Posted by: alqamardesigns | May 20, 2007


We find this word “salafi”, being mis-used by the Muslims.

Linguistically, ‘Salaf’ in the Arabic language has 2 meanings. One of them relates to the family, which includes our predecessors such as father, grandfather and so on (i.e. those (from history) who precede, have gone before us). In the matter of the deen (religion) it is the first three generations of Muslims.

Who are the first three generation of Muslims?

The Salaf, are the first three generations of pious muslims during and after the revelation of the Qur’an —>

1. The Sahabah (companions) of the Prophet, saaws
2. The Taabi’een (followers) and
3. The Taabi Taabi’een (followers of the followers).

They were the best three generations. May Allah be pleased with them.

Islam teaches us that they (As-Salaf as-Saalih) are superior in their understanding of the Qu’ran and the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (sa)… They were the most obidient to Allah and His Rasool (sa), and loved Allah, His Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Islaam more than we ever could… therefore, they are our role models, our example to follow…

So what did our Prophet Muhammad (s) have to say about them?

“The best of people is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them (i.e. the first three generations of Muslims).” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim- Mutawaatir].

He (sa) also said, `and you will live to see great difference, so cling to my sunnah and the sunnah of the four rightly guided caliphs after me (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali), even if it be with your teeth` (Al-Bukhaaree)

Nowdays, we find Muslims going around saying ‘I’m a Salafi Muslim’ … or I’m a this , I’m a that … and yet their actions are not of the Salaf …

Labelling yourself and others could possibly create yet MORE devisions amongst the muslims. The obsession with name calling I personally believe has gone to far – and we should simply be satisfied and proud of being labelled a “MUSLIM”, same as all the Prophets of Allah were (as).

We are “Muslim” whose minhaj (methodology/system) is the Qur’an and Sunnah and madhdhab (way) is that of the salaf. For me this is sufficient!

Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be please with him) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: `All of my Ummah will enter Paradise except those that refuse. Those who were with him (the companions) said, `And who will refuse?` He (sa) said: Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me will have refused.` (Al-Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allaah (sa) said, `I have left behind me two things, if you cling to them you will never go astray. They are the Book of Allaah and my Sunnah` (Al-Haakim)

Our noble Messenger (sa) said, `there is nothing that Allaah ordered you with except that I have ordered you with it, and there is nothing that Allaah forbade you from except that I have forbidden you from it` (Al-Bayhaqee)

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: `I warn you of the newly invented matters (in the religion), and every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire` (An-Nasa`ee)

He (sa) also commanded us, to reject everything, which has no basis in the religion saying: `Whosoever does an action, which we have not commanded then it must be rejected.` (Al-Muslim)

PS- So remember… Being upon the salaf refers to practicing your religion the way the prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions did. Simply by referring yourself as being upon the salaf does not mean you are practicing the religion in the correct way, as being upon the salaf is shown through ones actions. We need to be Muslim in actions not just words.

Below is an excellent video from TheDeenSHow called “Are Labels Necessary?”:

[Video by TheDeenShow]

May Allah keep us all upon the sunnah, and let us be with the Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his companions in the Jannah.Ameen

Related Audio & Article

Why Ascribe Oneself To Salafiyyah?
Written by Shaykh Naasirud-Deen Al-Albaanee (rahimahullah)

Audio | Article


  1. wa alaykum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu

    This is nonsense! in the arabic language when you add a ‘yaa’ to the ending of some words (or nouns), your associating yourself with that thing or you are associated with that place or thing or person. So to say I am salafy is called a nisbah (or connection/association) not meaning you are that actual thing, but you are associated with that thing. Like someone from America is ‘Amriki’ or someone from Pakistan is ‘Pakistani’ or someone who practices the Sunnah is ‘Sunni’ so if I say I am a Sunni am I saying that I am the Sunnah?, no this is non-sense. So the scholars of Islam have said that this connection to the salaf is by way of practicing Islam as they practiced Islam, believing as they did, saying what they said and like this because they were the best of generations and the ayaat and ahadeeth should be well known where Allah and his messenger (peace be upon him) mention their virtue. Ibn Taiymiyyah said ” there is no blame on the one who ascribes himself to the Salaf…”and other Scholars of the past have said similar to this. And Shaykh Naasirudeen Al-Albanee in a discussion was asked about calling oneself ‘salafi’ and during that discussion he told the brother ‘If you say your a muslim who is upon the Book of Allah, and the Sunnah, with the understanding of the Salaf, then you can just shorten this by saying I am ‘Salafi’. Also Shaykh Al-Albanee (who’s from Albania by the way) talked about if someone just said ‘I am muslim’ then he is associating himself with the different sects from the sects of muslims who the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallaam) mentioned to be all in the fire except one, like the Raafidah Shia, Sufi’s, Khawaarij, and on and on. These people who from amongst them are those who worship and seek help from people in the graves, which is Shirk, the only sin Allah won’t forgive, those who curse some of the Noble Companions, those who kill themselves and innocent people without right in suicide bombings. These things are not correct, so how can on associate themselves with these ‘Muslims’ Also he mentioned some ahaadeeth, but what about the hadeeth which was collected by Abi Dawood in which the prophet (saaws) mentioned “whoever lives after me will see much differences, so upon you is MY SUNNAH AND THE SUNNAH OF THE RIGHTLY GUIDED KHALIFAHS…’ and in another hadeeth collected by Muslim, wherein he (saaws) says ‘ there will not cease to be a group from my ummah, apparent upon the truth……’ until the end of the hadeeth. and the hadeeth of the 73 sects, alla of them in the fire except 1 one and in one narration it was mentioned who is that one O Rasulullah, and he said ‘those who are upon that which I am upon and my companions today’ So if someone just says he’s muslim then this is not sufficient because the prophet (saaws) informed us sbout the saved sect and the victorious group, so it is not just a mere claim one is making, but your distingushing yourself from those who have went astray and your actualizing and implementing Islam as the Salaf did, not just ascibing your self to them. Barak Allahu Feekum

  2. mashaaAllah jazaakAllahu khairan for your comment. From what I know ‘salafi’ refers to the actual companions, so how can we call ourselves ‘salafi’ ? we can say we are upon the WAY of the salaf, yes, but we can not say we are them! InshaaAllah i’ll ask my teacher more about this,and the points you mentioned. and of course we need to distinguish ourselves from those who have deviated, but don’t we simply do that through our actions, even the diviated groups say they are on the sunnah!

  3. salaamu alaykum , i have read both of the brothers piont and i am really confused. becuse in many ways both of them have a piont.

    i have just started practicing and i have heard about the Name callin ,salafi and all the others . at first i thought that it really wrong to name yourself a name other than a muslim , but after i have read about the salafi and the hadeeth where the prophet SAW talks about that there will be sects and division and that only one of them will enter pradise , i thought that it is something that is supposed to happen and no one can change it and since the salafi are the only once who make sense i thought maybe it is ok to call your self a salafi. i mean Allah knows best. but i would if some one knowledge able could explian the situation to me. jazakumullah

  4. Wa’alaykum asalaam,

    I never got round to ask about the points brother Jamal raised.. inshaaAllah as soon as I get the replies I will post them up…

    We should not worry ourselves with this ‘name calling’, you will find people nowadays call themselves ‘salafi’ or this and that, and their actions say otherwise.. I strongly feel we should be more concerned with our actions and actually living by the Sunnah .. rather than what we call ourseleves, we are Muslims – the one’s who
    submit… Thus to me that is sufficient…when we die and are in that grave,we will not be asked what we referred ourselves as, but rather who was our Lord (Allah), what was our Religion (Islaam), and who did you Follow (Muhammad)..

    May Allah guide the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (s) and let us live our lives according to his Sunnah.ameen

  5. Reply from Sheikh Ibrahim Dremali:

    “His opinion is that initially we are to call ourselves Muslims, and this should be sufficient. In light of the opinions of the great scholars which he is familiar with, they must be taken in light of the situations they were referring to. For instance, we distinguish ourselves as Muslims first and foremost. If someone were to then ask if we are Sunni or Shia, we would then reply that we are Sunni. If someone were to further ask if we are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i , Hanbali, etc, then an appropriate response would be I am following the steps of the Salaf, or I am Salafi. Both of these answers have the same meaning (as the brother brought up with the linguistics of the letter ‘ya’.)

    In conclusion, the Sheikh agrees that calling ourselves Salafi is okay, but ONLY in cases when specific clarification is needed. Otherwise it is better to stay away from saying ‘I am Salafi’ because this leads to division, sense of pride, self-righteousness, bickering, etc. So we should always distinguish ourselves as Muslims first and foremost.

    Allah (SWT) knows best.”

    PS – In light of this, I have amended my post where I stated: “We can not call ourselves Salafi as it is referring to the actual companions themselves” … I still wouldn’t advice Muslims to call themselves anything other than “Muslim”, unless there is really a need as the Sheikh recommended.

  6. Assalamu Alaikom,
    I might agree that we should not encourage to call our self as “salafs” or any others term, but better say that we follow the salaf, specially we are in a time were Muslims lack alot of islamic knowledge and awareness, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of the brothers that might call them self’s as “salaf’ that they refer to being followers of the salaf, and this is a concept that the Ummah had agreed on that we should follow the salaf which means our righteous predecessors, how ever as I mentioned above that the muslim Ummah at this current moment lacks islamic knowledge and awareness and for that many Muslims misunderstand the term ‘salaf’ and they will take it as a new sect or a sect that’s out of Islam, and this is something that I always get questioned and I hear many Muslims thinking this way.

    I encourage that we say (and also follow our salaf) by referring to our self’s as a “muslim” following the path of the salaf, and not get caught with any labels that will not serve the best interest of the UMMAH.

    And Allah knows better

    Best regards

    Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman

  7. Wa’alaykum asalaam, jazaakAllahu khairan Sh Shady. Thankyou for your comment

  8. I couldnt agree more with the statement below

    “In conclusion, the Sheikh agrees that calling ourselves Salafi is okay, but ONLY in cases when specific clarification is needed. Otherwise it is better to stay away from saying ‘I am Salafi’ because this leads to division, sense of pride, self-righteousness, bickering, etc. So we should always distinguish ourselves as Muslims first and foremost.”

    The problem came about in my opinion by so called “scholars” shedding personal views and confusing the masses, each one giving their own opinion based on their understanding. No offence to them but many make mistakes and many times adress to the crowd in a manner where they actually misunderstand.

    In all honesty people are purely confused. Have no knowledge and no steady mentor. I know because i have been through that road. And Al Hamdolillah i have had a mentor who is on the haqq and I have sufficient Aql and knowledge to differenciate whether he is correct or not. Who is also approved by the true shuyukhs.

  9. none of us are perfect, may Allah forgive and guide us all; and bless us with knowledge with its correct understanding.ameen

  10. Salam Alaikum akhee. I realize this is an old post but I came across it and I wanted to mention something really quick in hopes it will benefit both of us.

    There is no harm in ascribing oneself to the Manhaj of the Salaf. Shaykhul Islaam Abul ‘Abbaas ibn Taymiyyah al-Harraanee said in his Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (4/149):

    ولا عيب على من أظهر مذهب السلف وانتسب إليه واعتزي إليه بل يجب قبول ذلك منه بالاتفاق فإن مذهب السلف لا يكون إلا حقا

    ((There is no harm upon those who manifest the Madhhab of the Salaf and ascribe to it and hold fast to it, rather they love to accept that from them with agreement, because the Madhhab of the Salaf is not but the Truth!))

    And this is if the person actually takes the Aqeedah and Manhaj of the salaf. We do have in these days some people who claim Salafiyyah but they are not from it.

    The students of Shaykh al Albaanee related that the position of Shaykh al Albaanee was that we should call ourselves salafee in order to differentiate from the various firaq. But Shaykh Uthaymeen also said that it’s not an obligation but one cannot denounce those who ascribe to the Manhaj of the Salaf by saying “Salafee”.

  11. Wa’alaykum asalaam Aboo Redundant,

    Jazak Allahu khairan for the information.

    may Allah keep us upon the way of the salaf, ameen.

  12. Salamulaykum, read some of the posts.

    Sheikh Nasir-ud-deen Al Al-Bani gave a good reply to this over 1 hour long and translated in english, and the audio is on the website

    Maybe you can put that up also admin

  13. Wa’alaykum asalaam br Nim,

    Thanks for that, have added it within the post above..

    Jazak Allahu khair

  14. Praise be to Allah!

    1.Allah says call yourselves Muslims.
    2.Though they were different deviant groups at the time of salaf yet the salafs didn’t call them other than Muslim.
    3. Saying of salafi is not in the sharee’ah. It is an opinion given by scholars which one may follow or not follow based on the proofs which he give. The scholars have differed in this.
    4. Neither four Imaams made this labeling.
    5. Qur’anic verse: “Don’t be divided”.
    6. Follow the way of salaf and don’t label yourself.
    7. We are following Muhammed sallallahu alaihi wa sallam can we label as Muhammadi as brother pointed ya in Arabic. This becomes innovation in Religion. Calling American Pakistani are non-religious items. When comes to Islam do in the way of salaf. We hear and we obey. Labelling makes one proud. Label yourself Muslim first and this labelling is Ibaadah. Be proud to say that you are Muslim-3:64. We are following Allah’s commandments from the Qur’an and Hadeeth so say Muslim. This is what the salafs said. I find many brothers not offering sunnah Mu’akkadah and they are so proud to call themselves salafi. If we are sincere followers of salaf we should try to do the ibaadah what all the salafs did and come close to Allah Insha Allah.

    And not Just labelling, being proud and failing to think how to come close to Allah.

    8 Don’t make Taqleed. Taqleed only to Allah and Rasool-We hear and We obey-2:285. Any difference among the scholars check it with Allah and Rasool-4:59.

    9. Don’t be biased with any scholar. Follow the scholars who follow the salafs. If their Fataawa matches with the proof (Qur’an and Sunnah and the understanding of of Salaf) take it.

  15. Please go through this qa on calling oneself Salafi!

  16. Asalamu aleykum they (the first 3 generations) are the ‘salaf’ (predecessors) not the ‘salafi’s'(followers of the predecessors) as the bro/sis explained in the previous comment, the ‘i’ at the end means that we are ascribing ourselves to a particular thing, be it a country, a tribe etc, for example shaykh al albaani < he is albanian, and likewise a person upon the sunnah may call himself a sunni, this does not mean that they are the sunnah, or that shaykh al albani IS his country (rahimahullah). So saying you're a salafi is merely an ascription to the salaf, it is saying that you are one who follows the way of the salaf in mannerism, character, and all that which is good, because they have been recommended to us and we have been told that they are the best of people in an authentic hadeeth by prophet muhammad (sallalahu aleyhi wa sallam). “The best of generations is my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them.”
    [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, The Book of Heart-Softening Narrations, No. 6022]

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