Imam Ahmed said:

The Foundations of the Sunnah according to us is: Holding onto what the Companions of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) were upon,  following their example,  avoiding Innovations, for every innovation is a misguidance, and leaving argumentations and disputations in the Religion.

The Sunnah according to us is: the teachings and pathway of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), and the Sunnah is the Tafseer (explanation) of the Qur’an, and it is the Qur’anic guide.

There is no Qiyas in the Sunnah, and no striking examples of it. It is not realized by the minds and whims, rather it is following [the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)] and abandoning whims and desires. [1]

Reference:

[1] Manaqib al-Imam Ahmed by Ibn Al-Jawzi, p. 171

قال أحمد بن حنبل رضي الله عنه: أصول السنة عندنا: التمسك بما كان عليه أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم, والاقتداء بهم, وترك البدع, وكل بدعة فهي ضلالة, وترك المراء الجدال والخصومات في الدين. فالسنة عندنا: آثار رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم.والسنة تفسر القرآن, وهي دلائل القرآن. وليس في السنة قياس, ولا تضرب لها الأمثال, ولا تدرك العقول والأهواء, إنما هو الإتباع وترك الهوى.ـ

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