Allāmah Nāsirudīn al-Albānī said:

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“…And they are also aware of the saying of the Prophet ﷺ:

‘…The Jews split up into seventy one sects, the Christians split up into seventy two sects, and this ummah will split up into seventy three sects, all of them in the fire except for one…’

We [the companions] said: ‘and which one is it Oh Messenger of Allāh?’ He said:

“They are the Jamā’ah…”

This is the well known narration and it is authentic. In another narration which explains the first one heﷺ said:

“They are the ones upon what I am upon, and my companions are upon.”

His ﷺ in the second narration – which is a hasan narration as I have explained in some of my books –

“..what I and my companions are upon..”

speaks of the manhaj [1] of the one group, the Tā’ifah Mansūrah[2] and Nājiyyah[3]: the one that embraces what the Prophet ﷺ and his ﷺ companions were upon – may Allāh be pleased with them all.

There is a point which I must mention here to do with his ﷺ saying :

“..and my companions..”

because it is clear that if the prophet ﷺ had limited it to (just saying):

“..what I am upon..”

his ﷺ answer would have been true and sufficient. But due to great wisdom, he ﷺ added to it and coupled with it:

“..and my companions..”.

The wisdom behind this is that the companions of the Prophet ﷺ were united upon guidance from their Lord. They learnt the revelation that was revealed and sent down upon the heart of their Prophet directly and in its purest form as Allāh revealed, before their understanding was swayed or affected by ambiguity and desire, the likes of which overcame the hearts of those who came after the Salaf-as-Sālih. They were people with thoughts and ideas that differed from and were contrary to what the companions of the Prophet were upon.

This is why he ﷺ mentioned them by linking them to what the he ﷺ was upon, because he ﷺ knew with certainty that his companions will follow him ﷺ everything…”

Translated from the audio tape enititled Asbābul-Wahn (The causes of Weakness). Dār Minhājis-Sunnah.

[1] TN – The way the religion is understood and subsequently acted upon

[2] TN – Meaning Victorious or Aided Group, based upon the saying of Allāh “…If you help (in the cause of) Allāh, He will help you…” – Surah Muhammed 47:7

[3] TN – Firqatun-Nājiyyah – the Saved Sect. Meaning being safe from the fire – they are the ones the Prophet (s) mentioned of as being saved from the Fire when the spoke of the seventy three sects