Question: It has become frequent on the tongues of the people that so and so is “Salafee” and so and so is “not Salafee” so what is meant by the Salafee Manhaj, and who are the most predominant callers to it from the ‘Ulamaa of the Muslims? And is it permissible to call them Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah or the Saved Sect? Also wouldn’t this be considered a Tazkiyah (praise) of oneself?”
Answer: The meaning behind the Salafee Manhaj is that which the Salaf (predecessors) of this ummah were upon, from the Sahaabah, the Tabi’een and those esteemed Imaams from correct ‘Aqeedah, sound Manhaj and true Eemaan as well as strictly adhering to Islaam based upon Aqeedah, the legislation, etiquettes and (good) manners. In contrast to that which the Mubtadi’ah, the deviant and astray are upon.
From the most predominant callers to the Salafee Manhaj are the four Imaams (Abu Haneefah, Imaam Maalik, Imaam Shafi’ee and Imaam Ahmad), Shaykhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyah, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdul Wahaab and his students and other than them from every rectifier and reformist as there is no time period except that there is someone who establishes the [call to the truth] for Allaah.
There is no problem in them calling themselves Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah distinguishing themselves from those who follow deviant Mathaahib and this is not a Tazkiyah (praise) of oneself but indeed it is only a distinction of the people of truth from the people of Baatil.
[Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan al-Fowzaan, Al Muntaqaa Min Fataawa As Shaykh Saalih Al Fawzaan:1/459]