The ruling on insulting the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

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

Praise be to Allah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, his Companions, and those who followed them.

The issue of insulting the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) is one of the issues that need lengthy explanation because the one who insults them may do so because of a worldly rivalry between them, and that is obvious in their lifetime. A person may insult a number of the Companions because he believes that they have apostatized or have done major sins in his view. He may also insult them because they have provided victory to this religion which he claims to be attributed to, but in fact he is not a Muslim.

The best scholars who explained this issue quite well was Sheikh Al Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) in the last portion of his book, “Al Sarim Al Maslul `Ala Shatim Al Rasul” (3/1055-1113) where he said: “As for those who insult the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) whether from his family or others, Imam Ahmad said: they should be beaten harshly, but he did not declare their disbelief nor he said they must be killed.”

Abu Talib said: “I asked Ahmad about those who insult the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? He said: “Do not kill them, but beat them harshly.”

`Abdullah said: “I asked my father about those who insult a Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? He said: “They must be beaten. I asked him: Is it a prescribed penalty? He did not comment on that, but said: They must be beaten and I do not think they are Muslims.”

He also said in the letter that was narrated by Abu Al `Abbas Ahmad ibn Ya`qub Al Istakhry and others: “The best people after the Prophet (peace be upon him): Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, and Ali. Then he stopped and said: they are rightly guided Caliphs, then the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) after those four people. They are people of good and it is not permissible for anyone to mention any of their faults nor attribute any insult or harm to them, and anyone does that the ruler must punish him and he cannot forgive him. However, if the person repents his fault and sin, it will be accepted from him, but if he sticks to his belief, he should be punished again or detained until he repents or dies.”

Imam Ahmad reported the previous saying from the people of knowledge in his time, and the same view was reported by Al Kirmany, Ishaq, Al Humaydy, Sa`id ibn Mansur, and others.

Al Maymouny said: “I heard Imam Ahmad saying: “Why do they speak badly about Mu`awiyah?! We ask Allah for the good speech. He said to me: “O Abu Al Hasan, if you see anyone mentions the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) badly, accuse him with apostatizing from Islam.”

Imam Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him) stated that such a person should be lashed and he should repent his sin, but if he does not cease, he shall be detained until he repents or dies. He also said: I do not think he is a Muslim and do not kill him.

Ishaq ibn Rahawayh said: “Anyone insults the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) should be punished and imprisoned. This is the view of the most of our scholars, such as Ibn Abu Musa. He said: “Anyone of the Shi`a insults one of the Predecessor (the Companions) he is not competent and should not be married any of our women. And whoever attributes lies to `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased her) he will not be a Muslim and cannot marry a Muslim woman except if he repents and declare his repentance.

This is the view of `Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz, `Asim Al Ahwal, and other Successors.

Al Harith ibn `Utbah narrated: “A man insulted `Uthman was brought to `Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz and `Umar asked him: “Why did you do that? He said: I hate him. He said: If you hate someone, would you insult him?! He said: He commanded that the man should be lashed 30 lashes.” Ibrahim ibn Maysarah said: “I never saw `Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz hit a person but a person insulted Mu`awiyah, he would lash him.” Reported by Al Lalika’y.

It was reported that he wrote a letter in regard of a person had insulted saying: “Nobody shall be killed except a person insults the Prophet (peace be upon him), but lash him over his head, and except I have believed that would be better for him, I would not have done that.”

Imam Ahmad reported on the authority of Abu Mu`awiyah that `Asim Al Ahwal said: “A man insulted `Uthman was brought to me and I beat him ten lashes then he repeated what he said, thereupon I lashed him ten more. He kept on repeating his saying until I lashed him 70 lashes.”

This is the famous view of Imam Malik. Malik said: “Anyone insults the Prophet (peace be upon him) must be killed, and anyone insults his Companions must be lashed.”

`Abdul-Malik ibn Habib said: “Anyone of the Shi`a hates `Uthman or free himself of him must be lashed harshly and anyone hates Abu Bakr and `Umar the punishment will be doubled. He may be beaten again and again or detained until death. He must not be killed except when he insults the Prophet (peace be upon him).”

Ibn Al Mundhir said: “I do not know anyone (of scholars) who passes the verdict of killing the one who insults other than the Prophet (peace be upon him).”

The Abu Ya`la Al Qady said: “The jurists agreed that the one who insults the Companions believing that is lawful thing to do, he will be a disbeliever and if he does not believe so, he will be a dissolute whether he called them unbelievers or doubted their Islam.”

Some jurists of Kufa and others were decisive regarding the killing of those who insult the Companions and attributing disbelief to the Shi`a.”

Muhammad ibn Yusuf Al Firyaby was asked about the person who insults Abu Bakr, he said: “He is a disbeliever.” He was asked: should we offer Salah on him after his death? He said: No. He was asked: What can we do while he saying “No god but Allah”? He said: “Do not touch him with your hands but push him with a stick until you bury him.”

Ahmad ibn Yunus said: “If a Jew slaughtered a sheep and a Shiite slaughtered a sheep too, I would eat the sheep of the Jew and do not eat the sheep of the Shiite because he is not an apostate.”

Abu Bakr ibn Hani’ said: “The slaughtered sheep of the Shi`a and Al Qadariyah (a sect states that everything was inevitable) is not eaten. The slaughtered sheep of the apostate is not eaten although the slaughtered sheep of the people of the Scriptures is not eaten because the Shi`a is treated as apostate, but the people of the Scriptures are approved and the tribute is taken from them.”

`Abdullah ibn Idris, one of honorable jurists of Kufa, said: “Preemption is not entitled for a Shi`ite because preemption is only given to a Muslim.”

Al Fudayl ibn Marzouq said: I heard Al Hasan ibn Al Hasan (the son of Ali ibn Abu Talib) (may Allah be pleased with him) saying to a man from the Shiites: “By Allah, killing you is a pious act to Allah, but I refrain from doing that because of the right of neighborhood.”

In another narration, he said: the man said to him: May Allah bless, I knew you were joking. Al Hasan said: I was not joking, this is the truth, and if Allah gives us permission to kill you, we will cut off your hands and legs.

A group of our scholars declared freeing themselves from the Kharijites who believe the disbelief of Ali and `Uthman and declared the disbelief of the Shiite who insulted the Companions, called them as disbelievers, or called them as dissolute.

Abu Bakr `Abdul-`Aziz said in “Al Muqni`”: “As for a Shiite who insults the Companions, he is a disbeliever and should not marry a Muslim woman.”

Some of them said, which was approved by Abu Ya`la Al Qady: “If a person insults them in term of their religion and trustworthiness, he will be a disbeliever. If the insult was in other than the belief or the trustworthiness, such as insulting one of their fathers or insulting them with the intention to tease them, he will not be a disbeliever.”

Ahmad commented on the narration of Abu Talib about the man who insulted `Uthman: “This is hidden atheism.”

He commented on the narration of Al Marwadhy: “The one who insults Abu Bakr, `Umar, `A’ishah is not a Muslim.”

He said about the narration of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal: “Anyone insults one of the Prophet’s Companions is not a Muslim.”

Abu Ya`la Al Qady said: “Anyone insults the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not a Muslim and did not comment on the narration of `Abdullah and Abu Talib in regard of killing him. The prescribed penalty and lashing is a proof that they are still Muslims.” He said: It is possible that his saying: “he is not a Muslim” is given when a person believes that insulting the Companions is lawful, in that case he is not a Muslim with one accord. Dropping the killing penalty from the one who insults them while not believing it is lawful to do so because he did it knowingly it is not lawful as the person who commits sins. He said: It is possible that the meaning of “He is not a Muslim” is given when a person insults their trustworthiness as they said: oppressed and went astray after the Prophet’s death and seized the caliphate without right. It is also possible that the meaning of “dropping the killing” from the people who do not doubt their Islam, such as to say: they did not have enough knowledge, they had lack of politics and courage, they were misers, or loved the world, and so on. He said: it is possible that to interpret the narration in two ways:

1- He is not a Muslim.

2- He is a dissolute. This is the view of Al Qady and others who have reported the two narrations.

Al Qady said: “Anyone insults `A’ishah with committing adultery of which she was free is a disbeliever with one accord.”

We sum up the issue in two chapters:

1- The ruling on insulting them in general.

2- About the details of insult.

As for the first, insulting the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is unlawful by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, then he mentioned the proofs from the Qur’an and the Sunnah about that and explained the proofs. Then he said:

“Chapter on the views of scholars in their regard”

As for the people who combined their insults with a claim that Ali was a god, was a prophet, or Gabriel has mistaken by revealing on Muhammad, no doubt they are disbelievers with one accord, moreover there is no doubt in the disbelief of those who doubted their disbelief. Likewise, the people who claimed that Ayahs of the Qur’an were concealed or claimed it has inward meanings to drop the permissible ordinances, such as “Al Qaramitah and Al Batiniyyah” and “Al Tanasukhiyyah” who are declared disbelievers by the scholars.

As for those who insult them without insulting their faith or trustworthiness, such as attributing miserliness, cowrdiness, lack of knowledge, loving the world, or something like that, such a person deserves disciplinary and lashing. He is not a disbeliever as some of the scholars said and this is the interpretation of their view.

As for the people who curse and insult absolutely, this is controversial because the matter ranges between insult as a result of rage or insult based on disbelief.

As for those who claimed that they have apostatized from Islam after the Prophet’s death except for only a few of them who did not exceed several and ten people or they attributed debauch to the common Companions, no doubt they are disbelievers too because they had contradicted the Qur’an in many positions where they were trustworthy and pious. Anyone doubts that he is surely a disbeliever because the meaning of this statement is: the people of have conveyed the Qur’an and the Sunnah are either disbelievers or dissolute. The nation which has been proven to be the best nations of mankind and the first generation is the best generation of mankind turned up to be the worst nation (as they claim) and their men who conveyed the message of Islam are either disbelievers or dissolute. The people who adopt such view is a disbeliever and most of them conceal their belief and Allah has punished them by turning them into monkeys and pigs during their lifetime or after their death. Scholars have collected their news, such as Al Hafiz Abu `Abdullah Muhammad ibn `Abdul-Wahed Al Maqdisy in his book “An Nahy `An Sab Al Ashab wa ma Ja’ Fih min Al Ithm wa Al `Iqab” (The forbiddance of insulting the Companions, and the punishment that came in their regard).

To sum up: Some of those who insult the Companions is judged to be a disbeliever, some are not disbelievers, and others whose matter is controversial. This is not the right place to elaborate in this issue but we have mentioned these matters to explain the issue the we mentioned.

This is some of what has been said in this issue, We ask Allah to make it solely for His Sake, benefit Muslims with it, and to use us in things that please Him in actions and speech.

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions. And Allah knows best!