The Term Salafi

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.

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8 thoughts on “The Term Salafi

  1. the great Shaafi scholar Imaam Bukhaari with his Saheeh al-Bukhaari all followed madh-habs!

    Can you please give me substantial proofs proving he was following the Shafa’ee mazhab. My friend claims he was not a follower of any mazhab and the mukkalids attribute this to imam Bukhari r.e.h.

    Also, he told me that Hafiz Hajar Asqalani, Students of Imam Abu Hanifa r.e.h, ibn Taymiyaah and present day deobandi scholars have all differed from the 4 schools of thought. Thus they were all Ghair Mukkalids.

    • Salamun ‘Alaykum dear brother in Islam, thank you for your question.

      Although Imaam al-Bukhari was a high ranking mujtahid, he never practiced fiqh according to any other school than the Shafi madh-hab. What I mean by this that he would follow Imaam ash-Shafi’s priciples in deriving from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

      It is important to note here that not all scholars have the ability to derive from the Qur’an and the Sunnah according to their own madh-hab, so deriving from the Qur’an and the Sunnah by using a certain Imaam’s method or priciples, and blindly following an Imaam in a ruling is two different things althogether. However, none the less, if they do ijtihaad or taqleed, it is still within the bounds of a madh-hab.

      The majority of Shafi masters often state that Imaam Bukhaari was a Shafi, I have no reason to doubt them in this claim. Imaam al-Qastanlaani, Imaam as-Subki, Imaam as-Suyuti and others are just some of them who have suggested this one way or the other. It is known that Imam Bukhari learned jurisprudence from Imam Humaydi, the direct disciple of
      Imam Shafi. No doubt that Imaam al-Bukhaari was fully equipped with the priciples and tools of the Shafi madh-hab and possessed a hig ranking authority in it.

      The only madh-habs that have survived since the Salaf are four. There is no fifth nor can their be any possibility for a fifth.

      Regards and wa as-Saalam

      The Admin

      • Also just to note that Imam Abu Hanifah’s madh-hab consisted of a council of scholars that would derive from the Qur’an and the Sunnah using the exact same principles as Imaam Abu Hanifah, however, some of the time Imaam Muhammad and Imaam Abu Yusuf would arrive at a different conclusion to Imaam Abu Hanifah;s. Again this was still within the boundaries of the Hanafi Madh-hab.

        Ibn Taymiyyah was self admit-tingly a Hanbali and he would often refer to Imaam Ahmad b. Hanbal as my Imaam or our Imaam. Though Ibn Taymiyyah did make some 17 rulings that not only went against the madh-hab, but the ijmaa [consensus] of all the Muslim scholars. These points were so serious that they led to his imprisonment.

        • Salam I’m just waiting for you to answer ‘motashims’ query.

          I’d appreciate it if you would send me a follow up message.

      • JazakAllahu Khair,

        I have the following queries post your explanation.

        ************************************
        Although Imaam al-Bukhari was a high ranking mujtahid, he never practiced fiqh according to any other school than the Shafi madh-hab. What I mean by this that he would follow Imaam ash-Shafi’s priciples in deriving from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
        ************************************

        Can you give me a single or couple of examples of the same with references as one can easily disagree with the above statement as having no basis.

        *************************************
        The majority of Shafi masters often state that Imaam Bukhaari was a Shafi, I have no reason to doubt them in this claim. Imaam al-Qastanlaani, Imaam as-Subki, Imaam as-Suyuti and others are just some of them who have suggested this one way or the other.
        *************************************

        Please provide references for these scholars.

        *************************************
        It is known that Imam Bukhari learned jurisprudence from Imam Humaydi, the direct disciple of Imam Shafi. No doubt that Imaam al-Bukhaari was fully equipped with the priciples and tools of the Shafi madh-hab and possessed a hig ranking authority in it.
        ************************************

        True, but this not prove that he did Taqleed of Imam Shafa’ee as I believe he also learnt from scholars of other schools of thought.

        ****************************************
        Ibn Taymiyyah was self admit-tingly a Hanbali and he would often refer to Imaam Ahmad b. Hanbal as my Imaam or our Imaam.
        **************************************

        If so, then why this quote: “And whatever I take from the Madhab of Ahmed[bin Hanbal] is upon my maarifah, I do not do his taqleed.” [Ai’laam Al Muwaqi’een of ibn Qayyim Vol 2 Pg 241/242]

        • If I fail to provide references, it does not make me wrong, a liar, etc etc. I hate these referencing games. I hear and learn a lot, read a lot – therefore asking me to provide references is a lot. But I am sure in time that each one of your questions will be answered through research, and that you will change from being the third degree barrister into a seeker.

    • I am sorry but deobandis are not ghair muqallids, they follow the hanafi madhab and are accepted as hanafis by the likes of Shaikh Nazim al Adil al haqqani & Shaikh Habib Umar.

You are welcome to comment and ask a valid questions, however there are a few guidelines and conditions to your comments being approved. Messages like "your a heretic, you do not know what you are talking about, you have no knowledge, you are an enemy of Islam, stupid Sufi" are usually rejected. Consider your words carefully..

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