They confirm what has been reported in tawâtur (That which has been narrated by a number so large that it is logically impossible for them to have agreed upon a lie) form by the Amîr-ul-Mu'minîn, 'Alî Ibn Abî Tâlib (may Allah be pleased with him) and others: ‘The best of this Ummah after its Prophet are Abu Bakr; then 'Umar.’ Then they place 'Uthmân third and 'Alî fourth, may Allâh be pleased with all of them. This is as is indicated in the athâr (reports from the Sahâbah) and as was unanimously agreed upon that 'Uthmân had precedence (over 'Alî) for being pledged allegiance to (for the Khilâfah). In spite of this, after unanimously agreeing to the precedence of Abu Bakr and 'Umar, some of the Ahl-us-Sunnah have disagreed with regard to 'Uthmân and 'Alî as to which of them is better. A group of them gave precedence to 'Uthmân and then remained silent and placed 'Alî as the fourth. Another group gave precedence to 'Alî, and yet another group remained neutral. But the affair of Ahl-us-Sunnah settled upon giving precedence to 'Uthmân and then 'Alî. But regardless, this issue of 'Uthmân and 'Alî is not from the principles by which the one who disagrees concerning it becomes misguided (and deviant), according to the majority of the (scholars of) Ahl-us-Sunnah. Rather, the issue in which the one who opposes becomes misguided is the issue of the Khilâfah - and it is that they (must) believe that the Khalîfah after Allâh's Messenger was Abu Bakr, then 'Umar, then 'Uthmân and then 'Alî. Whoever attacks the Khilâfah of any one of them, he is more astray than the donkey of his people.”
Then he mentioned that they have love and affection for the Members of the Household of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) and that they preserve the Will (final requests) of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) concerning them. They have affection for the Wives of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him), the Mothers of the Believers and believe that they will be his wives in the Hereafter. Then he said:
“And they absolve themselves from the way of the Rawâfid - those who hate the Companions and revile them - and from the way of the Nawâsib - those who abuse the Members of the [Prophet's (peace and blessing be upon him)] Household - by speech or action. They refrain from (delving into) the disputes that occurred between the Companions, and they say: Among the narrations which have been reported concerning their faults are those which are false, those which have been exaggerated, those of whose parts have been omitted, and those which have been altered from their original state. With regard to those which are authentic, they (the Companions) are excused (and forgiven) - either they made Ijtihâd and were correct, or they made Ijtihâd and were wrong. Moreover, they do not believe that every one of the Companions is infallible and free of committing major or minor sins. Rather, they are capable of committing sins in general, but they have the precedence and virtues what necessitates that they be forgiven for whatever (sins) they commit - if they did commit any. This is even to the point that they will be forgiven for evil deeds the likes of which those who come after them will not be forgiven for. This is because they possess good deeds that erase the evil ones, the likes of which will not be for those after them.
It is established from the saying of Allâh's Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) that they are the best of generations, and that if one of them were to give a mudd (of gold) in charity it would be better than the whole of Mount Uhud in gold of those who came after them. Furthermore, if it was the case that one of them committed a sin, either he repented from it, performed some good deed that wiped it out, or he was forgiven for it due to the virtue of his precedence or by intercession of Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) of which the Companions have the most right. Perhaps he may have been tested by some affliction in this world by which it [the sin] was expiated from him. If this is with respect to the sins that were committed (by them), what about the matters in which they did Ijtihâd? If they were correct they will have two rewards and if they were incorrect they will have one reward, and their error will be forgiven.

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