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Ibn Mandhoor in Lisan Al-Arab and Al-Fayrozaabaadee in Al-Qaamoos Al-Muheet: The Meaning of the Word 'Al-Salaf'
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Ascription

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In the classical and authoratitive dictionaries and lexicons of the Arabic language, the usage of the word 'Salaf' is explained to mean the exemplary model of the first generations, again indicating that the notion of "Salafiyyah" is not an innovation or invention of later centuries but was a matter already known. Ibn Mandhoor (d. 711H) said in Lisan al-Arab under the entry of (سلف), explaining the usage of the word 'Salaf':

And for (the word) 'al-Salaf' there are two other meanings: The first of them, that everything of righteous actions presented by a servant, or a son he puts forth, then he (the father) is for him a 'salaf' (precedent), and he (the father) has left for him (the son) righteous actions (as a precedent). And (the second) 'al-Salaf' (refers to) whoever preceded you from your forefathers and your relatives who are senior to you in age and virtue, its singular is 'Saalif'...

And a little later, he says:

And it is said 'the salaf of a person' is whoever preceded him in death from his fathers and near relatives, and for this reason the first generation of the Taabi'een (successors) were called 'al-Salaf al-Saalih' ...

And al-Fayrozaabaadee (d. 817H) stated in al-Qaamoos al-Muheet:

ومنه : عبد الرحمن بن عبد الله السلفي المحدث , وآخرون منسوبون إلى السلف

And from (its usage): Abd al-Rahmaan bin Abdallaah al-Salafi the Muhaddith (Hadith Scholar), and others (who are) ascribed to the Salaf.



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