The Wahhabis like to use the word Salafi to refer to their minhaj. They have been using this title since the early 19th century and I thought I would write this brief article just to share a few facts.
Firstly the word Salafi cannot apply to anybody of this age. There is no such thing as the Salafi madh-hab in this time.The term Salaf strictly refers to the first three generations. The term used for anybody who came after their time is Khalaf. So those who call themselves Salafis today are in fact Khalafis, like any one of us.
The true Salafi madh-hab produced many schools of thought, and the four surviving ones from amongst them are the Hanafi, Maliki, Shaafi and Hanbali schools. It is due to these four schools of fiqh that the Islamic Shari’ah has been preserved.
It the fourteen hundred years of Islamic tradition there has not been any madh-hab described as the Salafi madh-hab. Not even Ibn Taymiyyah or Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab called themselves a Salafi. This was a new term invented as a public relation tactic to give the Saudi Wahhabi Khawaarij a new face and a new public appeal.
It is true that Imaam adh-Dhababi described some scholars as a good “Salafi” scholar, however he meant is the mentioned scholar is upon the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah by closely following the creed of the Salaf. You will notice the Imaams he describes as good Salafi scholars all followed one of the four schools.
There does not exist an isnad where such and such scholars suffixed their names with the title as-Salalfi, whereas we will find that all the back to the four Imaam’s, the four schools have their scholars who attributed themselves to one of the four schools. The easiest example is to mention Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali.
The claim of the Salafis that they only follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah and do not blindly follow one of the four Imaam’s is a baatil one, as the compilers of the Sunnah such as Imaam Malik with his Muwatta, Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal with his al-Musnad, the great Shaafi scholar Imaam Bukhaari with his Saheeh al-Bukhaari all followed madh-habs!
The Salafi madh-hab, as it is labeled today by its so-called practitioners, is therefore an innovation in Islam, unorthodox and inauthentic and contradicts fourteen hundred years of Islam.