Who was the first to use the term Ahlus Sunnah [Sunni Traditions] and al Jamaah? I have searched through the history books and found that they agreed to call the year in which Muawiyah seized power “the year of al Jamaah”. It was called thus because the nation became divided into two factions after the death of Uthman: The Shia of Ali and the followers of Muawiyah. When Imam Ali was martyred and Muawiyah seized power after his pact with Imam Hassan which enabled him to become commander of the believers the years was then called “al Jamaah”. Therefore the name Ahlus Sunnah [Sunnah Traditionists] and al Jamaah indicates the Sunnah [tradition] of Muawiyah, and the agreement on his leadership, and does not mean the followers of the Sunnah [tradition] of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Lexically, the term Sunnah is defined as a pattern, path, life, history. The word Jama’ah is defined in contrast with separation. This is the lexical basis for both the terms Sunnah and al Jama’ah.
Technically, the word Sunnah refers to what the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were upon in terms of moderation in belief, speech, and action.
Ibn Hazm defines it as follows:
The Ahlus Sunnah are the Ahl al Haq (people of the truth) and everyone besides them are Ahl al Bid’ah (people of innovation). Indeed, the Ahlus Sunnah were the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, and those who followed their path from the best amongst the Tabi’in , then the scholars of Hadith, and those who followed them from amongst the jurists; generation after generation until present times. This includes those who followed them from the general masses from East to West.
Ahlus Sunnah is a term used to refer to those who follow the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Sunnah.
The technical meaning of al Jama’ah refers to the Jama’ah (group) who follow the truth, in reference to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. We know from the Prophetic hadith that it applies to them, “What I and my Sahabah are upon.” This is mentioned unambiguously in another narration wherein the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “They are the Jama’ah!” It is for that reason that Abu Shamah said:
Whenever the command comes to stick to the Jama’ah, then the intended meaning is stick to the truth and following it even if those who hold onto it are few and those who oppose it are many as the truth is what the first Jama’ah were upon, i.e. the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The abundance of people of falsehood who came later are not to be looked at (to determine the way of the Jama’ah).
Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “The Jama’ah is what is aligned with the truth even if you are alone!” Therefore, the person who subscribes to the Qur’an, Sunnah, and ijma’ is from the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah.
This is the definition of the term Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah.
 Then I was guided, p. 170.
 Manhaj al Istidlal ‘ala Masa’il al I’tiqad ‘inda Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah by ‘Uthman ‘Ali, vol. 1, p. 28.
 Al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwa wa al Nihal by Ibn Hazm, vol. 2, p. 271.
 Sunan al Tirmidhi, Kitab al Iman, Bab Ma Ja fi Iftiraq hadhih al Ummah, Hadith: 2641, vol. 5; Refer also to Sahih al Tirmidhi, Hadith: 2129.
 Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al Fitan, Bab Iftiraq al Umam, Hadith: 3992; See also Sahih Ibn Majah, Hadith: 3226, 3227.
 Al Ba’ith ‘ala Inkar al Bida’ wa al Hawadith by Abu Shamah, p. 91; See also Manhaj al Istidlal, vol. 1, p. 39.
 Ibid, p. 92
 Majmu’ al Fatawa, vol. 3, p. 346.Back to top