Linguistic meaning of the word ‘Salaf’

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Linguistic meaning of the word ‘Salaf’

By Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Saadiq an-Nijaar may Allah preserve him

This is taken from the book, “Fadlul Maqaal fi wujub ittiba’ as-Salaf al-Kiraam”. Shaykh Saalih bin Sa’ad as-Suhaymee checked and wrote an introduction to this book, may Allah preserve both of them. The shaykh writes:

Linguistic definition of Salaf:

It is composed of the letters seen laam and faa.

In the dictionary “Lisaanul ‘Arab” (6/330-331) it says:

Salaf: whoever preceded you from amongst your fathers and relatives; those who are above you in age and virtue.

Allah The Sublime and Exalted said:

فَجَعَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ سَلَفً۬ا وَمَثَلاً۬ لِّلۡأَخِرِينَ

“And We made them a precedent and an example for the later peoples.”

Imaam al-Baghawi 516 AH (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his tafseer of this ayah (7/218):

“The ‘precedent’ (salaf) is whoever came before them. Allah made them precedents, so the latter generations could take a lesson from them”

Also the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her):

فانه نعم السلف أنا لك

“I am the best salaf for you” (Bukhari and Muslim)

What is intended by the word “salaf” in the hadith is: one who preceded

Imaam Nawawi 676 AH (may Allah have mercy on him) in his explanation of Sahih Muslim (15/225) clarified the meaning of this hadith by saying:

“Salaf: one who has preceded, and the meaning is: I have preceded you.”

Translated by: Michael AbdusSalaam Deonarain

الفقير الى الله


3 thoughts on “Linguistic meaning of the word ‘Salaf’

  1. Pingback: Linguistic meaning of Salaf | Uzair ibn Nasser

  2. Pingback: Who are considered to be the “Salaf”? | Trying to Follow the Salaf

  3. Pingback: Who are considered to be the “Salaf”? | Uzair ibn Nasser

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