The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat is the largest group of Muslims and the only group whose beliefs and teachings are truly in accordance with the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). The beliefs of this group are the same as the beliefs of the Sahaba or noble companions of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and the Salf-e-Saliheen (our great pious predecessors).
In many Ahadith, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) strongly advised the Muslims to follow his Sunnah and to remain steadfast upon the path of his Sahaba, the Salf-e-Saliheen and the majority of Muslims to remain steadfast upon the way of the Ahle Sunnah.
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "I have left two things behind me for you (the Ummah). You will never go astray as long as you follow these two things. One of these two things is Allah's Holy Book (the Holy Quran) and the other is the Sunnah of his Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)." (Muwatta Imam Malik)
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said that after he passes away his Ummah should remain firmly steadfast upon his Sunnah and upon the way of his four Muslim Caliphs. He advised us to follow this path alone and to be beware of innovations, which contradict the Holy Quran and his Sunnah. (Abu Dawud; Tirmizi)
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Follow the way of the largest group of Muslims! For, he who deviates from this group will be thrown into Hell!" (Ibn Majah)
REMAINING WITH THE AHLE SUNNAT WAL JAMAAT
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) advised us to remain firm with the largest group of Muslims and remain steadfast upon their way in beliefs and in actions.
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance and incorrect beliefs. Allah's mercy, blessings and protection are with the largest group of Muslims. And he who deviates from this largest group of Muslims will be thrown into Hell." (Tirmizi)
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "He who deviates from the largest group of Muslims, even as much as a hand span, has himself cut off his connection with Islam". (Abu Dawud)
ABSTAINING FROM MISGUIDED GROUPS
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) clearly warned his Ummah to completely abstain from joining in the gatherings of or listening to the words of any of the other misguided groups that will appear amongst the Muslims, whose beliefs will contradict the beliefs of the largest group of Muslims. The beliefs of the largest group of Muslims will be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), the beliefs of the Sahaba and the Salf-e-Saliheen.
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "In the period prior to the Day of Judgement, false and deceitful groups will emerge. They will say things to you, which neither you nor your forefathers will have ever heard before. Stay away from these deceitful people and do not let them come near you! Do not be misguided by them and do not let them cause strife amongst you!" (Sahih Muslim)
DIVISIONS IN THE UMMAH
The concept of the Muslim nation separating into 73 sects, is taken from authentic Ahadith such as the following related by Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu): "The Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: 'The Jews separated into 71 sects, and the Christians into 72, and my nation will divide into 73 sects.'" (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Seventy-two (of the 73 sects of the Muslim nation) will be in the fire, and only one will be in Paradise; it is the Jama'ah (i.e. Ahle Sunnah Wa Jamaah)." (Abi Dawud, Ad-Darimi, Ahmad)
There is another narration which states: "The Companions asked: 'Which sect will triumph (i.e. achieve salvation)?' The Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) replied: 'The sect which adheres to that (set of beliefs and practices) which I and my Companions adhere to.'"It should be clear from these Ahadith that the one sect, out of the 73, which is to gain salvation, is the Ahle Sunnah Wa Jamaah, the only segment of the Muslim community which adheres to that which the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (radi Allahu anhum) adhered to.
OPINION OF GREAT SCHOLARS AND SAINTS
Sayyiduna Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (alaihir rahmah) states: "There are 73 groups as foretold by Sayyiduna Rasoolallah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and (bear in mind that), the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat was the rightful group". (Ghunyatut Taalibeen)
Imam Ghazzali (alaihir rahmah) writes: "The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat is the successful Firqah (group) and it is this Firqa which weighs or determines its thoughts and its according to the scales of the Holy Quran". (Mujarribaate Imam Ghazal)
Sayyiduna Shah Wali'ullah Muhaddith Dehlawi (alaihir rahmah) states: "As Rasoolallah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated, follow this 'Sawad-e-Azam', and when the four Madhabs are within the Sawad-e-Azam then the following of any one of them, is followance of the Sawad-e-Azam. Therefore, refuting any one of them is refuting the Sawad-e-Azam". (Aqdul Jayyad)
Imam Sufyan Souri (alaihir rahmah) states: "By Sawad-e-Azam is meant those who are called the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat". (Al Mizaanul Qubra)
Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlawi (alaihir rahmah) states in his book "Fatawa Azeezi" (Vol. 2, pg. 4) that: "The various parts of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat in Aqaa'id such as the Ash'ariya, the Maaturadi, in Fiqh such as the Hanifa, the Shafi'i, the Hambali, in Tassawwaf such as the Qaaderi, the Chisti, Naqshabandi, the Suhurwardi, this servant considers all of them to be the truth".
Imam Rabbani, Mujaddid Alif Thaani (alaihir rahmah) states in the second chapter, page 67 of his "Maktubaat Shareef" that: "The way of salvation is followance of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. May Almighty Allah Ta'ala bestow blessings upon the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, in their speech, in their actions, laws, for this is the successful group. Besides this, all other groups have become victims of deception. Today, nobody realises how much these misled groups will be punished, however, on the Day of Qiyamah this secret will become apparent. Even though at that time this knowledge will be of no benefit to the misled."