The Companions in the Hadith
Besides the Qur’an, the Prophet himself, upon him be peace and blessings, praised the Companions and warned Muslims against attacks and insulting words about them. For example:
Bukhari, Muslim and other Traditionists relate from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri that God’s Messenger warned:
Do not curse my Companions! Do not curse my Companions! I swear by Him in Whose hand my life is that, even if one among you had as much gold as Mount Uhud and spent it in the way of God, this would not be equal in reward to a few handfuls of them or even to half of that.152
This is certainly so because they accepted Islam and preached and protected it when circumstances were most severe. Besides, according to the rule ‘the cause is like the doer’, the reward gained by all Muslims so far and yet to come until the Last Day has been, and will be, added to the record of the Companions, without, of course, diminishing anything from the reward of the doers themselves. Had it not been for the efforts of the Companions to spread Islam, to convey it to the peoples of the world, no one could have the possibility of knowing of Islam, and, therefore, being Muslim. So, all the Muslims coming after the Companions should feel indebted to the Companions and, rather than thinking of criticizing them, should pray for them as the Qur’an teaches us to:
As for those who came after them, they say, Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in belief, and put not into our hearts any rancour towards those who believe. Our Lord, surely You are the All-Gentle, the All-Compassionate. (al-Hashr, 59.10)
Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban quote ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal that God’s Messenger warned:
Oh God, Oh God! Refrain from using bad language about my Companions! Oh God, Oh God! Refrain from using bad language about my Companions! Do not make them the target of your attacks after me! Whoever loves them, loves them on account of his love of me; whoever hates them, hates them on account of his hatred of me. He who hurts them, has hurt me, and he who hurts me, has hurt God, he who hurts God, God will punish him.153
Imam Muslim relates in his Sahih that God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared:
The stars are means of security for the heaven, [that is, the heaven is maintained because of the delicate order among the stars]. When the stars are scattered [when that order collapses], what was promised for the heaven befalls it [i.e. the final destruction of the universe]. I am the means of security for my Companions [my Companions will continue to live in peace and security as long as I am alive]. When I leave the world, what was promised for my Companions will befall them. My Companions are means of security for my nation (Ummah). When my Companions leave the world, what was promised for my Ummah will befall them [they will be exposed to many misfortunes and calamities].154
As recorded in authentic books of Tradition, including Bukhari and Muslim, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, declared:
The best of people are those living in my time. Then come those who follow them, and then come those who follow them. Those will be followed by a generation whose witness is sometimes true, sometimes false.155
The time of the Companions and the two succeeding generations was the time of truthfulness. People of great righteousness and scholars of utmost exactitude appeared among those first three generations of Islam. Among the later generations were many who told lies and perjured themselves in order to reinforce false beliefs or for worldly aims. It was natural for liars, for members of heterodox sects (as it is for biased Orientalists and their blind followers in the Muslim world), to lie against the Companions and the pure Imams of the two generations succeeding them. For the Companions and those Imams were strongholds of Islam, and strengthened its pillars.
In his Hilyat al-Awliya’, Abu Nu‘aym quotes ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar as saying:
Whoever desires to follow a straight path, should follow the path of those who passed away. They are the Companions of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. They are the best among his Ummah, the purest in heart, the deepest in knowledge, and the farthest from false display of piety. They are a community whom God chose for the company of His Prophet and the conveyance of His religion. Try to be like them in conduct and follow their way. They are the Companions of Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. I swear by God, the Lord of the Ka‘ba, that they were on true guidance.156
As recorded by Tabarani and Ibn al-Athir, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, who was among the first to embrace Islam in Makka and sent to Kufa as a teacher by ‘Umar, said:
God looked at the hearts of His true servants and chose Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, to send to His creatures as a Messenger. Then, He looked at the hearts of people and chose his Companions as the helpers of His religion and the viziers of His Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings.157
Ibn Mas‘ud also said concerning the Companions.
You may excel the Companions of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in fasting, praying and in striving to worship God better. Yet they are better than you. For they give no heed to the world and are most desirous of the Hereafter.158
152. Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 5; Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 221.
153. Tirmidhi, “Manaqib,” 58; I. Hibban, 9.189; I. Hanbal, 5.57.
154. Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 207.
155. Muslim, “Fada’il al-Sahaba,” 212; Bukhari, “Fada’il al-Ashab,” 1.
156. Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 1.305.
157. Abu Nu‘aym, Hilya, 1.375.
158. Ibid., 1.135.