p1. of Sahib The Companions or Associates of Muhammad. The term used for a single companion is sahabi. Concerning the title of “Companion,” there is considerable controversy as to the persons to whom it can be applied. Sa’id ibn al-Musaiyab reckoned none a “Companion” but those who had been a year or more with Muhammad, and had gone on a warlike expedition with him. Some say that everyone who had attained puberty, had embraced Islam, and had seen the Prophet, was a “Companion” even though he had attended Muhammad but an hour. Others, however, affirm that none could be a “Companion” unless Muhammad chose him and he chose Muhammad, and he adhered to the Prophet at all times. The general opinion is that every one who embraced him, saw the Prophet, and accompanied him, even for a short time, was a “Companion”.
It is related that the Prophet marched to Makkah with 10,000 Muslims, to Hunain with 12,000, and that 40,000 accompanied him on the farewell pilgrimage. The number of the “Companions” at his death is said to have been 144,000.
In point of merit, the refugees (Muhajirun) are more worthy than the auxiliaries (Ansar); but by way of precedence the auxiliaries are more worthy than the later refugees.
The “Companions”, have been arranged in thirteen classes, which are given by Abu ’1-Fida as follows:- I. Those who first embraced Islam, such as Khadijah, ‘Ali, Zaid, and Abu Bakr, and those who did not delay till be had established his mission. II. The Companions who believed in him after his mission had been fully established, amongst whom was ‘Umar. III. Those who fled to Abyssinia. IV. The first companions of ‘Aqabah, who preceeded the Auxiliaries. V. The second Companions of ‘Aqabah. VI. The third Companions of ‘Aqabah, who were seventy. VII. The refugees who went to the Prophet after his flight, when he was at Quba, before the erection bf the temple. VIII. The soldiers of the great battle of Badr. IX Those who joined Islam between Badr and Hudaibiyah. X. Those who took the oath of fealty under the acacia tree at Hudaibiyah. XI. Those who Joined after the treaty of Hudaibiyah, but before the conquest. XII. Those that embraced Islim on the day of conquest. XIII. Those who were children in the time of the Prophet, and had seen him.
Muhammad frequently commended the “Companions,” and spoke of their excellences and virtues, a chapter in the Traditions being devoted to this subject (Mishkat, xxiv. c. xiii.) He is related to have said, “My companions are like stars by which roads are found, for which ever companion you follow you will find the right road.”
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam