Why Are All the Companions the Most Virtuous After the Prophets?

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I often hear that, despite the very broad definition of a companion of the prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) , the lowest ranking person who falls under the definition of companion surpasses anyone until the day of judgement in piety vitrue and righteousness in the sight of Allah. Could you please shed some light on the this matter?

Answer:Wa alaykum al-Salam

JazakaLlah khayr for your question.

There are a large number of proofs establishing that the companions radiyaLlahu anhum are the most virtuous of Allah’s creation after the Prophets and Messengers. Before presenting these proofs however, it’s important to understand that the companions were not infallible. They were guiding stars and the best of Allah’s creation, but were not free from error. I mention this so that an objector may not quote an error of a companion and thus attempt to strip them of their virtue.

Another important clarification is that not all companions were equal. Those who embraced Islam after the treaty of Hudaybiyah were not equal to those who accepted prior to that. Similarly, those who immigrated from Makkah to Madinah were considered more virtuous than others. Thereafter, those who fought at the battle of Badr were more virtuous, then those who attended the bay’ah al-Ridwan, then the ten companions who were given the gladtidings of Jannah, then sayyidina Ali ibn Talib and sayyidina Uthman, then sayyidina Umar and finally sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq may Allah be well pleased with them all.

Here follows some verses of the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam establishing their precedence over others.

And why do you not spend in the cause of Allah while to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth? Not equal among you are those who spent before the fath [treaty of Hudaybiyah or 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. [57:10]

Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajireen and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful. [9:117]

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 is on their faces 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 Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward. [48:29]

The Messenger sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said,
“Do not swear my companions, for should any of you spend the weight of mount Uhud in gold, it will not equal their spending of a mudd (750 grams) or half thereof.” [Agreed upon]

“The best of generations is mine, then those who follow, then those who follow.”

“Whoever loves them (my companions), loves them because of his love for me; whoever dislikes them, dislikes them because of his dislike of me; whoever harms them (with his words or action), has harmed me, whoever harms me, harms (angers) Allah, and whoever harms Allah, it is near that Allah strikes him.” [al-Tirmidhi]

Statements from our pious predecessors:

Abu Zur’ah al-Razi said, “Whoever criticizes any of the companions is a zindiq (enemy of Islam). This is so, because the Messenger sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam and the Quran are true. The Quran and his Sunnah sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam was only conveyed to us via these companions. They (the enemies of Islam) only criticize the companions as they wish to find fault in the Quran and Sunnah.”

AbduLlah ibn Mubarak said when asked who is more righteous between the pious caliph, ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz and Mu‘awiyah radiyaLlahu anhu, “The dust that settled in the nose of the horse of Mu‘awiyah with the Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam, is better than several ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz. In another narration he said, “is better than all the good deeds of ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz.

This was his words regarding Mu‘awiyah radiyaLlahu anhu and he was from the companions that entered Islam after the treaty of Hudaybiyah.

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Shaykh Abdurragmaan
received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

Who Is a Sahabi? Who Is Referred to When Allah Says “Allah Is Pleased With Them?”

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

1) Who is a Sahabi?

2) Who is referred to when Allah Says ‘Allah is pleased with them?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for your questions. I pray this finds you in the best of states.

Definition of a Sahabi (Companion)

The scholars consider a Sahabi as someone who fulfils the following conditions:

1. That they met (came into physical proximity) of the Prophet ﷺ in this world
2. That they were Muslim when they met the Prophet ﷺ
3. That the meeting was after the Prophet ﷺ received Prophethood
4. That they died upon Islam

The following are not conditions for the person to be deemed a Sahabi:

1. That they spoke with the Prophet ﷺ when they met
2. That they saw the Prophet with their eyes

From the above, we can know that Companions who were blind, such as Ibn Umm Maktum (may Allah be pleased with him), are considered Companions even if they did not see the blessed Prophet ﷺ with their eyes. It also includes the Angels who met the Prophet on earth, such as Jibril and Mika’il (May Allah be pleased with them both).

It excludes those individuals who initially kept the company of the Prophet ﷺ, but ultimately did not die upon Islam, such as Abdullah bin Khatl, though if the person left Islam but then returned to it and died upon Islam, then they are still considered a Companion, such as Abdullah bin Abi Sarh.

[Hashiyat al Bajuri ‘ala Jawhara al Tawhid, Sharh al Mandhuma al Bayquniyya]

‘Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him’

The various verses that Allah Most High says, ‘Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him’ is general and refers to those truthful and obedient Muslims until the Day of Judgement.

For example, in Surah al Ma’idah [5:119], it refers to the ‘truthful’ ones (Sadiqin) that Allah is pleased with, with the preceding verses mentioning the truthfulness of Sayyidna Isa, as an exemplar of those who are truthful. Thus anyone who follows the example in upholding the truth, is included in those Allah is pleased with.

In Surah al Tawba [9:100], Allah the Exalted first mentions the ‘forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajireen and the Ansar’ as those Allah is pleased with. This has been taken to mean those who fought at Badr or meaning all the Sahaba, while it has also been held that it refers to those who took the allegiance of Ridwan, or those who fought at Uhud, or anyone who became Muslim before the opening of Mecca.

Irrespective of the difference of opinion, those Quranic words are then immediately followed by the words, ‘and those who followed them in goodness’ meaning those Muslims who follow the virtuous conduct of the Salaf, and this refers to any righteous Muslim who follow the way of the Salaf in their faith and works until the Day of Judgement, as stated in the books of tafsir.

[Tafsir al Sawi]

In summary, the words of Allah Most High, ‘Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him’ refers to both specific people, such as Sayyidna ‘Isa and the Early Muslims, including Companions who had little contact with the Prophet ﷺ, as well as generally to any righteous and truthful Muslim who strives to follow the conduct of our pious predecessors.

May Allah grant you every good and make you and us of those who Allah is pleased with and who are pleased with Him.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Could You Share Narrations Where the Prophet Likened Companions to Earlier Prophets?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

1) Is the following narration found in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad?

Turning to Abu Bakr who had counselled a lenient view, the Holy Prophet said: “Abu Bakr you are like Abraham who said, ‘He who follows me is one of us, and he who disobeys me, then O God, You are gracious enough to forgive’. And Abu Bakr you are also like Jesus who said, ‘If you punish them they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, You are All Powerful, Mighty and Wise.” Turning to Umar, the Holy Prophet said: Umar, you are like Noah who said, ‘O God, do not leave on the earth a single unbeliever.’ And Umar you are also like Moses who said, ‘O God destroy their properties and harden their hearts so that they are not converted till they have suffered punishment.”

2) Could you also share some other narrations where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) likened other Sahaba to earlier Prophets?

Answer: Assalamu ‘alaykum,

I hope you are well.

Comparing Abu Bakr and ‘Umar to Prophets

The narration you mention is narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, ascribed to ‘Abd Allah b. Mas’ud:

The Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – sought the counsel of some of his companions on what to do with the prisoners of war. Abu Bakr – God be pleased with him – counseled that not be executed, in the hopes that God forgives them, and because they are the Prophet’s family and people. ‘Umar – God be pleased with him – counseled that they be put to the sword, because they had exiled the Prophet and disbelieved in him – peace and blessings of God be upon him. Ibn Rawaha suggested they be burned to death, to which al-‘Abbas lent his approval. The Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – left them without indicating his choice.

Upon his return, he said, “God has rendered the hearts of some men soft for him, until they are softer than milk. He has made the hearts of others hard, until they become harder than stone. Your likeness, Abu Bakr, is to Ibrahim – peace be upon him – who said, Whoever follows me is of me; as for whoever disobeys, you are most forgiving, merciful. Your likeness, Abu Bakr, is to ‘Isa, who said, If you punish them, they are your servants; if you forgive them, you are most powerful, wise. Your likeness, ‘Umar, is to Nuh, who said, Lord, do not leave on the earth an abode of the disbelievers. Your likeness, ‘Umar, is to Musa, who said, Harden their hearts, such that they do not believe until they see a painful punishment…”

I am not aware of many other narrations in which companions are compared to Prophets.

Comparing ‘Ali – God be please with him – to Prophets

There are narrations similar to: Whoever wishes to see the patience of Ibrahim, the wisdom of Nuh, and the beauty of Yusuf, should look at ‘Ali b. Abi Talib.

Ibn al-Jawzi includes this and similar narrations in his collection of fabricated narrations.

Comparisons based on Physical Resemblance

There are narrations in Muslim and Tirmidhi in which the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – attempts to describe the Prophets he encountered, in the Ascension, to his companions, and in so doing, compares them to people they know. He says, The Prophets were shown to me; Musa was almost like someone from Shanu’ah; I saw ‘Isa the son of Mary – peace be upon him – the closest resemblance to him I’ve seen is ‘Urwa b. Mas’ud. I saw Ibrahim – blessings of God be upon him – the closest resemblance to him I’ve seen is your companion – meaning himself. I saw Gabriel – peace be upon him – the closest resemblance I’ve seen to him is Dahya [b. Khalifa].

There may yet be narrations drawing other comparisons I am yet unaware of.

God knows best.

[Shaykh] Shuaib Ally

Shaykh Shuaib Ally is a scholar who has recently returned to Toronto after completing his studies overseas. He started his studies by completing his MA in Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto in 2008. He went on to study in a number of Islamic disciplines privately with scholars in Saudi Arabia, including Tafsir, Qur’anic Sciences, Shafi’i law, Usul, Hadith, Hadith Methodology, Grammar and Balagha. Shaykh Shuaib currently resides in Toronto.

Are the People Who Fought After the Prophet’s Death Disbelievers?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Are the people who fought after the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) death disbelievers because of this hadith:
“Do not become disbelievers after me, striking the necks of one another” (Bukhari)?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

There are various narrations reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not become disbelievers [variant narration: misguided] after me, striking the necks of one another (Bukhari).

Scholars, such as Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, have explained that while the Prophet’s use of ‘disbelief’ might seem to indicate real disbelief, the apparent legal meaning is not intended. Proof of this is that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community did not take it literally, and did not use these incidents as cause to, for example, stop praying behind others, or following their orders, in the case of community leaders.

Rather, Ibn Hajar posits, ‘disbelief’ is used in this and similar narrations to:

-Emphasize the gravity of the matter, and to strictly warn against and keep others from perpetrating such an act. He likens it to a Qur’anic verse that speaks of murder: Do you believe in some of the Book, and disbelieve in part? [Qur’an, 2.85], showing that some actions might be denoted disbelief in a manner of speaking, due to the seriousness of the crime.

-Compare such an act to actual disbelief, because killing believers is something that disbelievers do.

-Indicate that such an action can lead to disbelief, because a person who commits major sins will find that they drag him into committing others, leading him astray

In all cases, scholars have not considered the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to be literal, and have not considered people who have committed such acts to be disbelievers in the legal sense of the word.

Source: Fath al-Bari

Shuaib Ally