Salafi is derived from Arabic root verb Seen Lam Fa. SLF has different meanings according to context, such as lending money or telling a story. In general terms in Arabic, Salafi means early day Muslims, the period between the death of prophet Mohammed to 400 years later. Some prominent Salafi scholars include Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi'i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Anyone who died after this period is one of the khalaf or latter day Muslims.

Al-Salaf refers to the companions of the prophet (Sahabah), their followers (Tabi'en), and the followers of the followers. Mohammed praised these generations in the following hadeeth, "The best of people is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them." (Bukhari and Muslim).

Below list are referred to as salafi: (numbers are date of death in Hijri).

Abu Hanifa (150)
al-Awzai (157)
ath-Thawn (161)
al-Laith bin Sad (175)
Malik bin Anas (179)
Abdullah bin al-Mubarak(181)
Sufyan bin Uyainah (198)
Shafi'i (204)
Is'haq (238)
Ahmad bin Hanbal (241)
Bukhari (256)
Muslim (261)
Abu Dawud (275)

Prominent followers of salafi teaching after the 400 years period:

Ibn Taymiyyah (728)
adth-Dthahabi (748)
Ibn ul-Qayyim (751)
Ibn Kathir (774)
Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab (1206)