QUESTION: It is said, the Companions saw God’s Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), then they believed. However we have believed without seeing him, in which case our belief is stronger. Also, there are narrations mentioning the strength of our belief, are there not?
THE ANSWER: At that time, when all ideas were opposed and hostile to the truths of Islam, the Companions believed so strongly –sometimes on only seeing the person of God’s Messenger (PBUH) and without miracles– that all the generally held ideas in the world did not shake them. Let alone doubts, they did not even cause some of them the slightest anxiety or scruple. You are comparing your belief with that of the Companions, but how can there be any comparison? For despite your seeing with the mind’s eye, not the Messenger’s (PBUH) humanity and bodily form, which was the seed of the Tuba-tree of his prophethood, but through all the lights of Islam and truths of the Qur’an, his luminous, magnificent collective personality, encompassed by a thousand miracles, you waver and fall into doubt at the word of a European philosopher. Yet due to their belief, the Companions did not waver in the face of the attacks of the entire world of unbelief and of the Christians, Jews, and philosophers? And how can you compare the intense fear of God of the Companions and their complete righteousness, which demonstrated the strength of their belief and proceeded from it, and your dull belief, which due to your extreme weakness does not impel you to perform even the obligatory practices completely, O you who make such a claim!? However, the Hadith the meaning of which is: “Those at the end of time who do not see me and believe, are more acceptable,”1 refers to particular virtues. It concerns certain special individuals. Our discussion, however, is in regard to general virtue and the majority.
SECOND QUESTION: They say that the saints and possessors of perfection abandoned the world. It even says in a Hadith: “Love of this world is the source of all error.”2 Whereas the Companions were very involved in the world. It was not abandoning the world, some of them were ahead of the civilized of that time, even. How is it that you say that even the least of such Companions was of greater worth than the greatest saint?
THE ANSWER: It has been proved decisively in the Second and Third Stopping-Places of the Thirty-Second Word that to love the face of the world which looks to the hereafter and that which looks to the Divine Names is not the cause of loss, but the means to perfection and attainment, and however far one goes in those two faces, the further one goes in worship and knowledge of God. The world of the Companions was in those two faces. They saw this world as the arable field of the hereafter, and sowed
Musnad, v, 248, 257, 264; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, iii, 41; iv, 89.
al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir, iii, 368, No: 3662.