The Muslim nation is always charged up about respecting the Sahabah (companions) and defending their position, often even in the most indefensible situations.
A point that needs highlighting is that defense and respect of Sahabah comes much later, let us first see if the respect and authority of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was given due regard by the Sahabah.
A Sahabi is a companion and a companion is called as such when he is in the company of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If the companion keeps fleeing from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) at critical junctures in his life time (in battles and from the Friday Sermon) and after the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) demise by abandoning his funeral, does he still qualify to be called a companion? This would be like a person who flees from the battle of Badr, yet calls himself Badri, on a whim. Would Muslims allow that? Hence the demand of the Muslim majority to respect and defend all the Sahabah is based on a whim, even when many Sahabah abandoned Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) at the drop of a hat.
Here is what eminent Shia scholar Sayyid Ibn Taoos (r.a.) exp. 664 AH says to his son about how the Sahabah abandoned the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) funeral while in a haste to usurp caliphate:
May Allah keep His Mercy and Grace away from the people who abandoned the corpse of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and were engrossed in choosing the caliph, whose basis was in prophethood and messengership of prophet (s.a.w.a.). They did this only to deprive his Ahle Bait of leadership.
O my son! By Allah! I do not understand what humanity, intellect, manliness, conscience and companionship these people had after the numerous obligations and compassion showered upon them by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)!
How rightly Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) had said:
By Allah! Had it been possible for the nation to seek kingship without associating with prophethood of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), they would most certainly have turned away from his prophethood.
Sayyid Ibn Taoos (r.a.) continues on how the Sahabah showed no respect and regard whatsoever for the beloved Ahle Bait (a.s.) of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in their hunger for rulership:
Consider a prophet who rescues mankind from poverty, disgrace and loss and guides them towards success in this world and the hereafter, and Allah (swt) bestows him with victory through his prophethood upon cities that were under oppression. Then when the prophet passes away and leaves behind his only daughter among the people, after informing that she is the mistress of entire womenfolk, and that daughter has two sons less than seven years old or thereabouts, then is it appropriate that the reward for this prophet or the ‘one in authority’ should be such that fire should be arranged to burn his two sons and their mother, when that daughter and her sons are the soul and life of that prophet?
The first ruler did not suffice with usurping caliphate. Rather he sent the second one to the house of your father (Ali a.s.) and mother (Fatima s.a.) while Abbas (Ibn Abdil Muttalib) and a group of men from Bani Hashim were with them. They were mourning the death of your grandfather Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and were lamenting this heart-rending calamity (matam).
The second one ordered that if they did not come out of the house to pledge allegiance they would be burnt. This has been quoted by the author of Al-Iqd al-Farid (by Ibn Abd Rabbih exp. 328 A.H.) in the fourth volume of his book as also by a group of scholars of the Ahle Sunnah who are not accused of dishonesty.*
And the similarity of this act (of burning the house of Fatima s.a.), as far as I know, has not been committed by any ruler known for his tyranny and brutality before the second one or after him with regards to the (treatment of) prophets and their vicegerents. Rather even non-Muslim kings have not committed such an act that they should dispatch a group to the one who delays swearing allegiance to him so as to burn them, apart from threat, murder and beatings.
• Kashf al-Muhajjah p 120-126
• Bait al-Ahzan p 96
And this is after the benevolent Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had given glad tidings to the Muslim nation of divine blessings in his lifetime and after death:
My life is good for you and my death is (also) good for you.
As for my life, Allah has guided you from ignorance through me and rescued you from the ‘brink of a pit of Fire’.
And how is that, O Messenger of Allah while you would be bones, i.e. decayed.
Never, Allah has prohibited our flesh on the earth, it does not consume anything from it.
- Basair al-Darajat v 1 p 444
- Behar al-Anwar v 22 p 550
With so much grace and benevolence oozing from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his lifetime and his death, it is beyond shameful how the Sahabah treated the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his Ahle Bait (a.s.) in their campaign to usurp caliphate and take the Muslim nation down a dark hole from which it will come out only on the advent of the Promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).