What or who is Salaf?
The manhaj (methodology) of the Salaf is to adhere to the Qur'aan and the authentic Sunnah as understood by the Salaf as-Saalih.
The word Salaf is a shortened version of the word 'Salaf as-Saalih', which means the 'Righteous Predecessors'.
It refers specifically to the first three generations of Islaam in which the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) described as being the best generations of Muslims. The first, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his Sahaabah (companions). The second, the Taabi'een (the followers of the companions). The third, the Tabaa'at-Taabi'een (the followers of the followers of the companions).
Generally, this term refers to all those pious predecessors who followed the way of the Salaf and who have preceded us in time. This is the true manhaj of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa'ah.
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>>How they prayedFrom the lives of our pious predecessors:
UMAR (radiallaahu anhu) became unconscious after he was stabbed, and it was said: “Nothing would wake him up except the call to prayer, if he is still alive.” They said to him, “The prayer has finished, O Leader of the Believers!” He woke up and said, “The prayer, by Allah! Verily, there is no share in Islam for whoever abandons the prayer.” He performed the prayer while his wound was bleeding. (Sifat As-Safwah 2/131, As-Siyar 5/220)
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“If you do not find any sweetness and relaxation in your heart from a [good] deed, then you should suspect your heart. Verily, Allâh is grateful. That is, He must reward the doer of the deed for his deed in this world by a sweetness he finds in his heart, a stronger feeling of relaxation and a joy in his eyes. If the person does not find these things, it means that something has entered upon his deed [and made it not correct and purely for Allâh’s sake].” [Ibn Qayyim, Madârij, Vol. 2, P. 68]
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**10 Points on the Salafee Manhaj**
1. We worship Allaah by way of Tawheed. So we do not supplicate to anyone besides Allaah nor do we seek refuge in anyone besides Him in matters of bringing about good or repelling some harm. We perform worship by having hatred and enmity for the polytheists. However, we are obligated to call them to Tawheed first and clarify to them that there is no Islaam without Tawheed and that whoever calls unto other than Allaah has committed disbelief. So whoever persists after that, then at that point we are obligated to distance ourselves from him and hate him for the sake of Allaah.
2. The Creed of the Salaf is established upon the principle that "Allaah is described with what He has described himself with in His Book and upon the tongue of His Messenger (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), without resorting to tahreef, tamtheel, tashbeeh, ta’teel or ta’weel." 
3. We affirm for Allaah the best of Names, which He has affirmed for Himself and which He has praised Himself with, whether they are mentioned in the Qur’aan or the Sunnah.
4. We believe that there is no path towards achieving Allaah’s contentment, or a way towards Paradise, except through the Way of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). And whoever seeks a way towards gaining Allaah’s contentment through other than the Way of Allaah’s Messenger,then he has gone astray and been blinded from the truth. And he has lost in this world and the next.
5. We believe that the Legislation of Allaah is what has been brought down through the two revelations: The Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). This is what our Lord has indicated in his saying: "Then we placed you on a Sharee'ah (Legislated System) based on Our Command, so follow it, and do not follow the desires of those who have no knowledge." [Surah Al-Jaathiyah: 18]
6. We believe that the Qur’aan is the Speech of Allaah, which was revealed and not created, and that the Sunnah is what explains and clarifies it. The Qur’aan is interpreted by the Sunnah and by the interpretations of the Sahaabah (Companions) and those who followed them in goodness. So the interpretation of the Qur’aan is by way of the narration, meaning by way of the Sahaabah, the Taabi’een and the Ahaadeeth concerning it. And the books that contain these interpretations are the ones we are obligated to acquire and read, such as the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer, the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer, the Tafseer of Al-Baghawee, the Tafseer "Ad-Durr Al-Manthoor" of As-Suyootee and so on.
7. We are obligated to take the Sunnah according to the way of the Muhadditheen - in terms of their authenticity or weakness. So we take what is found to be authentic and leave off what is weak.
8. We worship Allaah by obeying the rulers, as long as they are Muslims who seek judgement through Allaah’s Legislation and who establish the prescribed punishments, and as long as they establish the prayer. Obeying them is an obligation even if they commit oppression. And whoever says something contrary to this and makes it permissible to revolt against the Muslim leader, even if he may be oppressive, then he is an innovator and a deviant. And it is obligatory on the Muslim scholars to refute this statement of his and to expose his deviance.
9. We hold that it is not permissible to spread the faults of the leaders, because doing this influences and brings about trials and afflictions (fitan), and causes them to spread.
10. We are obligated to worship Allaah through the Sunnah, by following it and by loathing innovations and the innovators. This is based on the Prophet’s saying: "Whoever does a deed, which is not in accordance to our affair (i.e. the Sunnah) is rejected." And in another narration: "Whoever introduces into our affair (Sunnah) that which isn’t part of it is rejected."
***This is a summary and some brief words on the Creed of the Salaf, which we are obligated to accept and follow if we truly want salvation and the truth. And we must renounce those opinions of men, which cannot be traced back to any source of evidence, since men are known by way of the truth and the truth is not known by way of men. Lastly, we must beg and implore Allaah to show us the truth as true and enable us to follow it, and to show us the falsehood as false and enable us to avoid it. Indeed Allaah is Responsible for that and Able to make it happen. And may the peace and blessings of Allaah be on Muhammad - the best, most dutiful, most pious and purest of creation - and on his family and his Companions.
[By: Shaikh Ahmad bin Yahyaa An-Najmee|Al-Fataawaa al-Jaliyyah ‘anil-Manaahij Ad-Da’wiyyah (pg. 56-57)|Compiled by: Hasan Ibn Mahmood Ibn Mansoor ad-Daghreeri|Produced by: Al-Ibaanah.com]
 Translator’s Note: These are forbidden acts committed against Allaah’s Names and Attributes. Tahreef means to change or distort the wording of Allaah’s name or attribute. Tamtheel and tashbeeh means to give a like resemblance to a name or an attribute. Ta’teel means total denial of a name or an attribute. Ta’weel means to misinterpret a name or an attribute, thus changing it’s meaning.
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