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   Salafi Movements in Kerala

SALAFIs believe that a Muslim should follow in his life whatever the Noble Qur'an and Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) have instructed. Nothing has to be added or deleted in religious matters as it would be against Qur'anic and Prophet's teachings. Islam has to be understood by a Muslim as it had been understood by Prophet's (pbuh) contemporaries (Sahaba) and followers after them. They were the Salaf'-Al -Salihin (or Salafs) of the past. Salafs believed that after Prophet (SA) the Sahaba had the best understanding - Fahmu Al Sahaba - of the Noble Qur'an and the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh). Any kind of interpretation beyond it would amount to 'innovation' (Bid'a).

After the Sahaba, the immediate followers of Sahaba (Thabii'n), then their immediate followers (Thabi'Al-Thabii'n) had the best understanding of the Qura'n and Sunnah (Prophet's life style, words, instructions, commands, actions and so on). A true Muslim is one who strives to follow Prophet (pbuh) and his Sahaba as much as possible, in understanding the Qura'n and Sunnah. The Salafs (literally means 'predecessors') followed the Qura'n and Sunnah, very strictly in solving any kind of religious issue. In other words their method (Manhaj) consisted of looking for solutions for such problems in the Qura'n and then Prophet's Sunnah, then the words and deeds of Sahaba then Thabii'n and then Thabi'Al Thabii'n and so on. Salafis are those who accept this approach of Salafs. They stress this point and put in efforts to propagate the Message of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) as he preached.

The first four Caliphs of the Islamic world and the followers of Prophet (pbuh) during his life time showed the world that Islam is the most practical religion with all its purity and entirety. They were keen to observe the commands of the Prophet even to its literal accuracy. A few examples from history are quoted here which illustrate how they were precise in following the Qur’anic commands:

Caliph Omar ( r) ordered to cut a tree ‘Dath Anwath’ which was thought to be possessing supernatural power to grand wishes of its admirers.

Abdullah Ibn Masu’d admonished some Muslims sitting in a mosque and chanting ‘Dikr’ (praises of the Prophet). He did so because the Prophet had shown the exact and right way in which his praises were to be told.
Some one sneezed and after that he praised Allah: All Praises to Allah (Al Hamdu Lillah). But then he added ‘ Was Salat Wa Salamu Alaa Rasoolillah – May the protection and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah). Immediately Abdulla Ibn Umar corrected him: “ That is not what the Prophet has taught us to say when we sneeze. ‘All Praises to Allah’ is enough. Anything more than that is an innovation”

Great Salafs like Imam Ahmed Ibn Hambal, Shaik –Ul- Islam Ibn Thymiah, Imam Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahab, Imam Shaukani advocated these teachings and fought against evil practices in the community. Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal is one of the great puritan reformers of Islam whose name has constantly been invoked against the forces of rationalism down through the ages.

One of Ibn Hanbal's greatest followers, Ibn Taymiyah (1263-1328) was a great scholar who defied even the Caliph and proclaimed Islam's message among Muslims. He was arrested for issuing a Fatwa' against 'divorce by verbally uttering three times'. Another reform movement started by Imam Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahab and Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud (the founder of Saudi dynasty) in the mid-18th century was probably the forerunner of modern Salafiya'h. Together they demolished the tombs of Hijaz area in Arabia and prohibited all polytheist elements from the religious practices of Muslims. The modern Salafiya'h gained momentum in Egypt whose advocates established supremacy of Islamic law but with fresh interpretations to meet the community's changing needs. In later years Jamaludhin Afghani, Muhammed Abdu and Rashid Ridha fought for holding fast to the purity of Islam.

Even if something appears to be good and harmless in religious practices, Salafs did not patronize such practices. This was so because any kind of man-made innovation is likely to turn out to be corrupt and eventually leading to polytheist practices.

History has proven this argument. After the demise of the Caliphs and their contemporaries such innovations crept into the Muslim community. Most of these were due to the influence of polytheist and pagan circumstances in which Muslims lived.
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