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Why The Salafi Manhaj?

July 23, 2008

Indeed, the workers in the field of Islamic Da’wah have become numerous, and those who direct their attention to the youth of the “Islaamic Renaissance” are many. All of these people make intense efforts, work hard and exhaust themselves in order to renew the Islamic way of life. And in the midst of this overflowing and turbulent sea, you will find groups of elders and youths. As for the elders, they are content to just return home with their lives. But as for the youth, they tighten their waist straps and kick their feet into their riding horses. However, both of these groups are in confusion and turmoil.

Therefore, the concept of the Salafi Manhaj must be presented in relation to the revival of the rightly guided Islaamic lifestyle based upon the prophetic way:

(1) purifying Islaam from what does not belong in it, with regard to beliefs, rulings and manners, so that it can slowly return to its pure and clear state as it was revealed to Muhammad Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam.

(2) educating the Muslim generations upon this purified Islaam with an upbringing based on Eemaan (firm faith) and intense actions, this is the methodology of the Salafee Da’wah and the Victorious Group in bringing about change: First: Why the Salafee Manhaj? Every Muslim that desires true success and looks for the best way of living and prosperity in this life and the Hereafter must understand the Book of Allaah and the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Alloh Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam according to the understanding of the best of mankind. And they are the Sahaabah (Companions), the Taabi’een (Successors) and those who followed them in goodness until the Day of Judgment. This is because it cannot be conceived that there is an ideology, understanding or methodology that is more correct or more adequate than the understanding and methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih (righteous predecessors). And this is because the latter part of the Ummah will not be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part. And indeed when one investigates and examines the evidences from the Qur’aan, the Sunnah, the consensus of the scholars and deductions from analogy, one will come to the conclusion that it is an obligation to understand the Qur’aan and the Sunnah in light of the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih.

This is because it is the understanding, of which its validity and correctness have been unanimously agreed upon throughout the various successive centuries. So based on this, it is not permissible for any individual, regardless of what his status is, to have an understanding contrary to the understanding of the Salaf. And whoever turns away from it towards the innovations of the Khalaf (contemporary Muslims), which are surrounded by dangers and have no side that is safe - and their effects in dividing the Muslims are well-known and cannot be disputed, just as their effects in splitting the unity are well understood and cannot be denied - then this is a person who has established the foundation of his home on the edge of a cliff which is ready to fall down to its destruction at any moment.

Before you is a clarification of this principle based on proofs and evidences:1. Alloh, the Most High, says: “The first and foremost [to embrace Islaam] from the Muhaajiriin and the Ansaar, and also those who followed them in goodness; Allaah is well-pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. And He has prepared for them gardens under which rivers flow, to abide therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [Surah At-Tawbah: 100]

The point of evidence derived from this ayah is that the “Lord of mankind” has praised those who follow the “best of mankind”. So it is understood from this that if the “best of mankind” say a word, then someone follows them in that, then it is incumbent that this person be praised for it that he be deserving of (Alloh’s) contentment. And if there were no distinction between following them and following others, then one would not be deserving of praise and contentment.

The “best of mankind” are the Sahaabah (Companions) and those who followed them in goodness, based on the Qur’aanic text: “Verily those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of mankind.” [Surah Al-Bayyinah: 7]

2. Alloh says: “You are the best nation brought forth for mankind; commanding good and forbidding evil and believing in Alloh.” [Surah Aali 'Imraan: 110] The point of evidence: Alloh has confirmed for them their precedence over the rest of the nations. This necessitates that they were steadfast and perseverant upon the Religion, under every condition, for they did not deviate from the clear guidance. So Alloh bears witness that they commanded (others) towards every good and forbade (others) from every evil while having firm faith and hope for reward. This necessitates that their understanding (of the Religion) is a source of authority and reference for those that come after them until the Day of Judgment. And if this is not so, then it would not be correct to say that they command towards good and forbid from evil.

So consider. If it is said: This verse is general and refers to the whole nation (of Muslims), without being specific to the generation of the Sohaabah apart from those who came after them. Then I say: They are the ones being spoken to first and foremost (in the ayah). And “those who followed them in goodness” do not enter into the meaning of the verse except by way of analogy or another evidence, as was the case with the First Proof (mentioned above). And upon agreeing with the saying that the verse is general - and this is what is most correct - then the Sahaabah are the first ones to enter into the context of the speech that is being directed. This is since they were the first ones to learn and take the message from the Messenger Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam, directly, without there being any intermediary (between them and him Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam). And they were the first ones to apply the Revelation and put it into practice. They take more precedence over other people in entering into the meaning of this verse since the attributes that Allaah describes them with, no one is characterized with them in their most complete sense except them. So the agreement of the description with the characterization is a testimony indicating that they have more right than others to this praise.

And due to this: 3. The Messenger of Alloh said: “The best of mankind is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them. Then there will come a people of whom one of them will (have to) put forth his testimony by making oath. And his oath will be his testimony.” [1] Is the excellence that is affirmed here for the generation of the Sahaabah found in their skin colors of their bodies or their wealth or their homes? No person possessing sound intellect, who comprehends the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah, will have doubts that any of those things were not what was intended at all. And this is because the Messenger of Alloh (Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Verily, Alloh does not look at your appearances and your wealth. But instead He looks at your hearts and your actions.” [2]

And this is also because the standard which determines one’s excellence in Islaam is the Taqwaa of the hearts and righteous deeds, based on Allaah’s saying: “Verily, the most noble amongst you in the sight of Allaah are the ones with the most Taqwaa.” [Surah Al-Hujuraat: 13] And Alloh has indeed looked into the hearts of the Sahaabah (may Alloh be pleased with them) and found them to the best hearts of His slaves after the heart of Muhammad Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam. ‘Abdulloh ibn Mad’ood (may Alloh be pleased with him) said: “Indeed Allaah looks at the hearts of the slaves (of Allaah) and so He found the heart of Muhammad to the best of the hearts of the slaves, so He chose him for Himself and He sent him with His Message. Then he looked in the hearts of the servants after the heart of Muhammad Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam and found the hearts of the Sohaabah as being the best hearts of (His) servants. So He made them helpers of His Prophet, fighting for His Religion.” [3]

So He gave them knowledge and understanding that those who came after them were not able to attain. On the authority of Abu Juhaifah who said: “I said to ‘Alee (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘Do you have a book with you?’ He said: ‘Nothing except the Book of Allaah, or an understanding that a Muslim man was given or what is (written) down on this page.” [4] Based on this, it becomes clear that the excellence that is being praised in the Messenger of Alloh’s Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam saying is in fact the excellence in understanding and methodology. And due to that the Companions’ understanding of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah becomes the authoritative source of reference for those that came after them until the last part of this nation.

What clarifies this further is: 4. The saying of Allaah: “Thus We made you a moderate (i.e. just) nation so that you may become witnesses over mankind and so that the Messenger be a witness over you.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 143] Alloh, the Mighty and Sublime, has made them the best and the most trustworthy of people. Thus, they are the best of nations and the most truthful in their sayings, actions and needs. Due to this, they are deserving of being witnesses over mankind. This is why He has spoken highly of them, raised their status, praised them and received them with good approval. The witness whose testimony is accepted by Alloh is the one who bears witness with knowledge and truthfulness. So this person informs truthfully while basing that on his knowledge. Alloh says: “Except those who bear witness to the truth while they know.” [Surah Az-Zukhruf: 86] So if their testimony is accepted by Alloh, then there is no doubt that their understanding of the Religion is a source of authority and reference for those after them. And if this is not so, then their testimony of witness would not have been established. And the verse confirms the proof for this unrestrictedly. Furthermore, this nation (of Muslims has not unrestrictedly sanctioned the truthfulness of any generation, except for the generation of the Sohaabah.

For indeed, Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, from the followers of the Salaf and the Ahl-ul-Hadeeth, have all declared the Companions to be truthful and trustworthy (i.e., in their narrations of hadeeth) both in the unrestricted and general sense. So they accepted from them their reports and their knowledge without exempting or excluding any of them. This is contrary to those other than the Sahaabah, for they did not declare (these other people) to be truthful and trustworthy, except those whose proficiency (in narrating) was verified and whose honesty was confirmed. And people were not granted these two things unless they tread the path of the Sahaabah, may Alloh be pleased with them. So it has become confirmed that the understanding of the Sahaabah is an authoritative source and reference for those other than them, when facing the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. This is why Alloh, the Most Perfect, has commanded us to follow their way:

5. Allaah says: “And follow the way of those who turn to Me in repentance.” [Surah Luqmaan: 15] Every one of the Sahaabah turned to Allaah in repentance. So Allaah guided them to goodness in speech and righteousness in actions based on the proof found in Allaah’s saying: “And then they follow the best of it (Qur’aan). These are the ones whom Allaah has guided. And they are those who possess understanding.” [Surah Az-Zumar: 17-18] So it is an obligation to follow their way with regard to understanding the Religion of Allaah by way of His Book and the Sunnah. Due to this, Allaah has threatened those who follow other than their way with the Hellfire - what an evil destination.

6. Allaah says: “And whosoever opposes the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, and he follows a way other than the believers’ way, We will turn him to what he has chosen and land him in Hell - what an evil destination!” [Surah An-Nisaa: 115] Point of evidence: Alloh places a threat on following a way other than the believers’ way. So this indicates that following their way in understanding the Religion is an obligation. And opposing it is misguidance. Abu Moosaa Al-Ash’aree reported: “We prayed the Maghrib prayer with the Messenger of Allaah Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam and then said: ‘Let’s sit and wait so we can pray the ‘Ishaa prayer with him (also).’ So we sat and then he Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam came out to us and said: ‘What kept you here?’ We said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam, we prayed with you and then said to ourselves: Let’s sit so we can pray the ‘Ishaa prayer with you.’ He Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: ‘You have done well’ or ‘You have acted correctly’. Then he raised his head to the sky - and he would raise his head up to the sky often - and said: ‘The stars are guardians for the sky. So when the stars depart, the sky’s affair comes to pass. And I am a guardian for my Companions, and my Companions are guardians for my nation. So when my Companions depart, my nation will get what it has been promised.’” [5]

So the Messenger of Alloh Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam has made his Companions’ relation to those who came after them from the Muslim nation just like his Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam relation to his Companions and like the relation of the stars to the sky. It is well known that this prophetic comparison presents the following of the Companions’ understanding of the Religion in exchange for the ummah’s returning back to its Prophet Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam. This is since he Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam was the one who explained the Qur’aan, while his Companions were the ones who conveyed his explanation to the ummah. And also the Messenger of Alloh Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam does not speak from his desire. Rather, it is only truth and guidance that emanates from him. And his Companions were trustworthy; they did not speak except with honesty and they did not act except in truth. Also, Alloh has made the stars as missiles, which shoot out against the devils when they try to steal a hearing (of revelation from the heavens). Allaah says: “Verily, We have beautified the lowest (level of) heaven with an adornment of stars. And (in order) to guard against every rebellious devil. They are not able to hear the highest assembly (of angels) except that they are pelted from every side. They are outcast and for them will be a painful punishment. Except he who snatches away something by stealing, but a flaming fire follows after him.” [Surah As-Saafaat: 6-10] And Alloh says: “And indeed We have beautified the lowest (level of) heaven with lamps. And We have made them (lamps) into missiles for (launching against) the devils.” [Surah al-Mulk: 5]

Similarly, the Sahaabah are the beautification and adornment of this nation in terms of understanding, knowledge and action. And they (also) served as meteors and missiles against the misinterpretations of the ignorant, the lies of the fabricators and the distortions of the extremists. And likewise, the stars are lights for the inhabitants of the earth to be guided by, during the darkness of the land and the sea. Allaah says: “And by the stars, they (mankind) are able to guide themselves.” [Surah an-Nahl: 16]. And He says: “And He is the One who placed stars for you so that you may guide yourselves by them in the darkness of the land and sea.” [Surah Al-Ana'aam: 97]

Similarly, the Sahaabah are followed in order to be saved from the darkness of desires and doubts. So whoever turns away from their understanding, then in his delusion, he clothes himself in darkness – layer upon layer of it – such that when he sticks his hand out, he is not even able to see it. And with the understanding of the Sahaabah, the Qur’aan and the Sunnah becomes fortified against the devils among mankind and the jinn – those who seek mischief and who seek its hidden meanings in order to corrupt the meanings intended by Alloh and his Messenger Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam. So the understanding of the Sohaabah is a stronghold against evil and its causes. If their understanding was not a source of authority and reference, then the understanding of those who came after them would have been a guardian for the Sahaabah, as well as a stronghold for them, and this is impossible. And if this specification and restriction – of the obligation of the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah according to the understanding of the Salaf As-Saalih – were rejected, the Muslim would be diverted from the Correct Path. And he would become an open prey for the groups and parties that have deviated from the Straight Path. This is since the Qur’aan and the Sunnah are exposed to the evils of numerous attempts made to understanding (them), such as that of the Mu’tazilah, the Murji’ah, the Jahmiyyah, the Shi’ah, the Sufiyyah, the Khawaarij, the Baatiniyyah and other then them. So a distinction must be made.

And if its said: “There is no doubt that the Messenger’s Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam understanding and the understanding of the Companions after him Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam is the methodology that falsehood cannot come near to, whether from the front of it or behind it. But what is the proof that the Salafi Manhaj is the understanding of the Messenger Sollallohu Alayhi Wa Sallam and his Companions?”

I say: the answer comes from two perspectives:

1. The concepts that were stated previously came after the period of Prophethood and after the period of the rightly guided Khaleefahs. And the one who precedes (comes first) cannot attribute himself to the one who succeeds (comes after), but rather it is the opposite. So it has become clear that the group that doesn’t tread those paths nor does it follow these sects, it is the one that is remaining upon the original state of affairs.

2. We do not find amongst the sects of the Muslim ummah, anyone that is in accordance with the Sahaabah except the Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, such as the followers of the Salaf As-Saalih and the Ahlul-Hadeeth, apart from the rest of the sects.

As for the Mu’atazilah, then how can they be in conformity with the Sahaabah when their leaders accuse and slander the noble Sahaabah, take away their (may Allah be pleased with them) trustworthiness and reliability, and attribute them with misguidance? Such is the case with Waasil Ibn ‘Ataa who said: “If ‘Alee, Talha and Zubair were to give their testimony concerning a bundle of herbs, I would not rule according to their testimony.”

And as for the Shi’ah, then they claim that all of the Companions apostated after the Prophet’s death except three of them. And they claim that because they are disbelievers, there is no good example, role model or honor to be found in the Sohaabah.

And as for the Khawaarij, then they have deviated from the Religion and split away from the main body of Muslims. From the requisites of their beliefs is to pronounce disbelief upon ‘Alee, his two sons, Ibn ‘Abbaas, ‘Uthmaan, Talha, ‘Aa’ishah and Mu’awiyah. And whoever makes them his target and declares them to be disbelievers is not on the way of the Sahaabah.

And as for the Sufis, then they scoff and ridicule the inheritance of the prophets (i.e. knowledge). And they deny the carriers of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah and describe them as being dead. For one of their elders said: “You take your knowledge from ‘A dead person reporting from (another) dead person’, while we take our knowledge from ‘My heart narrated to me from my Lord (that He said such and such)!’”

And as for the Murji’ah, then they claim that the Eemaan (Faith) of the hypocrites is just like the Eemaan of the first predecessors! In summary, these groups seek to nullify our eyewitnesses to the Qur’aan and Sunnah (i.e. the Sahaabah) and to discredit them, whereas they are the ones most deserving of being discredited. So from this, it has become evident that the Salafee understanding is the methodology of the Saved Sect and the Victorious Group with regard to understanding, learning and using evidences.


[1] A mutawaatir hadeeth as stated by Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr in Al-Isaabah 1/12) and As-Suyootee, Al-Manaawee, and Al-Kanaanee agreed.

[2] Reported by Muslim (16/121 of Nawawee).

[3] A mawqoof narration (meaning a statement of a Companion only) that has a sound chain of narration, reported by Ahmad (1/379) and others.

[4] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree, see (1/204) of Al-Fath. [5] Reported by Muslim (16/82 of An-Nawawee).

(Taken from Al-Asaalah Magazine Issue 1, Translated by Ism’eel Alarcon)


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