Regarding the Companions, we say that they were neither angels nor were they devils, rather they were human beings. By that, we mean that we don’t say that the Companions were perfect and free from criticism, nor do we say that they were all hypocrites bent on the destruction of Islam from within. Instead, they were men and women who had strengths and weaknesses. That withstanding, Allah’s threats of punishment and promises of reward apply to them just as it applies to other than them. Our opinion of the Companions can be said to be the opinion that the Companions had about each other.
According to the Zaydis, a “Companion” in the true sense of the word is not just anyone who saw the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, in his/her lifetime. One of our Imams, al-Manŝūr Billah Abdullah bin Hamza (d. 614 AH), upon him be peace, said in Safwat al-Ikhtiyâr:
“A Companion is one specified by his/her adherence to the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, and taking from him. This is what we choose. It does not refer to one who met the Prophet once or twice, as the people of hadîth say.”
It is this class of Companions that that Allah and His Messenger praises and the ones that we respect and pray for. Imam al-Hâdi ila al-Haqq Yahya bin al-Hussein, upon him be peace, said regarding this classification of the Companions in his letter to the people of Sanâ`a:
“One must not disparage any of the truthful Companions and those that followed them in excellence—the believing men and women amongst them. I ally myself (atawalla) with all of those who emigrated as well as those who assisted them.
Whoever abuses (sabb) a believer, deeming it to be lawful—according to me—has committed a grave offense (faqad kafara). Whoever abuses a believer, deeming it to be unlawful—according to me—has gone astray and has committed an act of disobedience (faqad fasaqa). I do not abuse anyone except a violator of oaths and determination. In all times, they have determination. Those who were in hypocrisy are singled out. Those who were against the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, time after time have rebelled. Those who were against the Ahl al-Bayt have transgressed and opposed.
I ask Allah to forgive those Mothers of the Believers who have passed from this world and remained upon the religion with certainty. May the curse (la’na) of Allah be upon those who attribute to them [i.e. the Mothers] that which they do not deserve from the rest of people!”
The son of Imam al-Hâdi, Imam al-Murtaža Muhammad bin Yahya (d. 310 AH), upon him be peace, echoed his father’s statement by saying:
“You should know after that that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah were those who established the religion, were truthfully faithful, as well as those who followed them in obedience and excellence.”