What is the importance of love for Prophets companions, as some groups are considered aberrant because of their enmity towards some companions?
It is essential to explain the place of Honorable Companions in our religion, the importance of affection towards them and how Muslims should evaluate the controversies between some companions.
The Honorable Companions became thorough inheritors and representatives to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). They walked on the right path, without tending to the right or to the left at all. Each of them became a guide, a leader on the paths leading to Allah. Whomever of them one follows, s/he will arrive in right path, bliss and safety. As a matter of fact, Allah bestowed upon them a feature, an attractiveness which attracts people to righteousness. They are elite and diligent characters with high ethics, whom Allah the Glorious loved in the assembly of souls and made them a halo around the Prophet.
All of the companions without any exception were honored with the Prophets conversation. Their souls, minds, hearts, consciousnesses and all of their emotions were educated by Prophet and they grew with his knowledge. In other words, they directly benefited from the Sun like flowers on the southern sides of mountains and met with him. And Muslim generation who came after them benefited from not the Sun itself but from its light, like flowers on the northern sides of mountains.
The great secret behind the fact that no saints (walis) who came after them can reach their level must be sought in that great difference. They witnessed the arrival of revelation in person. They saw angel Gabriel many times in the form of Dihya (a companion). They witnessed a lot of miracles. They were the first people to listen to the Quran, sent to lead people to the light, righteousness and bliss. They received the honor of being the first students of the Quran. They learnt the glorious realities in it from the Prophet. They made the Quran sovereign over their hearts, minds, souls and lives. They reached such knowledge, abundance, righteousness, loyalty, self-renunciation and generosity which no other people could reach after them. Their glances were filled with warning lessons, their ideas with knowledge and wisdom, and their hearts with divine love. Neither the world could make them its captives, nor could the beauty and attractiveness of Heaven capture them. They desired not the boons of world and hereafter, but the Creator of those boons Himself and they found Him. They led their lives with the honor of being servants merely to Allah.
All of them are in the group that reached salvation. All of them are honored with being companions. Allah and His Messenger were consent with all of them and elevated them by extolling.
Allah the Glorious states that He is consent with the Honorable Companions and He prepared infinite boons and bliss for them in the chapter at-Tawbah:
The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is God with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity. (at-Tawbah, 100)
Again in the same chapter, Allah the Glorious extols the Honorable Companions stating that they fought for the sake of Islam, sacrificing their lives and properties and gives them the good news with blessings and generosity:
But the Apostle, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper. God hath prepared for them gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein: that is the supreme felicity. (at-Tawbah, 88-89) There are a lot of verses sent about Companions. We find it sufficient to quote the two verses above as examples.
The Messenger of Allah extolled the Honorable Companions with a lot of hadiths, telling his people about the greatness of their honorability and the fact that they were accepted in the presence of Allah and he threatened the ones who slandered them. We present some of these hadiths below:
My Companions are just.
If one loves a Companion, s/he does so because s/he loves me. If one becomes an enemy to them, s/he does so because s/he is an enemy to me.
The following hadith reveals that it is impossible to feel enmity towards any of the Honorable Companions and that all of them, without any exception, are torches of righteousness:
My Companions resemble stars. Whomever of them you follow, you will find the right path.
Although all heavenly bodies which are characterized as stars are equal, there are some differences between them in terms of size. In this sense, of course there are differences between Companions in terms of virtues and levels. Some of them were honored with the choice of Islam earlier than others and excelled them in service. Some of them excelled others in terms of justice and management. Another one was superior in mildness and generosity, while another one advanced in knowledge and braveness.
Now you can conclude what a great evil it is to talk about those stars of righteousness offensively, to love some of them and blacken the others.
It must be kept in mind that lots of religious realities about worship and moral values were taught by those Companions who were subject to unfair attacks. Attacking them is considered attacking Islam.
Yes,it means to attack Islam itself to try to blacken those elite Companions of the Last Prophets, those understanding collocutors of his, those elite people, even the lowest of whom the greatest saint cannot reach, to the thawabs of whom more is being added with the every thawab gained by every Muslim until the Day of Judgment because of the rule of One who causes something is like the one who performs it in Islam.
Those who overstepped their limits by daring to judge that elite group who shed their blood for the sake of Islam and by finding one of them right while criticizing the other cannot dishonor those stars of righteousness; they can only prepare their own disastrous end with it.
Besides, the people, whom they dare to judge, are the outstanding ones of the Companions. Some of them were already given the good news of deserving to enter Heaven while alive. The Quran and our Prophet extolled those people whom they backbite.
Another strong proof to our argument is this: Sahih Bukhari is accepted by both the followers of Ahlu Sunnah and Shias as the most significant book after the Quran. Both sides agree on it. There are many hadiths about belief, worship and high ethics narrated by both sides of those conflicting Companions in Sahih Bukhari. Islamic jurisprudents and all Muslim community accepted all of them without any discrimination. People who narrated those hadiths did not also take the conflicts about companions into consideration while narrating them. They did not say, This hadith is not true because it is narrated by that companion who opposed to Hazrat Ali or Hazrat Muawiyah., which would be wrong.
In this sense, we come to this conclusion; all scholars of the centuries, Islamic jurisprudents, hadith narrators respected and loved all of the companions, and accepted the hadiths they narrated from the Prophet as the basic of the religion; without taking those conflicts into consideration. So how could we dare to turn those conflicts, which those significant people did not mind, to problems and trouble?
By the way, it is also necessary to pay attention to this important reality:
Allah tells believers to refrain from prejudice in the chapter al-Hujurat:
Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? (al-Hujurat, 12)
Allah the Glorious informs us with that verse that backbiting a believer is as disgusting as eating a dead persons flesh and it is a kind of behavior which is not appropriate for a Muslim. What if the one that a believer backbites is one the Companions, and an outstanding one of them? You could now think of its danger.