The merits of the Companions
Many Ayahs and Hadiths were reported in the merits of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), of which Allah's Saying: "And the foremost to embrace Islâm of the Muhâjirûn (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansâr (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhâjirûn) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allâh is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success." [Surat At-Tawbah: 100].
Allah (Exalted be He) says: "Indeed, Allâh was pleased with the believers when they gave the Bai'ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad peace be upon him) under the tree: He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As-Sakînah (calmness and tranquility) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory." [Surat Al Fath: 18].
Allah (Exalted be He) says: "Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allâh. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allâh and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of prostration (during prayers). This is their description in the Taurât (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers, that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allâh has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islâmic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise)." [Surat Al Fath: 29].
Allah (may He be Exalted) mentioned them in numerous Ayahs and showed content about them.
As for the Sunnah, there were many Hadiths reported in their merits, of which: Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Do not abuse my Companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to the mountain of Uhud (in Allah's Cause), it would not be equal to a Mud (a dry measure of half bushel, 543 grams) or even a half Mud spent by one of them." (1).
The reason for giving preference to their spending is that they spent in the time of necessity and need unlike others and because their spending was for helping and protecting the Prophet (peace be upon him), which cannot be done after his death, likewise all their Jihad and all their pious actions. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Not equal among you are those who spent and fought before the conquering (of Makkah, with those among you who did so later). Such are higher in degree than those who spent and fought afterwards." [Surat Al Hadid: 10]. Their Jihad was parallel with the compassion, intimacy, Khushu` (the heart being attuned to the act of worship), humbleness, altruism, which they had in themselves, moreover the virtue of Companionship that cannot be equal to anything else and its degree is not attainable. "That is the Grace of Allâh which He bestows on whom He wills." (2).
Al Baydawy (may Allah be merciful with him) said: The meaning of the Hadith is: None shall have, by spending as much gold as the mountain of Uhud, the merit or the reward of any of them for feeding a hungry person for example. The cause of that is the difference in sincerity and the truthfulness of intention. (3) (Because they were few in number but their necessities and needs were much bigger than their capabilities). (4).
Others said: (The reason of excellence is that their expenditure caused the opening of Makkah to Islam and lifting high the word of Allah, in addition to their sacrifice with their souls for the sake of Allah; and the latter cannot reach the status of the formers in that because the formers were few in number and they lacked allies, so their Jihad was the best, and because sacrificing oneself, gaining victory, and hoping for life are not like sacrificing oneself for nothing). (5).
Of the Hadiths that were reported in their merits is the Hadith of Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) which he reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he said: "The people of my generation are the best, then those who follow them, and then those who follow the latter." (6) (The generation of the Companions has become the best generation because they believed in the Messenger of Allah when the people refused to believe in him, trusted in him when the people distrusted in him, they supported, helped, gave refuge, provided aid to him with their monies and selves, and fought others until they brought them to Islam). (7).
The Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah be merciful with him) said: "Whoever considers the biography of the Companions with knowledge and insight and ponders over the virtues which Allah granted them shall know for sure that they are the best generation after the Prophets, no one will reach their status, and they are the chosen ones from the generations of this nation which is the best of all nations and the most honorable in the sight of Allah). (8).
Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim to love them, know their status, and beware not to belittle them or talking about their honors.
Lessons gained from the Hadith:
1- Warning against treating the subjects with cruelty, withholding their due rights, and not paying attention to them as was reported in the Hadith: "O Allah, who (happens to) acquire some kind of control over the affairs of my nation and treated them harshly be harsh to him. And who (happens to) acquire some kind of control over the affairs of my nation and treats them in leniency be lenient to him." (9).
In another narration: "There is no person who is entrusted with the affairs of his subjects and he dies while being dishonest in his dealings with those over whom he ruled but the Paradise shall be forbidden for him." (10).
2- The permissibility of offering advices to the rulers, exhorting them to justice, and warning them against oppression.
1) Reported by Al Bukhari (3470) and Muslim (2540) with his own wordings.
2) The commentary of Sahih Muslim by An-Nawawy 16/93, the commentary of Sunan Ibn Majah 1/15, and Tuhfat Al Ahwazy 10/246.
3) Fathul-Bary 7/34.
4) Awn Al Ma`bud 12/269.
5) Tuhfat Al Ahwazy 8/338.
6) Reported by Al Bukhari (2509) and Muslim (2533).
7) At-Tamhid 20/251 Faydul-Qadir 3/ 478.
8) Al `Aqidah Al Wasitiyyah p. 43.
9) Reported by Muslim No. (1828).
10) Reported by Muslim No. (142).