There are people who take a saying of a Sahaabi, or companion, of the Prophet as evidence in Deen, even if this saying has no support from Allaah ar-Rahmaan and His revelation. No doubt this is a dangerous and an abhorrent innovation [Bid’ah dalala] that contradicts what Allaah al-Hakam has commanded us to do:
اتَّبِعُوا مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا مِن دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۗ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
Follow what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow other than Him any Awliya. Little do you remember.
We as Muslims – those who are submissive to Allaah – are required to only follow revelation. Whatever Allaah al-Wahhab sent down, it is considered as Deen and must be followed. Anything that was not revealed by Allaah, then it is not Deen and can never be considered as part of it.
Henceforth, even the Prophet himself and some of his companions were careful in accepting something that was attributed to the Deen. Here will be discussed a few authentic narrations just to give some light on the topic. You will see that neither the Prophet, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, nor ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab blindly accepted a saying of a Sahaabi until it was verified.
Narration of the Prophet
Wording from Malik’s Muwatta:
حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ أَيُّوبَ بْنِ أَبِي تَمِيمَةَ السَّخْتِيَانِيِّ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سِيرِينَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم انْصَرَفَ مِنَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَقَالَ لَهُ ذُو الْيَدَيْنِ أَقَصُرَتِ الصَّلاَةُ أَمْ نَسِيتَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ “ أَصَدَقَ ذُو الْيَدَيْنِ ” . فَقَالَ النَّاسُ نَعَمْ . فَقَامَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ فَصَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ أُخْرَيَيْنِ ثُمَّ سَلَّمَ ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ فَسَجَدَ مِثْلَ سُجُودِهِ أَوْ أَطْوَلَ ثُمَّ رَفَعَ ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ فَسَجَدَ مِثْلَ سُجُودِهِ أَوْ أَطْوَلَ ثُمَّ رَفَعَ
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ayyub ibn Abi Tamima as-Sakhtayani from Muhammad ibn Sirin from Abu Hurayra that:
Allaah’s Messenger finished the prayer after two rakats and Dhul-Yadayn said to him, “Has the prayer been shortened or have you forgotten, O Allaah’s Messenger?”
Allaah’s Messenger said, “Has Dhul-Yadayn spoken the truth?”
The people said, “Yes,” and Allaah’s Messenger stood and prayed the other two rakats and then said, “Peace be upon you.” Then he said, “Allaah is greater” and went into a sadja as long as his usual prostrations or longer. Then he came up and said, “Allaah is greater” and went into a sajda as long as his usual prostrations or longer and then came up.
[It was also collected by Ahmad, al-Bukhaari, Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, an-Nisa’i, and Ibn Majah in their books]
There is nothing complex in this hadeeth. A Sahaabi called Dhul-Yadayn questioned the Prophet in a manner as if the ruling changed or he may have made a mistake. Hence, Allaah’s Messenger did not just take his word and prayed the rest of the prayer. The Prophet actually asked other people if Dhul-Yadayn spoke the truth “أَصَدَقَ ذُو الْيَدَيْنِ“. This by no means implies that Dhul-Yadayn was untrustworthy.
Narration of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq
Wording from Malik’s Muwatta:
حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ إِسْحَاقَ بْنِ خَرَشَةَ، عَنْ قَبِيصَةَ بْنِ ذُؤَيْبٍ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ جَاءَتِ الْجَدَّةُ إِلَى أَبِي بَكْرٍ الصِّدِّيقِ تَسْأَلُهُ مِيرَاثَهَا فَقَالَ لَهَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ مَا لَكِ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ شَىْءٌ وَمَا عَلِمْتُ لَكِ فِي سُنَّةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا فَارْجِعِي حَتَّى أَسْأَلَ النَّاسَ فَسَأَلَ النَّاسَ . فَقَالَ الْمُغِيرَةُ بْنُ شُعْبَةَ حَضَرْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَعْطَاهَا السُّدُسَ . فَقَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ هَلْ مَعَكَ غَيْرُكَ فَقَامَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ الأَنْصَارِيُّ فَقَالَ مِثْلَ مَا قَالَ الْمُغِيرَةُ فَأَنْفَذَهُ لَهَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ الصِّدِّيقُ ثُمَّ جَاءَتِ الْجَدَّةُ الأُخْرَى إِلَى عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ تَسْأَلُهُ مِيرَاثَهَا فَقَالَ لَهَا مَا لَكِ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ شَىْءٌ وَمَا كَانَ الْقَضَاءُ الَّذِي قُضِيَ بِهِ إِلاَّ لِغَيْرِكِ وَمَا أَنَا بِزَائِدٍ فِي الْفَرَائِضِ شَيْئًا وَلَكِنَّهُ ذَلِكَ السُّدُسُ فَإِنِ اجْتَمَعْتُمَا فَهُوَ بَيْنَكُمَا وَأَيَّتُكُمَا خَلَتْ بِهِ فَهُوَ لَهَا
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Uthman ibn Ishaq ibn Kharasha that Qabisa ibn Dhu’ayb said,
“A grandmother came to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and asked him for her inheritance. Abu Bakr said to her, ‘You have nothing in the Book of Allaah, and I do not know that you have anything in the sunnah of the Allaah’s Messenger. Go away therefore, until I have questioned the people.’
He questioned the people, and al-Mughira ibn Shuba said, ‘I was present with Allaah’s Messenger when he gave the grandmother a sixth.’
Abu Bakr said, ‘Was there anybody else with you?’
Muhammad ibn Maslama al-Ansari stood up and said the like of what al-Mughira said. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq gave it to her.
Then the other grandmother came to Umar ibn al-Khattab and asked him for her inheritance. He said to her, “You have nothing in the Book of Allaah, and what has been decided is only for other than you, and I am not one to add to the fixed shares, other than that sixth. If there are two of you together, it is between you. If either of you is left alone with it, it is hers.”
[This narration was also transmitted by at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah in their collections.]
As we can see here, first, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq did not just do whatever he thought was correct, rather he questioned the people about this matter if there was anything coming from the Prophet. When a Sahaabi named al-Mughira stood up and told Abu Bakr as-Siddiq what he saw Allaah’s Messenger doing, Abu Bakr did not blindly accept al-Mughira’s saying, even though al-Mughaira was a trustworthy person.
Narration of Umar bin al-Khattab
Wording from al-Bukhaari:
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ سَلاَمٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَخْلَدُ بْنُ يَزِيدَ، أَخْبَرَنَا ابْنُ جُرَيْجٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَطَاءٌ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ بْنِ عُمَيْرٍ، أَنَّ أَبَا مُوسَى الأَشْعَرِيَّ، اسْتَأْذَنَ عَلَى عُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ فَلَمْ يُؤْذَنْ لَهُ، وَكَأَنَّهُ كَانَ مَشْغُولاً فَرَجَعَ أَبُو مُوسَى، فَفَرَغَ عُمَرُ فَقَالَ أَلَمْ أَسْمَعْ صَوْتَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ قَيْسٍ ائْذَنُوا لَهُ قِيلَ قَدْ رَجَعَ. فَدَعَاهُ. فَقَالَ كُنَّا نُؤْمَرُ بِذَلِكَ. فَقَالَ تَأْتِينِي عَلَى ذَلِكَ بِالْبَيِّنَةِ. فَانْطَلَقَ إِلَى مَجْلِسِ الأَنْصَارِ، فَسَأَلَهُمْ. فَقَالُوا لاَ يَشْهَدُ لَكَ عَلَى هَذَا إِلاَّ أَصْغَرُنَا أَبُو سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيُّ. فَذَهَبَ بِأَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ. فَقَالَ عُمَرُ أَخَفِيَ عَلَىَّ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أَلْهَانِي الصَّفْقُ بِالأَسْوَاقِ. يَعْنِي الْخُرُوجَ إِلَى تِجَارَةٍ.
‘Ubaid bin Umair reported:
Abu Musa asked Umar to admit him but he was not admitted as Umar was busy, so Abu Musa went back. When Umar finished his job he said, “Didn’t I hear the voice of Abdullaah bin Qais? Let him come in.”
Umar was told that he had left. So, he sent for him and on his arrival, he [Abu Musa] said, “We were ordered to do so [i.e. to leave if not admitted after asking permission thrice].
Umar told him, “Bring witness in proof of your statement.”
Abu Musa went to the Ansar’s meeting places and asked them. They said, “None amongst us will give this witness except the youngest of us, Abu Sa’ed al-Khudri. Abu Musa then took Abu Sa’ed al-Khudri and Umar said, surprisingly, “Has this order of Allah’s Messenger been hidden from me?” (Then he added), “I used to be busy trading in markets.”
[Also recorded by Malik, Ahmad, Muslim, and Abu Dawud]
Abu Dawud transmits:
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ رَبِيعَةَ بْنِ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ غَيْرِ، وَاحِدٍ، مِنْ عُلَمَائِهِمْ فِي هَذَا فَقَالَ عُمَرُ لأَبِي مُوسَى أَمَا إِنِّي لَمْ أَتَّهِمْكَ وَلَكِنْ خَشِيتُ أَنْ يَتَقَوَّلَ النَّاسُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ
Umar said to Abd Musa: I do not blame you, but I am afraid that the people may talk carelessly about Allaah’s Messenger.
These narrations clearly show Umar did not accept Abu Musa’s testimony just because he said it was from the Prophet despite being a well-known Sahaabi and a reliable person.
Narration of Ibn Shaqiq [a Taabi’]
Wording from Muslim:
وَحَدَّثَنِي أَبُو الرَّبِيعِ الزَّهْرَانِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، عَنِ الزُّبَيْرِ بْنِ الْخِرِّيتِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَقِيقٍ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ يَوْمًا بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ حَتَّى غَرَبَتِ الشَّمْسُ وَبَدَتِ النُّجُومُ وَجَعَلَ النَّاسُ يَقُولُونَ الصَّلاَةَ الصَّلاَةَ – قَالَ – فَجَاءَهُ رَجُلٌ مِنْ بَنِي تَمِيمٍ لاَ يَفْتُرُ وَلاَ يَنْثَنِي الصَّلاَةَ الصَّلاَةَ . فَقَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّاسٍ أَتُعَلِّمُنِي بِالسُّنَّةِ لاَ أُمَّ لَكَ . ثُمَّ قَالَ رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ جَمَعَ بَيْنَ الظُّهْرِ وَالْعَصْرِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَالْعِشَاءِ . قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ شَقِيقٍ فَحَاكَ فِي صَدْرِي مِنْ ذَلِكَ شَىْءٌ فَأَتَيْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ فَسَأَلْتُهُ فَصَدَّقَ مَقَالَتَهُ
Abdullaah ibn Shaqiq reported:Ibn Abbas one day addressed us in the afternoon till the sun disappeared and the stars appeared, and the people began to say: Prayer, prayer.A person from Banu Tamim came there. He neither slackened nor turned away, but (continued crying): Prayer, prayer.Ibn Abbas said: May you be deprived of your mother, do you teach me Sunnah? And then he said: I saw Allaah’s Messenger combining the noon and afternoon prayers and the sunset and ‘Isha’ prayers.Abdullaah ibn Shaqiq said: Some doubt was created in my mind about it. So I came to Abu Hurayra and asked him and he testified his assertion.
- It is allowed to doubt a Sahaabis words even if he is trustworthy
- It is allowed to not accept his saying until proof has been brought to support him
- No one is obligated to accepting a hadeeth that was reported by a single Sahaabi – this supports those who reject ahad or khabar wahid
- There cannot be any Hukm derived from a Sahaabis saying unless it is backed by revelation, which makes the Sahaabi irrelevant anyways since revelation is required
Hence we are seeing only a few examples that show us not even the holy Prophet Muhammad Rasolullaah, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, and Umar ibn al-Khattab blindly accepted a saying of a Sahaabi as proof just because he said so. They always verified even if it was said by a trustworthy person. Also, these reports are helpful in refuting the innovation of people who use the Sahaabah as evidence, even though they may have gone against the Shari’ah of Allaah aza wajal.