This is a response to the article by RevisitingtheSalaf.org, written on the 17th of December, 2011, entitled: Companion Turns Christian, which can be found here.
The author of RevisitingtheSalaf (who will be referred to as RTS from now on), attacks the status of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) by quoting passages about the life of Rabee’a bin Umaya, who met the Prophet (pbuh) but died as a Christian.
RTS quotes Ibn Hajar:
لكان عده في الصحابة صوابا لكن ورد أنه ارتد في زمن عمر
He then translated it as:
“Although there is no doubting that he was a Sahabi, it is also reported that he apostatized during the reign of Umar”
This is an inaccurate translation. Firstly, the whole line is as follows:
فلو لم يرد في أمره إلا هذا لكان عده في الصحابة صوابا لكن ورد أنه ارتد في زمن عمر
Secondly, the correct translation is, “If nothing more has been included about him other than this, then his inclusion among the companions would have been correct, however, it has been stated that he apostatized during the reign of Omar.”
In other words, the first problem here, is that RTS has mistranslated the passage in order to have us assume that Rabee’a is considered as a companion, when in reality, Ibn Hajar is stating the exact opposite, and is denying that he should be considered one of them.
This is more clear when we return to the introduction of Al-Isaba by Ibn Hajar, where he says: The most correct (in the definition of a ‘companion’) that I’ve stumbled upon is that he is: Whoever met the Prophet (pbuh), believed in him, and died upon Islam. (Al-Isaba 1/7, Dar Al-Ma’rifah, 2004, 1st edition)
Then, on the next page, Ibn Hajar adds: This excludes, by saying “died upon Islam”, those that met him, believed in him, and then apostatized, Allah forbid, and there are a few cases of those. Like Ubaidullah bin Jahsh… Abdullah bin Khatal… and Rabee’a bin Umaya bin Khalaf, which is what I’m going to explain under his biography in the fourth section from the letter: Raa. (Al-Isaba 1/8, Dar Al-Ma’rifah, 2004, 1st edition)
It should also be noted, that by referring back to page 7, that Ibn Hajar has included a “fourth section” for those that have been included as companions by accident or by mistake, so this makes it more clear that Rabee’a is not to be considered a companion.
In the end, RTS leaves us off with a final question. He asks:
For those who claim the belief ‘All The Companions Were Righteous’, would it be logical to embrace his actions and follow him to his apostasy?. So why do the present day so called ‘ahl Sunnah’ reject the idea that companions turned apostates after the Prophet (saw)?.
As we’ve concluded above, the scholars of Ahlulsunnah did not consider those that die out of the fold of Islam as companions. So, no, it wouldn’t make sense to follow this man into apostasy when he does not hold the status of Suhba(Companionship). Furthermore, Ahlulsunnah reject the idea that the companions apostatized as a whole simply because of the lack of evidence that they have done so. As we’ve shown in the quotes above, scholars of Ahlulsunnah, like Ibn Hajar were very clear in exposing those that have turned their backs upon Islam, due to the evidences that were provided in authentic narrations. However, the burden of proof lies upon the Shias to prove that the companions, as a whole, apostatized, and not the other way around, since there is an agreement among both sects that they were all for a period of time were Muslims.