By Mawlana Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyab al-Qāsimī
Translated by Muftī Afḍal Ḥusayn Ilyās
Translation edited by ‘Abd Allāh al-Afrīqī
After Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) the most sanctified group in this Ummah are those who were taught and nurtured by him. Those who achieved success through his presence, who in the Sharī‘ah are known as the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). If there is any group (of this Ummah) that Allāh and Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) had sanctified, then it would only be the group of Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). Besides them there is no other group that has been sanctified. This entire group was hailed as guided and guides, pleased (with Allāh and His Nabī) and with whom Allāh is pleased, attained cleansed hearts, purified souls, always obedient, virtuous, truthful and promised with Jannah. Their acceptance and fame is not restricted to any specific era or time. Their mention was made in the previous Divine Scriptures as well, and this is mentioned in the Qur’ān. So, their reputation and recognition will remain until the Day of Qiyāmah. They will be made mention of on the tongues, in the hearts, every time Qur’ān is recited, during the five daily ṣalāh, in lectures and discourses, in the Masājid, in places of worship, in Madāris, khānqāhs, in isolation, in groups – in short, wherever the Qur’ān is recited, the name and praises of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) will be echoed and sounded. In so far as being praised and sanctified, they are without any equal in this Ummah. After the Anbiyā’ (‘alayhi -s-salām) the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) are the most sanctified group amongst mankind. However, the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband have not let moderation with respect to the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) slip from their hands. Exaggeration and excesses do not have a play in the belief of the Maslak of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband with regard to the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum).
They do not place the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) upon the pedestal of differentiation and distinction where they claim love for one and, Allah forbid!, hatred for another. Where the tongue is moist in the praises of one Ṣaḥābī and, Allah forbid!, curses for another. Neither are all of them sworn at and reviled or some placed on a higher stage than the Anbiyā’ (‘alayhi -s-salām). None of them are regarded as being sinless, where they are granted the status of being Divine incarnates.
According to the Maslak of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, all these personalities are worthy of respect and honour. However, they are neither prophets nor deities. They are human and bound by the limitations of normal mortals. Nevertheless, they are honoured more than others would be, due to their rank. All the Awliyā’ of the world will never reach the rank of even the lowest ranking Ṣaḥābī. This is the moderation that is employed by the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband with regard to the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). According to them (‘Ulamā’ of Deoband) all the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) are equal in so far as their honour of being in the company of Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam), therefore, they are also equally respected and honoured. Nevertheless, they are also (amongst themselves) subject to levels of importance and rankings. However, since this difference (in rank amongst themselves) does not affect their companionship with Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam), hence, there is no difference in so far as the love and belief in them as being the companions of Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) is concerned.
The principle of this Maslak is: “All the Ṣaḥābah are just”. The ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband lie precisely within the ambit of the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā’ah.
With regard to the general respect and honour for the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum), the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband regard all of them, without any exception, as beacons of guidance for the Ummah and that the success of the entire Ummah, after them, is limited to their knowledge and practice. However, they are not taken as makers of the Sharī‘ah, in that the criterion of the Ḥaqq (truth) lies with them, that whatever they decide to be Ḥalāl (permissible) will be so and whatever they decide to be Ḥarām (forbidden) will be so. Otherwise, there would not remain any difference between prophethood and companionship. They were, after all, followers of the Nabī and his servants, who conveyed the Message brought by the Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) to the rest of the Ummah. Yes, although it is the belief of this Maslak that the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) were not the makers of the Sharī‘ah, but they were strict adherents to the Sharī‘ah. The Sharī‘ah was their armour, and they lost themselves in it to the level of perfection. The ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband do not involve themselves in the sin of regarding the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) as being, Allah forbid!, treacherous, negligent, be of ill-intent or desirous of name and fame in so far as the Sharī‘ah is concerned. The Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) are the first narrators of the religious narrations, they are the first tutors to the Ummah and they are the first (of the Ummah) to have properly understood the teachings of the Dīn (religion). They were the first (in the Ummah) to recognize Ḥaqq from Bāṭil (falsehood). That group which harbours sincere love, respect and honour for them, without any exceptions, is counted as the group on Ḥaqq. If there exists even the slightest doubt with regard to respect, love, and honour for them or evil thoughts, then such persons are not included in the successful group. Therefore, one of the first distinctions of Ḥaqq and Bāṭil is love, honour and respect for the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). This is a sign of Taqwa (piety). So the group that regard all the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum), without any exceptions, as being just and pious, will be, according to the blessed words of Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam), the sect which is on Ḥaqq. This is, al-Ḥamdu li-llāh, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā’ah. As for those who bad-mouth the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) and degrade (any one of) them is separate and divorced from the sect of Ḥaqq.
Had any one of them (Ṣaḥābah -raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum), Allah forbid!, digressed even the slightest bit from the straight path, then the Dīn would not have reached us in the pure and unadulterated form that it has. If there exists, even the slightest bit of doubt as to the reliability and steadfastness of any of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum), then the entire Ummah would have been subject to reservation and consideration. Therefore, according to the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, every one of them (Ṣaḥābah – raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) are regarded as pious and notable personalities. The entire Ummah is subjected and limited to follow this group (Ṣaḥābah – raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). Since they are from amongst the best of eras, their status is that of being the deputies of the Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) after his demise. They are the yardstick for the Ḥaqq. Just as a person who refutes and denies Nubūwwah (prophethood) falls out of the pale of Islām, so too does that person who refutes and rejects the Ijmā’ (consensus) of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum). According to some ‘Ulamā’ the action of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) is also regarded as being a proof in the Sharī‘ah. The ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband regard the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) as being the cream of all the Awliyā’, yet they are not deemed to be sinless. However, they are protected by Allāh, which is the epitome of Wilāyāh (friendship with Allāh). The final and climax of Taqwa is that the soul reaches gaiety in Imān (belief), and it is the Sunnah of Allāh that such souls are naturally saved from perpetrating any sin. Notwithstanding the fact that they are not sinless, and that the possibility of sin existed in them, nevertheless, Allāh saved them from sinning. So, although the natural instincts and disposition to sin existed in the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum), this remained limited to a mere natural trait, but since their hearts were purified and imbued with Taqwa, to which the Qur’ān testifies, if any of them carried out an unworthy act, it did not permeate into their hearts nor affect their Taqwa. Therefore, with such slip-ups, there was no slur or dent on their piety or souls, to which Allāh testified.
Concerning criticism of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) and their disputes
The high state of Taqwa and perfection in this sanctified group led to a decrease and weakening in their desire for sin and an increase and fervour for enjoining obedience and good. Imān and Taqwa beautified their hearts whilst Kufr (disbelief) and sin angered their souls. This is the reason why the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband regard the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) as being the saviours of the Dīn, notwithstanding their not being sinless. They are above any criticism. The Ummah should not discuss any of the differences between the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) with a view of criticising any of them over the others. The differences between the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) was a question of who was correct and who was mistaken, it was not a question of who was on Ḥaqq and who on Bāṭil or between sin and obedience. Everyone is aware that a Mujtahid (one qualified to do ijtihād) who errs is liable for one reward and not censure or rebuke. According to the Maslak of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, the issues between the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) is based on their clean intentions and pure souls, hence evil thought regarding any of them is totally impermissible. The same applies to censuring and criticising them. This is a matter to be explained away and not criticise. ‘Umar Ibn ʻAbd al-‘Azīz (raḥimahullāh) said: “That was blood which Allāh saved our hands from, we should not soil our tongues with it.”
There was no group that came after the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) that were purer and more sanctified than them. The entire group was just, without exception.
There was no era in this blessed Ummah which remained free from pious and virtuous personalities. There was no shortage of A‘immah for guidance, knowledge or perfection. The ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband respects and honours every one of them regardless of his status or rank, because every one of them were the inheritors of the Nubūwwah, and protectors of the Dīn. Some were specialists of the Bāṯin (soul) and others of Ẓāhir (outer traits).
The difference between the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) and the latter generations, is that amongst the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) each and every one of this group were worthy of honour, pious and sanctified, whereas, the latter generations consisted of pious an impious persons. The entire group of Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) were just, whereas the latter generations consisted of just and unjust persons.
The ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband do not chastise any of the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) due to their differences amongst each other. There is no excesses in either agreeing or disagreeing. Keeping in mind the honour of each one of them, those that were correct in their decisions are lauded whilst those who may have erred are not chastised, rather a suitable explanation and defence is presented for them which suits their honour and rank. The final decision and reckoning is laid at the Court of Allāh. Unnecessary discussions and censuring must not take place.
The Maslak of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband is based upon justice and knowledge and not oppression and ignorance.
Hence, there should be no exaggeration or excesses. You have just now read that the Maslak of the blessed being of Nabī (ṣalla Allāhu ‘alay-hi wa-sallam) [In preceding pages of the book by the author – Editor] and the sanctified Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya -llāhu ‘anhum) was that of justice and moderation. It was not based on excesses and exaggeration.