Who are the First Three Generations
The first three generations are the early Muslims and the best of mankind, these generations are referred to in both Quran and Sunnah (Authentic Ahadith) of RasulAllah salalahu alayhi wasallam.
Surah atTaubah-9:100. And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.
Surah An-Nisa-4:115. And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad salalahu alayhi wasallam) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.
Surah al Baqarah-2:137. So if they believe in the like of that which you believe, then they are rightly guided, but if they turn away, then they are only in opposition. So Allah will suffice you against them. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.
From the Sunnah (Authentic Ahadith);
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them. Then, there will come people after them whose testimony precedes their oaths and their oaths precede their testimony.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6065, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2533
Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi (authenticity agreed upon) according to Al-Bukhari and Muslim
What is the composition of the First Three Generations
The first generation is made up of Rasulallah salalahu alayhi wasalam and his Companions (Sahabah)
Second Generation (Tabein)
The second generation is made up of the Tabein. These are the students of the Companions of Rasulallah salalahu alayhi wasalam.
Third Generation (Taba aTabein)
The third generation is made up of the Taba-aTabein. These are the students of the Tabein
The Obligation to follow the First Three Generations
Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “I enjoin you to follow my companions, then those after them and those after them. Thereafter, falsehood will spread until a man offers his oath without being asked and a witness gives testimony without being asked. No doubt, a man is not in seclusion with a woman but that Satan is the third of them. Hold fast to the community and beware of division, for Satan is with one alone and he is further from two together. Whoever wants the best place in Paradise, let him hold fast to the community. Whoever rejoices with his good deeds and is saddened by his evil deeds is the believer among you.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2165
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
From both the verses of Quran and Sunnah (Authentic Ahadith) we gain insight as to the importance of the first three generations and as well the obligation to follow and emulate their actions and their practices of Islam.
The ahadith as well carries a warning not emulate the practices, actions, and understandings of Islam which are not from the first three generations, as therein will be a deviation from the truth.
The methodology of deriving fiqh is therefore found in the DNA, the template, and that is the first three generations.
Few would also refer to these three generations as the Salaf aSaliheen, and would follow the Aqeedah and Methodology of the Salaf (Salaf aSaliheen)
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