The Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) are that eminent group of people concerning whom Allah Taála has declared His eternal blessings in the indomitable words of the Qurân. Therefore, any individual who challenges and casts aspersions concerning the position of a Sahaabi has in fact challenged Allah's decree in the Qurân.
Abdullah Ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) declares concerning the Sahaaba: 'He who wishes to follow anyone, let him follow the companions of Muhammad . They were the best and most prestigious of this Ummah. Their hearts were the purest; their knowledge the most profound; and they had the least formality about them (their humility was such that anyone could approach them). They were a nation whom Allah Ta'ala selected and chose for the companionship of His Nabi and for the propagation of His Deen. Imitate their characters and follow their way of life, for I swear an oath by the Lord of the Kaaba; the companions of Muhammad were truly on the straight path.' (Hilya).
Whilst the collective favours of the Sahaaba upon this Ummah are innumerable, some individual Sahaaba clearly excelled in their services of the Ummah. Amongst these noteworthy Sahaaba was Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) whose prestige and position in the eyes of Nabi was such that he was amongst those Sahaaba to whom the delicate and tremendous taste of writing down wahi (divine revelation of the Qurân) was entrusted. This special duty also necessitated his being regularly in the service of Nabi thus enabling his personality and character to be developed directly at the hands of the noble master himself.
Such was the love Nabi had for him that he was given the following beautiful and concise Dua by Nabi : 'O Allah! make Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) a means of hidaayat and make him one who is himself on hidaayat and give people hidaayat through him.' (Majmaú Zawaaid)
On another occasion Nabi said, 'Allah! guide him with guidance from yourself, save him from any disgrace and forgive all his past and future sins.' (Tabrani).
Nabi even made Dua for the knowledge of Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) where he said, 'O Allah endow Muáwiya with the special knowledge of the Qurân and save him from punishment.' (Ahmad; Tabraani).
Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) was even privileged to be the brother-in-law of Nabi since Umme Habiba (Radhiallaahu Anha), the sister of Muáwiya, was one of Nabi 's wives. Once Nabi came home to find Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) with his sister. He asked her whether she loved him. To this Umme Habiba (Radhiallaahu Anhu) declared that he was her brother and therefore she definitely loved him. It was then that Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) received tremendous gladtidings from Nabi , where he said, 'Allah and His Rasul definitely love Muáwiya.' (Tabrani).
Prophecy of Leadership
Such was the confidence which Nabi had in the leadership qualities and trustworthiness of Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that Nabi once consulted with Abu Bakr (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) regarding a certain matter. They were unable to give a suitable suggestion. Nabi then sent for Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) saying: 'Consult Muáwiya (Radhiallahu Anhu) in your affairs since he is trustworthy and reliable.' (Tabrani, Bazzaar)
The confidence which Nabi had in him was of such a level that he even made Dua: 'O Allah endow him with the knowledge of the Qurân and grant him leadership of the lands.' (Tabrani)
This Hadith in essence represents the prophecy of Nabi with regards to Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) gaining leadership. Similar confidence was exhibited by none other than Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) whose stringent requirements for governorship are well known. He appointed Muáwiya governor, in which position he remained throughout the life of Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) as well as that of Usman (Radhiallaahu Anhu). Umar's (Radhiallaahu Anhu) perception of character was tremendous and it was he who said: 'You praise the rulers of Persia and Rome and speak highly of their knowledge, whereas you have in your midst a man like Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu)'.
Hafiz Ibn Katheer (R. A.) reports that none other than Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu) said after the Battle of Siffin: 'O people, do not hate or talk ill of the leadership of Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu), for if you loose him it would be such a tragedy as if you see your limbs falling from your bodies'. The books of history are replete with such praises of Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) from other Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum).
Auf Ibn Malik (Radhiallaahu Anhu) says: 'Once whilst sleeping in a masjid in Areeha, I awoke suddenly to notice a lion coming towards me. I lunged for my weapon. The lion addressed me saying that he had been sent to deliver a message. I inquired as to whom had sent him. The lion replied that Allah had sent him to instruct me to inform Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that he was of the people of Jannat' (Tabrani).
In fact it is reported in Bukhari Shareef that Nabi said: 'The first army that will fight a naval battle in my Ummah will have made Jannat compulsory on themselves.' The first naval force was in fact headed by Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) during the Caliphate of Usman (Radhiallaahu Anhu).
In the light of the above, who can possibly doubt the benevolent position of Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu), yet we find that he is amongst those personalities that have become the target of evil propaganda. This propaganda has its roots in the difference of opinion that arose between Muáwiya (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and Ali (Radhiallaahu Anhu). We have to understand that, on both sides there were eminent Sahaaba, all of whom motivated by a sincere belief of the truth of their cause. In such matters it is best that we hold our tongues. Of benefit in this context is the following quotation from 'Shifaâ' by Qaadhi Iyaad:
'If we claim to revere and honour the prophet , we must also respect his Sahaaba. As Muslims, it is incumbent on us to appreciate that we owe them, to follow them and to ask forgiveness of Allah for them. No doubt they had their differences but we have no right to comment on them. We must beware of the stories forged by Shiahs, innovators and biased historians, whose mischievous motive is to slander some of the Sahaaba and slight the others. We must never doubt the sincerity and honesty of Sahaaba. When we come across any event in history which appears likely to lower their status in our eyes, we must explain it as far as we can in their favour and attribute it to sincere motives, for they really deserve this line of action. We should always speak of their virtues and must hold our tongues in uttering anything likely to slight them. The Prophet himself has said: 'Observe silence in respect of my Sahaaba (when they are mentioned with disrespect).'
Ayyub Sakhtiani says: 'Whoso honours Sahaaba, can never be a munafiq. Whoso reviles them, he is surely an innovator or Munafiq or anti Sunnat. No good action of such person, I am afraid, will be accepted by Allah until he cleans his heart of their spite, and begins to love all of them.'
May Allah Taála grant us the true love of the Sahaaba. Ameen.