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MHJ001E: Definitions of Manhaj and Salaf

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Definition of Manhaj

النج, المنهج, والمنهاج mean the clear and manifest way. Allah the Most High says in the Glorious Qur'an:

"To each among you we have prescribed a law and a minhaj." [al-Ma'idah (5):48], meaning a law and a way which is clearly explained.

Indeed Allah, the Most High, prescribed for every nation a law and a clear way (a manhaj). Thus the people of the Taurat had a law and the people of the Injil had a law and the people of the Qur'an have a law. These laws differ in their rules (ahkam) but are united in the tawhid of Allah (uniqueness of Allah) as Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said:

"I am the most worthy person to 'Isa ibn Maryam in this world and the Hereafter. The Prophets are paternal brothers, their mothers are different, and their Din is one. There is no prophet between 'Isa and myself."

[Reported by al-Bukhari in his Sahih, the Book of Prophets, chapter 'Remember the Book of Maryam', Muslim in his Sahih (no.2365), the Book of Merits, chapter 'Merits of 'Isa peace be upon him'. From the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him.]

The meaning of this is that they (the prophets) are united upon the fundamentals of uniqueness (tawhid) of Allah; as for the branches of (furu') of law and legislation, then differences occurred in them. Thus their laws are different.

Allah the Most High says:

"And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We inspired to him that (say) There is none who has the right to be worshipped except I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else)." [al-Anbiya' (21):25]

Also, the Saying of Allah the Most High:

"And verily, We have sent among every nation (Ummah) a Messenger proclaiming: Worship Allah alone and avoid the Taghut (all false deities)." [an-Nahl (16):36]

This is in respect of tawhid (oneness) of Allah, the One free from all defects. As for the laws, then they differed with respect to the commands and prohibitions.


Definition of Salaf

1) As-Salaf - That which has past and preceded.

As-Salif - a predecessor; as-Salaf - "a group of predecessors", and as-Salaf - "a people who have preceded us in conduct".

Allah says:

"So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all, and made them a precedent - Salafan (as a lesson for those coming after them) and an example to later generations." [az-Zukhruf (43):55-56]

That is "when they angered Us, We punished them, drowning them all making them a precedent," predecessors for those who do action like theirs, so that the people coming after them can take heed and warn others by their example.

2) As-Salaf: "Every good deed that one does".

3) As-Salaf: "Those who precede you, from amongst your forefathers and relatives, who may be older than you or better than you in merit".

Due to this, the first generation (the Companions) were called as-Salaf as-Salih (the Pious Predecessors).


Source: al-Wajiz fi Manhaj as-Salaf
By: Syaikh Abdul Qadir al-Arna'uth rahimahullah (died 13 Syawwal 1425H)
Translation: Abu Taher
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