Ibn Shihâb reports:
‘Umar b. ‘Abd Al-‘Azîz – Allah have mercy on him, said, “The Messenger of Allâh – Allâh’s peace and blessings be upon him – and the authorities (leaders of the Muslims, the Caliphs ) after him set certain ways and practices. To follow those ways is to believe in Allâh’s Book and to complete [ones] obedience of Him, and to be strong upon the religion of Allâh. It is not for anyone to alter those ways or change them for something else, and it is not for anyone to consider the views and opinions of those who contradict them. Whoever follows what [the Prophet and his Caliphs] laid down will be guided, whoever seeks enlightenment through it will be enlightened. But whoever contradicts those ways and follows a way other than the way of the Believers, Allâh the Mighty and Majestic will leave him in the path he has chosen and land him in Jahannam (Hell); and what an evil destination that is.'”
Al-Lâlakâ`î, Sharh Usûl I’tiqâd Ahl Al-Sunnah 1:94.
In this statement, Caliph ‘Umar b. ‘Abd Al-Azîz affirms a number of important points related to the creed and methodology of Ahl Al-Sunnah wa Al-Jamâ’ah – orthodox Islam:
- The path of guidance, the Sunnah, is what was laid down by the Prophet, as understood and implemented by the Rightly Guided Caliphs and Companions.
- For a person to truly believe in the Quran, and to be guided, he must adhere to this Sunnah and to it alone.
- A Muslim is not allowed to innovate in the religion or exchange any part of it for foreign beliefs and ideologies.
- True enlightenment and insight lies in adhering to this way.
- A Muslim is not supposed to be interested in and expose himself to the views and opinions of people who go against the Sunnah and way of the Salaf.
- Going against this way is to follow ‘a way other than the way of the Believers’ and take a path to Hell; a reference to Al-Quran 4:115 where this principle is evidenced.
This narration is recorded with variant wordings in numerous other sources. In a version recorded on the authority of Muttarrif b. ‘Abdillâh by Al-Qâdî Abû Ya’lâ (d458H) in Ibtâl Al-Ta’wîl 1:52, it is stated that when those who ‘deflected the narrations speaking of the Sifât’ (divine attributes of Allâh) were mentioned in the presence of Imâm Mâlik, he would quote this saying of Caliph ‘Umar b. ‘Abd Al-‘Azîz. In yet another report of this statement, the heretics being referred to are described as ‘the deviants in the religion.’