The Companions رضي الله عنهم of Allah's Messenger
The Companions رضي الله عنهم of Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) are considered to be the most superior and exalted people after the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the other Prophets and Messengers of Allah (عليهم السلام). The consensus among the People of the Sunnah (Ahlus-Sunnah w'al-Jama'ah) is that not one after them can attain their status. Thier closeness to Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) – in fact their having merely seen him while they were in a state of Iman (faith) – elevated them to stages that would be impossible for anyone else to reach.
Many narrations have been reported on the elevated rank of the Companions رضي الله عنهم. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) issued grave warnings against criticizing them in any way. He said: "Fear Allah in every matter concerning my Companions. Do not make them The targets (of your criticism) after me. Whoever loves them loves them out of love for me, and whoever hates them hates them out of hate for me. Whoever troubles them has troubled me and whoever troubles me has troubled Allah; and whoever troubles Allah, it is imminent that Allah seize him." (Mishkat al-Masabih from Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 5534)
In another Hadith the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: "The best of my Ummah (nation) are the people of my era (the Companions), then those who are after them (the Followers), then those who are after them (Followers of the Followers). Thereafter, will be such people who will bear testimony where their testimony will not be needed; they wull be deceptive and untrustworthy; and they will make vows but will never fulfill them." (Mishkat al-Masabih from Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, 553)
He also said:
"I asked Allah about the conflicts (that are to occur) between my Companions after my departure. Allah revealed to me,'O Muhammad! In My sight, your Companions are like the stars in the skies. Some are stronger than others but each possesses a light. Whoever adopts any opinion from the among the various opinions they differ in will be considered quided in my sight.'" (Mishkat al-Masabih from Razin al-'Abdari, 554)
Furthermor, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has clearly expressed his satisfaction and pleasure with all the Companions in the Qur'an:
"Allah is well pleased with them and they pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success." (9:100)
From the above, the elevated status of the Companions (رضي الله عنهم) becomes very clear and the Ummah is warned not to criticize them in any way.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
"The curse of Allah the angels and the whole people is upon whoever reviles my companions.” [Ibn Hajar AI-Haithami in Majma' Al-Zawa'id]
"Do not revile my companions, for by Him in Whose Hand is my soul, were one of you to spend gold equal to mount Uhud, you would not attain the reward of the handful of one of them or even half of it.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
"If you come across those who curse my Companions, say 'May Allah's curse be upon you for your evil." (Mishkat al-Masabih from Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 554)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "As for the one who goes further (the shia) and claims that they apostatized after the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, apart from a small number, no more than ten or so, or that they became evildoers, there is no doubt that he is a Kaafir (disbeliever), because he is rejecting what it says in the Qur’aan in more than one place, that Allaah was pleased with them and praised them. Indeed, the one who doubts that such a person is a Kaafir is to be labelled as a Kaafir himself, because what this view implies is that those who transmitted the Qur’aan and Sunnah were kuffaar (disbelievers) or rebellious evildoers. The verse says “You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind” (Aal ‘Imraan 3:110), and the best of them were the first generation. But according to this (shia) view, most of them were kaafirs and rebellious evildoers, and this Ummah is the worst of nations and the earliest generations of this Ummah were the most evil of them. The fact that this is kufr (disbelief) is something that no Muslim has any excuse for not knowing." End quote from al-Saarim al-Maslool ‘ala Shaatim al-Rasool (p. 590).
These were the Companions رضي الله عنهم, the group Allah had selected for the companionship (suhba) of His beloved Envoy (صلى الله عليه وسلم). They fulfilled their promises to Allah and conveyed the teachings and practises of His Envoy (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to the Ummah, and Allah expressed His pleasure with them.