The following question is answered by Shaikh Saalih bin Fawzaan Al-Fawzaan and taken from the book, Beneficial Answers to Questions on Innovated Methodologies, Second Edition, Compiled and Commented by Jamaal bin Furayhaan Al-Haarithee, pp.44-47.
Question: Is a person who calls himself Salafi considered a partisan?
Answer: If calling oneself Salafi is for real, then there is no harm in that. But if it is just a claim made by someone, then it is not permissible for him to call himself Salafi so long he is upon something other than the methodology of the Salaf.
So for example, the Ash’arees may say: “We are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah” but this is not true because what they are upon is not the methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. Likewise, the Mu’tazilah call themselves muwahhideen (believers in Tawheed).
Everyone claims to have a connection with Laylaa
But Laylaa does not affirm that for (any of) them
So whoever claims to be upon the way of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah must follow the path of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah and abandon anyone that opposes it.
As for the one who wishes to combine between the lizard and the whale, as they say, meaning he wished to combine between the animals of the desert and the animals of the ocean, then this is not possible. Or he may be one who wishes to gather fire and water in one hand.
Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah will never unite with the beliefs of those who oppose them, such as the Khawaarij, the Mu’atazilah, and the Hizbiyoon (partisans), such as those who are known as “Modern Muslims.” These people want to unite the deviations of the modern day people with the methodology of the Salaf. And “the last part of this ummah will not be rectified except by that which rectified its first part.” So in brief, these matters must be distinguished and clarified.