Reviewing by : A.J. Kassem

    Allah has created mankind and jinn in order to worship Him. From mankind He chose some people as messengers and sent down His revelation upon them so they can teach His law to the people. {“Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the (coming of) Messengers. And Allah is Ever-Powerful, All-Wise.”} (4:165).

From amongst the Prophets and Messengers, He chose Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, as the final Messenger. He granted him the greatest book (i.e., the Qur’an) and the easiest and most complete law (i.e., Islam), and decreed that anyone who, thereafter, chooses a religion other than Islam will not be successful. {“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam,  it will never be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers.”} (3:85).
In order for this message to reach all of mankind, Allah the All-Wise decreed a number of measures, including:
1- Allah the Exalted protects the Noble Qur’an from change, addition, or omission. {“Verily, it is We who have sent down  the Dhikr (i.e., the Qur’an) and surely We will guard it (from corruption).”} (15:9)

2- He chose the best companions for His Prophet  in order to help him carry the burden of this final message to all humankind, for it is a religion for all peoples; Arabs and non-Arabs, black and white: {“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, but most of men know not.”} (34:28)

Ibn Mas’ud ,may Allah be pleased with him said: “Allah looked at the hearts of the people, and He saw that the heart of Mohammad – peace be upon him – had the best of all the hearts, so He chose him and sent him with His message. Then He looked at hearts of the people and saw that the hearts of his Companions were the best, so He made them his ministers to fight for his religion.”

One example of their extraordinary qualities is the following narration:  
Abu Araka said: “I prayed the Fajr prayer with Ali bin Abu Talib. When he finished, he stayed in his place looking sad for some time. When the sun rose, he stood up and prayed two rak'ahs, then he said: 'By Allah, I have seen Muhammad’s companions, and none of the people today look like them. They used to be pale-looking, disheveled, dusty, and marks of prostrating could be seen on their foreheads like the knees of goats because they had spent the night praying, prostrating, and reciting the Qur’an. In the morning when they remembered Allah, they swayed as the trees sway in the wind, and they wept until their clothes were wet. By Allah, it seems the people have become negligent.'”
The mission of the Last Messenger  started in Makkah by inviting people to Islam. Only a few people from Makkah believed in him and his Message. They proved their belief in those days, for every day the polytheists increased the degree of punishment, inventing new methods of torture, hurting them physically and psychologically. Nevertheless, the Companions were patient for the sake of Allah. Furthermore, they played an important role in spreading Islam, and slowly but surely, more and more of the people of Makkah embraced Islam. The sincerity of their faith was unquestionable. They proved their dedication when they left behind their wealth, homes, and families and emigrated to al-Habashah (present-day Ethiopia), and then later to Madinah.

What convinced them to make all these sacrifices? Were they being coerced out of fear of Prophet Muhammad who, at the time, did not have the power to help himself or his Companions? Or did they bear that suffering in the hopes of gaining wealth, or high ranks and medals?

The answer is neither this nor that. The secret to their steadfastness was in their sincere faith. Hypocrisy – which manifests when a person outwardly professes belief and hides his lack of faith – was not present during the Makkan period. This is because there were no benefits to gain by pretending to accept Islam, nor would they ward off any harm by doing so. In fact, they would bring more difficulty upon themselves.
The important question now is: Were the Sahabah (i.e., Companions of Prophet Muhammad) honest? What should we do with the part of religion that they brought to us? Should we reject it until we prove their honesty?

The answer: There is no doubt that the Qur’an is the word of Allah the Almighty, and in the Qur'an, He praised them because they were the first to convert into Islam, they were the best friends and companions for His Messenger. {“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajireen and the Ansar (the citizens of Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajireen) and also those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.”} (9:100)

Allah praised them in another verse: {“Verily those who have believed, and those who have emigrated (for Allah’s religion) and have striven hard in the Way of Allah, all these hope for Allah’s Mercy, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”} (2:218)

Prophet Muhammad  also praised them by saying: “On the Day of Judgment, the poor Muhajireen will enter Paradise forty years before the rich.” [Muslim]. Only true believers can receive such glad tidings from the Prophet himself! If one were to disregard the praise of Allah for the Muhajireen (i.e., the Muslims of Makkah who later emigrated to Madinah), as well as the praise of His Prophet, then whose word would he be willing to accept?

When our Messenger  settled in Madinah with his noble Muhajireen companions, the Ansar (i.e., the citizens of Madinah who gave aid to the Muhajireen) received them as brothers and honored guests. These Ansar wrote their place in history with golden ink. What worldly advantages could a wanted man and his companions possibly promise these people? In fact, the ceremony wherein they pledged their allegiance (known as Bay'at al-'Aqaba) was done in secret.

Let us observe the following two instances from Bay'at al-'Aqaba:

1. The confidence of al-'Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet  in the Ansar of Madinah. He attended the ceremony and spoke to the Ansar, informing them of the important position his nephew had in the family. He said, “Listen O Ansar (the tribes of Khazraj and Aws). You know the great position Muhammad holds amongst us. We have defended him from our people [...]. He is respected amongst his people and protected in his own land, but he still decided to join you. If you think that you can stick to the promise you made to him and protect him from his opponents, then you may do so.”
They replied to him, “We have heard what you said.” They then said to Prophet Muhammad: “Speak, O Messenger of Allah, and choose for you and your Lord what you prefer. (i.e., whether to go back or settle in Madinah as the capital of Islam.)‘’ The Prophet  then spoke, reciting the Qur’an and teaching them about Islam. 
Afterward, he said: “I accept your invitation on the condition that you defend me as you defend your wives and children.” 
Would al-'Abbas leave his nephew with people who were not trustworthy, and whose belief was not strong?

2. The great danger that the Ansar were risking as a consequence of their pledge of allegiance to the Prophet  and Islam.

As’ad ben Zurara was the youngest of the seventy people who pledged on that day. He spoke to his people, saying: “Slow down, O people of Yathrib. We came to meet him because we are certain that he is the Messenger of Allah. If we pledge to harbor and protect him, it will mean alienation from all the Arabs. The best men among you will be killed, for you will be fought. Either you pledge now to bear that all for the sake of Allah, or if you are afraid, show it now; it would be more acceptable to do so now.” They said: “O As’ad, you can withdraw yourself. We swear by Allah that we have given our promise, and we will keep it forever.”

Being alienated from the other tribes – especially the Jewish ones who  lived with them in Madinah – put them in real danger of being eradicated. Due to this, hypocrites had no incentive to join the ranks of the Muslims during the first stage of life in Madinah. 

In the above instance, we can see how difficult the conditions were in that period.  

Allah allowed His Prophet to settle and establish a base through the following:
    - The leaders and people of the Ansar all accepting Islam.
    - Islam rising to prominence after the Muslims' victory in the Battle of Badr.

After this, some of the citizens of Madinah had incentive to pretend to join the ranks of the Muslims, for there was now worldly gain involved. A man named 'Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul and some of his polytheist friends met with the Prophet  and pledged allegiance as Muslims (though they were, in truth, hypocrites only after worldly gain). This was the beginning of hypocrisy in Madinah. The number of Muslims continued to grow, particularly after the victory in Makkah, and more and more people embraced Islam until their number reached tens of thousands in the Farewell Pilgrimage.

Based on the above, we notice that:
1. Friendship can be private or public. The public one includes anyone who met the Prophet  and believed in him. Some people were only in company of the Prophet  for a year, a month, an hour, etc. It is important to keep in mind that even though they differed in ranks, the Companions were all virtuous, truthful, pious people. 
2. None of the Muhajirin was ever accused of hypocrisy.
3. None of the Ansar who accepted Islam before the Battle of Badr were ever accused of hypocrisy.
4. Hypocrisy appeared among some citizens of Madinah after the Battle of Badr. When the leaders and the majority of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, some of the remaining people needed to profess Islam publicly due to its prominence and the benefit they could gain by doing so.
5. The first Muhajireen and Ansar, as well as those who embraced Islam after the conquest of Makkah, have shown their faithfulness and true belief:

a) Allah has praised them by saying: 
{“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajireen and the Ansar (the citizens of Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajireen) and also those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.”} (9:100)

b) The Prophet peace be upon him praised them by saying: “Do not insult my Companions, for if any of you spent the weight of Mount Uhud in gold, it would not equal a two handfuls of their deeds, or even a handful.” [Bukhari, Muslim] He also said: “The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, and then those who come after them.”  [Bukhari, Muslim]

c) The first of the Companions to accept Islam accepted the later ones and they worked together and loved one another in a harmonious and blessed brotherhood.

d) The Companions were not unaware of the presence of hypocrites in the Ummah. They could feel their wickedness. They kept an eye on their movements and stood against them in many situations according to Allah’s command: {“They are the enemy; so beware of them.”} (63:4)

They were aided by the telltale characteristics of the hypocrites, as described in the Qur’an. Many such descriptions were revealed in the Qur'an to the point that the hypocrites disliked when their description was mentioned: {“The hypocrites fear lest a Surah (chapter of the Quran) should be revealed about them, showing them what is in their hearts. Say: "(Go ahead and) mock! But certainly Allah will bring to light all that you fear."”} (9:64)

Some of their description in the Qur’an: 
{“Had We willed, We could have shown them to you, and you should have known them by their marks, but surely, you will know them by the tone of their speech! And Allah knows all your deeds.”} (47:30)
{“Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah , but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little.”} (4:142)

The Qur’an revealed their true selves. Their traits were clearly defined, but their names were not mentioned because the description of the hypocrites is timeless; for they will continue to exist in every era. The descriptions in the Qur'an remain as a warning to the believers so they can be aware to avoid adopting such characteristics in themselves, and to be wary when they see them in other people.

The Prophet  informed us that loving the Ansar is a sign of faith, and hating them is a sign of hypocrisy. I will share two stories to prove that the Companions knew the hypocrites from their description.

1. The withdrawal of Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul from the Muslim army at Mount Uhud.
Abdullah bin Ubayy used to do something good which honored him and his kinsmen. Every Friday, when the Prophet preached to the people, Abdullah would stand and say: “O people, this is the Messenger of Allah  amongst you. Allah has honored you and strengthened you by him, so support him, defend him, hear and obey him.”
After his actions at Uhud, letting down the Prophet and the Muslims, he stood up to do the same as he used to do every Friday. The Muslims pulled him back by his clothes and told him: “Sit down, you enemy of Allah. You are no longer eligible to say that after what you have done.” [Sirat Ibn Hisham]

2. A narration mentions that some of the Companions were in the house of Atban bin Malik discussing the hypocrites. When Imam Nawawi commented on this hadith, he wrote: “They mentioned the hypocrites, their bad actions, and the harm they caused.” This shows that the righteous Companions were aware of the hypocrites and the damage they were causing.

e) Ali and the Prophet's relatives (may Allah be pleased with them) did not accuse the other Companions of any wrongdoing. On the contrary, they lived together in love and brotherhood.

f) It was the Companions (RA) who transmitted to us the love and respect of the Prophet's family (i.e., Ahl al-Bayt).
Does it then make sense for who claim to love Ahl al-Bait to accuse the Companions of hypocrisy?

g) If they were untruthful and hypocritical, then why have they been blessed with success? And why did they all agree upon the law of Islam throughout the Prophet's life and even after his death? If they were insincere, it would make sense for it to become visible after his death.

A question that may arise: Did the misunderstanding and subsequent problems that arose among the Sahabah affect their integrity and make them hypocrites?

The answer: No one except the Prophets (peace be upon them) were infallible. The Siddiqoon (true believers), the martyrs, and the righteous are not infallible; they may make mistakes. Allah may forgive them when they repent from sin and ask forgiveness. The Sahabah are more deserving of mercy and forgiveness for the sacrifices they made to support the Islam. 

The problems that arose between them was not due to ill will or bad intentions; rather, each party had good intentions and thought they were doing the right thing. We are taught that if a person tries his best to do the right thing and fails, he will have one reward for his intention; and if a person tries his best to do the right thing and succeeds, he will have two rewards.
Another point to note is that when problems arose, many of the Sahabah chose to be impartial. They withdrew and refused to take part in any conflict.

Is it fair to say that everyone who makes a mistake is a sinner? Is it fair to accuse the Sahabah who took part in the misunderstanding of hypocrisy and disbelief?

The Qur’an has declared that the believers fight amongst themselves, it does not nullify their faith. Allah said: {“If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just).”} (49:9)

Allah described the two quarreling groups as believers and brothers. He also commanded the Ummah to fight the oppressive group in order to quell their oppression and end the conflict. The Prophet  said about al-Hasan (RA): “This son of mine is a Sayyid (chief), and I hope Allah may reconcile two large parties of Muslims by means of him.” [Ahmed]. The Prophet  called both parties Muslims.

Not all injustice, wrongdoing, or arrogance nullifies one's faith nor does it make him accursed. So how would it nullify the faith of those who were the most sincere of all?

In conclusion, the correct view with regards to the Companions of the Prophet  is that they are the best generation of this Ummah. They are people of sincerity and integrity. We do not claim that they were infallible; they certainly made mistakes, for they were only human. However, their long track record of dedication to Islam and their honesty and uprightness is enough proof of their sincere faith.

To anyone who accuses Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) of hypocrisy and disbelief, we ask the following:
-          Do you not accept Allah's praise for them?
-          Do you not accept the Prophet's  praise for them? He commanded us to respect his Companions.
-          Do you not accept Ali’s praise and love for them?

Think objectively, and note the following:
1. A hypocrite who only feigned belief would not dedicate his life and death for a faith he did not believe in.
2. Allah, the Most High, preserves His religion. Does it make sense that He would let hypocrites falsify it? 
3. Suppose that some hypocrites quoted some hadiths. We look at their narrations objectively – if they match the message in the Qur'an and authentic Sunnah, then we can accept the narrations. If they do not, then we can be certain that they are false.

We believe that the Prophet  is true, the Qur’an is true, and the people who transmitted to us the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Prophet were the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). Do you accuse our witnesses of being false witnesses? In this case you would render the Qur’an and the Sunnah untrustworthy and invalid, since the people who transmitted them to you are untrustworthy.
I seek refuge in Allah from Satan the accursed.

{“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. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.”} (48:29)

The article is available in the following languages