Are all the Companions trustworthy?

By Dr. Sa`d ibn `Abdullah Al Humayyid:


How to answer those who say: How could you say that all the Companions are trustworthy and accept all their narrations despite the fact that they commit grievous and minor sins which is something threatens their integrity. The proper thing is not to call them upright or trustworthy until their integrity is confirmed and those whom seem to be corrupt, their integrity shall be questioned?

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Praise be to Allah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. Now coming to the point:

First of all, I advise the questioner and all who read this answer or care for this matter to resort to the writings of scholars. They should not pursuit doubtful matters that come only from unfair people who know that most people do not read or search a lot and that kind of people is easy to mislead. Of those books which I advise you to read are:

(Al Kifayah of Al khatib Al Baghdady), (Minhaj Al Sunnah) by Shaykh Islam Ibn Taymiyah and (Tathir Al Jinan) by Ibn Hajar Al Haytamy. There are some books, letters and researches were issued in the modern age which people should refer to, of which are: (The Sunnah and its status in legislation) by Mustafa Al Siba`y, (Defending the Sunnah of Muhammad Abu Shuhbah), (The authenticity and the status of Sunnah in Islam) by Muhammad Luqman Al Salafy, (the Companions of the Prophet – peace be upon him) by `Ibadah Al Kibisy, (Islam of the end of time), (The acquittal of the Companions from hypocrisy) by Mundhir Al As`ad and (the Messages of justice and equity) by Sa`ud ibn Muhammad Al `Aqily. I only mentioned these references because the questioner will find his need there. It is difficult in such a short answer like this to illustrate the whole matter.

However, I shall summarize the answer in the following points:

(1) There is a difference between those who discuss this issue, thinking badly in those noble Companions because of well-known ideologies and beliefs and those who revere and respect the Companions because of their noble attitudes in supporting the religion, defending it, observing patience in bearing the harm and sacrificing their souls and monies for its sake. Did not you see how did `Urwah ibn Mas`ud Ath-Thaqafy praised the Companions in the treaty of Al Hudaybiyah when he went back to his people saying:”O my people, By Allah! I have met kings such as Caesar, Chosroes and the Negus, but I did not see a king who is respected by his Companions as the Companions of Muhammad respect him (peace be upon him). By Allah, if he never spat phlegm but one of his Companions would take it by hand and rubs his face and skin with it. When he commands them, they quickly respond to his command. When he performs ablution, they are about to kill one another to use the water of his ablution. When they speak before him, they lower their voices and never stare at him out of reverence. Al Bukhari (2731 – 2732).

(2) Reflect on Allah’s saying: “Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allâh. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allâh and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of prostration (during prayers). This is their description in theTaurât (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers, that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allâh has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islâmic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise).” [Surat Al Fath: 29].

And Allah’s saying: “O Prophet (Muhammad peace be upon him)! Allâh is Sufficient for you and for the believers who follow you.” [Al Anfal: 62 – 63].

And His saying: “You [true believers in Islâmic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and his Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al Ma‘rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm has ordained) and forbid Al Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden), and you believe in Allâh. And had the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are Al Fâsiqûn (disobedient to Allâh and rebellious against Allâh’s Command).” [Al-`Imran: 110].

And His saying: “Thus We have made you [true Muslims – real believers of Islâmic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a just (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) be a witness over you. And We made the Qiblah (prayer direction towards Jerusalem) which you used to face, only to test those who followed the Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) from those who would turn on their heels (i.e. disobey the Messenger). Indeed it was great (heavy) except for those whom Allâh guided. And Allâh would never make your faith (prayers) to be lost (i.e. your prayers offered towards Jerusalem). Truly, Allâh is full of Kindness, Most Merciful towards mankind.” [Al Baqarah: 143].

See how Allah describes them as trustworthy.

If you can not understand the generality, see this Ayah: “Allâh has forgiven the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Muhâjirûn (Muslim emigrants who left their homes and came to Al Madinah) and the Ansâr (Muslims of Al Madinah) who followed him (Muhammad peace be upon him) in the time of distress (Tabûk expedition), after the hearts of a party of them had nearly deviated (from the Right Path), but He accepted their repentance. Certainly, He is to them full of Kindness, Most Merciful.” [Al Tawbah: 117].

This Ayah was revealed after the Battle of Tabuk at the end of his life (peace be upon him).

Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “Indeed, Allâh was pleased with the believers when they gave the Bai‘ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad peace be upon him) under the tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakînah (calmness and tranquillity) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory, And abundant spoils that they will capture. And Allâh is Ever All-Mighty, All-Wise.” [Al Fath: 18 – 19].

This is a great favor for the people of Al Ridwan Pledge.

Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “And the foremost to embrace Islâm of the Muhâjirûn (those who migrated from Makkah to Al Madinah) and the Ansâr (the citizens of Al Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhâjirûn) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allâh is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [At-Tawbah: 100].

This is a clear text in praising the majority of the immigrants, the Supporters and those who followed them righteously.

Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “(And there is also a share in this booty) for the poor emigrants, who were expelled from their homes and their property, seeking Bounties from Allâh and to please Him, and helping Allâh (i.e. helping His religion) and His Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him). Such are indeed the truthful (to what they say).” [Surat Al Hashr: 8 – 9].

Think about the following Ayah: “And those who came 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. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.” [Al Hashr: 10].

Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “And what is the matter with you that you spend not in the Cause of Allâh? And to Allâh belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. Not equal among you are those who spent and fought before the conquering (of Makkah, with those among you who did so later). Such are higher in degree than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all Allâh has promised the best (reward). And Allâh is Well-Acquainted with what you do.” [Al Hadid: 10].

So, how will be the number of those Companions whom Allah has praised in the Ayah? Who will be left? Are they the people who spent after the conquest and fought? Allah (may He be Exalted) says: “But to all Allâh has promised the best (reward).”

(3) If the meaning of this doubt is to exclude the Umayyid from this honor, then who can exclude `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him)? Do not they mix things together?

As for Mu`awiyah and `Amr ibn Al `As (may Allah be pleased with them), did not the Prophet (peace be upon him) know their status when he appointed `Amr as an emir to the Army of Dhat Al Salasil which included Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) [Al Bukhari (3662) and Muslim (2384)]? Is not he one of those who embraced Islam willingly and migrated before the conquest of Makkah? What is the intention of those people?

Likewise, Mu`awiyah ibn (may Allah be pleased with him) and how did the Prophet (peace be upon him) entrusted him with writing the revelation if he is not trustworthy? How did `Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) trusted him and appointed him as an emir to the army of the Levant while we know how `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was precise in choosing his emirs to the extent that he relieved Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqas (may Allah be pleased with him) of duty? How did the rest of the Companions keep silent about this if he is not a trustworthy person? How did some of the Companions such as Ibn `Abbas and others speak in his favor? Why did not his opponents such as Imam `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) and those who were with him accuse him if he is not trustworthy? How did Al Hasan ibn `Aly (may Allah be pleased with him) abdicate Caliphate to him in spite of his large number of follower if he was not trustworthy? How did the rest of the Companions accept that?

(4) If you satisfied with the immigrants, the Supports, the people of Al Ridwan Pledge and the `Aqabah Pledge and those who embraced Islam before the Conquest who spent their money and fought, believing that Mu`awiyah and `Amr ibn Al `As (may Allah be pleased with them) are trustworthy, who would be left? Let us confine the question to the following: Has the Companionship of so and so been confirmed?

(5) The meaning of the Companions’ trustworthiness is not protecting them against mistake, forgetfulness, crimes and sins. Inviolability was not confirmed for anyone other than prophets (peace be upon them). Their trustworthiness means their acquittal of hypocrisy, their true love for Allah and His Messenger and they do not deliberately lie against the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyah says in (Minhaj Al Sunnah) (1/306 – 307): “The Companions may do slight mistakes, sometimes they commit sins and they are not infallible but they do not lie deliberately against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and if anyone does, Allah reveals their plot.”

The proof on that is: what has been reported in Sahih Al Bukhari (6780) in story of the man who was brought several times while he is drunk to be whipped. When one of the Companions cursed him, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade him and said: “Do not curse him, by Allah, I know that he loves Allah and His Messenger.”

The story of Hatib ibn Abu Balta`ah which has been related in “Sahih Al Bukhari” (4890) and Muslim (2494)] is well-known. He was accused of spying on Muslims but the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: he is not a disbeliever. He said: “perhaps Allah looked upon the Badr warriors and said: “Do whatever you like, for I have ordained that you will be in Paradise.”

(6) The one who is following the biography of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) finds that the Companions who committed sins are few and they were not found guilty of the crime against some of those few Companions. Those who were found guilty with the crimes, will not affect the case we are talking about because the objective is to protect the Sunnah by protecting its conveyers and reporters. Those who are just will find that the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) did not commit something of what we have mentioned but this was reported from people whose companionship is questioned such as Al Walid ibn `Uqbah. However, their narrations were not known after the Prophet’s death. As during his lifetime, they sometimes did something in favor of the legislation as it is known.

Al Alusy (may Allah be merciful with him) says in (Al Ajwibah Al-`Iraqiyyah) (p. 23 – 24) “The trustworthiness of all the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) does not mean that they did not commit sins but they committed minor sins..” until he said: “it is important to denote that those who committed sins and were punished for that are few. They should not be mixed with the thousands of Companions who did not commit any major sins and Allah has protected them against sins whether minor or major and history is a witness to that.”

Al Ghazaly says in (Al Mustasfa) (p. 189 – 190): “The opinion of the Predecessors and those who followed them is: Their trustworthiness is well-known because Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) has praised them in His Book. So, it is our belief except there is hard evidence that one of them has committed a major sin deliberately. It is the matter which can not be proven.

(7) The meaning of Al Mufassiqat which we are talking about is: things that drive them away from faith except the Trial which they have been through.

However, the killing of a Muslim drives a person away from faith, but if it has been done based on interpretations is not included in here. There are many proofs to this, of which are:

Allah’s saying: “And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both.” [Al Hujurat: 10]. Thus, Allah describes them with as being faithful despite fighting one another.

Al Bukhari (2704) has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about Al Hasan ibn `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him): “This son of mine is a Saiyid (i.e. chief) and I hope that Allah will help him bring about reconciliation between two Muslim groups.”

Therefore, Ahl-ul-Sunnah (the people of the Sunnah) had excused both sects and had good relations with them even though one of them was closer to the truth that the other.

(8) There is no doubt that the Qur’an can not be applied away form the Sunnah. The Sunnah is not authentically proven except by the way of the people of Hadith. The most important factor of judging the Hadith is the chain of transmission; the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). Therefore, Abu Zar`ah Al Razy (may Allah be merciful with him) said: “If you see a person underestimate one of the Prophet’s Companions, let it be known that he is a disbeliever because the Messenger (peace be upon him) is truthful and the Qur’an is truthful and the people who conveyed this Qur’an and the Sunnah to us are the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They only want to dispraise our trustworthy narrators to nullify the Qur’an and the Sunnah, whereas dispraising those people is more entitled because they are disbelievers.” Reported by Al Khatib Al Baghdady in (Al Kifayah) (p. 66 – 67). He said before this statement: “If there is nothing was reported from Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) or His Messenger in regard of the Companions, we would describe them as trustworthy because of their migration, Jihad, support, sacrificing monies and souls , killing of unbeliever fathers and children, advising one another regarding religion and the strong faith and certainty. They are surely trustworthy and they are better than anyone comes after them.

(9) We have a question to ask those claimers which is: In your opinion, what is their alternative?

A- Should Islam be understood only from the Qur’an? So, tell me who conveyed the Qur’an to us? Who has collected it? Can we estimate Islam only through the Qur’an? What should we do with the multiple Ayahs denoting the obligation of acting according to the Sunnah such as Allah’s saying: “And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad peace be upon him) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).” [Al Hashr: 7]. And Allah’s saying: “that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.” [Al Nahl: 44].

B- Do you see that we should take the Sunnah only from certain group of Companions without the other? Could you name them for us and state your attitude toward the rest of them and you will see whose claim is the weaker. Peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad.