The Term ‘salafi’ was used by the Prophet (s) himself
‘Aisha reported: We, the wives of Allaah’s Prophet (s) were with him (during his last illness) and none was absent there Fatima, who walked after the style of Allah’s Messenger (s) came there, and when he saw her he welcomed her saying: You are welcome, my daughter. He then made her sit on his right side or on his left side. Then he said something secretly to her and she wept bitterly and when he found her (plunged) in grief he said to her something secretly for the second time and she laughed.
I (‘A’isha) said to her: Allah’s Messenger has singled you amongst the women (of the family) for talking (to you something secretly) and you wept. When Allah’s Messenger (s) recovered from illness, I said to her. What did Allah’s Messenger (S) say to you?
Thereupon she said: I am not going to disclose the secret of Allah’s Messenger (s)
When Allah’s Messenger (s) died, I said to her: I adjure you by the right that I have upon you that you should narrate to me what Allah’s Messenger (s) said to you.
She said: Yes, now I can do that (so listen to it). When he talked to me secretly for the first time he informed me that Gabriel was in the habit of reciting the Qur’an along with him once every year, but this year it had been twice and so he perceived his death quite near, so fear Allah and be patient (and he told me) that he would be a befitting SALAF for me and so I wept as you saw me. And when he saw me in grief he talked to me secretly for the second time and said: Fatima, are you not pleased that you should be at the head of the believing women or the head of this Ummah? I laughed and it was that laughter which you saw.
Narrated ‘Aisha: He added, ‘But this year he (referring to Gabriel due to hadith in Sahih Muslim above) reviewed it with me twice, and therefore I think that my time of death has approached. So, be afraid of Allah, and be patient, for I am the best SALAF for you (in the Hereafter).’ “
Fatima added, “So I wept as you (‘Aisha) witnessed. And when the Prophet saw me in this sorrowful state, he confided the second secret to me saying, ‘O Fatima! Will you not be pleased that you will be chief of all the believing women (or chief of the women of this nation i.e. my followers?”
Ibn Taymiyah (rh) said:
“There is no criticism for the one who proclaims the way (madhab) of the SALAF, who attaches himself to it and refers to it. Rather, it is obligatory to accept that from him by unanimous agreement (Ittifaaq) because the way (madhab) of the SALAF is nothing but the Truth (Haqq).”
Imam Abu Haneefah (rh) said:
“Stick to the athaar (narrations) and the way of the SALAF and beware of newly invented matters, for all of it is innovation.”
Imam Ad Dhahabee (D.748H) said:
“It is authentically related from ad-Daaraqutnee that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than ‘ilmul-kalaam (innovated speech and theological rhetoric). I say: No person should ever enter into ‘ilmul–kalaam, nor argumentation. Rather, he should be SALAFEE (a follower of the Salaf).”
Adh-Dhahabee also said concerning the biography of Muhammad Ibn Muhammad al-Bahraanee, “He was a good SALAFEE with respect to the Religion.”
He also said about Imaam Abul-Abbaas bin Majd al-Maqdisi, “He was reliable and trustworthy, intelligent, SALAFI and pious…”
 Sahih Muslim, The Virtues of the Companions (Book 31), CHAPTER: THE MERITS OF FATIMA, DAUGHTER OF ALLAAH’S APOSTLE (SALLALLAAHU ALAYHI WA SALLAM), No. 6004]
 Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, The Book of Asking Permission, No. 5885]
 Majmoo al-Fataawaa 4:149
 Related by as-Suyootee in Sawnul-Mantaq wal-Kalaam (p.32)]
 Siyar 16/457]
 Mu’jamush-Shuyookh (2/280)]
 Siyar 23/118]