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How do the Shī‘ah view the Ṣaḥābah [Companions]?

Reply: According to the Shī‘ah, those who happened to meet and accompany the Prophet () can be divided into some groups. Before explaining this statement in detail, we had better define the word, “aābī” [companion].

There are various definitions of the word “Companion” of the Prophet (). Below are some of them:

1. Sa‘īd ibn Musayb says: “aābī is referred to the person who kept company with the Prophet for one or two years and fought alongside him one or two battles.”[1]

2. Wāqidī says: “Scholars are of the opinion that whoever saw the Prophet, embraced Islam, thought of the religion, and was pleased with it, even if that was for only one hour, is regarded as among the Companions of the Prophet.”[2]

3. Muhammad ibn Ismā‘īl al-Bukhārī states: “Any Muslim who accompanied the Prophet and saw him is regarded as one of his Companions.”[3]

4. Ahmad ibn Ḥanbal says: “Anyone, who accompanied the Prophet for a month, a day or an hour, or saw him, is considered among the Companions.”[4]

Some of the ‘ulamā’ of Ahl as-Sunnah acknowledge that the justice of the Companions is an indisputable principle in the sense that whoever kept companionship with the Prophet () is just![5]

Now, taking into consideration the explicit verses of the Qur’an, we shall examine this statement to point out the Shī‘ah viewpoint which is derived from the logic of revelation:

History has recorded the names and descriptions of more than 12 thousand people as the Companions of the Prophet () including people of various personalities. The station of companionship of the Prophet is, without doubt, a great honor granted to a certain group, and the Muslim ummah always holds the Companions in high esteem because they are the first group of Muslims to hoist Islam’s banner of glory and grandeur.

The Holy Qur’an also hails those pioneering standard-bearers (of Islam), stating:

﴿ لاَ يَسْتَوِي مِنكُم مَّنْ أَنفَقَ مِن قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُوْلٰئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أَنفَقُوا مِن بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوا ﴾

“Not equal [to others] are those of you who spent and fought before the victory. They are greater in rank than those who have spent and fought afterward.”[6]

We should also confess that the companionship of the Prophet of God is not an alchemy that transforms man’s disposition, ensures his piety throughout his life or causes him to be one of the just.

In order to clarify this point, it is worth concentrating on the Qur’an, which is accepted by the Muslims all over the world, and resort to this sacred book for solving this issue:

Ṣaḥābī [Companion] from the viewpoint of the Qur’an

In the logic of revelation, those who happened to meet the Holy Prophet () and accompany him are divided into two groups:

The first group

The people of this group are hailed and praised by the everlasting verses of the Qur’an and described as the founders of the castle of the glory and grandeur of Islam. The following are some of the Qur’anic verses regarding this group of the Companions:

1. The first followers

﴿ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُواْ عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ ﴾

“The early vanguard of the Emigrants and the Helpers and those who followed them in virtue—Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them forever. That is the great success.”[7]

2. Those who swore allegiance under the tree

﴿ لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا ﴾

“Allah was certainly pleased with the faithful when they swore allegiance to you under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down composure on them, and requited them with a victory near at hand.”[8]

3. The Muhājirūn [Emigrants]

﴿ لِلْفُقَرَاء الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ ﴾

“[They are also] for the poor Emigrants who have been expelled from their homes and [wrested of] their possessions, who seek grace from Allah and [His] pleasure and help Allah and His Apostle. It is they who are the truthful.”[9]

4. The Companions who fought alongside the Prophet ()

﴿ مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاء عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاء بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ﴾

“Muammad, the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in worship], seeking Allah’s grace and [His] pleasure. Their mark is [visible] on their faces, from the effect of prostration.”[10]

The second group

The other group of those who accompanied the Prophet () consist of two-faced and sick-hearted men the reality of whose nature the Holy Qur’an has revealed and of whose danger it has warned the Prophet (). Here are some examples of this group:

1. Known hypocrites

﴿ إِذَا جَاءكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ ﴾

“When the hypocrites come to you they say, ‘We bear witness that you are indeed the apostle of Allah.’ Allah knows that you are indeed His Apostle, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars.”[11]

2. Unknown hypocrites

﴿ وَمِمَّنْ حَوْلَكُم مِّنَ الأَعْرَابِ مُنَافِقُونَ وَمِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَدُواْ عَلَى النِّفَاقِ لاَ تَعْلَمُهُمْ نَحْنُ نَعْلَمُهُمْ سَنُعَذِّبُهُم مَّرَّتَيْنِ ثُمَّ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ عَذَابٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴾  

“There are hypocrites among the Bedouins around you and among the townspeople of Madīnah, steeped in hypocrisy. You do not know them; We know them, and We will punish them twice, then they shall be consigned to a great punishment.”[12]

3. Sick-hearted ones

غُرُورًا إِلاَّ وَرَسُولُهُ اللهُ وَعَدَنَا مَّا مَّرَضٌ قُلُوبِهِم فِي وَالَّذِيْنَ المُنَٰفِقُونَ يَقُولُ وَإِذْ ﴿

“And when the hypocrites were saying, as well as those in whose hearts is a sickness, ‘Allah and His Apostle did not promise us [anything] except delusion’.”[13]

[1] Asad al-Ghābah (Egypt), vol. 1, pp. 11-12.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Al-Isti‘āb fī Asmā’ al-Aṣḥāb, vol. 1, p. 2, the margin of “Al-Iābah”; Asad al-Ghābah (Egypt), vol. 1, p. 3, related from Ibn Athīr.

[6] Sūrah al-Ḥadīd 57:10.

[7] Sūrah at-Tawbah 9:100.

[8] Sūrah al-Fat 48:18.

[9] Sūrah al-ashr 59:8.

[10] Sūrah al-Fat 48:29.

[11] Sūrah al-Munāfiqūn 63:1. The other characteristics of the hypocrites are described in the entire sūrah.

[12] Sūrah at-Tawbah (or al-Barā‘ah) 9:101.

[13] Sūrah al-Azāb 33:12.

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