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Quranic Terminology: Salaf and Salafism

Quranic Terminology: Salaf and Salafism



Published in November 20, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy






 Salafism means to continue adhering to the religion of ancestors/forefathers or Salaf in Arabic. We resort to the Holy Quran as the Criterion in order to know the meaning of Salafism.


Firstly: the term (Salaf), and its derivations, in the Quranic text in the sense of (past events): 

1- "Those who swallow usury will not rise, except as someone driven mad by Satan's touch. That is because they say, “Commerce is like usury.” But God has permitted commerce, and has forbidden usury. Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, refrains, may keep his Salaf/past earnings, and his case rests with God. But whoever resumes - these are the dwellers of the Fire, wherein they will abide forever." (2:275).

2- "Do not marry women whom your fathers married, except what is already Salaf/past. That is improper, indecent, and a bad custom." (4:22).

3- "Forbidden for you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal aunts, your maternal aunts, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your foster-mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your stepdaughters in your guardianship - born of wives you have gone into - but if you have not gone into them, there is no blame on you. And the wives of your genetic sons, and marrying two sisters simultaneously. Except what is Salaf/past. God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (4:23).

4- "O you who believe! do not kill game while you are in pilgrim sanctity. Whoever of you kills any intentionally, its penalty shall be a domestic animal comparable to what he killed, as determined by two honest persons among you - an offering delivered to the Kaaba. Or he may atone by feeding the needy, or its equivalent in fasting, so that he may taste the consequences of his conduct. God forgives what is Salaf/past. But whoever repeats, God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Avenger." (5:95).

5- "Say to those who disbelieve: if they desist, their Salaf/past will be forgiven. But if they persist - the practice of the ancients has passed away." (8:38).

6- This is about the Judgment Day: "There, every soul will experience what it had done/aslafat previously; and they will be returned to God, their True Master; and what they used to invent will fail them." (10:30).

7- This is about Paradise-dwellers: "“Eat and drink merrily for what you did/aslaftum in the days gone by.”" (69:24).


Secondly: the term (Salaf), and its derivations, in the Quranic text in the sense of following the disbelieving, polytheistic ancestors:

1- This is about Moses' Pharaoh and his unjust people as leaders of polytheism/disbelief to all polytheists/disbelievers in the later eras: "Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him. They were criminal people. And when they provoked Our wrath, We took retribution from them, and We drowned them all. Thus We made them a precedent/salafan and an example for the others." (43:54-56).

2- Moses' Pharaoh and his unjust people are imams calling others to enter into Hell: "So We seized him, and his troops, and We threw them into the sea. Observe, therefore, what was the end of the oppressors. And We made them leaders calling to the Hell-Fire. And on Resurrection Day, they will not be saved." (28:40-41).

3- The roots of polytheism are found in the ancient Egyptian Pharaonic religion named in the Quran as (Gypt); this Gypt religion spread all over the ancient world especially in Europe and it gave Egypt (i.e., Misr in Arabic) its European name Egypt in English and (L'Egypte) in French. Even the Arabs who conquered Egypt named the Egyptians who adhered to the religion of their Salaf/ancestors as Copts, a word derived from the term (Gypt).  

4- In Arabia, some Arabs and the People of the Book were negatively influenced by the ancient Egyptian Pharaonic religion named as Gypt, as we infer from the Quran: "Have you not considered those who were given a share of the Book? They believe in Gypt and Taghut, and say of those who disbelieve, “These are better guided on the way than the believers.”" (4:51). Such influence includes the worship and deification of Osir/Osiris (the Pharaonic god of death) and Messiah/Christ: "The Jews said, “Ezra is the son of God,” and the Christians said, “The Messiah is the son of God.” These are their statements, out of their mouths. They imitate the statements of those who disbelieved before. May God assail them! How deceived they are!" (9:30); this means they followed the footsteps of the Pharaonic religion named in the Quran as Gypt.   

5- This is asserted further here: "Like the behavior of Pharaoh’s people and those before them. They rejected Our signs, so God seized them for their sins. God is Strict in retribution." (3:11); "Like the behavior of the people of Pharaoh, and those before them. They rejected the signs of God, so God seized them for their sins. God is Powerful, Severe in punishment." (8:52); "Such was the case with the people of Pharaoh, and those before them. They denied the signs of their Lord, so We annihilated them for their sins, and We drowned the people of Pharaoh - they were all unjust ones." (8:54).

6- Hence, polytheists unawares adhere to the Pharaonic religion of polytheism and deifying mortals; this is why Moses' Pharaoh is mentioned a lot in the Quranic stories in order to preach and warn believers so that they may draw useful lessons; yet, the Muhammadans never heed such lessons because they have abandoned the Quran and followed the footsteps of the polytheistic Moses' Pharaoh and his unjust people whose path leads only to Hell in the Hereafter. 

7- Sadly, features of Gypt or the ancient Egyptian Pharaonic religion can still be traced now in Salafism or Sunnite Wahabism; e.g., within the popular notions/myths of the second advent of Christ, the emergence of the awaited Mehdi, the Anti-Christ, the Pharaonic word (amen) derived from the Pharaonic god Amon, deifying/sanctifying allies/saints and mausoleums, and deifying Azrael, a mythical figure in the Sunnite/Salafist religion whose name is derived from the Pharaonic god Osir/Osiris.     


Thirdly: Salafism is the polytheistic religion of all eras:

 The main feature in the polytheistic religion of all eras is to worship and follow traditions inherited from the ancestors/forefathers or Salaf. The Quran warns against following the footsteps of ancestors because all polytheists did so as per the Quranic stories about ancient nations and about Arabs in Arabia during Muhammad's lifetime. We provide examples in the following points.

1- This is about the people of Noah who formed the first and most ancient human community; sadly, they followed the footsteps of their forefathers in religion: "We sent Noah to his people. He said, “O my people, worship God, you have no deity other than Him. Will you not take heed?” But the notables of his people, who disbelieved, said, “This is nothing but a human like you, who wants to gain superiority over you. Had God willed, He would have sent down angels. We never heard of this from our ancestors of old." (23:23-24).

2- The same polytheistic attitude of blindly following ancestors as far as religion is concerned was mentioned by the people of Aad to their prophet Hud: "This is nothing but morals of the ancients." (26:137).

3- The same stance is found regarding the people of Abraham when they talked to him: "They said, “We found our parents worshiping them.”" (21:53); "They said, “But we found our ancestors doing so.”" (26:74).

4- Moses' Pharaoh and his people adhered to the religious path of polytheism of their forefathers and told Moses arrogantly about their stance.

4/1: "But when Moses came to them with Our signs, clear and manifest, they said, “This is nothing but fabricated magic, and We never heard of this from our ancestors of old.”" (28:36); this stance is like that of the people of Noah in 23:24.

4/2: "They said, “Did you come to us to divert us from what we found our ancestors following, and so that you become prominent on earth? We will never believe with you.”" (10:78).

5- The following Quranic verses are about Arabs in general and the Qorayish tribesmen in particular who adopted the same polytheistic stance of blindly following their ancestors and rejected the Quranic Truth. 

5/1: "And when it is said to them, “Follow what God has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we follow what we found our forefathers devoted to.” Even if Satan is calling them to the torment of the Blaze?" (31:21). They rejected Islam (i.e., the monotheism of There is no God but Allah) because they adhered to the polytheism of their ancestors.

5/2: "And when it is said to them, “Follow what God has revealed,” they say, “We will follow what we found our ancestors following.” Even if their ancestors understood nothing, and were not guided?" (2:170). They rejected Islam (i.e., the monotheism of There is no God but Allah) because they adhered to the polytheism of their ancestors.

5/3: "And when it is said to them, “Come to what God has revealed, and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is what we found our forefathers upon.” Even if their forefathers knew nothing, and were not guided?" (5:104). They rejected Islam (i.e., the monotheism of There is no God but Allah) because they adhered to the polytheism of their ancestors.

5/4: "And when they commit an indecency, they say, “We found our forefathers doing this, and God has commanded us to do it.” Say, “God does not command indecencies. Are you attributing to God what you do not know?”" (7:28). Worshiping ancestors includes justifying grave sins and indecencies/immoral behaviors and deeming them as part of religion; this is grave injustice committed by clergymen of the Muhammadans until now against the Lord God and in violation of His True Religion; we have written a lot about this painful topic in our archive of books, articles, and fatwas. 

5/5: The Arabs rejected Islam (i.e., the monotheism of There is no God but Allah) because they adhered to the polytheism of their ancestors; this is shown in their words addressed to Muhammad: "We never heard of this in the former faith. This is nothing but a fabrication." (38:7); this stance is a repetition of the one we find in 23:24 and 28:36; the Arabs during Muhammad's lifetime followed the footsteps of Moses Pharaoh (3:11, 8:52, and 8:54) .


Fourthly: a Quranic general rule:

 This Quranic general rule is about the eras before and after the descent/revelation of the Quran and during the era of Muhammad as well when the Quran was being revealed gradually. This Quranic general rule goes on until the end of days because Satan, as well as his devils, will never tender his resignation. The Arabs who followed the religious ways of their ancestors/Salaf are Salafists who assumed that guidance is found exclusively in the religion of their forefathers: "But they say, “We found our forefathers on a course of an Umma, and we are guided in their footsteps.”" (43:22); the Muhammadans follow the footsteps of polytheistic Arabs as they brag of their past and present 'Umma'/nation; in fact, the Umma of the Muhammadans in all eras have never been united in anything but waging war against the Lord God and His Word: the Quran. The Quranic general rule is found here: "Likewise, We sent no warner before you to any town, but the wealthy among them said, “We found our forefathers on a course of an Umma, and we are following in their footsteps.”" (43:23); this means that Salafism (i.e., following the polytheistic ways of ancestors) is deep-rooted in all societies where the affluent, arrogant, corrupt few tyrants monopolize wealth and power.


Fifthly: the fate of Salafists in the Hereafter:

 Their fate is Hell-torment for eternity: "Is this a better hospitality, or the Tree of Bitterness? We made it an ordeal for the unjust. It is a tree that grows from the bottom of Hell. Its fruits are like the devils’ heads. They will eat from it, and fill their bellies with it. Then, on top of it, they will have a brew of boiling liquid. Then their return will be to the Blaze. They had found their parents astray. And rushed along in their footsteps." (37:62-70).



 In order to be spared from Hell, there is only one thing to do; namely, we must return to the Holy Quran whose most verses prohibit deifying mortals and things/items and worshiping in the ways of ancestors/Salaf. The Lord God says the following in the Quran: "Or have they adopted allies besides him? But God is the Ally, and He gives life to the dead, and He has power over all things. Whatever matter you differ about, its judgment rests with God. “Such is God, my Lord, in Whom I trust, and unto Him I repent.”" (42:9-10); "“Shall I seek a judge other than God, when He is the One who revealed to you the Book, explained in detail?” Those to whom We gave the Book know that it is the Truth revealed from your Lord. So do not be of those who doubt. The Word of your Lord has been completed, in Truth and justice. There is no changing to His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower. If you were to obey most of those on earth, they would divert you from God’s Path. They follow nothing but assumptions, and they only conjecture." (6:114-116). Of course, we seek within our Quranist reform endeavors to gratify the Dominant Lord God; yet, today's Salafists are infuriated by our Quranism.

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