Salafiyyah is the correct Islaam, the Original Affair, The saved sect, the Aided group & is what Allaah revealed to His Messenger before the emergence of all the Deviant sects.
The Messenger of Allaah salallaahu alaihi wa sallam said: “I am a blessed Salaf for you,” and Salafiyyah is taking the Messenger as Imam in ‘aqeedah, Manhaj, Character, Manner of worship & Understanding the entire Religion- each ayah and hadeeth- as he (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) explained it to his Companions.
Linguistically, the Salaf are those who preceded, as Imam an-Nawawee rahimahullaah and many other scholars rahimahullaah have explained. The Salaf are:
1) Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) & all the Sahabah
2) Then the tabi’een
3) Then the atba’ at-Tabi’een
And this is in accordance to the statement of the Prophet salallaahu alaihi wa sallam: The best of mankind is my generation; then those who come after them; then those who come after them. [Bukharee & Muslim]
And the Salafee is the one who follows them in belief, methodology, da’wah, ‘ibaadah, manners, and character. So Salafiyyah is a connection to the Salaf.
“The jews split into 71 sects. The Christians split into 72 sects. This Ummah will split into 73 sects, ALL of them will be in the fire EXCEPT ONE. They (the Sahabah) said: “Who are they (that saved sect), oh Messenger of Allaah?” He (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) said: They are the ones who are upon what I and my companions are upon.[Aboo Dawood, Ibn Majah, Ahmad]
Shaykh ‘Ubayd al-Jaabiree (hafidhahullah) said: “And ad-Da’watus-Salafiyyah is understanding the Qur’an and Sunnah as Allaah and His Messenger (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) have commanded us to do so. And it is doing what Allaah and His Messenger have commanded us to do, desiring the reward that is with Allaah. And it is staying away from that which Allaah and His Messenger have prohibited, fearing the punishment of Allaah. Salafiyyah isn’t a new terminology; rather It is old.
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Salih al-’Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said: “As-Salafiyyah is following the methodology of the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) and his Companions, because he (salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) is from our Salaf. The Companions are those who preceded us, therefore following them is Salafiyyah.
[Liqa al-Baab al-Maftooh, Q.1322]
And in the 4th Volume of Majmoo’ al-Fataawa of Shaikh-ul-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah, pg.149, he (rahimahullaah) said:
There’s no shame upon the one who manifests the way of the Salaf, and affliates himself to it (calling himself ‘Salafi); rather it is wajib to accept that from him by concensus. Verily, the way of the Salaf is nothing but the truth. So the one who is upon that and manifests it outwardly and inwardly, then he is as the Mu’min (believer) upon the truth apparently and inwardly. And he who is upon it apparently and NOT INWARDLY, then he is as a Munafiq (Hypocrite), he is upon the truth apparently only.
Allaah, subhanahu wa ta’ala says:
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad salallaahu alaihi wa sallam) after the right path has been shown clearly to him- and follow other than the believers (companions) way- We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell. What an evil destination. [An-Nisa’ , ayah 115)