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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Way of the Salaf and how to call to it?

Ascribing to the way of the Salaf or the Ahlul-Hadith

... i had an opportunity to go to irf myself ... i asked one of the core members there abt ur question...they replied that they r not alhe they do not believe in dividing themselves into sects...they r just per te prophets hadees..that do not divide urself into sects and stay united..

As-Salaam Alaikum 

The above mentioned view is a erroneous view and is based upon a wrong assumption that the best generations of muslims never used a label for themselves other than Muslim and when a group of people deviated they were given a label (for example � giving the label of khawarij) but the muslims themselves did not use a label other than �Muslim� 

Ibn Sirin (d.110) a Tabiee said, �They would not ask about the Isnad. But when the fitnah (turmoil/civil war) happened, they said, �Name to us your men. So the narrations of the Ahlus-Sunnah (Adherents to the Sunnah) would be accepted, while those of Ahlul-Bidah (Adherents to Innovations) would not be accepted� 

[Sahih al-Muslim bi Sharh an-Nawawi (Introduction) Chapter : The Isnaad is from the Deen, p.257 [Maktaba Nazaar Mustafa al-Baaz - Riyadh [1st edition]. Quoted from the Classification of Hadeeth by Shaikh Suhaib Hassan] 

Here we can clearly see the Muslims at the time of the Tabieen � labeled themselves with a label other than Muslim � i.e. Ahlus-Sunnah 

The context of this statement is that during the lifetime of Allah�s Messenger, the Sahabah would convey the sayings of Allah�s Messenger to the other companions and there way no reason to doubt a companion because all the companions were truthful. But with the emergence of deviants who fabricated Hadeeth to support their heretical views, the terms �Ahlus-Sunnah� and �Ahlul-Bidah� were used so that the narrations of Hadeeth those upon the right path could be accepted and the narrations of the deviants be rejected. 

As deviation and innovations in matters of the religion entered into the ranks of the Muslims, the need arose for descriptive terms to distinguish between the Muslims upon the right path and those upon deviation. Consequently terms like Salafi, Ahlus-Sunnah and Ahlul-Hadeeth have been used, each of them more appropriate than the other according to the situation, but in essence they all stand for adherence to the creed, methodology and understanding of the Salaf. 

There was not need for the description �Ahlus-Sunnah�, at the time of the Messenger when all the Muslims (i.e. the Sahabah) were upon the Sunnah. Even the Munafiqs (hypocrites) who joined the ranks of the Muslims for worldly gain whilst disbelieving in their hearts, had no way but to put up an outward show of Islam by not opposing the teachings of Allah�s Messenger. But as the situation changed the term �Ahlus-Sunnah� was used, as mentioned in the narration of Ibn Sirin 


It is incumbent to adhere to the understanding of the Salaf, because this way has at its beginning the pious gathering of the Sahabah who took the religion directly from the Messenger of Allah. They were the best of those who understood the teachings and adhered to them in a way that gained the Pleasure of Allah � the Most Gracious. 

�And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him.� [Soorah At-Tawbah: 100] 

The belief of the Sahabah is an example for us to follow, as Allah says in the Qur'an: "So if they believe in the like of that which you believe, they are rightly guided, but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition." [2:137] 

Furthermore, the Qur�aan exhorts us to follow the way of the believers, which is a reference to the way of the Sahabah. 

�And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the way of the believers. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell - what an evil destination.� [Soorah An-Nisaa: 115] 

The Prophet asserted that his Ummah shall be divided into seventy three sects and that all of whom will end up in Fire except one. When he was asked about that saved sect, he described it saying: �It is the sect that adheres to what I and my Companions are adhering today.� [Ahmed and others (from Kitaab at-Tawheed of Al-Fawzaan)] 

Allaah's Messenger (sallaahu 'alaihi wassallam) said: "I have left you upon clear proof , its night is like its day, no one deviates from it except one who is destroyed, and whoever lives long from amongst you will see great controversy. So stick to what you know from my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided caliphs - cling to that with your molar teeth." [Ahmad and Ibn Maajah] 

When adhering to the way of the Salaf is necessary to be upon the right path, how can ascribing to the way of the Salaf be blameworthy sectarianism, especially at a time when the callers to ways opposed to that of the Salaf are numerous, organized and eloquent in propagating their falsehood. 

The Saying of the Scholars on Ascribing to the way of the Salaf 

Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) says: "There is no blame on the one who manifests/proclaims the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf, who attaches himself to it and refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement (Ittifaaq), because the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf is nothing but the Truth (Haqq)." [From Majmoo al-Fataawaa, 4:149.] 

al-Haakim said: Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal did well when he commented on this report by saying that the victorious group who will prevail until the Hour begins is �ashaab al-hadeeth� (the people of hadeeth). Who is more deserving of this description than people who follow the way of the righteous and follow in the footsteps of the salaf who came before us, and exposed the falsehood of the people of bid�ah (innovation) by basing their arguments on the Sunnahs of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)? [Ma�rifat �Uloom al-Hadeeth, by al-Haakim al-Nisaboori, p. 2, 3] 

al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi said: �Allaah has made these people � Ahl al-Hadeeth � the pillars of sharee�ah, and He has destroyed through them all abhorrent innovations. They are the trustees of Allaah among His creation, the intermediaries between the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his ummah. They are the ones who are striving hard to protect his religion; their light is shining, their virtues are well known, the signs of their sincerity are obvious, their way is prevailing, and their evidence is supreme. Every group has its own focal point which is based on whims and desires, apart from the people of hadeeth, whose reference point is the Qur�aan, whose evidence is the Sunnah and whose leader is the Messenger to whom they belong; they do not pay any attention to whims and desires, and they do not care about personal opinions. They are content with what is narrated from the Messenger, and they are the ones who are entrusted with it and they take care of it. They are the guardians and keepers of the faith, the vessels and bearers of knowledge. If there is a difference of opinion concerning a hadeeth, people refer to them, and what they rule is what is accepted and listened to. Among them are prominent faqeehs, great imams, ascetics who are well-known among their tribes, men who are known for their virtue, skilled reciters of Qur�aan and good speakers. They are the majority and their way is the right way. Every innovator pretends to be following their path, and cannot dare to claim any other way. Whoever opposes them, Allah will destroy him, and whoever goes against them, Allah will humiliate him. They are not harmed by those who forsake them, and those who stay away from them will not prosper. The one who cares for his religion needs their help, the one who looks down on them is a loser, and Allah is able to support them.� [Sharf Ashaab al-Hadeeth, p. 15] 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: �Hence it is clear that the people who most deserve to be called the victorious group are �Ahl al-Hadeeth wa�l-Sunnah�, who have no leader to follow blindly apart from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They are the most knowledgeable of people concerning his words and deeds, the most able to distinguish between what is sound and what is not [of hadeeth]. Their imams have deep knowledge of that, they are the ones who understand its meanings and are the most sincere in following it. They accept it and believe in it, and act upon it. They show love to those who adopt it and they show enmity to those who oppose it. They are the ones who measure any idea against that which is proven in the Qur�aan and Sunnah, so they never adopt any idea and make it one of the basic principles of their religion unless it is proven in that which the Messenger brought. Rather they make that which the Messenger brought, the Qur�aan and Sunnah, the foundation and basis of their beliefs. With regard to the issues concerning which people dispute, such as the attributes of Allaah, the divine decree, the threat of Hell, the names of Allaah and the principle of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, etc., they refer that to Allaah and His Messenger. They examine the general ideas concerning which the different groups dispute, and whatever of these ideas is in accordance with the Qur�aan and Sunnah, they approve of it, and whatever goes against the Qur�aan and Sunnah, they reject it. They do not follow conjecture or whims and desires. For following conjecture is ignorance and following whims and desires without any guidance from Allaah is wrongdoing.� [Majmoo� al-Fataawa, 3/347, 348] 

We should note that Ahl al-Hadeeth includes everyone who follows the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and gives it precedence over all else, whether he is a scholar or an ordinary Muslim. 

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said: �According to us the Ahlul�Hadeeth are the Muhadditheen, who heard the hadeeth from their teachers, who also wrote down that which was narrated to them from their teachers, and those who narrated hadeeth to others. In the same way the Ahlul�Hadeeth are those common people who follow and act upon hadeeth in all matters.� [Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah 4/59] 

Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said: �We do not mean by Ahl al-Hadeeth only those who study it, write it down or narrate it, rather we mean anyone who takes care to memorize it, understand it and follow it, both inwardly and outwardly. The same may be said of �Ahl al-Qur�aan� (the people of the Qur�aan). 

The basic quality of these people is their love of the Qur�aan and hadeeth, referring to them and their meanings, and acting upon what they learn.� [Majmoo� al-Fataawa, 4/95] 

The imams have said a great deal on this matter. You can learn more by referring to the sources quoted above, as well as volume 4 of Majmoo� Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah. [Taken from Islam Q&A (] 

Is there a Need to distinguish between the Muslims: 

Surely, there is a need to identify those Muslims who are upon the correct understand and distinguish them from those who have deviated from the path out of ignorance, misunderstanding or arrogance. The one who denies this need, in reality denies the need to distinguish between the truth and falsehood. 

The need for this distinction has been from the time of the Tabi�een (the second generation of Islam), and the need is much more in these times when the people of deviation and innovation are numerous, well-organized and eloquent. 


1- Those groups who reject the usage of any term other then �Muslim�, identify themselves by ascriptions to individuals, organizations, groups or movements. Why do they not name their organizations or group as, �One Muslim Group� or �One Muslim Organization�? 

If identifying oneself with a certain position (in our case - to align with the position of the Salaf in our affairs) is sectarianism, then identifying with a particular organization or movement is also sectarianism. Then on what basic would such people accuse others of sectarianism? 

2 - Those who reject the usage of any term other then �Muslim�, themselves use terms like �good Muslim / bad Muslim�, �Muslim with the correct opinion / Muslim with the incorrect opinion�, and they themselves use existing terms like �soofi�, �shia�, etc. to identify others. 

So indirectly they too have displayed the need for such description for the sake of brevity which is a natural need for easy communication. 

None can truly claim to be in no need to descriptions other than �Muslim� except for those upon two extremes. One extreme of those who call themselves, �Jamaat al-Muslimeen� � who believe that the term �Muslim� refers to a member of their group, and anyone who is not from their group is not part of the Jama�aah (gathering) of the Muslims � even if he adopts no other name apart from �Muslim�. The lack of responsibility and maturity of this cult makes it easy for it to expel the overwhelming majority of Muslims out of the �Jamaat al-Muslimeen�. 

The other extreme that does not require such type of distinction is the group of non-practicing, materialistic individuals who are grossly ignorant of the religion of Islam � and for whom being a Muslim is like a nationality which anyone can claim irregardless of his deviation from the revelations (Wahy) of Allah. A person could loose his nationality by rebelling against his nation but these individuals consider even the most rebellious deviant to have the right to claim Islam. Obviously these individuals too are in no need for making distinctions. 

Apart from these two ridiculously extreme views, none is truly independent from the use of �distinguishing terms�. 

3 � As for those who accept in the obligation of following the way of the Salaf but object to ascribing themselves to the Salafi way, we say to them: 

a. Know that ascription to Salafiyyah is not sectarianism because a Salafi ascribes himself to the Messenger, the Jamaa�ah of the best generations and those who followed them upon righteousness. Those who ascribe themselves to individuals, movements, groups, parties or schools of thought are guilty of sectarianism because the entire Muslim nation cannot be united in the following of an Imam, a political leader, a philosopher, a theocrat or any other individual. And this does not equal ascribing oneself to Ahlus-Sunnah, Ahlul-Hadeeth or Salafiyyah. 

b. By ascribing yourself to the Salafi Dawah you will be ethically bound to follow the principles of the Salafi Dawah and this will be a source of guidance and direction. This is unlike the case of the ones who do not ascribe to the Salafi way and thus not obliged to bound themselves to the usool (principles) of Ahlus-Sunnah. And anything that is not bound by principles amounts to chaos and anarchy. 

c. Without ascribing yourself to the Salafi way and binding yourself to the way of the Salaf, you are another in the long list of misguided sects because safety from misguidance would come only in following the way of the Salaf which is to follow the Book and the Sunnah upon the understanding of the Sahabah. 

d. As for those who follow the Salafi way but do not ascribe themselves to Salafiyya out of fear that it will harm their Dawah should know that this action of theirs does not conceal their methodology except to those ignorant of the different Manahij (ways). As for the one who is acquainted with this merely puts two and two together because if you are a person who stresses upon Tawheed, gives precedence to following the Hadeeth over the Taqleedi Madhhabs, opposes the ways of the heretical Sufis, does not exaggerate in the honor of the Ahlul-Bait, does not undermine the Sunnahs, and so on. This is a clear indication that you are on none other than the Salafi way. When this is the case then why shy away from ascribing yourself to the Salafi Dawah and subject yourself to the balancing act whenever someone asks you a simple question � �What way are you upon?� 

Hope the above answers the question and clears all doubt 

Your brother in faith 

- sajid

18 Oct 2003

Further Reading : Who is the Saved Sect ?