Senior Muslim Scholars from around the world met in Grozny, Chechnya for 3 days. Final Conference Statement was issued in which they reaffirmed “Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamah” or “Sunnis” are the Asharis and Maturidis in Belief, people of Four schools in Jurisprudence, and the people of Tassawuf, purification, morals on the way of Imam Junaid al Baghdadi and pursue on the methodology of the Guided Imams.
Full Statement in Arabic here: http://www.naseemalsham.com/ar/Pages.php?page=readviestor&pg_id=55821&page1=1
The conference and final statement as expected brought flak from certain crowds, namely Salafi, Ikhwani, Hizb ut Tahrir and so on.
Islam of Ikhwani, Hizb ut-Tahrir being about politics, their complains were directed at the venue and also that it does not speak about Syria. Which is silly as most of them do not recognize any country in the Muslim or Non-Muslim world to begin with (except maybe one where the government is hand in glove with them) and consider them all tyrants, taghut or crusaders, so no matter which venue they will have something to complain about. Moreover the subject of the conference was not about Syria that they are supposed to talk about Syria. Its one of those arguments where if a scholar gives a lesson on Wudu, a person comes along proudly denouncing it with “why isn’t he speaking about the oppression of Muslims”.
Conference in Grozny was organized in tandem with ulema of Chechenya. This is a place with rich and long tradition of Ahlu Sunnah. This is also the place where Sunni ulema initiated Jihad against Russian occupation but after the jihad was hijacked and distorted by the Wahhabiya/Khawarij, they had to take a different approach to the conflict. 52 or more scholars of Ahlus Sunnah were killed by the Khawarij there. And hence the conference is also relevant to the Muslims of Chechnya in conveying who are Ahlus Sunnah and being firm on this path, as well as ofcourse in dealing with larger problem of takfiris who have hijacked Sunni Islam and Jihad all over the world.
The Najd based Wahhabism in addition to this also complain that “Ahlu Hadith” were not included as Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamah. Now this “Ahlu Hadith” is not a clear defined group or school in the same way of Asharis or Maturidis. Ahlu Hadith is a terminology used by certain scholars more like a synonym to Ahlu Sunnah. Are we to say that the scholars of Asharis and Maturidis are not people of hadith when giants of hadith scholars come from them ? This is similar to usage of “Salaf” which will be used in certain context to identify but cannot be used as though Asharis and Maturidis are different from the Salaf. If the classification is to be made based on usage of Ilm al-Kalam, then this is not a different school of belief but only a method of defending and exposition of the belief of Ahlu Sunnah. There are scholars who are specialist in Ilm al Kalam within the school of Asharis/Maturidis while others being a specialist in hadith, tafsir, usool and so on. Moreover, even scholars that Salafiyya rely on like Qadi Abu Yala and Ibn Taymiyya would be considered a mutakkalim because of their heavy use of Kalam. In reality, Ashari/Maturidis are the inheritors of the school of righteous Salaf & Ahlu hadith, and the differences with some of the righteous Hanbali scholars in Aqeeda are minor similar to differences between Imam al-Bukhari (rah.) and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (rah.) and such minor differences will exist even within Asharis and Maturidi scholars as much as differences exist within Hanabli scholars themselves. The creed of Ashari and Maturidi school encompasses creed of all righteous Salaf and Imams of Ahlus Sunnah including Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal and the Hanbalis. This is because when the Muatazilite and Karramites were in power, it was the Asharis and Maturidis that came along and defended the creed of Salaf & Ahlu Hadith and emerged victorious and hence the Ahlu Sunnah schools came to be represented by them and carried forward by them differentiating them from the others. This is not to say that usage of “Ahlu Hadith” is wrong if used by any scholar but that many Imams of the past defined Ahlu Sunnah as Ashari and Maturidi schools in Aqeeda and this is the usage continued in this conference and there is nothing wrong with such usage.
As for the importance of clarifying who are the Sunnis, its because of the fact that majority of Sunni Muslim world have always been Asharis/Maturids in creed, and followed one of the four schools in Fiqh and adopted schools of Tassawuf. It has been the schools adopted by nearly all the Muslim caliphates of the past, the schools of all the major Islamic institutions from Far East to Far West in past and present. Despite this being the fact, we the majority are being classed as “Sufis” as though it is an offshoot of Sunnism while in reality we are the first who should be classified as Sunnis. And moreover we today have groups who do not follow the schools of Ahlus Sunnah being called as “Sunnis” like the la madhabis or dhahiris in fiqh, or anthropomorphists or many takfiri creeds or those waging war against tassawuf, that have risen in our time who do not follow and are deviated from the Aqeeda, Fiqh and methodology of Ahlu Sunnah. As a result we see takfiris as deviant as Daesh being labelled as “Sunni Jihadis” and it is pertinent in this context that Sunnis reclaim what is Sunnism and that our difference with takfiris are not reduced to legality of burning prisoners of war, but start from the foundations of Aqeeda & Jurisprudence. In the backdrop of all these fitna are also Libertine or Muatazili oriented groups adding fitna with their own innovations whether in Aqeeda or Fiqh or spirituality. Like fitnas of the past we are likely to see more deviant sects emerge in these times divergent from Ahlu Sunnah. The conference has shed focus on a foundational aspect of Sunnis with input from several senior scholars, uniting on this subject, cooperating between them on this basis and continue to be a subject of focus and perspective tomorrow. Let those who disagree with the definition gather their own whether Ikhwani, Takfiri, Madhkali, La-Madhabi, Hizb Ut Tahrir, Qaeda or whoever and release their own statement. That statement or their inability to do so will speak for itself.
In apparent response to conference, a senior Salafi Najdi scholar and member of their biggest fatwa body and recognized by all Salafis, comes out to lay bare his belief that Asharis are not Ahlus Sunnah. In other words, the vast majority of the Ummah and Imams of Sunni Islam are not Ahlus Sunnah. Let those crying crocodile tears of “sectarianism” about this conference, see where sectarianism really emerges from.