The Salaf and their books were more superior and more virtuous than those that came after them. The Salaf had more knowledge and their speech was short, crisp, and straight to the point. It has been narrated that the Khawārij were afraid to debate with Ibn ʿAbbās because he was very knowledgeable. The Salaf had more warāʿ (leaving off things out of fear of Allāh though they may be permissible). ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz told the people not to argue with a person who wants to argue with you. He mentioned the ones who argue a lot, tend to change positions a lot.
It has been stated that people have become bored of ʿibādah and have began to love speaking a lot. There are some who have been afflicted with the idea where the one who talks a lot, authors a lot of books, and argues a lot is deemed knowledgeable. To the extent that one may say, “How can he be wrong if he wrote so many books?” The Salaf did not speak a lot, though they had total perception, and they were stronger in research. They knew very well the harms and illnesses of arguing and debating. Ibn Masʿūd stated the Salaf were righteous in their hearts, deep in their knowledge, and were the least to be pretentious. Imām Mālik compared the one who talks a lot to be like an animal.
Allāh says in the Qurʾān:
وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ الرَّسُولَ مِن بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْهُدَى وَيَتَّبِعْ غَيْرَ سَبِيلِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِ مَا تَوَلَّى وَنُصْلِهِ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“And whoever contraḍīcts and opposes the Messenger (Muḥammad, may Āllah raise his rank and grant him peace) 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”
[Sūrah al-Nisāʾ, 4:115]
The Messenger of Allāh left us upon a clear path; its night is like its day. It has been narrated that Shaykh Rabīʿ would say often, “O Allāh, save your dīn, O Allāh, save this daʿwah, verily you are the one who answers duʿāʾ.”