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Many of our scholars don't lay claim to the name "Ahlus Sunnah" or "Salafiy" unnecessarily because they know its implications. It really sounds like self-praise, especially in the eye of those who nurse pathological hatred for the people of hadith, don't you think? The  humility of the scholars who are upon the Sunnah and the way of the Salaf us-Saalih in this regard is that they do not see themselves as marching the standard of being referred to as "Ahlus Sunnah" because they believe it takes a lot of efforts to be a real Ahlus Sunnah. They always believe that many of the real Ahlus Sunnah have gone and that they (present day scholars) are nowhere near them. They are only striving to be like them as indicated in Q9:100. 

The scholars refer to other people as "Ahlus Sunnah" after being convinced that they are actually upon the Sunnah. But you will hardly find them referring to their personal selves as being from the People of Sunnah. Even when other people try to praise them for being upon the Sunnah, they play it down in their mind and instead of being carried away by such accolade, they would pray by saying "may Allah count us among the people of Sunnah in the real sense of it". 

For instance, if Sheikh Rabee' حفظه الله is asked about Sheikh Fawzan حفظه الله, Sheikh Rabee' would say: al- "'Al-Fawzan is upon the Sunnah". On the other hand, Sheikh Fawzan too would also affirm the sunnatic status of Sheikh Rabee'. For better understanding, Al-Imam adh-Dhahabi رحمه الله says in the biography of Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Bahrani رحمه الله,

 "And he was devout, good, a Salafi". [Mujam ash-Shuyukh(2/280)]

He also said in the biography of Ahmad bin Ahmad bin Nimah al-Maqdisi رحمه الله, 

"And he was upon the 'aqeedah of the Salaf" [Mujam ash-Shuyukh (1/34)]

This is the kind of humility you will find in the respected scholars. You can hardly find them attributing greatness to themselves by way of purification. 

However, in our prrsent day, reverse is the case. It has been observed that some people actually attempt to praise themselves by saying I am this or I am that when their actions and words do not even correspond with what they claim to be upon. Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Suratun Nisaa': 

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ يُزَكُّونَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ ۚ بَلِ اللَّهُ يُزَكِّي مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا

"Have you not seen those who claim themselves to be pure? Rather, Allaah purifies whom He wills, and injustice is not done to them, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed] (Q4:49)

In another verse, Allah says,

ْ فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ

"...So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him" [Q53:32]

We must be very careful not to fall into the error of self-praise or self purification. Allah is the only One Who purifies whomever He wishes. This evil of self-praise is what the kuffaar and many of the people of bid'ah are guilty of. We must be careful not fall into it too. As we strive to practice Islam according to the Sunnah, we should not be sounding as if our paradise are already secured. Even those who were granted paradise from the surface of the earth did not still feel secured from the wrath of Allah. One of the salaf, a Companion was reported to have said if he takes a leg into aljannah, he wouldn't be satisfied yet, until the second leg is fully in it.

A brother reported a case of a takfeeree to me, and I was sorry for the rate of ignorance of people who find joy in throwing people out of Islaam easily without proper knowledge and guidance. A real Ahlus Sunnah would be between the Hope of Allah's Rahmah and Fear of His punishment, no matter how religious he may be. In a hadith, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said no one would enter aljannah except with Allah's Rahmah. The companions رضي الله عنهم asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, what about you? The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, even me! So, what level of piety have you attained that is deceiving you to think you are secured from Allah's punishment? One of the salaf, Abu Maisarah (رضي الله عنه) used to say, 

“If only my mother had not given birth to me.’ His wife once asked him why he kept on saying that especially when Allah had favored him and granted him Islam. He said, “That is true. But He has also informed us that we will approach the fire without informing us whether or not we will come out from it (referring to verse 71-72 in Surah Maryam).’”  [Fear of Allah by Imam al-Ghazali, Imam Ibn Qayyim & Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, p.24]

In the same vein, Abu Bakr Siddiq (رضي الله عنه) used to say that "if only I were a tree cut down and eaten.”  [Fear of Allah by Imam al-Ghazali, Imam Ibn Qayyim & Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, p.23]

This is how our salaf were. Scholars have warned against all actions and statements that could amount to self-purification or pride. Sheikh al-Albaani رحمه الله in one of his works specifically stated that we should work on good character and manner of dealing with people. The truth is always bitter. But we have to swallow it in order not to be among the hypocrites. We are good at telling people the truth, we should always try to tell ourselves the truth too. This is a naseehah for me and you, o brothers and sisters in Islam upon Sunnah. Don't allow shaitan to take over your precious efforts in following the Sunnah and the ways of your salaf. 

The bottom line is that, ordinarily, the wise person and the real Ahlus Sunnah would not be personifying the Sunnah saying "I am an Ahlus Sunnah", "I am a salafiy" where it is not necessary to say so. The real Ahlus Sunnah would exhibit the Sunnah in his general way of life (his conducts, his words, his relationship with different kinds of people, his appearance in public and composure when faced with trials) to the point that other people who know the characteristics of a real Ahlus Sunnah (as described in the verses of the Qur'an and hadiths of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) would affirm that truly he is from the people of Sunnah.

However, if there is need for clarification of the kind of Islaam you are upon, it becomes fundamentally imperative for you to say "I share the aqeedah of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah" or "I am bound by the manhaj of the Salaf as-Saalih". Sometimes, someone may want to inadvertently or deliberately mistake you for a Tableegh (many Ahlul Bid'ah and ignorant Muslims do this alot to provoke you. They don't know the difference). You have the right to reject the misrepresentation and state where you belong. In this case, your identity with the sunnah and manhaj salaf would not constitute self-praise, self purification or an act of proving that you are better than someone else. This simply means that you are striving to practice Islam according to the Sunnah and you are conscious of the precedents of the best three generations of Muslims and those who follow them in the practice of your Islaam. But this is not enough, it is mere declaration which must be followed with actions and sincerity.I sincerly hope we can understand this and put it into practice. 

May Allah count us among true Muslims who are conscious of the Sunnah and the way of the Pious Predecessors.


  1. Masha Allah.

    Barakallah fikum ,ya akhi am highly impressed by the input of clear knowledge in your articles .

    May Allah preserve you and your family.

    Abu Harisah.


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