The early companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who accepted Islam in its early days when it was opposed by the powerful, the rich and the nobles of their community, were a group of great men.
It is only a person of high caliber that accepts a message that declares at the outset that it aims to change the life of individuals and society, doing so only after he examines it carefully, sets aside hostile propaganda and identifies its merits. Hence, we are not surprised that this elite group included a long line of great people. Yet they exhibited different aspects of greatness. Among them there were those who excelled as military commanders and those who were superior in moral courage. Some were distinguished by high family descent, yet were personally of high caliber. Others showed nobility of character. Some had great minds and souls, but lacked the material means to achieve the sort of distinction they deserved, while others came to Islam from a highly distinguished social position. What brought them all together was their profound faith in Islam and their love of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
When a person excels in a particular field, it will not be surprising that his closest friends would be interested in that field. An excellent sportsman will attract people who are enthusiastic about sport, whether they play a particular game or are simply viewers who enjoy watching it. A scholar will attract only those who are interested in learning and reading. Indeed, a great Prophet will be surrounded by pious people, just like Jesus had his group of disciples. In the case of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) we find that great people who excelled in a wide spectrum of areas getting very close to him. Every one found with him what responded to his own greatness. None felt out of place with him. In fact, it is very difficult to say that a particular type of greatness was closer to him. All these people felt very close. What is more is that they recognized their own differences and respected each other’s excellence. When they were called upon to provide leadership in different areas, they proved to be great indeed. With the Prophet, however, they were close friends, followers and supporters. Each one was ready to lay down his life for the Prophet’s sake.