Allah is pleased with the Companions

Question: One day I met a follower of Shi`ism from Iran. I told him that Allah says in the Qur’ân that He is pleased with all the Companions and asked him why he reviles some of them He replied that if Allah had been pleased with them and then after that verse was revealed, some of the Companions started drinking wine and doing bad things, would Allah still be pleased with them? How can I answer him?

Answered by Sheikh Fahd b. `Abd al-Rahmân al-Yahyâ, professor at al-Imâm University in al-Qasîm
The differences between the Shî`ah and Ahl al-Sunnah are not only with respect to the Companions. The differences between the two go back to the sources upon which each group draws on in religious matters.

Here is what you need to know to respond to this person who speaks ill of the Companions:

First of all, if he concedes that Allah had been pleased with them, then his claim that Allah’s pleasure upon them has ceased to exist or that they came with what violated His pleasure is a claim that is contradictory to the Qur’ân. Allah says: “Allah is not pleased with a people who are sinful.” How then, was Allah pleased with the Companions in the first place?

Secondly, with respect to Allah’s words: “Allah has become pleased with the believers when they pledged their allegiance to you under the tree”, some of them falsely try to claim that this refers only to the time when the verse was revealed and is not applicable after that. Such an understanding negates the very point the verse is making. It denies the Companions the honor and distinction the verse is conferring upon them.

Thirdly, any accusation must come with proof. If people were allowed to make any claim they liked, people would claim the lives and property of others all the time. How much more serious the matter becomes when the accusations are being levied at the best of generations, the very Companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Where is the proof that the Companions drank alcohol and committed all of those other evil deeds? Is it rational to assume that most or all of the Companions did these things?

Fourth, if we were to concede for the sake of argument that some Companions committed some sins after this verse came down that praised them; do such sins imply that Allah’s pleasure with them is negated? Someone who has little understanding of the Qur’ân and Sunnah might think so. However, when we carefully considers all of the pertinent textual evidence, we will realize that sins are forgiven in many ways, repentance only being one of them. Among other things, good deeds wipe out evil ones, as does patience during adversity. Our previously performed acts of virtue wipe away sins as do the supplications we make for ourselves and on behalf of others.

So even if we were to concede that a Companion committed a sin, how can we claim that the sin was not forgiven? No one has knowledge of such things except Allah. We must know that Allah, when he declared his pleasure on these people, was well aware of whatever sins they would perform in the future and that those sins would be forgiven.

One of the clearest indications of this is the story of Hâtib b. Abî Balta`ah that can be found in Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim. He had written to the unbelievers informing them of the Prophet’s advance. When the matter came before the Prophet (peace be upon him), `Umar was standing next to him. `Umar said: “Let me smite his neck, for he is a hypocrite.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “He had witnessed the Battle of Badr. And you do not know, `Umar, that perchance Allah looked upon the people of Badr and said: ‘Do as you like, for I have forgiven you all.’”

What does your straying disputant have to say about this hadîth? Would not the forgiveness that was bestowed on the veterans of Badr be revoked by something like what Hâtib did? Is it possible that Allah was not aware of what this man was going to do? Glory be to Allah above that.