MGA and his team wrote about their famous written-debate with Batalvi in July of 1891, its called Al-Haq Mubahathah Ludhiana. Interestingly, during this written exchange, MGA said that Muslims were divided into 73 sects just after the 3rd century of Islam (see the scan in the below). There were no Deobandi. Barelvi or Ahle Hadith sects then. This contradicts the recent Ahmadi argument i.e., that in 1974, 72 sects in Pakistan declared Ahmadi’s as Non-Muslims thus fulfilling the famous hadith.
He continued to urge the Ahl-e-Hadith to stop calling him Kafir. MGA argued that everyone should be considered a Muslim, simply by a self-declaration, he was telling his fellow Ahl-e-Hadith friends to look over minor differences, and he denied prophethood. This debate was held on July 20-31, 1891, this booklet was first published on September 2, 1891 (see Hidden treasures).
Regarding the Book and sunnah as authorities I believe that the Book of Allah is to be preferred to all. If the purport of a hadith is not opposed to the Book of Allah, it would be accepted as authoritative, but we will not accept an interpretation of a hadith which is opposed to the clear text of the Holy Quran. So far as possible, we shall try to interpret a hadith so that it should be in accord with the clear text of the Book of Allah, but if we come across a hadith which is opposed to the text of the Holy Quran, and it cannot be interpreted in any other way, we would reject it as spurious, inasmuch as God, the Glorious, has said: In what discourse apart from Allah and His commandments will they believe? (45:7). This means that if the Holy Quran is conclusive and positive about a matter and its meaning is clear, a believer should not accept a hadith which is clearly opposed to it. To the same effect is the verse: In what discourse thereafter will they believe (7: 186). According to these verses a believer must accept the Book of Allah without condition and should accept a hadith conditionally. This is my stand. (Al-Haq Mubahathah Ludhiana, pp. 11-12, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 4, pp. 9-10)(See Hidden Treasures also).