The Prophetic Way of Teaching – Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki

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[The Prophet (Peace be upon him) Spoke to People According to Their Level]

“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) followed, in his way of teaching people and inviting them to goodness, the way of the Holy Quran, in which Allah says: ‘Call you to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful counsel, and dispute with them in the better way. Surely your Lord knows very well those who have gone astray from His way, and He knows very well those who are guided.’ [16:125]
This holy verse gives us a perfect picture of the manifold forms of invitation which must be extended to different kinds of people; and the sound guidance the verse lays out applies to all kinds of people, its manifested form differing according to their different attributes and types. Among the different types of people are: the elite who seek knowledge of higher realities, the masses of ordinary people, and the stubborn opponents.
For each of these types of people, there is a specific way of speaking to them, calling them, and teaching them. He (Peace be upon him) would speak to people on the level of their intelligence, and his words would always be appropriate to the situation. He would use with each group the discourse that suited them, and address them in their own language.
Allah (The All-Mighty) gifted His Prophet (Peace be upon him) with a mighty and awe-inspiring presence, and made his words easy for people’s hearts to love and accept, so that he needed nothing more.
al-Qadi ‘Iyad said:
“Allah (The All-Mighty) cast love into his (Peace be upon him) speech and enveloped it with acceptance, and combined for him both awesomeness and sweetness. He never needed to repeat himself, and those who heard his speech never had to ask him to repeat it. He never spoke a word out of place, nor made a slip, nor found himself lost for words.”
If we consider these three kinds of people, we find that this verse devotes a unique approach to each of them.
[1. Dawah to the Intellectual Elite]
The first group, the intellectual elite, should be called and taught with wisdom; that is, with wisely-weighted words and plain evidence of the truth that leave no room for doubt. This is because they cannot be convinced by anything but plain evidence that removes all their suspicions, and wise words that guide them to the way of their Lord.
[2. Dawah to the Awwam]
The second group, the masses of ordinary people, should be called and taught with beautiful counsel; that is, with convincing speech and beneficial expressions in such a way that they can see without doubt that the one speaking to them is sincere and wants what is best for them. They do not need discourse that is especially wisely-weighted, because they are ordinary people, not intellectuals; and they do not need proofs, because they have no suspicions that need righting.
[3. Dawah to the Stubborn Opponents]
The third group, the stubborn opponents, should be called and taught by means of debate according to the best way, which is the way of gentleness, ease, and the use of well-known preambles, so that their rage is abated and the fire in their breasts is extinguished, and they can then return to the way of Allah.”
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Answer A Question to Teach Everyone]
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) would also import teachings to the Muslims by using a question one of them asked him, which he would then answer for the benefit of all. One example of this is the hadith about righteousness and wickedness. Al-Nawan ibn Sam’an (may God be pleased with him) said ‘I asked the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) about righteousness and wickedness, and he said: ‘Righteousness is good character, and wickedness is that what puts unrest in your heart, and what you would hate for others to discover.’ In the same way, women would often come and ask the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) questions, and he would answer them.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach Men and Women]
Thus you can see the prophetic method for teaching emphasizes in its wisest ways, the importance of teaching women as well as men. This shows that Islam encourages that women be nurtured, refined, and cultured with a proper religious education to help them to uphold its message.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach By Posing Questions] 
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) would also teach the Muslims by posing questions – not to learn the answers from anyone, but to rouse their interest and inspire in their hearts and minds a desire to discover the truth of the matter at hand, and cause them to recognize its imoprtance.
Mu’adh ibn Jabal (may God be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ‘Shall I not tell you the head of the matter, and its pillar, and its peak?’ ‘Indeed tell me, O Messenger of Allah’, said Mu’adh. He said: ‘The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is prayer, and its peak is struggle.’
This method of teaching which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) employed is distinguished by the way it inspired interest in this noble Companion, and pointed to the foundations of happiness in this life and the net: Islam, prayer, and struggle. We can observe that this method of teaching – by asking questions – had been adopted by educators, who present scientific concepts in the form of questions and then provide the answers for them.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach By Asking Questions in Order to Test the Knowledge of People]
 He (Peace be upon him) would also pose questions for which he did not provide answers, in order to test the knowledge and intelligence of his Companions.
Ibn ‘Umar (may God be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said ‘There is a tree whose leaves never fall, and which is like the believer. Can you tell me what it is?’ The people began to call out the names of trees of the countryside; ‘and it occurred to me’, said Ibn ‘Umar, ‘that it was the date-palm, but I was too shy to say it’. Finally, they asked the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) to tell them what it was, and he said: ‘It is the date-palm.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Give Time for Rest So As Not to Over Burden People]
 Sometimes he (Peace be upon him) would be concerned that if he continued to pose question and teach his companions, they would become bored or tired. In such instances, he would give them the opportunity to rest and take some time to gather their thoughts until their interest returned, so that the information they had already gathered would take root and be absorbed by their long-term memories. Modern educational institutions are indebted to this rightly-guided way of teaching, since they have ultimately derived their successful systems from this wise prophetic method.
Ibn Mas’ud said: ‘The Prophet (Peace be upon him) would withhold his counsel from us some days, disliking that we might become bored.’
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach People According to Their Natures and Customs]
It was also part of his (Peace be upon him) wise method to speak to people on the level of their intelligence and in a way that suited their mental faculties, their natures and their customs; and he would impart his goodly counsel with a spirit of tolerance and ease.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach People in Their Own Dialects]
He (Peace be upon him) would also speak to people in their own dialects. ‘Asim al-Ash’ari said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) say laysa min am-birr am-siyam fim-safar’ in the dialect of the Ash’ari clan, whose definite article was am instead of al.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Emphasize Teachings By Repeating Them Three Times]
 And in order to emphasize these teachings, he would often repeat what he said three times to make sure it was understood.
[He (Peace be upon him) Would Teach Through Gradualism]
 In all the commandments and prohibitions he issued, he followed the correct pedagogical method as his Lord taught him, and as was exemplified in the Qur’an. He would not issue many commandments or many prohibitions all at once, but issued them gradually, bit by bit, so that the people would not become jaded, and so that his teachings would not be overbearing.
An example: When he (Peace be upon him) sent Mu’adh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he prepared him with sufficient instruction, and commanded him to follow the way of gradualism with the people there.
 From all this, it is clear that the prophetic method of teaching employed many different ways of directing people to the path of light and perfection, and firmly laid the foundations for a good life. Thus Islamic society, with all its different facets, was bound together by the Shariah it received, and guided by the lessons of its Prophet, the Teacher, and the teachings of its Messenger, the Leader (Peace be upon him), so that the Muslims were then granted a clear victory, and were truly ‘the best community brought out for the good of mankind’ [3:110].
In the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), we have the best example, and in his Companions we have the finest role-models, so that we may follow his way and adhere to his guidance, until Allah sends upon us blessings from Heaven and earth.
In this, we see also that the prophetic way of teaching did not leave any aspect of the affairs of life and religion without paying attention to it and giving it ample consideration. It laid down the sound foundations upon which the best community stood, and from which was formed the great Islamic state, which spread knowledge and civilization across the world, from corner to corner.”
(p 269-272 of “Muhammad (Peace be upon him): The Perfect Man” by Sayyid Muhammad ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani)
To purchase this book: Click here
Relevant resources:
The Virtues of Teaching & Transmitting Guidance – IslamCast

Motifs used by the Prophet Muhammad in Teaching & Guiding Individuals and Communities

How Does Media Impact the Way You Teach?


mediaWe are constantly bombarded with news from the media related to Islam and Muslims, especially given the post-9/11 context in which we live. This highlights the need for students in Islamic schools to be media literate.

As an Islamic school teacher, you have a social responsibility to open up the eyes of your students to the outside world. It is important to give students the opportunity to question the ways in which Islam and Muslims are represented in the media.

Nazim Baksh is a journalist with expertise in media coverage related to Islam. In this video, he provides practical suggestions on how to incorporate media literacy in your classroom. See a short excerpt above.

Nadeem Memon, Director of Education for Razi Education wrote the above in 2011 and it remains are relevant as ever. Find out more about the Islamic Teacher Education Program.


Resources for seekers:

Can Muslim Woman Teach Mixed Class

Answered by  Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

Question : Our Unsung Ustadhat and their teaching a ‘mixed’ class

bismillahi r-rahmani r-rahim nahmaduka ya Allah wa nashkuruka ya Allah bi-khayri mata’i d-dunya al-mar’ah as-salihah wa nusalli wa sallama salatan wa salaman da’iman ila d-dari l-akhirah wa ‘ala alihi wa sahbihi wa man tabi’ahum ila yawmi l-qiyamah!

Rabbi zidni ilman, wa rzuqni fahman!

Answer : Just as in the case of a man, a woman would be permitted to teach in any subject in which she is an ahl and a specialist, subject to the minimum legal conditions (see below) and proper decorum of course, whenever possible.

And yes, it is a well known fact that Imam Ibn Hajar studied from not only one, but 58 women teachers (Shafi’iyya faqihat as well as muhaddithat, and in other subjects too). Our own Mujtahid Imam studied Hadith under Nafisa bint al-Hasan (d. 208 H), for example. Amat al-Muhamiliyya (d. 377 H) was a Shafi’iyya faqiha (but could not be a Qadi [judge], even when her knowledge surpassed the academic requirements required to be one*), who gave out fatwas in public along with a male Mufti [juriconsult], Ibn Abi Hurayra in Baghdad; and her son was the famous Qadi al-Muhamili, etc. etc. (may Allah be pleased with all of them!)

*A Mufti can be said to outrank a Qadi when it is a matter of having knowledge [‘ilm] and reaching the level of Ijtihad. The opposite can be said, for example, when the ex-Hanafi and then Shafi’i jurist, Imam Ibn al-Sam’ani (may Allah be pleased with him!), states that the shart [condition] of being a Qadi is stricter [aghlaz] than that of being a Mufti, given the two conditions of being free [hurriyya] and being male [dhukura] (MS: Ibn al-Sam’ani, Qawati’, folio 275a). That is why, in spite of the ideal, not all, indeed very few, judges reach the rank of a Mujtahid, whereas more jurists do. Although the standards decline as time goes by, the Mufti-Qadi ratio in the Ijtihad index remains pretty much the same.

As for your fiqhi question, “So is tajweed the only science in which a women can’t teach men?”

Where is the ‘ibara [source] in the fiqh manuals that backs this statement and who among our classical fuqaha’ have said this and what is the ‘illa [legal basis] to say that an ustadha cannot teach Tajwid to the opposite sex, if all of the legal limits and precautions are already met? At least some Tajwid can be taught, even unqualifiedly, as we will see below. This simplistic statement needs to be qualified, for a jurist could see that there is tafsil in this mas’ala, and insight is required here for students of fiqh.

Furu’ A: There is no question, of course, that an ustadha can teach a boy who has not yet reached puberty (in any subject), even when Nazar [looking directly] is involved (and in fact, in my part of the world it is NORMAL for the women to teach boys reading the Qur’an along with the rules of Tajwid, even in a non-madrasa setting). [Hukm Shar’i = Jawaz Mutlaqan]

Furu’ B: If the teaching involves Ikhtilat [a congregation composed of the two opposite sexes] among adults, then there is further tafsil in this mas’ala. [Hukm Shar’i = Jawaz bi-Shurutin]

Tafsil A of Furu’ B: When the teaching does not involve Nazar, then it is allowed. However, there are measures to be taken to ensure proper decorum when a mature woman wants to seek learning or has to teach an Ikhtilat classroom. The three conditions required in the case for a male teacher teaching an Ikhtilat classroom or vice versa, are (in the example of a male teaching):

1. That the female student could not find any female/mahram teacher(s) in her area who could teach the particular subject or point in question (in any subject valid to teach, whether religious or secular), or that the qualified teacher in this case refused to teach.

2. That the activity be free from fitna (what is meant by ‚’fitna’ here is ‘to commit fornication/adultery or their preludes’ [al-zina wa-muqaddimatihi]: a standard example of a prelude to Zina given by Imam Ibn Hajar, for example, is to be in a state of unlawful seclusion [khalwa] – and in our school, a woman alone with two or more non-mahram men in a closed enclosure where an untoward incident could happen without the outside world knowing directly (so a woman passenger driven by a male driver in a London black cab in broad daylight will not count, for example) constitutes a khalwa, but not if two women are with one non-mahram man).

3. That the teaching is done ‘from behind the hijab’ [wara’ al-hijab], that is, steps are taken to ensure that decorous norms of behaviour are maintained between the opposite sexes which can be achieved either, as is usually achieved as in the case of an Ikhtilat congregation of a prayer in a mosque or anywhere else, by there being a simple partition (even if transparent), or that the Hijab/Niqab is worn by the women if there is no partition and so on.

Tafsil B of Furu’ B: When the teaching is difficult without Nazar. Then, the only time when this is allowed is, when the rare occasion arises such as when the subject matter/point being taught is a Fard ‘Ayn knowledge. It goes without saying here that the rest of the measures above must be met.

This is made clear by Imam Nawawi al-Jawi (may Allah be pleased with him!) in our dedicated manual on male-female relations, the ‘Uqud al-Lajin:

“Looking directly [Nazar] at her is also permitted only in the case of teaching what is obligatory for her, as mentioned by [Imam] al-Subki and other [Shafi’i jurists]. That [allowance] is (1) when she is deprived from those of her Mahram [such as her husband] and women who could teach her, as an analogy [Qiyas] with the case of seeking medical treatment; and (2) when it is difficult to teach from behind the Hijab. It is not permitted to look directly at her on account of teaching what is recommended.” [al-Nawawi al-Jawi, Sharh ‘Uqud al-Lajin, 3].

#Notes for students of fiqh#: Tafsil B is in effect a Takhfif [Alleviation] of Tafsil A because it is an istithna’ [legal exception] of the third shart owing to the ‘udhr [legal excuse] of teaching Fard ‘Ayn knowledge. It falls under one of the 7 Takhfif categories, namely, that of Takhfif Isqat [Alleviation due to Omission].

Now, at most, the Tajwid of the Fatiha is Fard ‘Ayn knowledge according to our school [al-Saqqaf, Fawa’id Makkiya, 14]. So we have qualified for you the statement: “tajweed [is] the only science in which a women can’t teach men”; wisdom is required here and in spite this being a rare thing indeed, it is legally possible as such, and may even be necessary (for this is the minimum fiqhi ruling in this mas’ala which we know is far from what is perfect and Ihsan): for given a particular place and time, there may be occasions, let alone Ikhtilat but even Nazar is allowed, in the teaching of the Tajwid of Fatiha for adults. The wise jurist will know that in this mas’ala, each case is unique, and each is to be decided case by case.

##Further notes for students of fiqh## Although the original legal ruling [al-asl] in our school for an adult female reciting the Qur’an aloud (whether during or outside the Salat), such that a non-Mahram man could hear her recitation is Makruh, and not Haram [al-Mihi, Hashiya ‘ala Sharh al-Sittin al-Ramli, 63] (while it is Mubah of course for her to recite the Qur’an in front of the Mahram man and it is Haram for her to do the Adhan even in front of a Mahram man), but in the rare case when the above happens (that an ustadha has to end up teaching the Tajwid of Fatiha in an Ikhtilat classroom), then it is no longer Makruh for the non-Mahram men to hear her recitation following the qa’ida [legal maxim]: mA lA yatimmu l-wAjibu illA bi-hi fa-huwa wAjibun [that without which something obligatory cannot be completed, itself becomes obligatory].

++Fa’ida++ There is a famous discussion in Imam Ibn al-Salah’s Muqaddima on the question of hearing a teacher transmitting a Hadith from behind a Hijab. Although the Qawl Mu’tamad is that the transmission is valid, the background to this discussion was the Qawl related by one of the Wadi’un of ‘Ilm Hadith, Qadi al-Ramhurmuzi (may Allah be pleased with him!) of Shu’ba (may Allah be well pleased with him!), who held the opinion that someone who hears a Muhaddith/a without seeing the face may not relate from that Muhaddith/a (and among the ‘illa offered is that it may be Shaytan who has taken the Muhaddith/a’s form!) [Ibn al-Salah, Muqaddima, 261]; and all this fuss when dealing with non-Fard ‘Ayn knowledge, for ‘Ilm Hadith is not Fard ‘Ayn knowledge.

Some of us men from the Far East have teachers in knowledge whether religious (such as fiqh/tawhid) or secular (like Arabic/miqat), who were ustadhat, and it is not uncommon for us to hear stories, for example, that a young talib al-‘ilm’s three- or two-year course on the Fath al-Qarib was cut short before having nearly completed the whole Hashiya because he had sadly reached puberty. And it stands to reason that it is the faqiha who is best at teaching Bab Mahid, for example (and that one acquires a good reputation in our part of the world amongst scholars if one were fortunate enough to have learnt it from them), and that is why the late Musnid al-Dunya, Shaykh Muhammad Yasin al-Fadani al-Makki (may Allah be pleased with him!) would warn a student not to miss his opportunity learning Ahkam al-Nisa’ from them when it does not have to be a dispensation, and that he would also encourage a student to learn as much as possible at the tender age before reaching puberty from our ‘akhira mothers’ – if not from our own biological mothers – so that we may acquire their hilm and forbearance. And this is what is practiced in systematic Shafi’i colleges (these often having the reputation among the locals of being ‘strict’ (because of always seeking the wara’) and ‘orthodox’ [i.e., salaf]), namely the well established (some have taught for hundreds of years uninterrupted) pedigree madrasats, li-l-banin wa-l-banat, in Southeast Asia.

The fact remains that both what our history shows and what our living scholars do offer us the legal precedent of having, when the practical need arises, a Majlis Ta’lim (religious or otherwise) that is Ikhtilat in nature (whether conducted by a male vis-a-vis a classroom comprising both sexes, or vice versa). It may be that we in the Far West (i.e., bilad al-Afranj) feel uncomfortable and may even object if an ustadha be allowed to teach an Ikhtilat classroom, even after the respective party has exhausted all options and after having gone through the due legal process; if this is so then ask oneself, what is the point of the Niqab or the Hijab? Moreover, especially for those adults/mukallafs who have attended modern secular co-educational universities and schools whether in the West or in the East, should think twice as hard before raising their voices or having a bad opinion of an Ustadha teaching an Ikhtilat class in Fard ‘Ayn that does meet the minimum requirements of our Sacred Law. The least one could do then is to give to a class that the Shari’a has clearly exonerated the benefit of our husn al-zann and hope to Allah that in the face of the widespread decline today in the institutions of our scholastic learning, her class will continue to burn the candle of that dying tradition. It will be the more ironic if we who criticize might ourselves have sat in a majlis conducted by a non-Muslima in the ever expanding modern institutions, listening to what might at most be Mandub knowledge. Must we remind ourselves that the ones being criticized in this case are not only protected by their respective Hijabs but more importantly by their relevant ‘udhr? If there should be any double standards here, then li-maslahat al-‘ilm (bal li-ifadat al-‘ilm al-daruri), it is only right that the ‘ulum diniyya take priority over the ‘ulum dunyawiyya, and the single Fard ‘Ayn over the Mandubat.

All of the scholars (excluding Shu’ba, of course) who are mentioned in the above, including our teachers, are Shafi’is: members of a law school known for their strictness [tashdid] in the hukm shar’i relating to the ikhtilat between males and females.

wa akhiru kalimatina wa ja’ala-ha Allahu nafi’atan, amin!

al-faqir in Oxford,

Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
28 Muharram 1425
20 III 2004

Select Bibliography:

Ibn al-Salah. Muqaddimat Ibn al-Salah wa Mahasin al-Istilah [of Shaykh al-Islam al-Bulqini]. Edited by ‘A’isha ‘Abd al-Rahman bint al-Shati’ [the Professor of Qur’anic Studies in the Qarawiyyin, Morocco]. Cairo: Matba’at Dar al-Kutub wa l-Watha’iq al-Qawmiyya, 1974. [A noteworthy Arabic edition, and by far, the best text available so far].

al-Mihi al-Shaybini. Hashiya ‘ala Sharh al-Ramli ‘ala al-Sittin Mas’ala [by Imam al-Zahid]. Bulaq, 1306 H.

Nawawi al-Jawi. Sharh ‘Uqud al-Lajin fi Bayan Huquq al-Zawjayn. Bulaq, 1302 H.

al-Saqqaf. al-Fawa’id al-Makkiyya fi-ma Yahtajahu Talabat al-Shafi’iya min al-Masa’il wa-l-Dawabit wa-l-Qawa’id al-Kulliya. In Majmu’at Sab’at Kutub Mufida. Cairo: Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, 1358 H.

The Sahaba’s Level of Superlative Learning Were All the Sahaba at an Equal Level of Superlative Learning?

Answered by  Shaykh Gibril Haddad

Question : The Sahaba’s Level
Of Superlative Learning
Were All the Sahaba at an Equal Level
of Superlative Learning?

Answer :  After the glowing praise Allah Most High in the Holy Qur’an gave the Sahaba with respect to both knowledge and piety, saying their archetypes were mentioned even in the other revealed Scriptures, calling them the best of all paradigmatic generations in the history of mankind (khayru ummatin ukhrijat lil-nas) and stating over and over that they were purified and taught by no less than the Seal of Prophets himself;

and after the Holy Prophet, Allah bless and greet him, called them “the witnesses of Allah on earth” (al-Bukhari and Muslim) and “the trustkeepers for my Community” (Muslim and Ahmad), guaranteed Paradise for “Those that follow that which I and my Companions follow” (mass-transmitted), and explicitly said “I recommend to you my Companions, *then* those that come after them” (al-Tirmidhi, hasan sahih), it is impossible to over-emphasize the superiority of the Companions to all subsequent generations including the greatest Mujtahid Imams, not only in piety but also in knowledge.

Sahabi is a God-given higher level than the acquired level of Mujtahid; and a Companion’s position on a legal matter forms a binding legal proof among the Companions, the Tabi`in, and the Mujtahid Imams, according to the two Hafizs al-`Ala’i in Ijmal al-Isaba fi Aqwal al-Sahaba and Ibn al-Qayyim in I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in. Since, therefore, later generation scholars have to follow the Companions in terms of knowledge, how can it be possible that a later generation scholar be better then a sahabi in terms of knowledge? High adab dictates that we firmly dismiss such a scenario.

Most of the Sahaba did not have a single student recorded by posterity (their definitive catalogue, al-Isaba fi Ta`yin al-Sahaba of Hafiz Ibn Hajar contains only about 12,000 entries), yet Ibn `Ajlan al-Andalusi said: “None was granted a greater blessing, *after the Sahaba*, than that granted to Suhnun in his (900!) disciples.” Similarly, Imam `Abd Allah al-Haddad in his Nafa’is al-`Ulwiyya said: “We do not give anyone precedence over al-Faqih al-Muqaddam *after the Sahaba*.”

As for the first question, “Were all the sahaba at the level of mujtahid?” we can now rephrase it in light of the preceding to read: “Were all the sahaba at an equal level of superlative learning?”

Some Companions were specifically praised and recommended as guides by their teacher the Holy Prophet, upon him and them blessings and peace, at different levels and at the exclusion of others, among them the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs (most emphatically the first two), Ibn Mas`ud, `Ammar ibn Yasir, Mu`adh ibn Jabal, Abu `Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah, and Ubay ibn Ka`b.

Hence, while the Companions as a whole play a major role in the elucidation and determination of legal rulings, it can be said that they do so at different levels. Not all of the Companions gave fatwa but rather a very small number of them such as the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs, Zayd ibn Thabit, Ibn Mas`ud, Abu Musa al-Ash`ari, `A’isha the Mother of the Believers, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, and Abu Hurayra, Allah be well-pleased with them.

Among the Companions alone, 30 narrate from our Mother `A’isha including senior elders such as her sister Asma’ bint Abi Bakr and al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awwam, as well as learned Imams such as `Abd Allah ibn `Abbas, `Abd Allah ibn `Umar, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Hurayra, and Abu Musa al-Ash`ari.
Al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi said in Nawadir al-Usul (Asl 222): “Not everyone that met the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, and followed him or saw him once is meant by the hadith ‘My Companions are like the stars, whomever of them you follow, you shall be guided,’ but only those that studiously kept his company morning and evening, received his conveyance of the Revelation, took from him the Law that became the path of the Umma, and looked to him for the ethics of Islam and to his noble traits. *Those* became, after him, the Imams and proofs in which resides right guidance and in whose path is found right emulation and in them is safety and right belief.”

But the Imams of Fiqh including the Four Imams said otherwise, as they did not exclude *any* of the Companions from the level of paradigm, as shown by their explicit legacy:

Imam Ibrahim al-Nakha`i said: “If the Companions made ablution to the wrists I swear I would have done the same, even as I read the verse of ablution as stating {to the elbows} (5:6).” In Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, al-Jami` fil-Sunan (p. 150 §18).

Imam Abu Hanifa said: “As for the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, upon him and them blessings and peace, I follow the position of whomever I wish among them nor do I differ from the position of all of them. I only need investigate the positions of those who come after them: the Tabi`in and subsequent generations.” In Ibn `Abd al-Barr, Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm (2:908).

Imam Malik said: “The Companions differed in the branches of the Law and split into factions (tafarraqu), yet EACH ONE OF THEM WAS CORRECT IN HIMSELF.” I emphasized it because such a statement requires dhawq, anat and `ilm to understand. Narrated from Imam `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al-Hakam by Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 6:322) and thus cited by Qadi `Iyad in Tartib al-Madarik (Morocco Awqaf ed. 1:214) and Ibn Taymiyya in Majmu` al-Fatawa (30:79) and al-Fatawa al-Kubra (5:18). Al-Dhahabi in the Siyar (Fikr ed. 7:414) said: “Its chain of transmission is fair.”

Imam Malik’s Muwatta’ as narrated by Yahya al-Laythi has almost as many Companion-reports (613) as Prophetic hadiths (822) while Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan’s Muwatta’ has even more Companion-reports (628) than Prophetic hadiths (429).

Imam al-Shafi`i said concerning the Companions: “Their opinion for us is better than our opinion to ourselves.” (In Ibn al-Qayyim, I`lam al-Muwaqqi`in `an Rabb al-`Alamin 2:186-187). He also said, in reply to the question which Companion should be followed if there is variance among their opinions on a single issue: “One of them can be followed if I do not find a Qur’anic proof, nor a Sunna, nor Consensus, nor anything tantamount to the above, or inferable by analogy.” (Al-Shafi`i, Risala §1805).

The strictest advocate for absolute taqlid of the Sahaba was Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. To al-Sayrafi who was asking him whether it is permissible to examine the variant positions of the Companions “in order to know which is correct so that we may follow it” Ahmad replied: “It is not permissible to cross-examine the Companions of the Messenger of Allah!” Al-Sayrafi said: “Then what do we do?” He replied: “You imitate whomever of them you like!” (tuqallidu ayyahum ahbabta). In Ibn `Abd al-Barr, Jami` Bayan al-`Ilm (2:909 §1705).

Imam Ahmad also said: “Know that the Religion is nothing but imitation itself (al-dinu innama huwa al-taqlid). This imitation is for the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, upon him and them blessings and peace.” Narrated through Abu Muhammad al-Barbahari by Ibn Abi Ya`la in Tabaqat al-Hanabila (1:29).

Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, his Companions, and their muqallids who imitate them to the Day of Resurrection.