Shaykh Muhammad Amaan Al-Jaami said, “…The Salafis are the people on the Path (of Sunnah), and the people on the Path (of Sunnah) are not from the partisan groups (hizbi groups), and they are not from the people of affiliations [to astray individuals or misguided beliefs].
Those who tread the Path (of Sunnah) – the Path that the earliest Muslims where upon – they are the Salafis (As-Salafiyyoon).
Yaa An-Nisbah (يا النسبة) [the letter ي at the end of the word Salafi, is of ascription], meaning an ascription to the Salaf (the early generations).
So the Salafi aqeedah is not a aqeedah that was placed [within Salafiyyah] by [Imam Ahmed] Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Taymiyyah, [Mohammed] Ibn Abdul Wahhaab, or or other than them.
The aqeedah is founded on the Book and the Sunnah, it doesn’t have any other source. It does not go beyond the Book and the Sunnah. This is the aqeedah of “As-Salafiyyah”. If we return to the linguistic origin, we find that “the Salaf” are those who preceded you, all of those who came before you from your fathers and grandfathers. Refer back to Al-Qaamoos (a famous Arabic dictionary) and Lisaanul Arab.
The Salaf are your predecessors from your fathers and grandfathers, these people are your predecessors. As for you, if you come in agreement with them, then you are known as a Salafi, meaning that you ascribe to your predecessors. If you come in opposition to them, then it is said that you are a “Khalafi“. Khalafi or the Khalaf are those who came after their predecessors and differed with them.
Therefore, the categorization [of the two] is not from us. The categorization is linguistic: ‘As-Salafiyoon’.”
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie