Imaam al-Barbahaari (rahimahullaah) said:
The foundation upon which the Jamaa’ah is built is the Companions of Muhammad May Allaah’s Mercy be upon them all. They are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, so whoever does not take from them has gone astray and innovated and every innovation is misguidance, and misguidance and its People are in the Fire.
Sharh us-Sunnah (Explanation of the Creed), point 3, Translated by Abu Talhah Dawud Burbank (rahimahullah).
1. As is shown by the hadeeth of at-Tirmidhee (no. 2641): ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr said: The Messenger of Allaah said,”What happened to the Children of lsraa’eel will happen with my Ummah, just as one shoe resembles the other, to the point that if one of them had intercourse with his mother openly, there would be someone who did that in my Ummah. The Children of Israa’eel split into seventy two sects and my Ummah will split into seventy three sects, all of which are in the Fire except one sect.” They asked, “Which is that one, O Messenger of Allaah?” He replied, “That which I and my Companions are upon.” Declared hasan by Shaikh al-Albaanee.
2. It is authentically reported that Allaah’s Messenger said,”Stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Caliphs after me, cling to that with your molar teeth and beware of new matters, for every innovation is misguidance.” Reported by Ahmad, Abu Daawood (Eng. trans. 3/1294/no.4590), at-Tirmidhee (no. 2676), Ibn Maajah (no. 42), ad-Daarimee (no. 96) and Ibn Abee ‘Aasim in as-Sunnah (no. 54). Shaikh al-Albaanee declares, “Its isnaad is saheeh, its narrators reliable.”
3. Jaabir, radiallaahu’anhu, reports that the Prophet would say in his khutbah, “… The most truthful speech is the Book of Allaah. The best way is the way of Muhammad. The worst of affairs are the novelties and every novelty is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire.” Reported by an-Nasaa’ee (3/188). It is declared saheeh by Shaikh al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan in-Nasaa’ee (no. 1487).
Abu Shaamah (d.665H) said,”The order to stick to the Jamaa’ah means sticking to the truth and its followers; even if those who stick to the truth are few and those who oppose it are many; since the truth is that which the first Jamaa’ah from the time of the Prophet and his Companions, radiallaahu ‘anhum, were upon. No attention is given to the great number of the people of futility coming after them.” (Al-Baa’ith ‘alal-Bida’h wal-Huwaadith, p.19).