The Salaf and Traditional Knowledge, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad


The period of the Salaf (the first three generations) of Muslims, is not a madhhab of fiqh or a singular madhhab of aqeeda. It is a period of time with many variances and scholarly nuances within the scope of what people refer to today as “traditional knowledge”. There is no one ‘Salaf” school of thought when it comes to Islamic law. Lol.

The Salaf period comprises over 257 years of history from the first year of the hijrah, to the death of the last of the taabbi taabi’een (the generation after the generation after the companions of the Prophet (SAWS). You can even add the previous 13 years in Mecca, but most scholars don’t for historical recording purposes.   

The last of the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) to die was Abu Tufail Aamir ibn Waathila al-Laithee who died in Mecca in the year 110 of the hijrah. He was 107 years old. The last of the taabi’een to die was Khalf ibn Khaleefa who grew up in Kufa and died in Baghdad in the year 181 of the hijra, he was over 100 years old, The last of the generation after the taabi’een (the third generation) to die was al-Hasan ibn Ar’fah who was from Baghdad. He died in the year 257 of the hijra, he was the last person to narrate from Khalf ibn Khaleefa, he was about 110 years old.

The scholarship of the Salaf alone represents two and a half centuries of regional and sometimes very geographical specific scholarship.

There were scholars from the Hijaz, scholars from Basra, Kufah, Baghdad, Khorasan, Syria, Samaraquind, Yemen and other places. They all, if they fit in the time frame, were considered scholars of the ‘Salaf’. They didnt have internet, did not all share the same views, and did not always share the same methodology. Some of them did not even get along. That is history.

It is important that when people say traditional knowledge this, or traditional knowledge that, you know what you are talking about and not simply regurgitating another trendy new “sound bite” of modern-day Islamic parlance.

And Allah knows best. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad. Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, in Toledo Ohio. His views here represent his own and not those of Toledo Masjid al-Islam. He can be contacted at, imamabulaith@yahoo.com


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