Alhamdulillaah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘alaa Rasoolillaah:
No doubt differences occurred between some of the Sahaabah (radhi Allaahu ‘anhum) after the passing of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam), and most notibly after the assasination of the third noble Khalifah, Uthmaan bin ‘Affaan (radhi Allaahu ‘anhu) who was killed by the Khawaarij, the fore-runners of those who killed ‘Ali Ibn Abee Taalib and other Companions – and they remain till the present day; and have appeared in the guise of the terrorist/jihadist/takfeeri groups around the world.
As for the Sahaabah, then the Scholars, both past and present such as Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Baaz and Al-Fawzaan, have mentioned the following important points:
1. It is not permissible to mention the Sahaabah in a bad light or with criticism or cursing or any form of belittlement when mentioning these affairs.
2. That though the Sahaabah differed, which may have led to fighting, this differing was never in the usool or the fundamentals of the Religion, such as the belief in the Attributes of Allaah, the belief in Qadr and the rest of the affairs of usool such as Imaamah (rulership) and rebellion. This has been stated by Ibn Taymiyyah and others (see Minhaajus-Sunnah of Ibn Taymiyyah). And the books of ‘aqeedah repeat over and over this important fact. Shaikh Al-Fawzaan mentions in his explanation of Al-Barbahaaree’s ‘Sharhus-Sunnah’ that the Sahaabah did not ever differ in the ‘aqeedah, the fundamentals, rather their differing was in the subsidiary affairs (furoo’) of the Religion.
3. So therefore Sahaabah differed in certain matters of ijtihaad in other than the fundamentals of the Religion, and they were Mujtahidoon (jurists), well able and capable of deriving Islamic rulings from the Qur’aan and Sunnah. And, in accordance with the hadeeth of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam), the one who is correct in his ijtihaad is rewarded with two rewards and the one who was incorrect is rewarded with a single reward. So whether they were right or wrong, they were rewarded by Allaah because they were able to make ijtihaad and they did so sincerely.
4. Though the Sahaabah differed and a battle ensued, this differing was quite often caused and exagerated by the enemies of Islaam, from the munaafiqeen and the kuffaar, as mentioned by Al-Fawzaan. These enemies who entered into Islaam so as to cause enmity within the ranks. So the killing for example of Talhah and Zubair (radhi Allaahu ‘anhumaa) was the result of the Abdullaah ibn Saba’, the Yemeni Jew who feigned Islaam, and his followers when they caused mayhem between the ranks of ‘Ali and the Mother of the Believers, ‘A’isha.
5. We hold that whoever from the Sahaabah was involved in any disputes between each other, then we are ordered to remain silent about that – not criticising any of them, due to the fact they were mentioned by Allaah with praise, and excused by Allaah, and Allaah promised them Gardens of Paradise, and likewise those who follow their way (Qur’aan 9:100). They were also mentioned by the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) with goodness and as the best of mankind, and the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) stated with clear words, ‘Allaah’s curse is upon the one who curses my Companions’.
6. So all of this is applicable to whatever disputes took place between them, i.e. that they are rewarded for their ijtihaad, even if they were incorrect. This holds true for the dispute between ‘Ali and ‘A’isha or between ‘Ali and Mu’aawiyah – even if some limited fighting resulted, as the Salaf have stated.
7. Upon us is to follow their way in goodness as Allaah has commanded, to leave alone discussing and engrossing oneself in their differing. As the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) said: ‘When my Companions are mentioned, withold [your tongues].’
8. As for the hadeeth: The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassalam) said, ‘After me, do not commit unbelief, by striking the necks of one another.’ – then the unbelief (kufr) here is not the kufr that takes one out of the fold of Islaam, rather it kufr lesser than the major kufr that exits the doer out of the fold of Islaam. This has been clarified by the great Scholars of this Ummah, past and present – Ibn Taimiyyah from the past, and Al-Albaanee and Ibn Baaz from this era have explained this affair in clarity that resembles the Sun in the clear sky! One only need refer to the verse in Soorah al-Hujaraat wherein Allaah states that ‘if two groups of BELIEVERS fight against one another (to harm and kill one another) then make peace between them’ - so here Allaah describes two groups who fight each other to harm and kill as ‘Believers’. Killing is a major sin, but it is not counted as major kufr that exits the doer out of the fold. Additionally, as for the Companions, then we have already stated that which occurred between them was from sincere ijtihaad, for which they are rewarded twice if they were correct, and once if they were incorrect.
9. And finally, if we find between the Sahaabah a difference of opinion in issues of fiqh and furoo’ (as they did not differ in ‘usool), then we refer it back to Allaah and Messenger (i.e. the Book and Sunnah) for final determination, as Allaah has stated, as this was the habit the Sahaabah themselves.
And Allaah knows best.
Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid