Origin of the term “Ahl
Dr. G.F. Haddad
“Naturally, the expression "Ahl al-Sunnah"
was unknown in the early days of Islam.”
The expression "Ahl al-Sunna" is
reported from Ibn `Abbas and Ibn `Umar by al-Lalika'i in Sharh Usul I`tiqad
Ahl al-Sunna; Muslim narrates it from Muhammad ibn Sirin in the Muqaddima
to his Sahih; and al-Darimi in his Musnad from al-Hasan al-Basri.
This is not to mention the Mujtahid Imams and those of the generation-layer
immediately preceding them.
I could look up al-Suyuti's compilation Miftah
al-Janna fi al-Ihtijaj bis- Sunna and the late Dr. `Abd al-Khaliq Abd al-Ghani's
Hujjiyyat al-Sunna for more reports, but this is probably enough to put
to rest the false assumption that the expression was unknown in the early days