Who are the companions of the Prophet Muhammad?
Most of the Sunni scholars consider all those who adopted Islam during the time of the Prophet, saw the Prophet, and prayed with him to be of his companions. However, it seems that the Messenger himself did not agree with these scholars. Al-Tabari in his History part 3, page 68, reported that there was an argument between Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and Abdul Rahman Ibn Awf when Khalid killed some members of Banu Jadhimah.
The Messenger of God sent Khalid as a missionary for Islam (not as a fighter). Khalid exceeded the order of the Messenger and killed a number of men from Banu Jadhimah after he gave them the assurance of no-harm.
Some men from Banu Jadhimah had killed Al-Fakih Ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Makhzumi, uncle of Khalid, and Awf Ibn Abd-Awf, father of Abdul Rahman, before the conquest of Mecca. Now Khalid acted in revenge in spite of the Prophet's orders.
In their heated dialogue, Abdul Rahman said to Khalid: "You followed the method of the pre-Islamic era." Khalid said: "I only avenged the killing of your father." Abd Al-Rahman: "You lie. I already killed the killer of my father, but you avenged the killing of your uncle."
Their heated argument led to a verbal abuse on the part of Khalid. When the Prophet found out about it, he said to Khalid: "...Khalid, leave my companions alone. By God, should you have a piece of gold the size of Uhud Mountain, and you spend it in the path of God, your charity would not compare to a morning or evening trip in defense of Islam by any one of my companions." (Ibn Hisham, in his Sirat of the Prophet, part 2, page 421).
This statement of the Prophet indicates that Khalid was not considered a companion of the Prophet because he told him to leave his companions alone.
Thus, the Prophet clearly indicated that Khalid is not one of his companions. Yet, this statement was uttered by the Prophet after the conquest of Mecca (which took place two years after Khalid adopted Islam, shortly after the pact of Al-Hudaybiyyah).
The exclusion of Khalid from the community of the Prophet's companions means the exclusion of thousands of companions who adopted Islam during the time of the Prophet, who met the Prophet, and who prayed behind him.
Adapted from the book: "The Shi'ites Under Attack" by: "Imam Muhammad Jawad Chirri"
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