Citing Companions as evidence
Fatwa No: 230977

Question

Assalamu Alaykum, Thanks very much for your reply for my question 2425251. You wrote: "That is the case if reason and Ijtihaad can be applied in the opinion of the companion; otherwise, it is regarded as Marfoo‘ (traceable) to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, unless it is known that that companion used to take from the books of the People of the Book." Were the scholars in consensus regarding this point or they differed in this?. Is it permissible to take Aqeedah from Mawqoof ahadith? Kindly clarify.

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.

The scholars have differed in opinion regarding this issue. They generally agreed on four sources of evidence only: the Quran, the Sunnah, consensus of the scholars (Ijmaa'), and analogy (Qiyaas).

Any source apart from these four is subject to difference of opinion in totality and detail. One such source is the statement of a Companion in all of its forms. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Rawdhat An-Naathir: “The second principle where there is difference of opinion is the uncontested statements of a Companion. It was reported that Imaam Ahmad said that the statement of a Companion is evidence which is given precedence to Qiyaas, and which specifies what is general. This is the view of Maalik, the former opinion of Ash-Shaafi‘i and the view of some Hanafi scholars. It was also reported that Ahmad implied that the statement of a Companion is not evidence. This is the view of most of the logicians and the latter opinion of Ash-Shafi‘i. It was also the preferred view of Abul-Khattaab. This opinion is based on the fact that a Companion may err or forget, and that the Companions are not infallible. How could it be perceived that someone with whom it is permissible to differ is infallible? Indeed, the Companions themselves held it permissible to differ with each other. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them did not object to those who differed with them in opinion. So, the fact that there is no evidence of their infallibility, the fact that they differed in opinion amongst themselves and the fact that they held it permissible to differ with them are three pieces of evidence (to support the latter opinion)…” [End of quote]

One of the issues where there is a difference of opinion as relates to the topic is the issue of the statement of the Companion in a matter in which there is no room for personal opinion, if the Companion is not known to take from the People of the Book. Most scholars are of the view that it is to be treated as Marfoo' (ascribed to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )). With regard to the statement of a Companion that has no room for personal opinion, Dr. Muhammad ibn Matar Az-Zahraani said in his book Ma lahu Hukm Ar-Raf’ min Aqwaal As-Sahaabah wa Af’aalihim (the sayings and acts of the Companions that are treated as Marfoo’): “The majority of the scholars of Hadeeth, Fiqh and jurisprudence are of the view that it is Marfoo’.” [End of quote]

An issue similar to the former regarding its reasoning is whether the statement of a Companion takes precedence over Qiyaas if there is a discrepancy. The scholars differed about this as well. The majority of scholars hold it to be Mawqoof and treat it as Marfoo'. Ibn An-Najjaar said in Mukhtasar At-Tahreer: “If the statement of a Companion does not agree with Qiyaas, then it is held to be Mawqoof according to Ahmad and most of his fellows, Ash-Shaafi'i, Hanafi scholars, Ibn As-Sabbaagh and Ar-Raazi... However, Abul-Khattaab and Ibn ‘Aqeel as well as most of the Shaafi‘i scholars held opposite views.” [End of quote]

Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir said in his commentary on Ibn Katheer's Al-Baa’ith Al-Hatheeth: As for some [scholars] saying that in general the Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran) of the Companions is to be treated as Marfoo’, and that if a Companion says something that has no room for personal opinion, it  is also to be treated as Marfoo’, then this is not a good generalization, because the Companions often exerted their personal judgments to interpret the Quran, so they differed and issued Fataawa according to what they understood from the generalities of the Sharee’ah as applied to subsidiary and individual issues - and many believe that this is something which has no room for opinion. Regarding the events of past nations that the Companions related, such are also not treated as Marfoo' because many of them  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them used to relate Jewish and Christian traditions for the sake of the morals, not because they believed that those stories were authentic or held it permissible to ascribe them to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Far be it from them.” [End of quote]

There are also other forms of this where the scholars differed as to whether to treat it as a statement the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Ibn Katheer discussed them in his book Al-Baa’ith Al-Hatheeth, saying: “Shaykh Abu ‘Amr discussed a Companion saying, “we used to do...” or “we used to say..." if he did not attribute it to the lifetime of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). Abu Bakr Al-Barqaani quoted his Shaykh (Abu Bakr Al-Ismaa'eeli) as saying that it is Mawqoof. An-Naysaaboori held it to be Marfoo' because there is an indication of being approved (by the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention )). Ibn As-Salah preferred the latter view… Moreover, the statement of a Companion, "we were commanded to do such and such ", or "we were forbidden from doing such and such", is a Marfoo' ascription to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) according to the scholars of Hadeeth. This is also the view of most other scholars. However, a group of scholars differed with this opinion - among whom was Abu Bakr Al-Ismaa'eeli. The same applies to the statement of a Companion: “Such and such is from the Sunnah” and the statement of Anas, "Bilaal was commanded to repeat the words of the Athaan twice, and say the Iqaamah once.” [End of quote]

In conclusion, this issue and the remainder of the details about the subject of the statement of a Companion is something that scholars have differed on.

As for taking matters of ‘Aqeedah (Islamic creed) from a Mawqoof Hadeeth, then this is much easier and more conceivable, as the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them did not differ in the general issues of ‘Aqeedah and its fundamentals, but rather only in slight minute details, such as the matter of whether the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) saw his Lord on the night of Al-Mi’raaj (ascent to the heavens). Hence, you find that the Imaams who wrote books on ‘Aqeedah frequently cite as evidence the Mawqoof sayings of the Companions.

Here, it should be pointed out that the issues of creed - outside the principal and fundamental ones, such as the details of the Last Day, the events in the grave, the resurrection, the bliss of Paradise and torment of the Fire, the signs of the Hour, the events during the end of times and other similar issues, it is possible that the Companion had taken them from Jews and Christians, in which case the guidelines mentioned in the first question about there being no room for personal opinion are to be employed.

Allaah Knows best.

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