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ASCRIPTION TO SALAFIYYAH (2)






By
Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

No one is saying it is mandatory for anyone to claim to be a "Salafi" or an "Ahlus Sunnah". The most important thing is to follow the way of the Salaf (which is the authentic Sunnah) in the practice of Islām. They are the only set of people we can follow to attain success in life and the hereafter. Those who follow the way of the Salaf are those refered to as Salafis and nothing more. Salafiyyah is not a movement, it is not an organization, it doesn't have an headquarter, or ID Card or any fabricated constitution. It is a path which every Muslim is expected to follow based on relevant verses and Hadiths of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. 

The truth about this matter is that the path of the Salaf (Salafiyyah) is the same as the path of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah. There is no difference between the two. Anyone who tries to draw a distinction between the path of the Salaf and the path of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah will only create a confusion. It is however important to note that it is not everyone who claim to be a Salafi or an Ahlus Sunnah that is truly a Salafi or an Ahlus Sunnah respectively. We can only presume someone is upon Sunnah or upon salafiyyah by what we see in him or her just like we can presume someone is a Muslim by what we seen him or her. But only Allah knows His true servants and the true followers of the Sunnah. You may think someone is a Muslim and he might be a munāfiq (hypocrite) in sight of Allāh. We might think someone is upon Sunnah or salafiyyah, but he might upon hizbiyyah (partisanship) in sight of Allāh. What people display to us are what concern us. Only Allāh judges what is hidden. Allāh says:

(إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ)

Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. [Surat Al-Hujraat 13]

Meanwhile, what seems to be continously disturbing is when some people begin to frown at the act of ascribing to the Salaf (salafiyyah).  One should not feel uncomfortable with the ascription and those who ascribe to it as we do not feel uncomfortable with ascription to Islām and Sunnah. It is not bad to ascribe to something good. We do not ascribe to Tijaaniyyah because it is a deviant path. If someone calls me a "wahabi". I don't have problem with it because Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdilwahhab رحمه الله stood for Taoheed and his publications on taoheed speak for him. I am proud to be his student and I feel comfortable ascribing to all scholars who are upon Sunnah (past and present). 

I attended Zumrah (Okerekere). Most of the teachers I learnt and still learning from are Adabis. If anyone ascribes me with "Al-Adabiy" and I respond to it despite the fact that I do not add it to my name, how is that a problem? How is it bad to ascribe to "Adab" (manner)? I also learnt from people who are Markazis (e.g. Ustadh Dasuki and Ustadh Sa'd Sarumi). If by this, you say I am a Markazee, there is no problem. However, it will be a double standard if you are comfortable with these ascriptions and you kick against ascription to Salafiyyah. Which one is even more worthy to ascribe to? The path of the Salaf or any other?

If someone calls you a "Marlian", will you be happy with it? Allāh enjoins us to bear good names and ascribe to good things, and He forbid us from ascribing to evil names and evil groups after faith. He says:

(بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ)

Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers [Surat Al-Hujraat 11]

The only thing one can do here is to caution and admonish those who ascribe to Sunnah and Salafiyyah, to make sure they abide by this path truly and sincerely. They shouldn't ascribe to it to show off or by way of self purification or amazement. But to insinuate or conclude that ascription to salafiyyah is self-amazement or self purification is a serious allegation in sight of Allāh if the person alleged is innocent. Then, to allege someone who feels he is not comfortable with him being referred to as a Salafi is denying salafiyyah by implication is also serious in sight of Allāh. It may be that he is doing that out of humility while he firmly believes the path of salafiyyah is the true path. We should try to avoid evil thoughts about ourselves. We should move away from bad thought against one another. Allāh says:

(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَبْ بَعْضُكُمْ بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَنْ يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَحِيمٌ)

O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. [Surat Al-Hujraat 12]

For instance, Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله wrote a poem to clarify his 'aqeedah and his manhaj. Is this a wrong thing to do? AlhamduliLlah, his clarification (Laamiyyah) has become a great model for anyone who wants to be upon sound creed and methodology. So, merely adding "As- Salafi" to one's name or saying: "I am a Salafi" is not blameworthy. We should only remind ourselves to be careful of self-amazement and self purification. Whether a person is showing off or not is for Allāh to judge and not any of us. We can only caution ourselves. 

Someone might say: I don't feel comfortable ascribing to salafiyyah or Ahlus Sunnah due to the attitude of some salafis or Ahlus Sunnah. This is a wrong basis. Can we now say we don't want to ascribe to Islām due to the evils of Boko Haram and others who give Islām bad name? The truth is that Salafiyyah (Sunnah) is perfect, a salafi is not. Anyone can ascribe to Islām, Sunnah or Salafiyyah, but his conducts is what would truly prove him right or wrong. And more importantly, Allāh is the best Judge of his intention.

Sheikh Saalih Fawzaan حفظه الله was asked on the legality or otherwise of ascribing to salafiyyah, and he said what is wrong is to ascribe to it by way of self purification (tazkiyah). This is wrong and unnecessary.

However, he said there is no problem in ascribing to the path of the Salaf when it is necessary to do so. For instance, when there are deviant groups claiming to be on the right path, attacking the Sunnah, and misleading unsuspecting Muslims, it is necessary for someone to state what he is upon in a manner that doesn't not involve riyaa' (show-off) or arrogance. This would help in differentiating people of the truth from people of falsehood. The Sheikh said:

"And ascription to the Righteous Salaf is an honour when the ascription is actualized [made real through true following] and is not a mere claim. As for a person saying, "I am Salafi", or "This group is a Salafi group", if there is something necessitating this, then there is no harm, like when there are opposing sects and sects antagonistic to the Righteous Salaf, and so a person makes apparent his freedom from these opposers and ascribes to the Salaf, there is no harm in that. Rather, this is absolutely necessary (مُحَتَّمٌ)" [Muhaadaraat Fil-Aqeedah wal-Da'wah , Vol. 3]

Let us go through classical books of past scholars whose generations are close to that of the Companions رضي الله عنهم. The usage of the word "salaf" is well known and sticking to the path of the salaf is what salafiyyah is all about. In an authentic Hadith, he Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said to her daughter, Faatimah رضي الله عنها:

نعم السلف أنا لك

I shall be an excellent predecessor for you [ Sahih Muslim, 2450]

I have deliberately restricted myself to Suratul Hujrāt because of its special relevance to this topic. All the solutions to the problem of division this Ummah is facing are contained therein. Let us read the whole chapter and abide by its principles as interpreted by scholars of Sunnah. If we want to be united, our unity must be based on the truth (Qur'an and Sunnah) and not innovations and conjectures.

May Allah guide us aright and unite us upon the path of the Salaf.

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