Question: We were informed that you detested twenty years ago what Al-Albani rahimahullah called for in some of his lectures in Madinah surrounding the issue of using the name Salafiyyah. You said this was an innovation and today we hear you often approving the ascription to a Salafiyyah. Is this an itjtihaad from you or is it obligatory upon a Muslim to ascribe himself to the Salaf-us-Saalih? Jazakallahu Khairan
Answer: “The report did not come upon the correct form, Barakallahu Feek. The report was that Shaikh Al-Albani was called to give an advice to the Ikhwaan. So the Shaikh occupied much time in calling to Salafiyyah and his meaning was: it is not allowed for a person to say: I am a Sunni because you will find one who claims to be a Sunni and he is an innovator. So what is more accurate is [to use] the term Salafiyyah.
We also say: it is necessary for the Dawah be more spacious so that the people accept it with the utmost acceptance. I say that the Shaikh was not successful in that sitting because he wasted much time in this and also in the manner of moving the finger. He wasted much time in this. I ask Allah to preserve our Shaikh and to defend him and us from every evil and affliction.
So what is important is that we said from that time until now: there is no harm that you say: I am Salafi, however, what is the meaning of Salafiyyah? There is no harm for you to say: I’m Sunni, but what is the meaning of Sunniyyah? We do not say it is not permitted to say: I’m Sunni because this is found in al-Ansaab of As-Sam’aani. And in Allah aid is sought.
This is what happened and we desire that the Dawah is more spacious than this and we do not prohibit or dislike that it is said: So and So is Salafi. However, we say: whether he is named Salafi or named Sunni, we do not busy our time with these names. These are not important. What is important is calling people to the Book and Sunnah. And in Allah aid is sought”.
[Taken from: http://www.muqbel.net/fatwa.php?fatwa_id=2899%5D
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir ibn Hassan