Rafed English

Reliability of the Companions

The issue of reliability of the Companions is quite critical, about which much talk was there, beside lengthy dispute throughout all ages. Hence this subject deserves good attention and much care so as to have moderate opinion about it, and any dispute be eliminated.

There was much dispute and controversy among Muslims regarding this reliability (adalah), while it being in itself an issue in which favour of the Qur’an and the Messenger can be clearly sensed. Thus it neither calls to disagreement, nor needs controversy. So is it right to enter into debate about an issue in which the merit of the Qur’an and the Messenger is established? A group of people have gone too far in this matter to the extent they deemed them (Sahabah) to be reliable in all, even those indulged in sedition (fitnah), or in whose hypocrisy a Qur’anic verse was revealed, making it impermissible to criticize anyone of them, or raise doubt about his riwayah, accusing anyone doing so with debauchery.651 And this verily is an exaggeration in trust and extravagance in appreciation. Besides, it contravenes the principles stated in the Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah regarding the firm evidences, and can never agree with the human tempers and nature.

It can be said that claiming the reliability of all the Sahabah, and consecrating books of hadith constitute the two main factors that facilitated for the enemies of Islam to attack it, and led to close-mindedness of its friends among thinkers! That is because adalah of all the Sahabah undoubtedly necessitates trusting whatever they narrate as cited in books of hadith, while it is known they contained many weak and poor traditions, that constituted source of harm and detriment.

If we intend to enumerate all the detriments that afflicted the Muslims as a result of that belief, it would be so lengthy, but we suffice here with stating only two detriments:

First: That intense dispute which inflicted the Ummah so seriously causing disunity among Muslims, from the days of Uthman till the present day and even to the days to come! This dispute scattered the Muslims, renderring them inconsistent parties, wrangling cults, and differing schools, either in rituals (ibadat) or transactions. And despite the efforts exerted by many ulama’ who endeavoured to reuniting the Muslims throughout hundreds of years, so as to make them hold fast together to the cable of Allah and not to separate, but the moth of disagreement was and is still eating into the bones of the Islamic Ummah, the fact that no one can deny.

Second: The fatal attacks and stabs that inflicted Islam everyday, because of what hadith books contained of traditions including superstitions and confusions, and other things that no free mind can approve of or right knowledge can support, till our religion came to be called Din of superstitions and misconceptions and that it being unfit and incompetent for ages of science and civilization. There is no dispute that those who reported those dubious traditions were the Sahabah themselves, and from them the narrators took and men of hadith inscribed in their books.

So if we exclaim that: The tribulation inflicting Islam is actually caused by two things: Absolute reliability of the Sahabah, and blind trust in books of hadith which contain together the poor and strong traditions, we would never alienate or neglect the truth.

If we go along the straightforward path, and obligate the express hujjah, following logic of reason (aql), adopting the programme adopted by contemporary ulama’ in studying the issues, unaffected by any conventional or passional impact whether in respect of analyzing the characters of the Sahabah or what they narrated, the truth will be manifested explicitly and light of Islam will brightly shine, and Muslims all over the world will hold fast to the cable of Allah, united and not separated.

And since the reliability of the Sahabah – as said before – is quite a perilous issue, I find it proper here to write this chapter so as to reinstate the matter aright and show – through strong indisputable evidences from the Book of Allah and His Messenger’s traditions – the correct aspect that safeguards us from committing a mistake and protects against nonsense.


651. Refer to my reply to al-Ajjaj and others in my book Shaykh al-mudirah.

Adapted from: "Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah" by: "Mahmud Ali Riyyah"

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