The First Objective
The Definition of the Salafi Methodology, its Principles, the Ruling Concerning Adhering To it and the Mention of its Virtue
The word ‘methodology (manhaj)’ refers to a way and a clear path. In this context, it is considered a pathway and a clearly defined course that leads towards the knowledge of a particular affair. The term Salafi is an ascription to the Salaf. In the Arabic language everyone who preceded you from your forefathers and relatives are considered your Salaf [predecessors]. The plural of Salaf is sullaf or aslaf. The phrase al-Qawm al-Sullaf [in Arabic] means:
The people who have preceded you.
An example of this is ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn ‘Abdullah al-Salafi (d.576H) the famous Scholar of hadith, and there are others from amongst the Scholars of the past who have formally used this ascription to the Salaf [the pious predecessors].
So the intended meaning here is what the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was upon, his Companions and those who followed them upon righteousness.
Therefore, the Salafi methodology is the path through which devout observance of the way of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions can be achieved. Or [it can also be said that] the Salafi methodology is to traverse upon the path of the Companions and imitate them in the way that they used to follow the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and apply the narrations.
Linguistically, Salafi is an ascription to the Salaf. This term can often be found in the speech of the people of knowledge in many places. The term Salafiyyah [or salafism] is what the people of hadith are upon, those who are the people of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah. These are some of the names that are used to describe the people of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah:
* Ahl al-Hadith (The people of hadith)
* Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah
* Atba al-Salaf (The followers of the Salaf)
Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’aala) said:
“And whoever opposes the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, and follows other than the way of the Believers; We will direct him towards the path which he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – and what an evil destination.” [Surah al-Nisa’ 4:115]
The way of the believers is firstly and foremostly describing what the Companions were upon. So abandonment of their way is deemed as following other than the path of the Believers.
The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Cling to my Sunnah and the way of the rightly guided Khulafa (Caliphs) who will come after me” [This hadith is Hasan (sound). It is narrated upon the authority of al-‘Irbad Ibn Sariyah (رضي الله عنه). It was collected by Ahmad in the Musnad (4/126-127), al-Darimi (no. 2676) in the introduction, al-Tirmidhi (no. 2676), Abu Dawud (no. 4607), and Ibn Majah (no. 42 and 45). Al-Albani has authenticated this narration in Irwa’ al-Ghalil (8/107, no. 2455)
Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban (d.354H) – rahimahullah – stated, “In his statement (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “Cling to my Sunnah,” which he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) mentioned when speaking about the differing that will occur within his Ummah is a clear illustration that whoever continuously sticks to the Sunnah, speaks in accordance with it and does not turn away from it [to delve into] opinions will be from the Saved Sect on the Day of Resurrection – may Allah favour us to be amongst them.”
Then he [Abu Hatim Ibn Hibban] entitled a chapter, ‘A mention of the narrations that explain what is obligatory upon the individual as it relates to adherence to the Sunan of Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and safeguarding oneself from anyone who rejects [the Sunan] from the people of innovation (bid’ah), even if they attempt to beautify this and make it seem pleasing to the eye.’ [Sahih Ibn Hibban (1/180)]
Thawbaan stated that the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “There will always remain a group from my Ummah steadfast and manifest upon the truth. They are unharmed by those who desert them, and they will remain like this until the order of Allah is established.”
[This hadith is mutawatir, refer to Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim (p. 6) and Nazm al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir (p. 93).
Abu Isa al-Tirmidhi (d.274) said, “This hadith is Hasan Sahih. I heard Muhammad Ibn Isma’il say: I heard ‘Ali Ibn al-Madini (d.234H) say…He mentioned this hadith, ‘There will always remain a group from my nation steadfast and manifest upon the truth.’ Ali said: ‘They are the people of Hadith.'” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi (no. 2229)]
Mu’awiyyah Ibn Abi Sufyan stood up amongst us and said, “Indeed the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stood up before us and said, ‘Verily, those who preceded you from the People of the Book divided into seventy-two sects; and this nation will divide into seventy-three sects. Seventy-two of these sects will inhabit the Hellfire and one will be in Paradise. And this is the Jama’ah.”
[Sahih li ghayri (authentic due to supporting narrations) and some have pointed to the fact that it could be considered mutwatir. It was collected by Ahmad in his Musnad (4/102), Abu Dawud (no. 4597) and al-Ajurri in his book al-Shar’iyyah (1/132, no.31) of the checked edition. This narration has been authenticated by the person who checked the book Jami’ al-Usul (10/32) and by al-Albani in Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (no. 204). Al-Albani also mentioned a number of hadith that strengthen this narration. Refer to Nazm al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir (p. 32-34). Refer to the Status of the People of Hadeeth – Their Feats and Praiseworthy Effects in the Religion by Rabi’ ibn Hadi, Salafi Publications]
Al-Tirmidhi reported upon the authority of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “There will come a time for my nation which will resemble what befell the children of Isra’il step by step. Verily, the children of Isra’il divided into seventy-two sects; and this nation will divide into seventy-three sects. All of them will reside in the Hellfire except for one. They asked: ‘Who are they O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied: ‘Those who are upon what I am upon and my Companions.'”
[Taken from the book, The Salafi Methodology, its definition, distinct characteristics & its call towards rectification, by the Noble Shaykh Dr. Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmul]