Praise be to Allaah.
Yes, the closest of the groups that exist nowadays to the
Sunnah are the Salafis, because their principles are based on the idea of
referring all matters of religion, theoretical and practical, to the Book of
Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him), and the consensus of the earliest generations (salaf) of this
ummah, the first three generations: the generation of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), then those who followed them,
then those who followed them; as well as venerating the Sunnah of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the way of the
Rightly-Guided Caliphs; loving those who follow the Sunnah, avoiding bid’ah
and innovations in the religion of Allaah, both theoretical and practical,
and condemning those who follow them; striving to cleanse people’s thoughts
and actions of these innovations and to bring them back to the way of life
of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his
companions, following his guidance and the true religion.
But… this does not mean that all the pious shaykhs are
Salafis or that all the Salafis are pious and that others are not pious. No,
this is not the case.
Piety (taqwa) means doing that which Allaah and His Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) have enjoined and forsaking
that which Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) have forbidden. Everyone who obeys Allaah and avoids disobeying
Him is following light from Allaah and is pious. Everyone who disobeys
Allaah is falling short in piety to the extent of his disobedience or sin.
If this is what piety means, then it cannot be attained
simply by calling oneself a Salafi or anything else, or joining any of the
groups. Rather the more one attains of the causes of piety – such as
learning about Allaah and His laws and acting upon them – the greater share
one will have of piety and the higher his status will be in Islam.
Because of that, we have to differentiate between the Salafi
manhaj (way or methodology) which is protected from error as it is based on
the sources of sharee’ah, namely the Qur’aan, Sunnah and scholarly
consensus, and the individuals who claim to belong to this path. These
individuals are not free of error with regard to their knowledge or actions,
whether that error is a sin or even a bid’ah (innovation). Rather the person
who does it is to blame for it; it is not permissible to blame the manhaj
for this mistake. That leads to vilification of the Salafi manhaj on the
grounds that So and so (a Salafi) made a mistake and did such and such.
There follow some examples which will explain that:
Islam is undoubtedly the religion of Allaah, and He will not
accept any other. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will
never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]
“Truly, the religion with Allaah is Islam”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:19].
This does not mean that the Muslims are infallible or that
everything the Muslims do is correct. Indeed many Muslims – unfortunately –
have gone against Islam and disobeyed the Sovereign, the All Knowing. Just
as it is essential to differentiate between Islam and what the Muslims do,
it is also essential to differentiate between the Salafi manhaj (way) and
And Allaah knows best.