There has appeared in recent times misguided ignoramuses and deviants who have grabbed a few sentences of the Shaikh, the ‘Allāmah Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullāh) and claimed that the Shaikh warned against the Salafis and described them as a hizb (a partisan group). Some of our youth have asked us: “How is this possible when he is from the scholars of Salafiyyah and is well-known for refuting ahlul-bid’ah? How is it possible that a scholar of Salafiyyah, such as Al-Imām Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, would warn against Salafis whilst he is from their Imāms and a Salafi himself?” So, I will respond here to those who have taken advantage of the speech of Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, and they shamelessly misapply his words to refer to other Salafi scholars and their students, and especially against the Allāmah, Rabee’ Ibn Hādi Al-Madkhali (hafidhahullāh) and his students.
Firstly, I say it is impossible that Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen would criticise Salafiyyah because he himself was upon Salafiyyah and his teachers were upon Salafiyyah and taught the books of the scholars of Salafiyyah.
Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh) was asked: “What is the intent of the term Salaf?” He responded: “The Salaf: Its meaning is those who preceded. Whoever precedes another, then he is a Salaf to him. However, when the term ‘Salaf’ is applied unrestrictedly, then it refers to the three virtuous generations: The Sahābah, the Tābi’een, and those who followed them. They are the Salaf As-Sālih (the Righteous Predecessors). And whoever comes after them and follows their Methodology (Manhaj), then he is like them, upon the Path of the Salaf, even if he comes later after them in time. That is because the term Salafiyyah refers to the Methodology (Minhāj) that the Salaf As-Sālih traversed upon, may Allah be pleased with them just as the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: ‘Indeed my Ummah will divide into 73 sects, all of them will be in the Fire except for one and that is the Jamā’ah.’ And in a narration, he stated about the Saved Sect: ‘Whoever is upon that which I and my Companions are upon.’ Built upon this, therefore, is the fact that the term Salafiyyah has a restricted meaning.
So, whoever is upon the Minhāj of the Sahābah, the Tābi’een and those who followed them precisely, then he is a Salafi, even if he lives our times. And this is now the fourteenth Century after the Hijrah.” 
Also, Al-‘Allamah Ibn ‘Uthaymeen stated in his Sharh Al-‘Aqeedah Al-Wāsitiyyah: “Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah they are the Salaf in their belief. Even the one who comes later until the Day of Resurrection; if he is upon the Path of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam) and his Companions, then he is Salafi.”
So, Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was an Imām, a Salafi, who affirmed the Salafi ‘Aqeedah and defended it – none would doubt that except one who Allah has left blinded.
As for the speech of Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) that is used by the Hizbies, and their tail-ends from the Mumayyi’ah (those who seek to dilute the Salafi Manhaj and ‘Aqeedah), then they refer what was stated by the Shaikh in Liqā’āh Al-Bāb Al-Maftooh (3/246):
“As for taking Salafiyyah as a specific methodology such that a person singles himself out with it; and then declares the one who opposes him from the Muslims to be astray even if that Muslim is upon the truth; and [also] taking Salafiyyah like a partisan methodology, then no doubt, this is in opposition to [true] Salafiyyah.
The Salaf, all of them, called to agreement and uniting around the Sunnah of the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam); and they would not declare as astray those who opposed them due to an interpretation; unless it was in matters of ‘Aqeedah. They would regard the one who opposed them in ‘Aqeedah to be astray.
As for knowledge-based matters [other than the ‘Aqeedah] then they would be much lighter concerning them. However, some in our times who ascribe to Salafiyyah declare any person who oppose them to be astray, even if the truth is with him. Some have taken Salafiyyah as a partisan methodology just as the methodology of the other parties have done who ascribe themselves to the religion of Islam – and this is what is rebuked and cannot possibly be agreed with.”
Who was Ibn ‘Uthaymeen referring to here? Was it Shaikh Rabee’ or his students and their refutations? Read till the end of this article, and judge for yourself.
So, this speech of Shaikh ‘Uthaymeen is correct and in its place referring to those who claim Salafiyyah and oppose its principles from the following aspects:
1. Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen stated about those who falsely ascribe their conduct to Salafiyyah: “And then he declares the one who opposes him from the Muslims to be astray even if that Muslim is upon the truth.” The truthful Salafi scholars and the students of knowledge are free from this behaviour. And we do not know from our Scholars anyone who declares a man to be misguided if the truth is with him. And if this was to take place wherein one of the shaikhs or a student of knowledge was to fall into an error, then the other Shaikhs and students would oppose him in his mistake and rebuke him, and call for him to rectify. So, this would be pointed out as an error and not accepted by the rest of the Scholars or students of knowledge – and this is well-known from the conduct of Ahlus-Sunnah, Ahlul-Hadeeth past and present.
It is possible that a particular individual can be erroneous in his judgement upon another; but as for Ahlus-Sunnah, the Salafiyyoon gathering together upon a mistake and accusing someone falsely to be misguided, then this is not possible. We say to those who accuse the Salafiyyoon to bring an example of a man the Salafiyyoon have oppressed and declared misguided whilst the truth was with him? So, this in itself proves the falsehood of their claim and the false application of the statement of Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.
2. Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh) made a very important exception that the Hizbies and the Mumayyi’ah (who wish to dilute the Salafi Manhaj and ‘Aqeedah) ignore, wherein he said that the early Salaf, “would not declare as astray those who opposed them due to an interpretation; unless it was in matters of ‘Aqeedah. And they would regard the one who opposed them in ‘Aqeedah to be astray.”
And this is what Ibn ‘Uthaymeen and the rest of the Salafi Scholars are upon. The scholars make allowances for differences in interpretation that were known among the Sahābah and those who followed them; but no allowance is made for oppositions to the Usool (foundations) of the Religion, in the ‘Aqeedah and Manhaj. And this is in those matters wherein the Salaf of this Ummah did not allow differing.
Furthermore, it is possible for a scholar of the Sunnah to err even in matters of ‘Aqeedah without intending that, due to a misconception, misunderstanding and a genuine misinterpretation based upon ijtihād because the truth did not reach him, and the mistake was not clarified for him, and then he passed away while his adherence to the Book and Sunnah and the Madhhab of the Salaf was known. Such a scholar is excused for his error. So, it is said that he erred but is not an innovator. See below the speech of Ibn ‘Uthaymeen concerning Ibn Hajr and An-Nawawi (rahimahumallāh), both of whom erred in the ‘Aqeedah.
3. Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen certainly did not intend the likes of Shaikh Rabee’, Shaikh Muhammad Amān Al-Jāmi (rahimahullah) and others from the scholars as the Hizbies and Mumayyi’ah assert.
So, this claim of theirs is invalidated by a clear statement of Ibn ‘Uthaymeen in a tape entitled It-hāf Al-Karām recorded in ‘Unayzah (Saudi Arabia) after a lecture by Shaikh Rabee’ (hafidhahullāh) entitled Al-I’tisām bil-Kitābi was-Sunnah. So Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimhullāh) said:
“We praise Allah, the One free of all imperfections and Most High, that He has made it easy for our brother, Doctor Rabee’ Ibn Hādi Al-Madkhali to visit this region so that the one to whom some of the affairs were obscure comes to know that our brother, may Allah grant us and him guidance and success, is upon Salafiyyah, the path of the Salaf. I do not mean by Salafiyyah that it is a party established to oppose other than it from among the Muslims. Rather, I intend by Salafiyyah that he (Shaikh Rabee’) is upon the Path of the Salaf in his Manhaj, and especially in actualising Tawheed and opposing whatever contradicts it.
We all know that Tawheed is the basis and foundation upon which Allah sent his Messengers, may the peace of Allah be upon them all. The visit of our brother, Shaikh Rabee’ Ibn Hādi to this region, and specifically to our town of ‘Unayzah will have a good effect, no doubt. It will become clear to many from the people that which was obscured due to intimidation, circulation of rumours and letting loose the tongues [to create discord]. And how many are those who are regretful regarding what they said about the Scholars after it becomes clear to them that the scholars are upon the truth.” 
This is Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen declaring the innocence of Shaikh Rabee’ from the hizbiyyah (partisanship) of those who ascribe themselves falsely to Salafiyyah. So, those who accuse Shaikh Rabee’ and accuse us of being upon a Salafiyyah that is, in reality, an exclusive partisan sect (hizb) are refuted here by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh) who states in no uncertain terms: “I do not mean by Salafiyyah that it is a party established to oppose other than it from among the Muslims. Rather, I intend by Salafiyyah that he (Shaikh Rabee’) is upon the Path of the Salaf in his Manhaj.”
So, if Shaikh Rabee’ is free from this accusation of a hizb that ascribes to Salafiyyah, then surely the same applies to the students of Shaikh Rabee’ and those who around Shaikh Rabee’ and those praised by Shaikh Rabee’! Or do our detractors believe that we are separate from Shaikh Rabee’ (and Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen) in our call, our Manhaj and our ‘Aqeedah? In which case we say to them, “Bring to us your proofs if you are truthful.”
In another speech of Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh), he was asked: “What is your advice for the person who forbids others from listening to the tapes of Shaikh Rabee’ Ibn Hādi claiming that he spreads fitnah and that in those tapes he praises the rulers of the Kingdom?”
Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen answered: “Our opinion is that this person is wrong and greatly mistaken. Shaikh Rabee’ is from the Scholars of the Sunnah and from the people of goodness. His ‘Aqeedah is sound and correct, and his Manhaj is straight and proper. However, when he speaks against some of the figureheads of some of the people from those who have appeared lately, they try to discredit him with these accusations.” 
4. Since Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen clearly did not intend Shaikh Rabee’ in any criticism, and that in fact, he agreed with him. Then who did Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen intend? Then that also seems clear for the one who understands the dynamics of the da’wah and the plots of those who try and infiltrate its ranks. Take for example, the sect known as the Haddādiyyah who claim outward attachment to Salafiyyah. From their foremost characteristics is that they unjustly rush to declare people to be misguided and innovators without a justified reason, without establishing the evidence and the Usool of Salafiyyah, and by going to excess. Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullāh) said about such people: “There sprouted two or three years ago new up-shoots who started attacking these two men (Ibn Hajr and An-Nawawi) severely and harshly. They said: ‘It is obligatory to burn to the books Fathul-Bāri of Ibn Hajr and Sharh Saheeh Muslim of An-Nawawi.’ And I seek refuge with Allah [from that]. How can a person have the audacity to utter this speech except due to being self-deluded, amazed with himself and harbouring rancour and hatred towards others?!” 
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said about An-Nawawi (rahimahullāh): “An-Nawawi (rahimhullāh) erred by falsely interpreting the verses of the Attributes of Allah. So, do we say: ‘The man is an innovator?’ Rather, we say: His speech is bid’ah but he is not an innovator, because he, in reality, is one who has the excuse of interpretation. So, if such a person errs while making ijtihād (striving to reach the truth), then he still has one reward. So, how can we describe him as being an innovator and cause the people to flee from him.” He also said: “As for the second Hāfidh, Ibn Hajr (rahimahullāh); that which has reached me is that he wavered in matters. Sometimes he would take the Madhhab of the Salaf (with the Attributes of Allah) and at other time he would walk the path of interpreting [the Attributes] which we see as distortion [of them]. Is it permitted to revile the likes of these two men? No, never. However, we do not accept their mistakes. Their errors are one thing, and their striving for the truth (ijtihād) is something else.” 
This, therefore, is the difference between Ahlus-Sunnah, the Salafis who truly follow the way of the Salaf and the false claimants. Shaikh Rabee’ was the first of all the scholars to refute the Haddādiyah, and he has not ceased to warn against them till this day.
As for those callers who choose misguidance over guidance, after the truth is made clear, and persist in opposing the Usool (principles) that the Salaf were united upon, meaning those principles recorded in the books of ‘Aqeedah from the early times, then such a person is considered to be misguided, and upon bid’ah. And his stubborn persistence upon innovation renders him an innovator. And if he calls to his misguidance then he is warned against. This was the Methodology of the Salaf and continues to be the Methodology of the Salafi Scholars of these times. For this reason, Al-‘Allāmah, Shaikh Sālih Al-Fawzān (hafidhahullāh) said:
“Those who ascribe themselves to the da’wah today, then among them are those who lead others astray. They desire to deviate the youth, and to turn the people away from the true Religion, and to divide the jamā’ah of the Muslims and to lead them into fitnah. So, the issue is not about ascriptions or what they make apparent. Rather, consideration is given to the true realities, and the end result.
Individuals who ascribe themselves to the da’wah (of the Salaf), then it is obligatory to look into their credentials. Where did they study? From whom did they take knowledge? Where were they raised? What is their ‘Aqeedah? Look at their deeds, and their effect upon the people and what they produce of good. And what comes about from their actions in terms of rectification?
It is obligatory to study their condition before one is tricked and deceived by their speech and what they make apparent. This affair is a must, especially in these times wherein the callers to fitnah are numerous – and the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) described the callers to fitnah (and misguidance) by saying: ‘They are from our people and speak with our language.’” 
Furthermore, Shaikh Al-Fawzān was asked: “Does the labelling of oneself as Salafi necessitate partisanship (tahazzub)?”
The Shaikh answered: “The labelling of oneself with Salafiyyah, if it is true, is not a problem. But if it is merely a claim, then it is not permissible for a person to label himself with Salafiyyah when he is upon other than the Manhaj of the Salaf.
The Ash’aris, for example, say ‘we are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah.’ And this is not true because what they are upon is not the Manhaj of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, and likewise is the case with the Mu’tazilah who label themselves as Muwahhideen (people of Tawheed).
As the poem states: ‘Everyone claims to be the love of Laylā, but Laylā herself accepts none of them.’
So, the one who claims that he is upon the Madhhab of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, then he follows the Path of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, and he abandons the opposers (mukhālifeen). As for the person who wishes to unite the lizard and the fish, as they say – meaning, that he seeks to unite the animals of the land with animals of the sea, altogether, then this is not possible; or that he wants to gather fire and water in the same pan.
It is not possible to unite Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah with the madhhabs of those who oppose them, such as the Khawārij, the Mu’tazilah, the Hizbies from those who they call themselves ‘Contemporary Muslims’. So, he wishes to unite the misguided ones of this age with the Methodology of the Salaf, but [we say to him], ‘The latter part of this Ummah will not be rectified except by that which rectified its early part.’ So, it is important to distinguish matters and clarify them.” 
 Fatawa Noor ‘Alad-Darb 4/2 upon the numbering of Shamela.  See Ath-Thanā al-Badee’ of Shaikh Khalid Adh-Dhufeeri.  Source: Kashf Al-Lithām ‘an Mukhālafāt Ahmad Salām.  Source: Sharhul-Arba’een An-Nawawiyyah, explanation of hadeeth 28; see also Kutub wa Rasā’il of ‘Uthaymeen 34/15, with the numbering of Shamela.  Source: Sharhul-Arba’een An-Nawawiyyah, explanation of hadeeth 28; see also Kutub wa Rasā’il of ‘Uthaymeen 34/15, with the numbering of Shamela.  Al-Ijābāt Al-Muhimmah, pp. 37-38.  Al-Ajwibah Al-Mufeedah ‘an As’ilah Al-Manāhij Al-Jadeedah, p. 35-39.