Aboo Uthmaan as-Saaboonee (d.449H) (rahimahullaah) said, "And one of the distinguishing signs of Ahlus-Sunnah is their love for the Imaams of the Sunnah, its Scholars, its helpers, and its close allies, and their hatred for the leaders of innovation who call to the Hell-Fire and who direct their associates and companions to the home of torment and destruction. Allaah, the Sublime, has adorned the hearts of Ahlus-Sunnah, and the light of their hearts with love for the Scholars of the Sunnah, as a bounty from Him, Whose Magnificence is perfect and Sublime.
Al-Haakim Aboo ‘Abdullaah al-Haafidh, may Allaah make him and us reside in Paradise, informed Us: Muhammad ibn Ibraabeem Ibn al-Fadl al-Muzakkee narrated to us: Ahmad ibn Salamah (said): Aboo Rajaa Qutaibah ibn Sa’eed read his Kitaabul-Eemaan to us, and at the end of it there occurred, "So when you see a man loving Sufyaan ath-Thawree, Maalik ibn Anas, al-Awzaa’ee, Shu’bah, Ibn al-Mubaarak, Abul-Ahwas Shareek, Wakee’, Yahyaa ibn Sa’eed and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Mahdee, then know that he is a person of the Sunnah." Ahmad ibn Salamah (rahimahumullaah) said, "Then I added, underneath that in my script, ‘...and Yahyaa (ibn Yahyaa), Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishaaq (ibn Ibraaheem) ibn Raahawaaih...’ When we stopped at this passage (of the book) the people of Neesaaboor looked at us and he (Qutaihah) said, "Those people hate Yahyaa ibn Yahyaa." So we said, "What is Yahyaa ibn Yahyaa?" He said, "A righteous man, Imaam of the Muslims. And Ishaaq ibn Ibraaheem is an Imaam (of the Muslims) - and in my estimation Ahmad ibn Hanbal is greater than all of those whom I have mentioned."
And I met those whom Qutaibah (rahimahullaah) mentioned (about whom he said) that whoever loves them then he is a person of the Sunnah, from among the Scholars of Ahlul-Hadeeth, whose model they emulate, by whose guidance they seek to guide themselves and in whose group and rank they count themselves. And in following the narrations (and sayings of these scholars) they find (i.e., are led to) another group of (righteous scholars), amongst them: Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee, Sa’eed ibn Zubair, az-Zuhree, ash-Sha’bee, at-Taimee and thocse after them such as al-Laith ibn Sa’d (al-Misree), al-Awzaa’ee, Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyainah al-Hilaalee, Hammaad ibn Salamah, Hammaad ibn Zaid, Yoonus ibn ‘Ubaid, Ayyoob as-Sakhtiyaanee, Ibn ‘Awn and those similar to them. Then after them, the likes of Yazeed ibn Haaroon (al-Waasitee), ‘Abdur-Razzaaq (ibn Hammaam as-San’aanee), Jareer ibn Abdul-Hameed (ad-Dabbee) and then those after them such as Muhammad ibn Yahyaa adh-Dhuhlee, Muhammad ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bukhaaree, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj al-Qushairee, Aboo Daawood as-Sijistaanee, Aboo Zur’ah ar-Raazee, Aboo Haatim (ar-Raazee) and his son, and Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Waarah (ar-Raazee), Muhammad ibn Aslam at-Toosee, (Aboo Sa’eed) ‘Uthmaan ibn Sa’eed ad-Daarimee (as-Sijzee) and (Imaam) Muhammad ibn Ishaaq ibn Khuzaimah (an-Neesaabooree) the one who used to be called ‘Imaam of the Scholars,’ and al-Muqirree was the Imaam of the Scholars during his era and time, and Aboo Ya’qoob Ishaaq ibn Ismaa’eel al-Bustee, (al-Hasan ibn Sufyaan al-Faswee) — and my grandfather by way of my father, Aboo Sa’eed Yahyaa ibn Mansoor az-Zaahid ah-Harawee and (Aboo Haatim) ‘Adee ibn Hamdawaih as-Saaboonee and his two sons, the Swords of the Sunnah, ‘Abdullah as-Saaboonee and Aboo Abdullah Rahmaan as-Saaboonee and others besides them from the Scholars of the Sunnah, who hold fast to it, aid it, call to it and are the most gentle with and compliant to it.
And these sentences (i.e., the aforementioned aqeedah) which have been affirmed in this book constituted the ‘aqeedah of all of them. They never differed with each other about (a single matter from) it. Rather, they (unanimously) agreed upon it (and it has never been established about any one of them that he was pleased with whatever opposed it).
And along with that they (unanimously) agreed with theirsaying about the Ahlul-Bid’ah — that they should be subdued, humiliated and disgraced, banished and driven away. That (one must) keep away from them, from those who associate with them and from those who are intimate with them. And to seek nearness to Allaah by avoiding them and fleeing from them."
And the Ustaadh and Imaam (i.e., Aboo ‘Uthmaan)(radhiyallaahu anhu) said, "And I, by the Grace of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, am a follower of their narrations, seeking illumination by their lights (and I) advise my brothers and my companions that they should not slip away from their sign-post and that they should not follow other than their sayings. That they should not occupy themselves with these newly invented matters from among the innovations, which have become widespread amongst the Muslims (and likewise the detestable things which) have appeared and become popular (amongst the people). And if a single one of these matters appeared upon the tongue of anyone in the times of those Scholars, that they would have forsaken him, would have declared him an innovator, called him a liar and would have attributed to him, every evil and loathsome thing.
Let not my brothers, may Allaah protect them, be deceived by the abundance of the Ahlul-Bid’ah (the People of Innovation) and their large numbers (for verily, the abundance of the people of falsehood and the small number of the people of truth is a sign of the approach of the Day of Truth), since the Chosen Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Indeed, amongst the signs of the Hour and its being close at hand, is that knowledge will diminish and ignorance will be widespread."
(And knowledge is the Sunnah and ignorance is bid’ah. And he (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Verily, eemaan will retreat to Madeenah as a snake retreats into its burrow." And he (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "The Hour will not be established… …the earth anyone who says, Allaah." [Two words appear here which could not be deciphered by the chekcer of the treatise, Badrul-Badr, from the original manuscript.]
And whoever holds fast to the Sunttah of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) (today), acts upon it, remains firm upon it and calls to it, his reward is more numerous and plentiful than the one who was upon this ‘aqeedah (i.e., the above-mentioned (aqeedah) at the beginnings of Islaam and faith. Since the Chosen Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "He will receive the reward of fifty (i.e. the one clinging to that which the Companions were upon the later times). " So it was said, ‘Fifty from amongst them? He (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, "No, but rather front amongst you (i.e., the Companions)."
(Aboo ‘Uthmaan said), "I found in the book of the Shaikh, the Imaam, my grandfather, Aboo ‘Abdullaah Muhammad Ibn ‘Adee Hamdawaih as-Saaboonee (rahimahumullah), Abul-Abbaas, al-Hasan ibn Sufyaan an-Nasawee informed us that al-’Abbaas ibn Sabeeh narrated to them (saying): ‘Abdul-Jabbaar ibn Taahir narrated to us (saying): Ma’mar ibn Raashid narrated to me (saying): I heard ibn Shihaab az-Zuhree saying,‘Teaching a sunnah is more superior than two-hundred years of worship."
Aboo Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah Ibn Muhammad ibn Zakariyyah ash-Shaybaanee - informed us, saying Abdul-Abbas muhammad ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ad-Daghoolee informed us, saying: "I heard Muhammad ibn Haatim al-Madhfaree saying: I heard ‘Amr ibn Muhammad saying: Aboo Mu’aawiyah ad-Dareer was speaking to Haaroon ar-Rasheed, and he narrated to him the hadeeth of Aboo Hurairah, "Aadam and Moosaa had a dispute..." so ‘Alee ibn Ja’far said, "How can this be when there exists the gap (of time) between Aadam and Moosaa that (which) there is." He (i.e., the narrator) said, "So Haaroon jumped on account of it and said, "He is narrating to you from the Messenger and you oppose him by saying, ‘How?’ And he did not cease saying this until he calmed down and became silent."
And in such a way, is it necessary for a person to honour and revere the narrations of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). He should receive them with acceptance, submission and affirm their truthfulness. He should disown and criticise, in the most severe fashion, anyone who takes a path other than this path, which Haaroon ar-Rasheed (rahimahumullah) took with the one who resists and opposes an authentic narration which he has heard, by saying, ‘How?’ seeking thereby to reject it and to distance himself from it, and does not receive it with acceptance, in the way that everything which has been reported from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) should be accepted.
May Allah, the Sublime, make us amongst those who listen to the Word and follow the best (thereof) and who hold fast, in this world, for the duration of their lives, to the Book and the Sunnah. And may He keep us away from the desires that lead astray, the opinions that waver, and the evils that cause humiliation, as a bounty and grace from Him. [From the treatise of Aboo 'Uthmaan as-Saaboonee (d449H), entitled, "Aqeedatus-Salaf wa Ashaabul-Hadeeth, pp.108-117,]