In continuation of the first part, a selection of statements of venerable scholars is now mentioned in relation to the Companions and their integrity.
The Companions of the Messenger of Allah are all trustworthy and upright in character by proof of Allah’s commendation and praise as well as His Messenger’s praise of them. Al-Nawawi states in his book al-Taqrib, the book As-Suyuti wrote an explanation for and titled Tadrib al‑Rawi, ‘The companions are all trustworthy and upright in character, those of them who were caught up in the afflictions as well as the rest of them, by consensus of all whose views are held in esteem and revered.’1 Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr writes in his book Al-Isabah, ‘The people of Sunnah are in agreement that all of them are trustworthy and upright in character and none but a few isolated innovators have differed in this respect.’
This is why the existence of an anonymous companion in a chain of narration is of no harm to the validity of the text of narration; if a student of a Companion [tabi’i] narrates saying, ‘On the authority of a Companion of the Prophet…’ this will not affect the validity of the text since ignorance of the Companions in this context does no harm as they are all trustworthy and upright in character. Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi mentions in his book Al-Kifayah, ‘With respect to every narration [hadith] that has a connected chain of narrators to the Messenger, it is not an obligation to act upon it until the trustworthiness of its narrators has been ascertained. It is a must that the life of every single one of them is looked into except that of the Companion who conveyed it from the Messenger of Allah, because the trustworthiness of the Companions is well established and well known by the commendation of Allah, His testimony to their purity and His preference shown to them as occurs in the very text of the Qur’an.’ Al‑Khatib then quoted a number of verses from the Qur`an and a number of ahadith highlighting their excellence and remarked, ‘Nonetheless, if there were no evidence from Allah and His Messenger for any of these virtues stated about them, the mere life they led consisting of hijrah; jihad; giving aid; sacrificing their life and wealth; fighting and killing their fathers and children; giving sincere advice; and the strength of their faith and certainty would categorically prove their trustworthiness, the belief in their purity and the fact that they are better than all those who come after them who have been subject to accreditation and declared trustworthy till the end of time.’ He also relates via his own chain of narrators a statement of Abu Zur’ah, ‘If you find someone degrading any of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, then know that he is a heretic; this is because the Messenger of Allah in our view is true, the Qur’an is true, and none other than the Companions have conveyed to us this Qur’an and Sunnah. Their only desire is to declare unreliable our witnesses (i.e., the Companions) to seek to invalidate the Qur’an and the Sunnah, whereas they are more deserving of criticism and they are heretics!’
The position of the Ahl Al-Sunnah wa Al-Jama’ah on the Noble Companions is a balanced one: between the two extremes of being excessive or falling short of the mark; between the excessive exaggerators who raise those of the Companions they glorify to a status befitting only for Allah or for His Messenger, and the negligent and callous ones who degrade and revile the Companions. The Ahl As-Sunnah love the Companions, they do not elevate them to a level they do not warrant, nor do they lower them to a level below that which they deserve. Their tongues forever mention them in the courteous manner proper for them and their hearts are filled with love for them. As for authentic reports that mention the disputes that occurred between them; the Companions exercised their understanding and were either correct thereby attaining a reward for their ijtihad and another for being right, or they were mistaken thereby securing a reward for their ijtihad and their mistake is forgiven. The Companions were not infallible; they were human, sometimes being right and sometimes committing mistakes. But the proportion in which they were right and correct is much greater than the proportion found in anyone else, and similarly, their mistakes are negligible when compared to the mistakes of others, not to mention the forgiveness and pleasure they hold and assured by Allah.
The literature of the Ahl Al-Sunnah record extensively this untainted belief about these elite people, who were chosen from all of humankind to accompany the best of them. Al-Tahawi states on behalf of the Ahl Al-Sunnah, ‘We love the Companions of the Messenger of Allah; we do not exceed the limit in our love for any of them nor do we renounce any of them. We hate those who hate them and make mention of them in an unjust manner; we speak about them in only a good way. Love for them constitutes a part of the religion, iman and ihsan; and hating them is disbelief, hypocrisy and transgression.’2
Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani Al-Maliki states in the introduction of his famous treatise when expounding on the beliefs of the Ahl Al-Sunnah, ‘(They believe) that the best of generations is the one that saw the Messenger of Allah and the best of the Companions are the Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr then ‘Umar then ‘Uthman and then ‘Ali. None of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah are to be mentioned but in the best way. They (i.e., Ahl al-Sunnah) hold back with regards to the disputes that occurred between them; they are the most deserving of people for whom the best excuses should be sought and they are to be viewed in the best light’3 Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal states in his book Al-Sunnah, ‘It is part of the Sunnah to mention the merits of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah and to keep silent about the disputes that occurred between them; the one who reviles the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, even a single one of them, is an innovator and a Rafidhi. To love them is from the Sunnah, making supplication for them is a means of nearness (to Allah), to follow in their footsteps is a means of drawing near (to Allah) and to hold and take to their narrations is an excellence.’ He also said, ‘It neither is permissible for anyone to mention any of their faults nor is it allowed to defame any one of them. If one did do such a thing, it would be obligatory upon the leader to punish and scold him. The leader does not have the option to pardon him in this respect, rather he is to be punished and then requested to repent; whereupon if he complies then it would be accepted of him, and if he chooses not to repent then he is to be punished again and held in captivity until he repents and recants his statement.’ Imam Abu ‘Uthman As-Sabuni mentions in his book ‘Aqidah Al‑Salaf wa Ashab Al-Hadith, ‘…and they (i.e. the Ahl Al‑Sunnah) hold that one must refrain from discussing the disputes between the Companions of the Messenger of Allah4. The tongues must be purged from mentioning anything which entails the attribution of shortcomings or deficiencies to them. They also hold that one must seek Allah’s forgiveness for all of them, and have love and allegiance for each and every one of them.’5 Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah says in his book Al‑‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah, ‘Amongst the tenets of the Ahl As-Sunnah wa Al-Jama’ah is to possess good will in their hearts and to safeguard their tongues in relation to the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, just as Allah has described them in the verse, “And those who come after them saying, ‘Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who have preceded us in iman; and do not place in our hearts any hatred for those who have believed. Our Lord, You are indeed, full of Kindness, Most-Merciful’.” This is also in keeping with the Prophet’s statement, “Do not revile my companions! For by the One Who my soul is in His Hand, if one of you were to spend in charity the weight of Uhud in gold, it would not be equal to a mudd spent by anyone of them, nor half of it.” They accept and acknowledge their many virtues and different ranks established in the Qur’an, the Sunnah and consensus of the scholars. They give precedence to those who spent of their wealth and fought prior to the peace treaty of Al-Hudaybiyyah [al-Fath] over those who spent and fought after Al-Fath. Furthermore, they place the Muhajiruun before the Ansar in rank. They believe that Allah said to the participants of the battle of Al-Badr6, who amounted to three hundred and ten or more individuals, “Do whatever you will, as I have forgiven you all.”7 They also believe that none of those who gave oath under the Tree will enter the Fire, as declared by the Prophet8. In fact, Allah is pleased with them9 and they are pleased with Him, and they were more than one thousand and four hundred in number10. The Ahl Al-Sunnah also declare to be in Paradise those of the Companions whom the Prophet declared to be so, like the Ten11, Thabit Ibn Qays Ibn Shammas and others. They affirm the mutawatir statement from the chief of the believers, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, and others in which they profess that the best of this nation [ummah] after its Prophet is Abu Bakr, followed by ‘Umar.12 They then declare ‘Uthman to be third and ‘Ali, fourth, as shown by the narrations and consensus of the Companions in giving their pledge of allegiance to ‘Uthman before ‘Ali. However, bearing in mind, that some of the Ahl As-Sunnah did differ in respect to ‘Uthman and ‘Ali -after their agreement on giving precedence to Abu Bakr over ‘Umar- as to which of the two was greater in virtue? A group declared ‘Uthman to be third overall and ‘Ali to be fourth, a second group from the Ahl As-Sunnah gave precedence to ‘Ali, and another did not offer an opinion at all. However, the position of the Ahl As-Sunnah thereafter settled on placing ‘Uthman before ‘Ali. In any case, this issue of ‘Uthman and ‘‘Ali13 is not according to the majority of the Ahl Al-Sunnah, one of the fundamental principles on which if a person is in disagreement he is to be regarded as misguided. But the issue to which the one who stands in opposition is declared to be misguided is the issue of the khilafah14; the Ahl Al-Sunnah believe that the Caliph [khalifah] after the Messenger of Allah was Abu Bakr, followed by ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman, then ‘‘Ali; and whosoever contests the caliphate [khilafah] of any one of them, is indeed more astray than his family’s donkey!’15
Ibn Taymiyyah then mentions the love of the Ahl Al-Sunnah for the Ahl Al-Bayt16 of the Messenger of Allah, their support and safeguard over them, the fact that they honour the Messenger of Allah’s request with respect to them, their support and safeguard over the wives of the Messenger of Allah, the Mothers of the believers, and their belief that they are also his wives in the Hereafter. He then states: ‘They renounce and declare themselves free from the way of the Rawafidh who hate and revile the Companions, and also from the way of the Nawasib who offend and harm the Ahl Al-Bayt through their speech and actions. They keep silent with regard to the disputes that occurred between the Companions and state that the reports narrated containing mention of their faults are of categories: some are outright lies, some have been exposed to additions or omissions and others have been misinterpreted. As for those reports which are authentic, then the Companions in this regard are exonerated; either being mujtahiduun and correct (in their stance) or being mujtahiduun and forgiven (for their error). With this in mind the Ahl As-Sunnah however do not declare any of the companions to be infallible to not commit minor or major sins. Rather, the issue of sins emanating from them in general is conceivable. But they have at their disposal, good deeds and merits the like of which will absolve any of their sins if committed to the extent that they are forgiven for sins which if committed by others after them the latter would not attain forgiveness, because the Companions uniquely possess the type of merits which wipe away such sins; it has been established by the saying of the Messenger of Allah that the Companions are the best of generations and that a mudd spent by any one of them in charity is better than the weight of Mount Uhud in gold spent by any one after them. Moreover, if one of the Companions had committed a sin, then he has either repented; brought forth merits which will wipe it away; is forgiven due to his early standing (in Islam); is forgiven due to the intercession of Muhammad as they are more entitled to his intercession than anyone else; or was afflicted with a trial in this life which is rendered as an atonement for his sin. If this is the case for actual sins, what will the situation be with those matters in which the Companions exercised their Ijtihad? If they were right, they attain two rewards, and if they were wrong, they receive one reward and their mistake is forgiven. Furthermore, it is only a very small amount of their actions which is renounced; a minute amount swamped by their virtues and merits, like their iman in Allah and His Messenger, jihad for His cause, hijrah, giving aid, their beneficial knowledge and righteous actions. Whosoever delves and looks into their life-history with knowledge and insight, and at the many virtues Allah blessed them with, will know for sure that they are indeed, the best of creation after the Prophets, the like of whom, there never was and there never will be, and that they are the finest of all the generations belonging to this ummah, which is the best of all ummahs and the most honorouble in front of Allah.’17
These are examples from the statements of the righteous predecessors in connection to what one must believe about the best of creation after the Prophets and Messengers. Finally, an issue which has to be comprehended is the fact that vilification of these chosen elite is in reality vilification of the religion. Because the religion only reached those after the Companions by way of them, and Abu Zur’ah’s statement has already been mentioned, ‘…and none other than the Companions have conveyed to us this Qur’an and Sunnah. Their only desire is to declare unreliable our witnesses (i.e. the Companions) to seek to invalidate the Qur’an and the Sunnah, whereas they are more deserving of criticism and they are heretics! It has also been mentioned earlier that reviling the Companions does them no harm, but in fact seeks to benefit them as already shown in the hadith of the bankrupt person. So whoever finds in his heart love and no hatred whatsoever for the Companions, safeguards his tongue from speaking about them but in a good way, should praise Allah for this favour and beseech Him to uphold him upon this guidance. As for the one who possesses hatred in his heart for the Companions and speaks of them in a demeaning manner, he should fear Allah in his very own self, give up these offenses and turn in repentance to Allah whilst the door of repentance is still open in front of him, before he regrets at a time and place where regret will be of no benefit.
Our Lord, Do not cause our hearts to deviate after having guided us and grant us from Yourself Mercy. Indeed, it is You Who are The Bestower. Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who have preceded us in iman and do not place in our hearts any hatred for those who have believed. Our Lord, You are indeed, full of Kindness, Most-Merciful.
1. Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 2, pg. 124, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyah, Beirut, 1996.
2. Sharh Al-’Aqidah Al-Tahawiyyah, Pg. 467, published by Al-Maktab Al-Islami, Beirut, 8th edition, 1984.
3. ‘Aqidah Al-Salaf Muqaddimah Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani Li Kitabihi Al-Risalah, Pg. 61, published by Dar Al-’Asimah, 1st edition, 1993.
4. The prohibition found in all these statements does not cover the type of discussion which centers on clarifying the stances of the Companions, refuting distorted claims to what occurred and also differentiating the authentic narrations from the weak and fabricated. It covers the type mentioned in As-Sabuni’s following statement: ‘The tongues must be purged…’
5. ‘Aqidah Al‑Salaf wa Ashab Al-Hadith, Pg. 107, published by Maktabah Al-Ghuraba` Al-Athariyyah, Madina, 2nd edition, 1994.
6. The Muslims who participated in the battle at Badr in the second year after Hijrah. This was the first battle which took place between the Muslims and the disbelievers and victory was that of the Muslims. 7. Sahih Al-Bukhari, al-Maghazi and Sahih Muslim, Fada`il Al-Sahabah.
8. The Prophet said: ‘None of the people of the Tree will by the will of Allah enter the Fire; those who pledged their allegiance under it (i.e., the tree)’. Related by Muslim, Fada`il As-Sahabah and others.
9. This is mentioned in the Qur`an, Al-Fath 48:18, ‘Allah was indeed pleased with the believers when they gave their pledge to you (Muhammad) under the tree…’
10. As confirmed by some of the Companions themselves, amongst them Jabir Ibn ‘Abdillah, see Sahih Al-Bukhari, Al-Maghazi and Sahih Muslim, Al-`Imarah.
11 i.e., the ten given glad tidings of Paradise on one particular occasion; the Prophet said: ‘Abu Bakr is in Paradise; ‘Umar is in Paradise; ‘Uthman is in Paradise; ‘Ali is in Paradise; Talhah is in Paradise; Al-Zubayr is in Paradise; ‘Abdurrahman Ibn ‘Awf is in Paradise; Sa’d is in Paradise; Sa’id is in Paradise; and Abu ‘Ubaydah Ibn Al-Jarrah is in Paradise.’ Related by At-Tirmidhi, Al-Manaqib and Ahmad in his Musnad no. 1585, this hadith has been declared authentic by Shaykh Al-Albani, see: Sahih Al-Jami’, hadith no. 50.
12. Muhammad Ibn Al-Hanafiyyah said, ‘I asked my father (i.e., ‘Ali), “Who is the best person after the Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Abu Bakr.” I said, “And then who?” He said, “Then ‘Umar.” I feared that he would then say Uthman, so I said, “And then you?” To which he replied, “I am only a man from amongst the Muslims”.’ Related By Al-Bukhari, Al-Manaqib and Abu Dawud, Al-Sunnah. Ibn Abi ‘Asim records the statement of ‘Ali, ‘The best of this ummah after its Prophet is Abu Bakr, then after Abu Bakr is ‘Umar, and if I desired to name you the third I would do so.’ See As-Sunnah of Ibn Abi ‘Asim with the checking of Al-Albani. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said, ‘We used to consider as to who is the best amongst the people at the time of the Prophet and would prefer Abu Bakr then ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab then ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan.’ Related By Al-Bukhari, Al-Manaqib.
13. i.e., with respect to who was more virtuous.
14. i.e., ‘Uthman’s leadership and rule over the Islamic state as well as that of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, all of which was before ‘Alee’s rule, is correct and a reality; whosoever contests and denies this, separates himself from the righteous body of Muslims who accepted and witnessed this, whom amongst them was ‘Alee himself!
15. Sharh Al-’Aqeedah Al-Wasitiyyah of Muhammad Khaleel Harras, Pg. 236-243, Published by Dar Al-Hijrah, 2nd edition, 1993.
16. The household of the Prophet, the qualifying definition of the Ahl Al-Bayt are those who are prohibited from receiving sadaqah. They are the households of ‘Ali, Ja’far, ‘Aqil, Al-’Abbas who are all from Banu Hashim, and Banu Al-Muttalib who are also included on account of the Prophet’s statement regarding them: ‘They did not abandon us, not during pre-Islam [Jahiliyyah] nor during Islam; Indeed Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib are one and the same thing.’ Related by An-Nasa`i, Qasm Al-Fay` and Abu Dawud in Al-Kharraj with a similar wording. The last half of the statement is also recorded by Al-Bukhari in Al-Maghazi.
17. Sharh Al-’Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah of Muhammad Khalil Harras, Pg. 248-250, Published by Dar Al-Hijrah, 2nd edition, 1993.