Shaykh Saalih bin ‘Abdul ‘Azeez Aali Shaykh said, “Firstly it must be known that when Islaam became the mark of those who responded to the call of the Prophet, may peace be upon him, all the titles that they went by were eradicated save the title of Islaam. Allaah says: “It is He (Allah) Who has named you Muslims both before and in this Qur’aan…” 22:78
Therefore the titles ‘Muslimeen’ and ‘Mu’mineen’ are both legislativee titles, these are the names that are considered legislative (titles). Because they have been mentioned in the texts. There are other titles for the purpose of recognition. There isn’t anything wrong with these as long as they do not lead to harm.
From the greatest of these titles is the title ‘Muhaajireen’ and ‘Ansaar’. These are two names that Allaah mentioned in the Qur’aan and the Prophet, may peace be upon him, upheld it. When fanaticism and bigotry occurred amongst the believers for the titles ‘Muhaajireen’ and ‘Ansaar’ the matter became one of ignorance. Once they were out on a war expedition, two young men fell into a disagreement, there was a dispute between a young Muhaajri and a young Ansaari.
So the young Muhaajiri said: “Oh Muhaajireen!” Meaning come together, let’s unite with the Muhaajireen. While the young Ansaari said: “Oh Ansaar!” Therefore the Muhaajireen and Ansaar all gathered ready to help the one who called them. The Prophet, may peace be upon him, became enraged and said: “Are you calling to Jaahiliyyah while I am in your midst?!”
This proves that bigotry and allegiance for a particular title and not another removes it from the necessary title of recognition to that of bigotry for it, allegiance upon it and calling to special support and backing.
So this shows that this is (not clear) and blameworthy with the fact that these two titles ‘Muhaajireen’ and ‘Ansaar’ are both legislated. Some time passed by and more titles appeared like the Hanafis, Shaafi’ees, Hanabalis and Maalikis; names that the People of Knowledge agreed with at the time of their appearance for the purpose of recognition.
So that it would be known that these individuals implement the school of thought that Imaam Maalik adopted, these people the school of thought Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee adopted in Fiqh (jurispudence).
However when the affair turned into the Shaafi’ee having fanaticism and bigotry with the Shaafi’iyyah and giving allegiance to it and likewise the Hanafiyyah, Maalikiyyah etc. until they negated the other party meaning they did not deem the truth except what was with them and no one else, nullifying others, arguementation occurred. It transformed from a recognitive title into a title that you give allegiance to and have hatred towards others for.
Just as Ya’qoot al-Himawi mentioned in Mu’jam al-Buldaan: “During my trip to the land of Khurasaan -he mentioned the name I forgot (this is the Shiekh himself speaking not me)- I passed by a town wherein there was a group of Hanafis and Shaafi’is and there was so much hatred and animosity between them that I was certain that they were going to fight each other. So I went on my way and during my return from my travel -meaning after some years had passed- I passed by that same land and I didn’t see anyone I remembered. So I asked someone and he said: “A war broke out between them and they all dispersed.”
The reason was the title went from that of recognition to bigotry until the point where it becomes equal to the title of the ‘Muslimeen’ whereby you have allegiance and hatred for it. This led to this great evil occurring. The matter was because of a recognitive title that were agreed upon from the angle of recognition.
So here we ask a question; the title Salafiyyah.
This title, i.e. Salafiyyah, is modern or recent meaning that it is applied to one who follows the Salaf As-Saalih in creed, manners and action at the time when the other groups became numerous that had deviated from the path of the Salaf As-Saalih like the Murji’ah, Qadariyyah, Mu’tazilah, Jahmiyyah, ‘Ashaa’irah, Karamiyyah, Sufiyyah, etc. On the flip-side there are other recognitive titles that those who clung to the Sunnah and way of the Salaf As-Saalih and didn’t leave off that which was necessary were named with from them are those who called these people ‘As-Salaf’, or Salafiyyah, or Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaa’ah, or Al-Jamaa’ah, or Ahlul-Hadeeth, etc.
Hence it is a title of recognition clarifying that this group is the one that clung to the Sunnah and preservered upon it, abandoned innovations and desires and aided the speech of the Imaams of the Sunnah, who were the Sahaabah and Taabi’een and those who followed them. So they are praised for this traversing and rewarded for it.
However, As-Salafiyyah is from the body of Muslims, i.e. they aren’t a seperate party, they are Muslims. Because there are people from amongst the Muslims who are just regularly Muslim and if you examined him then (you would find that) he is Salafi from what he is upon. Likewise one who is Muslim but ascribes to some groups or like this, if you look at his belief and what he is upon, he is Salafi generally speaking or he will have many characteristics of the Salaf.
Here we say if these titles turn into Ahzaab (factions), Salafiyyah becomes a Hizb (faction/party) whereas you have allegiance and hatred for it, Ahul-Hadeeth becomes a Hizb (faction/party) whereas you have allegiance and hatred for it, then it becomes just like when this took place with the Muhaajireen and Ansaar, and thus it isn’t permissible.
If it is for the purpose of recognition by way of them and that they are the people of the truth in the Religion of Allaah and they are the (true) followers and supporters of the Sunnah and likewise they possess the qualities that Sheikh al-Islaam Ib Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, stated at the ending of Al-Waasitiyyah, that they have noble traits, that they are the people of mercy towards the believers, people of sincere advice to them, people of uprightness and integrity, people who pray at night and worship Allaah much, people of outstanding character, truthfulness, leave off lying, refrain from falsehood, diligence upon the truth, etc. then these are the people in reality who I consider worthy of the description of the Prophet, may peace be upon him, when he said: “The best of you is my generation, then those who follow them then those who follow them.”
And the statement of Allaah: “And those who followed them in goodness.” 9:100
So everyone who follows the Salaf with this belief in goodness then he will have his share of being from amongst them. As for allegiance and hatred because of this and attacking this one for the mere fact that he doesn’t claim or isn’t affiliated to this title, no! Rather the people are only praised and disparaged based upon Islaam and not any other title. Na’m (yes).”