I hope that you can explain the virtue of the Sahaabah and what distinguishes them from others?.
Belief in the good character and virtue of the Sahaabah is the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. That is because Allaah has praised them in His Book and they were also praised by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as is narrated in the books of Sunnah. These texts reach the level of mutawaatir in many cases, which clearly indicates that Allaah gave them special virtues and noble characteristics, by means of which they attained that great honour and high status with Him. As Allaah chose for His message the most pure-hearted of His slaves (i.e., the Prophets), so too He chose as the heirs of the Prophets those who would be grateful for this blessing and who were fit for this honour (of conveying the message), as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah knows best with whom to place His Message”
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Allaah knows best where to place His Message, both with regard to the original recipient and those who inherit it from him. He knows best who is fit to receive His Message and convey it to His slaves in a trustworthy and sincere manner, respecting the Sender and fulfilling his duties towards Him, patiently following His commands and showing gratitude for His blessings and drawing close to Him, and He knows who is not fit for that. Similarly, He knows best who among the nations is fit to be the heirs of His Messengers and to succeed them and convey the Message that they received from their Lord.
Tareeq al-Hijratayn, p. 171
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Thus We have tried some of them with others, that they might say: ‘Is it these (poor believers) whom Allaah has favoured from amongst us?’ Does not Allaah know best those who are grateful?”
Shaykh al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Those who acknowledge the blessing and affirm it, and who do what it requires of righteous deeds, are the ones on whom Allaah bestows His blessing, to the exclusion of those who are not grateful, for Allaah is wise and He does not place His bounty with one who is not qualified to receive it.
Just as there are many verses and ahaadeeth which speak of their virtue and high status, so too there are texts which state the reasons why they deserved this high status, such as the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allaah and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of prostration (during prayers). This is their description in the Tawraat (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers, that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allaah has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islamic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise)”
Among the greatest reasons for the high status of the Sahaabah is that to which Allaah bore witness of their purity of heart and sincere faith. That, by Allaah, is a mighty testimony from the Lord of mankind, which no human being can attain after the cessation of the Revelation.
Listen to the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Indeed, Allaah was pleased with the believers when they gave the Bay‘ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad) under the tree, He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent down As‑Sakeenah (calmness and tranquillity) upon them, and He rewarded them with a near victory”
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem (4/243):
“He knew what was in their hearts” i.e., of sincerity and loyalty, and the willingness to hear and obey. End quote.
How beautiful are the words of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him): “Whoever among you wishes to follow (someone), let him follow one who has died, for the one who is still alive is not safe from fitnah. The companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) were the best of this ummah, the most righteous of heart and the deepest in knowledge and the most straightforward, people whom Allaah chose to accompany His Prophet and establish His religion. So acknowledge their virtue and follow in their footsteps, and adhere as much as you can to their morals and religion, for they were following right guidance.
Narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Jaami’, no. 1810.
Allaah promised Paradise and eternal bliss to the Muhaajireen and Ansaar, and He stated that He is pleased with them in verses that will be recited until the Day of Resurrection. Can anyone think that this would be given to one who does not deserve that bounty?
Allaah, may He be glorified and exalted says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhaajiroon and the Ansaar and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allaah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success”
The leader of mankind, the foremost among the Messengers and Prophets, also testified to their virtue. He was a witness over them during his lifetime; he saw their sacrifices and their sincere resolve, and he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) spoke immortal words of the honour of his companions and his love for them.
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not revile my companions, for by the One in Whose hand is my soul, if one of you were to spend the equivalent of Uhud in gold, it would not amount to a mudd of one of them, or half of that.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3673) and Muslim (2540).
It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of the people are my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2652) and Muslim (2533).
Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Kifaayah (49):
Even if there was nothing narrated from Allaah or His Messenger about them, the things that they did such as migrating (hijrah), engaging in jihad, supporting (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and Islam), expending their lives and their wealth, killing their fathers and sons (in jihad), sincerely following the deen, believing strongly and with certainty, is definitive proof of their good character and sincerity, and shows that they are superior to all those sincere people of good character who come after them, for all time. This is the view of all the scholars, and of the fuqaha’ whose opinion counts. End quote.
If we were to list the attitudes with which they supported the deen and the righteous deeds by means of which they deserved that high status, we would fill volumes. Their whole lives were spent for the sake of Allaah and what book is big enough to contain the lives of hundreds of the Sahaabah who filled the world with goodness and righteousness?
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:
Allaah looked into the hearts of His slaves, and He saw that the heart of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was the best of people’s hearts, so He chose him for Himself and sent him with His message. Then He looked into the hearts of His slaves after the heart of Muhammad, and He found that the hearts of his companions were the best of people’s hearts, so He made them the supporters of His Prophet, who fought for His religion. So whatever the Muslims think is good, is good before Allaah, and whatever they think is bad, is bad before Allaah. End quote.
Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad (1/379). The scholars of hadeeth said: Its isnaad is hasan.
It is essential to understand that the Sahaabah were not infallible. This is the view of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. Rather they were human beings like any others.
Whatever sins or mistakes any of them may have made maybe overlooked in comparison to the honour of accompanying the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and they were forgiven and pardoned. Good deeds take away bad deeds. The support that the Sahaabah gave to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) at any given moment for the sake of this religion cannot be matched.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Ahl al-Sunnah speak well of them, and pray for mercy and forgiveness for them, but they do not believe that anyone is infallible or that anyone is protected from making mistakes in their ijtihaad except the Messenger of Allaah; it is possible for anyone else to commit sins or make mistakes, but they are as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They are those from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and overlook their evil deeds. (They shall be) among the dwellers of Paradise ___ a promise of truth, which they have been promised”
The virtue of any deeds is to be judged by the results and consequences. Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 4/434.
This is confirmed in the Qur'aan and Sunnah, in more than one place.
Allaah forgave those of the Sahaabah who turned back on the day of Uhud, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met (i.e. the battle of Uhud), it was Shaytaan (Satan) who caused them to backslide (run away from the battlefield) because of some (sins) they had earned. But Allaah, indeed, has forgiven them. Surely, Allaah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Forbearing”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:155]
When one of the Sahaabah sinned by telling Quraysh that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was coming with the army during the year of the Conquest, and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab wanted to execute him, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He was present at Badr, and you do not know, perhaps Allaah looked upon the people of Badr and said: ‘Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.’” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim (2494).
And there are other cases in which some of the Sahaabah committed sins, then Allaah, may He be exalted, pardoned them and forgave them, which is indicative of their virtue and honour and that cannot be undermined by any mistake that they made during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or after he died. The verses quoted above, which speak of their virtue and give them the glad tidings of Paradise, cannot been abrogated by anything.
And Allaah knows best.