what is salaf and who are salafy?
There are some ikhwaan who think that calling yourself salaf or salafy actually is making like grouping or being a part of a movement and prophet Muhammad salAllahu alayhe wa sallam have predicted it being 73 sects and 72 in jahnnam and only one in jannah and such people who call yourself salafy may have some agenda etc. So they want the ummah to stick to one name being 'Muslim' and rather than using other names. And they want that people should be aware of it.
I think this is a very basic misunderstanding these people have.
They even don't know what is the simple meaning of daleel and evidence when you talk about something as important as deen. These are some self-made 'scholars' maybe using facebook or different forums to misguide the ummah, wal ayaazu billah.
The second thing comes with daleel is interpretations. So they interpret the deen by themselves maybe bringing Qur'anic ayah or even ahadeeth and can't or won't bring the salaf view regarding it.
With salaf view, even if they do bring it like sayyaduna umar said or abu bakr said (radhiAllahu anhuma) they don't know the meaning of authentication and who authenticated it. If the mauqoof narration (the narration that reaches back to a sahabi is authentic by chain or not? Maybe some liars and innovators or matruk narrators are part of the chain and they are unacceptable in the eyes of deen but these people would just misguide the ummah because they might themselves didn't have the proper taffaqah on the issue.
They are the ikhwaan rely on story books and history books to write about our deen and specially when writing about religious statements, subhanAllaah. Not realizing that these words may be authentic or un authentic.
In anyway, just to ensure that you don't get into their baatil (fake) trap, i'll write what is salaf and what is salafy.
So see prophet Muhammad salAllaahu alayhe wa sallam said when his time of death was becoming closer , about himself to sayyidah fatima radhiAllaahu anha:
فَاتَّقِي اللَّهَ وَاصْبِرِي، فَإِنِّي نِعْمَ السَّلَفُ أَنَا لَكَ ".
So, be afraid of Allah, and be patient, for I am the best predecessor for you (in the Hereafter).'
(sahih bukhari hadith number: 6285, 6286)
So if prophet Muhammad is salaf. Then follower of prophet Muhammad salAllahu alayhe wasallam can call himself/herself as 'salafy, there is no harm in it. One authentic narration was enough to prove it.
Shaikh 'Ubayd al-Jabiree (hafidhahullaah) (you like him or not) said: “Salafiyyah isn’t a new terminology; rather it is old. From that which bears witness to it is the statement of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) to Fatimah (radiallaahu 'anha): Ne'ma Salafu anna laki (’…I am a blessed Salaf for you.’). And likewise, this has been conveyed by the people of knowledge who have described those (truly) upon the Book and the Sunnah as Salafee, and have described those other than them (other than those who are truly upon the Book and the Sunnah) as Khalafee.”
[Tape: Words of Wisdom to the West,Shaikh 'Ubayd al-Jabiree]
Imaam al-Awzaa'ee (d. 157H) - rahimahullaah - said: "Adhere to the narrations of the Salaf (the Prophet and sahaaba; tabi'een; and atba tabi'een), even if the people were to abandon you. And beware of the opinions of people, no matter how much they beautify it with speech."
hafith Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - 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]
Imaam al-Asbahaanee (d.535H) - rahimahullaah - 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
Hafith Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said in another place, "The Sunnah is connected to the Jama'ah, like Bid'ah is to splitting. So we say: Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama'ah, and [we say concerning people of bid'ah] Ahlul-Bid'ah wal Firqa.
We already have the discussion about the topic in the post. So you can read it from here:
So when the prophet Muhammad salAllahu alayhe wa sallam was alive sahaba called themselves as Muslims. After the death of prophet muhammad salAllahu alayhe wa sallam when things changed and fitnah started spreading and shi'a and other ahlul bid'ah started calling themselves as alul sunnah so the tabeon and atba atabeon named them self used ahlul sunnah wal jamaah. Even imaam tirmidhi rahimahullah used the ahlul hadith phrase in his sunan for ulamah.
So ya ikhwan be aware of such people who do not have proper understanding, taffaqah of deen but they just open their mouth against the correct methodology with their half crooked information. Specially on the basis of just being Arab.
We do not say that salafy ikhwaan or salafy 'ulamah can not make mistakes even imaam maalik rahimahullah said:
قَالَ : سَمِعْتُ مَالِكَ بْنَ أَنَسٍ ، يَقُولُ : " إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ ، أُخْطِئُ وَأُصِيبُ ، فَانْظُرُوا فِي رَأْيِي ، فَكُلَّمَا وَافَقَ الْكِتَابَ وَالسُّنَّةَ فَخُذُوا بِهِ , وَكُلَّمَا لَمْ يُوَافِقِ الْكِتَابَ وَالسُّنَّةَ , فَاتْرُكُوهُ
Truly I am only a mortal: I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions: all that agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and the Sunnah, ignore it."
(ref: Ibn 'Abdul Barr in Jaami' Bayaan al-'Ilm (2/32), Ibn Hazm, quoting from the former in Usool al-Ahkaam (6/149), and similarly Al-Fulaani (p. 72)
But it does not mean that we deny the word 'salaf' or salafy being in used just because of some ikhwaan being half-crooked in ilm.
may Allaah azza wa jallah guide us, Allaahumma ameen.