Hadhrat Ali (Radiyallahu anhu) once gave the following concise description of the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum), which vividly depicts some of the biggest differences between us and them:
“By Allaah! I have seen the Sahabah of Rasulullaah and I do not see today anything that resembles them. They would become pale (from extreme hunger), and be in a dishevelled state, with dust between their eyes (due to extensive prostrations on bare ground) resembling the (hairy and dusty) knees of goats. They would spend the nights in prostration and in standing (qiyaam), reciting the Book of Allah, alternating between resting on their foreheads and on their feet. Thus (in this way) they reached the morning, while they would (still) be engaged in the Zikr of Allah, swaying like the trees sway on a windy day, their eyes shedding tears (profusely) until they would make their clothes wet. Wallaahi! It is as if the people (ie. the Sahabah) had just spent the entire night in neglect (hence the tears)!”
(Al-Bidayah, Abu Nuaym, and others)
ﺣﺪﺛﻨﻲ ﺇﺳﻤﺎﻋﻴﻞ اﻟﺴﺪﻱ، ﺳﻤﻌﺖ ﺃﺑﺎ ﺃﺭاﻛﺔ ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ﺻﻠﻴﺖ ﻣﻊ ﻋﻠﻲ ﺻﻼﺓ اﻟﻔﺠﺮ ﻓﻠﻤﺎ اﻧﻔﺘﻞ ﻋﻦ ﻳﻤﻴﻨﻪ ﻣﻜﺚ ﻛﺄﻥ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻛﺂﺑﺔ ﺣﺘﻰ ﺇﺫا ﻛﺎﻧﺖ اﻟﺸﻤﺲ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺣﺎﺋﻂ اﻟﻤﺴﺠﺪ ﻗﻴﺪ ﺭﻣﺢ ﺻﻠﻰ ﺭﻛﻌﺘﻴﻦ ﺛﻢ ﻗﻠﺐ ﻳﺪﻩ ﻓﻘﺎﻝ: ﻭاﻟﻠﻪ ﻟﻘﺪ ﺭﺃﻳﺖ ﺃﺻﺤﺎﺏ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺻﻠﻰ اﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ ﻓﻤﺎ ﺃﺭﻯ اﻟﻴﻮﻡ ﺷﻴﺌﺎ ﻳﺸﺒﻬﻬﻢ، ﻟﻘﺪ ﻛﺎﻧﻮا ﻳﺼﺒﺤﻮﻥ ﺻﻔﺮا ﺷﻌﺜﺎ ﻏﺒﺮا ﺑﻴﻦ ﺃﻋﻴﻨﻬﻢ ﻛﺄﻣﺜﺎﻝ ﺭﻛﺐ اﻟﻤﻌﺰﻯ، ﻗﺪ ﺑﺎﺗﻮا ﻟﻠﻪ ﺳﺠﺪا ﻭﻗﻴﺎﻣﺎ ﻳﺘﻠﻮﻥ ﻛﺘﺎﺏ اﻟﻠﻪ ﻳﺘﺮاﻭﺣﻮﻥ ﺑﻴﻦ ﺟﺒﺎﻫﻬﻢ ﻭﺃﻗﺪاﻣﻬﻢ، ﻓﺈﺫا ﺃﺻﺒﺤﻮا ﻓﺬﻛﺮﻭا اﻟﻠﻪ ﻣﺎﺩﻭا ﻛﻤﺎ ﻳﻤﻴﺪ اﻟﺸﺠﺮ ﻓﻲ ﻳﻮﻡ اﻟﺮﻳﺢ، ﻭﻫﻤﻠﺖ ﺃﻋﻴﻨﻬﻢ ﺣﺘﻰ ﺗﻨﺒﻞ ﺛﻴﺎﺑﻬﻢ، ﻭاﻟﻠﻪ ﻟﻜﺄﻥ اﻟﻘﻮﻡ ﺑﺎﺗﻮا ﻏﺎﻓﻠﻴﻦ، ﺛﻢ ﻧﻬﺾ ﻓﻤﺎ ﺭﺋﻲ ﺑﻌﺪ ﺫﻟﻚ ﻣﻔﺘﺮا ﻳﻀﺤﻚ ﺣﺘﻰ ﻗﺘﻠﻪ اﺑﻦ ﻣﻠﺠﻢ ﻋﺪﻭ اﻟﻠﻪ اﻟﻔﺎﺳﻖ.