The #1 Thing People Get Wrong About Criticizing Companions

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Muslims defend the companions of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) (Sahabah) and wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) under the pretext that criticizing them amounts to criticizing Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for having such companions and wives. By showing wives and companions in poor light, the Shias portray Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in poor light and question his very judgement.

They wrongly conclude that to protect the sanctity of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Muslims must protect sanctity of companions and wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).


  1. Islam is at face value, which saw many hypocrites enter the fold

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had companions and wives,  good and bad. He (s.a.w.a.) dealt with them as per the highest standards of Quran and Islam, which no one understood better than him. He (s.a.w.a.) took wives and companions and their Islam at face value as he (s.a.w.a.) was commanded, even when he was aware of their true nature.

At the start of Islam, everyone entered the Islamic fold with mere recitation of Shahadatain – more than that was neither demanded nor necessary. But this created a peculiar situation as Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s.) elaborates in this report:

Allah has never raised a prophet from those commanded with battle, without also honouring them by having people enter their religion willingly or unwillingly (hypocrites).

When the prophet died, those who entered religion unwillingly (hypocrites) rose against those who entered willingly, killed them and subdued them.

This happened with prophet after prophet, and they could not find anyone who truly testified in them or believed them. It was likewise with this nation, except there is no prophet after Muhammad (s.a.w.a.).

Allah will send a person from me (Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)) – and he pointed at his chest – who will return this religion to that which the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) brought with him.

  • Bashaarah al-Mustafa (s.a.w.a.) v 2 p 200
  • Al-Tarf p 417

As the report highlights, large number of hypocrites embracing the religion / Shariah of the time for worldly gain was common, in fact it was prophesied.

The two groups – those who entered Islam willingly and unwillingly (hypocrites) needed to be filtered. But Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) treated all the Muslims alike, even when he (s.a.w.a.) knew that many of them had embraced Islam for mala fide reasons.

The task to separate the true Muslims from hypocrites was left to the successor of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Ali (a.s.) and his infallible sons (a.s.).

  1. Examples from past nations

Muslims who believe that we should avoid condemning companions and wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) out of respect for Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) should refer to the many verses of Holy Quran where this theory is rebutted.

Allah says in the Holy Quran with reference to Bani Israel:

O Children of Israel! Call to mind My favour which I bestowed on you and that I made you excel the nations. (Surah Baqarah (2): 47)

This is repeated in the same Surah in verse 122.

Yet Allah has severely condemned the favoured nation of Bani Israel in many places in the Holy Quran for, among other things:

  • Killing prophets
  • Disobeying prophets
  • Violating the Sabbath and thus turning into monkeys and pigs
  • Being cursed by Dawood and Isa (peace be upon them)
  • Taking proximate angels – Jibrail and Mikail as their enemies
  • Propagating lies and filth against their own prophet Moosa (a.s.) to diminish his status
  • Worshipping the calf
  • Threatening Moosa’s (a.s.) successor Haroon (a.s.), with death

The obvious questions are –

Why is Allah condemning His Own favoured nation in so many verses after favouring them in other verses?

Does Allah’s praise of Bani Israel mean that He is contradicting His own position by condemning them?

Would it have been better had Allah not condemned them or overlooked their sins of commission and omission out of respect for Bani Israel?

The answer is obvious. Bani Israel was favoured by Allah so long as they were true to characteristics that placed them in the favoured status. When they slipped into disobedience of Allah and His Prophets (a.s.), they were roundly condemned.

Like the student who bags the first prize so long as he scores the highest marks; when his grades fall, he will forfeit the top honour and face criticism for his poor performance.

The Muslim nation is likewise favoured by Allah – ‘You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men…’ (Surah Ale Imran (3): 110)

Muslims (including companions and wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)) when they are true to their pledge towards Tauheed and Prophethood and perform actions in harmony with Quran and Sunnah are praiseworthy. When they violate these tenets, they are roundly condemned. The condemnation of Muslims does not result in any contradiction or criticism of Holy Quran or Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

We have already seen the favoured group and condemnation narratives existing side by side in the case of Bani Israel and it is the same with the Muslim community.

To make illogical theories to protect wives and companions from condemnation is not in harmony with the Holy Quran. It means the Muslims are upset with Allah and Holy Quran so have made their own theory in opposition to Holy Quran’s narrative.

  1. Wives of Nuh and Lut, even son of Nuh (peace be upon them)

Allah has condemned the wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for their treachery him (s.a.w.a.):

And when the prophet secretly communicated a piece of information to one of his wives — but when she informed (others) of it… (Surah Tahreem (66): 3)

Allah, the All-Knowing, also condemned wives of other prophets later in the same Surah:

Allah sets forth an example to those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them so they availed them naught against Allah, and it was said: Enter both the fire with those who enter. (Surah Tahreem (66): 10)

The Muslim nation should know that wives of prophets are not above criticism. When they perform disgraceful nations, they are condemned by Allah in the Holy Quran and this does no harm to the status of the prophet whose wife has been condemned.

Would Allah compromise the dignity of His Own prophets by exposing the wives?

In fact, Prophet Nuh’s (a.s.) son has been condemned in the Holy Quran as unworthy of Prophet Nuh (a.s.) because of his actions:

He said: O Nuh! Surely he is not of your family; surely he is (the doer of) other than good deeds… (Surah Hud (11): 46)

Muslim majority should appreciate that between respecting the command of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and respecting the wives, they cannot give preference to the wives over Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

  1. Companions of Musa and Isa (peace be upon them)

Like the wives, companions of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have also acted treacherously. And this is not peculiar to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), even past prophets saw their companions behave in a similar manner.

In the nation of Prophet Musa (a.s.), there is Samiri who led a large section of Bani Israel into calf-worship.

In the nation of Prophet Isa (a.s.), there is Yahuda (Judas), among the twelve select companions, who betrayed Isa (a.s.).

Allah has condemned the Bani Israel for acting treacherously towards their prophets.

When Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) due to his extreme decorum (akhlaq) felt shy to say something to the companions, Allah reveals a verse:

…surely this gives the Prophet trouble, he forbears from you (Sahabah), and Allah does not forbear from the truth… (Surah Ahzab (33): 53)

This among other verses indicates that the companions lacked basic common sense and decorum, their mannerisms were condemnable and Holy Prophet felt troubled in their presence.

Should we have so much respect for companions that we should stop reciting verses of Holy Quran that are condemning them?

Some Muslims go as far as bringing up the dispatching of Abu Bakr to Mecca to propagate Surah Barat (Tauba) as a sign of his mature faith. They claim that criticising Abu Bakr results in criticising Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) judgement in appointing Abu Bakr for the task!

A more absurd argument cannot be fashioned in defense of the companions. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) employed Abu Bakr (and companions) for tasks like propagating Surah Barat, as he (s.a.w.a.) employed them for other tasks like fighting the Meccans in Uhud and Hunain and fighting the parties in Ahzab (Amr Ibn Abd Wud) and fighting the Jews in Khaibar (Marhab).

How did the companions of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) fare on these outings? History has all the answers in vivid detail.

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) under divine instructions (‘Nor does he speak out of desire’) sent companions on various tasks and on some of these tasks he (s.a.w.a.) recalled them and dispatched Ali (a.s.) for a favourable outcome e.g.

  • battle of Ahzab to fight Amr Ibn Abd Wud because no other companion volunteered
  • battle of Khaibar to conquer the fortress as all the companions (including Shaikhain) came back fleeing
  • propagating of Surah Barat, as Jibrail descended with divine instruction that only Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or another like him is eligible for the task.

This dispatching and recalling does not show lack of judgement on Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.). It is an examination for the companions and a message for Muslims of all ages on which companions failed the test and who passed all the tests with flying colours.

So that after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) Muslims do not wander in confusion in selecting a suitable caliph, even though this was made crystal clear in the Ghadeer announcement.

  1. Sanctity of companions over sanctity of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

Do the Muslims consider sanctity of companions and wives more crucial than sanctity of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

While they are at pains to defend the many blunders of companions and wives, they make no attempt to defend the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) from the malicious filth recorded about him.

On the contrary, they claim reports on Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) listed below are correct (Sahih) and believing in them is necessary like believing in the Holy Quran:

  1. Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) doubted his own prophethood – Sahih al-Bukhar v 1 p 2 trad 3
  2. He (s.a.w.a.) lacked knowledge of basic affairs of the world which even common Muslims could understand. Sahih al-Muslim v 4 p 1,836 trad 2,363
  3. He (s.a.w.a.) forgot verses of Holy Quran and a common Muslim reminded him – Sahih al-Muslim v 1 p 534 trad 788
  4. He (s.a.w.a.) was deceived by Shaitan into announcing certain verses famous as Gharaniq – Al-Durr al-Manthoor v 6 p 65 under Surah Hajj (22) 56-57
  5. He (s.a.w.a.) forgot to recite the complete Salat. – Sahih al-Bukhar v 5 p 2,249 trad 5,704
  6. His morning prayers lapsed. – Sahih al-Bukhari v 1 p 130 trad 337
  7. He (s.a.w.a.) entered the Mosque in a state of ritual impurity. – Sahih al-Bukhari v 1 p 106 trad 271
  8. He (s.a.w.a.) urinated standing. – Sahih al-Bukhari v 1 90 223
  9. He (s.a.w.a.) stripped down and was seen naked by others. Sahih al-Bukhari v 1 p 143 trad 357
  10. He (s.a.w.a.) was fascinated by Satanic songs but Abu Bakr was upset on hearing them. – Sahih al-Bukhari v 3 p 1,430 trad 3,716

These are but some of the reports maligning the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) which Muslims deem authentic like the Holy Quran. Non-Muslims regularly quote these references to embarrass the Muslims about Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

But when even a single report derived from the Holy Quran and documented by their own scholars and published in their own books is narrated regarding the Sahabah and wives, Muslims get all upset and take shelter in the sanctity of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).

Our question to them is – what about the sanctity of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when it comes to the malicious filth in their own so-called Sihaah sources?

Clearly, the companions and wives of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) cannot be protected from criticism only because they are associated with Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). The experience of past nations as evident in the Holy Quran reveals that the association of a nation with its prophet is linked with actions and correct beliefs. So long as this link is upheld, respect is granted to the nation. But when they severe this link and act contrary to the instructions of Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.), they can no longer evoke the sanctity of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to defend their personalities.

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