SALAF AS-SÂLIHÎN - سلف الصالحين
Literally: Salaf is predecessor. Ancestor.
Literally: Sâlih is good. Serviceable. Valid. Upright. Righteous. Pious.
The first guides of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamâ’ah.
Salaf as-Sâlihîn are the leaders of the Sahâbah, Tâbi’în (the first generation after Sahâbah) and Tabaî’ Tâbiî’n (The second generation of Muslims after the Sahâbah who had lessons and narrated Hadith from Tâbi’în and followed them.) The most virtuous Muslims that lived for three centuries after the Hijrah. ‘Ulamâ of ‘ilm Al-Kalâm accept this period until the fifth century of Islam.
“Among the ways of walâyah, the finest, most mustaqîm, richest, and most brilliant is following the Sunnah as-Saniyyah, That is, think of the Sunnah as-Saniyyah in acts and deeds, and to follow and imitate them, and in conduct and dealings with others, to think of the rulings of the Sharî'ah and take them as guide.
By means of following and imitating them in this way, together with daily conduct and dealings and fıtrî acts becoming ‘ibâdah, thinking of the Sunnah and Sharî'ah for all actions through the point of following them, it recalls the injunctions of the Sharî'ah. This causes a person to think of the owner of the Sharî'ah. By thinking of him, it brings to mind Janâb-i Haqq, and that affords a sort of hudhur. This may take all the moments of a person's life like ‘ibâdah in hudhur. Thus, this great highway is the highway of the Sahâbah and the Salaf as-Sâlihîn, who received the legacy of nubuwwah, the 'greater walâyah.'” The Letters ( 526 )
“Just as varying goods in the market are sought after according to the season; they are in demand one after the other, so in the exhibition of al-‘âlam and market of human society and civilization, every century different goods are sought after and are in demand; they are displayed in the market, demand attracts them, gazes are turned on them, minds are drawn by them. Like at the present time the goods of politics and securing the life of this world and the demand of philosophy are sought after, for example. And at the time of the Salaf as-Sâlihîn and in the market of that age, deducing from the Word of Al-Khâliq of the samâwât and the Earth His wishes and what He wants of us were the most sought-after goods, and obtaining the means to gain through the nûr of nubuwwah and the Qur'an eternal happiness in the world of the âkhirah, which had been revealed to such a degree it could not be concealed….
...At this time, however, due to the domination of European civilization and the supremacy of natural philosophy and the preponderance of the conditions of worldly life, minds and hearts have become scattered, and endeavour and ‘inâyah divided. Minds have become strangers to ma’nawî matters.” The Words ( 496 )
“Just as within a body is the inclination to expand, for its growth and development. And, since it is from within, the inclination to expand is a being perfected for the body. Whereas if it is an inclination for expansion from outside it, it is to rip the body's skin; to destroy it; it is not expansion. In the same way, when the inclination to expand and will to ijtihad were present in those within the sphere of Islam through the door of perfect taqwâ and the way of conforming to the dharûriyyah of Islam, like the Salaf as-Sâlihîn, that was a perfection and a being perfected. But if such an inclination to expand and will of ijtihad comes from those who give up the dharûriyyah, prefer the life of this world to that of the âkhirah, and are tainted with materialist philosophy, it is the means of destroying the body of Islam and casting off the chain of the Sharî'ah from the neck.” The Words ( 497 )