Salaamun alaykum w rahma
This article is about the love that the companions had for each other. I am no scholar neither a student of knowledge, so may Allah help me in this work.
When Ahlul-sunnah say ‘as-sahabah’ what we mean is both the household and the companions, as they were the generation of the FIRST Muslims, who accepted Islam within the Prophet’s life.
The linguistic definition of ‘sahabah’ is from the root word ‘sahiba’ which means ‘to accompany’.
A’immah An-nawawi, Bukhari and Ibnu-salih, (RH- may Allah have mercy on them) had and held the definition was: ‘Whoever saw the Prophet (SAW) while believing in him, and died upon that state.’
Ibn Hajr (RH) came after them and challenged this understanding, by saying that there were companions who were blind so what is the case with them? Such as Ibn Umm Makhtum RA. So he formed another and more precise definition.And this is the most correct one according to majority of the scholars, if not all of them.
‘Whoever met the Prophet while believing in him, accompanied him even for a short while, and died upon belief in him.’
One scholar had the opinion that it is accompanying him for a year or two. But this was an unpopular view and even his name is not known.
Scholars then talked about the age someone could be classified a companion. Some scholars said that s/he must be past the age of puberty, but this again is refuted, as scholars considered his (SAW) own son to be a companion, Ibrahim (RA) but not his other son Qaasim (RA), as well as Muhammed Ibn Abi Bakr (RA) and Mahmood bin Rabi’ (RA) who narrated a narration at the age of five, he remmebered an incident with the Prophet (SAW) where the Prophet put water he was making wudhu with into his mouth and blew it out on the boy as a joke, so he is also classified a companion.
So the part ‘whoever met the Prophet (SAW)’ is as follows, it includes any form of companionship, regardless of duration, includes blind people, includes children except infants. However excludes creation of the unseen world (namely; angels and jinn), and excludes mukhadramoon, those who witnessed jahilliyyah and Islam without physically meeting the Prophet (SAW). This last catagory includes Uwais Al Qarni (RA) who couldn’t go to meet the Prophet due to his taking care of his wife.
‘While believing in him…’
Those who met the Prophet (SAW) before his Prophethood such as Zaid ibn ‘Amr ibn Nufayr (RA). And this excludes any kafir who met him and then accepted Islam afterwards and did not see him again. Such as Al-Ash’ath ibn Qays.
“…and died as a muslim.”
Even if there was a period of riddah (apostasy) in between, and this excludes those who apostated and did not return, or died on their apostasy.
The issue of ranking the companions began due to the shi’a. Otherwise this issue would not have been mentioned, as the shi’a were excessive in insulting and reviling the companions, there are many sources for this. Both Shi’a and Sunni, I will only quote a few of the shi’a sources then only a few of the ahlul-sunnah ones.
1. Taken from commentary of shia scholar Ayashi, narration #148:
From Khannan ibn Sadeer from his father from Abu Jafar (alaihi salam): “People became apostates after (death of) prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam)”. And I said: Who are these three?”. He said: “al-Miqdad, Abu Dharr and Salman al-Farese”…
2. In “Kitab Sulaym ibn Qays” written:
Ali (alayhi salam) said: “All people apostated after prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) except 4 of them”.
Also this narration which is reported to have more than 80(!) ways of narration:
Shareek Ibn Abdullah (who was a tabi’i, and this further proves the point that this ranking business was started by the shi’a) was asked ‘Who is better Abu Bakr or Ali?’ He answered ‘Abu Bakr,’
The questioner then asked ‘You say this even though you are shi’i?’ He replied, ‘Whoever does’nt say this is not shi’a, by Allah! Ali rose upon this pulpit and addressed the people of Kufah and said, ‘The best after its messenger amongst the ummah is Abu Bakr thumma Umar.’
For the ahlul-sunnah this is narrated by way of Bukhari and many others. And amongst the shi’a this is narrated in ‘Talkheesu shafie’ – Vol.2, page 428.
In the first generation, those who were known as shi’i most exclusively were those who preferred Ali (RA), over Uthmaan (RA) and were in fact known as ‘Shi’i’ &’Uthmaani’, but even these shi’a were from Ahlul sunnah. Due to this being not within the fundamentals. We know about shareek bin Abdullah (RA). It is suprising to know that the major imams of ahlul-sunnah, are sometimes referred to as shi’a, this is carrying the original and clear undistorted meaning of tashayu’.
But anyways, the ranking began by the shi’a. So Ahlul-sunnah agreed on a single principle, and whoever was against this principle, was against the ‘ijma of the ahlulsunnah (being the main body of muslims, are sometimes referred to as the orthodox muslims). This ‘ijma was that the best of this Ummah after it’s Prophet SAW, was Abu Bakr and Umar RA on them both.
Then after this, the majority of the muslims consider Uthmaan over Ali RA,as Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf RA said, ‘I have consulted the people in Madinah and I could not find anyone that favors ‘Ali over Uthmaan’ in Sahih Bukhari
And Ayyub As-Sukhtiyaani (RH) said, ‘whoever favours Ali over Uthmaan has not given the opinions of the muhajirun and the ansar their due respect.’Al bidaaya wan-nihaayah li’Ibn Katheer RH.
Shi’as have this in their books also to quote one, which really shows the message, in Nahjul Balagha.
“Verily, those who took the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman have sworn allegiance to me. Now those who were present at the election have no right to go back against their oaths of allegiance and those who were not present on the occasion have no right to oppose me. And so far as Shura (limited franchise or selection) was concerned it was supposed to be limited to Muhajirs and Ansars and it was also supposed that whomsoever they selected, became caliph as per approval and pleasure of Allah. If somebody goes against such decision, then he should be persuaded to adopt the course followed by others, and if he refuses to fall in line with others, then war is the only course left open to be adopted against him and as he has refused to follow the course followed by the Muslims, Allah will let him wander in the wilderness of his ignorance and schism.”
This was stated in Nahjul balagha letter 6.
The authenticity of this book is deemed as mostly or all fabricated and weak, and the author wished to compile sayings and things Ali RA used to say long after his death, and did not add or barely added any chains for this book. So his main aim was showing the eloquence of arabic, so it is a wonder as to how the shi’a scholars took it to be highly authentic. The point of me referring to this book, is to show what our shi’a brothers take and use as a point of reference, for a stronger argument in this topic.
So ijma’ of the companions is established, and as Ali RA said it what is upon the pleasure of Allah.
To quickly finish the topic of ranking, Ahlul sunnah had four opinions, regarding the khulafaau rashideen. We mentioned 2 so far, one being Abu Bakr and Umar were the best, then silence., this was third greatest. Second opinion being, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan, then Ali. And this latter one is the greatest amongst ahlulsunnah. And these two do not contradict.
Another opinion which was lesser in popularity was Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan then silence. And lastly, Abu Bakr, Umar, ALI then Uthmaan, this was held by a few from the tabi’un and ahlul-kufa. However It was reported that Abu Hanifa RH had this view and the narration is questioned.And even if this is the case, this view was reported by the scholars to be only in virtue, not in being worthy of the khilafah. Also there are refutations against this view, that I maybe will go into later.
So in rank of strength, it was as follows: first was Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan then Ali. Second was Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan then silence. Third was Abu Bakr then Umar and silence. Lastly was the view that it was Abu Bakr, Umar, then Ali, then Uthmaan. May parents be sacrificed for them and may Allah be pleased with them all.
I felt it necassary to begin in introducing how the companions are seen by ahlul sunnah. Although I have not finished in the next post I will delve further into the proofs of the status of the companions and what we say about them, and inshaallah go into what the other sects say about the companions and what the ruling is according to the scholars using proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
May Allah make it easy for me. And May Allah reward the brothers who I took from in terms of references, and sources.
any evil I have said is from myself and shaytan, any good I have done is from the blessing of Allah.
– end of part 1 –