What is Salafiyyah?


Comparisons and Contrasts (4)
What is Salafiyyah?
Jalal Abualrub, of www.IslamLife.com, wrote: In a major hadeeth reported from him through mutawatir narrations, meaning through numerous chains of narration, Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, peace be on him, said, “The best people are my generation, then the next generation, then the next generation” (Bukhari, and, Muslim).
The ummah (followers) of Muhammad has the greatest respect and the highest regard for the first three generations of Islam, who transferred the entire religion of Islam from the Prophet of Allah, peace be on him, to the world. They practiced and taught Islam in creed, statement, and action. They established Islam and the Khilafah on large parts of the known world, then. The ummah of Muhammad, no matter the sect, except the Shi’a, the Khawarij (literally: the rebellious) and a few other deviant sects, considers the era of the first three generations in Islam to be the best Islamic era of all time. Muslims have a special term that describes the first three Muslim generations, ‘As-Salaf As-Sali`h.’ Literally, this term means, ‘The Righteous Predecessors (Ancestors; Forefathers).’ They are also called, ‘As-Salaf,’ in short, meaning, ‘The Predecessors.’
Muslim scholars completely rely on the scholars of the Salaf to gain knowledge in, and the explanation of, every aspect of Islam and every report narrating the Prophet’s statements, actions, and his agreeing to statements and actions; simply, his entire legacy. This includes the Prophet’s practical explanation of the Quran and his Sunnah traditions to his companions, who transferred all this knowledge to the next generation, who then transferred it to the next generation after them. As for the term, ‘Salaf,’ it was established by the Prophet Muhammad himself, when he, peace be on him, described himself to his daughter, Fatimah, as being the best ‘Salaf (Predecessor)’ for her (Bukhari, and, Muslim).
The scholars of Islam, who are the true leaders of Muslims since they explain and preserve the religion for them, make it their mission to take all aspects of the Islamic religion from the Salaf. They praise and love the Salaf, and seek to emulate the Salaf, especially the best Salaf, the Prophet of Allah, Muhammad, peace be on him, then the Four Righty Guided Caliphs, and they are Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, `Uthman Ibn `Affan, and `Ali Ibn Abi Talib, then the rest of the Prophet’s companions and family members, may Allah be pleased with all of them. There is not an aspect in Islam in which any consecutive generation excelled above the level of the three Salaf generations.
Except for the Shi’a, the Khawarij, and a few other deviant sects, Islamic sects of old and new profess, at least with words, to following the Salaf; many of them even ascribe their ways to the way of the Salaf. In addition, and since the early Islamic era, all sects are measured according to the degree they emulate the Salaf; judgment is then passed on every sect as to how righteous or deviant they are based on how closely or otherwise they emulate the Salaf.
Islam strictly prohibits division in the religion, and threatens Muslims who divide into religious sects with the severest consequences. Allah says, {And be not of Al‑Mushrikûn (polytheists; idolaters; disbelievers); Of those who split up their religion, and became sects (they invented Bid’ah [religious innovations], and followed their vain desires), each sect rejoicing in that which is with it} (30:31-2); {And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them; It is they for whom there is an awful torment} (3:105).
In addition, the Quran and Sunnah clearly define how Muslims can avoid disputes and acquire safety from the consequences of dividing into religious sects, by identifying the path all Muslims must take to achieve unity in the religion and avoid division and misguidance. The Quran identifies the path of the Prophet and his companions as the only true path, {And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad, peace be on him) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell; what an evil destination} (4:115).
The Sunnah further explains ayah 4:115 by also clearly designating the only true path. The Prophet of Allah, peace be on him, says, “And my ummah (Muslims) will be divided into seventy-three religious sects (or, Firqah), all in Hell, except one, [and that one is] the one on which I and my Companions are” (Sahih Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2129). Therefore, according to this hadeeth, Allah’s Statement, {the believers’ way}, pertains to the way of the Prophet’s companions, the best believers.
These two texts comprise the practical explanation of the Prophet’s statement, “Verily, those who will live longer among you will witness many disputes and divisions. Beware of matters of innovation, because they are heresies. Those among you who live longer until that time let them adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; hold to it with your back teeth!” (Sahih Sunan Abi Dawud 3851) This hadeeth foretold what would happen to Muslims after the Prophet’s death, they divided and disputed. This hadeeth prohibits division and disputes. This hadeeth identifies for Muslims the path that will save them from division and disputes, that being, adhering to the Prophet’s Sunnah and the way of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, in specific, as well as, the way of the rest of the Prophet’s companions, in general, as the Ayah and the hadeeth above state.
The inclination for Muslim individuals and groups to ascribe to the way of the Salaf continues in the present time, even while Muslims also continue another trend that has prevailed between and among them for centuries, to divide, dispute, and disunite. The ummah of Muhammad, yet, still has tremendous goodness in it, including the universal yearning they have to regain their lost strength and unity, both of which the Salaf established, but later generations gradually ignored and degraded. Hopefully, the ummah of Muhammad will soon emulate their blessed Salaf by establishing Islam in their hearts and limbs, so that it is established for them on their earth and in their lands.
It is a miracle and a blessing from Allah that Muslims still have full, unhindered access to every aspect of Islam revealed by Allah, to His Prophet, peace be on him. Muslims will always have access to this blessed legacy. To elevate their status and end their troubles and division, they must hold on to the Quran and Sunnah according to the way the Salaf conveyed all of the two sources from the Prophet, peace be on him.
There is another miracle we should mention here. The Prophet of Allah, peace be on him, stated, “A group of my followers will keep on following Allah’s Laws strictly and they will not be harmed by those who will disbelieve them or stand against them, until Allah’s Order (the Last Hour) will come while they will be in that state” (Bukhari, and, Muslim). Indeed, no matter how strong or weak, united or divided the Muslim ummah became, there was always a group of scholars, along with commoners who followed them, who held fast to the Quran and Sunnah and kept the knowledge, practices and legacy of the Salaf alive and well among Muslims. They are the people of Sunnah, the people of hadeeth, the true followers of the Salaf, the Salafis.
Indeed, perfect and complete are the blessings Allah bestowed on the ummah of Muhammad, peace be on him:
(1) The Quran and Sunnah were fully and perfectly explained and practiced by the Prophet, peace be on him, who taught all this to his companions, who then transferred the entire knowledge and practices of Islam to the next generation.
(2) The first three generations of Islam, the Salaf (Predecessors), established Islam on earth as a religion and as a political state, and taught humankind Islam’s blessed creed, statements and practices. They are the best Muslims.
(3) The Quran and Sunnah identified the path of the Prophet, peace be on him, and his companions, as the only true Islamic path.
(4) The Quran and Sunnah prohibit defying and contradicting the way of the Prophet, peace be on him, and his companions. The Quran and Sunnah forbid disputes, disunity, and dividing into religious sects. The Quran and Sunnah also threaten those who commit these prohibitions with torment in Hell.
(5) Allah, the Exalted, the Mighty, preserved every major and minor aspect of Islam, and every detail, perfectly and fully. Thus, until the end of time, humankind will always have unhindered access to all Islamic creeds, statements, and practices.
(6) Until the end of time, Allah will raise up from among every Muslim generation a righteous group that will preserve Islam in knowledge and practice, following the guidance of the Salaf.
(7) Islam has therefore been preserved in knowledge, creed, statement, and practice, kept on earth by the Salaf and then the successive generations that followed their example and emulated their way. They are called, ‘Salafis,’ in that they ascribe to the path, methodology, knowledge, and practices of the Salaf, not that they are physically members of the Salaf generations.
In the next article, read about these interesting topics: Al-Qa’idah, ISIS, An-Nusrah, Ash-Shabab, Boko Haram: Are They Salafi; Salafiyyah Jihadiyyah vs. Salafiyyah `Ilmiyyah.
Jalal Abualrub (www.IslamLife.com)