Introduction: The Salafi dawah is a methodology and not a sect or madhab as it has never had any one overall leader expect the prophet Mohammed all other sects, groups or madhabs have a founder or overall leader either in the past or today. Salafis also do not follow anyone scholars understanding of Islam in every issue unlike groups and sects with in Islam. Salafis follow the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah also known as Ahlus Sunnah from the past and of today collectively on all issues.
Salafis can come from the Maliki, the Shafi’i, the Hanbali, or the Hanafi schools of law.
Salafis accept teaching of all four schools of law but only if their rulings are supported by clear and authenticated evidences from the Quran and Sunnah, they are not divided on the question of adherence to the four recognized schools of legal interpretation (madhabs).
They only say a person should not blind follow a madhab. By this what is meant is following only one madhab in every issue without knowing their evidences believing this madhab is correct on every issue, while rejecting every other madhab on every issue without knowing their evidences, believing they are wrong on every issue.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also used the term, salafi to describe Muhammad ibn al-Qaasim ibn Sufyan al-Misri al-Maliki (d. 966 C.E., 355 A.H.) He said that al-Malaiki was: “Salafi al-madh’hab – salafi in his school of thought.”
In his book, Tabsir al-Muntabih, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentioned the ascription al-Salafi and named Abd al-Rahman ibn Abdillah ibn Ahmad Al-Sarkhasi al-Salafi as an example of its usage. Ibn Hajar then said: “And, likewise, the one ascribing to the salaf.”
Imaam adh-Dhahabee (d.748H) said: “It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee (d. 995 C.E., 385 A.H.) that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than ‘ilmul-kalaam (innovated speech and rhetorics). I say: He never entered into ‘ilmul-kalaam, nor argumentation. Rather, he was a Salafee (a follower of the Salaf).”[Siyar 16/457]
Also, al-Dhahabi described Ibn al-Salah, a prominent 12th century hadith specialist, as: “Firm in his religiosity, salafi in his generality and correct in his denomination. [He] refrained from falling into common pitfalls, believed in Allah and in what Allah has informed us of from His names and description.”
In another of his works, Tadhkirat al-huffaz, al-Dhahabi said of Ibn al-Salah: “I say: He was salafi, of sound creed, abstaining from the interpretations of the scholars of rhetoric, believing in what has been textually established, without recourse to unjustified interpretation or elaboration.
As-Sam’aanee (d.562H) said in al-lnsaab (3/273): “As-Salafi: this is an ascription to the Salaf and following their ways, in that which is related from them.”
lbn al-Atheer (d.630H) said in al-Lubaab fee Tahdheebul-lnsaab (2/162), commenting upon the previous saying of as-Sam’aanee: “And a group were known by this ascription (salafi).”
Narrated Aisha that the Prophet Mohammed said, ‘“But this year he reviewed it with me twice, and therefore I think that my time of death has approached. So, be afraid of Allah, and be patient, for I am the best SALAF (PREDECESSOR) for you (in the Hereafter).”’ [Sahih Bukhari, – The Book of Asking Permission, Hadeeth no. 5885]
Abu Haneefah (d. 150H) said: “Adhere to the athar (narration) and the tareeqah (way) of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) and beware of newly invented matters for all of it is innovation” [Reported by As-Suyootee in Sawn al Mantaq wal-Kalaam p.32]
Imaam al-Awzaee (d.157H) said: “Hold fast to the narrations of the salaf, even if people were to abandon you. Beware of the opinions of the people, no matter how much they beautify it with their speech.” [Related by al-Khateeb al-Baghdadee in his excellent book Sharafu Ashaabul-Hadeeth (p.7)]
Imaam al-Asbahaanee (d.535H) said: “The sign of Ahlus-Sunnah is that they follow the Salafus-Saalih and abandon all that is innovated and newly introduced into the Deen.” [Al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil Mahajjah 1/364]
lbn Taymiyyah (d.728H) said: “There is no criticism for the one who proclaims the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf, who attaches himself to it and refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement (Ittifaaq) because the way (madhdhab) of the Salaf is nothing but the Truth (Haqq).” [Majmoo al-Fataawaa 4:149]
1. Question: What is As-Salafiyyah and what is your opinion regarding it?
Answer: All praise is due to Allaah alone, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his family and his Companions.
To proceed: “As-Salafiyyah” is an attachment or affiliation to the ‘Salaf’. And “The Salaf” are the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) and the Imaams of guidance (may Allaah be pleased with them) from the first three generations, those whose goodness Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) bore witness to in his statement:
“The best of mankind is my generation, then those who follow them, then those who follow them. Then there will come people where bearing witness of one of them will precede his taking an oath and his taking an oath will be his bearing witness.”
[Reported by Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in the ‘Musnad’ (4/426), ‘Al-Bukhaaree (2651), and Muslim (2535)]
And “The Salafiyyoon [or Salafees]” is the plural of “Salafi”, an attachment or affiliation to the Salaf, and its meaning has already preceded above – and they are those who traverse upon the Methodology (Manhaj) of the Salaf in following the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah [of the Messenger of Allaah], and inviting to them, and acting upon them, and they are, due to this, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah.
Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts
Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Bin Baz
“Fataawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Daa’imah”: (2/165-166). Fatwa No. (1361).
2. Question: I hear much about the Salaf, who are the Salaf O Noble Shaykh?
Answer: The meaning of the [word] Salaf is (Al-Mutaqaddimoon) the predecessors so every person that precedes another is a salaf for him but when this term is used unrestrictedly then it only refers to the first three praised generations from the companions (as-Sahaabah) and those that followed them (at-Taabi’oon) and those that followed them [Atba’ at-Taabyi’een]. They indeed are the pious predecessors (as-Salaf as-Saaleh). Whoever came after them and traversed upon their way (Minhaaj) then he is like them upon the way of the Salaf; even though he may have come after them with regards to time because as-Salafiyyah is a designation which applies to the way (Minhaaj)) which was traversed by the pious predecessors (as-Salaf as-Saaleh) as the Prophet said:
“Indeed my nation will split into seventy three sects all of them in the Fire except one and it is the united body (al-Jamaa’ah)”
and in another wording,
“..whoever is upon the same as what I am upon and my companions.”
So based upon that then as-Salafiyyah here is specific in meaning, hence whoever is upon the way (Minhaaj) of the Sahaabah, the Taabi’oon and those who followed them upon goodness then he is a Salafi even if he is in our contemporary times and whilst it being the fourteenth century after the Migration [of the Prophet] (al-Hijrah).
Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen
Fataawa Noor ‘alaa al-Darb: at-Tawheed wal-‘Aqeedah.
3. Question: Is there a ‘Salafiyyah Qadeemah (old)’ and ‘Salafiyyah Jadeedah (new)’, or is there just one Salafiyyah?
Answer: There is only one Salafiyyah, the one who claims that there is an old and new Salafiyyah has lied. If we contemplate over the ‘aqeedah of the Salaf from the time of the sahaabah to our time today, we find it to be one ‘aqeedah, never contradicting each other. Even if they differed in the subsidiary legislations which are not from the fundamentals and beliefs, then surely they disagree in this (subsidiary legislations). Not one of them belittles the other. This was the way of the sahaabaah, may Allaah the most high be pleased with them all. As for the beliefs, then their manhaj (methodology) in this regard is one from the time of the Companions until now.
Shaykh Ahmad bin Yahyaa an-Najmee
al-Fataawah al-Jaleeyah ‘an al-Manaahij ad-Da’waiyyah
4. Question: Is Salafiyyah a group from amongst the (various) groups? And is the ascription to it blameworthy?
Answer: Salafiyyah: It is the saved sect, and they are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, it is not a sect from amongst the party spirited groups that are labeled with partisanship; it is a Jamaa’ah upon the Sunnah and the Deen. He (the Prophet) sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
“There will not cease to be a group of my nation manifest upon the truth, not being harmed by those who abandon them, nor by those who appose them.” Reported by Muslim (no.1920)
He (the Prophet) said:
This Ummah will split into seventy three sects all of them in the fire except one.”
They (the Companions) asked: “What is it (the saved sect) O Messenger of Allaah?” He (the Prophet) said: “Those that are upon what I and my Companions are upon today.” Reported by at-Tirmidhee (no.2641)
So Salafiyyah is a group upon the methodology of the Salaf, upon that which the Messenger and his Companions were upon, that is not a sect from the party spirited sects of today. Indeed it (as-Salaffiyah) is an ancient Jamaa’ah traced back to the time of the Messenger continually inherited legacy, remaining manifest upon the truth up until the establishment of the Hour as he informed.
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan
5. Question: What is your view of those who differentiate between the Salafis and Ahl al-Sunnah, and who regard the Salafis as a more specific group than Ahl al-Sunnah, and they that the principles of this group are based on the opinions of the group’s shaykhs?
Answer: This is not correct, because the Ahl al-Sunnah are those who follow the Sahaabah and the path of the Salaf (the early generations of Islam). These are not two distinct groups, and the Salafis are not a more specific group!
According to the terminology that is well known, the Salaf are the Sahaabah and those who follow their path, and the Ahl al-Sunnah are those who follow the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They are the ones concerning whom the hadeeth was reported: “Whoever follows the same path as me and my Companions” (The hadeeth about the saved group).
Stirring up disputes and conflict on the grounds of names alone is not permissible. Allaah has commanded the believers to be united and has forbidden them to be divided and warned them against that.
The individual’s aim must be to seek the truth, and when he speaks he should say what is fair and just, and not hate individuals in such a way that his hatred makes him reject the truth that the person is saying, or look for faults in him. He should not come up with things that are ambiguous or far-fetched for that purpose. This is not the way of Ahl al-Sunnah, and the Muslim has to like for his brother what he likes for himself. He must be sincere towards him, and hold love and sincerity in his heart.
Shaykh Abd-Allaah al-Ghunaymaan
6. Question: Is it correct that the Hanaabilah are the only Salafees? And what is the reality of as-Salafiyyah, is it associated with harshness and sternness as some people spread?
Answer: This is not a correct statement; for indeed the Salaf us-Saalih (the pious predecessors) are the Sahaabah may Allaah be please with them, and whosoever followed their way, from the Taabi’een and the atba’at-Taabi’een, from the Hanafees and the Maalikees and the Shaafi’ees and the Hanbalees; and other than them from those whom traversed upon the truth and adhered to the mighty Book and the pure Sunnah, in the field of tawheed and in the Names and Attributes (of Allaah) and in all the affairs of the religion. And we ask Allaah that He makes us from them. And that He gives success to all the Muslims, in their governments and in their communities in all places, to cling to the mighty Book and the Sunnah of His truthful Messenger. And that they judge by them (Book and Sunnah) and use them for final determination. And that they warn against anyone that opposes them (the Book and the Sunnah). And He is the Protector and Guardian of that and fully capable over it.
Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Bin Baz
7. Question: Some of the people claim that Salafiyyah is considered a Jamaa’ah from amongst the jamaa’aat that are working within the arena, and that its ruling is the same as the ruling upon the rest of the jamaa’aat. So what is your assessment of this claim?
Answer: The Jamaa’ah of as-Salafiyyah is the Jamaa’ah which is upon the truth, and it is the one that it is obligatory to belong to, act in accordance with and to ascribe to. And everything else from amongst the jamaa’aat, then it is obligatory that they not be considered jamaa’aat of da’wah, because they are in opposition. How can we follow a sect that opposes the Jamaa’ah of Ahlus-Sunnah and the guidance of the Salafus-Saalih?!
Whatever opposes the Jamaa’ah of Salafiyyah, then it opposes the manhaj of the Messenger. It is in opposition to whatever the Messenger and his Companions were upon.
So the statement of the speaker that the Jamaa’ah of Salafiyyah is one of the Islaamic jamaa’aat, this is an error. The Jamaa’ah of Salafiyyah is the sole Jamaa’ah that it is obligatory to follow, to traverse upon its manhaj, to be affiliated with and to make Jihaad with. And everything else besides it, then it is not permissible for the Muslim to affiliate himself with any of that, because it is in opposition.
So if the person pleased to be affiliated with the opponents to the manhaj of the Salaf? The Muslim is not pleased with this. The Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after me.” Related by Aboo Daawood (no. 4607).
And he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whosoever is upon the likes of what I am upon today, and my Companions.” Related by at-Tirmidhee (no. 2541). So does a person desire salvation, but he traverses other than its path?
‘You hope for salvation, but you do not traverse its path; Indeed, the ship does not sail upon dry land.’
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan
Taken from the audio cassette entitled, Fataawaa ’Ulamaa‘ fil-Jamaa’aat, via Minhaajus-Sunnah Recordings in ar-Riyaad.
8. Question: What is meant by the salafi madhab?
Answer: What is meant by the salafi madhab is the way of the salaf (early generations) of this ummah, namely the Sahaba, Taabieen and prominent imams with regard to issues of ‘aqeedah, sound method, sincere faith and adherence to the beliefs, laws, etiquette and conduct of Islam, unlike the innovators, deviants and those who are confused…There is nothing wrong with calling them Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamaah, so as to differentiate between them and the followers of deviant groups. This is not praising oneself, rather it is distinguishing between the people of truth and the people of falsehood.
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzan
Al-Muntaqa min Fataawa al-Shaykh al-Fawzaan, 1/question no. 206.
9. Question: Are Salafis/Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah opposed to the Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis
Answer: “Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (Salafis) are not to be regarded as in opposition to the Maalikis, Shaafa’is, Hanbalis and the like, rather they are opposed to the followers of innovated and misguided beliefs and ways such as the Asharis, Mutazilah, Murji’is, Sufis and so on. The Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis are schools of fiqh, whose imams are among Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, and indeed are among the leaders of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah.”
From his book Hal al-Muslim mulzim bi Ittibaa’ Madhhab mu’ayyin min al-Madhhab al-Arba’ah, p. 38.
10. Question: Some of those who claim that they are Salafees say: We are Salafees but we do not speak about those who fall into errors and we do not disparage (make jarh) of anyone?
Answer: Say to them, your Salafiyyah will be not be sound whilst [holding that] no one is to be disparaged. Loving for Allaah and hating for Allaah and allegiance for Allaah and enmity for Allaah – if a person is devoid of these four matters, then that means that his Islaam is weak.
And the Messenger, salallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said: “Whomsoever amongst you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; if he is not able, then [let him change it] with his tongue [by speaking against it with knowledge]; and if he is not able, then with his heart [by hating it for Allaah’s sake], and that is the weakest of Eemaan.”
The weakest of Eemaan is that you forbid falsehood with your heart. However as for the one who does not forbid falsehood with his heart, then where is the Eemaan in his heart?!!
Meaning that his Eemaan is weak of no benefit. And we ask Allaah for pardon and good health, and Allaah is sufficient for us and what a fine trustee He is.
Shaykh Ahmad bin Yahyaa an-Najmee
‘Al-Fataawa Al-Jaliyyah ‘an Manaahij Ad-Da’wiyyah’, Daarul-Minhaaj. Gathered and notes added by Hasan Ibn Mansoor ad-Daghreeree. Second volume, page 139.
11. Question: What are the fundamentals of the salafee da’wah and what are its principles?
Answer: The salafee da’wah is: Calling to that which the Messenger sal Allaahu alaiyhi wa sallam and his Companions radi Allaahu ‘anhum and those who followed them in goodness were upon, with hikmah (wisdom) and fine preachings, and arguing with that which is better, together with (the caller’s) exerting his nafs (soul) upon acting upon that which he is calling to.
And with Allaah is the tawfeeq. And may peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and his Companions.
Permanent Committee for Research and Verdicts
Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Bin Baz
Shaykh Abdullaah bin Quood
Shaykh Abdur-Razzaaq al-Afeefee
Question 1 from fatwa 6265 P241 Volume 12 Fataawaa of the Permanent Committee
12. Question: What are some things that will keep a person firm upon Salafiyyah and distant from the paths of misguidance?
Answer: There are a number of affairs that will help someone in this.
 Staying close to the people of knowledge, those who are known for:
[a] their capabilities;
[b] being foremost in virtues;
[c] being well versed in knowledge;
[d] their strength in (knowledge of) the Sunnah;
[e] their adherence to it;
[f] their harshness against the people of desires.
It is suitable that they are the ones to take (knowledge) from, the knowledge that is paired with wisdom.
 Staying distant from the people of innovation and desires, keeping away from their gatherings, and not subjecting oneself to their debating and argumentation.
 Reading the books authored by the Salaf, reading them with the scholars if that is possible. If that is not possible, then asking about the phrases or subjects which are difficult to understand within these Salafee books, asking the people of knowledge about them, so they can clarify any misunderstandings one encounters.
Shaykh Ubayd al-Jaabiree
13. Question: Noble Shaykh Ahmad an-Najmee – hafidhahullaah – we hope for a truthful clarification concerning an issue, which the students of knowledge have had much argumentation about. And it is the affair of judgement upon specific individuals.
And my question is: When is an individual to be judged that he is not from Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah?
Is it merely due to him innovating a single innovation, or calling to it, or without that?
Direct us to the correct statement, and may Allaah reward you with goodness.
Answer: The praise is for Allaah, and may peace and salutations be upon the Messenger of Allaah, upon his Family and his Companions. To proceed:
One leaves from the Sunnah by taking to an innovation from amongst the innovations, regardless of whether it is the innovation of khurooj (revolt), such as the Khawaarij, or the innovation of ta’teel (denial) of the Attributes (of Allaah), such as the Jahmiyyah and the Mu’tazilah, or ta‘weel (figurative interpretation) of them, such as the Ashaa’irah, or if he says that sins do not harm one’s Islaam, such as the Murji‘ah, or other than that from amongst the innovations.
So if you know of an innovation from him, then advise him about it, but if he persists in remaining upon it, then he is to be considered one who has left the Sunnah and taken to the innovation. Indeed, Muslim (d.261H) related in the introduction to his book that Abaa ’Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sulamee advised some of the students of knowledge in that time that they must not listen to the statement of Shaqeeq. And Shaqeeq was not Shaqeeq Ibn Salamah. And he held the view of the Khawaarij. So he (Aboo ’Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sulamee) said that they must not listen to his speech and that they must not go to him.
So the apparent meaning of this is that the one whose affair has settled upon taking to an innovation and he has become known for that innovation, then it is befitting that the students of knowledge be advised against him and that they be warned against him. This is because he is considered one who has left the manhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah due to that.
As for when the opposition occurs in the subsidiary affairs of ijtihaad (independent reasoning), then this is not considered prohibited opposition and it does not obligate rebuke upon the opponent. It is like the one who says, “Indeed, adultery cannot be confirmed, except by a confession made four times.” And someone else says, “Indeed, it is confirmed by one confession.” And the success lies with Allaah.
Shaykh Ahmad bin Yahyaa an-Najmee
Taken from al-Fataawaa al-Jaliyyah (vol. 2/p. 43-44) of Shaykh Ahmad an-Najmee.
The following three questions are part of a dialogue in which Shaykh Hammaad al-Ansaaree makes clear who the people of the Sunnah are:
14. Questioner: Who are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-jamaa’ah?
The Shaykh: They are those that hold firmly to that which the companions were upon
15. Questioner: Are the Salafees Ahlus-Sunnah wal-jamaa’ah?
The Shaykh said: Yes; As-Salafiyyah is the Sunnah and the Jamaa’ah, that is because the meaning of Salafiyyah is to hold firmly onto that which the righteous Salaf were upon in the past
16. Questioner: O Shaikh; the jamaa’ah of the Ikhwaan (Al-Muslimeen) and At-Tableegh – are they from Ahlus-Sunnah?
The Shaykh said: Everyone who is upon an ideology which is contrary to Ahlus-Sunnah then they are not from them, so the jamaa’ah of the Ikhwaan (Al-Muslimeen) and At-Tableegh are not from Ahlus-Sunnah, because they are upon ideologies that are contrary to them.
Shaykh Hammaad al-Ansaaree
Al-Majmoo’ fee tarjumah Hamaad Al-Ansaaree volume 2 pages 762-763
17. Question: What do you say to those who do not acknowledge (for whatever reason) the scholars of today such as shaikh Uthaymeen, shaykh bin Baaz raheemahullah, shaykh Al-Albaani raheemahullah?
A few call them wahabi and say that these scholars follow a new sect rather than the universal deen of al-Islam that was followed by all the major scholars of the past.
Answer: Praise be to Allaah, the Muslim is obliged to accept the teachings of Islam, and act upon them. When he hears of some word or deed which is based on evidence (daleel) from the Qur’aan or Sunnah, then he has to accept it and give it priority over anything else. He should check what people say against the evidence of sharee’ah, and only accept those views which are in accordance with that evidence.
It is known that Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Al-Wahhaab (may Allaah have mercy on him) called people to Tawheed and he wrote his famous book on that topic which is called Kitaab al-Tawheed. In this book he limited himself to quoting only the clear evidence from the verses of the Qur’aan and the saheeh ahaadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Commentaries on this book were written by his grandson ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Hasan and other scholars. Hence none of his opponents can refute this book or claim that his evidence is false. They fabricated lies and believed them, so they believed that he was misguided.
They gave the same label to the scholars of the Muslims such as Shaykh Ibn Baaz and Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on them both). It is known that the shaykhs whom we have mentioned did not deviate from the correct view with regard to beliefs and actions; they followed the same path as the Sahaabah and Taabi’een, the four imaams, the authors of the Six Books and others.
Those who do not acknowledge them do that either out of ignorance, blind imitation of others, jealousy, stubbornness or following their own whims and desires, or adherence to traditions, bid’ah (innovation) and evil actions that go against the evidence (of sharee’ah).
Earlier and later scholars have proven such people to be wrong. So we must follow the evidence and give it priority over the views of all people.
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen
18. Question: We want to know what Salafiyyah is as a manhaj (path or methodology), and can we claim to belong to it? Can we criticise those who do not belong to it or who object to the word Salafi and so on?
Answer: Praise be to Allaah, the Salafis are the followers of the way of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and his Companions, because they are the ones who came before us (the Salaf) and who advanced ahead of us, so their followers are the Salafis.
With regard to taking Salafiyyah as a path or methodology which a person follows and regards as misguided those Muslims who differ with him, even if they are following the truth, and taking Salafiyyah as a partisan path is undoubtedly contrary to Salafiyyah. All of the Salaf or early generations called for unity and harmony around the Sunnah of the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and did not regard as misguided those who differed with them with on the basis of their understanding and interpretation, except when it came to matters of ‘aqeedah or beliefs, because they regarded those who differed with them in these matters as misguided. But with regard to practical issues they were often easy-going.
But some of those who followed the path of Salafiyyah in modern times started to regard as misguided everyone who differed from them, even if that person was correct, and some of them adopted a partisan approach like that of other parties which claimed to belong to the religion of Islam. This is something that is to be denounced and cannot be approved of, and it should be said to these people: Look at the way of the righteous early generation (al-salaf al-saalih), what did they used to do? Look at their way and how open hearted they were in the case of differences in which ijtihaad is justified (and differences of opinion are allowed).
They even used to differ concerning major issues, matters of belief and practical issues. You will find some of them, for example, denying that the Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) saw his Lord, whereas others say that he did see Him. You will see some of them saying that what will be weighed on the Day of Resurrection is deeds, whereas others will say that it is the books of deeds that will be weighed. You will also see them differing a great deal with regard to matters of fiqh having to do with marriage, shares of inheritance, buying and selling, and other issues. Yet despite all that they did not regard one another as misguided.
Salafiyyah in the sense of being a particular party with its distinguishing characteristics and in which the members regard everyone else as misguided, these people have nothing to do with Salafiyyah at all.
As for the Salafiyyah which means following the path of the Salaf in belief, word and deed, in calling for unity and harmony and mutual compassion and love, as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of a single body; when one part of it is suffering the rest of the body joins it in fever and staying awake”, this is the true Salafiyyah.
Shaykh Muhammad Uthaymeen
Liqaa’aat al-Baab al-Maftooh, 3/246