In the following text does أهل الأهواء specifically refer to people of innovation or does it have a more general meaning (people of desire)?
عَنِ الْحَسَنِ وَابْنِ سِيرِينَ: أَنَّهُمَا قَالَا: لَا تُجَالِسُوا أَصْحَابَ الْأَهْوَاءِ، وَلَا تُجَادِلُوهُمْ، وَلَا تَسْمَعُوا مِنْهُم
The common usage of this word in that era was to refer to the innovators.
Furthermore, Imam Darimi (rahimahullah) [among others] has cited this in the chapter that deals with innovators.
Therefore, it should be understood as a reference to them.
Imams Hasan Basri and Ibn Sirin (rahimahullah) have stated:
‘Do not sit, or argue or even merely lend an ear to the innovators!’
(Sunan Darimi, Hadith: 424)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar