Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s Companions
Prophet Muhammad peace on him, said: “The best of my nation is my generation then those who follow them and then those who follow them.” (Saheeh Bukhaaree)
Ahl as-Sunnah believe that the Caliph after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is Abu Bakr; then ‘Umar; then ‘Uthman, then ‘Ali, and that whoever contests the Caliphate of any one of these Imams is indeed more lost than an ass. Ahl as-Sunnah do not think that each of the Sahabah (May Allah be pleased with them) is infallible of committing grave sins or light sins, but that they are liable to commit general offenses. Nevertheless, to them belongs priority in accepting Islam and in doing good deeds which qualify them for forgiveness of what they may have committed, to the extent that their offenses are forgiven. The same offenses will not be forgiven of those who come after them because they (as-Sahabah (May Allah be pleased with them) have a credit of good deeds which erase the bad deeds, a credit the generations after them do not have. It has been confirmed by the saying of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): “That they are the best of all generations,” (hadith al-Bukhari and Muslim)
[Ahl as-Sunnah] urge people to mend the relations with those who have broken with them, to give to those who have deprived them, and to forgive those who have done injustice to them. They order people to keep filial piety, to be good to other relatives, to be good neighbors, to treat orphans, wayfarers and the poor kindly and to be gentle and humane to the slave. They forbid bragging, arrogance and transgression. They prevent people from feeling superior over others, rightly or wrongly. And they bid people use high manners and prohibit them from pursuing trifles. All that they say or do of the above, or of other than it, in all of it they follow the Book (The Qur’an) and the Sunnah. Their “path” is the religion of Islam, for which Allah sent Muhammad (peace be upon him).
But for all this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) foretold: “That his ‘Ummah will split into seventy-three factions, all of them in Hell except one: The Jama’ah (the Community).” (Reported by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
And (the Prophet) (peace be upon him) said in another hadith: “They are those who will follow what I am and what my companions are today.” (at-Tirmidhi)