What is the degree of authenticity of the Hadeeth, “Difference among my Ummah is a mercy”?

Question 38: There is a Hadeeth that reads: “Difference among my Ummah (nation based on one creed) is a mercy.” Is it an authentic Hadeeth or not? Most scholars say that difference among the Ummah means difference among Juristic Schools. Most preachers mention this Hadeeth on pulpits. What is your view on the authenticity of this Hadeeth and acting upon it? What about the scholars and preachers who mention it? Each one of them follows a different Juristic School and acts upon its views. They say they follow the view of their Juristic school.

Answer: The saying that is commonly used by people, i.e. (Difference among my Ummah is a mercy), has no origin. That is, it has no Isnaad (chain of narrations). So it is not permissible to ascribe this saying to the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him). Perhaps the first to relate it without Isnad was Al-Bayhaqy (may Allah be merciful to him) in (Al-Risaalah Al-Ash`ariyyah) as in (Taabiyeen Kadib Al-Muftaree) by Ibn `Asaakir (may Allaah be merciful to him) p.106. Many Hadeeth scholars held the same view… read more here.