You know we have the so-called Salafi sect. Are they considered to be sinful?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
Islam’s real message is to obey Allah Most High alone. Emphasis has been placed upon following the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), because he represents Allah’s commandments. Therefore, every Muslim should attempt to follow the commandments of Allah Almighty and his messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).
However, there are many commandments and injunctions of the Qur’an and Sunnah that are unclear and ambiguous. In fact, there are some statements which seem to (apparently) contradict other verses of the Qur’an and Hadith.
For example: There is a Hadith which states: “Whoever has an Imam, the Imam’s recitation (in prayer) is his recitation.” (Sunan Ibn Majah & al-Bayhaqi) This indicates that the follower in prayer should remain silent. However, another Hadith says: “There is no Salat for he who does not recite Surah al-Fatiha.”
Now, if a person has the necessary qualifications, deep knowledge of the various sciences of Shariah which requires many years of extensive studying along with piety and fear of Allah, then he can study the various evidences and decide for himself what the correct position is. This person is known as a ‘Mujtahid’.
However, if one falls short of the requirement of a Mujtahid (many scholars have mentioned that it is impossible for a person to reach the level of Ijtihad in our times) then it is necessary for him to follow a Mujtahid who spent all his life in studying the various different sciences of Shari’ah. This is known as ‘following a Madhab’.
It should be remembered that when we follow a particular Madhhab (School of thought), we are not following one person; rather we are following the extensive research carried out by thousands of scholars who devoted their life for this noble cause.
Allah says in the holy Qur’an:
“Ask the people of knowledge if you don’t know” (Surah al-Nahl, v.43).
If a person is deluded and considers him self to be a Mujtahid and the reality is that he is not (as is the general case), then this is certainly wrong and leads to deviation.
As far as the question “Are the Salafis considered sinful” is concerned, this depends on the person in question, although normally people fall short of the requirement of Ijtihad and therefore it is necessary for them to follow a Madhhab.
I would not like to make a general statement on whether they are sinful or not, as we leave this to Allah Most High, neither will we be asked this question on the day of Qiyamah. May Allah bless the Ummah with unity as this is the greatest need of the time, and may He guide us all to the straight path (Ameen).
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK