UI – Part 145 – Sahaba (Companion)
Muhammad was a leader, a commander of an army, having many followers, and few quite close. The closest were called Companions. From The Reliance of the Traveller it refers to 7 as the closest and most knowledgeable as to legalistic matters. Legalistic matters refer to the establishment of Islamic Law.
The 7 Closest Companions
Muhammad lived from 570 to 632.
Using the referenced book, the 7 Companions closest to Muhammad were:
A’isha – 612-678. She was Muhammad’s wife. He married her when she was 6 or 7 (620CE), yet she stayed with her family until age 10 or 11 when the marriage was consummated. Her father was Abu Bakr, the 1st Caliph after Muhammad died. They married about 620 (M was 50). They lived together for about 10 years, she being 20 or so when the Prophet passed. It is claimed she memorized the Quran, at least those components shared by Muhammad. Her recall however may have been different from others who also memorized the Quran. She recorded, as a scribe, important passages. Most of the Quran is thought to have been written down on paper after Muhammad died. She was widely respected. Because of her knowledge and proximity to the Prophet her opinions were sought. Her responses to questions raised, her decisions on matters of judgment, became part of the doctrine of Islamic Law. Much of this transpired after her husband died. Treatment of women was relatively objective and equal until the 3rd Caliph, Uthman, was disturbed by A’isha’s outspoken nature and ordered her ‘indoors’. She complied and aided in the accepted way for women to relate to men. Her expressions on matters of regulation for those as believers of Muhammad’s Islam continued.
She did not support Ali (the 4th Caliph), first when her father was appointed as the 1st Caliph, then later after the 3rd Caliph Uthman died which led to the first civil war (fitna). Her recollections of Muhammad’s daily activities, responses to situations and commentary became part of the Sunnah & Hadiths useful in Sharia Law.
Wives of Muhammad are referred to ‘Mothers of Believers.’
2. Zayd Ibn Thabit
Zayd Ibn Thabit – 610-660. Only slightly older than A’isha, Zayd (Zaid) became Muhammad’s personal scribe, or secretary. He recorded verses spoken by Muhammad, reading them back for confirmation. Zaid was 22 years old when Muhammad died. Most of his writing became recollections of Muhammad’s spoken words and activities. Similar to A’isha the bulk of their recall came post Muhammad’s death. As close as he was to the Prophet and known as his secretary Zaid became an authority on matters related to the Quran. He began to collect oral traditions from those associated with the Prophet during Muhammad’s life. He made notations and described as best he could the nature of the person, his thinking and the methods employed in disciplining those that may have confronted Muhammad.
He was the most active in finalizing the Quran from its many sources, working for years on the collected data. It was almost 30 years before a final version of the Quran and other offering of sayings and methods of Muhammad were fully documented. Zaid died at age 50 and may not have experience the final, final version.
It was under the direction of the 3rd Caliph Uthman (reign 644-656) that the document was virtually completed. There was more than one version so a decision had to be made. Copies that varied were burned to establish one Quran that would be the essential book of Islam. Uthman may have been the final arbiter of the chosen Quran.
Zaid also provided opinions and made decisions on matters regarding civil disputes which became part of Islamic Law.
Umar – 586 (590)-644. He was the 2nd Caliph, appointed to that post when Abu Bakr died. His reign as Caliph was 10 years (634-644). He was assassinated by a Persian. He was a leading Companion, more a contemporary than A’isha or Zaid by age alone. He spent over 17 years with the Prophet and was the commander of Muhammad’s army. He was both a political and military leader, responsible for a significant expansion of the Islamic Empire after Muhammad died. There were rebellions against Islam after M. Umar’s role, his experience at war gained alongside Muhammad at the many battles fought to establish Islam, was to crush any resistance, squash any dissent. He became judge and punisher.
Umar was startled and taken back by the serious loss of life at the Battle of Yamamah fought immediately after Muhammad died. Over 300 men who had memorized parts of the Quran died, their knowledge and recollections lost forever. He knew it was important to record Muhammad’s words and deeds. Before he became Caliph, after Muhammad’s unexpected death, he encouraged A’isha’s father and first Caliph to begin a compilation of the Quran.
Umar’s personal application of laws during his command I contend has been incorporated into Islamic Law. No documentation of Law was made prior to M’s dying, only that of the scripture of the Quran, to the extent anything was physically recorded. Resistance to dissent has been demonstrated frequently during the spread of the most fundamental and vile applications of Islam.
Umar was more feared than loved. He was strict and focused on the potential for gains, both materially and for the cause. By fighting in the name of Allah, continuing the growth and imposition of Islam on the immediate areas and the adjacent outlying territories, he became an authority, establishing a system of discipline. He appointed a group of ‘wise men’, chosen to decide on civil matters, establishing his rule-of-law. Similarly a court system was also created. Judgments became the basis for future judgments, the methods employed, the reference to materials produced from recall of the words and deeds of Muhammad led to the creation of a legalistic pattern, that which evolved into Islamic Law.
Umar was opposed to any Christian or Jew and had them expelled from Arabia. His name was Al-Farooq, the man who knows no falsehood. The Empire expanded from the initial area Mecca to Medina, to Egypt, Iraq, Iran (Persia), Syria, Palestine(Jerusalem & Jazira), to include Arabia.
4. Ibn Umar
Ibn Umar – 614-693. This was the son of Umar, noted previously. His father guided him to become an authority on the Law, established by Umar and borne from the activities of Muhammad, as well as words transcribed and recalled by many. He was a contemporary of Zaid and A’isha, 18 at the time of Muhammad’s death. His foundation was in the history of his father, knowing too the Prophet in his youth. When he was young he would mimic Muhammad, praying as Muhammad prayed, acting as Muhammad acted, and repeating what Muhammad performed as a form of reverence. He too made the effort to preserve what Muhammad said. Accuracy was important to him. He became an important figure in matters legal, influenced also by his father, yet when Uthman wanted him to become a judge (Qadi) he declined, fearful his judgments would be in error. The 3rd Caliph suggested Ibn Umar not tell others of his refusal as not to diminish the importance of the other Qadi’s and their decisions.
5. Ibn Mas’ud
Ibn Mas’ud – (est. 600)-650. Mas’ud was a good friend of Muhammad. He was a young sheep herder when he first met the Prophet. He converted to Islam and was invited to live within Muhammad’s household. He was learned and had recall of Muhammad’s speeches and comments made to him and to others. Knowing the regard the Prophet had for him he was given administrative duties in the Caliphate under Umar and Uthman. An involvement with legal decisions and the recording thereof became an aspect of his duties. Many declarative statements, fatwa’s, have been attributed to Mas’ud. He was considered one of the best ‘reciters’ of the Quran.
It has been written he often expressed he had a most sinful nature.
6. Ibn Abbas
Ibn Abbas – 618-687. He was a young cousin of Muhammad. He was 14 when the Prophet died. Close to Muhammad, he became learned in the Quran, memorizing as much as he could from what was relayed to him by Muhammad, as well as benefitting from teaching Muhammad conducted with those around him. He became an expert in interpreting the Quran (tafsir). He was part of the young council that surrounded the Prophet, the likes of A’isha, Ibn Umar, and Zaid. He assisted in gathering words from other companions, the lesser companions (as it were). He made the effort to repeat to several what he recorded from one to gain confirmation in an effort to be as correct as possible. He became a teacher, as an example of Muhammad, to others in the community, his home as a university on Islam.
He became an advisor to Umar on issues relative to Muhammad and what he might do or say in a given circumstance. His commentary influenced the Law.
He supported the 4th Caliph Ali.
Ali – 598-661. Ali was Abu Talib’s son, a cousin of Muhammad and childhood companion, although much younger, as brothers raised in the same household. Close to M when he was married to Khadija (Ali was born after their marriage) he was aware of Muhammad’s revelation in 611. He became one of the 1st converts, as did A’isha’s father. He married Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah. He was born in Mecca, some claim in the Kaaba. He led armies for Muhammad, understood the cause, benefitted by the rewards and enjoyed the stature and power gained. He not only fought in wars such as the Battles of Badr, Uhud, Kaybar and Hunayan, he was a raider of caravans in the early stages of development and retribution by Muhammad against the Meccans. Wherever there were enemies he was prepared to do battle. When Muhammad led the army to conquer Mecca in 630, it was Ali that entered the Kaaba to destroy the idols of the many gods represented there. When Abu Bakr was Caliph Ali fought ‘apostasy wars’ to insure believers stayed in line.
Ali was responsible for Uthman’s murder.
Regarded by both Sunni and Shia, Ali’s importance to Islam is great. The Sunni’s see him as the 4th and final of the rightly guided Caliph’s with a direct line to Muhammad. The Shia regard Ali as the 1st Imam, the descendents of Ali are the ‘right’ successors of the house of Islam. He is also held high in Sufism.
The 7 Companions listed by The Reliance of the Traveller are noted more for their roles in establishing Islamic Law and the pattern, practice, to create the Laws from the scholars of Islam, not just from the words, sayings and actions of Muhammad alone. Although not of the 7 there is Hafsah – 609-666, a wife of Muhammad, one of the Mother of Believers (a reference to the wives of Muhammad), who also is said to have memorized the Quran. They married in 625CE (3AH). She was as young as A’isha and a contemporary of Zaid. She was 23 when Muhammad died, he was 62. Her copy of the Quran was used in compiling the final. Her name referred to her as Daughter of a Lion. She was the daughter of Umar.
What is the meaning of the Companions noted and their relationship with Islam past, present and future? Many of the closest of Companions were young, having historically a great influence on the establishment of Islamic Law. 4 of the 7 were under 22 at the time Muhammad passed away. A’isha, Zaid, Ibn Umar, and Ibn Abbas, were respectively 20, 22, 18, and 14. Hafsah was 23. Mas’ud was 32. Ali was 34. Muhammad was 62. Umar, the military leader, was 46, the oldest of the 7 noted.
The greatest influence on Islamic Law(s) appears to not be Muhammad, but in addition to the 7 Companions, their opinions expressed, their recording of what they gained from Muhammad as to the context of the Quran, are the Caliphs (the first 3 in particular) and the subsequent scholars or ulema of Islam. This all transpired after Muhammad was dead. The Companions noted for the most part were quite young. They were influenced by Muhammad. Having lived in his household for many years, they were lectured to, met with, communicated with each other, shared Muhammad’s views, ate with him, some slept with him, experienced his habits, knew of his exploits, and observed his idiosyncrasies. Young, most vulnerable and impressionable, a few become entranced by this handsome powerful man, the self-proclaimed prophet, with whom they had the pleasure to reside. Many were related or at least close from birth. An incestuous relationship by modern day standards, possibly, the Companions mentioned were closest to the heartbeat of this leader.
We are not judging Islamic Law, just looking into its history, rationale, sources, potential for outside influences, and the relationship to Muhammad and Allah in its formation. My apologies as we progress with further blogs on related topics. Opinions or criticism of Islam that may appear, or be suggested, unless expressly mentioned otherwise, are my own. The matter of Sharia is very important to Islam. Was it established by God, Allah, or by man? I ask that question and research materials that may lead to a conclusion. Feedback is appreciated.
We pray for a universal understanding of our world, its creator, the God of the Universe, and the laws that are foundational for all peoples. Common law is to be written for the benefit of each individual, male or female, rich or poor, in authority or not. The prior blog – 144 – speaks of the Constitution, the Bible and America. Reflect on the laws formed from America’s Constitution and compare them to Islamic Law. Where do you find the greatest consideration for all mankind?
The Sahaba began a process that led to a scholarly exercise to write laws commendable to men in authority, to enhance their ability to keep their people in line and create followers. Muhammad may have been the inspiration, yet nothing was contemplated by him as such during his lifetime. What became Islamic Law today has evolved over hundreds of years. It incorporates the logic, thinking, needs and desires of close Companions, Caliphs, Islamic scholars, Imams, ulema and more from the corridors of Islamic scholarship. Where there is Islamic Law, the common good of all the people is not considered.
Grace and Peace.