Scholars are agreed upon the definition of Companionship by Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani: ‘A Companion is the believer who saw and heard Allah’s Messenger at least once and died as a believer’. Even though some scholars have stipulated that, in order to be ranked as a Companion, a believer should have lived in the company of Allah’s Messenger for one or even two years, the majority of the scholars regarded it as enough to have been present in the radiant atmosphere of the Messenger long enough to have derived some benefit from it.
It goes without saying that the Companions are not equal to each other in rank or greatness. Some of them believed in Allah’s Messenger at the very outset of his mission, and conversions continued until his saying farewell to the world. The Quran grades them according to precedence in belief and according to conversion before the Conquest of Makka and after it (Quran 9:100 and 57:10). The same gradation was also made by Allah’s Messenger himself. For example, he reproached Khalid bin Al-Waleed (RA) for offending Abdur-Rahman bin Awf (RA), saying: "Do not trouble my Companions!" In the same way, he frowned at Umar (RA), when he annoyed Abu Bakr (RA), and said: "Will you not leave my Companions alone? Abu Bakr believed in me at a time when all of you denied me." Abu Bakr knelt down and explained: ‘O Messenger of God! It was my fault!.'
As recorded by Tabarani and Ibn Al-Athir, Abdullah bin Masud, who was among the first to embrace Islam in Makkah and sent to Kufa as a teacher by Umar, said:
"Allah looked at the hearts of His true servants and chose Muhammad, upon him be Peace and Blessings, to send to His creatures as a Messenger. Then, He looked at the hearts of people and chose his Companions as the helpers of His religion and the ambassadors of His Prophet, upon him be Peace and Blessings.
The Prophet (SAWS) said:
"When my Companions are mentioned then withhold." [Sahih At-Tabarani]
"Whoever abuses my Companions, upon them is the curse of Allah, the angels and all the people." [Sahih At-Tabarani]
Twelve Ranks of the Companions
The Companions were divided into twelve ranks by the scholars. This division was made according to the chronological order and some groups are also included in others. It was accepted by the majority of scholars:
1. The four Rightly-Guided Caliphs, namely Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and the rest of the ten to whom Paradise was promised while alive. They are Zubair bin Al-Awwam, Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf, Talha bin Ubaidullah, Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas and Saeed bin Zad, may Allah be pleased with them all.
2. Those who believed prior to Umar’s conversion and frequently gathered together secretly in the House of Arqam to listen to Allah’s Messenger, upon him be Peace and Blessings.
3. Those who migrated to Abyssinia in the first hijrah (migration) for Allah's Sake.
4. The Helpers (Ansar) who were present at the first ceremony of taking the Oath of Allegiance to Allah’s Messsenger at Al-Aqaba.
5. The Helpers (Ansar) who took the Oath of Allegiance to the Messenger at Al-Aqaba, the following year.
6. The first Emigrants (Muhajireen) who joined Allah’s Messenger before his arrival in Madinah during the Hijrah (Emigration).
7. The Companions who participated in the Battle of Badr.
8. Those who emigrated to Madinah during the period between the Battle of Badr and the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.
9. The Companions who took the Oath of Allegiance to Allah’s Messenger under a tree during the expedition of Hudaybiyah.
10. Those who converted and emigrated to Madinah after the Treaty of Hudaybiyah.
11. Those who became Muslims after the conquest of Makkah.
12. The children who saw Allah’s Messenger either during the Conquest of Makka or during the Farewell Pilgrimage, or in any other place and on different occasions.
According to this ranking, Khalid bin Al-Waleed would come in Rank 10, since he accepted Islam after the Truce of Hudaybiyah.
Excellence of the Companions of the Prophet (SAWS)
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
"Allah's Apostle said, "A time will come upon the people, when a group of people will wage a holy war and it will be said, 'Is there amongst you anyone who has accompanied Allah's Apostle?' They will say, 'Yes.' And so victory will be bestowed on them. Then a time will come upon the people when a group of people will wage a holy war, and it will be said, "Is there amongst you anyone who has accompanied the Companions of Allah's Apostle?' They will say, 'Yes.' And so victory will be bestowed on them. Then a time will come upon the people when a group of people will wage a holy war, and it will be said, "Is there amongst you anyone who has been in the company of the Companions of the Companions of Allah's Apostle ?' They will say, 'Yes.' And victory will be bestowed on them." [Bukhari]
The Prophet said, "The best of generations is my generation, then those that come after them, then those that come after them." [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, "Do not abuse my companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to Uhud (in Allah's Cause) it would not be equal to a Mud or even a half Mud spent by one of them." [Bukhari]
The Prophet(SAWS) said:
"The Jews divided into seventy-one sects and the Christians divided into seventy-two sects. My Ummah will divide into seventy-three different sects, all of which will be in the Fire except one: Those who are on the like of what I and my Companions are on at this time." [Hasan At-Tirmidhi]
Excellence of Abu Bakr (RA)
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
"The person who has favored me most of all both with his company and wealth, is Abu Bakr. If I were to take a Khalil (close friend and protector) other than my Lord, I would have taken Abu Bakr as such, but he is my brother and my companion. All the gates of the Mosque should be closed except the gate of Abu Bakr." [Bukhari]
Narrated Ibn Umar:
"We used to compare the people as to who was better during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle . We used to regard Abu Bakr as the best, then Umar, and then Uthman ." [Bukhari]
Narrated Jubair bin Mutim:
A woman came to the Prophet who ordered her to return to him again. She said, "What if I came and did not find you?" as if she wanted to say, "If I found you dead?" The Prophet said, "If you should not find me, go to Abu Bakr." [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Darda:
"While I was sitting with the Prophet, Abu Bakr came, lifting up one corner of h is garment uncovering h is knee. The Prophet said, "Your companion has had a quarrel." Abu Bakr greeted (the Prophet ) and said, "O Allah's Apostle! There was something (i.e. quarrel) between me and the Son of Al-Khattab. I talked to him harshly and then regretted that, and requested him to forgive me, but he refused. This is why I have come to you." The Prophet said thrice, "O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you." In the meanwhile, 'Umar regretted (his refusal of Abu Bakr's excuse) and went to Abu Bakr's house and asked if Abu Bakr was there. They replied in the negative. So he came to the Prophet and greeted him, but signs of displeasure appeared on the face of the Prophet till Abu Bakr pitied ('Umar), so he knelt and said twice, "O Allah's Apostle! By Allah! I was more unjust to him (than he to me)." The Prophet said, "Allah sent me (as a Prophet) to you (people) but you said (to me), 'You are telling a lie,' while Abu Bakr said, 'He has said the truth,' and consoled me with himself and his money." He then said twice, "Won't you then give up harming my companion?" After that nobody harmed Abu Bakr." [Bukhari]
Narrated 'Amr bin Al-As:
The Prophet deputed me to read the Army of Dhat-as-Salasil. I came to him and said, "Who is the most beloved person to you?" He said, " 'Aisha." I asked, "Among the men?" He said, "Her father." I said, "Who then?" He said, "Then 'Umar bin Al-Khattab." He then named other men. [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Anybody who spends a pair of something in Allah's Cause will be called from all the gates of Paradise, "O Allah's slave! This is good.' He who is amongst those who pray will be called from the gate of the prayer (in Paradise) and he who is from the people of Jihad will be called from the gate of Jihad, and he who is from those' who give in charity (i.e. Zakat) will be called from the gate of charity, and he who is amongst those who observe fast will be called from the gate of fasting, the gate of Raiyan." Abu Bakr said, "He who is called from all those gates will need nothing," He added, "Will anyone be called from all those gates, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Yes, and I hope you will be among those, O Abu Bakr." [Bukhari]
Narrated Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiya:
I asked my father ('Ali bin Abi Talib), "Who are the best people after Allah's Apostle ?" He said, "Abu Bakr." I asked, "Who then?" He said, "Then 'Umar." I was afraid he would say "Uthman, so I said, "Then you?" He said, "I am only an ordinary person."
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
The Prophet (SAWS) said: "Gabriel came and taking me by the hand showed the gate of Paradise by which my people will enter." Abu Bakr then said: "Apostle of Allah! I wish I had been with you so that I might have looked at it." The Apostle of Allah (SAWS) then said: "You, Abu Bakr, will be the first of my people to enter Paradise." [Abu Dawud]
Excellence of Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "Among the nations before you there used to be people who were inspired (though they were not prophets). And if there is any of such a persons amongst my followers, it is 'Umar." [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Among the nation of Bani Israel who lived before you, there were men who used to be inspired with guidance though they were not prophets, and if there is any of such persons amongst my followers, it is 'Umar." [Bukhari]
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
When (the dead body of) 'Umar was put on his deathbed, the people gathered around him and invoked (Allah) and prayed for him before the body was taken away, and I was amongst them. Suddenly I felt somebody taking hold of my shoulder and found out that he was 'Ali bin Abi Talib. 'Ali invoked Allah's Mercy for 'Umar and said, "O 'Umar! You have not left behind you a person whose deeds I like to imitate and meet Allah with more than I like your deeds. By Allah! I always thought that Allah would keep you with your two companions, for very often I used to hear the Prophet saying,'I, Abu Bakr and 'Umar went (somewhere); I, Abu Bakr and 'Umar entered (somewhere); and I, Abu Bakr and 'Umar went out."' [Bukhari]
Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah:
The Prophet said, "I saw myself (in a dream) entering Paradise, and behold! I saw Ar-Rumaisa', Abu Talha's wife. I heard footsteps. I asked, Who is it? Somebody said, 'It is Bilal ' Then I saw a palace and a lady sitting in its courtyard. I asked, 'For whom is this palace?' Somebody replied, 'It is for 'Umar.' I intended to enter it and see it, but I thought of your ('Umar's) Ghira (jealousy regarding women) and gave up the attempt." 'Umar wept and said, "Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! How dare I think of my Ghira (self-respect) being offended by you?" [Bukhari]
Narrated Hamza's father:
Allah's Apostle said, "While I was sleeping, I saw myself drinking (i.e. milk), and I was so contented that I saw the milk flowing through my nails. Then I gave (the milk) to 'Umar." They (i.e. the companions of the Prophet) asked, "What do you interpret it?" He said, "Knowledge." [Bukhari]
Narrated Sad bin Abi Waqqas:
Umar bin Al-Khattab asked the permission of Allah's Apostle to see him while some Quraishi women were sitting with him, talking to him and asking him for more expenses, raising their voices above the voice of Allah's Apostle.
When 'Umar asked for the permission to enter, the women quickly put on their veils. Allah's Apostle allowed him to enter and 'Umar came in while Allah's Apostle was smiling, 'Umar said "O Allah's Apostle! May Allah always keep you smiling." The Prophet said, "These women who have been here, roused my wonder, for as soon as they heard your voice, they quickly put on their veils." 'Umar said, "O Allah's Apostle! You have more right to be feared by them than I." Then 'Umar addressed the women saying, "O enemies of yourselves! You fear me more than you do Allah's Apostle ?" They said, "Yes, for you are harsher and sterner than Allah's Apostle." Then Allah's Apostle said, "O Ibn Al-Khattab! By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Never does Satan find you going on a way, but he takes another way other than yours." [Bukhari]
We have been powerful since 'Umar embraced Islam. [Bukhari]
Ibn 'Umar asked me about some matters concerning 'Umar. He said, "Since Allah's Apostle died. I have never seen anybody more serious, hard working and generous than 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (till the end of his life)." [Bukhari]
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "While I was sleeping, the people were presented to me (in a dream). They were wearing shirts, some of which were merely covering their (chests). and some were a bit longer. 'Umar was presented before me and his shirt was so long that he was dragging it." They asked, "How have you interpreted it, O Allah's Apostle?"He said, "Religion." [Bukhari]
Narrated Ibn Umar:
During the lifetime of the Prophet we considered Abu Bakr as peerless and then 'Umar and then 'Uthman (coming next to him in superiority) and then we used not to differentiate between the companions of the Prophet . [Bukhari]
The Ten Promised Paradise
Narrated Saeed bin Zayd:
Abdur-Rahman bin Al-Akhnas said that when he was in the mosque, a man abused Ali (RA). So Saeed bin Zayd got up and said: "I bear witness to the Apostle of Allah (SAWS) that I heard him say:"Ten persons will go to Paradise: "Abu Bakr will go to Paradise, Umar will go to Paradise, Uthman will go to Paradise, Ali will go to Paradise, Talha will go to Paradise: Zubair bin Al-Awwam will go to Paradise, Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas will go to Paradise and Abdur-Rahman bin Awf will go to Paradise. If I wish, I can mention the tenth." The People asked: "Who is he?" so he kept silence. They again asked: "Who is he?" He replied: "He is Saeed ibn Zayd." He then said: "The company of one man whose face has been covered with dust by the Apostle of Allah (SAWS) is better than the actions of one of you for a whole life time even if he is granted the life-span of Noah." [Abu Dawud]
These Ten Companions are listed below, together with the dates of when they lived and died:
1. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (51 B.H-13 A.H; 573-634 C.E)
2. Umar bin Al-Khattab Al-Farooq (40 B.H-23 A.H; 584-644 C.E)
4. Ali bin Abi Talib (23 B.H- 40 A.H; 600-661 C.E)
5. Talha bin Ubaidullah (28 B.H-36 A.H; 596-656 C.E)
6. Zubair bin Al-Awwaam (28 B.H-36 A.H; 596-656 C.E)
7. Abdur-Rahman bin Awf (passed away 31 A.H/654 C.E)
8. Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas (23 B.H-55 A.H; 600-675 C.E)
9. Saeed bin Zaid (passed away 51 A.H)
10.Abu Ubaidah Aamir bin Abdullah bin Al-Jarrah.
Excellence of Khalid bin Al-Waleed (RA)
The Prophet had informed the people of the martyrdom of Zaid bin Haritha, Jafar bin Abi Talib and Abdullah bin Rawaha before the news of their death reached. The Prophet said, "Zaid took the flag (as the commander of the army) and was martyred, then Jafar took it and was martyred, and then Ibn Rawaha took it and was martyred." At that time the Prophet's eyes were shedding tears. He added, "Then the flag was taken by a Sword amongst the Swords of Allah (Khalid bin Al-Waleed) and Allah made them (i.e. the Muslims) victorious." [Bukhari]
Narrated Khalid bin Al-Walid:
"On the day of the Battle of Mu'tah, nine swords were broken in my hand, and nothing was left in my hand except a Yemenite sword of mine." [Bukhari]
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri reported there was some dispute between Khalid bin Al-Waleed and Abdur-Rahman bin Awf (RA) and Khalid (RA) abused him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (SAWS) said to Khalid (RA): "Do not abuse my Companions, do not abuse my Companions. By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, if one amongst you would have spent as much gold as Uhud, it would not amount to as much as one mudd (handful) of one of them or half of it." [Bukhari, Muslim]
The Killing of Imam Hasan (RA)
Information dispelling the fabrication that Hasan bin Ali bin Abi Talib was poisoned by his wife can be found in the article at http://www.ansar.org/english/hasan.htm