Fiqh (Jurisprudence) of following the Athar (Part 1)

Praises are all due to Allah, the Most High and the Most Wise. We ask Allah to bestow his blessings on Muhammad (ﷺ).The most correct etiquette for a seeker of knowledge is to avoid taking a contrary opinion which is isolated from the understanding of the Sahabah. Allah says: And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination[1] The Most Merciful warns that choosing a path other than the Messenger and His companions lands a person in Hell. Who are the best believers after the Prophet (ﷺ)? Who witnessed revelations descend? Why not learn some basic guiding principles for their speech and actions. Seeking Allah’s assistance I collected some details about the Sahabahs’ narration and titled this article, “Fiqah of Following the Athar”  


In order to have an accurate understanding of this topic we need to first concentrate on the meaning of the title. “Fiqah of following the Athar”. Fiqah in the linguistically meaning refers to comprehension, however here I am using the technical Islamic term for the word which is: Knowledge of the Islamic verdicts related to belief or actions and  then deeds based on them.[2]

Next the word Athar is something that remains, but the technical Islamic expression for the word is: anything narrated on the Prophet (ﷺ) or His companions (may Allah be pleased with them). This is the definition for the majority of the scholars of hadith as cited by Imam An-Nawawi. The Scholars in Khurasan consider the word Athar to be used only when talking about the narrations of the companions and Khabar to refer to anything narrated on the Prophet (ﷺ).[3]

In this article we will use the word Athar for the narrations of the companions (radi Allahu anhum). So the topic for discussion means: Having a familiarity for the Islamic verdicts about belief and deeds from the Sahabah, and thus acting by those verdicts.

The status of the companions

The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) are those people who meet him, believed in him and died as Muslims, even if they apostate and then returned to Islam before their death. Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ)companions are the best nation.[4] Allah has praised the Sahabah, “And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.”[5]

The Importance of the Sahabahs’ Athar to understand the Shariah;

The Sahabah understood the meanings of the Prophet’s speech and followed his actions. The Prophet’s companions are the best generation for the Muslims to learn from. They learned directly from the Prophet .The Sahabah understood all the fundamental principles of this deen. Whenever there was a possible misunderstanding or they required extra clarity they asked the Prophet directly or other companions.[6]

The recording of their narrations

Allah the Most Wise said: “Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur’an) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).”[7] This verse serves as a promise from Allah that revelation will remain unharmed and whenever innovation appears it will be rebuked. A real blessing for this nation is the preservation of the Isnad, unlike the previous nations. Muslims have texts for the Prophet’s speech, action, approval, disapproval, description and character. The task to report these narrations was taken up by his companions. Now it didn’t stop there, and the speech, actions, approval and disapproval for his companions has also been recorded. The wisdom behind this action comes from the Prophet’s words, “The Muslims will split into 73 groups and all them will go to Hell, except 1. The companions asked him: Who are the Muslims saved from Hell? , He replied: Those who practice Islam like me and my companions”.[8]

After we hear such a strong praise from Allah and His messenger we should be easily persuaded to want to read the Seerah of the Prophet and His companions; in order to know how they lived and worshipped Allah. The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) are all trustworthy and reliable, so there is no reason to search about their integrity. Therefore whenever scholars of hadith begin to check the Isnad they begin with the Tabee’oon, then those who succeeded them and so on.[9]

Since there is value in the Athar of the companions the Muhaddithoon collected them in their books; Imam Malik in his Muwatta, Abdur Razak in the Musnaf, Ibn Abi Shaybah in the Musnaf, Saeed ibn Mansour in his Sunnan and Ibn Hazm in Al-Muhallah. These books are among the most noted with Athar of the Sahabah (Radi Allahu anhum), but there are many more which can’t be mentioned here due to their exceeding numbers.

The Athar of the Sahabah found within these books are called, “Mawqoof”

The Status of the Athar of the Sahabah

Allah says: Allaah knows best with whom to place His Message”[10]

The era of the Shabah is a golden one. Imam Malik said : Whatever wasn’t considered part of the religion of during the period Prophet and His companions can’t be considered part of the religion today.”[11]

Hudhayfah said: “Every act of worship the companions didn’t do, then you must avoid it.”[12]

Imam Az-Zanjani (471H) said in Ar-Raa-iyah[13]

Whatever wasn’t a common practice during their era, Then someone comes after them and makes it practice, is rejected then rebuked.

Shaykh Abdul Razaq Al-Badr (may Allah preserve him) said: This line of poetry means any act of worship that wasn’t usual during the time of the companions can’t be considered a part of Islam.[14]

As a result of this principle agreed on by the Ahlus Sunnah Imam Ahmed said:

“The Fundamental principles of the Sunnah with us; Sticking to what the companions of Allah’s Messenger did and following their examples as a model to be followed.”[15]

Al-Alamah Abdul Aziz Ar-Rajhi (may Allah preserve him) said: “ This means we follow the companions by doing  what they did and saying the same thing they said and avoiding whatever they avoided.[16]

Scholar’s interaction with the Athar of the Sahabah

This nation divided over the companions and their level. The Rafidah hate and curse plus consider all of the Prophet’s Sahabah disbelievers except a few. The small number of among them they accept are Salman Al-Farasi, Ammar ibn Yasar, and Abi Dhaar Al-Ghafari. In contrast the Khawarij consider the Prophet’s household, in particular Ali ibn Abi Talib disbelievers.[17]

Ahlus Sunnah are the middle course between those two groups. They hold a high opinion and respect for the companions. The accept the order for the four rightly guided Caliphs; Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman , then Ali(Radi Allahu anhum).  If these 4 Imams agree on an issue of Fiqh but there are other companions who differed with them, then their position would be considered to be the closet to the truth, but not a PROOF. Placing these four caliphs as a proof in this instance would make them infallible.

Without a doubt, when Abu Bakr and Umar both agree on something it carries strong weight; as the Prophet (ﷺ) “If you obey Abu Bakr and Umar, then you will be guided.”[18] And “Follow Abu Bakr and Umar after I die.”[19]

Nevertheless, both of these noble companions’ speech or actions aren’t a proof if there is a contradiction.[20]

Likewise the speech and action of the Prophet’s Household isn’t counted as evidence.[21] If their speech agrees with the Quran& the Sunnah then its accepted, otherwise it’s rejected.

Scholars rely on the Athar for Issues of Fiqh and Aqeedah.

Scholars of Fiqh and Hadith value the Athar for issues of Fiqh and Aqeedah. When it comes to Fiqh there are some guidelines the scholars hold. For example; If and when a companion said: “We were ordered, We were prohibited from, We were allowed to…”, then these words carry the rank of being attributed to the Prophet (ﷺ).

In other words, the Prophet (ﷺ) is one who commanded his companions during his lifetime. Moreover, if the companions said: “From the Sunnah is…” then this also is connected to the Prophet (ﷺ); as they are only referring to His Sunnah. Furthermore, when the Sahabah said: “We used to do this or that during the time of the Prophet (ﷺ), in that case this and with all of the previous words are proofs and are directly related to the Prophet (ﷺ) although, he isn’t mentioned. The technical Islamic term for these phrases are, “  Marfu’ Hukm”[22]


Islam is preserved by Allah through the Quran and the authentic texts of the Sunnah and the Athar. The companions of the Prophet served Islam with the life. For that reason loving them is the religion, faith and piety, but hating them is kufr, hypocrisy and misguidance. Returning to the Athar of the companions protects our comprehension, helps our intellectual capacity for issues of Aqeedah, Fiqh and Tafsir. Their Fatawa contain what they heard from the Prophet, or from other companions  who heard it from the Rasul (ﷺ). In consequence the speech of the companions is proof whenever disagreement from other the Quran, Sunnah or other companions is non-existent. Whenever there is a difference between the companions in issues of Fiqh then it is a must to take the strongest view. This is only acceptable when their speech and actions don’t oppose the texts based on their intellectual deduction. And when their logic goes against the texts they are excused. May Allah be pleased with all of the Sahabah.[23]

Prepared by the one in need of Allah’s Mercy,

Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle Sr (May Allah protect him) – Phd Student (Hadith & its Sciences)


[1] Quran: An-Nisa’-115

[2] Shaykh Ahmad An-Najjar, Sharhul Waraqat , pg 26

[3] Refer to Fathul Maghith (1/105), Tadreeb Ar-Rawee(1/43) Qawa’id fi Ulumil Hadeeth (pg 25-26)

[4] Al-Alamah Abdul Aziz Ar-Rajhi, Sharus Usul As-Sunnah( pg 19-20)

[5] Quran : At-Taubah: 100

[6] Refer to Majmu 9/200

[7] Quran : Al-Hijr:9

[8] Abu Dawud (5496), At-Tirmithi (2641) on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr (radi Allahu anhu) graded as being Hasan by shaykh Al-Albani  in Mishkah (171)

[9] Al-Alamah Ar-Rajhi , pg 20

[10] Quran : al-An’aam 6:124

[11] Al-‘Itasam Ash-Shatabi 1/28

[12] Al-Lalakaa’e, Sharh Usul (1/101)

[13] Sa’d ibn Ali Abu Qassim Az-Zanjani, Az-Zanjani is a place located in Azerbaijan. He was born in 380 H.He died in Mecca and heard from numerous scholars. He learned from Muhammad ibn Al-Fadl, Muhammad ibn Abi Ubayd, and some of his students were Muhammad ibn Tahir, Abul Fadl Al-Maqdasi, Abu Bakr Al-Khateeb and As-Sam’ani. He authored numerous books in Aqeedah and Fiqh. Ibn Jawzi said he was an Imam and Hafith known to be steadfast in his obedience to Allah. His Aqeedah was Salafy. Explanation of Manthumma Ar-Raa-iyah

[14] Shaykh Abdur Razaq , Explanation of Manthumma Ar-Raa-iyah page 70

[15] Imam Ahmed, Usul As-Sunnah.

[16] Ar-Rajhi , pg 21

[17] Sharhu Al-Qaseedahti Ad-Daaliyah, byAl-Alamah Abdur Rahman Al-Barrak, pg 98-98

[18] Muslim # 281

[19] At-Tirmithi # 3662. Graded as being Hasan by Imam at-Tirmithi

[20] Sharuh Mukhtsar Al-Harir, by Al-Uthaymee

[21] His household includeds: Ali, Fatimah, Hasan and Hussain. This is who people refer to when they mention his household, but his wives are also included.

[22] Refer to Ikthsar ulumul Hadith, by Ibn Kathir

[23] Manthumma Usul-Al-Fiqh wa Qawa’id, by Al-Uthaymeen, pg 184.


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