The madh-hab of Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamâ'ah concerning the Companions is that of moderateness between the two ends of extremism and heedlessness. It is moderateness between the extremist fanatics who elevate the esteemed ones amongst them to a level that is only befitting for Allâh or for His messengers, and between the heedless and harsh ones who belittle and revile them. So they are in the middle between those who are excessive and those who fall short - they love all of them and give each one their due merit, with fairness and justice. So they do not elevate them to that which they are not deserving of, nor do they belittle them, taking away what they are deserving of. Therefore, their tongues are moist with mentioning them only in good, according to what is befitting for them. And their hearts are filled with love for them.
Whatever is authentic from the disputes and differences that occurred between (some of) them, then with regard to that they were Mujtahidîn [exerted their efforts to reach the truth]. Either they were correct, and so they will receive a reward for their Ijtihâd and a reward for being correct, or they were wrong, receiving just one reward for their Ijtihâd while their error will be forgiven. They were not infallible, for they were human beings- at times they were correct and at times they were in error. But how much more correct they were compared to others, and how fewer were their errors as compared to others? They will have Allâh's forgiveness and contentment.
The books of Ahl-us-Sunnah are filled with the elucidation of this pure and clear Creed concerning these elite people, the chosen ones amongst mankind to accompany the best of mankind. May Allâh be pleased with them all.
An example of this is the statement of At-Tahâwî in his (book on the) Creed of Ahl-us-Sunnah:
“We love the Companions of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him). We do not go to extremes in the love for anyone amongst them, nor do we absolve ourselves from any of them. We hate anyone that hates them or anyone that speaks ill of them. We do not mention them except with good. Loving them is Dîn, Îmân and Ihsân and hating them is Kufr, Nifâq (hypocrisy) and Tughyân (transgression).”
Ibn Abî Zayd Al-Qayrawânî said in the introduction to his famous [book of fiqh], Ar-Risâlah, in explaining the Creed of Ahl-us-Sunnah:
“The best of generations is the one that saw the Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessing be upon him), and the best of the Companions are the (four) rightly guided Khalîfahs - Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthmân, then 'Alî, may Allâh be pleased with them all. None of the Companions should be mentioned except in the best of manners. We believe in refraining from (speaking about) the differences that occurred between them, and we believe that they are the most deserving of people of having excuses made for them, and (that) they are to be thought of in the best way.”
Imâm Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said in his book As-Sunnah:
“And from the Sunnah is mentioning the good qualities of the Companions of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) - all of them - and to refrain from (speaking about) the disputes which occurred between them. Whoever reviles the Companions of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) or (even) one of them, he is an innovator, a Râfidî. Loving them [the Companions] is a Sunnah and making du'â (supplication) for them is a means of drawing near to Allâh (taqarrub). Following them is a means, and taking from their examples is a virtue...”