1) Imam Ahmed Bin Hambal said “According to us, Ahlul hadeeth is a person that Acts upon a hadeeth” [Manaaqib Al-Imam Ahmed Li Ibn Al Jawzi Pg 208 with Authentic Chain]
and Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal (241 H) said about the Victorious Group:
“if the Victorious Group are not the” Ashaabul Hadeeth” then I don’t know who are they ”(Ma’rifatu Uloom Ul Hadeeth Lil Haakim pg 2, Fath ul Baari 13/250.
2) Ameerul-Mumineen Fil Muhaddaseen Imam Bukhari in Al-Hujjah fee bayaan Al-Muhajja 1/246 ,Imam Bin Hanbal in Fath ul Baari 13/250 and Imam Al-Madeeni in Sunan Tirmidhi H#2999 have stated thatthe Victorious Group OR Saved Sect is Ahlul hadeeth. So if “Ahlul hadeeth” stands for Muhaddaseen ONLY then does this means only the muhadditheen will be going to Jannah and their general public will not go to Jannah????
3)Abdullah Bin Mubaarak (d.151H) said,According to me, they are “As-haabul-Hadeeth” (the Followers of Hadeeth).[Sharaf As-haabul-Hadeeth] of al-Khateebal-Baghdaadee (d.468H)
4)Imam Sufyaan Thawri (d.161H)rahimuallah about Ahlul Hadith,
he said, “Angels are the guardians of the heavens and “Ashabul Hadith” are the guardians of the earth”.
[Sharaf As-habul Hadith]
5). Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204AH)
said:”Stick to the Ahlul-Hadeeth, since they are the most correct of the people”
( As -Siyaar 14/197) and Also Abu Naeem Mal Asbahani (430 H) Said:
“And Ash-Sha’fee was upon the Madhab of “Ahul Hadeeth”
(Hulyatul Awliya 9/112)
6)Khateeb Baghdadi (463 H) has written a Book on the Virtues of the Ahlul Hadeeth, titled:Sharf Ashaab al-Hadeeth, and also Check Tareekh ul Baghdad 1/224
7) Sheikh-Ibne Taymiyyah said “We do not take the meaning of Ahlul Hadeeth to just mean the people who heard (ahadeeth), wrote them or narrated them rather we mean anyone who takes care to memorize it, understand it and follow it, both inwardly and outwardly.”[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/95]
->The explanation of Ibn Taymiyyah Rahimahullah proves that Ahlul hadeeth means 2 types of people: The Muhadditheen and their Awaam.
8)Haafidh Ibn Hibbaan said about the Ahlul hadeeth that:
“They act upon the ahadeeth, they defend it and Annihilate its opponents.”[Sahih Ibn Hibbaan, Al-Ihsaan 6129]
9 )Imam al-Haakim said: Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal did well when he commented on this report by saying that the “victorious group”who will prevail until the Hour begins is Ashaab al-hadeeth (the people of hadeeth). Who is more deserving of this description than people who follow the way of the righteous and follow in the footsteps of the “SALAF” who came before us, and exposed the falsehood of the people of bidah (innovation) by basing their arguments on the Sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)? [Marifat Uloom al-Hadeeth, by al-Haakim al-Nisaboori, p. 2, 3]
10 ) It is mentioned in the Quran, Surah Bani Israeel verse 71, that people will be called upon along with their Imaams. Ibn Katheer Rahimahullah mentions the Tafsir of this Aayah in Tafsir Ibn katheer that:
“Some of the Salaf said this is the greatest honor for the people of Hadith, because their leader is the Prophet (s.a.w)”
Allaahu Akbar and it is known that the Greatest of Imam of Muhadditheen and their awaam is the Prophet (s.a.w).
11) Jalaal ud deen Suyuti said in the Tafseer of Surah Bani Israeel verse 71:
“There is no better virtue for the Ahlul hadeeth than that because there is no other Imam for the Ahlul hadeeth other than the Messenger of Allaah (s.a.w)”[Tadreebur Raawi:2/126, Noo’:27]
As mentioned before that the Awaam of Ahlul hadeeth also declare Muhammad sal Allahu aleyhi wasallam to be their greatest Imam and this is their Manhaj and Emaan.
12) Abu Mansoor Abdul Qaahib bin Tahir Al Baghdadi said concerning the People living in the border areas of Shaam that:
“All of them are upon the Madhab of Ahlul hadeeth from Ahlus Sunnah” [Usool-ud-Deen Pg 317]
There is no proof what so ever that only the muhadditheen used to live in that area without their awaam. Hence according to Abdul Qaahir Baghdadi, the awaam of Muhadditheen are also Ahlul hadeeth.
13) Abu Abdullah Muhammad Bin Ahmad bin Al-Bina Al-Madqisi Al-Bashaari said about the people of sindh of his time:
“Majority of them are Ahlul hadeeth” [Ahsan Al-Taqaseem Fee Ma’rifatul Aqaleem:363]
This statement of Bashaari about Sindhis also proves that the Ahlul hadeeth are not just muhadditheen but their Awaam as well.
Conclution : Alhamdulilah it is Sufficient from Salaf Muhaddaseen statments that Ahle hadees Refer to Muhaddaseens and Also Awam ..