Question: Is there a difference between a Sunni and Salafi?
Answer: “No,no there is no difference between them. A man who is upright upon the Book and Sunnah is called a Sunni due to him following the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) and following the path of the Prophet (ﷺ).
فَعَلَيْكُمْ بِسُنَّتِي وَسُنَّةِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ الْمَهْدِيينَ، عَضُّوا عَلَيْهَا بِالنَّوَاجِذِ
So upon you is my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly guided Caliphs. Bite onto it with your molar teeth [Saheeh Musnad no. 938 ]
He is called a Salafi because he follows the Pious Predecessors (may Allah be pleased with them). In the same Hadith is also evidence for that. The origin of the word Salaf is what has preceded. A man who holds fast to the Book and the Sunnah according to the understanding of the Pious Predecessors is called a Salafi. This is because he follows the Salaf. So the affair is one and there is no difference between them. Each of them indicates holding fast to the Book and the Sunnah according to the understanding of the Pious Predecessors (may Allah be pleased with them). And that he is upon the straight path and he does not follow the crooked paths”
Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan