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The Consensus of Ahlus-Sunnah on Remaining Silent on What Occurred Between the Sahabah

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The earliest Muslims used to prohibit the reading of the incidents and historical accounts which cast aspersions on any of the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam.

 

Al-Khallal has stated in alSunnah (2/464):

 

`Ismah ibn `Isam had related to me that Hanbal had said: “I intended to compile a book on Siffin and Jamal, from Khalaf ibn Salim[2], so I went to Abu `Abd Allah [Ahmad ibn Hanbal] to ask him about it and he said, ‘what will you do with that as there is no discussion on halal and haram in that? I had written [recorded] what Khalaf had written, I recorded the chains and avoided the discussions whereas Khalaf had done so. We were both present with Ghundar[3]and we recorded narrations from him. I wrote the chains of transmission of the narrations of Shu`bah, whereas Khalaf had recorded everything.’ I asked him, ‘why did you write the chains of transmission but not the texts?’ He said, ‘I wanted to know what Shu`bah narrates from that.’ Hanbal said, ‘I went to Khalaf and wrote down those narrations, and Abu `Abd Allah came to know of this so he told my father to take what I had written and lock it away and not allow me to read it.’”[4]

 

Ibn Battah writes in al-Ibanah (294):

 

Do not look in the book of Siffin, Jamal, the incident at the home of `Uthman, and all the other disputes that occurred among them. Do not write it for yourself or for anyone else. Do not narrate it from anyone and do not narrate it to anyone, nor should you hear it from someone who narrates it from someone else. Upon this the noble scholars of this ummah are unanimous — the prohibition of doing what we described earlier — and among those who expressed this are Hammad ibn Zayd, Yunus ibn `Ubayd, Sufyan al-Thowri, Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah, `Abd Allah ibn Idris, Malik ibn Anas, Ibn Abi Dhib, Ibn al-Munkadir, Ibn al-Mubarak, Shu`ayb ibn Harb, Abu Ishaq al-Fazari, Yusuf ibn Asbat, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Bishr ibn al-Harith, `Abd al-Wahhab al-Warraq. All of them held the opinion of prohibition of looking into, reading, narrating or listening to what transpired between them and they cautioned their students from making effort to collect these reports. And those among them who had done this have narrated of them [the teachers] many things, with various expressions, all of which prohibit and caution against those who narrate such reports or listen to them.

 

Al-Dhahabi states in al-Siyar (10/92):

 

As it has been established that one should avoid what happened between the Sahabah and their fighting — may Allah be pleased with them all — we still find many collections, books, treatises etc., passing us. However, most of it is interrupted [in terms of its chain] and weak.

 

They considered the narrations which describe what happened between the Sahabah to be of three kinds:

  1. That which is an outright fabrication.
  2. That which has been manipulated through omission or addition.
  3. That which is correctly transmitted of which they are excused either on account of correct ijtihad or ijtihad in which they erred.
 

However, they have preceding virtues and merits and righteous characteristics and deeds which warrant their pardon for what transpired between them and Allah had praised them with full knowledge of what would later transpire.

Ibn Battah narrates with and authentic chain [as assessed by Ibn Taymiyyah in Minhaj al-Sunnah (2/22)] — from `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad — from his father — who said — Abu Mu`awiyah narrated to us — saying that — Raja’ narrated to us — from Mujahid — from Ibn `Abbas radiya Llahu `anhu who said:

Do not abuse the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam since Allah has instructed that you seek forgiveness for them and He knew that they would dispute and fight.[5]

 

The scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah have consensus on the fact that one should not delve into that which occurred between the Sahabah, and rather avoid it.

Al-Khattabi narrates in al-`Uzlah (44) by way of Hamzah ibn al-Harith al-Dahhan — who said — `Abd Allah ibn Rowh al-Mada’ini narrated to us — who said — Yahya ibn al-Samit narrated to us — who said — Abu Ishaq al-Fazari narrated to us — from al-A`mash — from Abu Rashid — who said — a man from Basrah came to `Ubayd Allah ibn `Umar saying:

 

Indeed the messenger of your brothers in Basrah have sent me to you, conveying their greetings and asking about the matter between these two men, `Ali and `Uthman and what do you have to say about them? `Ubayd Allah asked, “is there anything else?” when the response came in the negative, he said, “prepare provisions for the man — and once that was complete he said — convey to them my greetings and inform them that I have this to say to them:

 

تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْۖ   لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَّا كَسَبْتُمْۖ     وَلَا تُسْأَلُوْنَ عَمَّا كَانُوْا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

That was a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.[6]

 

Al-Khattabi narrates in al-`Uzlah (44), as well as Abu Nu`aym in al-Hilyah (9/144) by way of Yunus ibn al-A`la — from al-Shafi`i — who said — it was said to `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz: “What do you say regarding the people of Siffin?” He replied:

That is blood which Allah has kept my hands pure from; I do not wish to dye my tongue with that.[7]

 

A similar statement is recorded by Ibn Sa`d in al-Tabaqat (5/394) and Ibn `Asakir (65/133) by way of Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Bishr — from his father who said that `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz was asked regarding `Ali, `Uthman, al-Jamal and Siffin and his response was:

That is blood which Allah avoided by hand from, I do not wish to soil my tongue with it.[8]

 

Al-Khallal narrates in al-Sunnah (2/460) and Ibn al-Jowzi in al-Manaqib (164):

 

It was said to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, “what do you say about what happened between `Ali and Mu`awiyah?” He responded, “I only speak of them that which is the best; may Allah have mercy on them all.”[9]

 

Under the biography of Hasan ibn Isma`il al-Raba`i in Tabaqat al-Hanabilah (1/349) Imam Ahmad is quoted saying:

 

Ninety men from the generation of the Tabi`in and the scholars of the Muslims and the jurists of the Muslim territories are unanimous in their view of abstaining from whatever transpired between the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, as well as the view that the best of people of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam are Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali — the cousin of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, as well as seeking mercy for all the Sahabah as well as the wives of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and his extended family. May the Pleasure of Allah be upon all of them. This is the Sunnah so hold on to it. Holding fast to it is guidance and abandoning it is misguidance.

 

Al-Khatib narrates in his Tarikh (7/44) as well as Ibn `Asakir (59/141) as well as Abu Ya`la in his Tabaqat (1/251) with their chains to Imam Ahmad that a person asked him about what happened between `Ali and Mu`awiyah so he turned away from the man. It was said, “O Abu `Abd Allah this is a man from Banu Hashim, so he turned to the man and said:

 

تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْۖ   لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُمْ مَّا كَسَبْتُمْۖ     وَلَا تُسْأَلُوْنَ عَمَّا كَانُوْا يَعْمَلُوْنَ

That was a nation which has passed on. It will have [the consequence of] what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do.[10]

 

Ibn Kathir states in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (11/427):

 

This was the view of many of the earliest Muslims.

 

Ibn `Adi narrates in al-Kamil (4/34) and through his chain Ibn `Asakir (22/215) from Shihab ibn Khirash ibn Howshab, the nephew of al-`Awwam ibn Howshab, who said:

 

I witnessed those whom I witnessed of the earliest of the ummah and they all say: “Mention the good of the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and that which unites the hearts. Do not mention what occurred between them as this will disunite the people.”

 

There are alternative chains for this report, like that narrated by al-Khallal in al-Sunnah (513).

 

Al-Lalaka’i narrates in Usul I`tiqad Ahl al-Sunnah (321) with his chain to Ibn Abi Hatim who said:

 

I asked my father as well as Abu Zur`ah about the view of Ahl al-Sunnah regarding matters of the essentials of faith, and that which they found the scholars of the various regions upon in terms of what their beliefs were, whether it was Hijaz, al-Sham, Iraq or Yemen. They replied that their beliefs were as follows: “Iman [faith] comprises speech and action, it increases and decreases, the Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, not created in all its aspects. Predestination, the good and bad of it is all from Allah. The best of this ummah after its Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam is Abu Bakr, then `Umar, then `Uthman, then `Ali and they are the rightly guided Khulafa’; and that the ten whom the Prophet named and testified that they shall enter Paradise are as he has spoken of them and that his speech is the truth and that one should seek mercy for all the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallamand avoid discussion what transpired between them…”

 

Ahmad narrates in Fada’il al-Sahabah (1739) with his chain to Maymun ibn Mihran — who said:

 

Three things I reject: cursing the Sahabah of Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, looking into the stars [astrology], and looking into matters of predestination [al-Qadr].[11]

 

Ibn `Asakir has mentioned under the biography of Mu`awiyah radiya Llahu `anhu (59/141) with his chain to Abu Zur`ah al-Razi who said:

 

A person came to my uncle and said, “I hate Mu`awiyah.” So my uncle asked him why and he responded, “it is because he fought `Ali without a rightful course.” So Abu Zur`ah remarked: “The Rabb of Mu`awiyah is a Merciful Rabb, and the opposition of Mu`awiyah is a noble opposition. What gives you the right to interfere?”

 

Al-Khallal narrates — with a sound chain to Ahmad ibn Hanbal — in al-Sunnah (512):

 

It was said to Ahmad, “what do you say about one who considers it permitted to speak about the pitfalls of the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam?” He replied, “this is evil speech, such people should be avoided, the company abandoned and people ought to be made aware of their harm.”

 

Al-Sabuni writes in `Aqidat al-Salaf wa Ashab al-Hadith (294):

 

They held the view of refraining from discussing what transpired between the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, and to purify ones tongue from mentioning what could be understood to be a flaw or belittling towards them.

 

Abu Hasan al-Ash`ari write in al-Ibanah (78):

 

As for what transpired between `Ali and Zubayr and `A’ishah then it only happened on account of applying their discretion and ijtihad. `Ali and the others were qualified for ijtihad, and the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam had testified that they all were from the people of Jannah which indicates that their ijtihad was a rightful ijtihad. Likewise what transpired between `Ali and Mu`awiyah occurred on account of differing ijtihad. All the Sahabah are trustworthy leaders and none suspects them an anything regarding their religion. Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam have praised all of them, and we gain proximity to Allah through respecting and revering them, and associating ourselves with them and disassociating ourselves from those who belittle any one of them.

 

Ibn Abi Zayd states in his book on belief (23):

 

… and none of the Sahabah should be mentioned except with the best mention; and to refrain from discussing the internal conflicts among them; and they are the most deserving of excuses for their actions, and that they should be given the best thoughts.

 

Al-Khattabi says in al-Ghunyah (59):

 

They held the view of refraining from discussing what transpired between the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, and to purify ones tongue from mentioning what could be understood to be a flaw or belittling towards them.

 

Ibn Battah writes in al-Ibanah (294):

 

After that we refrain from mentioning what transpired between the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam as they witnessed the battles with him, and they preceded the rest of people with virtues. Allah has forgiven them and instructed you to seek forgiveness for them and to gain proximity to him through loving them; and enjoined that upon us from the tongue of His Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and He knew what would happen between them and that they would fight…

 

Al-Qurtubi writes in his Tafsir (16/3216):

 

It is not permitted to ascribe to any of them an absolute error since they were all mujtahids in what they had done and they sought the pleasure of Allah in all they did. All of them are our leaders and guides and we seek closeness to Allah through refraining from discussion of what transpired among them. We shall not mention them except in the best manner because we hold sacred the status of companionship and because the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam prohibited from cursing them, and Allah has forgiven them and expressed His Pleasure with them.

 

Al-Ajurri writes in al-Shari`ah (5/2458-2491) in refutation of those who permit discussing what transpired between the Sahabah:

 

It is necessary for one who reflects on what we have written regarding the virtues of the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallamand the virtues of his noble household — may Allah be pleased with all of them — that he loves them and seeks mercy and forgiveness for them and to pray for them and to mention them with mercy and request Allah’s divine happiness for them and that he thanks Allah he grants him the ability to do this; and not to mention that which transpired between them and not to harp on it and to delve deep into it. If a beguiled fool contradicts us then he has stepped away from the path of guidance by doing this, and by saying: why did so-and-so fight so-and-so and why did he fight and why did he? It should be said to such a person: you and I have no need to mention this as it holds no benefit, nor harm, to any one of us to know that.

If someone says, “why not?,” then it should be said to him: It is because these are trials witnessed by the Sahabah and they reacted in accordance with their knowledge and better judgement and they were more knowledgeable in how to interpret the situation and they were on better guidance than those who came after them since they are the people of Paradise. Upon them was the Qur’an revealed, and they witnessed the era of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and they fought alongside him and Allah has testified to the fact that He is Pleased with them and that they have achieved forgiveness and a great reward; and the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam testified that they were the best of all generations. They were more knowledgeable of Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam; and of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. From them knowledge is taken, and it is in accordance with their statements do we live, and with their rulings do we judge, and with their manners do be behave, and it is they whom we follow and it is this that we have been instructed with.

If someone then says, “what harm is there in knowing what happened between them and investigating it?,” it ought to be said to such a person: there is no doubt that their minds are greater than ours, and ours is much more deficient and we have no assurance that if we research what happened between them that we will not stray from the path of truth, and go against what we have been instructed to with regards to them.

And if someone says, “what have we been instructed with regarding them?” it will be said: we have been instructed with seeking forgiveness for them, asking for Allah’s Mercy to descend upon them, to love and follow them. The Qur’an and Sunnah teach this, as well as the scholars of the Muslims. We have no need to mention what happened between them. Allah has guaranteed for them in His Book that he will not humiliate any of them, and He has mentioned in His Book that He has given their description in the Torah and the Injil and He described them with the most beautiful of descriptions and the best of qualities, and He has told us that He has forgiven them all; and if He pardons them He shall not punish any one of them ever; and that they are pleased with Him.

 

لَّا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِاللّٰهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوْلَهوَلَوْ كَانُوْا آبَاءَهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيْرَتَهُمْۚ   أُولئِكَ كَتَبَ فِيْ قُلُوْبِهِمُ الْإِيْمَانَ وَأَيَّدَهُمْ بِرُوْحٍ مِّنْهۖ     وَيُدْخِلُهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِيْ مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِيْنَ فِيْهَاۚ   رَضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوْا عَنْهۚ     أُولئِكَ حِزْبُ اللّٰهِۚ     أَلَا إِنَّ حِزْبَ اللّٰهِ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ

You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah . Unquestionably, the party of Allah – they are the successful.[12]

 

If it is said, “my reason for wanting to know this is so that I have knowledge regarding it, and none of their affair will be absent from me, I love to know everything about them and not to be ignorant.” It will be said to such a person: you are one who seeks trouble since you are searching for that which holds harm for you and will not benefit you. If you engaged yourself in correcting that which is Allah’s right over you in what he made an obligation upon you in terms of fulfilling the obligatory duties and abstaining from the prohibitions, that would be better for you — more so in the times in which we live in terms of the evils that have become apparent in terms of deviant ideologies [what would he say if he witnessed the times we live in ] — it will also be said to him: your preoccupation with your food and clothing is where? That is deserving of more importance. Likewise your financial matters, how you earn and spend your wealth deserves more attention. Also, we do not wish that on account of your seeking these matters that your heart becomes deviated and develops desires that you ought not to follow, and the devils will begin playing with your mind so you then begin to curse and hate those whom Allah has instructed you to love and to seek forgiveness for and follow. So your foot might slip from the straight path and you will tread the path of falsehood.

If it is said, “so mention for us from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and from those who have come to pass from the great scholars from the Muslims that which proves what you have said so that we can return our hearts from its deviation and its quest to find out what transpired between the Sahabah,” it will be said to him: we have previously mentioned that which you have asked for wherein there is a proof and conveying of the true message to people of intelligence. However, we shall repeat some of what had been mentioned previously so that the discerning believer might be alerted to the path of truth, Allah says:

 

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللّٰهِۚ   وَالَّذِيْنَ مَعَهأَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْۖ   تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَّبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَرِضْوَانًاۖ   سِيْمَاهُمْ فِيْ وُجُوْهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِۚ   ذٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِۖ   وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنْجِيْلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهفَآزَرَهفَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوْقِه يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيْظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ

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 Injil 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.[13]

 

Thereafter He promises them forgiveness and a great reward:

 

وَعَدَ اللّٰهُ الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَّغْفِرَةً وَّأَجْرًا عَظِيْمًا

Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.[14]

 

لَّقَدْ تَّابَ اللّٰهُ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَالْمُهَاجِرِيْنَ وَالْأَنْصَارِ الَّذِيْنَ اتَّبَعُوْهفِيْ سَاعَةِ الْعُسْرَةِ مِنْۢ بَعْدِ مَا كَادَ يَزِيغُ قُلُوْبُ فَرِيقٍ مِّنْهُمْ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْۚ   إِنَّهبِهِمْ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِيْمٌ

Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhajirin 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.[15]

 

وَالسَّابِقُوْنَ الْأَوَّلُوْنَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِيْنَ وَالْأَنْصَارِ وَالَّذِيْنَ اتَّبَعُوْهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوْا عَنْهوَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِيْ تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِيْنَ فِيْهَا أَبَدًاۚ   ذٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيْمُ

And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.[16]

 

يَوْمَ لَا يُخْزِي اللّٰهُ النَّبِيَّ وَالَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا مَعَهۖ     نُوْرُهُمْ يَسْعٰى بَيْنَ أَيْدِيْهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ يَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا أَتْمِمْ لَنَا نُوْرَنَا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَاۖ       إِنَّكَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيْرٌ

On the Day when Allah will not disgrace the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their light will proceed before them and on their right; they will say, “Our Rabb, perfect for us our light and forgive us. Indeed, You are over all things competent.[17]

 

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُوْنَ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُوْنَ بِاللّٰهِۖ   وَلَوْ آمَنَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَّهُمْۚ     مِّنْهُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُوْنَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمُ الْفَاسِقُوْنَ

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah . If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.[18]

 

لَّقَدْ رَضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُوْنَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِيْ قُلُوْبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِيْنَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيْبًا

Certainly was Allah pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest.[19]

 

وَالَّذِيْنَ جَاءُوْا مِنْۢ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِيْنَ سَبَقُوْنَا بِالْإِيْمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِيْ قُلُوْبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِيْمٌ

And those who came after them, saying, “Our Rabb, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Rabb, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”[20]

 

The Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

 

The best of people are my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them.

 

Ibn Mas`ud radiya Llahu `anhu said:

 

Indeed Allah looked at the hearts of the creation and found the heart of Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam the best of the hearts of the creation, so He chose him for Himself and sent him with His message. Thereafter, he looked at the hearts of the creation, after the heart of Muhammad salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, and found the hearts of his Sahabah the best of the hearts of all creation — besides the other Prophets and Messengers — so he made them the advisers of His Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam, they will fight for His religion.[21]

 

Thereafter al-Ajurri says:

 

It will be said to one who heard this from Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam: if you are a slave who has been granted inclination towards good, you would heed the admonition of Allah and adhere to what he commands you with; and if you are one who follows his own desires I fear that you be from those whom Allah describes as:

 

وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهبِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِّنَ اللّٰهِ

And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah?[22]

 

وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللّٰهُ فِيْهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْۖ     وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوْا وَّهُمْ مُّعْرِضُوْنَ

Had Allah known any good in them, He would have made them hear. And if He had made them hear, they would [still] have turned away, while they were refusing.[23]

 

It will be said to him: whoever comes to the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam to find fault in them, to blame some, to censure some, to praise some, and ridicule others; such a person is one seeking trouble and internal conflict. And it is in fitnah that he has fallen since his duty was to love them all and seek forgiveness for them.

 

Abu al-Qasim Isma`il al-Isfahani (d.530 A.H) has written in al-Hujjah fi Bayan al-Mahajjjah (1/252):

 

It is from the Sunnah to remain silent on what occurred between the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and to promote their virtues, and to follow them as they are the shining stars.

 

Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi says in Lum`at al-I`tiqad (150):

 

It is from the Sunnah to associate with the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and to love them, and mention their good qualities, and to seek mercy and forgiveness for them; and to refrain from mentioning their pitfalls and whatever transpired between them, and to believe in their virtue and to acknowledge their services at the beginning of Islam. Allah says:

 

وَالَّذِيْنَ جَاءُوْا مِنْۢ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِيْنَ سَبَقُوْنَا بِالْإِيْمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِيْ قُلُوْبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوْفٌ رَّحِيْمٌ

And those who came after them, saying, “our Rabb, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Rabb, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.[24]

 

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللّٰهِۚ   وَالَّذِيْنَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْۖ   تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَّبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَرِضْوَانًاۖ   سِيْمَاهُمْ فِيْ وُجُوْهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُوْدِۚ   ذٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِۖ   وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنْجِيْلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهفَآزَرَهفَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوْقِه يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيْظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ

 

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.[25]

 

The Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam said:

Do not curse my Sahabah, for indeed if one of you had to spend the equivalent of Uhud in gold, it would not reach the mudd[26] of one of them or even half of that.

 

Al-Nawawi said in his commentary on Sahih Muslim (18/219-220):

 

It is the stance of Ahl al-Sunnah is to hold the best opinion of them and to refrain from discussing the internal conflict, and to apply a plausible interpretation to the fighting that occurred. They exercised ijtihad and did not intend disobedience, nor the affairs of the world. Rather every group considered itself to be on the truth, and that its opposition was exceeding the bounds; therefore it was necessary to fight them to return them to the command of Allah. Some of them applied ijtihad and were correct and others erred in their ijtihad and they can be excused for their error. If the Mujtahid errs there is no blame on him.

 

Ibn Taymiyyah says in Minhaj al-Sunnah (4/448):

 

The stance of Ahl al-Sunnah is to associate with the Sahabah of the Prophet salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam and to love them, and mention their good qualities, and to seek mercy and forgiveness for them; and to refrain from mentioning their pitfalls and whatever transpired between them. As for what transpired between them, for some of it they have a valid excuse, some of which they repented from, and some of which they are pardoned for. As for delving in their internal disputes in creates an attitude of hatred an animosity towards them in the hearts of many; and in so doing this person errs and becomes one who disobeys. They begin to find fault with those who do not deserve fault, and certain matters are praised even though they do not warrant praise. Therefore, the attitude of silence was the way of the virtuous among the first Muslims.

 

He says in Majmu` al-Fatawa (3/406):

 

Likewise we believe in refraining from discussion of what occurred between them and we know that some of what has been transmitted in that regard is false. They were people who exercised ijtihad, so they either arrived at the correct result and are rewarded a double-reward, or rewarded for their ijtihad even though it was not the correct result, and they are pardoned for this. As for their misdeeds, they already have the promise of Allah that they will be granted Paradise, so Allah shall definitely pardon them either through their repentance or through righteous deeds that erase sins, or through afflictions that expiate sins, or some other means. Indeed they are the best generation of this ummah.

 

Al-Dhahabi said in his al-Siyar (3/128):

 

So we praise Allah for our well-being that He brought us into existence in a time when the truth has become clear and unambiguous from both sides. We know where both sides are taking their opinion from; and we have become well-informed and aware and we have excused and sought forgiveness for and love within moderation. We have asked for mercy for the rebellious party by a broad interpretation in general; or on account of error — with Allah’s permission — which may be forgiven. And we say, as Allah has taught us, “O our Rabb, forgive us and our brothers who have preceded us in faith; and place not in our hearts enmity towards those who believe.” We also ask Allah to be pleased with those who did not participate like Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, Ibn `Umar, Muhammad ibn Maslamah, Sa`id ibn Zayd and others. In addition to this, we disassociate ourselves from the dissenting Khawarij who fought `Ali and declared both parties disbelievers.

 

Ibn Hajar states in al-Fath (13/37):

 

Ahl al-Sunnah is unanimous on the obligation to refrain from any defamatory remarks about any of the Sahabah on account of what transpired between them even if he knows which of the two parties was on the right position; since they did not fight those wars except that it was on account of their ijtihad and Allah has pardoned the one who errs in his ijtihad. In fact it has been established that he will receive a single reward and that the one who is correct in his ijtihad will receive a double-reward.

 

These quotations from the scholars are one a drop in the ocean of what has been written about this matter. Perhaps what has been transmitted of them will satisfy one who is seeking the truth and does not follow his own desires.

And with Allah is all success.

 
 

 


 

[1]  Al-Maliki states:

Discussing what happened between the Sahabah if it is based on knowledge and done sincerely and with the objective of arriving at the truth then there is nothing wrong in doing so. On the contrary it becomes an obligatory duty that is discharged if a few of the learned perform the task. However, it is not permitted to leave it out [speaking about what happened among the Sahabah].

 

Through this statement of his he has undermined the consensus of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jama`ah, and their agreement on avoiding discussions on the topic of what occurred between the Sahabah. See what he has written in al-Suhbah wa al-Sahabah (224)

[2]  He is Khalaf ibn Salim al-Makhrami, a reliable narrator.

[3]  He is Muhammad ibn Ja`far al-Hudhali, A great scholar and memoriser of hadith.

[4]  The chain is authentic.

[5]Fada’il al-Sahabah (2/1152) — there is an error in the published version, instead of Abu Mu`awiyah it reads [Mu`awiyah].

[6]  Surah al-Baqarah: 134

[7]  This chain is interrupted.

[8]  Al-Khallal narrates it in al-Sunnah (1/261) via an alternate chain. All these variant chains support each other and elevate the report to an acceptable level.

[9]  The chain is authentic.

[10]  Surah al-Baqarah:134

[11]  This chain is authentic.

[12]  Surah al-Mujadalah: 22

[13]  Surah al-Fath: 29

[14]  ibid

[15]  Surah al-Towbah: 117

[16]  Surah al-Towbah: 100

[17]  Surah al-Tahrim: 8

[18]  Surah Al `Imran: 110

[19]  Surah al-Fath: 18

[20]  Surah al-Hashr: 10

[21]  This narration has also been narrated by Abu Nu`aym in al-Imamah (202), and al-Ajurri (1128) and its chain is authentic.

[22]  Surah al-Qasas: 50

[23]  Surah al-Anfal: 23

[24]  Surah al-Hashr: 10

[25]  Surah al-Fath: 29

[26]  A unit of measurement equivalent to approximately 750 ml.

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