Shaykh Sulayman Al-Ruhayli حفظه الله said:
The methodology of the Salaf which is the clear straight path and in which there is knowledge and righteous actions [In this Manhaj] we are are in need of three matters:
1) Having knowledge about the Manhaj.
2) Following the Manhaj.
3) Remaining firm and steadfast upon this Manhaj.
How many Muslims there are who have not found the way to this Manhaj. They do not know this Manhaj at all. Either because it was not easy for them to gain knowledge. They could not find anyone to teach them.
Dear brothers, there may be a major scholar, but it has not been possible for him to learn about the correct Manhaj, the Manhaj of the Pious predecessors.
For example, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Hazm Az-Zahiri, all of you know him, [he is] from the major scholars. In fiqh he is Zahiri relying on the apparent meaning of the evidences in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and exaggerating in this regards and in spite if that, when it comes to Aqidah, he is confused. So in regards to Allah’s names and attributes: sometimes he affirms them, sometimes he negates and at other times he distorts.
Because he could not find the way of this path. It was not possible for him to find someone to teach him the methodology of the Salaf in Aqidah. So one must have knowledge…
We said that a person might not know this Manhaj it was either not possible for him to gain this knowledge…
He could not find anyone to teach him or due to him turning away.
He turns away and he does not want to learn this Manhaj. So one must have knowledge.
The second matter: one must follow this Manhaj. How many people had knowledge, but they did not follow. He knows this correct Manhaj, but he did not follow it.
And following the Manhaj requires the third matter and that is to remain firm and steadfast.
As long as a person is alive, he is not safe from Fitnah (trials & tribulations) and beware of ever saying, “I, I” Be cautious in your journey for indeed you are travelling upon a thorny land.
A person should not feel safe from Fitnah and who can feel safe from Fitnah after Ibrahim (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? He supplicated to his Lord saying, “And keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols”. He did not feel safe from Fitnah so how about other than him?!
And this is why you must ask Allah to keep you firm and you must adhere to means that will aid you in remaining steadfast.
This Manhaj that we are discussing, its governing principle is the verse, “And verily, this is my straight path, so follow it”. And its boundaries is the sayings of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, “Guide us to the straight way. The Way of those whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)”.
We have mentioned that one must have knowledge, for indeed the one who does not know will go astray.
And the one who knows, but does not act, is upon the path of those who have earned Allah’s Anger.
Therefore in these verses and this supplication is the complete affair, “Guide us to the straight way. The Way of those whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)”.
Translated by: Yasar A. Rahman