What to do when the action of a Companion seemingly contradicts a Sunnah
Fatwa No: 228907

Question

sheikh my question is related to fiqh can u explain this in detail . how to deal with those issues in which companion contradicted the saying of rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. for example Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When the iqaamah for prayer is given, there is no prayer except the prescribed prayer.” this hadith is clear but still we see that Abdullah Ibn 'Umar and Abdullah ibn Masud (Radi-Allahu anhum ajma'een)prayed two rakah of sunnah even after the iqamah of fazr prayer. sheikh does it means that ijtihad of companion was wrong so we must leave their ijtihad and act on hadith OR does it mean that hadith is abrogated and we must leave abrogated hadith and follow the companion OR does it mean that both practices are correct ? sheikh plz answer in detail

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

If it is verified that the statement of a Companion contradicts the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) then, in this case, it is an obligation to do the following two things:

1- First: to act in accordance with the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and leave the statement of whoever contradicted him even if it is a Companion. This is because in Islam, we are commanded to follow the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) who conveyed to us the message of his Lord and was infallible. Conversely, others are not infallible, even Companions. Imam Ash-Shaafi'i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “[Scholars) agree that once a Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) becomes evident to someone, it is not permissible for him to leave it and act in accordance with the statement of any person, regardless of who it is.

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “It is an obligation to follow the statements, commands and prohibitions provided in the Quran and the Sunnah and no consideration should be given to anyone who opposes those, whoever that person may be. And it is not permissible to follow anyone in opposition to that, whoever it is. This is because the Quran and Sunnah and the consensus of Muslim scholars indicate that we are to follow and obey the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).

Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in I’laam Al-Muwaqqi'een: “Whoever studies the biography of the Companions will notice that they never left a Sunnah and followed a statement of anyone else, no matter who it was. Ibn ‘Umar used to leave the statement of ‘Umar (his father) when the Sunnah became evident to him, and Ibn ‘Abbaas used to censure those who opposed a Sunnah that they heard and cited what Abu Bakr and Umar said as evidence. He would say to them: 'Stones are about to descend upon you from the heaven, I tell you: the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, and you tell me: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar said?!'

On the other hand, the statement or action of a Companion that opposes the Sunnah does not abrogate something that has been verified that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said or did, because the action alone is not evidence that the Companion did it for the purpose of abrogating. He might have forgotten, or he might not have had knowledge about that Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). We cannot say that something is abrogated unless there is certain evidence. Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said: “It is an obligation to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and judge by it unless there is certain evidence that something from it was abrogated or that the Muslims as a whole agree to act in contrast to something from it, the latter of which is impossible; as, thanks to Allaah, the Muslims have never agreed to abandon a single Sunnah, except a Sunnah that is known to be abrogated and the Muslims knew that it was abrogated. In that case, it is an obligation to act according to the new judgment which abrogated the previous judgment. As for leaving the Sunan for a statement of any person, it is not permissible, regardless of who it is.

2- Second: It is an obligation to think good of the Companions and to find excuses for them, as the Companions are known to be the most enthusiastic people in following the Sunnah and the most obedient to Allaah and His Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). If any of them said or did something that goes against the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) then there is no doubt that he has an excuse. He may not have known what the statement of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said or he may have forgotten or misinterpreted it, or some other excuse.

As for some Companions praying Sunnah prayers after the Iqaamah, as you mention, Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Mughni about this very issue after citing some Companions on the permissibility of beginning a Sunnah prayer after the Iqaamah: "Our evidence is that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “If the obligatory prayer is called, there is no prayer except the obligatory prayer.” [Muslim] Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr said with regard to this issue: “When there is disagreement, judgment goes to the Sunnah, so whoever puts forth the Sunnah as evidence shall prosper, and whoever practices it shall be saved.

Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Fat-h: “Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr and others said that when there is disagreement, judgment must go to the Sunnah, so whoever puts forth the Sunnah as evidence shall prosper. Leaving the Sunnah prayers when the Iqaamah is called and then performing it after having completed the obligatory prayer is nearer to the Sunnah. This is also supported by the fact that in the Iqaamah one says ‘Come to the prayer’ - that is, come to the prayer whose Iqaamah is being called. So the best situation is to act in accordance with this command rather than do something else, and Allaah knows best.

Based on the above, you should know that it is not permissible to initiate a Sunnah prayer after the Iqaamah, and whoever did it among the Companions, it is either because he did not know what the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said or because he believed that the judgment applies to someone who would miss prayer with the Imaam, or he had some other excuse.

For more benefit on the reasons why the Companions differed, please refer to Fatwa 84153. Refer also to Fatwa 85732 for information about everyone being prone to mistakes except the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) . Finally, refer to Fatwa 220702 about the view of Abu Haneefah regarding praying two Rak'ahs of Sunnah of Fajr if one is sure that he will not miss the congregational prayer.

Allaah Knows best.

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