Q 1: Does Al-Ash`ariyyah group (a Muslim group that bases issues of faith on logic) belong to Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream)? (Part No. 2; Page No. 411

A: Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah are defined as those who hold fast to the Book of Allah, the Exalted, the Sunnah of their Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) regarding all their `Aqidah (beliefs) and Islamic principles. They never oppose the texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah for rational argumentation or personal preference; rather, they stick to the principles of Iman (belief) and pillars of Islam observed by the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet). They are represented in the leading guides and callers to goodness and success, such as Al-Hasan Al-Basry, Sa`id ibn Al-Musayyib, Mujahid, Abu Hanifah, Malik, Al-Shafi`y, Al-Awza`y, Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and those who took their path and followed their example by promoting their `Aqidah and way of seeking proofs. Al-Asha`irah are the followers of Abu Al-Hasan Al-Ash`ary and the supporters of his school regarding `Aqidah and seeking proofs. He and his followers are the closest sect to Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. They are to be praised for what they approved of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah and they should be condemned for their opposition to them in some matters. Some of the followers of this school are Abu Bakr Al-Baqillany, Al-Bayhaqy, Abu Al-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzy, Abu Zakariyya Yahya Al-Nawawy, Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalany and others who sought to follow the Ta'wil (allegorical interpretation) approach when dealing with the texts mentioning the Attributes of Allah, the Exalted, or deemed that their principal meanings should be ascribed to Allah's Knowledge. Verily we regard them as some of the great Muslim religious figures whom Allah employed to benefit the Ummah (nation based on one creed). May Allah be Merciful with them and may Allah grant them all goodness.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.