Assalaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
The comparison of prophethood and sainthood is that of the sun itself and the sun’s image as it appears in mirrors. Thus, however much higher the sphere of prophethood is than that of sainthood, the servants of the sphere of prophethood and the Companions, the stars of that Sun, have to be superior to the righteous in the sphere of sainthood to the same degree. The legacy of prophethood and veracity, which is the supreme sainthood, is the sainthood of the Companions; even if a saint attains to this, he still cannot reach the level of the Companions, the first rank.
First Aspect: The Companions cannot be reached in interpretation of the law, that is, in deducing its ordinances, that is, in understanding what pleases Almighty God from His Word. Because that mighty Divine revolution revolved on understanding the dominical wishes and Divine ordinances. All minds were turned towards deducing the Divine ordinances. All hearts were eager to know “What does our Sustainer want from us?” All that happened at that time did so in a way that made this known and understood. The discussions of the time concerned them. Thus, since everything and all situations and discussions and conversations and stories occurred in such a way as to give some sort of instruction in these meanings, and since this perfected the Companions’ capacities and illuminated their minds, and since their ability to interpret the law and deduce its ordinances was ready to be lit up like a match, someone at this time with the intelligence and capacity of the Companions could not reach in ten years or perhaps in a hundred, the level of deduction and interpretation they reached in a day or a month. Because now, worldly happiness is the focus of attention in place of eternal happiness. Mankind’s attention and view is directed towards different goals.
Since the struggle for livelihood together with lack of reliance on God has bewildered man’s spirit, and Naturalist and Materialist philosophies have blinded his intellect, just as the social environment does not strengthen a person’s mind and capacity in the matter of interpreting the Divine law, so it confuses and scatters them. We proved in the discussion on interpretation of the law in the Twenty-Seventh Word in the comparison between Sufyan ibn Uyayna and someone of his intelligence today that the other person could not acquire in a hundred years what Sufyan acquired in ten.
Second Aspect: The level of the Companions in closeness to God cannot be attained with the feet of sainthood. For Almighty God is infinitely close to us; closer to us than everything, but we are infinitely distant from Him. Divine proximity may be gained in two ways:
The First is through the unfolding of Divine immediacy, to which the Divine proximity in prophethood looks, and which the Companions manifested through the legacy of prophethood and conversation of the Prophet.
The Second Way is to traverse the degrees of our distance from God and be honoured with Divine proximity to an extent. Most of the spiritual voyaging of sainthood is according to this, and illumination through the self and through the outside world proceeds in this way.
Thus, the first way is purely given, it is not acquired; it is attraction, the drawing of the Most Merciful One, and it is being loved by Him. The path is short, but very severe, very elevated, very pure, and without shadow. The other is acquired, long, and in shadow. Even if its strange wonders are many, it cannot reach the first in regard to quality and Divine proximity. For example, there are two ways of reaching yesterday. The first is not to be subject to the course of time. Through a sacred power, it is to rise above time, and see yesterday as present like today. The second is to traverse the distance of a year, to travel and turn, and come to yesterday. But still yesterday cannot be held; it leaves the person and departs. In just the same way, there are two ways of passing from the apparent to reality. The first is to be carried away directly on the attraction of reality, and, without entering the intermediate realm of the sufi way, to find reality within the apparent itself. The second is to pass through many levels through spiritual journeying. For sure, the saints are successful in annihilating the soul and kill the evil-commanding soul, but they still cannot reach the Companions. Because, since the Companions’ souls had been purified and cleansed, through the many faculties within the soul, they manifested to a greater degree the varieties of worship, and thanks, and praise. After the soul has been annihilated, the worship of the saints acquires a simpleness and plainness.
Third Aspect: The Companions cannot be reached in regard to virtuous actions and good deeds pertaining to the hereafter. Because, just as in certain conditions in a frightening and important post, a soldier may gain in one hour’s watch the virtue of a year’s worship, and by being hit by a bullet may rise in one minute to a station similar to a degree of sainthood which can only by gained in at least forty years; so too, the Companions’ service in the establishment of Islam and propagating the decrees of the Qur’an and their declaring war on the whole world for Islam was so elevated that others cannot reach one minute of it in a year. It may even be said that in that sacred service all their minutes were like that one minute of the martyred soldier. All their hours were like the one hour’s watch of a faithful soldier in some terrifying post in which the acts are few, but the recompense great and value high.
Indeed, since the Companions formed the first rank in the establishment of Islam and spreading of the lights of the Qur’an, in accordance with the rule ‘the cause is like the doer,’ a share of all the good works of all the Islamic community passes to them. The Islamic community saying “O God! Grant blessings to our master Muhammad and to his Family and Companions” shows that the Companions receive a share of the good works of their whole community.
Furthermore, just as an insignificant characteristic in the root of a tree takes on a large form in the tree’s branches, and is larger than the largest branch; and just as a small protuberance at the beginning gradually forms a mass; and just as an excess the size of a needle point at a central point may become more than a metre at the circumference of the circle, just like these four examples, since the Companions were from the roots and foundations of the luminous tree of Islam, and were at the beginning of luminous lines of the structure of Islam, and were from among the leaders of the Islamic community and were the first of their number, and since they were close to the centre of the Sun of Prophethood and Lamp of Reality, a few of their actions were many and their small acts of service, great. To reach their level necessitates being a true Companion.
By Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
From : http://www.lightofquran.info/27word.htm