As for the Ash'ariyyah of today then they are upon a way and path which Abu Hasan al-Ash'aree declared himself free of in front of Allaah, and the scholars consider them to be other than Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah but rather, in the midst of Ahl ul-Bid'ah.
Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah is used for those in opposition to the innovators and the people of the innovated sects, and this is the well known usage. So when they say in the books of criticism of narrators about a man, that he was from Ahl us-Sunnah and the like, then what is meant is that he was not from one of the innovated sects such as the Khawaarij, the Mu'tazilah and the Shee'ah and he was not a person of theological rhetoric (Kalaam) and innovated ideas.
Thus, the Ash'ariyyah do not enter into it at all. Rather they are outside it and Imaam Ahmed and Ibn al-Madeenee have stated textually that whoever involves themselves in any theological rhetoric is not counted amongst the Ahl us-Sunnah, even if by that he arrives at the Sunnah, until he abandons debating and surrenders to the texts. So they do not lay down as a condition that a person merely agrees with the Sunnah, rather that he must take and derive with it (alone). So he who takes from the Sunnah is from its people even if he makes an error, and he who derives from somewhere else is in error even if in conclusion he agrees with it. But the Ash'ariyyah as you will see, take and derive from other than the Sunnah and they do not agree with it in their conclusions, so how can they be from its people [people of the Sunnah].
A summary of the sayings of the scholars regarding the Ash'ariyyah are presented below:
The Haafidh of the west and its outstanding scholar Ibn Abdul Barr reported with his chain of narration from the scholars of the Maalikees in the east, Ibn Khuzaimah, that he said in the book of witnesses (Kitaab us-Shuhudaat) in explanation of the saying of the Maalik that it is not permissible to accept the witness of the people of innovation and innovated sects, and he said: "The people of the innovated sects in the view of Maalik and the rest of our Companions are the people of theological rhetoric (Kalaam). So every person of the theological rhetoric is from the people of the innovated sects and innovation: whether he is an Ash'aree, or other than an Ash'aree, and his witness is not accepted in Islaam ever. Indeed he is to be ostracized, and punished for his innovation and if he persists in it and repentance is to be sought from him"
Also Ibn Abdul Barr himself reports in [Al-Ihtiqaa] from the three scholars: Maalik, Aboo Haneefah and Ash-Shaafi'ee that they forbade theological rhetoric and spoke severely against its people, and that they are innovators and are to be punished. Its like is reported by Ibn ul- Qayyim in [Ijtimaa ul-Juyoosh il-Islaamiyyah] and what are the Ash'ariyyah except people of theological rhetoric?
Imaam Abul-Abbaas ibn Suraij known as 'ash-Shaafi'ee the second' and he was a contemporary of Al-Ash'aree, said: "We do not speak with Ta'weel (interpretation) of the Mu'tazilah, the Ash'arees, the Jahmiyyah, the apostates, the anthropomorphists (Mujassimah and Mushabbihah), the Karraamiyyah and those who declare Allaah to be like His creation (Mukayyifah - those asking about the modality of His attributes). Rather we accept them [the texts about Allaah's attributes] without interpretation (Ta'weel) and we believe in them without declaring any likeness with the creation (Tamtheel)."
Imaam Abul-Hasan al-Kurjee, one of the Shaafi'ee scholars of the fifth century said: "The Shaafi'ee Imaams have not ceased disdaining and detesting that they should be ascribed to al-Ashariyy and they disassociate themselves from that which al-Ash'aree built his madhhab upon, and they forbid their companions and beloved ones from approaching it, as I have heard from a number of the shaikhs and imaams. He then gave an example of the shaikh of the Shaafi'ees of his time Imaam Aboo Hamid al-Isfaareenee who was known as 'ash-Shaafi'ee the third' saying: