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Respect for the companions of the Prophet
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The companions and friends of the Prophet who believed in him and who derived wisdom from his presence, receive from us, the Shi'a, an especial reverence, whether they be amongst those martyred at the Battles of Badr, Uhud, Ahzab and Hunayn, or of those who remained alive after the passing away of the Prophet. 
But alongside this issue there is another question which should be addressed without prejudice, sentimentalism or bitterness: were all the companions equally just, pious and devoid of sin? It is clear that seeing the Prophet and keeping his company, despite being a great honour, cannot be seen as rendering a person immune from sin; we cannot therefore regard all of the companions in exactly the same light, as being all equally just, pious and void of all sinfulness. For, according to the testimony of the Qur'an, in spite of their having the honour of being companions, they are divided into different categories as regards faith and hypocrisy, and in respect of obedience and disobedience to God and His Prophet. Taking due account of this differentiation, it cannot be said that they are all as one, each one of them being as just and as pious as the next.

were all the companions equally just, pious and devoid of sin? It is clear that seeing the Prophet and keeping his company, despite being a great honour, cannot be seen as rendering a person immune from sin; we cannot therefore regard all of the companions in exactly the same light, as being all equally just, pious and shorn of all sinfulness. For, according to the testimony of the Qur'an, in spite of their having the honour of being companions, they are divided into different categories as regards faith and hypocrisy, and in respect of obedience and disobedience to God and His Prophet.

There is no doubt that the Qur'an has praised the companions on several occasions.[1] For example, as regards those who made the oath of allegiance to the Prophet at the time of the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, the Qur'an expresses the satisfaction [ of God]:

Certainly was Allah pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree,...(Sura al-Fath, 48:18)

But this praise, their eliciting the good pleasure (ridwan) of God, relates to them 'when they swore allegiance to thee', and cannot thus be regarded as evidence of a guarantee of rectitude and deliverance from faults for all of them for the rest of their lives. For if one or more of them afterwards takes a wrong path, evidently, the previous pleasure of God cannot be pointed to as evidence of their continuing piety or of their being permanently devoid of faults: the rank and station of these companions who elicited the pleasure of God is not higher than that of the Prophet about whom the Qur'an says:

if you should associate [anything] with Allah, your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers." (Sura al-Zumar, 39:65)

This kind of verse expresses the virtue manifested by these persons in that particular state, and of course, should they maintain such virtue until the end of their lives, they would attain salvation.
On the basis of what has been said, whenever we have definitive evidence from the Qur'an, the Hadith or from history, of the deviation of a person or persons, one cannot refute this evidence by reference to such instances of the kind of praise quoted above.
By way of example, the Qur'an refers to some of the companions by the term fasiq, that is, a miscreant:

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.(Sura al-Hujurat, 49:6)

In another verse, referring to one companion, we have:

Is he who is a believer like him who is a miscreant? They are not alike. (Sura al-Sajda, 32:18)

This individual, according to definite historical evidence; was Walid b. 'Uqba, one of the companions of the Prophet, who despite having the double merit of being a companion and of having made the Hijra with the earliest Muslims, was unable to preserve his good name, and through having lied about the tribe of Banu Mustaliq, earned from God the title of fasiq.
Taking due note of this verse and other similar ones,[2] and with regard also to those hadiths in which certain companions are severely criticized,[3] and, likewise, taking into account the historical evidence pertaining to certain companions,[4] one cannot definitively regard all of the Prophet's companions whose number exceeds one hundred thousand as being equally just and pious.
What is at issue here is whether we can justifiably regard all of the companions as equally just; it is not a question of insulting them. Unfortunately, some people do not distinguish between the two issues, and accuse those who oppose the notion of equal justice in all the companions of falling into the error of insulting and criticizing the companions.

To conclude this discussion, we would like to stress that the Shi'a of the Imami school do not believe that the respect we have for those who have had the privilege of companionship with the Prophet should prevent us from objectively evaluating their actions. We hold that association with the Prophet cannot on its own give rise to immunity from sin for the rest of one's life. The basis for this evaluation by the Shi'a is derived from Qur'anic verses, sound hadiths, corroborated historical sources and from basic common sense.

To conclude this discussion, we would like to stress that the Shi'a of the Imami school do not believe that the respect we have for those who have had the privilege of companionship with the Prophet should prevent us from objectively evaluating their actions. We hold that association with the Prophet cannot on its own give rise to immunity from sin for the rest of one's life. The basis for this evaluation by the Shi'a is derived from Qur'anic verses, sound hadiths, corroborated historical sources and from basic common sense.

1. See Sura al-Tawba, :100; Sura al-Fath,:18-29; Sura al-¬Hashr,: 8-9.
2. Sura AI 'Imran,:153-154; Sura al-Ahzab,:12: Sura al¬-Tawba,:45-4 7.
3. lbn Athir,Jami' al-usul, vol. 11, Book of Hawd, hadith no. 7972.
4. al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 5 (commentary on Sura al-Nur), pp.118- 19.

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Daily Hadith
لا يكونُ أخوكَ أقوى مِنكَ على مَودّتِهِ.
Do not let your brother be stronger than you are in your amity for him.