Prophet Mohammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) is also given to animals, lunatics humans and children. (Astaghfirullah).
When you question Deobandis, Tabhlighees and their like minded about these beliefs, they will give 4-6 page explanations to convince you that Ashraf Ali Thanvi did not mean what is 'so explicitly and clearly' written by him in his books.Like Ibn Taymiyyah who claimed himself to belong to Qadri Silsila, Deobandis and Tabhlighees also claim that they are also Qadris, Chistees, Naqshbandis and Suharwardis, all in one. Their claims are false because Ashraf Ali Thanvi and other Scholars of Deoband are famous for their disrespect of Prophet Mohammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and Sahabah. In addition, they believe in Sky Idol God theory. Read their shocking beliefs on the following location.(8) We have noticed many groups on internet whose members belong to all kinds of faiths. They never try to learn or even discuss basic faith of Islam or follow the Imams of Fiqh, but do talk a lot about Sufism and Sufi Shaikhs. They call themselves Chishtia Groups, Naqshbandia Groups, etc., and claim they are Ahle Sunnah. These groups have taken themselves away from Islam. The reason is simple. Tasawwuf which is not based on Islamic Sharia is not Islam, therefore, these groups cannot be regarded as Sufis and their claim of affiliation with Chishti or Naqshbandi orders is false. What they practice is out of the purview of Islam. They have completely misunderstood Sufi teachings. Read the history of all Sufi Shaikhs of Islam, they were Muslims, Awliya Allah and they followed Imams of fiqh in faith and Islamic Sharia.
(9) Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'a are united that among many authentic books of Ahadith, there are six most authentic books written by Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Tirmidhi, Imam Nasai, Imam Abu Dawood, and Imam Ibn Maaja.
Salafis do not believe in the above Imams or other scholars of Ahadith. They claim that the books of above Imams contain concocted (Maudhu) and Da'ef Ahadith. They claim that Al-Bani has removed falsehood from these books of Ahadith. Therefore, they will accept only those Ahadith that have been approved (read altered) by Al-Bani.
The above claim constitutes that Salafis have, in effect, rejected all Imams of Ahadith, in addition to all Imams of Fiqh, and they will believe only in what Salafi scholars have taught them.
With the above undeniable facts, it is very easy for our readers to decide, if Salafi Groups are real Muslims or not. For further reading, please visit the following locations.
Similar is the case with Shia Groups. They rejected Khulfa-e-Rashideen (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین ) as wrong doers. They claim Quran in its present form is not true as Sahabah have changed its verses. They have also formed separate schools of thought in Fiqh.
(10) As per the Hadith if Ihsan, there are three stages in Islam; (i) Iman, (ii) Islam, and (iii) Ihsan. Iman is to believe in Islamic faith; Islam means performance of Islamic deeds. Both these issues have been covered when one follows the anyone of the 4 Imams of Fiqh.
What is Ihsan? Performance of Islamic deeds with utmost sincerity of heart. The sincerity in doing Islamic deeds was taught to us by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and his 4 rightful Caliphs (رضئ اللھ تعالی عنہم اجمعین ). The training in sincerity of heart is known as Tazkia Nafs (reformation of anima). Islam has seen great teachers in Tazkia Nafs; all of whom learned these skills from the rightful Caliphs, particularly from Hadhrat Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) and Hadhrat Ali (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). These Tazkia Nafs techniques were later known as Tariqas which were identified with the names of their Shuyooks, like Qadri, Chistee, Naqshbandi, Suharwardi, Shazuli, etc.
It is important to note that all the great Shuyooks of Tareeqa (Sufi orders) in Islam were essentially the followers of 4 Imams of Fiqh in Islamic faith and practices. Since they specialized in Islamic theology and were famous for tazkia Nafs, their followers were known by their names.
Thus, Qadris, Chishtees, Naqshbandis, etc., are not separate Groups. They are the followers of Tazkia Nafs teachers within Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaat.
(11) Salafis and their like minded groups criticize that certain practices of Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'a; like visiting the graves of Muslims, Celebrating Milad-un-Nabi, etc., are wrong. We have provided more than 100 Ahadith and Quranic verses in this context and have proved in the light of Quran and Ahadith that what Salafis say is wrong and concocted notions which have nothing to do with Islam. Read this information on the following locations on our Website.