An Outline of the History of Restriction on Ijtihad
Say: 'Spend willingly, or unwillingly, it shall not be accepted from you; you are surely a transgressing people.' And naught prevents that their expendings should be accepted from them, but that they believe not in God and His Messenger, and perform not the prayer save lazily, and that they spend not but reluctantly. (9: 53-54)
These are some of the many verses revealed concerning some Sahabah and one rarely finds a surah in which God has not referred to them in some verse or verses. Therefore, is it justified to disregard these explicit Qur'anic verses and hold on to the concept of the 'adalah of all the Sahabah?
It is often said that such verses have been revealed concerning the hypocrites. But have the hypocrites been distinguished from the other Sahabah, isolated, and identified for all so that one is not misled concerning any of them? If not, then why should it be inappropriate to apply to them the criteria of ascertaining 'adalah (jarh and ta'dil)?
Fittingly does Mahmud Abu Riyyah observe in his book Adwa' 'ala al-sunnat al-Muhammadiyyah (5th edition), p. 350, wherein he says: "If the Companionship of those like Bishr ibn Marwan-on the assumption of its being factual-or that of al-Walid, were of any avail, it would imply that no act except apostasy is deterimental by the side of Companionship, as if Companionship were something greater than faith (iman). Such an opinion would be more extreme than the creed of Maqatil and his followers from among the Murji'ah. Moreover, what is to be done with such traditions as ('You do not know what mischief they caused after you'), which are mutawatir as to their meaning, and it may even be validly claimed that some of them are mutawatir in their wording. Those who claim to follow the Sunnah ascribe Companionship to someone or affirm it of him without any evidence, and then draw from it such conclusions as can be seen and base their religion on it. Has not God said, (`if a transgressor comes to you with a riding, ascertain') about someone whose Companionship is certain and whose state has always been obvious despite his being a Companion? Further, among them were those who drank wine and committed other countless acts, which are not mentioned for the respect of the Prophet, may peace and God's benedictions be upon him, unless necessitated by some religious expediency. And the greatest of expediencies is involved when something pertaining to religion is derived from a tradition narrated by Marwan, al-Walid, and others, which is the greatest betrayal of the religion of God and opposition to the explicit import of the noble verse. Any resentment of such an action does not imply the rejection of all the Companions, but rather an affirmation of their purity. So beware, do not be deceived!"
For further details, see Adwa 'ala al-sunnat al-Muhammadiyyah, p. 339 ff., and Dirasat fi al-hadith wa al-muhaddithin by Hashim Ma`ruf al-Husayni, p. 71.
. The tradition ('My Companions are like the stars'), as expressly stated by several eminent scholars, is a forgery. Ibn al-Qayyim considers it da'if and a forgery (A'lam al-muqi'in, ii, 223).
Al-Ghazali, in al-Mustasfa, observes: "Some people claim that their position (i.e. of the Companions) is similar to that of others regarding the necessity of a scrutiny. Others say that their initial condition was 'adalah until the occurrence of civil war and hostilities, whence their state changed and there was bloodshed, and hence there is a need for scrutiny. Those who believe in the 'adalah of all the Sahabah base their claim on the saying of the Prophet 'My Companions are like the stars, whoever you follow you will be guided' and according to another version . . . as ('whoever's statements you take... ). But this tradition is not sahih and is said to be fabricated"
`Allamah Sayyid Hamid Husayn al-Lakhnawi (1246-1306/1830-1888), an Indian scholar, as pointed out by the author himself in the text, has conducted extensive research on this tradition in his encyclopaedic work `Abaqat al-anwar f i imamat al A'immal al-Athar, which he wrote as a refutation of the chapter on Imamate of Shah `Abd al- Aziz al-Dehlawi's book al-Tuhfat al-Ithna 'Ashariyyah, in which he had disputed some traditions that prove the Imamate of Amir al-Muminin 'Ali, may peace be upon him. There he has established the tawatur of each one of the traditions in several large volumes.
. The book has a number of prints and the one cited in references is the Bulaq edition in two volumes, also printed by offset in Baghdad.