What is a Salafi in Islam? – Who are the Orthodox Muslims?

A Salafi is an Orthodox Muslim.

Orthodox Islam

When the Prophet Muhammad died, his disciples (companions) were upon one belief.

One methodology.

One sect. 

God sent the Revelation, the Prophet explained it to his companions who understood it clearly, as God has said in the Qur’an:

بِٱلْبَيِّنَٰتِ وَٱلزُّبُرِ وَأَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ ٱلذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers). And We have sent down unto you (O Muhammad) the reminder and the advice (the Qur’an), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.”

The Noble Qur’an 16:44

This, the original group and sect of Muslims (those who have submitted to God alone upon monotheism) has continued from the disciples of the Prophet Muhammad (may God extol him in the highest company of the Angels and grant him peace) until this time of ours.

However, there came people after the death of the Prophet who had bad ideas or bad desires. 

They tried to fit these into Islam.

Some people followed these people also, either not knowing the truth or not wanting it. 

The leaders and the people who knew the truth among them sought after the world instead (whether money, status, authority, women, etc) and used these bad ideas as a way of seeking it. 

The disciples of God’s Messenger, when they were still alive, refuted these new beliefs and practices and God protected His religion by way of them.

Then their students followed on after them, and then their students and their students – all the way until this time of ours. 

So for the muslims today, they are either apart of the original sect, the Orthodox Muslims, or they are from one of the sects that have gone astray.

We knew this was to come, as the Messenger of God, Muhammad (may God extol him in the highest company of the Angels and grant him peace) reported to us:

“Indeed the Children of Israel divided into seventy-two sects, and my nation will divide into seventy-three sects. All them will enter the Fire except one sect.”

They asked: “Which one is it O Messenger?”

He replied: “That which me and my Companions are upon.”

[Reported by At-Tirmidhee (2642) declared hasan by Al-Albānee in Al-Mishkāt (171)]

Therefore, it is obligatory for us to be upon what the Messenger of God and his companions were upon that day.

It is obligatory to ascribe oneself to the predecessors, to their way. 

The word for predecessor in Arabic is Salaf.

As the Prophet Muhammad said to his daughter, Fatimah:

“Indeed Gabriel used to listen to my recitation of the Qur’an once a year, and he has now (i.e. this year) done so twice, and I do not see except that my appointed time is close, so fear Gid and be patient for indeed I am a blessed ‘salaf’ (Predecessor) for you”

Saheeh Bukhari (5928) and Saheeh Muslim (2450)

We can see clearly that being Salafi (Orthodox) – ascribing oneself to the predecessors and following their religion – is obligatory, and anything that falls outside of this is innovation in religion – heresy.

Meaning, any belief, methodology, practice or call that the predecessors were not upon is innovation and cannot be ascribed to the Messnger of God and not to God’s Religion.

As God’s Messenger (may God extol him in the highest company of the Angels and grant him peace) used to say in his sermons:

“…and the most evil of affairs are the newly invented matters in religion, every newly invented matter is an innovation, every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the fire.”


Khutbat ul-Hajah, Shaykh Al-Albani

How do we deal with innovated sects?

As previously mentioned, the astray Muslims fall into two categories:

  1. Those who know the truth but follow their desires,
  2. Those who don’t know. 

As for those who don’t know, upon them is to learn and for those of ability from the rightly guided Muslims to teach them.

As for those who call to their innovation or remain obstinate after the truth has been made clear to him, he is to be boycotted and kept away from and other people warned against him so that they may be safe from his state.

As God, The Most High, has said:

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِىٓ ءَايَٰتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا۟ فِى حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِۦ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ ٱلذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلظَّٰلِمِينَ

“And when you [Muhammad] see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses [of the Qurʾān] by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Satan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of the wrongdoing people.”

The Noble Qur’an 6:68

Who are the Salafis in this Time?

They are those who take their religion from the hands of the inheritors of the prophets, the rightly guided, Orthodox Scholars of Islam.

The sect manifestly upon the truth, who can be traced back all the way to the companions of the Messenger of God by teacher and student.

About whom the Prophet (may God extol him in the highest company of the Angels and bestow peace upon him) said:

“There will not cease to be a group of my nation uppermost upon the truth. They will not be harmed by those who forsake them, until God’s affair comes to pass and they are uppermost.”

Authenticated by Muslim

In this time they are tested with the well-known scholars of the saved-sect such as Shaykh Rabee’ al Madkhali, Shaykh Saleh al Fawzan, Shaykh Ubayd al Jabiri and other than them:

If we find them having love for these men and steadfastness to the saved sect of Muslims, then this is good.

However, if you find a people with dislike for them, then they are either ignorant or acting ignorantly.

I seek God’s refuge from following desires after the truth is made clear and I ask Him, The Most High, to guide you and make easy for you your state!

All praise belongs to God, The Lord of The Worlds, and may He extol His Messenger in the highest company of the Angels and grant him peace, his family and companions altogether.

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