The Thirty Seventh Narration
Abu Burdah narrates from His father, who said:
صلينا المغرب مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ثم قلنا لو جلسنا حتى نصلي معه العشاء قال فجلسنا فخرج علينا فقال ما زلتم هاهنا قلنا يا رسول الله صلينا معك المغرب ثم قلنا نجلس حتى نصلي معك العشاء قال أحسنتم أو أصبتم قال فرفع رأسه إلى السماء وكان كثيرا مما يرفع رأسه إلى السماء فقال النجوم أمنة للسماء فإذا ذهبت النجوم أتى السماء ما توعد وأنا أمنة لأصحابي فإذا ذهبت أتى أصحابي ما يوعدون وأصحابي أمنة لأمتي فإذا ذهب أصحابي أتى أمتي ما يوعدون
We offered the Maghrib prayer along with Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
We then said: If we sit and observe night prayer with him it would be excellent, so we sat down and when he came to us he said, “You are still sitting here.”
I said, “Allah’s Messenger, we observed evening prayer with you, then we said, Let us sit down and observe night prayer along with you”, whereupon he said, “You have done well or you have done right.”
He then lifted his head towards the sky and it often happened that as he lifted his head towards the sky, he said, “The stars are a source of security for the sky and when the stars disappear there comes to the sky, that which it has been promised (it would plunge into darkness). And I am a source of safety and security to my Companions and when I would go away that will come to them what has been promised and my Companions are a source of security for the Ummah and when they go that will come to my Ummah what has been promised.”
Commentary and Lessons Learnt from this Narration:
1. This narration portrays the honour of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
2. This narration is a sign of the true prophethood of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prophesised his own life to be a source of security for the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and history bears testimony to the truth of this statement.
3. Another prophecy that came to light through this narration. The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were, through their piety, a shield for the ummah from trails, tribulations, and evil. Once they had left, the floodgates of trials were pushed open. Ah! Such is the virtue of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
4. The stars, a protection of the sky, will one day cease to exist. This will spell the beginning of the end. We find mention of this in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
5. The desirability of waiting for the ‘Isha’ prayer after having performed Maghrib. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commended the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum on this act of theirs. Other narrations to this effect are plenty in the books of hadith.
6. A leader should use positive reinforcement wherever possible, thereby encouraging those under him to carry out further good deeds.
7. Ibn Hibban writes in his Sahih:
يشبه أن يكون معنى هذا الخبر أن الله جل وعلا جعل النجوم علامة لبقاء السماء وأمنه لها عن الفناء فإذا غارت واضمحلت أتى السماء الفناء الذي كتب عليها وجعل الله جل وعلا المصطفى أمنة أصحابه من وقوع الفتن فلما قبضه الله جل وعلا إلى جنته أتى أصحابه الفتن التي أوعدوا وجعل الله أصحابه أمنة أمته من ضهور الجور فيها فإذا مضى أصحابه أتاهم ما يوعدون من ظهور غير الحق من الجوز والأباطيل
This narration could be understood in the following light. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has placed the stars as a sign of the protection and stability of the sky. When the stars disappear so too will the sky destruct as Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has willed. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, in a similar manner, has made Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam a protection for this ummah from trails. When Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala took him away from this temporary abode, the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were faced with challenges that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had decreed. Similarly, is the case of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. They were a shield for this ummah. When they had all left, oppression and disarray had become the order of the day.
8. Ibn al Athir says:
فالإشارة في الجملة في هذا الحديث إلى مجئ الشر عند ذهاب أهل الخير فإنه لما كان بين أظهرهم كان يبين لهم ما يختلفون فيه وبموته جالت الآراء واختلفت الأهواء وقلت الأنوار وقويت الظلم وكذا حال السماء عند ذهاب النجوم
This narration foreshadows the evil that appears at the loss of pious people. When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was present, he would resolve their disputes. After his passing however, different opinions and schools of thought were formed. Similarly, celestial light began waning and darkness became overpowering. In the same way the sky will lose its lustre when the stars are no more.
9. This narration supports the fact that all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were ‘udul (truthful and just). Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam praised all of them in this narration and proved them to be a source of good and blessings for the ummah without citing a single exception.
10. Question: If the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum hold a position so great, what of the hypocrites present in the time of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? Would they too enjoy the privilege of being followed?
Answer: The hypocrites were exceptions to the rule. They were so few that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam counted them unto Huzayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Furthermore, they did not relate to us any portion of the Qur’an or Sunnah. Over and above this they have not had any influence over any part of the Islamic sciences.
11. Question: Why did Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam continue reinforcing the virtue of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum using a wide array of words when one such statement would suffice?
Answer: This was, as Imam al Juwayni has stated, to impress the trustworthiness, honesty, and justice of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. They were the ones that would take this faith further, passing it on to the next generation. If they had not done so or if their status was not understood, perhaps the faith would have stopped in its tracks. The proof of their just personalities did not fall burden to logical proofs, it was established through irrevocable revealed proofs.
This authentic narration suffices us from citing inauthentic narrations such as:
أصحابي كالنجوم بأيهم اقتديتم اهتديتم
My Companions are like the stars, which ever you follow, you will be guided.
12. The compulsion in following the sayings of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Ibn al Qayyim has written the following under the commentary of this narration:
ووجه الاستدلال بالحديث أنه جعل نسبة أصحابه إلى من بعدهم كنسبته إلى أصحابه ، وكنسبة النجوم إلى السماء ، ومن المعلوم أن هذا التشبيه يعطي من وجوب اهتداء الأمة بهم ما هو نظير اهتدائهم بنبيهم صلى الله عليه وسلم ونظير اهتداء أهل الأرض بالنجوم ، وأيضا فإنه جعل بقاءهم بين الأمة أمنة لهم ، وحرزا من الشر وأسبابه ، فلو جاز أن يخطئوا فيما أفتوا به ويظفر به من بعدهم لكان الظافرون بالحق أمنة للصحابة وحرزا لهم ، وهذا من المحال
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave the similitude of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum in relation to the ummah with that of him in relation to the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and with the relation of the stars to the sky. This similitude demands compulsion of following the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, just as they followed him, and just as humans follow the stars in their travels. Furthermore, he established their lives as a protection for the ummah from evil and its roots. If one were to believe that the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had erred in a ruling and those after them had reached the truth, this would mean that those after them were a protection for the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, which is impossible.
 The father of Abu Burdah is Abu Musa al Ash’ari.
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2531.
 Sahih Ibn Hibban, Talkhis al Habir, vol. 4 pg. 440.
 Fayd al Qadir, vol. 6 pg. 385.
 Ibn ‘Adi, ‘Abd ibn Humaid.
 ‘Ilam al Muqi’in vol. 5 pg. 576.