Following the Salaf as-Salih
Imaam al-Awzaa’ee [d.157H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“Patiently restrict yourself to the Sunnah and stop where the people stopped, say what they said and avoid what they
avoided. Take the path of your Salaf as-Salih (The Pious Predecessors, the Companions of the Messenger, the next generation
and the following generation that came and adhered to what the Companions were upon in Belief, knowledge and action), for
indeed, what was sufficient for them is sufficient for you”. [Ash-Sharee’ah (p.58) of al-Aajurree]
Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal [d.241H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“The fundamental of the Sunnah with us are: clinging to that which the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah
[saul’lallaahu’alaihi’wasallam] were upon, taking them as our examples to be followed, avoiding innovations, for every
innovation is a misguidance”. [Usool as-Sunnah (p.5)]
Imaam al-Asbahanee [d.535H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“The sign of Ahlus-Sunnah is that they follow the Salaf as-Salih and abandon all that is innovated and newly
introduced into the Deen.” [Al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah (1/364)]
Imaam As-Sam’aanee [d.562H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“As-Salafee: this is an ascription to the Salaf and following their ways, in that which is related from them.” Ibn al-
Katheer [d.630H] said in al-Lubaab fee Tahdheebul-Insaab (2/162), commenting upon the previous saying of as-
Sam’aanee: “And a group were known by this ascription”. So the meaning is: that the term Salafee and its ascription
to them, was a matter known in the time of Imaam as-Sam’aanee or before him. [al-Insaab (3/273)]
Imaam Ahmad bin Taymiyah [d.728H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“There is no defect in spreading the madhab (way) of the Salaf and ascribing oneself to it, rather it is obligatory to
accept this by agreement. Indeed, the madhab of the Salaf is nothing except the truth.”
[Majmoo’ul – Fataawaa 4/149)]
Imaam adh-Dhahabee [d.748H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee that he said; There is nothing more despised by me than ‘ilmulkalaam
(innovated speech and rhetorics). I say: No person should ever enter into ‘ilmul-kalaam, nor argumentation.
Rather, he should be a Salafee (a follower of the Salaf).” [Siyar A’laamun-Nubalaa (16/457)]
Imaam Abdul Azeez bin Abdullaah bin Baz [d.1420] – rahimahullaah – was asked, ‘What do you say about the one who calls
himself ‘as-Salafi’ and ‘al-Athari’, is this a term of commendation? So he replied:
“If he is truthful in saying that he is Atharee or Salafee, then there is no problem. This is like what the Salaf used to
say, ‘So and so is Salafee, or so and so is Atharee’. This is a term of commendation from which there is no escape,
rather it is a term of commendation that is obligatory.” [from the lecture : Haqqul Muslim 1/6/1413H in Taa’if]
Imaam Muhammad Naasir-Uddin al-Albaanee [d.1420H] – rahimahullaah – said:
“However, there are some who claim knowledge who deny this ascription, claiming that it has no foundation, saying:
“It is not permissible for a Muslim to say: I am Salafee.” And it is as if he is saying: “It is not permissible for me to say:
I am following the Salaf as-Salih in what they were upon in ‘aqeedah, worship and manners!” And there is no doubt
that the likes of this denial – if that is what is meant- implies that he is disassociating himself from the correct Islaam
that Salaf as-Salih were upon….Thus it is not permissible for a Muslim to disassociate himself from being ascribed to
the Salaf as-Salih. If, however, he freed himself from any other nisbah (ascription), then none of the people of
knowledge could accuse him of disbelief or sinfulness.
However, the one who refuses calling himself with this name Salafee, then it should be seen, does he attribute himself
to a particular madhab – whether in matters of ‘aqeedah or fiqh? So perhaps he will call himself an Ash’aree or a
Maatareedee, or he may be from Ahlul-Hadeeth, or a Hanafee, Maalikee, Shaafi’ee or Hanbalee – from those matters
which enter into the term Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah. Despite the fact that the one who ascribes himself to the
Ash’aree madhab, or the four well known madhabs, then he has ascribed himself to those who are not protected from
making mistakes as individuals – even though there are from them Scholars that attain what is correct.
So why! O why! do they not reject the likes of these ascription’s to individuals who are not protected from mistakes?
However, as for the one who ascribes himself to the Salaf as-Salih collectively – then he ascribes himself to that which
is protected from mistakes.” [Al-Asaalah Magazine (no.9/p87)]
Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan was asked; “Is the one who gives himself the title of as-Salafi considered to have set up a hizb ?”. To which he replied, “There is no harm in labelling oneself with Salafiyyah when it is in truth. However, if it is merely a claim then it is not permissible to label oneself with Salafiyyah, whilst one is upon a manhaj other than that of the Salaf.” (Al-Ajwibah al-Mufidah p.16)
For more articles on issues of Manhaj, click here:
I am a Salafee
Allaah Has Named us Muslims, so why ascribe ourselves to the Salaf (the early Muslims, the pious predecessors) ?
This questions was answered by Imaam al-Albaani in his discussion with someone on this subject, recorded on the cassette entitled, “I am Salafi”, and here is a presentation of the vital parts of it:
Shaykh al-Albaani: “When it is said to you, ‘What is your madhhab’, what is your reply?”
Questioner: “A Muslim”.
Shaykh al-Albaani: “This is not sufficient!”.
Questioner: “Allaah has named us Muslims” and he recited the saying of Allaah Most High, “He is the one who has called you Muslims beforehand.” (al-Hajj 22:78)
Shaykh al-Albaani: “This would be a correct answer if we were in the very first times (of Islaam) before the sects had appeared and spread. But if we were to ask, now, any Muslim from any of these sects with which we differ on account of Aqeedah, his answer would not be any different to this word. All of them – the Shi’ite Rafidi, the Khaariji, the Nusayri Alawi – would say, “I am a Muslim”. Hence, this is not sufficient in these days.”
Questioner: “In that case I say, I am a Muslim upon the Book and the Sunnah.”
Shaykh al-Albaani: “This is not sufficient either”.
Shaykh al-Albaani: “Do you find any of those whom we have just mentioned by way of example saying, ‘I am a Muslim who is not upon the Book and the Sunnah’?” Who is the one who says, ‘I am not upon the Book and the Sunnah’?”
At this point the Shaykh then began to explain in detail the importance of being upon the Book and the Sunnah in light of the understanding of the Salaf us-Saalih…
Questioner: “In that case I am a Muslim upon the Book and the Sunnah with the understanding of the Salaf us-Saalih”.
Shaykh al-Albaani: “When a person asks you about your madhhab, is this what you will say to him?”
Shaykh al-Albaani: “What is your view that we shorten this phrase in the language, since the best words are those that are few but indicated the desired intent, so we say, ‘Salafee’?”
Questioner: “Alright, I will submit to you and I say to you: Yes (I agree about summarising with saying ‘I am Salafee’), yet my belief is what has preceded, since the first thing that a person thinks of when he hears that you are a Salafee is that he recalls much of the experience he has had and which has involved severity which leads to harshness, all of which sometimes occurs from the Salafiee’s.”
Shaykh al-Albaani: “Lets accept that your words are correct. If you said ‘I am a Muslim’, will not a person’s think of a Shi’ite Rafidee, or a Druze or an Ismaa’eeli (and incline to him).”
Questioner: “It is possible, however, I will have followed the noble verse, “He has named you Muslims”.
Shaykh al-Albaani: “No my brother! You have not followed the verse, since the verse means the correct form of Islaam. It is necessary that you address the people according to their level of understanding… so will anyone understand from you (when you say ‘I am a Muslim’) that you are indeed a Muslim with the desired meaning in the verse (of correct Islaam)? As for the various cautionary matters you have mentioned, then these are sometimes correct and sometimes they are not correct.
Since your saying about harshness, then this can sometimes occur from individuals, yet this is not representative of a methodology that is tied to knowledge and belief.
Leave aside individuals for now, we are actually talking about Manhaj (methodology). This is because when we say Shi’ite, or a Druze, or a Khaarijee, or a Soofee, or a Mutazilee, the various cautionary matters you raised come into play (and can apply to them aswell).
Hence, this is not the subject of our discussion. We are investigating a name which gives evidence to the madhhab of an individual and by which he worships Allaah… Are not all the Companions Muslims?”
Shaykh al-Albaani: “However, there was amongst them, one who stole, or fornicated, but this does not allow any of them to say, ‘I am not a Muslim’, rather he is a Muslim and a Believer in Allaah, as a chosen way, however he sometimes opposes his chosen way, because he is not infallible. And it is for this reason that we – may Allaah bless you – are speaking about a word which indicates our Aqeedah and our thought and our starting point in our lives and which relates to the affairs of our religion by which we worship Allaah.
As for the issue of so and so who is harsh and so and so who is lax and too soft, then that is an entirely different issue…. I wish that you would reflect upon this concise word (i.e. Salafee) so that you do not persist upon the word ‘Muslim’. And you know that there is no one who will understand what you really intend (by using the word ‘Muslim’ alone) ever…” End Quote (Cassette “I am a Salafee”).
Hence, the point is that naming with “Muslim” or “Sunni” is not enough, since everyone will claim that. And Imaam al-Albaani emphasised the importance of the truth being distinguished from the falsehood – from the point of view of the basis of Manhaj and Aqidah, and that is taking from the Salaf us-Saalih, as opposed to the various sects and groups whose understandings are based upon those of their mentors and leaders and not that of the Salaf, fundamentally.
And insha’Allaah, this explains our intent and the important differentiation