In the opinion of the writer, the root cause of sectarian difference among Muslims is this phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona Kitabullah). If these words had not been uttered by Umar after the demise of the Holy Prophet (S), Muslims would have equally clung to the Holy Quran and the holy Progeny as per the Prophet’s command, but these words took a large number of Muslims away from the holy Progeny and very few Muslims acted according to the Prophet’s tradition. They mainly belonged to Bani Hashim and their friends.
History books show that such Muslims, who had acted according to the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Hadith Thaqalayn) kept themselves aloof from Umar’s phrase. They not only did not dissociate with Umar’s supporters but also kept a distance from them in every religious affair. Accordingly, when during the time of the first Caliph, they began to collect Quran as per his order, believers in the leadership of Ahlul Bayt remained aloof from them.
Similarly, during the days of Umar’s Caliphate, when personal exertions (Ijtihaad) were being made, they did not join the committees. In short, having clung to the words of the Prophet, these people followed in every affair, only the holy Progeny. Accordingly, they followed the religious commands given by His Eminence, Ali (a.s.)
The above events clearly show that the rift created by Umar’s words became wider with the passage of time and gradually two different ways of life (sects) came into being among the followers of Holy Prophet (S), one initiated with the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Hadith Thaqalayn) and the other with the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona Kitabullah). The first is the Imamiyah path, because the natural consequence of following the tradition of Two Heavy Things (Hadith Thaqalayn) is that one should not follow any leader or Imam of any other community or sect or family but the Imams belonging to the family of the Prophet.
Likewise, the path founded by the phrase of “We have the Book of Allah…” (Hasbona Kitabullah) made it compulsory for its followers to be ruled by non- Ahlul Bayt leaders or rulers; and to be led by the verdicts of non-Ahlul Bayt jurisprudents in religious matters. So, as seen from the books of both the sects, this latter is the sect which, in the second century of Hijra, came to be known as the religion of Ahlul Sunnat and which has not the least connection with the Imams from the family of the Prophet as will be explained in more detail afterwards.
Here it should be understood that when differences began after the demise of the Prophet and non-Bani Hashim people went away from the Prophet’s Progeny and started deriving meanings freely, and religious verdicts (Fatwas) began to be issued accordingly, a path different from the path of the Ahlul Bayt was established.
This school came into being due to a committee of personal exertions (Ijtihaad) founded by Umar, but at that time, it was not given any specific title; similarly, it remained nameless during the time of Muawiyah’s Caliphate also. But after him, in the beginning of the second century of the Hijri era, the followers of this path named it People of the Year and Congregation (Ahlus Sunnat Wal Jamaat). The reason of this naming is that Muawiyah had named the year (sanah) in which he had taken away Caliphate from Imam Hasan, as the year of the people (Aamul Jamaat) and the name of the year in which he had initiated cursing Ali (a.s.) in sermons as year of tradition (Aamus Sunnat).
Consequently, the opponents of the Progeny, like the Kharijis, Nawasib and Motazela sects, who had deep differences with His Eminence, Ali (a.s.), began to call themselves Ahlus Sunnat Wal Jamaat since the second century Hijri with an intention that the treaty enacted between Muawiyah and Imam Hasan and the tradition of cursing His Eminence, Ali (a.s.), which was initiated thereafter, may not be forgotten.1
It is not unexpected from today’s illiterate Ahlul Sunnat to become furious on learning this, but what is mentioned above is the truth. So an Ahlul Sunnat scholar, Ibn Abde Rabb writes in Kitab Al Uqd: “When Muawiyah entered into a treaty with Imam Hasan (a.s.), he named that year (Sana) Jamaat.” Jalaluddin Suyuti writes in Tarikhul Khulafa:2 “Muawiyah became Caliph from the month of Rabius Thani or Jamadiul Oolaa and he named that year (Sana) Jamaat because now the Ummah had agreed on one Caliph.” Similarly, research about “Aamus Sunnat” shows and Yahya Ibnul Hasan Qarshi, in his Minhaj Ut Tahqeeq, writes:
“When Muawiyah began cursing of His Eminence, Ali (a.s.), he named that year Sunnat, which thereafter became Ahlul Sunnat.” Similarly, Hasan Suhail also has repeated this statement in Anwarul Badaayah and Shaykh Askari also writes in Kitabur Rivaaj: “Muawiyah named that year Sunnat.”
In short, the term Sunnat Wal Jamaat is made up of two names of years given by Muawiyah. But thousands and thousands of poor Ahlul Sunnat people today are totally unaware of the cause of the naming of their sect.