There are numerous doubts often spread about naming with Salafiyyah and the word "Salafi", some of them coming from sincere people, based upon what they have experienced and other times coming from the devils amongst men, who wish to pass judgement upon the da’wah of truth, see it fall, and have it replaced with their own innovatory ejaculations and hallucinations of the mind. To proceed: 1) Labelling With Salafiyyah is an Innovation The word "Salafiyyah" was not applied during the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions – this being due to the fact that the Muslims were upon the correct Islaam and there was no need for a word such as "Salafiyyah" at that time. However, when the tribulations occurred and the sects increased and the Ummah split the Ulamaa of the Ummaah stood to distinguish those upon the truth from those upon falsehood and hence they stated "Ahl ul-Hadeeth" and "as-Salaf". Abu Haneefah (d. 150H) (rahimahullaah) said: "Adhere to the athar (narration) and the tareeqah (way) of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) and beware of newly invented matters for all of it is innovation." (Reported by As-Suyootee in Sawn al Mantaq wal-Kalaam p.32) Based upon this "as-Salafiyyah" is distinguished from all the various Islamic factions due to their ascription to what guarantees for them the correct and true Islaam, which is adherence to what the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions were upon, as occurs in the authentic hadeeths. In addition to that, the word "Salaf" was used by the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) himself. He said to Faatimah, "How excellent a Salaf I am for you." (Muslim, no. 2450). Imaam Muslim brings in his Muqaddimah to his Saheeh (p.16) the saying of Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak – which he would say in front of all the people, "Abandon the hadeeths of Amr bin Thaabit, for he used to abuse the Salaf". Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan said, "And how can making o*!ne’s madhhab that of the Salaf be an innovation, an astray innovation?! And how can it be an innovation when it is but the following of the madhhab of the Salaf, and following their madhhab is obligatory by the Book and the Sunnah, and truth and guidance?!" (al-Bayaan p. 156). Hence, ascribing o*!neself to the Salaf, which is but Salafiyyah is not an innovation, rather it is obligatory upon every Muslim to subscribe to the manhaj and aqidah of the Salaf. It can be said, "If labelling with Salafiyyah is an innovation, then so is labelling with Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah". And the objective behind using the term "Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah" is not hidden or unknown. Unfortunately, Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah is no longer sufficient to distinguish between the people of falsehood and the people of truth. Until even the word "Salafi" does not distinguish between the true Salafi, who is actually Salafi in his aqidah and manhaj and between the hizbi (partisan) who wears the gown of Salafiyyah, claiming to be Salafi. His aqidah may be Salafi but his way of thinking is adulterated with Qutubi or Hizbi principles, ideas and modes of thought and behaviour. He will show enmity to the Salafis, mock their Mashaayikh, and yet claim to be upon their way. Yet the viewpoints they take and the positions they hold and their loyalty and disownment indicate otherwise. This is why true Salafis give great importance to learning and knowledge so that the truth is apparent to them and the ignorant pretenders cannot befool them. 2) Allaah Has Named us Muslims, So Why Ascribe Ourselves to the Salaf This doubt was very beatifully answered by Imaam al-Albaani in his discussion with someone o*!n this subject, recorded o*!n the cassette entitled, "I am Salafi", and here is a presentation of the vital parts of it: Shaikh al-Albaani: "When it is said to you, ‘What is your madhhab’, what is your reply?" Questioner: "A Muslim". Shaikh al-Albaani: "This is not sufficient!". Questioner: "Allaah has named us Muslims" and he recited the saying of Allaah Most High, "He is the o*!ne who has called you Muslims beforehand." (al-Hajj 22:78) Shaikh 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 o*!n 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." Shaikh al-Albaani: "This is not sufficient either". Questioner: "Why?" Shaikh 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 o*!ne who says, ‘I am not upon the Book and the Sunnah’?" At this point the Shaikh 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". Shaikh al-Albaani: "When a person asks you about your madhhab, is this what you will say to him?" Questioner: "Yes". Shaikh 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, ‘Salafi’?" End of quotation. 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. 3) Calling o*!neself a Salafi is a Blameworthy ‘Tazkiyah’ of o*!neself And this doubt has been answered by our Mashaayikh: Allaamah, ‘Abdul-‘Azeez Ibn Baz – the [former] mufti of Saudi Arabia was asked: What do you say about the o*!ne who calls himself ‘Salafi’ or ‘Athari’? Is this is a tazkiyah (purification) of his own self? So he replied – may Allaah have mercy upon him – "When he is being truthful [in his claim] that he is Salafi or Athari then there is not harm in that, [this is] similar to what the Salaf used to say, ‘So and so is a Salafi’, ‘So and so is Athari’. This is a tazkiyah (commendation) which is necessary, a tazkiyah that is obligatory." (Cassette: Haqq ul-Muslim 16/1/1413 Ta’if) Shaikh Salih al-Fawzan was asked "Is the o*!ne 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 o*!neself with Salafiyyah when it is in truth. However, if it is merely a claim then it is not permissible to label o*!neself with Salafiyyah, whilst o*!ne is upon a manhaj other than that of the Salaf." (Al-Ajwibah al-Mufidah p.16) As for those who wish to discourage others from ascribing themselves to the Salaf and claim that it is a tazkiyah (self-praise) then their machinations are not hidden from us. Rather, Shaikh ul-Islaam refuted this false claim centuries ago and made it obligatory to accept the ascription of a person to the Salaf – and held it to be by unanimous agreement – since the aqidah and manhaj of the Salaf is nothing but the truth. But when it is the case that the manhaj of these people (the false claimants) is adulterated, then it should come as no surprise that they wish for the people to detach themselves from the Salaf – since that is the o*!nly way that their falsehood can remain undetected. 4) Salafiyyah Causes Disunity When it is the case that Salafiyyah is the understanding of the Book and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the Salaf of the Ummah and the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) stated, "And this Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Hellfire but o*!ne". They said, which o*!ne is this O Messenger of Allaah? He replied, "They are those who are upon what I and my companions are upon today" (Tirmidhee, no.2643) – and when it is also the case that the splitting occurred by their abandoning the correct understanding, then Salafiyyah is but the way forward for unity and is not splitting or sectarianism. As Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan said, "As-Salafiyyah (i.e. the Salafis) is the Saved Sect, and they are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. It is not a hizb (party) from amongst the various parties, those who which are called "parties" today … Hence Salafiyyah is a group of people (i.e. the Salafis) upon the madhhab of the Salaf, upon what the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions were upon and it is not a hizb from amongst the contemporary groups present today." (Cassette: "at-Tahdheer min al-Bid’ah" second cassette, delivered as a lecture in Hawtah Sadeer, 1416H). Thus, Salafiyyah, is an embodiment of what the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) left for his Ummah, whose night is like its day, pure clarity and anyone who departs from it will be destroyed, that is, he will enter into splitting, differing and fall into the sects that have been threatened with the Fire. Therefore, Salafiyyah which calls to a return to that which the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions were upon can never be considered to be splitting. 5) The Salafis Think o*!nly They Are Correct We have to make a distinction between that which is being ascribed to – which is the way of the Salaf – and the o*!ne who is ascribing himself to this. In absolute terms, that which is being subscribed to, that is the way of the Salaf, is nothing but the truth embodied, in both general specific terms, in issues of aqidah and manhaj, usool and furoo’ – and no-one denies or negates this save a heretic. As for the o*!ne who subscribes himself to the Salafi Way, then in the basis of his ascription – which is to that which cannot err – then he is correct in that, and what is in opposition to this, is but error and misguidance. We mean here from the point of view of the generality of aqidah and manhaj and the usool of the religion. This is because the aqidah and the manhaj and the usool of the Salaf of all the ages is the same and they are united upon all of that. Hence, o*!ne who is a Salafi and is true in his ascription to the Salaf and who proceeds upon knowledge and action, imitating their way, then he is correct in all of that inshaa’allah. And this person will either know the way of the Salaf in general terms, and he knows it to be correct, even though he may be ignorant of its particulars, yet he is still correct in considering their way – and his way of following and imitating them – to be the truth and whatever is in opposition to it, to be falsehood. Or he will know the way of the Salaf in both general and specific terms, in terms of aqidah and manhaj and usool and furoo’ and he will be correct in the majority of that which he holds o*!nto and acts upon, and all of this is dependent upon his sincerity in learning and his zeal for acquiring knowledge and acting upon it. As for the individual being correct in every single issue from the subsidiary matters, then if o*!ne makes that claim, then he is in error. Since it is not possible for any o*!ne to be correct in every single subsidiary issue of the religion, since firstly, it is not possible for him to have knowledge of all of that, and secondly, when the Imaams of the past did not attain that, it is hardly likely that any of the followers of the latecomers will ever reach that. Hence, in the subsidiary matters it is possible for the Salafi to be in error, yet that does not negate his being correct in his aqidah and manhaj, and in general terms to be upon that which takes him out from being within the seventy-two sects of innovation and misguidance. However, it is often the case that the o*!ne subscribing to the way of the Salaf and making an outward display of that is in fact upon the astray methodologies, yet he proclaims orthodoxy and pleads a sound aqidah and manhaj. Though he may be of sound aqidah, he may upon an adulterated manhaj. In this situation, such a o*!ne is not correct or truthful in his ascription, since he has a manhaj other than that of the Salaf, and this is determined by looking and seeing: Does he defend Sayyid Qutb? Does he subscribe to the view and scandal of Abdur-Rahmaan Abdul-Khaaliq? Does he praise Mohammad Qutb and take him as a guide and leader. Does he defend and aggrandise Hasan al-Bannaa? Does he speak with the terms and phrases of the Innovators, "al-Ummah al-Ghaa’ibah" (The Absent Ummah), "Shabaab us-Sahwah" (The Youth of the Awakening), "Tawhid ul-Haakimiyyah", "al-Muwaazanah" and other such phrases which have become the slogans of the Innovators. So we look and see, what other affiliations does he have, who does he mix with, who does he talk to, what are the books that he refers to, and in this manner we come to know of his true orientation in his manhaj, and from this we come to know whether he is an imposter, claiming the way and manhaj of the Salaf, yet upon other than it. 6) The Salafis Are Arrogant And Have Bad Manners And this is a very subtle matter, requiring careful thought and deliberation. As for bad manners, then this is often due to the upbringing and nature of the individual, his characteristics and his personality, and it is not necessary a reflection of the base and foundation, the aqidah and manhaj of the Salaf, which is nothing but the truth. So a person may be in need of correcting his manners and calling with wisdom (that is the Sunnah) and beautiful argumentation, so that his invitation is more readily accepted. But this is not pretext for rejecting the validity and correctness of the way of the Salaf and ascribing o*!neself to it, since that is the o*!nly way of deliverance. So we make a difference between what sometimes occurs from some of the Salafis of bad manners, and between what is actually a knowledge-based manhaj that is derived from the Book and the Sunnah. The blame is upon the individual and not the base and foundation. The same can be said about every other Muslim, regardless of what astray methodology or heretical belief he subscribes to, amongst them are those with evil manners and bad habits. But a manhaj or aqidah is judged according to its agreement or disagreement with what the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions and the Salaf were upon, fundamentally, not by the behaviour of its people. Refer also to the next doubt for more clarification. As for arrogance, then sometimes this may occur from an individual, in which case he is censured, yet in other cases it is perceived to be arrogance, though the individual does not have any arrogance but o*!nly love for the truth, being certain in that truth – but he is understood to have arrogance by his counterpart or opponent or the o*!ne that he is inviting. And it can often be the case that arrogance is actually o*!n behalf of the o*!ne who does not accept the truth of what is being said by the o*!ne who subscribes to the Salafi aqidah and manhaj (and who is not a false pretender from amongst the biased partisans!!). Remember this, for this is often the case. As the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Arrogance is rejection of the truth, and looking down upon the people". Many of those who claim the Salafis are arrogant, then refuge is from Allaah, in truth they are the arrogant o*!nes for they do not accept the true call and the correct da’wah, out of arrogance, and then they accuse the Salafis of being arrogant. So remember this, for every coin has two sides. Consider, a Salafi may be inviting a person to the truth, in a matter in which he knows that he is correct. He is harsh and insists that he is correct and so he is accused of being arrogant, though the o*!nly reason he has exhibited this behaviour is his love for the truth and upholding the truth. Even though we may say that his action is incorrect and misplaced and his great zeal has led him to behave inappropriately, either due to lack of knowledge or due to bad manners. So it is upon him to correct all of that. Otherwise the o*!ne being invited ends up not accepting the truth o*!n account of the way it was presented. So we say that arrogance may sometimes be exihibited, and this returns back to the individual, not the manhaj or aqidah he subscribes to. Indeed, we can say that many of the Sufi Heretics are indeed arrogant in their claim of sure deliverance from the Fire and their requesting submissive obedience from their herd of followers – thinking themselves to be above the people. And we can extend this to all of the sects and groups of innovation. Arrogance is found everywhere and is not a referent point for whether a person’s manhaj and aqidah is correct or not. Rather the manhaj and aqidah itself is the referent point, and all of that is thrown against what the Salaf were upon. We leave you with the remainder of the discussion between Imaam al-Albaani and the questioner concerning naming with "Salafiyyah": Questioner: [Continuing from where we left off] "Alright, I will submit to you and I say to you: Yes (I agree about summarising with saying ‘I am Salafi’), yet my belief is what has preceded, since the first thing that a person thinks of when he hears that you are a Salafi 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 Salafis." Shaikh 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". Shaikh 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?" Questioner: "Naturally." Shaikh al-Albaani: "However, there was amongst them, o*!ne 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 aqidah 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. Salafi) so that you do not persist upon the word ‘Muslim’. And you know that there is no o*!ne who will understand what you really intend (by using the word ‘Muslim’ alone) ever…" End Quote (Cassette "I am a Salafi"). And inshaa’allah, this explains our intent and the important differentiation that we had alluded to earlier in replying to this doubt. 7) The Salafis Lack Piety Whereas Other than Them Are Pious and Abstemious And this too is a very old doubt which has been answered by the Salaf themselves, those of old. And we merely leave you with their words: Ibn Abbaas (d. 68H) said: "Indeed the most detestable of things to Allaah are the innovations." (Reported by al-Bayhaqee in as-Sunan al-Kubraa 4/316) Ibn Umar (d. 84H) said: "Every innovation is misguidance, even if the people see it as something good." (Reported by Abu Shaamah no. 39) Sufyaan ath-Thawree (d. 161H) said:"Innovation is more beloved to Iblees than sin, since a sin may be repented from but innovation is not repented from." (Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee no. 238) Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee (d. 204H) said: "That a person meets Allaah with every sin except Shirk is better than meeting Him upon any o*!ne of the innovated beliefs." (Reported by al-Bayhaqee in al-I’tiqaad p.158) Al-Layth bin Sa’d (d. 175H) said: "If I saw a person of desires (i.e. innovations) walking upon the water I would not accept from him." So Imaam as-Shaafi’ee then said: ""He (al-Layth) has fallen short. If I saw him walking in the air I would not accept from him." (Reported by as-Suyooti in al-Amr bil ‘Ittibaa wan-Nahee anil Ibtidaa’.) Yunus bin Ubaid said to his son, "I forbid you from fornication (zinaa), stealing and drinking wine. However that you meet Allaah with any of these sins is better to me than that you meet him with the view of Amr bin Ubaid and the associates of Amr (i.e. the Mu’tazilah)." (al-Ibaanah 2/466). Sa’eed bin Jubair said, "That my son accompanies a sinful and cunning scoundrel who is a Sunni is more beloved to me than that he accompanies a devoteful and worshipful Innovator." (al-Ibaanah no. 89). Imaam Al-Barbahaaree said, "However, if you see a person whose manner and opinion is despicable, he is wicked, sinful and oppressive, yet he is a person of the Sunnah, accompany him and sit with him, since his sin will not harm you. If you see a man who strives hard and long in worship, is abstemious, being continual in worship, except that he is a person of innovation, do not sit with him, do not listen to his words and do not walk along with him, since I do not feel safe that you will not eventually come to be pleased with his way and go to destruction along with him." (Sharh us-Sunnah no. 149). Imaam Ahmad said, "The graves of Ahl us-Sunnah from those who committed the major sins are like gardens. And the graves of Ahl ul-Bid’ah from amongst their abstemious pious o*!nes are hollow and empty. The sinners of Ahl us-Sunnah are the Awliyaa’ (Friends) of Allaah and the abstemious pious o*!nes of Ahl ul-Bid’ah are the Enemies of Allaah." (Tabaqaat ul-Hanaabilah 1/184). Consider well, O Sunni, what our Pious Forefathers have left for us as a legacy and as an admonition. When it is the case that Innovations in aqidah and manhaj are the cause of splitting and differing, and lead to the emergence of sects, and these sects have been threatened with Fire, and when it is also the case that Shaytaan beautifies the Innovations and makes them appealing and to be guidance and light, then the People of Innovation and Adulterated Principles are more dangerous and harmful than a sinful, villain from Ahl us-Sunnah.