Assalaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
The consensus of the Sunnis, the Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama’at, that after the prophets the most virtuous of mankind are the Companions. For in minor virtues and particular perfections a quality may be deemed preferable to that which is superior and in fact preferable. But from the point of view of general virtue the Companions cannot be reached, who are the subject of Divine praise at the end of Sura al-Fath, and are praised and applauded in the Torah, Gospels, and Qur’an. For now, we shall explain three points of wisdom concerning this truth, which comprise three reasons, out of very many reasons and instances of wisdom.
First Instance of Wisdom: The conversation of the Prophet was such an elixir that someone who experienced it for one minute received lights of reality equivalent to years of spiritual journeying. For in conversation there is reflection and a being coloured. It is well-known that through reflection and following and imitating, and through the sublime light of prophethood, a truly exalted level may be reached; -like through allegiance to his sovereign and following him, a sultan’s servant may rise to a position so high a king cannot rise to it. It is due to this mystery that the greatest saints cannot reach the level of the Companions. Even saints like Jalaluddin Suyuti, who conversed many times with God’s Noble Messenger (PBUH) while awake, even if they do this and are honoured in this world with his company, they still cannot reach the Companions. For through the light of Muhammad’s (PBUH) prophethood, the Companions’ conversation was with him as Prophet. While the saints saw him (PBUH) after his death and conversed with him (PBUH) through the light of his sainthood. That is to say, the personification and appearance of God’s Noble Messenger (PBUH) is in respect of his sainthood, not in regard to his prophethood. Since that is so, however much higher the level of prophethood is to that of sainthood, one should differentiate between the two conversations to that degree.
Just how luminous an elixir was the Prophet’s company may be understood through the following: a primitive man so hard-hearted and savage he buried his daughter alive would come and be honoured with the conversation of the Prophet for an hour, and would acquire such kindness and compassion that he would not step on an ant. And an ignorant savage would converse with the Prophet for a day, then go to lands like China and India and instruct civilized peoples in the realities and guide them in perfections.