The Status of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, their Integrity and their Rights According to the Ahlus Sunnah
The companionship of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the greatest of privileges that a person can enjoy, for in essence it is a selection from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala; and Allah would not select for the companionship of his Nabi, the noblest of all the prophets who was sent with a complete religion, but the purest of people. They were thus the best generation of this Ummah without any dispute.
In order to gauge their merit and lofty rank, it is sufficient to note that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, knowing their inner realities, praised them, and announced His pleasure for them, not to mention that he knew full well what their eventual condition would be and what would transpire between them. Therefore there can be no one superior to a people whom Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has declared as people of integrity and deemed upright. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:
فَلَا تُزَكُّوا أَنفُسَكُمْ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ
So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is Most Knowing of who fears Him.
Likewise, from the greatest attestations of the merit of their companionship of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the virtue which is established for a person who merely saw him, believing in him. So what would be the status of those who were honoured with much more than that? Imam Ahmed mentions:
فأدناهم صحبة أفضل من القرن الذين لم يروه ولو لقوا الله بجميع الأعمال
The lowest amongst them, in companionship, is better than the entire generation which did not see him even though they meet Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala with all deeds.
And Ibn Taymiyah mentions:
من نظر في سيرة القوم بعلم وبصيرة، وما من الله عليهم من الضائل علم يقينا أنهم خير الخلق بعد الأنبياء، لا كان ولا يكون مثلهم، وإنهم صفوة الصفوة من قرون هذه الأمة، التي هي خير الأمم وأكرمها على الله
Whoever studies the biographies of these people and the virtues Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala favoured them with, with knowledge and insight, will learn with certainty that they are the best of the creation after the Ambiyaʾ ‘alayhim al Salam. There hasn’t and there will never be another like them. They were the choicest of the generations of this Ummah, which is the best of nations and the most honoured in the sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
Nonetheless, the exclusive and generals evidences of their merits and excellence are too many. Hereunder we allude to some of them:
Firstly, from the noble Qurʾan:
مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللهِ وَرِضْوَانًا سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ذَٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark [i.e., sign] is on their faces [i.e., foreheads] from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that He [i.e., Allah] may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.
This verse is brimming with praise for the Sahabah of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in their various conditions. It explicitly announces forgiveness for the sins they might have committed and the errors they might have made. It also promises great reward for the tremendous sacrifices they made in aiding His Din, supporting His Rasul, and uplifting His word.
لَا يَسْتَوِي مِنكُم مَّنْ أَنفَقَ مِن قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُولَٰئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أَنفَقُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
Not equal among you are those who spent before the conquest [of Makkah] and fought [and those who did so after it]. Those are greater in degree than they who spent afterwards and fought. But to all Allah has promised the best [reward]. And Allah, with what you do, is acquainted.
This verse suggests that whoever enjoyed the Shar’i companionship of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is from the people of Jannat, for al Husna is Jannat which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has promised to all of them.
لَٰكِنِ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ جَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْخَيْرَاتُ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ أَعَدَّ اللهُ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
But the Messenger and those who believed with him fought with their wealth and their lives. Those will have [all that is] good, and it is those who are the successful. Allah has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally. That is the great attainment.
This verse is an attestation of their probity and a glad tiding. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has pronounced their honour by describing them as people of true faith and great sacrifice, and has thereafter promised them a great victory.
Can there be any pronouncement of integrity higher than this pronouncement? And can there be any virtue greater than this virtue?
Secondly, from the noble Sunnah:
عن أبي سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لاتسبوا أصحابي، فلو أن أحدكم أنفق مثل أحد ذهبا ما بلغ مد أحدهم ولا نصيفه
Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Do not revile my Companions, for if one of you were to spend gold equivalent to the mount of Uhud it would not reach the Mudd of any of them, nay not even half of it.”
This hadith clearly establishes their virtue and lofty rank, for Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade from reviling them. He attributed them to himself by using the personal possessive pronoun Ya (my). He also informed us that the great contributions of others are not equal to their little.
This prohibition was primarily for those who accompanied him salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam at a later stage, then how much more emphasised would it be for those who did not accompany him at all? One should bear in mind that the superiority of the later Sahabah over those who succeeded them is just like the superiority of the early Sahabah over them.
عن أبي موسى الأشعري رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: قال 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
Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The stars are a source of security for the sky, and when the stars disappear there comes to the sky what it is promised (i.e. it meets its fate). I am a source of security for my Companions, and when I will go away there will come to my Companions what they are promised. My Companions are a source of security for my Ummah, and when my Companions go away there will come to my Ummah what it is promised.
This hadith likewise discusses the merit of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. It states that their presence in itself is a source of safety for the Ummah from the emergence of innovations in Din and from trials and the disunity of hearts. With their absence consequently the doors of trials will open upon the Ummah.
Hence the blessings of their presence amidst the next generation is just like the blessings of his salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam presence amidst the Sahabah. Therefore, the contrast between them and the rest of the Ummah in virtue is just like the contrast between Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and them.
Hadith no. 3:
عن أبي سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: يأتي زمان يغزو فئام من الناس فيقال: فيكم من صحب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ فيقال: نعم. فيفتح عليه. ثم يأتي زمان فيقال: فيكم من صحب أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ فيقال: نعم. فيفتح. ثم يأتي زمان فيقال: فيكم من صحب صاحب أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ فيقال: نعم. فيفتح.
Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates the following from Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “A time will come when group of people will fight. It will be asked, “Is there amongst you a person who accompanied Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” It will be said, “Yes,” and victory will be granted to him. Then a time will come and it will be asked, “Is there anyone amongst you who accompanied the Companions of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” It will be said, “Yes,” and victory will be granted. Thereafter a time will come and it will be asked, “Is there anyone amongst you who accompanied a companion of the Companions of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” It will be said, “Yes,” and victory will be granted.
This hadith also contains a great merit of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for by virtue of their presence the armies which they are in will gain victory.
The Integrity of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum
The scholars have unanimously deemed all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, without any exception, to have been people of integrity, before the internal strife and after it. This is the viewpoint of all the early scholars and majority of the later scholars; only a very few people, who hold an innovatory status, have differed, but their difference does not really matter.
However, it is important to note that deeming the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum to be people of integrity does not necessitate their infallibility from all types of sins, and purity from every type of mistake. Instead, they were like those besides them in their anatomy and temperaments; temperaments in the entire human race are the same. Hence the weakness which one among them is prone to others are prone to as well:
وَخُلِقَ الْإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
And mankind was created weak.
Likewise the instinctive inclination toward evil is equal in all:
إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ
Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil.
And the love for the fulfilment of passions is also inherent in each one:
زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ۗ
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land.
But because Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala selected them for the companionship of His Nabi and the propagation of His Din, He purified their hearts and cleansed their souls. As a result, they were the most complete of the deficient human race, and the bad deeds of any of them was like a droplet in comparison to his ocean of good.
Ibn al Anbari mentions:
ليس المراد ب(عدالتهم) ثبوت العصمة لهم واستحالة المعصية عليهم، وإنما المراد قبول رواياتهم دون تكلف بحث العدالة وطلب التزكية، إلا ان يثبت ارتكاب قادح. ولم يثبت ذلك ولله الحمد، فنحن على استصحاب ما كانوا عليه في زمن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حتى يثبت خلافه، ولا التفات إلى ما يذكره أهل السير فإنه لا يصح، وما يصح فله تأويل صحيح.
Their uprightness does not necessitate their infallibility and the impossibility of them sinning. Rather it necessitates accepting their narrations without taking the trouble of investigating their integrity and without ascertaining their innocence, unless the commission of an impugning sin is established. And that is not established by the grace of Allah. Hence the condition upon which they were in the time of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is what we deem to be their primary status until otherwise is established. As for what is recorded by the historians, we do not pay attention to it due to it being unauthentic. And whatever is authentic has a plausible explanation.
Ibn Taymiyah mentions:
وهم (يعنى أهل السنة) مع ذلك لا يعتقدون أن كل واحد من الصحابة معصوم عن كبائر الإثم وصغائره، بل يجوز عليهم من الذنوب في الجملة، ولهم من السوابق والفضائل ما يوجب مغفرة ما يصدر منهم إن صدر، حتى إنه يغفر لهم من السئات ما لا يغفر لمن بعدهم
Despite that, they (the Ahlus Sunnah) do not believe that each one of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum was free from major and minor sins. Rather it was possible for them to commit sins in general. However the contributions that they have made and the merits that they enjoy will earn them forgiveness for what came forth from them. To the extent that they will be forgiven for actions which others after them will not be forgiven for.
One of the principles of the Ahlus Sunnah is that the Sahabah enjoy rights which others besides them do not. Hence it is compulsory upon the believers to love them, acknowledge their sacrifices, concede their merit, entertain good thoughts about them, find plausible explanations for them and seek forgiveness on their behalf.
Abu Nuaim says:
الواجب على المسلمين في أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إظهار ما مدحهم الله تعالى به وشكرهم عليه من جميل أفعالهم وجميل سوابقهم
Regarding the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, it is compulsory upon the Muslims to demonstrate the praises Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has showered upon them and the acknowledgement He has displayed for their outstanding actions and excellent contributions.
And al Tahawi mentions:
نحب أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم و لانفرط في حب أحد منهم، ونبغض من يبغضهم وبغير الخير.لا نذكرهم ، وحبهم دين وإيمان وإحسان، وبغضهم كفر ونفاق وطغيان
We love the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. We do not slack in loving any of them. We hate those who hate them and talk about them in only in good ways. Loving them is part of our Din, our faith, and is a virtue, and hating them is disbelief, hypocrisy, and transgression.
Another principle from the principles of the Ahlus Sunnah is the impermissibility of reviling them, denigrating them, or slandering any one of them; because the Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has forbade us from doing so; and also because it goes against the praises Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has showered upon them and His announcement of being pleased with them.
In fact, impugning them is in reality impugning the Shari’ah itself due to them being its bearers and conveyers; if they are impugned then necessarily what they have borne and conveyed will lose credit. Abu Zur’ah al Razi therefore states:
إذا رأيت الرجل ينتقص أحدا من أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فاعلم أنه زنديق، وذلك أن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم عندنا حق، والقرآن حق، وإنما أدى إلينا هذا القرآن والسنن أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وإنما يريدون أن يجرحوا شهودنا ليبطلوا الكتاب والسنة
If you see a person denigrating any of the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, know he is a heretic. This is because it is our belief that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is true and the Qurʾan is true; and those who transmitted the Qurʾan and the Sunnah were the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Hence these people intend to impugn our witnesses and thereby discredit the Qurʾan and the Sunnah.
The statements of the scholars pertaining to the prohibition of reviling them are more than popular. Imam Ahmed said:
من سب أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أو أحدا منهم أو تنقصه أو طعن عليهم أو عرض بعيبهم أو عاب أحدا منهم فهو مبتدع رافضي خبيث مخالف لا يقبل الله منه صرفا ولاعدلا
Whoever reviles the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or one among them, belittles him, or impugns them, hints towards their faults and criticises any of them is an innovator and a wicked Rafidi from who Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will not accept any optional or obligatory prayer.
Thereafter he says:
لا يجوز لأحد أن يذكر شيئا من مساويهم، ولا يطعن على أحد منهم، فمن فعل ذلك فقد وجب على السلطان تأديبه وعقوبته، ليس له أن يعفو عنه، بل يعاقبه ويستتيبه، فإن تاب قبل منه، وإن لم يتب أعاد عليه العقوبة، وخلده في الحبس حتى يتوب ويراجع
It is not permissible for anyone to mention their negatives or impugn any of them. Whoever does so, it will be compulsory upon the ruler to discipline him and penalise him. It will not be permissible to forgive him, rather he will punish him and ask him to repent. If he repents, his repentance will be accepted, and if he does not, the punishment will be reinstated and he will be imprisoned for life, unless he repents and recants his statements.
Al Khattabi says:
من أبغضهم وسبهم ونسبهم إلى ما تنسبهم الروافض والخوارج لعنهم الله فقد هلك في الهالكين
Whoever despises them, reviles them, or attributes to them what the Rawafid and the Khawarij attribute to them—may the curse of Allah descend upon them—is indeed a loser like the other losers.
And al Nawawi says:
اعلم أن سب الصحابة رضى الله عنهم حرام من فواحش المحرمات، سواء من لا بس الفتن منهم وغيره
Know that reviling the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum is forbidden and is from the worst of prohibited actions. Reviling those who were part of the conflicts and those who were not is the same.
Likewise Ibn Taymiyah has explicitly stated the following:
إن سب الصحابة رضي الله عنهم حرام بالكتاب والسنة وإجماع الأمة، وإن من سبهم وجب تأديبه وعقوبته، ولا يجوز العفو عنه
The prohibition of reviling the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum is established through the Qurʾan, the Sunnah, and the unanimity of the Ummah. Hence whoever reviles them, it is necessary to discipline him and penalise him; it is not permitted to pardon him.
In fact, a group of scholars hold the view that anyone who reviles the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum is unconditionally a disbeliever and have thus asserted that he will not receive a portion from the wealth of Fayʾ. However the more correct opinion is that reviling can lead to either disbelief or to heresy, depending on the gravity and type of revilement.
Moving on, whilst discussing the issue of the prohibition of reviling the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and impugning them, the discussion necessarily leads to another dimension; and that is the Shar’i position pertaining to discussions around the conflicts that transpired between them at the occasions of Jamal, Siffin, etc.
In this regard, the preferred position of the Ahlus Sunnah is to refrain completely from discussing any of that, not delving into it, not targeting any of the Sahabah with evil and believing that whatever had transpired between them does not compromise their integrity. Bearing in mind that Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala pronounced their integrity, praised them, and announced His pleasure for them; this is after He knew full well what was to come forth from them in the future.
Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma mentions:
لاتسبوا أصحاب محمد، فإن الله قد أمر بالاستغفار لهم، وهو يعلم أنهم سيقتتلون
Do not revile the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has ordered that forgiveness be sought for them whereas He knew that they will fight in the future.
And Abu Nuaim has alluded to the following regarding the responsibilities of the Muslims toward the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum:
إن يغضوا عما كان منهم في حال الغضب والإغفال، وفرط منهم عند استزلال الشيطان إياهم، ونأخذ في ذكرهم بما أخبر الله تعالى به. فقال تعالى: وَالَّذِينَ جَاءُوا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ فإن الهفوة الزلل والغضب والحدة والإفراط لا يخلو منه أحد، وهو لهم غفور، ولا يوجب ذلك البراءة منهم والعداوة لهم
They should overlook that which came forth from them at times of anger and inattentiveness, and that which transpired at their hands when Shaitan tried to mislead them. We hold on to what Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has mentioned in the Qurʾan when talking about them: ‘And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith…” This is because there is no person who is exempted from slipping, making mistakes, anger and immoderation, and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will forgive them. Any of this does not demand disassociation from them, or opposing them.
Likewise al Khatib al Baghdadi mentions:
وليجتنب المحدث رواية ما شجر بين الصحابة ويمسك عن ذكر الحوادث التي كانت منهم، ويعم جميعهم بالصلاة عليهم والاستغفار.
A scholar of hadith should refrain from narrating the conflicts which broke out between the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum, and he should refrain from mentioning the events which transpired between them; he should pray for all of them and seek forgiveness for them.
Hereunder we discuss the reasons owing to which the pious predecessors have refrained from delving into the conflicts which transpired between the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum:
Firstly, delving into this topic can in all likelihood lead to disrespecting some of them, intentionally or inadvertently. Hence when Imam Ahmed was asked about the narration:
ويح عمار تقتله الفئة الباغية، يدعوهم إلى الجنة ويدعونه إلى النار
Poor ‘Ammar, the rebel group will kill him. He will be inviting them to Jannat and they will be inviting him to Jahannam.
He sufficed on saying, “There is more than one authentic narration in this regard,” and disliked saying anything thereafter. As if to suggest that if the people of Sham in general are deemed to be the purport of the hadith, then it might lead to disrespecting Muawiyah and ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.
Furthermore, if Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhu would prevent Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu from relating to the people what he had heard Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying to some of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum whilst happy or angry, then how much more forbidden would it be to talk about the conflicts which broke out between them, especially when much of it is not even established. Consider the narration:
كان حذيفة بالمدائن، فكان يذكر أشياء قالها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لأناس من أصحابه في الغضب، فينطلق ناس ممن سمع ذلك من حذيفة، فيأتون سلمان فيذكرون له قول حذيفة، فيقول سلمان: حذيفة أعلم بما يقول. فيرجعون إلى حذيفة فيقولون له: قد ذكرنا قولك لسلمان فما صدقك ولا كذبك. فأتى حذيفة سلمان وهو في مبقلة فقال: يا سلمان، ما يمنعك أن تصدقني بما سمعت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ فقال سلمان: إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يغضب فيقول في الغضب لناس من أصحابه، ويرضى فيقول في الرضا لناس من أصحابه. أما تنتهي حتى تورث رجالا حب رجال، ولارجال بغض رجال، وحتى توقع اختلافا وفرقة، ولقد علمت أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خطب فقال: أيما رجل من أمتى سببته سبة أو لعنته لعنة في غضبي فإنما أنا من ولد آدم أغضب كما يغضبون، وإنما بعثني رحمة للعالمين فاجعلها عليهم صلاة يوم القيامة. والله لتنتهين أو لأكتبن إلى عمر.
When Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in Madaʾin, he would relate to the people things which Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to some of his Companions when angry. Subsequently some of those who heard from him would come to Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhu and inform him of what Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu had said. Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhu would reply by merely saying, “Hudhayfah knows well what he is saying.” These people would then return to Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and tell him, “We mentioned what you related to Salman, but he did not approve or disprove.” Hence Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu came to Salman whilst he was in his farm and asked him, “What prevents you from believing me in what I have heard from Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?” To which Salman radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would get angry and would say things in his anger to some of his Companions. He would likewise be happy and would say things in his happiness to some of his Companions. Will you not stop until you instil love for some men in the hearts of some and hatred for some men in the hearts of others, thereby engendering disputes and disunity? You know well that Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam delivered a sermon and said, ‘Any person in my Ummah whom I have offended or cursed whilst angry, I am merely from the children of Adam and thus become angry just as they do, and Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has sent me as a mercy to all the worlds; therefore, O Allah make that a source of blessings for them on the Day of Judgment.’ By Allah you either stop or I will write to ‘Umar.”
Indeed, what many of the predecessors feared actually came to the fore amongst the Shia whose hearts are filled will hatred and ill-feelings for many of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Al A’mash says the following regarding the people of his city, the people of Kufah:
حدثناهم بغضب صحاب محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم فاتخذوه دينا
We narrated to them the anger of the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and they took that as religion.
He has also said:
نستغفر الله من أشياء كنا نرويها على وجه التعجب اتخذوها دينا! وقد أدرك أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم معاوية أميرا في زمان عمر وبعد ذلك عشر سنين فلم يقم إليه أحد فيقتله
We seek the forgiveness of Allah for things that we would narrate by way of displaying amusement, which they have now taken as religion. The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lived during the era of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu when Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the governor and ten years thereafter. But none of them endeavoured to kill him.
Secondly, it can in all likelihood lead to embedding hatred in the hearts for some of the Sahabah, whereas the Muslims are ordered to seek forgiveness for their brothers who has preceded them with faith.
Shihab ibn Khirash says:
أدركت من أدركت من صدر هذه الأمة وهم يقولون: اذكروا محاسن أصحاب رسول الله ما تأتلف عليه القلوب، ولا تذكروا الذي شجر بينهم فتحرشوا عليهم الناس
Whoever of the predecessors of this Ummah I accompanied, I heard him saying, “Mention the merits of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that will be a means of the hearts uniting. And do not mention what transpired between them, so as not provoke the people against them.
And Ibn Taymiyah has said:
الخوض فيما شجر يوقع في نفوس كثير من الناس بغضا وذما
Discussing what transpired between them, engenders hatred and criticism in many people.
Thirdly, it can lead to confusing some people, especially the commonality and the young generation; they will get the impression that there is some sort of contradiction between the respect and acknowledgement of virtue which has settled in their hearts regarding the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and the events which transpired between them.
However, even though the general principle of the pious predecessors is refraining from discussing the topic, but at times, where the need is dire, like when refuting the misconceptions of the innovators, it is permitted to delve into it.
Ibn Taymiyah has mentioned the following in this regard:
ولهذا أوصوا بالإمساك عما شجر بينهم لأنا لا نسأل عن ذلك،كما قال عمر بن عبد العزيز: تلك دماء طهر الله منها يدي فلا أحب أن أخضب بها لساني. وقال آخر: تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ ۖ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ ۖ وَلَا تُسْأَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ لكن إذا ظهر مبتدع يقدح فيهم بالباطل فلا بد من الذب عنهم وذكر ما يبطل حجته بعلم و عدل
Thus they have advised that one withholds discussion regarding what transpired between them, because we will not be asked regarding that, as stated by ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, “That is blood from which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has kept my hands pure. Hence I would not want to taint my tongue with it.” And another person said, “That was a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.” However, if an innovator comes about and criticises them with false accusations, it becomes necessary to defend their integrity and advance such arguments which will destroy his evidences with knowledge and impartiality.
But when doing so, two things have to be considered:
- Through investigation of whatever he will narrate regarding them, because much of what is reported is either, false, added to, or distorted.
- Finding the best and most plausible explanation for whatever is established.
Ibn Taymiyah mentions:
إن هذه الآثار المروية في مساويهم، منها ما هو كذب، ومنها ما قد زيد فيها ونقص وغير من وجهه، والصحيح منه هم فيه معذورون: إما مجتهدون مصيبون، وإما مجتهدون مخطأون ومن ثم فهم محفوظون عن ما يوجب التضليل والتفسيق
These reports which are reported regarding their demerits, some of them are false, in some additions and omissions have taken place and in some distortions have been made. In that which is authentically established from them, they are excused due to either doing Ijtihad (applying themselves to the best possible extent) and reaching the right conclusion or doing Ijtihad and reaching the wrong conclusions. Hence they are, in both cases, free from anything which necessitates deeming them misguided or sinful.
And Ibn Musharraf says:
بالخير والكف عما بينهم شجرا
|وواجب ذكركل من صحابته|
|عن اجتهاد وكن إن خضت معتذرا||
فلا تخض في حروب بينهم وقعت
It is compulsory to remember all his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum with goodness, and to refrain from delving into what transpired between them.
Hence do not delve into the battles which occurred as a result of their viewpoints varying. And even if you do then find a plausible excuse.
 Surah al Najm: 32.
 Sharh Usul I’tiqad Ahlus Sunnah wa al Jama’ah 1/160; Tabaqat al Hanabilah 1/243; Maqtal al Shahid ‘Uthman p. 175.
 Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 3/156.
 Surah al Fath: 29.
 Surah al Hadid: 10.
 Tafsir al Tabari 27/221; Ibn ‘Atiyyah: al Muharrar al Wajiz 5/260; al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwaʾ wa al Nihal 4/117.
 Surah Tawbah: 88, 89.
 A measurement which is equal to 0.688 litres.
 Al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwaʾ wa al Nihal 4/92; al Sarim al Maslul 3/1077; Fath al Bari 7/42; Fath al Mughith 3/110.
 Sahih Muslim: chapter regarding the virtues of the Sahabah: sub-chapter regarding the presence of Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam being a source of security for his companions, and the presence of his companions being a source of security for the Ummah: hadith no. 2531.
 Sharh al Nawawi ‘ala Muslim 16/83.
 Surah al Nisaʾ: 28.
 Surah Yusuf: 53.
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 14.
 Muhammad ibn al Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Bashshar, Abu Bakr ibn al Anbari. A great scholar and author. He was born in 271 A.H. and earned acclaim for his in depth knowledge of the sciences of language. To the extent that it is said that he memorised three hundred thousand examples (for various laws) from the Qurʾan. Al Khatib has described him saying, “A truthful person, pious and virtuous. From the Ahlus Sunnah.” He passed away in 328 A.H. Some of his works are: al Waqf wa al Ibtidaʾ, Kitab al Mushkil, Kitab al Zahir. See Tarikh Baghdad 3/181; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 15/274; al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar 2/220; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/196.
 Fath al Mughith 3/115; Irshad al Fuhul p. 129.
 Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 3/155.
 Ahmed ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmed al Mahrani, Abu Nuaim al Asfahani. A scholar of hadith who was inclined to mysticism. He was born in 336 A.H. His scholars gave him Ijazah in hadith (permission to narrate hadiths) when he was six years of age. Scholars from all places gathered at his feet owing to his high chains of transmission and thorough knowledge of hadith and its sciences. He was impugned without any evidence. Some of his works are: Hilyat al Auliyaʾ, Mujam al Sahabah, and Kitab al Imamah wa al Radd ‘ala al Rafidah. He passed away in 430 A.H. See: Tadhkirat al Huffaz 3/1092; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 17/453; Lisan al Mizan 1/201; Tabaqat al Huffaz p. 423.
 Al Imamah wa al Radd ‘ala al Rafidah p. 341.
 Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Salamah al Azdi, Abu Jafar al Tahawi (attributed to Taha, a village in Egypt). A jurist and a scholar of hadith. He was born in 239 A.H. Initially he studied the Shafi’i School from his uncle al Muzani and thereafter switched to the Hanafi School. Subsequently he became the supreme authority therein in Egypt. He passed away in 321 A.H. Some of his works: Sharh Ma’ani al Athar, Ahkam al Qurʾan and al Mukhtasar fi al Fiqh. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 5/367; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 15/27; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 11/173; al Jawahir al Mudiʾah fi Tabaqat al Hanafiyyah 1/102.
 Ibn Abi al ‘Iz: Sharh al ‘Aqidah al Tahawiyyah p. 528.
 ‘Ubaid ibn ‘Abdul Karim ibn Yazid al Makhzumi (their client/ally), Abu Zur’ah al Razi. A prolific scholar of hadith, a master in Jarh and Ta’dil (impugning and endorsing), and a jurist with utmost piety and disinclination from this world. He was born in 200 A.H. Ahmed ibn Hanbal said regarding him, “There has not crossed the bridge of Baghdad any one more knowledgeable than Abu Zur’ah.” He passed away in 263 A.H. Narrations with his transmissions feature in Sahih Muslim, Sunan al Tirmidhi, Sunan al Nasaʾi and Sunan Ibn Majah. See: Tarikh Baghdad 10/326; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 38/11; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 13/65; Tahdhib al Tahdhib 7/28.
 Al Kifayah p. 188.
 Tabaqat al Hanabilah 1/30; al Sarim al Maslul 3/1056; Hadi al Arwah p. 291; Ibn Badran: al Madkhal p. 94.
 Hamd/Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn al Khattab al Busti Abu Sulaiman al Khattabi. A Shafi’i jurist who was an expert in the sciences of hadith, Arabic and literature. He passed away in 388 A.H. some of his works are: Ma’alim al Sunan, Gharib al Hadith and Kitab al ‘Uzlah. See: Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 17/23; al Wafi bi al Wafayat 7/207; Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra 3/282; Ibn Qadi Shuhbah: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah 2/156.
 Al Ghunyah ‘an al Kalam wa Ahlih p. 58.
 Yahya ibn Sharaf ibn Hassan al Nawawi, Abu Zakariyya. A hadith scholar and a leading Shafi’i jurist in his time, who was entirely disinclined from this world. He was born in Nawa (city in Syria) in 631 A.H. He would not waste any moment of his time in doing nothing. He had presided over the supreme post of in the Dar al Hadith al Ashrafiyyah and all his books earned acclaim. He passed away in 676 A.H. The following are some of his works: Sharh Muslim, al Majmu’ Sharh al Muhadhdhab and al Adhkar. See: al ‘Ibar fi Khabar man Ghabar p. 312; Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra 8/395; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 13/278; Tabaqat al Huffaz p. 513.
 Sharh al Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim 16/93.
 Al Sarim al Maslul ‘ala Shatim al Rasul 3/1121.
 Fayʾ is the wealth which is taken from the disbelievers without war. See: al Mughni 6/312; Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 7/48; al Mardawi: al Insaf 4/198.
 Hilyat al Auliyaʾ 9/112; al Istidhkar 5/17; Sharh al Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim 18/158; Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/487; al Insaf 4/198.
 Al Sarim al Maslul 3/1061; al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah 2/621.
 Ahmed ibn Hanbal: Fadaʾil al Sahabah 1/59. Ibn Taymiyah has graded the transmission as authentic in his book Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 2/22.
 Surah al Hashr: 10.
 Al Imamah wa al Radd ‘ala al Rafidah p. 341; al Ghunyah ‘an al Kalam wa Ahlih p. 59; Lum’at al I’tiqad p. 36.
 Ahmed ibn ‘Ali ibn Thabit ibn Ahmed al Baghdadi, Abu Bakr al Khatib. A prominent hadith scholar and great historian. He was born in Ghuzayyah in 392 A.H. After al Dar Qutni, there was no one like him in Baghdad. He endowed all his books to the Muslims and distributed all his wealth in avenues of good and upon the scholars in his fatal illness. He passed away in 463 A.H. Some of his works are: Tarikh Baghdad, al Jami’ and al Kifayah. See: Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 5/31; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 18/270; Tarikh al Islam 31/86; Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra 4/119.
 Al Jami’ li Akhlaq al Rawi wa Adab al Sami’ 2/119.
 The narration of Abu Sa’id al Khudri which appears in Sahih al Bukhari: chapter of Salah: sub-chapter regarding helping in building the Masjid: hadith no. 436.
 Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 43/436; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 1/421.
 Sunan Abi Dawood: Chapter of Sunnah; sub-chapter regarding the prohibition of cursing the Sahabah of Rasul Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: hadith no. 4659. The hadith is graded Sahih by Albani in Sahih Sunan Abi Dawood.
 Sulaiman ibn Mahran al Asadi al Kahili (their client/ally), Abu Muhammad al Kufi, famously known as A’mash. He was the Muqriʾ (instructor of the Qurʾan) and a prolific and reliable scholar of hadith, except that he would do Tadlis (conceal the name of the person from who he received a particular transmission and narrate from the narrator above him). He is considered to be from junior Tabi’in, successors of the Sahabah. He was well known for his excessive worship as well. He passed away in 148 A.H. and his narrations feature in the six canonical works. See: al Tabaqat al Kubra 6/342; Tarikh Baghdad 9/3; Tahdhib al Kamal 12/76; Mizan al I’tidal 3/315.
 Al Ma’rifah wa al Tarikh 3/85; Tarikh Madinah Dimashq 32/93; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ´ 2/394.
 Al Tarikh al Awsat 1/136.
 Shihab ibn Khirash ibn Hawshab al Shaybani, Abu al Salt al Wasiti. First he settled in Kufah and then he moved to Ramlah in Palestine. Imam Ahmed has deemed him authentic. He was an adherent of the Sunnah. Some of his narrations, however, are reprehensible. Ibn Hajar said, “A satisfactory narrator who at times errs.” In the sources that I referred to, I have not come across the year of his demise. His narrations feature in the Sunan of Abu Dawood al Sijistani. See al Kamil fi Du’afaʾ al Rijal 4/34; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 8/284; Tahdhib al Kamal 12/568; Taqrib al Tahdhib p. 269.
 Al Kamil fi Du’afaʾ al Rijal 4/34; Siyar A’lam al Nubalaʾ 8/285.
 Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 4/449.
 I’tiqadad Ahlus Sunnah fi al Sahabah p. 77.
 Surah al Baqarah: 134.
 Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah 6/254.
 Risalah al Qayrawani p. 9; al Khattabi: al ‘Uzlah p. 23; al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah 2/621.
 Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh al Islam 3/155.
 Ahmed ibn ‘Ali ibn Hussain ibn Musharraf al Wuhaybi al Tamimi. A Maliki scholar who had composed poetry in abundance. He was a Salafi in belief. He was from Ahsaʾ. For a while he was a judge. He has written many poems regarding the oneness of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, in debunking the claims of the deniers of the attributes of the Ahlus Sunnah, endorsing the revivalist call and defending it and praises. All of these can be found in the collection of his poetry. He passed away in 1285 A.H. Some of his books are: Ikhtisar Sahih Muslim. See: al-A’lam 1/182; Mujam al Muʾallifin 2/32.
 Diwan Ibn Musharraf p. 55.