[Q]: What is meant by the term: the Salaf?
[A]: Shaykh Muhammad b. Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen [d. 1421 AH], may Allah have mercy on him, answered:
The meaning of the Salaf is: predecessors, so everyone who has preceded someone is a Salaf for him.
However, when the term the Salaf is used generally, what is meant by it are the three virtuous eras: the Companions, the Taabi’een, and the followers of the Taabi’een; these people, they are the Salaf as-Saalih.
And whoever comes after them and treads their methodology, then he is like them, upon the path of the Salaf, and it doesn’t matter if he comes at a later time in history than them.
This is because Salafiyyah is a term used to describe the methodology that the Salaf al-Saalih traversed, may Allah be pleased with them all. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings upon him, said: ‘Indeed, my nation will divide into 73 sects, all of them in the fire, except for one: It is the Jamaa’ah,’ and in another narration: ‘Whoever is upon the same as me and my Companions.’
So, based upon what has preceded, Salafiyyah is associated with a meaning. Therefore, anyone who traversed the methodology of the Companions, the Taabi’een and the precise followers of the Taabi’een, then he is Salafee, even if he is living in our time, which is the fourteenth century after Hijrah.¹⁄²
Translated by: Abu Adam Jameel Finch 22nd of Shawwaal, 1434 AH/August 29th, 2013
 Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen, Fataawaa Noor alaa ad-Darb, v.1/pg.35/#10
 Comment: Two points of benefit from this verdict:
- One of the greatest scholars of our time used the terms Salafiyyah and Salafee, a rebuttal to those who cast doubt on the Salafees for using these terms.
- Being Salafee is dependent on actually traversing of the methodology of the Companions, the Taabi’een and the followers of the Taabi’een.