The Sahabah (RA) and Their Relationship to the Qur’an
By: Nadira Ansari
It is narrated by Uthman (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said, “The best of you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.” The Sahabah (RA) followed this hadith and spent their whole lives learning, practicing, and preaching the Qur’an.
Allah describes the purpose of sending the Prophet (SAW) in Surah Jumua’, Ayah 2: “It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom― although they had been, before, in manifest error.” Jibraeel (AS) brought the message of Allah to the Prophet (SAW), and the Prophet (SAW) shared it with his companions, and purified their souls. The prophet then solidified the eman in their hearts. This is the reason that Uthman ibn ‘Affan, Abdullah ibn Mas’ood and the like would read 10 ayaat, memorize them and then practice upon them. Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, a great scholar, was known to have taken 8 years in completing Surah Al-Baqarah. These Sahabah (RA) had a purity of intention, an innate desire to please Allah, and follow Muhammad (SAW), and that is why they became the most knowledgeable generation.the prophet muhammad(sas)said”the best generation is my time and then those who will come after and follow them and then those and those who will come after and follow them .”
The Sahabah (RA) witnessed the entire revelation. Allah sent guidance before an instance and sometimes after an instance as well. For example, when the battle of Badr commenced some ayahs regarding it were revealed immediately. The Sahabah’s understanding of the ayah was greater than just its literal meaning. In another example, Surah Fatah was revealed immediately after the treaty of Hudaybiyah. The battle of Badr is mentioned in Surah Anfal and the battle of Uhud is mentioned in Surah Al-e-Imran.
The Sahabah (RA) found great pleasure in accompanying the prophet and learning the Qur’an from him so much so that they would take shifts to spend time with him. Whatever one learned he would tell the other in the evening. Each time the Qur’an was revealed the Prophet (SAW) would explain it to them. For example, upon revalation of Surah Al-Kausar, the sahabah asked, “What is al-kausar?”. He responded with, “This is the river of Jannah which will be granted to me.” Similarly .the ayah was revealed”wal husna wa ziyadah”The Sahabah (RA) said, “What is ziyadah?” The Prophet (SAW) replied “The ability to see Allah.” The books of tafsir are filled with explanations such as these. In the Qur’an, there are multiple times when the “establishment of prayer” is mentioned. The way in which it should be established is mentioned in great detail by the Prophet (SAW). From the amount of prayers to the amount of raka’ daily to what should be read during each raka’. He said, “Pray as you have seen me pray”. Prophet (SAW) did not only supply them with knowledge, but also the way in which it should be practiced. Zakat, and Hajj are taught in the same way.
Syed Qutb says, “The sahabah were scholars of the knowledge of the Qur’an.”
the ayah revealed”wa kaanu yusaarioona fil khayraat “(they used to compete in good deeds”.
There are many instances in which it is known that the Umar (RA) and Abu Bakr (RA) used to compete for getting the most reward. It was of the Prophet’s practice that he used to sit in the masjid with the Sahabah (RA) and talk with them after fajr, even interpret dreams. The Prophet (SAW) would ask them, “Which one of you has donated to charity today?” So the Sahabah (RA) would reply “Our day has only just begun we have not done anything yet.” But, Abu Bakr would say, “There was a man who crossed my path this morning on the way to prayer, I gave him charity.” On another day, he would ask, “which one of you has visited the sick today?” So the sahabah would reply “We are coming to see you directly, we have not done anything yet.” But, Abu Bakr would say, “Abdul-Rahman ibn Auf was sick. So I visited him on the way here.” He would then ask them, “Has anyone partaken in the janazah today?” The sahabah would reply, “No we came to see you first.” Ali (RA) states that Abu Bakr would always have a reply to the Prophet’s questions. He would beat all of the Sahabah. The prophet said to the Sahabah, “Whoever completes all these tasks will enter Jannah.” Therefore, it is understood that the Sahabah would also learn practical ways to earn Allah’s reward from the Prophet (SAW). This is why they became known as the most knowledgeable generation.
The impact of the Qur’an on the Sahabah (RA) was very strong.
Abu Bakr (RA) decided to leave Makkah because of the hardship and violence inflicted upon him due to his propogation of Islam. On his journey to abysiniah he met Ibn Daghna,a Polythiest leader who found it necessary that Abu Bakr must stay in Makkah because he was a noble leader who was very helpful to the community. Each house of Makkah was indebted to him in some way. Ibn Daghna vowed to keep Abu Bakr under his security and promised him a safe home in which he must always stay. In this way, he was prevented from preaching the word of Allah. Aisha (RA) states that Abu Bakr made a mosque in the yard of his safe home. He was described to be a soft-hearted man who read Qur’an with great sincerity and whose eyes welled up tears. The nearby children, youth, and women would stand against his wall and listen to him read. When the crowds increased and people took great interest in him, ibn Daghna reminded him that the only reason he was allowed to stay was if he did not preach. So Abu Bakr replied, “For me, the security of Allah is enough. You can take yours back.” And he continued his mission. It causes one to think, how can our recitation of the Qur’an cause other’s hearts to soften if our recitation does not affect ourselves.
There was an impact of the Qur’an on the Sahabiyyah as well. When Umar (RA) was still a kafir and heard that his brother-in-law, Saeed ibn Zaid, accepted Islam he began to beat him violently. Umar’s sister came to rescue her husband and he pushed her as well. Her head became injured and began to bleed. In a strong voice she proclaimed, “No matter what you do, we will never leave the religion of Allah!” Despite the risk of being beaten to death she remained resilient in her stance. Shortly thereafter, Umar (RA) was affected by his sister’s words and came to regret his actions. He then inquired upon what they were reading. It was the verses of Surah Ta-Ha. Upon hearing them, the doors of his heart opened. The clarity, purity, and influence of the language of Qur’an was astounding to him. It is this Umar (RA) that became the second caliph of Islam. During his caliphate, all of the surrounding countries were conquered and, they too, became Muslim. Umar’s (RA) actions are reflective of the ayah 9, Surah As-Saff: “It is He Who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and Religion of Truth, that he may proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest it.” Syria, Palestine, and Egypt all became Islamic countries. Both empires of that time, Qaiser and Kisra, fell. Allah’s religion overcame all. Surah As-Saff, ayah 4: “Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.” Many of the Sahabah (RA) acted upon this ayah, most notably Amr ibn al-Aas, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah, khalid bin waleed and Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqas. We must realize the reason that we are not able to advance in such a way, and that is because these people were full of sincerity, had pure intentions and whose priority was to please Allah and follow Muhammad (SAW). Unlike ourselves, we justify our wrong beliefs by changing the meaning of the Qur’an and creating new sects of Islam which fulfill our needs.
The recitation of the Qur’an was the favorite past time of the Sahabah (RA).
It is said by Abu Usman ibn Nahdi, “I stayed as a guest in Abu Huraira’s home for 7 days. Each night Abu Hurayrah would pray Qiyam, read Qur’an and then sleep. Then he would wake his wife, who would pray Qiyam, read Qur’an and then sleep. She would then wake her servant, who would do the same. All night their home would be echoing with the sounds of Qur’an.” It is troubling to recognize that we stay awake late nights, but how many of us have homes which echo with the sound of Qur’an? In fact, it is worse that we spend the majority of our nights doing that which is unlawful and our homes echo with the sound of music instead.
The relationship of Sahabah with the Qur’an was impenetrable no matter if they were traveling or stationary; in peace or at war.
They always kept themselves busy in reading the Qur’an. It is narrated by Jaabir (RA), “The Prophet (SAW) returned from the battle of Zaat-ul-Riqa and stopped to rest at night.he ask the sahabah, “Which of you will guard us tonight?”. Two sahabahs replied, one Ansari and one Muhaajir. While the army slept.while on guard guard agreed that one will guard first half of the night and the other will do the later part . While on duty he began to pray. He started Surah al-Kahf. An enemy spotted him standing still and shot an arrow perfectly into his body. The guard pulled the arrow from his flesh and resumed prayer. The second arrow hit him, and he did the same. Upon being hit by the third arrow and removing it, he lost a lot of blood. He stopped his prayer and woke his companion. His companion shrieked and questioned as to why he did not wake him any sooner. The guard replied, ‘I was reading Surah Al-Kahf and did not desire to leave it incomplete. In the name of Allah, I would have lost my life but would not leave without finishing the Surah. The only reason I stopped was I feared losing my stand as a guard and being unable to fulfill my duty.’” Glory be to Allah, what a love for the Qur’an! It is unfortunate we choose short suras while we are praying. we stop our daily recitation for almost any ordinary task.
The Sahabiyyah (RA) practiced the Qur’an with great devotion.
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah that ye may attain Bliss.” Upon revalation of Surah al-Nur, ayah 31 at night, the Sahabah went straight to their homes and shared it with their families. The next day in fajr prayer, Aisha (RA) states there was not one woman who was not covered by a sheet.
Similarly, during the time of Umar (RA) when the amount of dowry was increased and marriage became a difficulty, then he announced, “After today, no mahr will surpass more than 400 dirham.” One woman stood tall and proclaimed, “We have heard your statement. But we have also read the verse in the Qur’an (Surah al-Nisa, ayah 20): ‘Even if ye had given the latter a whole treasure for dower take not the least bit of it back.’ Allah did not command against giving a large amount, but he has prohibited from taking it back.” Upon hearing this verse, Umar (RA) took back his proclamation. From those who ruled based on the Qur’an, there is no comparison to Umar (RA). From those women who know their rights, there is no comparison to the women of the first generation of Islam.
May Allah increase the love of the Qur’an in our hearts, and allow us to follow it with the dedication and passion of the sahabah.