Who are considered to be the “Salaf”?

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

Who are considered to be the “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:

First view:it is applied only to the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

al-Qalshaani (may Allah have mercy on him) took this view and said whilst editing a risaalah*,

“As-Salaf as-Saalih: they are the first generation. Those who were rooted deeply in knowledge, guided by the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him), preservers of his sunnah. Allah chose them to accompany the Prophet (peace be upon him), were selected to establish this religion, and Allah is pleased with them to be the leaders of the ummah. They rightfully fought in the way of Allah…”

*The risaalah was: “Why I chose the Salafi Manhaj” by shaykh Saleem al-Hilaali p. 31

Second view: it is applied to the companions and the tabi’een

This was the view of Raashid bin Sa’d, ibn Battah, and al-Ghazaali (may Allah have mercy on them)

Imaam al-Bukhaari (may Allah have mercy on him) entitled a chapter in his saheeh,

“Chapter: Riding on an unmanageable animal or a stallion horse”

and he said, Raashid bin Sa’d:

“قَالَ رَاشِدُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ كَانَ السَّلَفُ يَسْتَحِبُّونَ الْفُحُولَةَ لأَنَّهَا أَجْرَى وَأَجْسَرُ

“The Salaf used to like the stallion from the camels because it would be faster on a journey”

al-Haafidh ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said,

“Raashid’s statement, ‘the Salaf’ he meant, from the companions and those after them.” [Fathul Baari 6/82]

Ibn Hajar also said what Raashid intended by “Salaf” were the companions and those after them from the tabi’een, because Raashid bin Sa’d was from the middle part of the tabi’een (He died in 113 AH). Therefore, what he intended by “Salaf” was those who preceded him from the companions and tabi’een.

Imaam ibn Battah said,

“I advise my muslim brothers to hold firm to the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him), and to follow the Salaf Saalih from the companions and tabi’een.” [al-Ibaanah 1/212-213]

Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali said regarding the wording of “Salaf”,

“Know that the clear truth is which has no dispute within it with the people of clear signs. It is the madhab of the Salaf, I mean: Madhab of the companions and tabi’een.” [Iljaamul ‘Awaam an alimil Kalaam p. 53]

Third view:it is applied to the three generations: the companions, tabi’een, and tabi’ tabi’een

Ibn Taymeeyah and ash-Shawkaani (may Allah have mercy on them) came and used the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) to support this position. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

خير الناس: قرني ثم الذين يلونهم ثم الذين يلونهم

“The best of people is my nation, then those after them, and then those after them.” [Bukhari]

Ibn Taymeeyah said,

“The methodology (madhab) of the people of hadith…they are the salaf from the three generations and those who transverse their path after them…” [Majmoo’ Fataawa: 6/355]

Ash-Shawkaani said,

“The evidence that has passed are from the apparent signs of the madhab of the righteous pious predecessors (salaf saalih): from the companions, tabi’een, and taabi’ tabi’een.” [Tuhfaa fee Madhaahib as-Salaf p.62]

Fourth View:it is applied to the companions, tabi’een, taabi’ tabi’een, and those who followed them

Ibn Hibban (may Allah have mercy on him) used in his book, “ath-Thiqaat” the hadith of Buraydah al-Aslami (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say,

خير هذه الأمة القرن الذي بعثت أنا فيهم, ثم الذين يلونهم, ثم الذين يلونهم, ثم الذين يلونهم

“”The best of my Ummah is the generation among whom I was sent, then those who follow them, then those who follow them, then those who follow them…” [Ahmad, ibn Abi Shaybah]

What is apparent from the previous statements is:

That the word “Salaf” is referring to time and is applied to the three virtuous generations. They are: the companions, tabi’een, and taabi’ tabi’een, just as the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him),

خير الناس: قرني ثم الذين يلونهم ثم الذين يلونهم

“The best of people is my nation, then those after them, and then those after them.” [Bukhari]

Translated by: Michael AbdusSalaam Deonarain

الفقير الى الله

Make sure you also read:

Linguistic meaning of Salaf

Intended meaning of Salaf

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One thought on “Who are considered to be the “Salaf”?

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

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