Q. I often hear that, despite the very broad definition of a companion of the prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) , the lowest ranking person who falls under the definition of companion surpasses anyone until the day of judgement in piety vitrue and righteousness in the sight of Allah. Could you please shed some light on the this matter?
Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan
There are a large number of proofs establishing that the companions radiyaLlahu anhum are the most virtuous of Allah’s creation after the Prophets and Messengers. Before presenting these proofs however, it’s important to understand that the companions were not infallible. They were guiding stars and the best of Allah’s creation, but were not free from error. I mention this so that an objector may not quote an error of a companion and thus attempt to strip them of their virtue.
Another important clarification is that not all companions were equal. Those who embraced Islam after the treaty of Hudaybiyah were not equal to those who accepted prior to that. Similarly, those who immigrated from Makkah to Madinah were considered more virtuous than others. Thereafter, those who fought at the battle of Badr were more virtuous, then those who attended the bay’ah al-Ridwan, then the ten companions who were given the glad tidings of Jannah, then sayyidina Ali ibn Talib and sayyidina Uthman, then sayyidina Umar and finally sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq may Allah be well pleased with them all.
Here follows some verses of the Qur’an and traditions of the Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam establishing their precedence over others.
And why do you not spend in the cause of Allah while to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth? Not equal among you are those who spent before the fath [treaty of Hudaybiyah or conquest of Makkah] and fought [and those who did so after it]. Those are greater in degree than they who spent afterwards and fought. But to all Allah has promised the best [reward]. And Allah, with what you do, is Acquainted. [57:10]
Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajireen and the Ansar who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful. [9:117]
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward. [48:29]
The Messenger sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam said,
“Do not swear my companions, for should any of you spend the weight of mount Uhud in gold, it will not equal their spending of a mudd (750 grams) or half thereof.” [Agreed upon]
“The best of generations is mine, then those who follow, then those who follow.”
“Whoever loves them (my companions), loves them because of his love for me; whoever dislikes them, dislikes them because of his dislike of me; whoever harms them (with his words or action), has harmed me, whoever harms me, harms (angers) Allah, and whoever harms Allah, it is near that Allah strikes him.”[al-Tirmidhi]
Statements from our pious predecessors:
Abu Zur’ah al-Razi said, “Whoever criticizes any of the companions is a zindiq (enemy of Islam). This is so, because the Messenger sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam and the Quran are true. The Quran and his Sunnah sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam was only conveyed to us via these companions. They (the enemies of Islam) only criticize the companions as they wish to find fault in the Quran and Sunnah.”
AbduLlah ibn Mubarak said when asked who is more righteous between the pious caliph, ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz and Mu‘awiyah radiyaLlahu anhu, “The dust that settled in the nose of the horse of Mu‘awiyah with the Prophet sallaLlahu alayhi wasallam, is better than several ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz. In another narration he said, “is better than all the good deeds of ‘Umar bin AbdulAziz.
This was his words regarding Mu‘awiyah radiyaLlahu anhu and he was from the companions that entered Islam after the treaty of Hudaybiyah.