It is Absolutely not Permissible to Call a Companion a Sinner (Fasiq), By Mufti Muhammad Shafi

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ (الحجرات: 6)۔

O those who believe, if a sinful person brings you a report, verify its correctness, lest you harm a people out of ignorance then become remorseful on what you did.

An important Question and Answer Regarding the Truthfulness of the Companions

Authentic Ahadith verify that this verse was revealed in connection with Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah, and in the verse, he is referred to as fasiq (sinner). Apparently, it goes to show that a sahabi (Companion) can be a fasiq. This is in conflict with the universally established maxim الصحابۃ کلھم عدول  (the Companions are all truthful and reliable). None of their statements, reports, or testimony can be doubted. ‘Allamah ‘Alus in Ruh-ul- Ma’ani says that the truth of the matter is according to the majority of the scholars, the blessed Companions are not infallible; it is possible for them, to commit sins – major sins which are fisq; at the time of committing the sin they will be dealt with in the appropriate manner in terms of the punishment prescribed for that act; and if any of them is found guilty of lying, his news, information, report or testimony will be rejected. However, on the basis of the express texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah, Ahl-us-sunnah wal-Jama’ah believes that Companion can, though, commit sins, they do not persist in it. There is no companion of the Holy Prophet ﷺ who has not repented and purified himself after committing a sin. The Qur’an, referring to the general class of the Companions, announces in general terms رضی اللہ عنھم ورضوا عنہ (…Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him – 98:s). The pleasure of Allah is not possible without forgiveness of sins. Qadi Abu Ya’la says that Allah’s pleasure is one of His eternal attributes. He expresses His pleasure only for those about whom He knows they will die whilst seeking His pleasure (Ibn-Taimiyyah in As-sarim-ul-Maslul).

In sum: From amongst the magnificent group of the noble Companions, it is possible for a handful of them to commit a sin sometime or the other, but Divine aid comes to their rescue and they immediately repent. Through the blessing of the Holy Prophet’s company, Allah had made Shari’ah their nature. As a result, it was very rare for them to do anything contrary to Shariah and very unlikely to commit sins. It was natural for them to dedicate themselves to performing righteous deeds in conformity with the Holy Prophet’s ﷺ paradigm and the principles established by Islam. They exerted such efforts in obeying Allah and His Holy Prophet ﷺ in all matters of life, the example of which is never found in any of the previous religious communities. In comparison to the uncountable good works, merits, and excellence to their credit, even if they commit a sin once in a life-time, it would be quashed or would be counted non-existent. Furthermore, hadith collections record a number of incidents where the noble Companions expressed their supreme love and devotion for Allah and His Holy Prophet ﷺ. They expressed their highest degree of fear for Allah at the time of committing the most minor sins and repented forthwith. We have on record that some of the Companions presented themselves for punishment when they did something wrong and others tied themselves up to the column of the mosque; and so on. A hadith informs us that “He who repents on sin is like him who has not committed any sin”. The Qur’an says:

إن الحسنات یذھبن السیئات

Surely, good deeds erase bad deeds. [Surah Hud: 114]

This rule applies to them with greater force, since their good deeds are not like the good deeds of the general class of people. In fact, the status of their good deeds has been described in the collections of Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi on the authority of Sa’id Ibn Zaid:

واللہ لمشھد رجل منھم مع النبی ﷺ یغبر فیہ وجھہ خیر من عمل أحدکم ولو عمر عمر نوح

“By Allah, any one of them who participated in jihad with the Holy Prophet ﷺ and his face got covered with dust is better than your life-long obedience and worship, even if you attained the age of Nuh (A.S).”

Therefore, they will receive the same punishment that is prescribed for sin or crime which they might have committed. However, despite this, it is not lawful for any of us to regard any of them as fasiq. Consequently, if any Companion during the time of the Holy Prophet ﷺ committed a sin or crime which could be the cause of producing in him the effect of fisq, as a result of which he might have been referred to as a fasiq on that account, it does not become possible for that fisq to be regarded as his Permanent characteristic to call him, God forbid!, as a fasiq for all times to come (Ruh-ul-Maani).

Nevertheless, it is not at all necessary that in the current verse, Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah is categorically referred to as fasiq. Despite the fact that the verse is supposed to have been revealed in his incident, it does not mean that the word ‘fasiq’ is used for him, because before this incident, Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah had not done any such thing on account of which he could be referred to as fasiq. An analysis of the incident of Banul-Mustaliq indicates that he conveyed an incorrect information about that tribe which, acting in good faith, he thought was true whereas in reality, it was not. Therefore, the plain import of the current verse would be that it simply establishes the general rule that the news conveyed by a fasiq would be unacceptable. However, it may be emphasized that Walid Ibn ‘Uqbah was not a fasiq, but his information, because of a strong external context, did not seem acceptable. As a result, the Holy Prophet ﷺ refrained from taking any measures merely on his information and sent Khalid Ibn Walid (R.A) for proper investigation. If this is the case of the news conveyed by a bona fide reliable and righteous person, then with the stronger reason a fasiq’s news should be rejected and should not be acted upon. The truthfulness of the Companions is discussed fully by this author in his book “The Status of the Companions” which is already published in Urdu. It will partly be discussed under forthcoming verses 9-10.

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