SALAFEES OR KHALAFEES? (Part 1)
Sanni Kay. Yusuf
The word, salafee and/or salafiyyah seems the most despised appellative to some muslims, while some do passionately and enthusiastically wish to be called and addressed as such. What a paradox of life – one man’s pleasure, another’s pressure; one person’s treasure, the other’s tremor!
There is no doubt even among those who notionally take exception to the nomenclature that the word, salaf means: predecessor, forbear, forefather, primogenitor, progenitor etc. Apparently, there is no one on earth without a predecessor(s). If you have any, you may help out with where he abides. I will find him, even if it requires journeying miles on foot. It therefore lexically means that anyone who predated or who had existed before the other person is known as a salaf. This implies that we will all become salaf as some are salaf to us; or that as some are salaf to us, so we are to others.
If this reader could just read this piece with a plain, sincere focus devoid of stereotype, sentiment and hate, he is likely to have his perturbed, perforated mind penetrated by truth.
Technically or religiously, a salaf is the one who has preceded one in Islamic faith. This automatically qualifies the holy Prophet as the first salaf. He was a salaf to the companions, who, geometrically, were salaf to the ones after them down to this present generation of muslims.
By the word, salafee – generated from the root, salaf, it simply signifies that one is an adherent of the salaf. It means that the bearer has based his life on the practice of the holy Prophet, the sahabah and other muslim forebears. And the derivative, salafiyyah, is just the act of being a salafee. The synopsis of this is that while a salafee is the muslim imitating the salaf (the predecessors), salafiyyah is the act of being a salafee (imitator of the predecessors). If this is not clear enough, you may take a cue from the word, ansaar, which lexically means helpers, but technically refers to the muslims who lovingly welcomed and accepted the muslims who had a divine sojourn from Makkah to Madeenah. Each of the ansaar is known as an ‘ansaaree’.
Identifying oneself as a salafee doesn’t erase, abrogate or proscribe the word muslim – never! We are all muslims. It is just that while the one who flouts, disregards the sunnah of holy Prophet may still be a muslim, he is apparently not a salafee – a true submissivist, adherent of the holy Prophet. In fact, even if the one who claims to be a salafee acts contrary to the dictates of the salaf, his self-ascription to salafiyyah is just by mouth, albeit he remains a muslim.
What I see is that those who hate to hear or to be called salafees are mere rationalisers of truth. They are people who wish to practise the religion based on whims and caprices. They are those who are selective of which ones to do and which not to do. They are those who have been carried away by the takes of the present rather than the spiritual practice of the past. They are those who are ready to jettison a tradition(s) of the Prophet for ephemeral phenomena. You know within you that you are guilty of one or all of the aforementioned.
It is worrying, however, that some persons who lay claim to salafiyyah are obviously not salafees. They are khalafees, for they contravene the salaf. Some of them are attitudinally bankrupt because they lack the knowledge with which the Prophet related with people. They know little or nothing about the sunnah. All they shallowly know of the sunnah are keeping beard and trousers above the ankles. This is where their salafiyyah starts and ends. Very unfortunate, lamentable and worrisome!
Watch out for Part 2 as I take you through the rough life of khalafees who claim to be salafees.