Taken From SLF010004 @ SalafiPublications.Com (A Reply to the Doubts of the Qutubiyyah On Ascription to Sunnah and Salafiyyah). If you find this beneficial then please make reference to the above article, when quoting.
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
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 one’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 oneself 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
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 on this subject, recorded on 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 one who has called you Muslims beforehand."
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 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
Shaikh al-Albaani: "This is not sufficient either".
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 one 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
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?"
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,
3) Calling Oneself a Salafi is a Blameworthy ‘Tazkiyah’ of Oneself
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 one 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 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)
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 only 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 one". They said, which
one 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,
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 Only 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 one 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
As for the one 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, one 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 onto 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 one makes that claim, then he is in error. Since it is not
possible for any one 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 one 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 one 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
oneself to it, since that is the only 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 only love for the truth, being
certain in that truth – but he is understood to have arrogance by his
counterpart or opponent or the one that he is inviting. And it can often be the
case that arrogance is actually on behalf of the one who does not accept the
truth of what is being said by the one 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 ones 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
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 only 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 one being
invited ends up not accepting the truth on account of the way it was
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?"
Shaikh 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 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 one 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
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 one 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 ones are hollow and empty. The sinners of Ahl us-Sunnah are the
Awliyaa’ (Friends) of Allaah and the abstemious pious ones 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. For you
know of your crime with the latter and can repent from it and amend your ways,
but when you take as your friend Adnaan Ar’oor the Qutubist Politician, Mohammad
Qutb the Takfiri Khariji, Mohammad Suroor the Takfiri Qa’dee, Abdur-Rahmaan
Abdul-Khaaliq the Shurocrat and Sworn Bannaawi, then you think them to be upon
guidance and you think their adulterated principles and innovatory methodologies
to be the truth embodied and you think that these principles and methodologies
are a deliverance for the Ummah, and so you affiliate yourself with them and
show loyalty and disownment for their sake and thus fall into the Fire., the
while you think yourself to be a rightly guided "Salafi" (!!), yet you are
nothing but a hizb (sect) from amongst the ahzaab, upon other than
the Manhaj of Nubuwwah.