By applying several methods of traditional source criticism to Baytār's Hilya it becomes possible to make this source "speak" and provide some information about its author. It becomes clear that unequal access to wealth and power at Damascus cannot be seen as the major driving force behind the formation of a group of intellectuals who represented the first stage of the formation of the Damascene salafiyya. Thus the so-called middle'ulamā' thesis has to be refuted. In addition it is shown that the dichotomy of "conservative" and "reformist" turuq did not exist in the mind of leading salafīs themselves. Hence, it also cannot be assumed that "reformist" salafīs were "naturally" attracted to "reformist" turuq.