Are there Hypocrites among Rasulullah’s salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam Companions?
by Muhammad Al-khider
The following verse of the Noble Qur’an suffices as an answer to the above-presented question: Allah Almighty says:
“The vanguards (of Islam) the first of those who forsook (their homes) and those who gave them aid, and (also) those who followed them in (all) good deeds, well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him. For them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever; that is the supreme felicity. Certain of desert Arabs round about you are hypocrites as well as (desert Arabs) among the Madinah folk; they are obstinate in hypocrisy. Thou knowest them not; We know them: Twice shall We punish them: and in addition shall they be sent to a grievous penalty.” (9: 100-101)
In the aforementioned verses, Allah Almighty put the Muhajirin (those who forsook their homes in Makkah and emigrated to Madinah,) and the Ansar (the citizens of Madinah who rendered a helping hand to the emigrants) on one scale of the balance, and the obstinate hypocrites among the desert Arabs and the hypocrites of Madinah, on the other pan of the balance. Hence, it became incontrovertible to the Sunni Muslims that the title “Sahabah” is not bestowed except on those who met Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, believed in him and died in the state of full belief, worship and obedience to Allah Almighty. However, hypocrites cannot be referred to as Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) simply because they concealed their disbelief and outwardly portrayed themselves to be Muslim. Anybody who dissembled and became a hypocrite during Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam’s era cannot ever be endued with the title of Sahabi.
The bona-fide companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam are classified into two major categories according to the Shia belief. The following is the illustration:
First: the rightly guided companions who neither recanted nor retraced their steps after the demise of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him).
These are not less than three and no more than seven, according to the Shia sources. Imam al-Kalbi narrated in al-Kafi (a relied upon and credible source of Hadith to the Shia):
It was reported that Hamr’an bin A’yun said: I said to Abu Ja’far (may peace be upon him): “May Allah make me your ransom, what a small community we are! If we all assemble at a sheep for a meal, we cannot finish it.” Abu Jafar replied: “Should I tell you of a more amazing fact than that? The Muhajirin (those who emigrated from Makkah to Madinah) and the Ansar (the inhabitants of Al-Madinah who received and helped the Muhajirin), have all renounced their religion except three of them.” (Al-Kafi 2/191, section, Rearing of the Believers)
Al-Kashi also narrated in his book about the rightly guided companions as follows:
It was reported by Hanan bin Sadeer from his father that Jafar (on him be peace) said: “All the people defected from their religion after the death of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam except three.” Who are those three? I interjected. He replied: “Al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, Abu Dhar al-Ghafari, and Salman al-Farsi.”
There is a myriad of texts which indicate that the aforementioned companions of the Prophet were followed in the course of clinging to the right path after the Rasulullah’s demise by four others. Thus, the number of the true devoted believers reached seven, according to the Shia standards. To confirm the aforementioned Shia illusion, many narratives have been quoted. The following is one of them: It was reported that al-Harith ibn Al-Mughirah al-Nasiri said: “I heard Abd al-Malik ibn A`yun ask Abu Abd Allah rahimahu Llah a number of questions until he reached the statement:
So did people recant their faith?” To this, Abu Abd Allah replied: “Yes, I swear by the name of Allah, they did defect from their faith except three of the companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam. Then they were shortly followed by: Al-Hussayn ibn al-Mundhir (Abu Sasan), Ammar ibn Yasir, Shatirah and Tha`labah ibn `Amr (Abu Shatirah). Thus, the number totalled seven. All of the Shia texts regarding this matter are unanimous that the number of the sincere devoted believers among the ranks of the Rasulullah’s Companions did not exceed seven.
Abu Jafar said: “Therefore, they were only seven, and nobody except those seven knew the rights of the Leader of the Believers viz. Ali ibn Abi Talib, save those seven committed sincere companions of the Rasul.” (Rijal al-Kashi, pages 11&12)
Hence, Abu Abd Allah used to swear by the name of Allah to prove the veracity of that unfounded claim. He said: “I swear by the name of Allah Almighty, no body fulfilled his pledge of allegiance and obedience to Ali ibn Abi Talib save seven people.” (Bihar al-Anwar 22/322)
Worthy of mention, is that those seven men, especially the first three, namely: Al-Miqdad, Ammar, and Abu Dhar, amazingly were not treating each other like brethren who are affiliated to one faith and creed. It was reported in the book of Rijal al-Kashi that the Leader of the Believers (Ali ibn Abi Talib) said: “O Abu Dhar! If it so happened that Salman al-Farsi revealed to you what he knew, you could instantly state: “May Allah’s grace be on he who kills Salman,” out of jealousy. It was also reported that Abu Basir said: “I heard Abu Abd Allah rahimahu Llah say: “Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said: “O Salman! If your knowledge were to be exposed to Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, he would have become an infidel. O Miqdad! If your knowledge were to be revealed to Salman, he would have forsaken Islam.” (Rijal al-Kashi, page 11)
Hence, they dealt with each other by utmost disguise and concealment of their thoughts, knowledge and agenda. It was reported by Jafar that his father said: I mentioned disguise and concealment once in front of Ali radiya Llahu `anhu, so he said: “If it so happened that Abu Dhar knew what was in the heart of Salman, he would obviously murder him.” He mentioned this of them despite the fact that Nabi Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam had established brotherhood between both of them in Madinah.
Therefore, what do you think of the rest of human-folk? Even those seven sincere devoted companions of the Holy Prophet did feign ignorance of each other and concealed whatever they knew in awe of being envied. We confer from the Shia narratives that the companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam who did not recant after his death were seven in number; viz. Al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, Ammar ibn Yasir, Abu Dhar al-Ghafari, Salman al-Farsi, al-Hussayn ibn al-Mundhir (Abu Sasan), Tha`labah ibn `Amr (Abu Umrah, the Helper inhabitant of Madinah) and Shatirah.
The second category comprises of the hypocrite and dissembler companions. Their hypocrisy was two pronged; either as spawn of their own vested interests and great desire for the luxury of this ephemeral world or hypocrisy in belief as a result of hatred geared against Islam. Regarding this category, whether you consider it one or two categories, in Islamic perspective, they are an ignominious, despised and held in indignation as one clique conspiring against Islam. According to the Shia Belief, the rest of the Rasulullah’s Companions fall under the second category except the aforementioned seven of them. Under the influence of such classification, a question presents itself as follows: If only a few of the companions were sincere and good and the majority of them were over-ridden by hypocrisy and their own vested interests, then which type of Rasulullah’s Companions does the Holy Qur’an praise explicitly and profusely a couple of times? I do not expect anyone to answer that the Holy Qura’n, in its continual praise of the companions was referring only to a minority of them who do not exceed seven. That is simply because if there happens to be in a corrupt and wicked society, a small minority of righteous men, it cannot wholly be judged as a good, righteous and prosperous society. Therefore, how can the Holy Qura’n praise the rightly guided companions of the Holy Prophet and give them glad tidings that their abode is Paradise beneath which rivers flow, while they are of a mean and debased calibre? From where did this classification come? Did it come from the Holy Qur’an or from the Sunnah (traditions and narratives of the Holy Prophet)? Or they are rather mere false fancies and caprices of the Shia adherents! Another question that can be presented is: Had the hypocrites, as many as we have earlier stated, ran the state after the sorrowful demise of the Holy Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, and as such held high ranking positions in the state portfolios. Then how comes that Islam spread all over the world and eventually the flags of disbelief hung half-mast due to the collapse of the infidel empires of Persia and Rome?
I would like herein to draw the attention of the reader to the following fact: Hypocrites during the era of Nabi Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam were not an anonymous community; they were rather an uncovered and dishonoured cabal. Some of them were exposed personally and others were unmasked by their taints and ill qualities mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Allah Almighty unveiled the marks of the hypocrites in both chapters of the Holy Qur’an viz. “Al-Taubah” which was known as “the Revealer and Destroyer, due to the fact that it exposed their tainted qualities and intrigues. Thereafter, the status of the believers among the rightly guided companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam was mentioned with Allah Almighty’s certification. In addition to that, chapter “Al-Munafiqun”, was revealed primarily to address the ring leader of the hypocrites, Abd Allah ibn Ubay ibn Salul and his henchmen, as mentioned by al-Tabrasi, one of the most reputed Shia Interpreters of the Holy Qur’an. (Maj’ma` al-Bayan fi Tafir al-Qur’an, page 85)
As far as Surah al-Taubah is concerned, it did obliterate the traces of the hypocrites and revealed many of their marks and ill qualities in many verses therein. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: “Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day ask you for no exemption from fighting with their goods and persons… until: “And indeed Hell surrounds the Unbelievers (on all sides) (9: 49)
This suffices to reveal to you the quirks and tainted qualities of the hypocrites. It is crystal clear that the sincere devout companions of the Holy Prophet had all gone out to fight in the expedition of Tabuk. At the outset, Abu Dhar and Abu Khaythamah had slackened and eventually decided to trace the blazing trail of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.
Among the slackers in the beginning were as follows: Ka`b ibn Malik, Hilal ibn Umayyah, and Murarah ibn Rabi`. They were all among the Ansar (those who received, helped and sheltered the Prophet and his companions in Madinah), whose repentance Allah Almighty accepted and forgave them eventually. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:
“(He turned in mercy also) to the three who were left behind; (they felt guilty) to such a degree that the earth seemed straitened to them, for all its spaciousness, and their (very) souls seemed straitened to them. And they perceived that there is no fleeing from Allah (and no refuge) but to Him. Then He turned to them, that they might repent: For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (9: 118)
It is enough for us to mention herein that Allah Almighty, revealed to His entire believing folk all the characteristics, marks and the true state of the hypocrites’ affairs, after they had been secretly plotting and intriguing against Islam and Muslims. Allah the Omniscient says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Or do those in whose hearts is a disease, think that Allah will not bring to light all their rancour? Had We so willed, we could have shown them up to thee, and thou shouldst have known them by their marks: But surely thou wilt know them by the tone of their speech! And Allah knows all that ye do.” (47: 29-30)
Therefore, this meaning is confirmed in the interpretation of Al-`Ayashi (one of the resounded Shia Scholars) of the following verse: “For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly, and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” (2: 222) It was reported that Salman said:
“I was once with Abu Jafar rahimahu Llah, when Hamran ibn A`ayun entered and inquired about many things. When Hamran was about to depart, he said to Abu Jafar rahimahu Llah: “Explain to us, may Allah prolong your life and make us enjoy your company, the wisdom behind the fact that whenever we come to you, no body vacates but with a tender heart and think no more about the gains of this fleeting world. Moreover, we do not heed and give much concern to what people possess of the material things of this transient world. However, after we depart from you and intermingle with the laity and men of trade in their hustle and bustle, suddenly our hearts become pawns of love for the world.” He said: “Then Abu Jafar (on him be peace) replied: “Indeed our hearts are susceptible to temptation; sometimes they easily defy inclination towards worldly gains and sometimes it is hard for them to resist any temptation.”
Then Abu Jafar rahimahu Llah went on to say: “Verily the rightly guided and sincere companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said to him: “O messenger of Allah! We are afraid that we might be bearing some traits of hypocrisy!” He replied: “Why should you fear that?” They said: “In your presence when you admonish us we feel apprehensively dreaded, as such we forget all the worldly interests as though we are witnessing the hereafter, paradise and Hell-fire. But when we depart from you and enter our houses that we find fragrant with the scent of our children, spouses and presence of wealth, we tend to forget everything as though nothing had happened. Do you think that the aforementioned qualities might be among the signs of hypocrisy? Rasulullah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam calmed them down by saying: “Nay, those are the evil steps taken by shaytan to awaken your desire for this ephemeral world. I swear by the name of Allah Almighty, had it so happened that you stayed perpetually in the same situation during your presence with me, as you have earlier explained, then the angels would have shaken hands with you, and you would be walking above water. Had it not been that you commit mistakes and ask for forgiveness from Allah Almighty, He would have created instead of you other people who would commit mistakes after which they would seek His forgiveness. And surely He would forgive them.” Indeed a true believer is the one who after being tempted to commit evil, returns often to Allah the Exalted for forgiveness. Don’t you read the verse wherein Allah Almighty says: “For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly.” (2: 222) and the verse: “Seek ye the forgiveness of your Lord and turn to Him in repentance?” (11: 03)