بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Q: Are the statements of imams and scholars of the salaf from the first three generations of Muslims a proof (legislative evidence) to be relied upon?
A: Their statements are a (relied upon) proof, if they are from the perspective of consensus. So whatever they had collective consensus upon as it relates to creed, worship, business transactions, etc is a proof, since the fundamental sources (of legislative) with Ahlus Sunnah are the Book, the Sunnah, and consensus.
However if the subject is not that which there is consensus, on the contrary there is differing pertaining to it, in such case what is binding upon the people of knowledge is the referencing of Allah’s Book and His Messenger’s Sunnah, and whatsoever is derived from these two textual sources as a proof to substantiate or disqualify this or that statement. Just as the Exalted says:
فإنْ تنازعتم في شيءٍ فردُّوه إلى الله و الرسول إنْ كنتم تؤمنون باللهِ و اليوم الأخر ذلك خيرٌ و أحسن تأويلاً
“…and if you all differ in anything, refer it back to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day that is best and more suitable for final determination.” [An-Nisaa: 59]
And He says:
و ما اختلفتم فيه من شيءٍ فحكمه إلى الله
” And in whatsoever you all differ, the decision (regarding it) is with Allah…” [Ash-Shura: 10]
This is our position as it relates to the statements of the imams of the salaf from the three virtuous generations.
Translated by Najeeb Al Anjelesi
Source: فتاوى فضيلة الشيخ ربيع بن هادي المدخلي