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Letter Exchange 16: True Place of the Sahabas/Companions (RA)

The following Queries were mailed to us by a fellow visitor, student and seeker of truth. Below is an article-version of the email exchange. Warning - This is a literary discussion and those who get offended easily and are prone to more emotions and less intellect, must forgive me and pray for my guidance.

  1. I believe that the Shias hate most companions. The companions had difference of opinions but they were all believers and must be respected and followed.
  2. Referring to the event of Hijrat, the Quran has labeled Hz Abu Bakr as the second of the two. Also Allah has promised the emigrants pardon and bounties. Why do the Shias reject this?
  3. I am providing a list of 09 companions who Shias disrespect or have no regards for. Furthermore, Shias believe all the companions were renegades because they rejected the Walayat of Imam Ali (AS).
  4. Prophet (SAW) told to follow his companions. Why do the Shias then disobey Rasool (SAW)?
  5. Allah looks at the heart and intentions. In the Quran he has stated he will remove hatred from the hearts of the believers and will send them to Paradise. This sums it all up.  The companions who disliked each other will still be in paradise.


The companions (May Allah be pleased with the true and pious followers and supporters of Islam) have been a source of major unrest between the masses for 1400 years now, and are used as a catalyst to create disunity and disharmony amongst perfectly peaceful communities and neighborhoods.

This in itself is ironic and a pity, because Islam was not about the companions and never came to promise the companions paradise. Islam is about what You and I do, and how we are accountable for our own deeds.

Before we start, as stated in many different articles, it must be made clear as to who a companion is, as per the Sunni Definition as well. In elaboration, a person, who may have been born to the pagans, and spent parts of his life in the darkness of ignorance, like you and me, who had the luck to be a part of Prophet's (SAW) gathering (not like you and me), and accepted Islam and tried to do all the Farayz and the Wajibat, like you and me, and who may have done good deeds and bad deeds in their lives, like you and me, and who afterwards died and will be accountable before Allah for what ever they did, like you and me, are companions.

The only difference between you and me, and a companion is, that they had the opportunity to be with Rasool (SAW) physically, in this life, irrespective of their deeds, and we will have to wait till the hereafter (that too if our deeds enable us). The Sahabas were not Sahabas because they were "ALL" pious, with elevated spirituality and all were promised paradise, but because of their practical company with Prophet (SAW). Like all nations, sects, communities, families, in all times since the creation of Adam (AS), the Sahabas also had different categories; some excelled the others, and sacrificed, killed in the name of Islam and were martyrs, while others, were niggardly and  had their doubts, while yet there were some who became renegades afterwards.

When two sons of the same mother (who provides both the children with same milk, nurture and upbringing) are not of same piety and faith, where one (Kabeel aka Kane) kills the other (Habeel aka Abel), how come all of the 124,000 companions then be same, all good, all saints, all pious, Specially when there are alot of Ayats, Ahadiths and historical events which prove the same?

In a nutshell, the Sahabas were ordinary human beings, with extra ordinary leadership (SAW) present amongst them. Those who availed the benefit of this and became guided, repented and assisted the prophet (SAW) in true spirits, will be in the highest of the gardens, while others, Allah will decide.

Firstly, you claim that shias hate most companions? Most would be more than 50%. Be very careful with what you say. There were more than 120,000 Muslim companions at hajjatul wida. Please name the companions which shias hate, alongwith the reason from a shia's perspective for why they hate that specific companion. If you agree to the reason state that as well. If you do not know the reason state that as well. It is hard work but please list it down as it is constructive for the discussion. I am sure you can not list down "MOST" companions.. so I say atleast list down 15 companions which Shias hate out of the 120,000 and also state the reasons why?  I will then give you a list of "NOTABLE" companions who shias revere very much and with reasons. We will then see which list is logical, reasonable and outnumbers the other.

Do Muslims hate all uncles of Prophet (SAW) simply because they hate Abu Lahab (the cursed)? Ofcourse not. That hate has nothing to do with one being an uncle of the prophet (SAW), but other reasons which are weightier than being an uncle. Similarly, it is a lie that shias hate companions (god forbid). Yes, shias hate some "personalities" and that hate has nothing to do with companionship, but other reasons which to us, are heavier than being a companion.

Secondly, there is nothing wrong in having difference of opinions. Me and my best friends disagree as to which football club is the best and we support different teams in various competitions. I think this is acceptable. We also disagree as to if KFC is better or Pizza Hut, or if the color Blue looks better than Green. But when I start to attack my friends with swords and guns, resulting in massive number of deaths, then this does not remain a mere difference of opinion. If the battle of Jamal, Siffin and Nahrwan was a result of difference of opinions, then surely the battle of Badr and Khandaq was also a matter of difference of opinion, where the prophet (SAW) was of the opinion that God is one, whereas the pagans differed in their opinion.

Thirdly, Islam is about following Allah and his prophet (SAW).

Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, MercifuL Say: Obey Allah and the Messenger; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.
Quran [3:31-32]

Why are we trying to add something to what Allah and his Prophet (SAW) have not given us (following the companions)? Why has not Allah told us to follow the companions? Maybe because the companions themselves were followers, like you and me, and were prone to make mistakes and sin, like you and me.

It would have been alot easier to follow the companions had they all displayed piety during and after the demise of Rasool (SAW), and had they all said and did the same thing. Following companions becomes complicated when they opposed each other, bore malice against each other and now you have an option to either follow he who killed, or he who got killed.

First of the two verses you have quoted is the verse of Hijrat;

If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him (Muhammad) when those who
disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the
cave, when he (Muhammad) said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us.
So Allah sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Quran [9:40]

The sunnis often use the above verse to prove the superiority and faith of Abu Bakr and use it as a defense against the Shia disliking of him. This verse would have worked in their favor, if the offense of Abu Bakr was to betray Rasool (SAW) during Hijrat (which he obviously did not), and not to deprive Janab Fatima (AS) of her right, as per her (AS) claim and her (AS) anger at him till her (AS) blessed death.

It must be clear that Abu Bakr recited the Kalimah, had accepted Islam and became a Muslims. He must have done some good deeds and some bad deeds in his humanly capacity. Maybe Allah will forgive him for his good, or punish him for his bad. But because we revere the Heart of Prophet (SAW) more than the companion of Prophet (SAW), we opt to stay away from the man who usurped the right of Janab Zahra (AS).

Coming back to the above verse;

Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant?
Quran [105:1]

So wait patiently for the judgment of your Lord, and be not like the companion of the fish, when he cried while he was in distress.
Quran [68:48]

"O my two companions of the prison! (I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves better, or the One Allah, Supreme and Irresistible?
Quran [12:39]

Asahab al Fil does not denote the closeness of the elephants to their owners. Yunus (AS) was the companion of the fish, yet it neither gives superiority to the fish, nor denotes a level of spiritual or physical bond between them. Furthermore, Yusuf's (AS) companions in the prison were disbelievers.

Abu Bakr was Prophet's (SAW) companion in the cave. This simply denotes a historical fact that they were both physically present in the same cave. It neither gives Abu Bakr superiority, nor promises him paradise. Furthermore, the above ayahs further dilute the magnitude of the word companion and limits it to merely being in company of one another, neither does it gurantee righteousness, nor forgiveness and superiority.

Also note in the Ayah about migration quoted earlier, Allah sends down his tranquility or Sakinah, only on one of the two. My question, why was the sakinah only sent on prophet (SAW) and not both for this would surely add onto the merits of Abu Bakr?

When those who disbelieved harbored in their hearts (feelings of) disdain, the disdain of (the days of) ignorance, but Allah sent down His tranquillity on His Messenger and on the believers, and made them keep the word of guarding (against evil), and they were entitled to it and worthy of it; and Allah is Cognizant of all things.
Quran [48:26]

Allah had sent down tranquility on his messenger as well on the believers (the true believers), then why in this case of the hijrat, one of the two was left out of tranquility?

Keeping in view of above all, the companion of the cave does not signify closeness or piety but only the facts at that time which state that there were 2 in the cave.

The second verse quoted by you is;

And (as for) those who believed and fled and struggled hard in Allah's way, and those who gave shelter and helped, these are the believers truly; they shall have forgiveness and honorable provision.
Quran [8:74]

You have stated that the above verse;

  1. Forgave all Muhajirs and Ansars and who did jihad with Muhammad (SAW) all of their past sins
  2. Allah will protect them of their future sins and will forgive their future sins as well
  3. Quran says they shall have rewards which means they will never become unbelievers

It is true that Allah has promised forgiveness and an honorable provision to all those who believed and fled and struggled hard in Allah's way and those who gave shelter and helped, the true believers. But there is more to it.

  1. The Promise of Allah is only upto that point in time (them being mushriks and drunkards and adulters before acceptance of Islam thus Allah forgiving them till that point in time)
  2. This Ayat does not give these believers a license to do anything including disobedience to Allah and his rasool (SAW) and still being forgiven on the basis of this verdict of Allah which is given purely on their efforts and faith upto this point in time.
  3. It is not justice of Allah to reward sinners for all of their major sins as well based on their past actions. Every action will be held responsible, except those which Allah had forgiven until a specific point in time. Also, are these companions free from accountability?

    Then how will it be when We shall gather them together on a day about which there is no doubt, and every soul shall be fully paid what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly?}
    Quran [3:25]

    And We will set up a just balance on the day of resurrection, so no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and though there be the weight of a grain of mustard seed,(yet) will We bring it, and sufficient are We to take account
    Quran [21:47]

  4. If Rasool (SAW) himself disobeyed Allah, he would be punished. He (SAW) is someone who we all believe is the inheritor and the king of paradise for who the universe is created. If he (SAW) can be punished for something he does against Allah, what makes you sure that the companions in the verse you are quoting are forgiven everything throughout their life even if they sin and disobey Allah and Rasoool (SAW) AFTER THAT POINT IN TIME?

    And if he (Muhammad) had fabricated against Us some of the sayings, We would certainly have seized him by the right hand, Then We would certainly have cut off his aorta.
    Quran [69:44-46]

  5. Also, if Allah had already forgiven the companions, why did the Prophet (SAW) only promise paradise to 10, the famous ashra mubarshra and why not the rest? Or was this verse only about these 10 companions of the prophet?
  6. In the past, Allah had bestowed his favor and had given his blessing in the form of an Ism e Azam to balam, whose supplications were never turned away, but Allah took that away from Balam once he displeased Allah. The following ayah highlights the fact that some one who is chosen by Allah at one point in time, may choose the wrong path in the future and if he does so the blessings of Allah withdraws from him.;

    And recite to them the narrative of him to whom We give Our communications, but he withdraws himself from them, so the Shaitan overtakes him, so he is of those who go astray.
    Quran [7:175]

  7. Allah had promised the people of Musa (AS), a goodly promise, of this life and the next. But once the people disobeyed and committed Shirk, Musa (AS) was afraid that Allah might punish them rather than keeping his promise;

    So Musa returned to his people wrathful, sorrowing. Said he: O my people! did
    not your Lord promise you a goodly promise:
    did then the time seem long to you, or did you wish that displeasure from your Lord should be due to you, so that you broke (your) promise to me?
    Quran [20:86]

  8. Allah will fulfill his promise if we fulfill ours;

    O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and be
    faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you
    ; and of Me, Me alone, should you be afraid.
    Quran [2:40]

  9. Not all companions of the Prophet (SAW) are promised;

    Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those with him are firm of heart
    against the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves; you will see them bowing down, prostrating themselves, seeking grace from Allah and pleasure; their marks are in their faces because of the effect of prostration; that is their description in the Taurat and their description in the Injeel; like as seed-produce that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it, so it becomes stout and stands firmly on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the unbelievers on account of them; Allah has promised those among them who believe and do good, forgiveness and a great reward.
    Quran [48:29]

It is clear that Allah is Just and he will forgive who he wills and he will punish who he wills, however his justice and his mercy will prevail. Disobedience to Allah and his prophets is not acceptable to Allah, even if done by the wife of a prophet (like wives of Nuh (AS and Lut (AS)), uncle of a prophet (Abu Jahl), son of a prophet (son of Nuh), let alone a companion of the prophet. Furthermore, Allah gives his pleasure to people due to their faith and action and if these people are so unlucky as to deviate from the truth, Allah might take away his favors from them. Finally, Allah will fulfill his promise only if we fulfill our promises. The same is applicable to the companions as well.

Let us not judge the companions. It is Allah's right to do so. It will be wrong to play God and say all companions were truthful and will be in paradise. it will be wrong to play God and say all companions turned renegades and will be in hell. The fact is, that like all humans, the companions did good and bad and will be rewarded and punished. Loving them for their sins is equally wrong as to hating them for their good. A sin does not get justified simply because it was committed by a companion. If martyrs of Badr (may Allah be pleased with them) were also companions (RA), then killers of some companions and innovators in religion were also some companions.

You have quoted a hadith from Shia books that;

Through the same chain of narrators it is narrated from Yunus from Sabah al-Muzniy from abu Hamza from one of them (a.s.) about the words of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most gracious. "There is no doubt that evil doers who are engulfed in sins -rejected Wilaya of Amir al-Mu’minin Ali (a.s.)- are the companions of hell fire wherein they will live forever."
AL Kafi, Part 4, The Book about People with Divine Authority, H , Ch. 108, h 80

A point to ponder over is, that if indeed Allah bestowed Walayat on Mawla Ali (AS), and Rasool (SAW) openly announced it, then those who reject this walayat are disobedient to Allah and his Prophet (SAW) and Allah shall deal with them as he pleases. I won't be surprised, as Allah has already set a precedent, that he who refuses to accept the authority of some one bestowed by ALlah himself (ie. Adam (AS)), Allah will waste away all of his good deeds and worships (Iblees the cursed).

And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam they did obeisance, but
Iblis (did it not). He refused and he was proud, and he was one of the unbelievers.

Quran [2:34]

Furthermore, a question also arises that did all companions reject Mawla Ali (AS)?

Following is a list of Companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who after his (SAW) demise became the Shias of Ali (AS), refused to pay the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr until Imam Ali did (allegedly as Sunnis theorize), sided with him during the battles of Jamal, Siffin, Nahrwan and other controversies;

Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, Ammar ibn Yasir, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Abdullah ibn Budayl, Asbagh ibn Nubatah, Uways al-Qarni, Uthman ibn Hunaif, Khuzayma ibn Thabit, Malik al-Ashtar, Sa'sa'ah ibn Suhan, Maytham al-Tammar, Abdullah ibn `Abbas, al-Harith al-A'war al-Hamdani,
Mikhnaf ibn Sulaym, Miqdad ibn Aswad, Habib ibn Mazahir, Zayd ibn Suhan, Adi ibn Hatim, Amr ibn al-Humq al-Khaza'i, Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali, Sulayman ibn Surad, Salman the Persian, Kumayl ibn Ziyad, Hisham ibn 'Utbah, Hujr ibn Adi, Abdullah ibn Hashim, Jundab ibn Abdullah

Note that this is just a short list of some notable companions who were the first and true Shias of Ali (AS). Also note that a handful of the above mentioned were born after the demise of Prophet (SAW) but were sons of Sahabas, such as Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr.
Genesis of Shiaism -

Narrated Ibn Abbass: .....And no doubt after the death of the Prophet we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa'da. 'Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.........
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Hadith 817

It is clear that the companions stood divided on the issue of caliphate.

It is clear, and Shias believe (and should believe), that all those who recited the Kalimah were Muslims, irrespective of their intentions (that is for Allah to judge). All companions, Abu Bakr, Umer, Usman, Mawiya, were Muslims. Yazeed (the cursed) was also a Muslim. However, as far as apostasy is concerned, then Sunni literature is sufficient for its verdict on some of the companions;

...... Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet said, "On the Day of Resurrection a group of companions will come to me, but will be driven away from the Lake-Fount, and I will say, 'O Lord (those are) my companions!' It will be said, 'You have no knowledge as to what they innovated after you left; they turned apostate as renegades (reverted from Islam)."
Sahih-Al-Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 585

So it was prophesized that some companions who the prophet (SAW) would recognize will be taken away from him because of their innovations in Islam and because of their apostasy. So your belief that all companions are right and always be right is faulty because of the reason that you and i do not know what is in the intention of a person who sits with Rasool (SAW), what the person did in his solitude and what sins and good deeds the person earned in this life, except which history has shared with us.

The list of 09 companions you share, who Shias "disrespect and have no regards for" are; Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Khalid ibn al-Walid, Abdullah ibn Zubayr, Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas, Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf, Anas ibn Malik and Abu Huraira.

I am surprised as to why isn't Mawiya in your list. Let us look at each one closely and precisely (and try to understand the Shia Viewpoint, as to what will you feel and believe if you knew what we think we know?);

1. Abu Bakr: Ali (AS) thought him to be liar, sinful, treacherous, dishonest, and usurper of his right of caliphate. Janab e Zahra (AS) was angry at him for usurping her right to Fadak and did not talk to him till she died, stating clearly that she will complain about him to her Father (SAW) on the day when all tremble. Mawla Ali (AS) also opposed Abu Bakr's policy of ruling during his caliphate.

2. Umar ibn al-Khattab: Was famous for his hot headedness and running away in the battles of Uhud and Hunain. Furthermore, was the main culprit behind the tragedy of thursday which prevented Rasool (SAW) of his deathbed wish. Ali (AS) thought him to be liar, sinful, treacherous, dishonest, and usurper of his right of caliphate. He was a major player at Saqifa, his aggression towards the house of Ali (AS) was visible in many traditions and supported Abu Bakr in the issue of Fadak. Furthermore, some religious innovations/bidat, such as that of talaq and tarawih are attributed to him. Umar is also responsible for involving Banu Ummaya in the power struggle. Also ensured that Ali did not become the third Caliph.

3. Uthman ibn Affan: Uthman brought back Marwan ibn Al Hakam, his relative, whose father was was exiled by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) after conquest of Mecca and Marwan went with him. Usman is further responsible for empowering the Banu Ummaya. Companions of Prophet (SAW), like Ammar Yasir (RA), Abu Dhar Ghaffari (RA) and Abdullah Ibn Masud (RA) were beaten, tortured and/or exiled by the Usman administration.

4. Khalid ibn al-Walid: Khalid is responsible for the murder of a companion of Prophet (SAW), Malik bin Nuwaira, though some argue he turned renegade. The same night of his murder, Khalid married his widow, a Muslimah, the beautiful Laila bint al-Minhal, another companion of Prophet (SAW), which was more of a rape keeping in mind the circumstances and the allowance of Iddah. This incident also sparked a dispute between Abu Bakr and Umer, Umer wanted Khalid to be put on trial for murder and adultery, whereas Abu Bakr termed it as a mere "error of judgement".

5. Abdullah ibn Zubayr: His father Zubair was more of a Sahabi (given the time and age he spent with Muhammad (SAW)), and was famous for breaking of his oath of allegiance to Mawla Ali (AS) and fighting against him at the battle of Jamal. Not sure why Abdullah ibn Zubayr is in your list.

6. Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas: Bore Malice against Mawla Ali (AS) and played his part to ensure caliphate reached Usman instead of Mawla Ali (AS).

7. Abd al-Rahman ibn Awf: Was Usman's relative and a major player in ensuring Uthman became the third caliph in place of Mawla Ali (AS).

8. Anas ibn Malik: Not sure why is he in your list.

9. Abu Huraira: Was a supporter of Mawiya and narrator of more than 5,500 ahadith while only spending 3 years with Prophet (SAW), which brings into doubt most of what he has attributed to Prophet (SAW).

10. Mawiya ibn Abu Sufyan: Was neither of the Muhajireens or Ansars and accepted Islam in the last parts of Prophet Muihammad's (SAW) life. Historical records point towards his hand in the murder of Aisha, Martyrdom of Imam Hassan (AS) and rise of Yazeed (the cursed). Openly opposed khilafat of Mawla Ali (AS), was responsible for the martyrdom of notable companions, including Ammar Yasir (RA) and was the pioneer of nasibiyat, ie. open cursing of Ali Ibn Abu Talib (AS) from the pulpits of mosques.

It is funny how almost all of them were a part of anti-Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) brigade? I think because Shias follow Ali (AS) after Rasool (SAW), their dislike for his (AS) opponents is justified and their right. Yes, the way they show their dislike depends on the level of their education, maturity, wisdom and piety.

So out of 124,000 Sahabas, we are only speaking about 09 or 10? Is this the whole division amongst Shias and Sunnis about?

You have quoted;

The prophet (SAW) said: "Hold firmly to my example (sunnah) and that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs"
(Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood)

‘In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the merciful
From Muhammad, the Prophet
To Bani-alBakka
Whoever from you embraces Islam, says prayers, pays Zakat, remains obedient to Allah and His Prophet (SAW) and his COMPANIONS, pro-claims his Islam and severes connection with infidels, is under the security of Allah, the Sublime and Great and His Prophet (SAW)
Allah’s Prophet Muhammad
Letters of the prophet by Sultan Ahmed Qureshi-Ibid, Vol3 p 45

I am not sure about the authenticity and source of both of your references but some things do not appeal to a common mind and certain Islamic principles.

  1. If we have to hold firmly to the sunnah of Prophet (SAW) as well as that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, then does this mean the two are different things? If the two are the same, then following Rasool (SAW) is sufficient. If the sunnah of the khulfa-e-salasa is different to sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), then why did not they follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) rather invent their own practices?
  2. If we have to follow the sunnah (practices) of the rightly guided caliphs, then why did not they themselves hold onto each others practices? A very common example can be nomination of the caliph. When the first one directly selected a caliph, why did the second one nominate a Shura to do the same and not follow the practices of his predecessor?
  3. Which companion to remain obedient to when clearly their swords are pointed against one another? Picking any side is Haq? Can you show me any other example in the history of mankind where two sides fought a battle against one another yet both were righteous sides?
  4. One tradition tells to only follow the rightly guided caliphs where as the other tells to follow all companions. Why this discrepancy?
  5. Why did Ali (AS) refuse to upkeep the practices and policies of Abu Bakr and Umer when the Shura was deciding on the fate of caliphate after Umer?

It is clear that obedience is only to Allah and his messenger as stated in the Quran earlier.

However, because the companions used to accompany the Prophet (SAW), they are expected to live their lives according to high set of principles, and imitate the Prophet (SAW) in daily chores, therefore it makes sense to follow the companions only in daily activities with the intention that these were the same actions of Prophet (SAW). However, if a dispute arises with respect to an activity, then fallibility, piety and forgetfulness of that companion should be borne in mind.

To us, Prophet (SAW) left behind the Quran and the Ahlulbayt, Quran being the book of Allah, and his Ahlulbayt (AS) being his video tapes, who preserved his sunnah;

........  but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. ......
Sahih Muslim Book 031, Number 5920

As stated previously, the Quran only asks for obedience to a perfect Allah, and a masoom Nabi (SAW). However there is another interesting thing;

O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority
from among you;
then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger,
if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.
Quran [4:59]

Some commentators like Maududi have referred the Ulil Amr as the Muslim leadership, as long as their guidance is in line with obedience to Allah and his Prophet. Ibn Kathir refers Ulil Amr to an incident, where a companion was given the leadership of his army by the Prophet (SAW) and his authority was to be held amongst his army. The shias usually attribute the Ulil Amr's to Imamat, or authority from Allah. Not going into this debate as to who the people of authority are, it is clear that obedience is to Allah and his Prophet (SAW), all other obediences are conditional to their obedience.

One thing is clear, our accountability will be on our obedience to him (SAW) who was sent by Allah to guide us, not him who himself was misguided for most of his life until the presence of Prophet (SAW) cleansed him.

Think of this. If companions are to be followed, then Mr A is a companion and Mr B is also a companion. If A follows B, then who does B follow? Does this not create a circular-following dillema? If the companions are to follow other companions who are superior to them in maturity, wisdom, intellect, bravery, chivalry and nearness to Prophet (SAW), then again we are only left with the man who was given Mawlayat by Rasool (SAW) himself.

In continuation to Gadeer, here are some Ahadith which are only for your information and for you to further explore (which you must read keeping in mind the character and background of certain personalities);

Aswad b. Yazid reported: It was mentioned before A'isha that will had been made (by the Holy Prophet) in favour of 'Ali (as the Prophet's first caliph), whereupon she said: When did he make will in his favour? I had been providing support to him (to the Holy Prophet) with my chest (or with my lap). He asked for a tray, when he fell in my lap (relaxing his body), and I did not realize that he had breathed his last. When did he make any will in his ('Ali's) favor?
Sahih Muslim Book 013, Number 4013

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me."
Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Number 251

Narrated Ibn Abbass: .....And no doubt after the death of the Prophet we were informed that the Ansar disagreed with us and gathered in the shed of Bani Sa'da. 'Ali and Zubair and whoever was with them, opposed us, while the emigrants gathered with Abu Bakr.........
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Hadith 817

We must realize that if the matter of leadership after Rasool (SAW) was so important to the companions that they opted to skip Prophet's (SAW) burial to immediately elect a new leader, then why did not Prophet Muhammad (SAW), a complete prophet who left behind a complete religion and code of conduct, elect a leader for them (per sunnis he (SAW) did not), or instruct them to conduct a shura amongst themselves to elect one as soon as he (SAW) passes away (again something which is not present in history books)?

Sunnis claim that following and loving any companion will take you to guidance. They quote the weak hadith as i stated in the Genesis of Shiaism as well;

The Prophet said; My sahaba are like the stars: whoever you follow, you shall be guided.
Al-Suyuti, Tarikh al-Khulafa, p. 160. 

Tell me who should i Choose. Because if i choose Ali (AS), you call me a kaafir, because my choice of Ali forces me to dissociate my self from his enemies, from people who Imam Ali (AS) fought, from people who Imam thought were liars!

The Verse you are quoting is;

And We will remove whatever of ill-feeling is in their breasts; the rivers shall flow
beneath them and they shall say: All praise is due to Allah Who guided us to this, and we
Heaven, The would not have found the way had it not been that Allah had guided us; certainly the messengers of our Lord brought the truth; and it shall be cried out to them that this is the garden of which you are made heirs for what you did.
Quran [7:43]

Let us not play God here. All of us believe it is for Allah to judge, then lets not create our own hell and heaven and reward and punish the people of past times and present times per our own judgement. This is only shirk.

Being man, we are only to judge what is right and what is wrong. Mr A committed robbery. Allah may or may not forgive him based on his repentance, his situation, his intention. But for us, we need to realize and understand Mr A committed an act seriously disliked by Allah and his messenger (SAW). We cannot keep on loving and following Mr A accepting his actions of robbery as well, giving him the benefit of doubt that Allah will forgive him. If Allah will forgive Mr A for his crime, then surely Allah will also forgive you for your hate of Mr A because of that shameful disobedience to Rasool (SAW) as well. But what if Allah does not forgive Mr A? What then about your love which blinded you such that you do not consider his robbery, a robbery any more?

It has been narrated on the authority of Umm Salama that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: In the near future there will be Amirs and you will like their good deeds and dislike their bad deeds. One who sees through their bad deeds (and tries to prevent their repetition by his hand or through his speech), is absolved from blame, but one who hates their bad deeds (in the heart of his heart, being unable to prevent their recurrence by his hand or his tongue), is (also) safe ( so far as God's wrath is concerned). But one who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them is spiritually ruined. People asked (the Holy Prophet): Shouldn't we fight against them? He replied: No, as long as they say their prayers.
Sahih Muslim Book 020, Number 4569

Note that those who fail to stop the bad deeds of someone through hand, speech or within his heart is safe from the wrath of Allah. But those who approve of their bad deeds are ruined. If you approve the bad deed of a person on the basis of them being a fallible Sahabi, you doubt the Justice of God.

Coming back to Quran [7:43], it is true that two people (brothers, sisters, father-son, husband-wife, friends, shareeks (counterparts)) who if Allah wills, will enter paradise, and it is possible for both of them to harbor ill-feelings in their heart against one another due to any petty issue, misunderstanding etc. But this may not be true if that ill-feeling involves the people you send your durood on.

Can any muslim expect to even smell the fragrance of paradise if he harbors an ill-feeling against Rasool (SAW) (God Forbid) for any reason? Obviously not.

Me having an ill-feeling against my brother makes me a bad brother, may Allah forgive me for it. But my having an ill-feeling against Ali Ibn Abu Talib (AS), makes me a hypocrite. May Allah forgive hypocrites as well.

Zirr reported: 'Ali observed: By Him Who split up the seed and created something living, the Apostle (may peace and blessings be upon him) gave me a promise that no one but a believer would love me, and none but a hypocrite would nurse grudge against me.
Sahih Muslim Book 001, Number 0141

Maududi has quoted something interesting in his Tafseer;

If there develops any rancor or ill-will among good people during the course of their worldly lives, such rancor and will be removed in the Hereafter. Their hearts will be purged of all hostile feelings and they will enter Paradise as cordial friends. They will not feel envious towards those who had formerly been opposed or hostile to them that they share with them the bounties of Paradise. Significantly, 'Ali once recited this very verse and remarked: 'I wish that I and 'Uthman and Talhah and al-Zubayr will be among those about whom God has said: "And We shall take away all rancor from their hearts" '(See Qurtubi's comments on verse 43)
Tafheem ul Quran, by Abul Ala Maududi, Tafseer of Surah 7, Verse 43

One thing is clear. There was  a feeling of hatred/grudge between Ali and Uthman and Talha and Zubair. As per Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) hadith quoted earlier, and Sunni interpretation of the word Mawla in Gadeer as closeness, friendship (he who takes Muhammad (SAW) as his friend (without any ill feeling), must take Ali (AS) as his friend (without any ill feeling), it does make certain companions (who opposed Ali (AS)), more than a bad friend.

Furthermore, Ali's (AS) desire that Allah removes the rancor from the hearts of Uthman, Talhah and Zubair (and thus give them a place in paradise due to their efforts for Islam) is because of Ali's (AS) nobility and highness of character, not because of piety of the other three mentioned. Just as sunnis use Ali's attitude after Jamal towards Aisha (how he dealt with her in respect) as a justification that Ali (AS) forgave Aisha or that Aisha was on Haqq, this only speaks about Ali's character and is not a merit for Aisha. Had Aisha fought the likes of Banu Ummaya, as Hussain (AS) did, she would have dealt with a different end. Ali (AS) realized that Aisha, in addition to being a woman, is the wife of Muhammad (SAW) and whatsoever be the case, it is not right to vilify her, specially keeping in mind Ali's (AS) own stature. Does this mean Allah will forgive Aisha and give her paradise for being a wife of prophet? Maybe. Does this mean Allah will punish Aisha for her hatred of Ali (AS), her battle and disobedience to Muhammad (SAW), and the fitna and bloodshed it caused, Maybe. It is none of our concern. Our concern only is that she did something wrong, which she shouldn't have done. Because she is unjust, we do not pay our regards to her due to her actions which create an ill-feeling in our hearts for her.

Maybe Allah will remove the ill-feeling between Habeel and Kabeel and give them paradise. Is it of our concern? We are only concerned with that Habeel was Mazloom and Kabeel was Zaalim.

Allah looks at the heart and at the intentions. Your intentions are to respect all companions and wives of the prophet (SAW), irrespective of their actions and fitnah, as a sign of respect to Muhammad (SAW). Fair enough. Our intentions are to attach ourselves to the truthful and pious and imitate the actions of those only (Muhammad (SAW) wa Aal e Muhammad (SAW)) who earned Allah's favor, not those who earned his wrath.

Remember, we all have to worship Allah. That is the purpose of life. Zikr (rememberance) of Allah is ibadat. Zikr of Rasool (SAW) is ibadat. Zikr of the Ahlulbayt (AS) and aal e Muhammad (AS) is ibadat (such as Durood). Zikr of the companions is not an ibadat and neither do the sunnis believe so. Why then all this fiasco and killing in the name of the companions?

The companions were the one who learned the religion from Muhammad (SAW) and were sent to the different parts of the world in his (SAW)’s life time to spread the religion, many of the verses in the Quran were revealed for them or because of them (in good terms as well as bad terms). Some ayahs praised "SOME (not all)" of them for their piety, staunchness of belief, assisting of Muhammad (SAW), their hijrat and sacrifices. Some ayahs admonished "SOME (not all)" of them for their cowardice in battlefields, for their disobedience to Muhammad (SAW) and their clinging on to worldly things.

This is purely a literary discussion and I apologize if anyone's intentions were hurt. Allah knows the intentions.

Let the banner of Muhammad (SAW) unite us all rather than that of his followers disunite us. Muhammad (SAW) is the prophet of Allah, not "was" the prophet of Allah. We are still his (SAW) followers. Surely if Muhammad (SAW) is present, then so is his companionship. A muslim today who shuns the evil and struggles against his nafs to please the prophet (SAW) and Allah, will they earn his (SAW) companionship? If Sahabiyat is only of physical presence, then surely not, but Owais Qerni (RA) became a sahabi despite not seeing Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his life time. Companionship to Prophet (SAW) is something more deeper and more purer than to what the shias and the sunnis perceive.

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