Regarding your answer to “are the Muslim majority the saved sect”, I encountered the following on a discussion forum:
“Hadith 1 The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said “The Jews split into 71 groups; one will enter Paradise and 70 will enter Hell. The Christians split into 72 groups; 71 will enter Hell and one will enter Paradise. By Him in Whose Power is the life of Muhammad, without doubt, my Ummah will be divided into 73 groups. Only one will enter Paradise and 72 will enter Hell.”
When asked which group will be on the right path, the holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) replied, “The main (al-Jama’ah) body of the Muslims.” [Ibne Majah Kitab al-Fitan]
Hadith 2. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said ” There was disagreement amongst Jews and they split into 72 groups. In exactly the same way, there will be disagreement and divisions in my Ummah. It will split into 73 groups. Apart from one of those groups, all the remaining 72 will be thrown into Hell.”
When asked which group will be on the right path, the holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) replied, “The group on the right path, which will enter Paradise, will be the group which follows my Sunna and that of my Sahaba and this will be the largest group of Muslims.” [Tirmizi, Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud, Mishkat]
Hadith 3. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said “Without doubt my Ummah will never be gathered in misguidance. Whenever you see disagreement, then hold fast to the Sawad-e-Azam (the great majority)” [Ibne Majah]
Hadith 4. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said ” Follow the way of the largest group of Muslims! For, he who deviates from this group will be thrown into Hell!” [Ibne Majah]
Hadith 5. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said “The devil continually pursues humans as a wolf pursues sheep. The wolf only dares to attack those sheep which have separated from the rest of the flock and are standing alone. And so, my followers and my devotees! Save yourselves from being caught in the traps of misguidance and firmly remain with the largest and most well known group of Muslims!” [ Imam Ahmed]
Hadith 6. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said ” Allah will never allow my Ummah to unite upon misguidance and incorrect beliefs. Allah’s mercy, blessings and protection are with the largest group of Muslims. And he who deviates from this largest group of Muslims will be thrown into Hell.” [ Tirmizi]
Hadith 7. The holy Prophet(Sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said ” He who deviates from the largest group of Muslims, even as much as a hand span, has himself cut off his connection with Islam.” [Abu Daud, Imam Ahmed]
Having quoted no less than SEVEN Hadiths, from authentic sources, two things become clear:
1. The Muslims will divide into 73 Groups 2. The largest group will be the right group.
I can go on quoting many scholars who have the opinion that the largest group, the Ahle-Sunnah-wal-Jama’ah is the only sect on the right path, and all others are those that have been prophecised to enter the hell fire.”
The following will be a clarification of each of the traditions that you have quoted. As an aside thought, one should analyze thoroughly any traditions that seemingly support any point of view to gather the most correct and accurate understanding.
The first hadith (i.e. tradition) relates to the political collectivity of the Muslims. Thus the word “jama’ah” deals with the Muslim State rather than sectarianism. The second hadith is only a variation of the previous narration. The third tradition is an allusion to the preservation of Qur’an and Sunnah (i.e. Islam) within the Ummah (i.e. Muslim Community). In other words, the Muslims as a collectivity will never agree on a deviation. There will always be a group in that body, regardless of number, that will maintain the correct teachings of Islam and call others to them. The fourth hadith relates to the application of political affairs as agreed upon by the majority. In a government, after elections, the majority vote may create laws that all people within that state must abide by. This relates to the “affairs by consultation” directive. If the laws are set and established by the majority body the subjects of said state must follow the laws regardless of whether they agree with them or not. This is the natural condition of a society with law and order. The fifth and sixth ahadith are related to the aforementioned explanation for the fourth hadith. The seventh hadith also relates to the Muslim state. Once the state has been established by the Muslim population of that state then any anarchy or disloyalty to the pledges one makes when living in the nation has been termed by the Prophet (pbuh) as freeing oneself from the reins of Islam. The society is based on rule and order and any infidelity of ones allegiance may undermine the very existence of the society itself. This is no small matter, hence the very stern position stated in the quoted hadith.
It should be clear that these ahadith do not relate to the issue of sects. Each of the ahadith has an explanation not related to the issue of sectarianism.
As mentioned before in our previous answer, the Qur’an prohibits the division of the Ummah. Thus, even if we were to accept such interpretations it is obvious that they fly in the face of Qur’anic commandments. Such interpretations of these traditions make it seem that the Prophet not only ignored, but promoted, the very sectarianism the Qur’an has condemned with the strongest possible terms. This, of course, is unimaginable. Therefore these narrations need to be seen in the correct light of their context. Thus we are not in agreement with some of the scholarly opinions. Neither do we buy into such concepts as “Ahl Al Sunnah Wa Jama’ah” for God’s religion is Islam and He designated that we call ourselves Muslim.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.