The Meaning of al Sahabi according to the Ahlus Sunnah and Rafidah in brief

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February 28, 2024
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February 29, 2024

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The Meaning of al Sahabi according to the Ahlus Sunnah and Rafidah in brief

 

Definition of al Sahabi by the Ahlus Sunnah

Lexical Meaning of al Sahabi:

Istashaba al rajul: a man invited him to keep company. Everything that attaches to something has kept its company.[1]

It appears in Mukhtar al Sihah:

 

والصحابة بالفتح الأصحاب وهي في الأصل مصدر وجمع الأصحاب أصاحيب … وأصحبه الشيء جعله له صاحبا واستصحبه الكتاب وغيره وكل شيء لاءم شيئا فقد استصحبه

Sahabah with a fathah [on the S]: Companions. It originally is an infinitive. The plural of al ashab is asahib.

Ashabahu al shay’: Appoint a companion for him.

Istashabtuhu al kitab wa gharahu: He gave him a book etc.

Everything that agrees with another is its companion.[2]

 

Ibn Taymiyyah explains:

 

والأصحاب جمع صاحب والصاحب اسم فاعل من صحبه يصحبه وذلك يقع على قليل الصحبة وكثيرها

Al ashab: Plural of sahib. Sahib is the doer of sahiba yashabu. This applies both to short or long companionship.[3]

 

Technical Definition of al Sahabi:

The Fuqaha’ and Usuliyyin differ with the Muhaddithin in the technical definition of al Sahabi:

Majority of the Fuqaha’ and Usuliyyin opine that a Sahabi is:

 

من لقي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقظة مؤمنا به بعد بعثته حال حياته وطالت صحبته وكثر لقاؤه به على سبيل التتبع له والأخذ عنه ومات على الإيمان

One who met the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the state of wakefulness, believing in him after his appointment, in the latter’s lifetime, his companionship was extended and his meetings with him were many, on the path of following him and learning from him, and passed away upon iman.[4]

 

The majority of Muhaddithin suggest that a Sahabi is:

 

من لقي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقظة مؤما به وصحبه ولو ساعة بعد بعثته حال حياته ومات على الإسلام

One who met the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in a wakeful state, believing in him, and sat in his company even for a moment after his appointment, in the latter’s lifetime, and passed away on Islam.[5]

 

The original basis of the dispute in this issue is that the Fuqaha’ and Usuliyyin consider the common meaning in their definition of a Sahabi, since al sahib is attributed commonly to one whose companionship is lengthy and adherence is abundant.[6] Meanwhile, we find the Muhaddithin considering the lexical meaning in their definition of al Sahabi as al sahib is used lexically to al mulazim (an adherent) and al munqad (a follower), whether his companionship is long or short.

Badr al Din al Zarkashi[7] writes:

 

ذهب الأكثرون إلى أن الصحابي من اجتمع مؤمنا بمحمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ولو ساعة وروى عنه أو لا لأن اللغة تقتضي ذلك وإن كان العرف يقتضي طول الصحبة وكثرتها

Majority opine that a Sahabi is one who was together, as a believer, with Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam even for a moment, whether he narrated from him or not. Language demands this even though custom demands extended and abundant companionship.[8]

 

The definition of a Sahabi proposed by the Muhaddithin is preferred for the following reasons:

  1. Majority of the Muhaddithin defined a Sahabi with the technical definition based upon the lexical meaning which includes short and lengthy companionship. They did not limit it to some individuals—those with extended companionship—and exclude those with brief companionship. This is contrary to the Usuliyyin, who restricted the lexical meaning to some individuals and excluded others. There is no doubt that applying the lexical meaning with all its individuals is superior to restricting it to some.[9]
  2. It is the preferred definition according to the overwhelming majority of the ‘Ulama’ and accomplished Ahlus Sunnah scholars whose views are relied upon, the likes of Imam al Bukhari, Imam Ahmed, etc.[10] Hafiz Ibn Kathir rahimahu Llah states:

 

هذا قول جمهور العلماء خلفا وسلفا

This is the view of the overwhelming majority of early and latter ‘Ulama’.[11]

 

  1. It contains extension in application of companionship. This is one of the angles of praise for the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and appreciation of his lofty status.[12] Ibn al Salah mentions:

 

بلغنا عن أبي المظفر السمعاني المروزي أنه قال أصحاب الحديث يطلقون اسم الصحابة على كل من روى عنه حديثا أو كلمة ويتوسعون حتى يعدوا من رآه رؤية من الصحابة وهذا لشرف منزلة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أعطوا كل من رآه حكم الصحبة

It reached us that Abu al Muzaffar al Sam’ani al Mirwazi[13] observed: The masters of Hadith apply the name Sahabah to everyone from whom a single hadith or word was transmitted and they expand it to consider one who cast a single glance at him from the Sahabah. Due to the noble position of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they applied the verdict of companionship to everyone who saw him.[14]

 

  1. The other views stipulate lengthy companionship, fighting alongside him, or transmitting from him as conditions. These aspects have not materialised for numerous of those qualified with companionship. This necessitates constraining the number of Sahabah and excluding scores of those labelled as Sahabah from companionship.[15]

Hafiz Ibn Hajar rahimahu Llah states:

 

والعمل على خلاف هذا القول لأنهم اتفقوا على عد جمع جم في الصحابة لم يجتمعوا بالنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا في حجة الوداع

The practice is contrary to this view [the view of the Usuliyyin] as they are unanimous in regarding a large amount as Sahabah who did not join with the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam except in Hajjat al Wada’.[16]

 

Undoubtedly, the status of one who remained attached to the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, fought under his banner, or heard directly from him is far higher and absolute than one who did not remain attached to him, fight alongside him, or hear directly from him. Despite this, they are counted as Sahabah due to them acquiring the honour of seeing the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[17]

  1. It is the most correct and precise definition. Hafiz Ibn Hajar rahimahu Llah explains:

 

وأصح ما وقفت عليه من ذلك أن الصحابي من لقي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مؤمنا به ومات على الإسلام

The most correct view I came across in this regard is that a Sahabi is one who met the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, believing in him, and passed away as a Muslim.[18]

 

Commentary of the Definition

The word: laqiya (met) includes all the Muslims who met him—senior or junior, male or female, free or slave, whose companionship is lengthy or short, who narrated from him or did not, who fought alongside him or did not, who saw him while awake but did not sit with him, and who met him yet was sightless.

The word: mu’minan (believer) is a restriction which excludes one who met him in the state of disbelief, even though he embraced Islam thereafter, on condition that he did not meet him on another occasion.

The word: bihi (in him) excludes those who met him believing in other than he, like the believing people of the book who met him before appointment. It includes every obligated individual, jinn and human.

The words: wa mata ‘ala al islam (he passed away as a Muslim) is a limitation which excludes one who met him as a believer in him but later apostatised and died in the state of apostasy during the Nabi’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lifetime. It includes those who apostatised and returned to Islam before passing on, immaterial of meeting the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam thereafter or not. This is the correct, reliable view.[19]

One is recognised as a Sahabi either by tawatur, istifadah (abundance), popularity, the telling of some Sahabah or some reliable Tabi’in, or his own notification that he is a Sahabi.[20]

They differed regarding the Mukhadramun—those who lived in the era of ignorance and Islam and believed in the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but did not meet him. Some ‘Ulama’ reckon that they are from the Sahabah. This view is attributed to Ibn ‘Abdul Barr.[21] The correct view is that they are reckoned among the senior Tabi’in due to the non-materialisation of meeting between them and the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.[22]

 

Definition of al Sahabi according to the Rafidah

Companionship according to the Rafidah is restricted to the era in which contemporary living is applicable, just as it is a general word from the angle of faith and non-faith; it applies to everyone who remains closely attached to an individual, i.e. he accompanied him, even though he is not like him or his follower in ideology and belief, and likewise from the angle of learning from him, narrating from him, or not. However, lengthy attachment and abundant association with the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam necessitates actually believing in him, transmitting from him, and learning from him; except if the attachment and associating is for ulterior motives.[23]

Murtada al ‘Askari[24] explains the meaning of al Sahabi:

 

تعريف الصحابي بمدرسة أهل البيت الصاحب وجمعه صحب وأصحاب وصحاب وصحابة والصاحب المعاشر والملازم ولا يقال إلا لمن كثرت ملازمته وأن المصاحبة تقتضي طول لبثه

The definition of a Sahabi in the school of the Ahlul Bayt. Al Sahib: Its plural is: sahb, ashab, sahab, and sahabah. Al Sahib: associate or adherent. It is not used except for one whose attachment is prolonged. Companionship demands prolonged company.[25]

 

There is another definition for al Sahabi according to the Rafidah, its peculiarity with the Ahlul Bayt. It appears in Ma’ani al Akhbar of Ibn Babawayh al Qummi[26] from Jafar ibn Muhammad who reports that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stated:

 

ما وجدتم في كتاب الله فالعمل لكم به لا عذر لكم في تركه ما لم يكن في كتاب الله تعالى وكانت فيه سنة مني فلا عذر لكم في ترك سنتي وما لم يكن سنة مني فما قال أصحابي فقولوا به فإنما مثل أصحابي فيكم كمثل النجوم بأيها أخذ اهتدى وبأي أقاويل أصحابي أخذتم اهتديتم فقيل يا رسول الله من أصحابك قال أهل بيتي

Whatever you find in the Book of Allah, practice upon it. You have no excuse to abandon it. Whatever does not appear in the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala but is Sunnah from me, [practice it;] you have no excuse in abandoning my Sunnah. Whatever is not Sunnah from me, then whatever my Companions say, hold the same view because my Companions among you are like the stars, whoever of them you take, you are rightly guided and whichever Companions’ view you practice upon, you will be rightly guided.

He was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who are your Companions?”

“My Ahlul Bayt[27],” was his reply.[28]

 

NEXT⇒ Sources to Discover the Reports on the Sahabah


[1] Lisan al ‘Arab, vol. 4 pg. 2402.

[2] Al Jawhari: Mukhtar al Sihah, vol. 1 pg. 161.

[3] Al Sarim al Maslul, pg. 575.

[4] Al Qadi Abu Ya’la: Al ‘Uddah fi Usul al Fiqh, vol. 3 pg. 88; Muqaddamat Ibn al Salah, pg. 293; Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 6; al Alusi: Al Ajwibah al ‘Iraqiyyah, pg. 8–9; al Ansari: Fawatih al Rahamut, vol. 2 pg. 19; Muhammad al Mukhtar al Shinqiti: Mudhakkirat Usul al Fiqh ‘ala Rawdat al Nazir, pg. 191.

[5] Ibn Hazm: Al Ihkam fi Usul al Ahkam, vol. 5 pg. 89; Hafiz Ibn Kathir: Al Ba’ith al Hathith Sharh Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith, vol. 2 pg. 491; Ibn Hajar: Al Isabah fi Tamyiz al Sahabah, vol. 1 pg. 16; Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 6–7; al Ansari: Fawatih al Rahamut, vol. 2 pg. 196; Mudhakkirat Usul al Fiqh ‘ala Rawdat al Nazir, pg. 19.

[6] Al Amudi: Al Ahkam, vol. 2 pg. 113; Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 6.

[7] He is Muhammad ibn Bahadur ibn ‘Abdullah al Misri al Zarkashi al Shafi’i, Abu ‘Abdullah, Badr al Din. An eminent personality in Fiqh, fundamentals, and Hadith. He was born in 745 AH and passed away in Cairo in 894 AH. Al Bahr al Muhit, al Sajid bi Ahkam al Masajid, and al Rawdah are his books. (Al Durar al Kaminah, vol. 3 pg. 397-398; al Shadharat, vol. 8 pg. 572-573.)

[8] Al Bahr al Muhit fi Usul al Fiqh, vol. 4 pg. 301.

[9] ‘Iyadah ibn Ayub al Kaysi: Sahabat Rasul Allah, pg. 88.

[10] Al Isabah fi Tamyiz al Sahabah, vol. 1 pg. 18.

[11] Al Ba’ith al Hathith Sharh Ikhtisar ‘Ulum al Hadith, vol. 2 pg. 491.

[12] Al Alusi: Al Ajwibah al ‘Iraqiyyah, pg. 5-6.

[13] He is Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Abi al Muzaffar ibn Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Jabbar al Tamimi al Sam’ani al Mirwazi. He was nurtured in worship and acquisition of knowledge and excelled in Adab (Literature), Fiqh, Hadith, recognition of men and Genealogy, as well as History. He passed away in Safar 510 AH. (Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 4 pg. 1266-1268.)

[14] Muqaddamah Ibn al Salah, pg. 293; al Ajwibah al ‘Iraqiyyah, pg. 6.

[15] Al ‘Uddah fi Usul al Fiqh, vol. 3 pg. 988.

[16] Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 6.

[17] Nuzhat al Nazar, pg. 151.

[18] Al Isabah fi Tamyiz al Sahabah, vol. 1 pg. 16.

[19] Al Isabah, vol. 1 pg. 16-17; Nuzhat al Nazar, pg. 149-151; Tadreeb al Rawi, vol. 2 pg. 209-210.

[20] Nuzhat al Nazar, pg. 151.

[21] He is Yusuf ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Barr al Namari al Qurtubi al Maliki, Abu ‘Umar. He is from the Huffaz of Hadith, a Historian and Linguist. He was born in 368 AH and passed away in 463 AH at the age of 95. He authored al Isti’ab fi Tarjamat al Ashab and Jami’ Bayan al ‘Ilm wa Fadlihi. (Tadhkirat al Huffaz, vol. 1 pg. 128; al Shadharat, vol. 5 pg. 266.)

[22] Nuzhat al Nazar, pg. 153.

[23] Markaz al Risalah publication: Al Sahabah fi al Qur’an wa al Sunnah wa al Tarikh, pg. 18.

[24] He is Murtada ibn Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Sharif al ‘Askari. He was born in the city Samurrra’ of Iraq in 1332 AH and died in the capital city of Iran, Tehran, in 1428 AH. Ma’alim al Madrasatayn, Ayat al Tathir, Ara’ wa Asda’ hawl Ibn Saba’, Mustalahat Qur’aniyyah, etc., are some of his books.

[25] Ma’alim al Madrasatayn, vol. 1 pg. 88.

[26] He is Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn al Hussain ibn Musa ibn Babawayh al Qummi, a chief among the Imamiyyah. He is recognised by the title al Saduq al Awwal. He was born in 306 AH. His memory is proverbial. His father was from the senior Imamiyyah and authors. He died in 381 AH. He has popular books among the Rafidah. Among these are Da’a’im al Islam, Tawhid, Gharib Hadith al A’immah, Ma’ani al Akhbar, and al Malahi. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 16 pg. 303-304; al Fihrist, pg. 246.

[27] Al Khatib documents a similar narration in al Kifayah fi ‘Ilm al Riwayah, pg. 48 from the chain of Sulaiman ibn Abi Karimah – from Juwaybir – from al Dahhak – from Ibn ‘Abbas which he attributes to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Al Albani writes in Silsilat al Ahadith al Da’ifah wa al Mawdu’ah, vol. 1 pg. 146-147: “This is an extremely weak chain. Sulaiman ibn Abi Karimah is da’if al hadith (weak). Juwaybir ibn Sa’id al Azdi is matruk al hadith (suspected of forgery). Moreover, al Dahhak ibn Muzahim al Hilali did not meet Ibn ‘Abbas.”

[28] Ma’ani al Akhbar, pg. 156-157; al Tabarsi: Al Ihtijaj, vol. 2 pg. 258; al Milani: Nafahat al Azhar, vol. 3 pg. 113.