9. Explanation of the hadith of division in the Ummah.
I read the saying of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: The sons of Israel were divided into seventy-one groups, and the Christians were divided into seventy-two groups, and my people will be divided into seventy-three groups, all of which, except one group will end up in Hell.
Here is not the place to talk about the various religions which claim to be the right one and that the rest are wrong, but I am surprised and astonished whenever I read this saying. My surprise and astonishment is not at the saying itself, but at those Muslims who read it and repeat it in their speeches and brush over it without analysing it or even attempting to find out which the group is going to be saved and which are going to be doomed.
The interesting thing is that each group claims that it is the saved one. At the end of the saying came the following: “Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?” He answered, “Those who follow my path and the path of my Companions.” Is there any group that does not adhere to the Book [Qur’an] and Sunnah (the prophetic tradition), and is there any Islamic group that claims otherwise? If Imams Malik or Abu Hanifah or al Shafii or Ahmed ibn Hanbel were asked, wouldn’t each and every one of them claim that he adheres to the teachings of the Qur’an and the Right Sunnah’?’
These are the Sunni Madhahib, in addition to the various Shii-groups, which I had believed at one time to be deviant and corrupt. All of them claim to adhere to the Qur’an and the correct Sunnah which has been handed down through Ahlul Bayt (the Prophets salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Family) who knew best about what they were saying. Is it possible that they are all right, as they claim? This is not possible, because the Prophets salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying states the opposite, unless the saying is invented or fabricated. But that is not possible either, because the saying is accepted by both the Shia and Sunnis. Is it possible that the saying has no meaning? God forbid that His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam could utter a meaningless and aimless saying, as he only spoke words of wisdom. Therefore we are left with one possible conclusion: that there is one group which is on the right path and that the rest are wrong.
The differences between the four Imams are not about the fundamentals of the religioin. As a matter of fact, they are in agreement on those issues. Their differences are limited to secondary issues of practise which could be the result of a varied approach towards the text which resulted in alternative understandings of particular text which advocated practise.
The division being referred to in the hadith applies to the fundamentals and not secondary issues of practise.
The only group which holds fast to the Qur’an and Sunnah is safe. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam indicated that salvation is to be found with his Companions when he said, “What I, and my Sahabah, are upon.” Thus we come to realise that the group worthy of salvation is the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah. Tijani’s book is a criticism of the Sahabah from beginning to end. Where does this place him?
 Then I was guided, p. 49-50.