Shaikh Salih al-Fawzaan was asked, “Is Salafiyyah a hizb (party) from amongst the parties. And is ascribing to them (i.e. the Salafis) a blameworthy thing?”
To which he replied, “As-Salafiyyah (i.e. the Salafis) is the Saved Sect, and they are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah. It is not a hizb (party) from amongst the various parties, those which are called “parties” today. Rather they are the Jamaaah, the Jamaaah upon the Sunnah and upon the Deen (religion). They are Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah. The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, “There will not cease to be a group from my Ummah manifest and upon the truth not being harmed by those who forsake them neither by those who oppose them" and he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) also said, "And this Ummah will split into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Hellfire but one”. They said, which one is this O Messenger of Allaah? He replied, “They are those who are upon what I and my companions are upon today”. Hence Salafiyyah is a group of people (i.e. the Salafis) upon the madhhab of the Salaf, upon what the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions were upon and it is not a hizb from amongst the contemporary groups present today. Rather it is the very old Jamaaah, from the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) which inherits (this way) and continues, and which never ceases to be upon the manifest truth until the establishment of the Hour, as he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has informed (us).” (Cassette: “at-Tahdheer min al-Bidah” second cassette, delivered as a lecture in Hawtah Sadeer, 1416H).
Shaikh Saalih Aal ash-Shaikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs of Saudi Arabia, stated, “Muslims are of two groups: Salafis and Khalafis. As for the Salafis, then they are the followers of Salaf us-Saalih (first three generations of Muslims). And as for the Khalafis, then they are the followers of the understanding of the Khalaf and they are also called Innovators - since everyone who is not pleased and satisfied with the path of the Salaf us-Saalih, in knowledge and action, understanding and fiqh, then he is a khalafi, an innovator.” (Haadhihi Mafaaheemunaa, Chapter on Ascription Salaf and Salafiyyah).
In the verdict of the Permanent Committee, No. 1361 (1/165) there occurs, “Salafiyyah is an ascription to the Salaf, and the Salaf are the Companions of Allaahs Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the Imaams of Guidance from the the first three generations (may Allaah be pleased with them), those whose goodness has been testified for by Allaahs Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), “The best of people are my generation, then those who follow after them, then those who follow after them, then there will come a people whose testimony will precede their oath and their oath will precede their testimony." Reported by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad and also by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. And “the Salafis” (Salafiyyoon) is the plural of “Salafi”, which is an ascription to the Salaf, and its meaning has already preceded. And they are the ones who traverse upon the minhaaj of the Salaf, from amongst the followers of the Book and the Sunnah, those who call to them both, and to acting upon them, as a result of which they are from Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah.”