The sahaba are undoubtedly fallible human beings. Like all other humans, they have obligations and rights. Surely they are honored with being the companions of the Prophet so long as they respect and safeguard such companionship; otherwise, their penalty will be doubled because Allah's justice mandates that someone distant [from the Prophet] is not to be tormented as one who is near.
One who has heard the Prophet directly, saw the light of Prophethood, witnessed the miracles with conviction and was fortunate to be taught by the Prophet himself is not like one who lives in the post-Prophet period and who neither saw nor directly heard him.
Reason and conscience prefer a man who lives in our time and who respects the Book of Allah and the Sunnah and carries out their instructions over a sahabi who was contemporary to the Messenger of Allah, who kept him company, yet conviction did not penetrate his heart; he accepted Islam only to yield to the dictates of the time. He did not keep the Prophet company in righteousness and piety as long as the Prophet lived. Once the Prophet died, such a sahabi reneged and reverted.
This is what the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger sanction, in addition to what is sanctioned by reason and conscience, and by anyone who has some knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and the sacred Sunnah of the Prophet. Such a person does not doubt this fact, nor does he find any alternative for it.
One proof for this argument is the verse saying, “O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits an open indecency, its punishment will be increased doubly, and this is easy for Allah” (Holy Qur'an, 33:30).
The Prophet's companions included believers who perfected their conviction as well as those whose conviction was quite feeble. Among them were those whose hearts did not surrender to conviction. Among them were pious ascetics as well as reckless individuals who sought only their self-interests. Among them were gracious and equitable persons as well as mean oppressors.
Some of them were the believers who upheld righteousness as well as sinning transgressors. They included scholars who implemented what they learned as well as ignorant ones who invented bid`as. Among them were sincere companions as well as hypocrites. Among them were those who violated their oaths, who strayed from the path, and who reneged.
Since the Holy Qur'an, the sacred Sunnah of the Prophet, and history stated all these facts and clearly explained them, the claim put forth by “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” that all the sahaba were fair and just becomes nonsense which has no face value whatsoever because it contradicts the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah. It contradicts history, reason, and conscience. It is nothing but fanaticism and a claim which cannot be proven, an illogical statement.
One who researches these matters may wonder about the mentality of “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah,” one which contradicts reason, facts, and history. But when he reads about the roles the Umayyads played, and the methods the Abbasides employed, to firmly fix the foundations of this doctrine, I mean respecting all the sahaba and avoiding criticizing them or doubting their integrity, his amazement will then disappear.
He will no longer have the least doubt that the latter deliberately prohibited anyone from criticizing the sahaba so that those Umayyads would not be criticized or discredited, and so that the horrible actions they committed against Islam, the Prophet of Islam, and the nation of Islam, would not be revealed.
Abu Sufyan, Mu`awiyah, Yazid, Amr ibn al-As, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, al-Mughirah ibn Shu`bah, and Bisr ibn Arta'ah were all sahabis who ruled the Muslims. How could they, then, not prohibit any criticism of the sahaba? How could they not fabricate about them false traditions that label each and every one of them as just and fair so that such virtues would include them, too, and so that nobody would dare to criticize them or discuss their actions?
They label anyone among the Muslims who does so as kafir, apostate, sinner, issuing religious verdicts permitting his murder. They prohibit the washing and shrouding of his corpse which should be pushed with wooden pieces into the grave, as we have said above.
Whenever they wanted to kill the Shi`as, they would accuse them of verbally abusing the sahaba. What they mean by that is criticizing them and discrediting some of their actions, a reason which they deem suffices to kill and annihilate them.
They even went beyond that. Suffices one to ask about the meaning of hadith to be killed, and here is the proof:
In his Tarikh, the Baghdadi khateeb (orator) states the following:
One hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra was once mentioned in the presence of Haroun al-Rasheed. It said, “Moses met Adam once whereupon he asked him, `Are you the one who had us dismissed from Paradise?'“ A man from Quraysh who was present then asked, “When did Adam meet Moses?!” Al-Rasheed became very angry and said, “Saying too much and the sword go hand in hand; kill this atheist who doubts the hadith of the Messenger of Allah.”1
When a man such as this one, who must have been a highly respected dignitary because he attended the meetings set up by al-Rasheed, was beheaded simply because he inquired about the place where Adam met Moses, do not ask me about a Shi`a who charges Abu Hurayra of being a liar based on the fact that the sahaba, headed by Umar ibn al-Khattab, falsify his hadith. Thus does the researcher understand the contradictions that crept into many ahadith as well as the many abominable and impossible matters and the obvious blasphemy.
All this happened because criticism or discrediting were taboo: they would lead one to perdition. Even if someone asked for an explanation so that he could reach the truth, and who is detected as inquisitive and researching, was undoubtedly put to death in order to serve as a lesson for others, so that nobody after him would dare to speak his mind.
They fooled people into thinking that anyone who raised doubt about the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra or any other sahabi, be he a commoner among them, would be regarded as having discredited the Messenger of Allah. Thus did they place a halo on fabricated ahadith which a number of the sahaba invented after the death of the Prophet, so they became accepted facts.
Quite often, I used to argue with some of our scholars2 that the sahaba did not adopt such sanctifying; rather, they themselves used to doubt each other's hadith whenever there is a contradiction with the Qur'an, and that Umar ibn al-Khattab had beaten Abu Hurayra with his cane, prohibited him from narrating hadith, and even accused him of lying.
These scholars used to always answer me by saying: “The sahaba had the right to say to one another whatever they pleased; as far as we are concerned, we are not on their level to respond to them or criticize them.”
I would say: “But, O servants of Allah! They [the said sahaba] fought one another, called each other kafir, and killed one another!” They would respond by saying: “They all are mujtahids: if one of them is right in his ijtihad, he receives two blessings, whereas if he errs, he receives only one. It does not befit us to discuss their affairs.”
Certainly these scholars must have inherited such a doctrine from their fathers and forefathers, one generation from the other, so they were repeating it like parrots without contemplation or scrutiny.
Their Imam, al-Ghazali, had adopted such a view, one which he propagated among people, making himself the ultimate authority for Islam and Muslims. In his books Al-Mustafa, he says, “What is accepted by the ancestors and the posterity is that the justice of the sahaba is well known due to the fact that Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, has called them just and has praised them in His Book, and this is our conviction in their regard.”
I wonder about al-Ghazali in particular and about “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” in general when I read about their seeking from the Qur'an testimonies regarding the sahaba being fair and just, knowing that there is not a single verse in the Holy Qur'an which backs this claim.
On the contrary, there are many Qur'anic verses which deny the justice of the sahaba, which reveal their secrets, and which expose their hypocrisy. We have dedicated an entire chapter to discuss this topic in our book Ask Those Who Know from pp. 113 - 172; so, whoever wishes to research this subject further in order to become familiar with such facts should refer to this book. He will know what Allah and the Messenger say about them.
So that the researcher may come to know that the sahaba never dreamt one day of the status invented for them by “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah,” he has only to read modern books as well as history books which overflow with their horrible deeds. They tell tales of how they called each other kafir, and how so many of them used to wonder whether they were among the munafiqoon, hypocrites.
Al-Bukhari, for example, states in his Sahih that Ibn Maleeka met thirty of the companions of the Prophet who all dreaded being counted among the hypocrites, and none of them ever said that his conviction was to be compared with that of [arch-angel] Gabriel.3 Al-Ghazali himself indicates in his book that Umar ibn al-Khattab used to ask Huthayfah of Yemen whether the Messenger of Allah mentioned his [Umar's] own name among the hypocrites of whose names he informed him.4
The statement of those who claim that there are no hypocrites among the sahaba is completely worthless when we come to know that the definition of a sahabi is the one we have already discussed above, that is, anyone who saw and believed in the Messenger of Allah, whether he met him or not.
Their phrase “and believed in” the Prophet, too, contains an exaggeration simply because all those who kept the Prophet company had articulated the shahada, and the Prophet accepted their superficial admission of faith, saying, “I have been ordered to judge what is apparent, and Allah will deal with one's innermost.” As long as he lived, he never said to any of them, “You are a hypocrite, so I shall not accept your declaration of faith!”
This is why we find the Prophet calling the hypocrites “my companions” even while knowing their hypocrisy! Here is the proof:
Al-Bukhari states that Umar ibn al-Khattab asked the Prophet to have Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the hypocrite, beheaded. He said to him, “O Messenger of Allah! Let me strike the neck of this hypocrite with the sword!” The Prophet said, “Leave him alone; I do not want people to say that Muhammad kills his own companions.”5
Some scholars among “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” may try to convince us that the hypocrites used to be well known; so, we should not confuse them with the sahaba. This is impossible. Contrariwise, the hypocrites are among the sahaba with whose secrets only Allah, Glory to Him, is familiar. They may perform their prayers and they may fast, worship Allah and seek nearness to the Prophet through all means. Let us provide you with the proof:
In his Sahih, al-Bukhari indicates that Umar ibn al-Khattab on another occasion asked the Messenger of Allah to permit him to kill Thul Khuwaysara when the latter said to the Prophet: “Be fair!”
But the Prophet said to Umar, “Leave him alone, for he has companions if one of you were to compare his prayers with that of theirs, he would find it inferior and would find his fast as well inferior to theirs; they recite the Qur'an which does not go beyond their throats. They leave the creed as swiftly as the arrow leaves the bow.”6
I do not exaggerate if I say that most companions were not far from hypocrisy according to what is determined by many verses of the Holy Qur'an and according to the decisions of the Messenger of Allah embedded in many of his ahadith. In the Book of Allah, we come across verses such as these:
“He has brought them the truth, yet most of them are averse from the truth.” (Holy Qur'an, 23:70)
“The dwellers of the desert are more [fierce] in disbelief and hypocrisy.” (Holy Qur'an, 9:97)
“And from those who are round about you of the dwellers of the desert there are hypocrites, and from the people of Medina (too); they are stubborn in hypocrisy; you do not know them; We know them.” (Holy Qur'an, 9:101)
It is noteworthy here that some scholars among “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” try very hard to cover the truth. They interpret “dwellers of the desert” to mean that they were not among the sahaba but are meant to be the residents of the desert and the outskirts of the Arabian peninsula. Yet we have found how Umar ibn al-Khattab, shortly before drawing his last breath, left his will to the caliph who would succeed him saying: “I urge you to be good to the dwellers of the desert, for they are the origins of the Arabs and the substance of Islam.”7
So, if the Arabs' kinsfolk and the substance of Islam are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy and it is best that they should not know the limits of what Allah revealed to His Messenger, then there is no value attached to the statement made by “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” claiming that the sahaba were all just and fair.
In order to shed more light, and so that the researcher may be convinced that the phrase referring to the dwellers of the desert, that is, bedouin Arabs, was meant to refer to the sahaba in general, the Holy Qur'an, after describing the bedouin Arabs as the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, goes on to say:
“And of the dwellers of the desert are those who believe in Allah and the latter day and take what they spend to be (means of) nearness to Allah and the Prophet's prayers; surely it shall be for them means of nearness (to Allah); Allah will permit them to enter into His mercy; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Holy Qur'an, 9:99).
As for what the Messenger of Allah had decided in the Prophet's sacred Sunnah, it is his following statement:
My sahaba will be taken to the fire [of hell], whereupon I shall plead: “O Lord! But these are my sahaba!” It will be said to me, “You do not know what they brought forth after you.” I will say, “Then perdition should be the lot of all those who altered after me.”8
Traditions like this one are numerous, and we have avoided quoting them seeking to be brief. Our objective, after all, is not to research the biographies of the Prophet's companions in order to cast doubts about their justice, for history has spared us such an undertaking. It testifies against some of them as having committed adultery, drunk wine, made a false oath, reneged from the creed, committed crimes against innocent people and betrayed the nation.
We only wish to bring into focus the fact that to say that each and every sahabi was fair and just is a legendary myth invented by “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” in order to cover the faults of their masters and heads from the sahaba who made many alterations to the religion of Allah, changing its injunctions with innovations which they themselves had invented.
We also wish again to prove that by embracing the doctrine of the sahaba being all just and fair, “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” unveiled their real identity, the identity of seeking to please the hypocrites and to follow the bid`as they had invented in order to bring people back to the period of jahiliyya.
Since “Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” banned their followers from criticizing or discrediting the sahaba, closing the doors of ijtihad in their faces since the time of the Umayyad rulers and the period of inventing sects, the said followers inherited such a doctrine which they passed down to their offspring, one generation after another. Hence,
“Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama`ah” remained till this day prohibiting any discussion of the sahaba for whom they seek Allah's Pleasure, labelling as kafir whoever criticizes any of them.
The summary of this chapter is that the Shi`as, followers of the creed of Ahlul Bayt, place the sahaba in perspective; they pray Allah to be pleased with the righteous among them, and they dissociate themselves from the hypocrites and the sinners, the enemies of Allah and His Messenger, from them. They, hence, are the only ones who follow the true Sunnah because they loved those whom Allah love and the sahaba who are loved by the Messenger of Allah. They dissociate themselves from the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger who were the primary cause of the misguidance of the vast majority of Muslims.