Confirming the Status of Companionship


Alsalam alaykum,

The following are important notes by scholars that determine whether a narrator is a companion or not.

Ibn Hajr in Al-Isaba (1/8) mentioned the following criteria:

1- Tawatur (Continuous reports from generation to generation that cannot be doubted – i.e. The companionship of Abu Bakr and Omar, etc.)
2- Al-Istifadha and al-shuhra (this is similar to the first but to a lesser extent)
3- A small number of companions and tabi’een that specifically say that so and so is a companion.
4- For a just and upright person to say about himself that he is a companion.

Ibn Hajar then adds a couple of other methods, the most accurate of which is the report from Ibn Abi Shaibah that says, “They used to not assign as a leader in wars anyone other than the companions.” However, this specific method is questionable, or at least one to be taken with caution, since there are cases, for example Al-Qa’qa’ bin Amr Al-Tameemi, that was said to have led wars but is not considered to be a sahabi by Abu Hatim Al-Razi due to him not falling into one of the previous four methods.

On a similar note, it is important to understand the methodologies of the scholars in collecting their compilations of sahaba.

Some of the more important ones are Ma’rifatul Sahaba by Abu Nu’aim Al-Asbahani, Ma’rifatul Sahaba by Ibn Mandah, Al-Istee’aab by Ibn Abdul Barr, Usud Al-Ghaabah by Ibn Al-Atheer, and Al-Isaba by Ibn Hajar. There are also other books that are important to determine who is a sahabi but they are not compilations that were made for that specific purpose. Perhaps the most important from these are Al-Tareekh Al-Kabeer by Al-Bukhari, Al-Jarh wal Ta’deel by Ibn Abi Hatim, and the first chapter of Al-Thiqaat by Ibn Hibban.

Now, the question that plagues the minds of many students of knowledge is the following: Is the inclusion of the name of a narrator in a compilation of sahaba necessitate that he is in fact a sahabi?

The answer is: No, it doesn’t.

Dr. Amer Sabri said that they used to include everyone that is mentioned to have been a companion, even if this is accurate or not, and that Ibn Hajar was clear about this.

Abdullah Al-Judai’ in his Tahreer (1/117) said, “It should be known that many of the names of those you find under “sahaba” were included for their narration from the Prophet (pbuh), but if you looked into the chain you would find that many of them are not authentic to the person that is claimed to be a companion.” He then quoted Abu Hatim in Al-Jarh wal Ta’deel’s statement in regards to Eisa bin Yazdad, “His hadith is not authentic, and his father is not a companion, and some people include him as a companion as some sort of metaphor, but him as his father are anonymous.”Al-Judai’ said, “One should also know that the critics may differ in regards to the suhba of someone, and it is obligatory then to look into it and determine the correct view from the methods mentioned previously in order to determine if he is a companion or not.”

Ibn Hajar in Al-Isaba (1/9) spoke of some of the narrators that said, “the Prophet (pbuh) said,” but without proof of their companionship, he said, “This didn’t prevent those that compiled books on companionship from including them.”

I say: Once again, one needs to return to the books of companionship and look into the methods that are used and if they are correct since it seems that scholars are lenient in who they include in their books.

It should also be noted that Ibn Hajar himself was lenient with his conditions of his compilation. He said (1/6), “The first category: Includes those that have been mentioned as companions through narration or other, whether the chain is authentic, hasan, or weak, or is mentioned in a way that implies his companionship in any way.”

Notice, Ibn Hajar includes people that he himself admits were mentioned as companions through weak chains. This implies that they are not companions in his view, but he chose to include them in his compilation either way.

Inshallah this is sufficient.

By Farid
Posted by 13S2010

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Filed under Articles, Clarification about sunni hadiths, Hadith science

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