One of the most significant proofs from some of the Ahlus Sunnah in their rejection of malediction is their belief in defending the honour and integrity of all of the companions due to the fact that they consider the companions as being the prime sources of Islamic religious legislation alongside the Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijmaʿ (consensus) and ʿAql (intellect), and the other sources.
Sometimes, it is even seen that the ways and customs (madhab) of the companions is referred to as the sunnah of the companions and this clearly shows that the sunnah of the companions as well, is on the same horizontal plane as the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S) for the Ahlus Sunnah and that they too have a sunnah [just as it is an obligation to follow the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S) so too for some people, it is an obligation to follow the sunnah of the companions].
These people truly believe that if the companions are open to examination and analysis or are maledicted against, then this may lead to the instability of Islam, whereas a faith whose fundamentals has been laid down by God, the Most High, and the Noble Prophet Muhammad (S), and as has been promised by God, will remain until the Day of Judgement, can never be made instable by the analysis and criticism of a few individuals!
Thus, this belief that the madhab of the companions is one of the fundamental sources of Islamic legislation must also be rejected!
In this regards, Imam al-Ghazali said: “The person, in whom there is a possibility of error and mistakes and whose infallibility from sins and faults is not proven, his statements are not a testimony or proof over us, therefore how can anyone ever rely on his testimony if he is prone to error!? In addition, how is it possible that without any successive proofs, one can claim infallibility of such individuals?
In addition, how is it possible to imagine that a community of individuals would never have any differences of opinion amongst themselves, and even more, how is it possible that two infallible people would ever differ amongst themselves - whereas we see that there is a consensus amongst all of the companions that one is permitted to go against the opinions of the other companions.
Why is it that Abu Bakr and ʿUmar never allowed anyone, by way of their own independent assessment (ijtihad), to differ with them; rather, in issues which call for ijtihad, it is an obligation upon every individual who has reached the level of being able to conduct independent research and analysis (mujtahid) to follow his own ijtihad!”1
Al-Shokani, apparently in discussing the sources of Islamic legislation, has raised an objection and has said that the opinions of the companions are not a proof [for us] as God only appointed Prophet Muhammad (S) for this nation and other than one Prophet and one Divinely sent book, we have nothing else [to take as a proof of the religion].
Thus, he contends that the entire Muslim nation is obligated to follow and obey the Book of God (Qur’an) and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S) and there is no differentiation between the companions or others as everyone is mandated to take their religious responsibilities from the Book and the sunnah.
Therefore, whoever says that after the Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet (S) and whatever reaches back to these two sources as a proof [of the religion] for us in the religion of God, that there are other proofs [of legislation] has actually said something about the religion of God which is incorrect.2
Therefore, the only things which are a proof over us [in terms of religious mandate] are the Qur’an, Sunnah of the Prophet (S), the unanimous consensus of the Muslim scholars, and the unambiguous intellect and the opinions of the companions – as long as their opinions do not go against the statements of the Prophet (S) - for if it goes against the Qur’an and Sunnah then it is definitely not a proof of the religion for us; however, if their opinions are extracted and deduced from the Islamic religious sources, then for them and for those who follow them, they are a proof – and they are not binding on other people – on the mujtahidin and the muqallidin.
The companions of Prophet Muhammad (S) and the first generation after the companions, are divided into two groups: righteous and iniquitous; and accepted and rejected; and when we do not accept the traditions which they claim to have heard Prophet Muhammad (S) say, then we must clarify the point that this is not a condemnation that we reject all of the traditions which the companions of the Prophet (S) related.
More than this, the traditions of the Prophet (S) which have been narrated by the infallible successors of the Prophet (S) - meaning ʿAli Ibn Abi Talib (as) and his family and noble line of successors who were indeed the best of companions of the Prophet (S) are at our disposal and we accept them.
But we do not accept just any tradition narrated by individuals who are unconvincing or completely unknown. This is evidence that we do not reject all statements, nor does this bring any uncertainty to the faith as the Noble Prophet (S) left behind two valuable and solid arguments for the Muslim nation and by holding firmly onto both of them, we will be free from need of everything else.