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)]