The Companions, who were the first to receive the Quran when it was revealed in the 7th century, were examples, like the Prophet, both in behavior and practice for those who would come after them due to their sincere affiliation with him. However, this becoming an "example" occurred after a period of education that ran parallel with the gradual revelation of Quranic verses.
When the relationship between the Prophet and the Companions is looked at from the perspective of the Quran, the declarations of the relationship in question can be seen to consist of two main dimensions: 1- Messages that declare the sincere affiliation of the Companions with the Prophet, their obedience to him and imitation of his behavior as a reflection of their sincere commitment to him, and messages that commend their attitude of and behavior to the Prophet. 2 -Messages which declare that the Companions, as they were only human, were at fault in not bringing about the orders or bans of the Prophet due to a variety of reasons, and messages about their not respecting the rules of conduct of living together and criticisms of such behavior.
Warnings made to the Companions because of their treatment of Prophet Muhammad
1. Some of the Companions were not pleased by the rulings made by Prophet Muhammad: The most important matter in the relationship between the Companions and Prophet Muhammad as depicted in the Quran is that the Companions were expected to follow any ruling that the Prophet made without making any excuses. Any ruling that the Prophet introduced was not outside of Allah's will. From this aspect, obeying Prophet Muhammad means obeying Allah. This matter can be clearly seen in the following verse: "We sent not an Apostle, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the Will of God, If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked God's forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found God indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful. But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against the decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." (1)
There are two narrations about why these verses were revealed, in particular the 65th verse of Surah Nisa. Prophet Muhammad's cousin Zubair b. Avvam had a disagreement with Hatib b. Abi Beltea about the use of the water rights. They came to the Prophet to solve the disagreement, and he said "O Zubair! First you use the water, and then leave it for your neighbor." However, Hatib did not like this decision and became angry, saying "O Allah's Apostle, have you made such a decision because he is your cousin?" Upon hearing this, the Prophet's color suddenly changed and he said "O Zubair! Then water your garden and do not stop until the water reaches the level of this wall." Thus, he gave all rights to Zubair.
Whatever the reason for the revelation of these verses, it is clear that true faith in Prophet Muhammad was to be achieved through complete submission to him. This was because it was accepted as a general rule that "the particularity of the cause does not prevent the ruling from being general."
2. Some Companions performing an action before the Prophet was able to do the same: According to one narration, some of the Companions sacrificed animals on the ‘Eid before Prophet Muhammad. According to another narration, they sacrificed the animal before the ‘Eid prayer. The Prophet ordered them to sacrifice another animal: "O ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before God and His Apostle; but fear God: for God is He Who hears and knows all things." (3)
The actions that fall under the scope of this verse include not answering matters that came up at the Prophet's council before he did, not passing the Prophet when walking on the road without permission, or being given a sign or if there was a need, and not eating before him at a meal.
3. When addressing the Prophet the Companions speaking in a loud voice: In the Quran it is clearly stated that the Companions should not raise their voice above that of the Prophet when talking to him. The reason for the revelation is that a committee came from the Bani Temim and Abu Bakr said that Ka'ka b. Ma'bed should be appointed as their chief by the Prophet. Omar was not pleased with this offer, and he wanted Aka b. Habis to be appointed.
As can clearly be seen by these verses, there was a style and tone for speaking with Prophet Muhammad, a man who had been equipped with beautiful morals and then sent among human beings to perfect their morals. Thus, those who believe in the Prophet should take him as their model when speaking.
These verses are not applicable just to people who lived at that time; they are rules of etiquette to be applied in all civilized societies.
4. Despite stern warnings by the Prophet the archers' abandoned their positions in the Battle of Uhud: At the Battle of Uhud a regiment of archers, under the command of Abdullah b. Jubair, were positioned by the slope of a strategic pass and they were sternly warned: "Even if you see that we have defeated them do not abandon your positions! Even if you see that we are defeated do not run to our aid!" Despite this, when they saw that the unbelievers had been defeated they abandoned their positions in a desire for the spoils of war; in fact, Abdullah b. Jubair reminded them of the Prophet's order, but in vain. The following verses indicate the serious error that the archers committed and emphasize the importance of obeying the Prophet: "God did indeed fulfill His promise to you when ye with His permission were about to annihilate your enemy, until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after he brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you. But He forgave you: for God is full of grace to those who believe." (5)
When the Quran is examined as a whole, it is clear that obeying the Prophet is equal to obeying Allah; one is not possible without the other.
5. The Companions conversing among themselves when invited to a meal by the Prophet: According to a report by Ibn Abbas, the Prophet would feed the Companions in his house, but even though some would come before the meal they would stay for a long time in his house afterwards as well. In response to this, the following verses were revealed: "O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses until leave is given you for a meal (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter; and when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet; he is ashamed to dismiss you, but God is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth" (6)
6. Some of the Companions leaving the masjid when the Prophet was reading the sermon: According to a report by Jabir b. Abdullah, while the Prophet was reading the sermon on a Friday some Companions heard that a caravan had come from Damascus; they immediately began to run towards the caravan. Ten or twelve people remained with the Prophet, including Abu Bakr and Omar.
7. The attempt by a Companion to inform the Quraysh of the secret preparations of the Prophet to conquer Mecca: When the Quraish violated the Hudaybiyah Treaty, Prophet Muhammad began to secretly prepare to conquer Mecca; he took precautions that the Quraysh did not hear anything about his preparations and that no news of it would leak to Mecca. In fact, other than a few of the Companions, no one was aware of this aim; despite all the care Hatib b. Abi Beltea somehow learned of the situation and sent a woman to carry a letter to Mecca. Allah informed the Prophet of this via the Archangel Gabriel. Prophet Muhammad sent Ali, Abdullah b. Zubair and Mikdad b. Aswad to a distance of 40 km. from Medina and ordered them to take the letter from the woman who would be found in the "Hah Gardens". They brought the letter to the Prophet. Prophet Muhammad asked Hatib: "Why did you do this, O Hatib?" He replied "Do not make a hasty decision about me, O Prophet! I am from the Ansar; I am not of the Quraysh. Here the emigrants who are with you have relatives in Mecca to protect their families and goods. I am not one of them, and have no relatives; I wanted to make friends to protect my relatives in Mecca and it was for this reason that I wrote the letter. I did not do this to deny my religion or to approve of disbelief after becoming a Muslim." The Prophet responded "You are correct."
Then the following verse was revealed: "O ye who believe! Take not My enemies and yours as friends (or protectors), offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Prophet and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because you believe in God your Lord! If ye have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure, (Take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love (and friendship) with them: for I know full well all that ye conceal and all that ye reveal. And any of you that does this has strayed from the Straight Path." (8)
1. An-Nisa, 4:64-65.
2. An-Nur, 24:63.
3. Al-Hujurat, 49:1.
4. Al-Hujurat, 49:2-3.
5. Al-'Imran, 3:152-153.
6. Al-Ahzab, 33:53.
7. Al-Jumu´ah, 62:11.
8. Al-Mumtahana, 60:1.