The concept of the collective ądāla of the Prophet Muhammad's Companions
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This study seeks to investigate the concept of the collective ta'dil of the Prophet Muhammad's Companions as presented in the Sunni sources. According to this concept, all the Companions are considered trustworthy transmitters and this is the guarantee of the preservation of the whole religion of Islam. From our examination of the early and medieval Sunni sources, it is concluded that the root of the concept goes back to the early Murji'i attitude towards the Companions, an attitude taken according to their definition of faith and the position of the grave sinner. Not only did the concept develop out of this, but it also rested on the same epistemological ground of Murji'ism; that is, certitude is the only valid basis of any attitude towards people and events. In order to block any attempt to question the original 'adala of the Companions, the Sunni scholars argued that it was confirmed by the Qur'an and the Sunna. The accounts of the early schisms do not provide certain knowledge and thus cannot annul the original and certain 'adala of the Companions. This agrees with an established rule in Sunni Hadith criticism that everyone is 'adl until proven otherwise (expressed in some Sunni schools of law as the rule of istishab). From all this, it is concluded that the Sunni sources implicitly make a distinction between the 'adala and the ta'dil of the Companions: whereas 'adala is the original state that is further confirmed by the Qur'an and the Sunna, ta'dil is the sound attitude that Muslims should take according to the rule of istishab and, to a lesser extent, according to the view that the Companions were exercising ijtihad. This means that belief in the original 'adala of the Companions is the actual Sunni doctrine. Ta'dil, which is the main object of ijma' in this issue, is an attitude based mainly on the ground of lack of certitude.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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