The Combats Among The Sahaba

Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani says in the 679th letter of the second volume of his Maktubat:

   The combats among the Sahaba [1], e. g. , the event of Camel and the event of Siffin, were done with good intentions and for pious reasons, not for the desires of the nafs, with obstinacy or hostility. For, they all were great. Their hearts had been purified in the sohbat (company) of our Master, the Prophet, and with his blessed looks, no evils such as avarice, grudge or hostility have been left. Both their peace and their opposition or combats were for the truth. Each of them acted in accordance with his own ijtihad. They differed from those who did not agree with their ijtihad [2], but without bearing obstinacy or hostility against them.

   There are two or ten thawabs (rewards) for those with correct ijtihad, and one thawab for those who erred. Then, we should not speak ill of those who erred as we do not speak ill of those who were right. For, these, too, received thawab. The savants of Ahl as-sunnat [3] declare that the Amir (Hadrat Ali) was right in these combats. Those ijtihads which disagreed with his were wrong. But none of them can be spoken ill of, nonetheless for calling any one of them a 'disbeliever' or 'sinner'.

   Hadrat Ali declared in these combats, "Our brethren have parted from us. They are not disbelievers, nor sinners. For, they have been acting in accordance with their ijtihad. " Our Prophet 'sallallahu alaihi wa sallam' declared: "Avoid speaking ill of my Sahaba!"

   Then, we have to deem all the Sahaba of the Prophet as great and speak about them with reverence and good will. We should not think ill of any of these great people! We should consider the combats among them to be better than others' peace. This is the way to salvation. For, loving the Sahaba arises from loving our Master, the Prophet. Enmity against them means enmity against him. The great savant Abu Bakr-i Shibli said, "A person who does not respect the Sahaba does not have iman in Muhammad 'alaihissalam'. "

[1] Sahaba: if a Muslim has seen the Prophet, or talked to him, at least once when the Prophet was alive, he is called Sahabi. Plural form of Sahabi is Sahaba or As'hab. The word Sahaba-i kiram includes all those great people each of whom has seen the Prophet at least once. The lowest of the Sahaba is much higher than the highest of other Muslims. If a person has not seen the Prophet but has seen or talked to one of the Sahaba at least once, he is called Tabi'. Its plural form is Tabi'in. In other words, the Tabi'in are the successors of the Sahaba. If a person has not seen any of the Sahaba but has seen at least one of the Tabi'in, he is called Taba'i Tabi'in. The Sahaba, the Tabi'in and the Taba'i tabi'in altogether are called the Salaf-i salihin (the early savants).
[2] ijtihad: (meaning or conclusion drawn by a mujtahid by) endeavouring to understand the hidden meaning in an ayat or a hadith.
[3] Ahl as-Sunna (wa'l-Jama'a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali.