“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 of Islam.
Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America