When mentioning the name of a Companion or a righteous person it is a common practice to say “may Allah be pleased with him/her”. This has a dual meaning so it also implies “Allah was pleased with them”, indicating their piety. Saying “may Allah be pleased with him/her” can technically be said for anyone, but when it implies the second meaning that they were righteous, it is restricted to Companions and righteous people.
What the Qur’an and Sunnah Say
Allah said, “Surely Allah was pleased with the believers when they swore allegiance to you under the tree: He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility to them, and He rewarded them with a speedy victory.” (Qur’an, Al-Fath 48:18)
Allah said, “The vanguard (of Islam)- the first of those who emigrated (muhajirun) and of those who gave them aid (ansar), and (also) those who followed them in good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them has He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity.” (Qur’an, At-Tawbah 9:100)
Allah said, ““Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures. Their reward is with their Lord. Gardens of eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; Allah will be well-pleased with them, and they with Him. That is for such who fears his Lord.” (Qur’an, Al-Bayyinah 98:7-8)
What the Scholars Said
Imam an-Nawawi said, “It is recommended (mustahab) to seek Allah’s pleasure and mercy for the Companions, their followers, and those after them such as the scholars, worshippers and all good people. Hence, one should say: “may Allah be pleased with him” or “may Allah have mercy on him”, and other similar phrases. As far as what some scholars have said that the phrase “radiyallahu `anhu” is exclusive to the Companions only, and for other than them one should only say “rahimahullah” (may Allah have mercy on him), it is not as they have stated and it cannot be agreed with. Rather, the correct view is what the majority of the scholars hold in that it is recommended to say “radiyallahu `anhu” for all good Muslims, and its proofs are more than can be counted.” (Kitab al-Adhkar, 100)
Shaykh Mustafa Umar