By Aboo Sahl Al Atharee Dhikrullah Adebayo
Definition of A Sahabee - Companion
Al Haafidh ibn Hajar (al-Isaabah vol.1 p.158 and An-Nukhbah) and Imaam As Suyotee (at-Tadreeb p.410) defines a companion as whoever met the Prophet - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam - believed in him and died as a Muslim, even if (his Islaam) was interrupted by apostasy, according to the strongest opinion.
And 'who met' includes: either who accompanied him for a long time or short time, either narrated from him or not, who fought along with him (against the kufār), who saw him, eventhough did not see him and who did not see him because of an impediment like blindness. (End Quote).
Explanation of the Definition
'Believed in him', this condition removes who met him being a kaafir, even if he accepted Islaam after it, if he did not accompany him again.
Believe (ing in him) includes every mukallaf (those who are charged with religious duties) among the Jinn and human beings.
Died upon Islaam: This excludes who met him then apostated and died on his apostasy. May Allaah protect us. Their are little numbers of them; 'AbduLlaahi bn Jahsh, previous husband of Umm Habeebah, he accepted Islaam and migrated to Abashah, he then became Christian and died upon it. Likewise, AbduLlaahi bn Khatal, who was slayed while clinging to the cover (cloth) of Ka'bah and like Rabee'ah bin 'Umayyah..
This definition is built upon the best choosen views by the scholars like al-Imaam al-Bukhaaree, his teacher Ahmad bn Hanbal and his comrades.
Means of Knowing A Companion
A) Via report from trustworthy numbers of people (from three upward).
b) Via report from trustworthy people (at least two) and popularity.
c) A report from a companion that so-and-so is a companion, likewise (report) from one of the Taabi'.
Trustworthiness of the Companions
The scholars unanimously agreed that, all of them are trustworthy, nobody opposes this except oddiness from the innovator.
You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind(aal Imraan:110).
Thus We have made you [true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a Wasat (just) (and the best) nation (2:143).
O Prophet (Muhammad)! Allah is Sufficient for you and for the believers who follow you.(8:64).
And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. (9:100)
And those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their breasts for that which they have been given (from the booty of Bani An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful (al Hasr:8).
There are many verses that mentioning them will be lengthy and (authentic and) popular reports that there numbers are much; all of these explicitly mean their trustworthiness, their is no one among them - with the recommendation of Allaah - in need of anyone's recommendation among the creature (likewise, no disparaging remark can demean them).(Summarily cited from al Isaabah vol.1 p.159-61).
Narrated `Abdullah: The Prophet - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam - said, "The people of my generation are the best, then those who follow them, and then whose who follow the latter. (Saheeh al Bukhaaree #2556).
Narrated Abu Sa`id: The Prophet - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam - said, "Do not abuse my companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to Uhud (in Allah's Cause) it would not be equal to a Mud or even a half Mud spent by one of them."(Saheeh al Bukhaaree #3549).
'AbduLlaahi bn 'Amr narrated: The Messenger of Allaah - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam - said; My ummah will divide into seventy-three sects, all of whom will go into the Fire except one millah (sect). "The sahabah asked (him), "Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "(Those who follow) what I and my companions (are upon)." (Sunan Tirmidhee #2641, al-Albaanee graded it Hasan).
The Gravity of Disparaging the Companions
Narrated Abu Sa`id: The Prophet - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallam - said, "Do not abuse my companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to Uhud (in Allah's Cause) it would not be equal to a Mud or even a half Mud spent by one of them." (Saheeh al Bukhaaree #3549).
Thus, demean them is tantamount to disobeying the messnger of Allaah (sallaLlaahu 'alayhi sa sallam).
Thus, Aboo Zur'ah said: If you see a person demeaning one of the companions of the messenger of Allaah (sallaLlaahu alayhi wa sallam), know he is an heretic, because the messenger is truthful, al Qur'an is truthful and what is saysbit truth and nobody related these to us except the companions. All of these(heretics) want to disparage witnesses, in order to invalidate the Quran and the sunnah. Disparaging is more appropriate because they are heretics.
Al-Imaam al Qurtubee (one of the great scholars of Madhhab of Al Imaam Maalik) said (Jaami' al Ahkaam vol.20 p.373); The verse (al Hashr:10) is the evidence on the obligation of loving the companions, because Allaah specifies for those who come after them, a shere from the booty (reward), once they love them and seek forgiveness for them. Whosoever abuses them or one of them or has an evil creed (about them) has no portion from the reward. (End Quote).
The Advice from the Four Schools of Thought
Al-Imaam at-Tahaawee (one of the foremost scholar of Hanafiyyah) said; Whosoever speaks good regarding the companions of the messenger of Allaah (sallaLlaahu 'alayhi wa sallam), his wives, who are pure from every impurities, his children, who are (also) pure from every filthies. He has free from hypocrisy(Sharh al Aqeedah at Tahaawiyyah vol.2 p.737).
Al Imaam al Al Qurtubee (al Jaami' al Ahkaam vol.20 p. 373) said; It was reported from (Al Imaam) Malik and other from him; Whosoever loathes anyone among the companions of Muhammad sallaLlaahu alayhi wa sallam or has hatred in his heart against them. He has no reward from the reward of the Muslims. Then he read the ayah (that is, al Hashr:10). (End Quote).
Al Imaam al Muzaniyy (foremost student of Al Imaam Ash Shaafi'ee) said; And they (the four guided righteous khalifahs and other companions) are mentioned with excellence and their good deeds are mentioned. And we withhold from delving into whatever disagreement occured between them. Thus, they are the best people on the surface of the Earth after the prophet. (Sharh as Sunnah of al Muzaniyy).
Abdoos bn Malik narrated to me, I heard Aboo 'AbdiLlaahi Ahmad bn Hanbal saying; The fundamental principle of sunnah with us are; holding fast to what the companions of the messenger of Allaah were upon. Taking them (and their way) as model to be followed. (Usool as Sunnah point 1 and 2).
This is enough as admonition and guideline for the seekers of the truth. I seek blessing upon the messenger of Allaah, his households, companions and tge sincere believers.