The source material for this article are some notes I took from an excellent lecture by Dr. Salāh al-Sāwī. Unfortunately, my notes were brief and so I am not able to do full justice to the talk that Shaykh al-Sāwī gave. Nonetheless, I will try my best to clarify the true status of the Companions in the light of the verses of Allāh's Book.
Islām's Teachings Concerning Cursing, Revulsion, and Vulgar Language
Before we come to the Qur'ān's teachings concerning the Companions, I would just like to very briefly clarify some matters related to the character of the Muslim. Imām Ahmad and al-Tirmidhī relate with an authentic isnād that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
لَيْسَ الْمُؤْمِنُ بِطَعَّانٍ وَلَا بِلَعَّانٍ وَلَا الْفَاحِشِ الْبَذِيءِ
"The believer is not given to insults, nor cursing, nor is he one given to wicked, shameless speech."
"And verily, you are on an exalted standard of character." [68:4]
Once, a group of Jews entered upon Allāh's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and said "Al-Sāmu `Alaykum (Death be upon you)."
I understood what they had said, so I responded, "Al-Sāmu `Alaykum Wa'l-La`nah (Death be upon you and curse)."
At this, Allāh's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, "Take it easy `Ā'ishah, for indeed, Allāh loves gentleness in all matters."
I said, "O Messenger of Allāh, did you not hear what they said?"
Allāh's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, "I already said, 'wa `alaykum (and upon you)'."
The meaning of fusūq is to depart from obedience to Allāh. In fact, such revulsion can even lead to disbelief if it is on account of that person's religiosity. Thus, in that case, it would amount to reviling the religion and that is one of the nullifiers of faith.
In fact, Allāh has prohibited us from insulting even the idols, the false gods, of the disbelievers lest this should lead them to insulting Allāh:
"And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) invoke besides Allāh, lest they insult Allāh wrongfully without knowledge." [6:108]
The Status of the Companions in the Qur'ān
"And know that among you is the Messenger of Allāh. If he were to obey you in much of the matter, you would be in difficulty, but Allāh has made beloved to you the faith and has beautified it in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, wickedness, and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided." [49:7]
This particular categorization: disbelief (kufr), wickedness (fusūq), and disobedience (`isyān) has been mentioned for the purpose of clarification. It emphasizes their innocence of any quality that would expel them from the religion while also exonerating them of having any love for committing any sort of sin that would be less than that. The term fusūq is applied to those acts of disobedience which are particularly reprehensible or wicked, whereas the term `isyān would encompass even the slightest act of disobedience. Thus, they can neither be thought of as disbelievers (kuffār) nor sinners (fussāq).
"Allāh has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession [to authority] in the earth, as He granted it to those before them, and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He is pleased with for them. And He will surely give them in exchange a safe security after their fear (provided) they (believers) worship Me and do not associate anything with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are disobedient sinners." [24:55]
Consider what happened after the death of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Does history not show us how Allāh granted the Companions authority in the earth and established for them their religion? Indeed it does. In fact, the conquests achieved in their short rule were so great that nothing the like of it has been seen before nor since in history. The `Arabs, with little technological know-how or numbers, swept all the way into Spain in the West and the heart of Asia in the East in just a matter of decades. At their hands, not just one but both of the world superpowers were humbled. What is most amazing of all is that most of these farfetched lands that entered into Islām at the hands of the Companions so many centuries ago are still Muslim lands to this day. If the words of this verse are not true of them, then tell me, by Allāh, of whom then are they true?
Does this verse not also indicate to us that in their time, Allāh established for them the religion with which He is pleased? Is this not an indication that the Islām of Abū Bakr, `Umar, `Uthmān, `Alī, and all of the beloved Companions was the very Islām that was brought by our beloved Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم)?
The People of Badr
In Sūrah al-Anfāl, Allāh states:
"He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers." [8:62]
At this battle, the Companions who were present was some three hundred plus Companions.
The Pledge of Divine Pleasure (Bay`ah al-Ridwān)
"Certainly was Allāh pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest." [48:18]
(1) He was pleased with them
(2) Borne witness that they are believers
(3) And borne witness to the purity of their hearts.
The Expedition of Tabūk
In reference to the great military expedition that went out to Tabūk with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), Allāh states:
"Allāh has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhājirīn and the Ansār who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He is to them Kind and Merciful." [9:117]
The Description of the Muhājirīn and the Ansār
Thus it is that Allāh describes them in Sūrah al-Hashr, saying:
"[And there is also a share in this booty] for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allāh and to please Him, and supporting Allāh and His Messenger. Such indeed are indeed the truthful (to what they say); And [also for] those who, before them, had settled in the City and the Faith, love those who have emigrated to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given, and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in great need. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful." [59:8-9]
Then, in the next verse, Allāh informs us:
"And those who came after them say: "Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful." [59:10]
The Spectre of Hypocrisy (Nifāq)
Now the there arises a question that some may ask, "Were there not hypocrites in al-Madīnah?" Of course, every Muslim knows that the answer is yes. In fact, one might ask: is it not true that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not know the exact identity of those hypocrites? This also is true as Allāh tells us:
"And among those around you of the bedouins are hypocrites, and [also] from the people of Madinah. They have become accustomed to hypocrisy. You do not know them, [but] We know them." [9:101]
"And if We willed, We could show them to you, and you would know them by their mark; but you will surely know them by the tone of [their] speech. And Allah knows your deeds." [47:30]
"Allāh would not leave the believers in that [state] you are in [presently] until He separates the evil from the good." [3:179]
"There (in that situation), the believers were tried and shaken with a severe shaking." [33:11]
"'O people of Yathrib (al-Madīnah)! There is no stand (possible) for you (against the enemy attack!) Therefore go back!' And a band of them ask for permission of the Prophet saying: 'Truly, our homes lie open (to the enemy),' and they lay not open. They but wished to flee." [33:13]
"And when the believers saw the companies, they said, 'This is what Allāh and His Messenger had promised us, and Allāh and His Messenger spoke the truth.' And it increased them only in faith and acceptance." [33:22]
Thus, we see that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was able to distinguish the believers from the disbelievers from the positions that they took in trying times.
Furthermore, Allāh says in the Qur'ān:
"They hypocrites are apprehensive lest a sūrah be revealed about them, informing them of what is in their hearts. Say, 'Mock [as you wish]; indeed, Allāh will expose that which you fear.'" [9:64]
"And if you ask them, they will surely say, 'We were only talking idly and joking.' Say, 'Is it Allāh and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?' Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief." [9:65-66]
It is important to understand that if anyone is expelled from the fold of Islām, then this means that anything they relate to us of the religion cannot be accepted. Is it anyone but Abū Bakr, `Umar, and all the rest of the trustworthy Companions of our beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that we rely on to transmit the religion down to us? In fact, it was under the supervision of Abū Bakr, and later `Uthmān that the mushaf was compiled.
This is why so many of our scholars of the past have stated that if you see anyone reviling the Companions, may Allāh be pleased with them, then be weary of him, for he is seeking the destruction of Islām.
As a final note, it is important to keep in mind that, as Ahl al-Sunnah, when addressing those with whom we disagree, we should advise them with gentleness so that the advice may benefit them. Thus, Allāh gave Mūsā and Hārūn (عليهما الصلاة والسلام) the following instructions for dealing with Fir`awn:
"And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allāh]." [20:44]
And this is what our scholars mean when they say, "Ahl al-Sunnah are the most knowledgeable of people concerning the truth, and the most merciful of people to the creation."
I would like to add, to those shiias who may get angry from this post, a famous quote from one of our great scholars.
During one of Imam Malik's classes, it was mentioned that the shiia curse the sahaba. Imam Malik recited the verse, "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those with him are harsh with the disbelievers and gentle among themselves....So that the disbelievers may become enraged with them." (48:29) He then said, "Whoever becomes enraged when the sahaba are mentioned is the one about whom the verse speaks." (Tafseer al-Qurtubi)
Edited by 1path, 07 January 2009 - 05:24 PM.