The Sahaba

The Sahaba’s were not an ordinary group of people; they were an extraordinary group of people. Individual as well as collective stories can be found of perseverance, hardship, sacrifice, steadfastness, unwavering iman, taqwa and tawakkul all rolled up in one when we look at what the Sahaba’s went through with the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم during the early days of the dawah in Makkah to the latter days of the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم life when Islam was established in Madina and the subsequent expansion of the Islamic State through the whole of the Arabian peninsula. This is the context to the following hadiths and ayats:

‘The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: ‘The best of my nation is my generation then those who follow them and then those who follow them.’ Sahih Bukhari

In Sura At-Tawba verse 100, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says,

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالْأَنْصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

‘And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajireen 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.’

The hadith shows us the status to which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم viewed the companions and the ayat from the noble Qur’an reaffirms the unique position of the Sahaba’s in the sight of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Furthermore, there were 10 specific Sahaba’s who are referred to as ‘Al-‘Ashara al-Mubasharin’ – those that were granted Jannah while on the Dunya. This status was bestowed upon them as a result of their dedication and sacrifices for the sake of Islam.

Abdul Rahman bin ‘Awf narrates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: ‘Abu Bakr is in paradise, Omar is in paradise, Uthman is in paradise, Ali is in paradise, Talha is in Paradise, Az- Zubair is in paradise, Abdul Rahman bin ‘Awf is in paradise, Saad is in paradise, Saeed is in paradise and Abu Ubaida bin al- Jarrah is in Paradise.’ Tirmidhi

The Sahaba’s were so magnificent, in particular the ‘Al-‘Ashara al-Mubasharin’, that children of future Muslim generations were and still are named after them. It is not uncommon to come across names being bestowed upon children who are named after the Sahabas, in the hope that one day the child will grow up to be like the Sahabi whom they have taken their name after.

There is however one crucial element which is missed when we look at the Sahaba’s and that is, the Sahaba’s were companions to Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم but what were they companions in? In other words what was the relationship between Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Sahaba’s?

The merits of the Sahaba’s stand for themselves and do not need any elucidations. However what made them magnificent is their companionship to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, so the question that begs to be answered is what were the Sahaba’s companions in to Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم?

We state in our shahadah, ‘la ilaha illallah muhammadur rasulullah’ which translates into ‘there is no God except Allah and Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is His Messenger’, so from the shahadah it is clear that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is a Messenger of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Allah سبحانه وتعالى then goes onto describe Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم in his role as a messenger throughout the Qur’an.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Surah Anbiya verse 107,

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ

‘And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a Mercy to mankind.’

This shows us that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is unique in his role as a messenger since his message is universal and it is not like the messages of the Prophets of Bani Israel whose message was for the people of Bani Israel. The universal message of Islam is unique to the deen of Islam. Furthermore Islam is described as a mercy, so following and practicing Islam is of benefit to the whole of mankind.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى also says in Surah Adh-Dhariyat verse 50,

فَفِرُّوا إِلَى اللَّهِ ۖ إِنِّي لَكُمْ مِنْهُ نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ 

‘So flee to Allah. Indeed, I am to you from Him a clear warner.’

This verse tells us that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم has come to call people to Allah سبحانه وتعالى and whoever rejects this call is fleeing from Allah سبحانه وتعالى. For those who reject Islam lays a great torment as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is described as a warner. This is also seen in the incident when from the top of Mount Safa the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم called the people of Makkah to him and asked them, ‘tell me, if I were to inform you that there was a band of horseman behind this mountain, would you believe me?’ ‘Certainly’ answered the Makkans, ‘to us you are above suspicion. We have never heard you utter an untruth.’ The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then informed the gathered Makkans, ‘I am a messenger of warning, coming to you before impending painful punishment…. until you say that Allah is One.’ So the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is warning the people of Makkah of the punishment of Allah سبحانه وتعالى if they reject the message of Islam.

Finally, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Surah Al Ahzab verse 40,

وَلَٰكِنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ

‘He (Muhammad) is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets.’

The word ‘Seal’ (kha’tam in Arabic), in the verse, has been interpreted over the centuries to mean: ‘Last’, ‘Final’, ‘Seal’ (as in a stamp sealing), ‘Seal’ (as in seal of authority, officiating a document), and a few other meanings along similar lines of interpretation. What this shows us is that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was the last of the line of messengers and prophets starting from Adam (as) to himself صلى الله عليه وسلم and the message which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم came with, was a universal message for all of mankind and this message is a mercy to those who follow it. So the Sahaba’s were not companions to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in his prophethood or messengership.

So if we have established that prophethood and messengership was unique to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, we see that the Sahaba’s are companions, not in the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم prophethood and messengership but rather in the dawah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in conveying Islam. There are numerous stories and events of the Sahaba’s in their conveyance of Islam even though in origin the command to spread the message of Islam fell on the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم alone at the beginning, when Allah سبحانه وتعالى commanded the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to ‘arise and warn’ in Surah Al Muddaththir.

The nature of Islam being that it is from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, that it has been sent by Him سبحانه وتعالى as a mercy to mankind, that Islam is a criterion to judge between right and wrong, that it has come as the truth to dominate over falsehood means that Islam has come to dominate over all other deens, practices, ideas, values, etc which are not based on Islam.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Surah Tauba verse 33,

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

‘It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, to make it superior over all religions, even though the pagans may detest it.’

This is the understanding that the Sahaba’s had of Islam so it is because of this they strived hard to convey Islam even though in origin the obligation to convey Islam lay with the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. This is demonstrated by the brave example of Abdullah ibn Masud (ra) who volunteered to go to the Ka’bah and recite Surah Ar Rahman when it became apparent that the Makkans had not heard the Qur’an being recited aloud at the Ka’bah. The Sahaba’s replied, ‘we are afraid for you, we only want one who has a clan to protect him from their evil’. Abdullah ibn Masud (ra) replied, ‘Allah shall protect me and keep me away from evil.’ He then went to Maqam Ibrahim next to the Ka’bah and recited Surah Ar Rahman, as soon as the Quraish realised what he (ra) was doing their thugs were set upon Abdullah ibn Masud (ra) and went about beating him (ra). When he (ra) returned to the rest of the Sahaba’s they saw his (ra) bruised and battered face saying, ‘this is what we feared for you’ to which Abdullah ibn Masud (ra) replied, ‘the enemies of Allah are no more comfortable then I at this moment. If you wish I shall go out tomorrow and do the same.’ They said, ‘you have done enough.’

Musab ibn Umayr (ra) who was referred to as the Prince of Makkah, is another example of the bravery of the Sahaba’s. Musab (ra) came from an honourable and wealthy family, he (ra) wore imported clothing and his (ra) scent would linger long after he had passed through a place. All the women wanted to marry him (ra) and all the fathers wanted to give their daughters to him (ra). But this was the same man who after embracing Islam, had to run away from the bondage of his mother to be able to practice and convey Islam. Musab (ra) had voluntarily made hijra with a delegation of the Ansar to Yathrib and prepared the way for the establishment of the first Islamic State in Madina. He left for Yathrib in the 11th year of the message in Makkah and returned the following year with a delegation of the Ansar saying to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم that, ‘there isn’t a single household in Yathirb which hasn’t heard of this deen or the Messenger.’ [1]

The Ansar came to Makkah to confirm their shahadah to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and pledge allegiance to him صلى الله عليه وسلم. Musab (ra) died at the battle of Uhud. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم wept as he صلى الله عليه وسلم stood over Musab’s (ra) body. His (ra) body lay on the ground without enough clothing on his body to cover him. When his (ra) clothing was pulled up to cover his face his calf and feet would be showing and when his (ra) clothing was pulled down to cover his calf and feet his face and torso will be revealed. Here lay the man who was known as the Prince of Makkah before embracing Islam. This is the man Allah سبحانه وتعالى referred to when He سبحانه وتعالى said in Surah Al Ahzab verse 23,

مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ ۖ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ ۖ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا

‘Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death], and among them is he who awaits [his chance]. And they did not alter [the terms of their commitment] by any alteration.’

This young 21 year old Sahabi had sacrificed his privileged lifestyle, his family and his status to convey the deen of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Similar incidences of these 2 Sahaba’s can be found in the lives of all of the other Sahaba’s; their sacrifices and hard work in the conveyance of the deen. They were Sahaba’s to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in the dawah. This action of dawah is what made them extraordinary and which is why they are remembered till this day and held in the highest of esteem so much so that Muslims in the generations to come after them have named their children after in hope that they become like these men.

Today the Muslim Ummah faces a similar struggle to the Sahaba’s where Islam is openly attacked without any fear or opposition to these attacks. The image of Islam is distorted by associating Islam with violence, backwardness, oppression and so on. Western governments, like the Quraish, in attempting to defend themselves and their way of life, are attacking and damaging parts of Islam that they find unacceptable to their own way of life of Secularism and Capitalism. If we as an Ummah want to be extraordinary like the Sahaba’s then, as well as adopting their names, we need to adopt their actions in standing up for Islam and conveying Islam in a manner in which it is meant to be conveyed i.e. a deen that has been sent for the whole of mankind since Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Surah Tauba verse 33,

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

‘It is He Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the deen of Haq (truth), to make it superior over all deens, even though the Pagans may detest (it).’

From the lives of the Sahaba’s we should feel encouraged and empowered to engage with the wider community armed with the intellectual arguments of Islam in how to deal with the propaganda of Western governments and show the Muslims, giving them confidence, and the non Muslims, clarifying their misconceptions, how desperately Islam is needed to deal with the issues of the wider society. Moreover, Muslims should have the bravery of the Sahaba’s to say that it is the absence of Islam today from our daily life’s practices that is the vital issue of today’s world and only when we establish Islam in the dunya in its entirety via the Khilafah System where the lives, property and honour of the Muslims living under the shade of the Khaleefah and the dhimmi’s (non-Muslim citizens of the state) will we truly be in receipt of Allah’s سبحانه وتعالى mercy.

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in Surah An Nahl verse 125,

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُمْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَنْ ضَلَّ عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

‘Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.’

[1] The Life of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم by Ibn Kathir

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