Companions are all those who met the Prophet and died as Muslims. Scholars have said that they were 114,000 in number [as stated by Abu Zur'ah, the teacher of Imaam Muslim, and recorded by as-Suyootee]. They are praised in many Qur'aanic verses (which means): "You are the best of peoples ever raised for mankind, you enjoin good and forbid evil, and you believe in Allaah." [3:110] "And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajiroon (the Emigrants from Makkah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madeenah who helped the Muhajiroon) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allaah is well-pleased with them as they are well pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success." [9:100] "Indeed, Allaah was pleased with the believers when they gave their pledge to you (O Muhammad) under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts and He sent down calmness and tranquility upon them..." [48:18]
Our Attitude Towards Them
Our attitude towards the Sahaba should be that of love, respect, peace and purity of our hearts and tongues. Allaah has described this in His saying (which means): "And those who come after them say: 'Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed.'" [59:10] And the Prophet said (which means): "The sign of faith is love of the Ansar and the sign of hypocrisy is the hatred of Ansar" [al-Bukharee, Muslim]. Why should we not be thankful to those who believed in the Prophet , assisted him, strove with their lives and wealth to make the Word of Allaah supreme, preserved and transmitted to us our Religion? Who is more deserving that we pray for them and speak of them in the best manner and think of them with the best thoughts?
We should therefore mention their virtues and remain silent about any mistakes they made and about anything that occurred between them, as the Prophet advised us: "When my Companions are mentioned then withhold" [Saheeh, at-Tabaranee]. And he also said (which means), "Do not abuse my Companions, for if any of you were to spend gold equal to (mountain of) Uhud in charity, it would not equal a handful of one of them or even half of that" [al-Bukharee, Muslim]. And he said (which means), "Whoever abuses my Companions, upon them is the curse of Allaah, the angels and all the people" [Saheeh, At-Tabaranee].
Muslim scholars have also been very strict in regard to the issue of speaking and thinking mistrustfully of the Sahaba . Imam Malik said that someone who finds in himself an ill-feeling or anger "ghaiDH" about the Companions is a kafir because Allaah (s.w.t.) says "li-yagheeDHa bihim ul kuffar" that He may enrage the disbelievers with them, i.e. the Sahaba [48:29]. And the `Ulama' also say if the Companions of the Prophet are disbelievers, dishonest or betrayed the Prophet , then the whole religion is undermined. Because how do we know what the Prophet said, if the Companions of the Prophet were not honest and truthful? We cannot be sure. And this also applies to the Qur'aan, as we received the Qur'aan through the Sahaba as well. Indeed, they were truthful and sincere, as Allaah described them: "Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allaah and showed not their backs to the disbelievers, of them some have fulfilled their obligations and some of them are still waiting, but they never changed (i.e. they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allaah) in the least." [33:23] Hujjat ul Islaam, Sufyan ibn `Uyainah said: "He who speaks a single word against the Companions of Allaah's Messenger then he is an innovator." And Imaam Ahmad said: "If you see anyone speaking ill of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah , doubt his Islaam." And Adh-Dhahabee said, "Anyone who criticizes them or insults them has gone out of this religion and has segregated himself from the Muslim Ummah. He has disbelieved in what Allaah the Most High says concerning them in His Book, and what Allaah's Messenger has said concerning their noble qualities and their merits... It is incumbent upon the Muslims to love Allaah; to love His Messenger , to love what the Prophet brought as guidance and as his practice; to love his descendants, his Companions, his wives, his children, his servants, and to love those who love them and hate those who hate them, as this is the meaning of loving for Allaah's sake and hating for Allaah's sake, and that is the most excellent kind of faith." In al-Kaba'ir (The Greatest Sins), we find that adh-Dhahabee also said, "The one who loves the Prophet loves and respects each and all of his Companions. To hate any of them is to hate the Prophet ." Al-Fudayl ibn `Iyyad spoke similarly when he said, "Indeed, I love those whom Allaah loves. They are those from whom the Companions of Muhammad are safe. I hate those whom Allaah hates. They are the people of the deviant sects and innovation."
These statements of the great Imaams of the Ummah should not surprise us, because a slight doubt about the Companions will in fact be accusing the Prophet himself of hiding the truth about them which he knew (that they were hypocrites, as heretics claim), but he did not tell us!! Or one is accusing him of being something like an imbecile, as Shaikh Ja'far Idris once spoke, because the Prophet , supposedly did not know although he lived with these people all the time. He thought that they were the best Muslims, but they were hypocrites. That is why al-Barbaharee said, "Know that anyone who tries to attack the Companions of Muhammad really seeks to attack Muhammad ."
The Best of the Companions
We should note that the best of the Ummah, after the Prophet were Abu Bakr, then 'Umar , then 'Uthman , then 'Ali. As far as the Caliphate is concerned, Ibn Taymeeyah has said that anyone who "objects against anyone of these regarding this order of caliphate, he will be regarded more misguided than the domestic donkey."
And `Abdul-`Azeez al-Qari said that Abu Haneefa "declared anyone who doubts the caliphate of Aboo Bakr and 'Umar is a disbeliever. He also declared anyone who slanders the Mother of the Believers 'A'isha to be a disbeliever. And he stated that the prayer behind a Rafidhee [extreme Shee'ah who curse and abuse the Companions] is invalid."
Ahlus Sunnah also, "accept all the superiority's and grades that have been described about them in the Qur'aan, the Hadeeth and by concensus. They give superiority to those who spent and fought for the sake of Allaah before the victory, that is, truce of Hudaibiyah over those who spent and fought after that. They consider al- Muhajireen (those who migrated from Makkah to al-Madeenah for Islaam) to be superior to al-Ansar (the helpers of al-Madeenah who supported the Muhajireen). They have faith in what Allaah has said about the 313 persons on the occasion of the battle of Badr that, 'they are free to do what they like, their sins are pardoned' [al- Bukharee]. And none of those who gave their pledge to the Prophet under the tree will get into Fire as the Prophet has stated, 'Allaah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allaah.' And they were more than 1400 about whom the Prophet bore witness that they will be admitted to Paradise [Muslim]. The Ahlus Sunnah also bea