Author: Shaikh Rabee’ bin Haadee al-Madkhalee
Source: Makaanat Ahl ul-Hadith (trans. by Bilal Davies, forthcoming SP release)
They are those who proceed upon the way of the Companions and those who followed them in righteousness, in clinging to the Book and the Sunnah, biting onto that with their molar teeth, and letting them (i.e., the Qur’aan and the Sunnah) take precedence over any statement or code and conduct – whether in belief, or acts of worship such as dealings and transactions, mannerisms, politics or social life.
They are those who are firm in regards to the fundamentals of the religion and its subsections, upon that which Allaah sent down and revealed upon his servant and Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). They are those establishing the call to that with all effort, sincerity and firm will. They are those carrying the knowledge of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), expelling from it the distortions of those who have exaggerated (in its regard) and the undue claims of the people of falsehood and the interpretations of the ignorant ones.
They are those who are observant and lie in wait for every group that has deviated from the way of Islaam, like the Jahmees and the Mu’tazilees and the Khawaarij and the Rawaafidh and the Murji’ah and the Qadriyyah and all of those who have deviated from the way of Allaah and have followed their desires in every time and place – they not affected by the reproach of the blamers, in the cause of Allaah.
They are the group that the Messenger of Allaah has praised and commended in his saying, “There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah manifest and upon the truth not being harmed by those who forsake them neither by those who oppose them until the hour is established.” 
They are the Saved Sect firm upon that which the Messenger and his Companions were upon, those who have been distinguished and defined by the Messenger of Allaah when he mentioned that this Ummah shall divide into seventy three sects all going to the Hell-fire except one and it was said, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “They are those who are upon that which I and my Comapnions are upon.”
And this is not something we say in exageration or a mere claim, but verily we speak a reality that the text of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah bears witness to, which history bears witness to, and to which their (i.e., the Ahlul-Hadeeth’s) statements, their state of affairs, their writings and works also bear witness to. They are those who put before their eyes the statement of Allaah: And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allaah.  And His statement: And let those who oppose the Messengers commandment beware lest some fitnah befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them. 
They are the most staunch in distancing themselves from opposing the command of the Messenger and the most distant from fitnah. They are those who make their constitution: But no, by your Lord! They can have no faith, until they make you (O Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept them with full submission. 
They are those who give to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah their true worth and give it the honour and veneration it deserves, giving priority to them over all the statements of mankind, and give precedence to their guidance over the guidance of all the people, and they judge by them in all affairs with complete pleasure, with chests which are expanded and free of restraint or constriction, and they submit to Allaah and His Messenger (with) a complete submission in their ‘aqeedah and their worship and their dealings. They are those concerning whom the statement of Allaah holds true: The only saying of the faithful believers when they are called to Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) to judge between them, is that they say, “We hear and we obey,” and such are the prosperous ones.
They after all of the Comapanions – and at the head of them the rightly guided Caliphs – are the leaders of the taabi’een and at the head of them: Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib (d. 90H), ‘Urwah ibn Zubair (d. 94H), ‘Alee ibn al-Hussain Zain al-‘Aabideen (d. 93H), Muhammad ibn Hanafiya (d. 80H), ‘Ubaydullaah ibn ‘Abdillaah ibn ‘Utbah ibn Mas’ood (d. 94H or later), Saleem ibn ‘Abdillaah ibn ‘Umar (d. 106H), Qaasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abee Bakr as-Sadeeq (d. 106H), al-Hasan al-Basree (d. 110H), Muhammad ibn Sireen (d. 110H), ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez (d. 101H) and Muhammad ibn Shihaab az-Zuhree (d. 125H).
Then the Atbaa’at-Taabi’een and at the head of them: Imaam Maalik (d. 179H), al-Awzaa’ee (d. 157H), Sufiyaan ibn Sa’eed ath-Thawree (d. 161H), Sufyaan ibn Uyayna (d. 198H), Ismaa’eel ibn Ubyana (d. 193H), Layth ibn Sa’d (d. 175H) and Aboo Haneefah an-Nu’maan (d. 150H).
Then those who followed them and at the head of them: ‘Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak (d. 181H), Wakee’ ibn al-Jarraah (d. 197H), the Imaam Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee (d. 204H), ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Mahdee (d. 198H), Yahya ibn Sa’eed al-Qataan (d. 198H) and Afaan ibn Muslim (d. 219H).
Then their students who followed them in this methodology, and at the head of them: the Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241H), Yahya ibn Ma’een (d. 233H) and ‘Alee ibn al-Madeenee (d. 234H).
Then their students like al-Bukhaaree (d. 256H), Muslim (d. 261H), Abee Haatim (d. 277H), Abee Zara’ (Aboo Zur’ah?) (d. 264H), Aboo Daawood (d. 275H), at-Tirmidhee (d. 279H) and an-Nasaa’ee (d. 303H).
Then those who proceeded in their way in the generations that preceded them, like Ibn Jareer (at-Tabaree?) (d. 310H), Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311H), ad-Daaraqutnee (d. 385H) in his time, al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d. 463H) and Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr an-Niwaaree (d. 463H).
And ‘Abdul-Ghanee al-Maqdasee (d. 620H), Ibn Salaah (d. 643H), Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728H), al-Mizzee (d. 743H), adh-Dhahabee (d. 748H), Ibn Katheer (d. 774H) and their contemporaries who lived in their time and those who came after them, and followed their footsteps in holding on to the Book and the Sunnah up until the present day.
These are who I mean by Ahlul-Hadeeth.
 Hadeeth saheeh, collected by Muslim (3/1523), Ahmad (5/278-279), Aboo Dawood (3/4), Tirmidhee (4/420), Ibn Maajah (1/4-5), Haakim (4/449-450), at-Tabaraanee in Mu’jam al-Kabeer (7643) and Aboo Daawood at-Tayaalisi (p. 94, no. 689). Authenticated by al-Albaanee in As-Saheehah (270-1955).
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allaah (saws) said: “Ramadaan has come to you – a blessed month. Allaah has made it obligatory on you to fast in it. During this month, the gates of heaven are open, the gates of the Hellfire are closed and the evil devils are chained. To Allaah belongs a night in it, which is better than a thousand months. Whosoever is prevented from its good, then he has been deprived.” 
The hadeeth is a glad tiding to the righteous servants of Allaah, of the coming of the blessed month of Ramadaan. The Prophet (saws) informed his Companions of its coming and it was not just a simple relaying of news. Rather, his intent was to give them the glad tidings of a magnificent time of the year, so that the righteous people who are quick to do deeds can give it its due estimate. This is because the Prophet (saws) explained in it (the hadeeth) what Allaah has prepared for His servants from the ways towards gaining forgiveness and His contentment – and they are many. So whoever has forgiveness escape him during the month of Ramadaan, then he has been deprived with the utmost deprivation.
From the great favors and bounties that Allaah has bestowed upon His servants is that He has prepared for them meritous occasions so that they may be of profit to those who obey Him and a race for those who rush to compete (for good deeds). These meritous occasions are times for fulfilling hopes by exerting in obedience and uplifting flaws and deficiencies through self-rectification and repentance. There is not a single occasion from these virtuous times, except that Allaah has assigned in it works of obedience, by which one may draw close to Him. And Allaah possesses the most beautiful things as gifts, which He bestows upon whomsoever He wills by His Grace and Mercy.
So the one who achieves true happiness is he who takes advantage of these virtuous months, days and hours and draws closer to His Guardian in them, by doing what is prescribed in them from acts of worship.
Thus perhaps he will be showered with one of the many blessings of those occasions and be helped by it, with an assistance that is enough to save him from the Fire and what it contains, such as its blazing heat. 
Being able to reach Ramadaan is itself a magnificent bounty that is bestowed on the one who reaches it and rises to its occasion, by standing in prayer during its night and fasting during its day. In it, he returns to his Protector — from disobeying Him to obeying Him, from neglecting Him to remembering Him, from remaining distant from Him to turning towards Him in submissive repentance.
A Muslim must be conscious of this bounty and acknowledge its magnitude. For indeed, many people are prevented from fasting, either because they die before they reach it, or because they are not capable of observing it or because they oppose and turn away from it. Thus, the one who fasts must give praise to his Lord for this bounty and should welcome this month with joy and delight that a magnificent time of the year out of all the occasions for performing obedience is welcomed. He should exert himself deeply in doing good deeds. And he should invoke Allaah to grant him the ability to fast and stand in night prayer, and that He provide him with seriousness, enthusiasm, strength, and energy in that month. And that He awaken him from heedless oversleeping so that he may take advantage of these virtuous times of good.
It is unfortunate to find that many people do not know the value of this virtuous occasion, nor do they consider it to be sacred. So the month of Ramadaan no longer becomes a significant time for obedience, worship, reciting the Qur’aan, giving in charity and making remembrance of Allaah. Rather, to some people, it becomes a signifcant time to diversify their foods and drinks and to prepare different types of meals before the month begins. Some other people do not know Ramadaan except as a month of sleeplessness and constant recurring gatherings, while sleeping by day. This is to the point that some among them sleep past the time of the obligatory prayers, thus not praying them in congregation or in their proper times. Other people do not know Ramadaan except as a signifcant time for conducting worldly affairs, not as a significant time for conducting affairs for the Hereafter. Thus, they work busily in it, buying and selling, and they stay in the market areas, consequently abandoning the masaajid. And when they do pray with the people, they do so in such a hurried manner. This is because they find their pleasure in the market places. This is the extent that the notions and views (of Ramadaan) have been changed.
Some of the Salaf used to say: “Indeed Allaah, the Most High, has made the month of Ramadaan as a competition for His creatures, in which they may race with one another to His pleasure, by obeying Him. Thus, one group comes first and so they prosper and another group comes last and so they fail.” 
Also, the individual does not know if this is perhaps the last Ramadaan he will ever see in his life, if he completes it. How many men, women and children have fasted with us the past year, and yet now they lie buried in the depths of the earth, relying on their good deeds. And they expected to fast many more Ramadaans. Likewise, we too shall all follow their path. Therefore, it is upon the Muslim to rejoice at this magnificent occasion for worship. And he should not renounce it, but instead busy himself with what will benefit him and what will cause its effect to remain. For what else is it, except numbered days, which are fasted in succession and which finish rapidly.
May Allaah make us, as well as you, from among those who are foremost in attaining good deeds.
1. This hadeeth is reported by Ahmad and An-Nasaa’ee. See Ahmad Shaakir’s checking of the Musnad (no. 7148) and Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb of al-Albaanee (1490) as well as Tamaam-ul-Mannah (395)
2. These are the words of Ibn Rajab in Lataa’if-ul-Ma’aarif: pg. 8
3. Lataa’if-ul-Ma’aarif of Ibn Rajab: page 246
Author:’Abdullaah Ibn Saalih Al-Fawzaan
Source:Ahaadeeth As-Siyaam: Ahkaam wa Adaab (pg. 13-15)