Why the Methodology of the Salaf?
From "Why I have Chosen the Salafi Manhaj"
By Shaikh Saleem Al-Hilaalee (Hafidhahullaah)
All praise is for Allaah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we seek His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own selves and the corruption of our deeds. The one whom Allaah guides, none can lead astray, and the one whom Allaah leaves to go astray, there is none capable of guiding him.
I bear witness that there is no god or deity worthy of any type of worship except Allaah (subhaanu wa ta'aala) alone. And I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His slave and final messenger.
The Ummah has entered into a time of loss that has not been witnessed before throughout the annals of its history. This is in spite of the great afflictions that have preceded our times. The Ummah has withstood the tribulation of severe calamity occurring at its weakest stages. The Muslims have lost entire sections of their lands and large portions of their wealth. All that, while living in a state of constant fear during those frightful and perilous times.
However, to those familiar with the manner in which Allaah has dealt with the people of the past, there is no doubt that Allaah will turn the tide against the enemies of Islam. These few servants constantly express their certainty in this by stating:
"As a people, Allaah strengthened us with Islam. If we sought strength in other than Islam, Allaah would then leave us to be humiliated."
As a result of this belief, they would constantly take account of themselves and quickly address any deficiency that' they found and' thus improve any shortcomings. Upon noticing that they had strayed from the truth they would immediately redirect themselves to the correct course in Islam. Allaah would then remove the humiliation from them, strengthen them and rejuvenate them after they had been sapped of their energy.
The darkness that has engulfed the Ummah today, I believe with certainty, shall be removed as the previous calamities and hardships were removed by the Will and Order of Allaah alone.
It is important that we look to the current state of affairs from an Islamic perspective. We must strive to uncover the reasons that have brought us to this stage. With this in mind, we are honored to discuss the true methodology -that by which the later part of this Ummah will be rectified, just as its' earlier generations were rectified. Allaah is the One who has promised us success and it is upon Him that I put my reliance and trust.
Saleem bin 'Eid al-Hilaalee
Indeed, the workers in the field of Islamic Da’wah have become numerous, and those who direct their attention to the youth of the "Islamic Renaissance" are many. All of these people make intense efforts, work hard and exhaust themselves in order to renew the Islamic way of life. And in the midst of this overflowing and turbulent sea, you will find groups of elders and youths. As for the elders, then they are content to just return home with their lives. But as for the youth, then they tighten their waist straps and kick their feet into their riding horses. However, both of these groups are in confusion and turmoil. Therefore, the concept of the Salafee Manhaj must be presented in relation to the revival of the rightly guided Islamic lifestyle based upon the prophetic way:
(1) Indeed, purifying Islaam from what does not belong in it, with regard to beliefs, rulings and manners, so that it can slowly return to its pure and clear state as it was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him).
(2) And educating the Muslim generations upon this purified Islaam with an upbringing based on Eemaan (firm faith) and intense actions, this is the methodology of the Salafee Da'wah and the Victorious Group in bringing about change:
First: Why the Salafee Manhaj?
Every Muslim that desires true success and looks for the best way of living and prosperity in this life and the Hereafter must understand the Book of Allaah and the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) according to the understanding of the best of mankind. And they are the Sahaabah (Companions), the Taabi'een (Successors) and those who followed them in goodness until the Day of Judgement. This is because it cannot be conceived that there is an ideology, understanding or methodology that is more correct nor more adequate than the understanding and methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih (righteous predecessors). And this is because the latter part of this Ummah will not be rectified, except by that which rectified its first part.
And indeed when one investigates and examines the evidences from the Qur'an, the Sunnah, the consensus of the scholars and deductions from analogy, one will come to the conclusion that it is an obligation to understand the Qur'aan and the Sunnah in light of the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih. This is because it is the understanding, of which its validity and correctness has been unanimously agreed upon throughout the various successive centuries.
So based on this, it is not permissible for any individual, regardless of what his status is, to have an understanding contrary to the understanding of the Salaf. And whoever turns away from it towards the innovations of the Khalaf (contemporary Muslims), which are surrounded by dangers and has no side that is safe – and their effects in dividing the Muslims is well known and cannot be disputed, just as their effects in splitting the unity is well understood and cannot be denied – then this is a person who has established the foundation of his home on the edge of a cliff, which is ready to fall down to its destruction at any moment. Before you is a clarification of this principle based on proofs and evidences:
1. Allaah, the Most High, says:
“The first and foremost [to embrace Islam] from the Muhaajireen and the Ansaar, and also those who followed them in good- ness; Allaah is well-pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. And He has prepared for them gardens under which rivers flow, to abide therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [At-Tawbah: 100]
The point of evidence derived from this ayah is that the “Lord of mankind” has praised those who follow the “best of mankind.” So it is understood from this that if the “best of mankind” say a word, then someone follows them in that, then it is incumbent that this person be praised for it and that he be deserving of (Allaah’s) contentment. And if there were no distinction between following them and following others, then one would not be deserving of praise and contentment. The “best of mankind” are the Sahaabah (Companions) and those who followed them in goodness, based on the Qur'anic text: “Verily those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are the best of mankind.” [Al- Bayyinah: 7]
2. Allaah says: “You are the best nation brought forth for mankind; commanding good and forbidding evil and believing in Allaah.” [Aali ‘Imraan: 110]
The point of evidence: Allaah has confirmed for them their precedence over the rest of the nations. This necessitates that they were steadfast and perseverant upon the Religion, under every condition, for they did not deviate from the clear guidance. So Allaah bears witness that they commanded (others) towards every good and forbade (others) from every evil, whilst having firm faith and hope for reward. This necessitates that their understanding (of the Religion) is a source of authority and reference for those that come after them until the Day of Judgement. And if this is not so, then it would not be correct to say that they command good and forbid evil, so consider.
If it is said: This verse is general and refers to the whole nation (of Muslims), without being specific to just the generation of the Sahaabah apart from those who came after them. Then I say: They are the ones being spoken to first and foremost (in the ayah). And “those who followed them in goodness” do not enter into the meaning of the verse except by way of analogy or another evidence, as was the case with the First Proof (mentioned above) And upon agreeing with the saying that the verse is general – and this is what is most correct – then the Sahaabah are the first ones to enter into the context of the speech that is being directed. This is since they were the first ones to learn and take the message from the Messenger (peace be upon him), directly, without there being any intermediary (between them and him r. And they were the first ones to apply the Revelation and put it into practice. They take more prece- dence than other people in entering into the meaning of this verse since no one is characterized with the attributes that Allaah describes them with, in the most complete sense, except them. So the agreement of the description with the characterization is a testimony indicating that they have more right than others of this praise. This is why:
3. The Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) said: “The best of mankind is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them. Then there will come a people of whom one of them will (have to) put forth his testimony by making an oath. And his oath will be his testimony."
Is the excellence that is affirmed here for the generation of the Sahaabah found in their skin colors or their bodies or their wealth or their homes? No person possessing sound intellect, who comprehends the Qur’aan and the authentic Sunnah, will have doubts that any of those things were not what was intended at all. And this is because the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) said:
“Verily, Allaah does not look at your appearances and you wealth. But instead He looks at your hearts and your actions.”
And this is also because the standard which determines one’s excellence in Islaam is the Taqwaa of the hearts and righteous deeds, based on Allaah’s saying:
“Verily, the most noble amongst you in the sight of Allaah are the ones with the most Taqwaa.” [Al-Hujuraat: 13]
And Allaah has indeed looked into the hearts of the Sahaabah and found them to be the best hearts of His slaves after the heart of Muhammad (peace be upon him) ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood said:
“Indeed Allaah looked at the hearts of the slaves (of Allaah) and so He found the heart of Muhammad to be the best of the hearts of His slaves, so He chose him (peace be upon him) for Himself and sent him with His Message. Then He looked in the hearts of the servants after the heart of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and found the hearts of the Sahaabah as being the best of hearts of (His) servants. So He made them helpers of His Prophet (peace be upon him), fighting for His Religion.”
So He gave them the knowledge and understanding that those who came after them were not able to attain. On the authority of Abu Juhaifah who said:
“I said to ‘Alee: ‘Do you have a book with you?’ He said: ‘Nothing except the Book of Allaah, or an understanding that a Muslim man was given or what is (written) down on this page.’”
Based on this, it becomes clear that the excellence that is being praised in the Messenger of Allaah’s (peace be upon him) saying is in fact the excellence in understanding and methodology. Therefore, the Companions’ understanding of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah is the authoritative source of reference for those that came after them until the last part of this nation. What clarifies this further is:
4. The saying of Allaah: “Thus We made you a moderate (i.e. just) nation so that you may become witnesses over mankind and so that the Messenger be a witness over you.” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 143} Allaah, the Mighty and Sublime, has made them the best and most trustworthy of people. Thus, they are the best of nations and the most truthful in their sayings, actions and needs. Due to this, they are deserving of being witnesses over mankind.
This is why Allaah has spoken highly of them, raised their status, praised them and received them with good approval. The witness whose testimony is accepted by Allaah is the one who bears witness with knowledge and truthfulness. So this person informs truthfully while basing his testimony on his knowledge. Allaah says: “Except those who bear witness to the truth while they know.” [Az-Zukhruf: 86] So if their testimony is accepted by Allaah, then there is no doubt that their understanding of the Religion is a source of authority and reference for those after them.
And if this is not so, then their testimony of witness would not have been established. And the verse confirms the proof for this unrestrictedly. Furthermore, this nation (of Muslims) has not unrestrictedly sanctioned the truthfulness of any generation, except for the generation of the Sahaabah. For indeed, Ahl-us-Sunnah wal- Jamaa’ah, from the followers of the Salaf and the Ahl-ul-Hadeeth, have all declared the Companions’ truthfulness and trustworthiness both in the unrestricted and general sense.
So they accepted from them their reports and their knowledge without exempting or excluding any of them. This is contrary to those other than the Sahaabah, for they did not declare (these other people) to be truthful and trustworthy, except those whose proficiency (in narrating) was verified and whose honesty was confirmed. And people were not granted these two things unless they treaded the path of the Sahaabah, may Allaah be pleased with them. So it has become confirmed from this that the understanding of the Sahaabah is an authoritative source and reference for those other than them, when facing the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. This is why Allaah, the Most Perfect, has commanded us to follow their way:
5. Allaah says: “And follow the way of those who turn to Me in repentance.” [Luqmaan: 15] Every one of the Sahaabah turned to Allaah in repentance. So Allaah guided them to goodness in speech and righteousness in actions based on the proof found in Allaah’s saying: “And then they follow the best of it (Qur'aan). These are the ones whom Allaah has guided. And they are the ones who possess understanding.” [Az-Zumar: 17-18] So it is an obligation to follow their way with regard to understanding the Religion of Allaah by way of His Book and the Sunnah. Due to this, Allaah has threatened those who follow other than their way with the Hellfire – what an evil destination.
source: replaced PBUH with peace be upon him and swt by subhaanu wa ta'aala in the article http://asaala.com/viewTopic.php?topicID=259