Islamic Law

al-Haythami: Fatwa on cursing the Noble Companions

H{āfiz ibn H{ajar al-Haythamī’s Fatwa


Insulting the Companions

(h}ukm sabb al-sah}ābah)[1]

ابن حجرالهيثمي عن سب الصحابة

By S. Z. Chowdhury

Autumn 2003. 

Know that the people of Sunnah and Jamā‘ah (ahl al-Sunnah wa ’l-jamāah) are in unanimous agreement that that it is a duty upon every Muslim to uphold the integrity of all the Companions (sah}ābah)[2] and to refrain from defaming them but [instead] to praise them. For indeed, Allah Mighty and Praised be He,[3] has extolled their virtues in [numerous] verses in His Book one of which is His saying: “You were the best nation (khayr ummah) raised up for mankind.”[4]

Allah has conferred benevolence (khayrīyah) upon them over the rest of the people and nothing can match Allah’s testimony for them with that [statement] because Allah knows His worshippers full well as well as what they harbour of good deeds (al-khayrāt) and the like. Indeed, nobody knows that except Him Most High. If He has bore testimony to [the companions] because they are the best of peoples, it must be obligatory upon everyone to have absolute conviction (al-itiqād) in that and to believe firmly (al-īmān) in it unless he is someone who denies Allah and His reports, and there is no doubt that anyone who rejects a truthful matter (h}aqiqah shay’) of what Allah and His Messenger (upon him be peace) have reported, he is an unbeliever (kāfir) by the consensus of all the Muslims (bi-ijmā al-muslimīn). And one of His statements Most High is:

(And therefore We have made you the balanced nation (ummatan wasatan)[5] to be witnesses over all of the people [al-Baqarah:143]).

The Companions (may Allah be pleased with all of them) are mentioned in this verse and the one preceding it; they are those who are bearing witness.

Thus, this address upon the tongue of the Messenger of Allah (S{AW) is most certainly true. Look to the fact that He Most High created them absolutely just (‘adūlan) and the best (khayran) in order to be witnesses over the rest of the peoples on the Day of Judgement so on that day, how will Allah not bear witness without justice over those who renounced [the Divine Message] after the death of their Prophets (upon them all be blessings and peace) such as making an exception to the likes of six individuals (sittah anfus) from [the companions][6] much how the Rāfid}ite sect had alleged so. Allah Most High has disgraced them, cursed them and left them to languish [in misguidance]. Oh what stupidity, ignorant false testimony, slander and baseless accusation on their part!! And one of His statements Most High is:

(A day the Prophet and those who believed in him will not be shamed (lā yukhzī); their light will run ahead of them and to the right of them and they will say: ‘Our Lord! Perfect our light for us and grant us forgiveness for indeed You are All-Powerful over everything [al-Tah}rīm:8]).

Allah has fully safeguarded [the companions] from disgrace and nobody will be protected from His disgrace on that Day except those who died [in His way] and those upon whom Allah and His Messenger – upon him be blessings and peace – are content (rād}un). He has also safeguarded [the companions] from clear shame (al-khazī al-s}arīh}) and indeed [this] is one of the clearest indications (az}am al-adillah) of perfection (kamāl) and the true nature of sincerity (h}aqā’iq al-ih}sān). Allah’s pleasure over them has not ceased as is established in His true statement:

(Allah was well-pleased with the believers when they gave the pledge to you [Muh}ammad] under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts and He granted tranquillity for them and He rewarded them with a near victory [al-Fath}:18]).

Thus Allah has announced His pleasure over those companions [in clear terms] – may Allah’s pleasure be over them all. Their [numbers] amounting to about one thousand or around four hundred.

It is impossible for whoever Allah sanctions His pleasure upon that his death be in a state of non-belief (wafāthu alā ’l-kufr) because the crucial point to consider is to do with dying within a state Islam. Indeed, Allah’s pleasure does not fall upon anyone except he whose death is known to be upon Islam. As for the one who is known to have died in a state of non-belief, it is not possible that Allah inform [anyone] about His pleasure over [such a person]. So it is clearly known from the verse and what preceded it that it cannot ever be the case; an explicit rebuttal of the allegation and baseless accusation of those heretics (al-mulh}idūn) and infidels (al-jāh}idūn) [who even go so far as to deny] the Mighty Qur’ān which at the same time is necessary to have a firm belief in as well as to have a firm belief in whatever is in it.

          And it was known that the [companions] are the best of people and that they are the just elite (‘udūl khiyār) and that Allah does not disgrace them and that He is fully content over them so whoever does not believe all that regarding them, he is a denier (mukadhdhib) of what is in the Qur’ān and whoever disbelieves in that which does not carry a likelihood of an allegorical interpretation (la yahtamilu ta’wīl),[7] he is an ignorant, unbelieving heretic and apostate.[8] And one of His statements Most High is:

(And the foremost from the Muhājirūn and the Ans}ār and those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well-pleased with them (rad}y Allāhu ‘anhum) and they are well-pleased with Him (wa rad}ū ‘anhu) and He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow dwelling therein forever. That is the supreme success [al-Tawbah:100]).

And His statement Most High:

([And there is a share of the booty] for the poor Emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties seeking the Bounties and pleasures of Allah, helping too Allah and His Messenger; they are indeed the truthful ones.

And [a share of the booty is for] those who, before them, had homes and had the belief, loving those who emigrated to them and not finding any jealousy in their hearts for that which they had given; giving preference to them over themselves even though they were themselves in need of it. And whoever is saved from his covetousness, they are those who will be successful.

And those who came after them say: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren and those who have preceded us in belief and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness and Most Merciful’ [al-Hashr:8-10]).

          Consider attentively at the manner in which Allah has characterised [the companions] in these verses showing that whoever has enmity towards them is indeed in pure misguidance (d}alāl) and heretical deviation (shudhūdh al-mubtadiah) and accuses them regarding all that they narrate and of those views which they hold. And one of His statements Most High is:

(Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and those who are with him are harsh against the non-believers and merciful against themselves. You see them bowing and in prostration seeking the Bounties and Pleasures of Allah. Their mark is clearly on their faces from the effects of their prostrations. This is their description in the Tawrāt. And their description in the Injīl is like that of a seed that spouts it shoot, then makes it strong and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem delighting the sowers and in order to enrage the non-believers with them. Allah promised those who believe among them and do righteous deeds forgiveness and a mighty reward [al-Fath}:29]).

Observe the immensity comprised within this verse. Indeed Allah’s statement “Muh}ummad is the Messenger of God (Muh}ummad rasūl Allāh)” is a clear sentence (jumlah mubīnah) for the reader like the preceding [verse]: “He is the One who sent His Messenger with the Religion of Truth”.[9] Thus, in the [verse] are lofty praises (thanā’ az}īm) of [Allah’s] Prophet and then doubled praise upon his companions (may Allah’s pleasure be over them all) by His statement: “And those with him are firm (ashiddā’) with the non-believers but merciful (ruh}amā’) among themselves.” And His saying:

(O you who believe! Whoever turns away from His religion, Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him; humble towards the believers and stern towards the non-believers; fighting in the way of Allah not fearing the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows upon whom He wills and Allah is The Suffice and All-Knower [al-Mā’idah:54]).

          Allah has described [the companions] as firm (ghilz}ah) over the non-believers and [described them] as being merciful, kind, inclined as well as submissive (al-dhillah) and humble (al-khud}ū‘) towards the believers. Thereafter, [Allah] has praised their many sincere actions in seeking the vast expanse of Allah’s bounty and His Mercy and their purposes being purely for His graciousness and pleasure. Moreover, because of the effects of that sincerity (al-ikhlās}) from their pious actions and the like, it manifested upon their personalities (z}aharat fī wujūhihim) such that anyone who saw them became dazzled by their beautiful example and conduct. Thus, Imām Mālik – May Allah be pleased with him – said: It was reported to me that when the Christians saw the Companions (may Allah’s pleasure be over them all) opening up the region of al-Shām, they said, ‘By God! Indeed, these are the best of the followers (khayr min al-h}awāriyīn) in what we report!’

          Of surety, the nation of Muh}ummad have specifically believed in this regarding the Companions (may Allah’s pleasure be over them all) their mention never ceasing particularly in the books. Like how He Most High has said:

(This is their description in the Tawrāt. And their description in the Injīl is like a seed that spouts it shoot, then makes it strong and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem delighting the sowers and enraging the non-believers with them. Allah promised those who believe among them and do righteous deeds forgiveness and a mighty reward [al-Fath}:29]).

          So they are Companions of Muh}ammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who were around him, in his presence and those who supported him and they are in relation to him how the shoot is to the seed causing the non-believers to be infuriated over them.

          Moreover, from [the above] verse, Imām Mālik – May Allah be pleased with him – took a narration establishing disbelief on the part of the Rawāfid}ah sect who loathed the companions – may Allah’s pleasure be over them all where he [i.e. Mālik] said: ‘Because they infuriated the companions[10] and anyone who infuriates a companion is a non-believer.’ This is also what H{asan[11] declared to be the explicit meaning of the verse and then al-Shāfi‘ī[12] – May Allah be pleased with both of them – concurred with him in his statement on their disbelief. All the scholars too have agreed upon this [verdict] such as the likes of Imām Ah}mad b. H{anbal, al-Qādī Abū Ya‘la and Shaykh al-Islām ibn Taymiyyah.

          In the previous verses, [Allah] Most High sufficiently praises [the companions] i.e. exalted praise (sharaf thanā’) wherever He mentions His Pleasure over them and has promised them all forgiveness and a mighty reward and [no doubt] Allah’s promise is true and real without fail and without contradiction. There is no change in His words and He is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. And even if there was not found anything [about the companions] from Allah Most High and His Messenger (upon whom be peace and blessings) by that which was previously mentioned regarding the imposing of the condition [upon them] such as the Migration (al-hijrah), the Jihād, the victory of Islam (nusrah al-islām), the expenditure of all effort and wealth, killing of the ancestors and the children, the advisors in the religion, the strength of the belief (quwwah al-īmān) and the certainty and decisiveness in their decisions and the firm belief in their righteousness (itiqād bi-nazāhatihim) and that they are better (afd}al) than all those who come after them (al-jain) as well as the just ones that come after them. This is the stance of all of the scholars as well as those who follow their sayings. There was nobody contrary to it except the heretically deviant who were misguided and who in turn misguided. So there is no consideration given to them nor pity for them. The Imam of his time Abū Zur‘ah al-Rāzī has said on account of the teachers of al-Bukhārī:

          ‘If anyone of you sees a person disparage (yantaqis}u) anyone of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s Blessings and peace be upon him), know that he is indeed an unbeliever (zindīq). And [know too] that the Prophet (Allah’s Blessings and peace be upon him) is real and the Noble Qur’ān and whatever has come in it is true (h}aqq). All of it was conveyed to us (adaya ilaynā) by none other than the companions. So, whoever dares to challenge them he is surely intending to thwart the Kitāb and the Sunnah because the audacity to [make this] challenge is to raise an accusation against them.’[13]

The Islamic ruling for deviancy, extreme error, lies and corruption is that it is the soundest and most deserving (al-aqwam al-ah}aqq). Moreover, ibn H{azm has said: ‘All of the Companions are, without doubt, the people of Paradise (ahl al-jannah).’ [Allah] has said:

(Those amongst you who spent assiduously and fought before the conquest are not equal [to those who did so later]. They are higher in degree than those who spent assiduously and who fought after. But to all (kullan) Allah has promised the best reward [al-Hadīd:10]).[14]

And [Allah] said: “The Perfect Reward (al-h}usnā) from us is for those who came before, they will be far removed (mubadūn).”[15] Thus, it shows that all of them are of the people of Paradise and that none of them will enter the fire because they are the ones addressed (al-mukhāt}abūn) in the first verse which establishes that they are all recipients of the ‘perfect reward’ (al-h}usnā) and this is The Paradise (al-jannah).[16] Furthermore, one cannot presume that there is a qualification (al-taqyīd) in [the verse] of the efforts (al-infāq), battles (al-qitāl) as well as the sincerity of those[17] who followed them[18] in sincerity emerging from those who did not oppress them by that means because those restrictions arose in most places so it does not make sense where as the meaning is whoever characterises in such a way even with strength and determination.

The companions fall into [different] categories of which are:

–         al-Muhājirūn.

–         al-Ans}ār.

–         Those who embraced Islam on the Day of Conquest (yawm al-fath}) and after it.

Generally, the Muhājirūn are considered the best of [the companions] and then those after them in the well-known sequence. As regards to excellence, the earlier Ans}ār (subbāq al-ans}ār) are better than the group (jamāah) that remained from the Muhājirūn and the earlier Muhājirūn (subbāq al-muhājirīn) are better than the earlier Ans}ār. Besides that, they are different (yatafāwatūn). The nearness of those who came after are better in terms of Islam than the earlier ones such as Bilāl.

And Abū Mans}ūral-Baghdādī said:

“The People of Sunnah are agreed that the best of the companions are Abū Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmān and ‘Alī.[19] Then the rest of the ten given the good news of Paradise,[20] then the people at Badr, then the rest of those at Uh}ud, then the people who gave the pledge at Rid}wān in H{udaybīyah and finally, the rest of the companions.”[21]

And it is an obligation to refrain from [discussing] the disagreements that had occurred between them by desisting the reports of those who came after particularly (la siyyāma) the ignorant Rawāfid}ah and the errant Shī‘ah as well as the deviants and slanderers (qādih}īn) from amongst them.


And Allah indeed knows best.

[1] The text is taken from H{ukm Sabb al-S}ah}ābah (‘The Ruling Regarding Insulting the Companions’) which is a collection of the legal opinions of Imām ibn Taymiyyah, Imām ibn H{ajar al-Haythamī and Imam ibn ‘Ābidīn, ed. by Abū Mu‘āwiyah b. Muh}ummad, 1st edn. Dār al-Ans}ār bi ’l-Qāhirah,Cairo 1978, pp.19-27.

[2] The majority (jumhūr) of the scholars hold a ‘sah}ābī’ to be anyone who met the Prophet (S{AW) and died as a believer, al-Wajīz fī Us}ūl al-Fiqh, ‘Abd al-Karīm Zaydān, 7th edn. Mu’assasah al-Risālah, Beirut 1998, p.260. Others have maintained a sah}ābī is a person who remained in continued contact with the Prophet (SA) and narrated ah}adīth from him, al-Shawkānī, Irshād al-Fuh}ūl min Tah}qīq al-H{aqq ilā Ilm al-Us}ūl, Dar al-Fikr,Cairo n.d., p.70.

[3] Henceforth, the eulogy “subh}ānahu wa taāla” (Glory to Him Most High!) and “taāla” (Most High) after the word ‘Allah’ will be omitted in the translation unless required for reasons of clarity.

[4] See Āli ‘Imrān:110.

[5] The word ‘wasat}an’ is said to mean ‘adlan (‘just’), see al-Shawkānī, al-Fath} al-Qadīr, 1st edn. Dār ibn H{azm, Beirut 2001, p.145; Imām al-Qurt}ubī, al-Jāmili-Ah}kām al-Qur’ān, 1st edn. Beirut 2004, vol.1, p.297 & S{ah}īh} al-Bukhārī, 2nd edn. Dār al-Salām li ’l-Nashr wa ’l-Tawzī‘, al-Riyād} 1999 (#3339, 4487 & 7349).

[6] The Rāfid}ite sect singled out six of the companions as being unbelievers.

[7] The Imām is alluding to a well-known subject in Us}ūl al-Fiqh which is to do with the definitive contents of Qur’ānic injunctions and statements. Some verses in the Qur’ān, for example, admit of no ambiguity and must retain their literal (z}āhir) sense unless there is a warrant to depart from such a sense. The ruling upon a definitive text of the Qur’ān is that acting and believing upon them is obligatory and thus its denial is not acceptable. So, for example, in al-Mā’idah:3 Allah explicitly forbids the consumption of blood and dead carcasses but in al-Mā’idah:6 Allah also says to the believers: idhā kumtum ila ’l-s}alah – ‘when you stand for the Prayer wash your faces…’ which cannot be taken with its literal meaning as it would create an irregularity in the understanding of the text for it would seem far from acceptable that Allah should command the believers to perform ablution while they are actually engaged in the Prayer. The meaning that is posited therefore is: ‘when you intend (arāda) to perform the Prayer…’ Hence al-Mā’idah:6 becomes amenable to ta’wil, i.e. another non-literal interpretation has been favoured over the literal sense. See al-Āmidī, al-Ih}kām fī Us}ūl al-Ah}kām, 4 vols. ed. by ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Affīfī, 2nd edn. al-Maktab al-Islāmī,Cairo 1982, vol.3, pp.53-64. Imām al-Haythamī is arguing that the verses he is quoting do not admit of another interpretation, they are clear in their purport. Thus, nothing from the verses indicate a reason to depart from their external lexical sense.

[8] Imām ibn H}ajar’s criticism is unrelenting, a very strong indication as to the severity of the matter under discussion.

[9] al-Fath}:28.

[10] See Abu Nu‘aym al-As}bah}ānī, H{ilyah al-Awliyā’, vol.6, p.327.

[11] Most likely a reference to the great tābiī (a Muslim of the 2nd generation) al-H{asan al-Bas}rī. For other biographical references, see Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī, Siyar al-Alām al-Nubalā’, 4/564-579 & Abu Nu‘aym al-Asbah}ānī, H{ilyah al-Awliyā’ fī T{abaqāt al-As}fiyā’, 2/134 quoted in Bih}ār al-Wilāyah al-Muh}ummadiyyah fī Manāqib Alam al-S{ūfiyyah, Dr. Jawdah Muh}ummad Abū Yazīd al-Mahdi, 1st edn. Dār al-Gharīb li ’l-T{abā‘ah wa ’l-Nashr wa ’l-Tawzī‘,Cairo 1998, pp.28-45.

[12] For references on Imām al-Shāfi‘ī’s life and excellence, see al-Dhahabī’s Siyar al-Alām al-Nubalā’, Mu‘assasah al-Risālah, Beirut 1413AH, vol.1, pp.1-99; his Tadhkirah al-H{uffāz}, H{aydar Ābād, Dakkan 1377AH, vol.1, pp.361-363 & al-Subkī, T{abaqāt al-Shāfiiyyah al-Kubrā, ed. by ‘Abd al-Fattāh} al-H{alu & Mah}mūd al-T{anāh}ī, Cairo 1964-1976, vol.1, pp.190-204.

[13] Quoted by al-Khat}īb al-Baghdādī in his al-Kifāyah Ilm al-Riwāyah, ed. by Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Surūqī, al-Maktabah al-‘Ilmiyyah, Madīnah, n.d. vol.1, p.49.

[14] Imam al-Nawawī writes in his commentary on S{ah}īh} Muslim regarding the verse above: “All this is with respect to what was in themselves such as compassion (al-shafaqah), love (al-tawaddud), humility (al-khushū‘), modesty (al-tawādu‘), gentleness (al-īthār) and the struggle (al-jihād) for Allah in its true form. And the excellence of the companions, even if it was for a moment, admits of no deed comparable to theirs and nobody can attain the likes of their rank. And the enormous merits (al-fad}ā’il) are not inferred as comparable (bi-qiyās). That is the bounty of Allah giving it to whomsoever He wills,” ­al-Minhāj bi-Sharh} S{ah}īh} Muslim b. al-H{ajjaj, 1st edn. Dār ibn H{azm, Beirut 2002, p.1824.

[15] al-Anbiyā’:101. That is, far removed from the Hell-Fire.

[16] See al-Shawkānī, Fath} al-Qadīr, p.1739; al-Nasafī, Madārik al-Tanzīl wa H{aqā’iq al-Ta’wīl, 1st edn. Dār al-Ma‘ārif, Beirut 2000, p.1208; al-Zamakhsharī, al-Kashshāf an H{aqā’iq al-Tanzīl wa Uyūn al-Aqāwīl fī Wujūh al-Ta’wīl, ed. by Yūsuf al-H{amdi, 4.vols. Maktabah Mas}r, n.d., vol.4, p.343; al-Bayd}āwī, Anwār al-Tanzīl wa Usrār al-Ta’wīl, 2.vols. 1st edn. Dār al-Bayān al-‘Arabī, al-Azhar, Cairo 2002, vol.2, p.468 & al-Baghawī, 4.vols. Maālim al-Tanzīl, 3rd edn. Dār al-Ma‘ārif,Beirut 1992, vol.4, p.295.

[17] i.e. those who came after as mentioned in the verse.

[18] i.e. those who came before.

[19] See al-Mullā ‘Alī b. Sult}ān Muh}ummad al-Qārī, Sharh} Fiqh al-Akbar li-Abī H{anīfah al-Numān, ed. by al-Shaykh Marwān Muh}ummad al-Sha‘‘ār, 1st edn. Dār al-Nafā’is, li ’l-T{abā‘ah wa ’l-Nashr wa ’l-Tawzī‘,Beirut 1997, pp.135-154 for a fuller account.

[20] The ten companions promised Paradise (al-asharah al-mubashshirīn bi ’l-jannah) are: 1. Abū Bakr al-S{iddīq; 2. ‘Umar b. al-Khat}t}āb; 3. ‘Uthmān b. ‘Affān; 4. ‘Alī b. Abī T{ālib; 5. Talh}ah b. ‘Ubayd Allāh; 6. al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awām; 7. ‘Abd al-Rah}mān b. ‘Awf; 8. Sa‘ad b. Abī Waqqās; 9. Sa‘īd b. Zayd & 10. Abū ‘Ubaydah ‘Āmir b. al-Jarrāh}, may Allah bless them all as well as the rest of the Companions. See Fad}ā’il al-S{ah}ābah of Abū ‘Abd al-Rah}mān Ah}mad b. Shu‘ayb al-Nasā’ī, 1st edn. Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut 1405AH as well as that of Ah}mad b. Hanbal’s, 2 vols. 1st edn. ed. by Wasy Allāh Muh}ummad ‘Abbās, Mu‘assasah al-Risālah, Beirut 1983; ibn H{ajar al-‘Asqalānī, al-Is}ābah fī Tamyīz al-S{ah}ābah, 4.vols. Mat}ba‘ah Mus}t}afah Muh}ummad, Mas}r, [ISBN: 9771114800]. n.d. & Abū ‘Umar Yūsuf b. ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Istiāb fi Marifah al-As}h}āb, 4.vols. Maktabah Nahd}ah, Mas}r, n.d.

[21] Also quoted by al-Nawawī, Sharh} S{ah}īh} Muslim, p.1744.

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