While our group was in Medinah on the 2006 Rihla, there was a Salafi convention in the hotel at the same time and, despite the majority of them were good people, I heard some “interesting” things from the bad apples. Just a note: every group has its bad apples so in this post I’m not hating on Salafis.
One time I walk into the elevator and I hear something about “not having a Salafi mosque yet.” I dislike this idea very very much. Mosques are not built for Salafis, Sufis, Shafis, Hanafis, or any other Muslim group. Mosques are built for Muslims. To differentiate oneself in such a manner only causes fitna. I would never pray in a so called “Salafi Mosque” even if it was on a Friday and it was the only one in town. I would pray in a Muslim mosque whether the khatib is Salafi, Sufi, Shafi’, Hanafi, or any other group you can name that is ahlul sunna wa jama’. But because the intention of a “Salafi Mosque” is not to build the mosque for the sake of Allah but rather for the furthering of a methodology. Even though certain extremist elements within the Salafi movement think that by preserving and furthering their methodology in this manner they are serving Allah they are only causing fitna.
Another thing I heard was the phrase “befriending the people of innovation.” I do not think that following following a mathhab or a sufi tariqa is sinful. They might think it is but that is their way and this is ours. Each to his own. As long as one does not do anything that causes disbelief then they are Muslim and should be treated as such and according to their station. Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf released a CD called Etiquettes of Disagreement and I think that Muslims should listen to it because as long as we sit here with labels such as Salafi, Sufi, etc. then we will always be in a state of fitna and that is one of the problems plaguing this ummah that we really need to get over if we are to be successful. Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided cannot stand.” Certainly these labels exist and will come up frequently. They become problematic when the Sufi forgets the Salafi is Muslim and acts accordingly and vice verse.
The last problem I had in the elevator was when I was walking towards it and I see a sister from our group (I think she was carrying a Rihla tote bag or something) walking out of the elevator looking very distressed. I walk into the elevator and there are some Salafis laughing about how they beat her in an argument over Aqida, from what I gather. I was very angry at this (and you will see that I lost myself). How can two Muslims cause and laugh at the distress of another Muslim? So as I got off I told them there would be a Hadra upstairs at night to make them angry (I lost myself in my anger). It worked and they started asking me where Allah is. I gave the standard Ash’ari proofs and they tried to close the elevator door on me. I should not have done that but, like I said, every group has its bad apples. Please make dua’ that Allah forgives me and makes me a better believer. We sometimes get swept up in our own methodologies to the point where we just forget we’re all Muslims. This is a terrible calamity, especially in these times. How can we defeat the enemies of Islam when then Muslims are their own enemies. I see this at some sufi gatherings too so, again, I’m not only hating on Salafis. It just happened that it was a Salafi convention. Most of the students had positive experiences with them so for the most part we got along fine.
Long story short: if this ummah wants to get anywhere, then we must unite and get over our differences and move forward. Certain groups within Islam may disagree with each other but we must remember we are all Muslims. I think I said everything I needed to. May Allah put wisdom in this and many people benefit from it.
Edit: but if you really think someone is misguided, make dua’ for them and yourself because everyone is in need of dua’ at all times.