3. Tijani’s debates on Abu Bakr

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3. Tijani’s debates on Abu Bakr

Tijani reminisces over a debate in which he prevailed against a Sunni, whom he claims was a scholar. The details of the debate are lengthy; therefore the salient features will be focused on in the course of our discussion.

 

Hadith of Muwatta’

Tijani says:

 

I quickly went home and brought back two books, “al Muwatta of Imam Malik” and “The Sahih of al Bukhari”. Then said, “Sir, what made me doubt Abu Bakr was the Messenger of Allah himself.” I opened al Muwatta and read: He said to the martyrs of Uhud, “Those, I bear witness against.” Abu Bakr then said, “O Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, are we not their brothers? Did we not become Muslims as they did? Did we not fight as they did?”

The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “Yes, but I do not know what you are going to do after me.”

On hearing that, Abu Bakr cried bitterly and said, “We are going to alter many things after your departure.”

After having read the Hadiths, the looks on the faces of the scholarly fShaykh and that of the audience changed. They looked at each other and waited for the scholar, who was too shocked at what he had heard, to reply. All he did was to raise his eye brows, as a sign of astonishment and then said:

وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِيْ عِلْمًا[1]

And say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.[2]

 

Our response:

Despite the interrupted chain in this hadith, its meaning has largely been corroborated by other texts[3]. Perhaps it was Tijani’s marred interpretation of it that rendered the Sunni speechless. It could not have been the adapted translation that appears in Then I was guided which has been embellished to accommodate Tijani’s interpretation.

 

Libertine translation

Compare the translation undertaken by Aisha Bewley with the translation above:

 

Abu’n-Nadr, the mawla of Umar ibn Ubaydullah, that it has reached him that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said over the martyrs of Uhud, “I testify for them.” Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, “Messenger of Allah! Are we not their brothers? We entered Islam as they entered Islam and we did jihad as they did jihad.” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Yes, but I do not know what you will do after me.” Abu Bakr wept profusely and said, “Are we really going to out-live you!”

 

The statement of Abu Bakr, “Are we really going to out-live you!” has conveniently been adapted to “We are going to alter many things after your departure.”

 

Reason for Abu Bakr’s crying

Abu Bakr’s crying was clearly on account of the thought of living on after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam clearly acknowledged the Islam and Jihad of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum when Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him, “Are we not their brothers? We entered Islam as they entered Islam and we did jihad as they did jihad.”

What the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam meant by his statement, “but I do not know what you will do after me”, is that he would testify for the physical actions of those who were martyred at Uhud based on his knowledge. Since there would be individuals who lived after the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise he would not be able to testify for those deeds as he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam does not have knowledge of those righteous actions. It is an accepted fact that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had no knowledge of the unseen except what was revealed to him. Allah says in the Qur’an:

 

قُلْ لَا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِيْ نَفْعًا وَّلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللّٰهُؕ   وَلَوْ كُنْتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَ مَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوْءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيْرٌ وَّبَشِيْرٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُّؤْمِنُوْنَ

Say, “I hold not for myself (the power of) benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe.”[4]

 

Reliable Ahadith on Abu Bakr

The converse interpretation is ludicrous as it would imply that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam contradicted himself. How is it possible that the Prophet would praise Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the glowing manner described by Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu who reported Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as saying:

 

If anyone contributes a pair of anything for the sake of Allah, he would be invited to enter Paradise (with these words), “O servant of Allah, it is good (for you).” Those who engage in prayer will he invited to enter by the gate of prayer; those who take part in Jihad will be invited to enter by the gate of Jihad; those who give charity will be invited to enter by the gate of charity; and those who observe fast will be invited to enter by the gate al Rayyan.

Abu Bakr said, “O Messenger of Allah, is it necessary that a person be invited through (only) one of these gates? Will anyone be invited to enter by all those gates?”

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.”[5]

 

Al Tirmidhi , as well as al Tabarani in al Mujam al Kabir, narrate from ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu visited the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to him:

 

أنت عتيق الله من النار

You are Allah’s freed slave from the fire.[6]

 

In a lengthy hadith found in al Bukhari Abu Musa al Ash’ari radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:

 

فجاء أبو بكر فدفع الباب فقلت من هذا فقال أبو بكر فقلت على رسلك قال ثم ذهبت فقلت يا رسول الله هذا أبو بكر يستأذن فقال ‏ائذن له وبشره بالجنة قال فأقبلت حتى قلت لأبي بكر ادخل ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يبشرك بالجنة

Then Abu Bakr came and knocked on the door and I said, “Who is it?”

He replied, “Abu Bakr,” and I said to him, “One moment.”

I went (to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, it is Abu Bakr seeking permission to enter.”

He said, “Let him in and give him the glad tidings of Jannat.”

I approached until I said to Abu Bakr, “Enter and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gives you the glad tidings of Jannat.”[7]

 

Al Tirmidhi transmits from ‘Abd al Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he said that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

أبو بكر في الجنة

Abu Bakr is in Jannat.[8]

 

Al Tirmidhi also transmits from ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he said:

 

كنت مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ طلع أبو بكر وعمر فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم هذان سيدا كهول أهل الجنة من الأولين والاخرين إلا النبيين والمرسلين يا علي لا تخبرهما

I was with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when Abu Bakr and ‘Umar appeared. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, “These two are the forerunners of the middle-aged men of Jannat from the first to the last except for the ambiya’ and rusul. O ‘Ali, do not inform them.”[9]

 

Allah has confirmed the Companionship of this noble Sahabi with his words:

 

إِلَّا تَنْصُرُوْهُ فَقَدْ نَصَرَهُ اللّٰهُ إِذْ أَخْرَجَهُ الَّذِيْنَ كَفَرُوْا ثَانِيَ اثْنَيْنِ إِذْ هُمَا فِي الْغَارِ إِذْ يَقُوْلُ لِصَاحِبِهٖ لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَنَا

If you do not aid him (i.e. the Prophet)—Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out (of Makkah) as one of two when they were in the cave and he (i.e. the Prophet) said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.”[10]

 

The verse is a timeless virtue for Abu Bakr as he had the exclusive good fortune of accompanying the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the Hijrah protecting him with his life.[11] It is for that reason that Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah and others have said:

 

Indeed, Allah admonishes the entire creation regarding His Prophet except for Abu Bakr. Whoever denies the Companionship of Abu Bakr is a disbeliever as he has belied the Qur’an.[12]

 

Consequences of Tijani’s interpretation

Tijani says with confidence that these are forgeries since they contradict his interpretation of the hadith in Muwatta’.

If we have to concede in favour of Tijani’s explanation then we have no recourse but to say that the consistent application of understanding would apply in the following hadith too. Kharijah ibn Zaid relates that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “By Allah, I do not know what Allah will do with me though I am Allah’s Messenger.[13]” If this narration is understood in light of Tijani’s explanation of the hadith in Muwatta’ it would imply that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam testified against himself! We seek Allah’s protection from such blasphemy!

We are faced with two antithetical possibilities:

  1. The hadith in Muwatta’ is sound, but is vague and needs to be understood in light of the abundant explicit narrations which speak of the virtues of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam assurance of his place in Paradise.
  2. The hadith in Muwatta’ is sound and the other narrations are forged because they are incoherent with a particular understanding of this hadith.

Since the chain of the hadith in Muwatta’ is interrupted and is not independently relied upon, we have to take into consideration the manner in which the scholars have understood the hadith. This is prudent as they have only verified it on the basis of each element of it having corroboration in the Sunnah. There is nothing to corroborate the fact that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu considered himself one who will alter the Sunnah; instead there is Prophetic advice to seek out Abu Bakr’s counsel after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam passing. If we consider this in addition to the repugnant consequence of judging the hadith of Kharijah consistently with Tijani’s understanding of the hadith in Muwatta’, we have no alternative but to understand the hadith in Muwatta’ against the backdrop of all the other ahadith which mention Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu favourably and assure his position in Paradise.

 

Commentators of Muwatta’

Inadvertently Tijani has acknowledged the need to refer to scholars in complicated matters:

 

The Book of Allah is silent and could be interpreted in various ways, and it contains what is vague and what is similar, and to understand it we have to refer to those who are well endowed with knowledge as regards the Qur’an, and to Ahlul Bayt, as regards to the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam traditions.[14]

 

Many scholars have penned commentaries on the Muwatta’ of Malik. Note that their explanations are in harmony with what has been mentioned by us earlier. We present what they have written in explanation of this hadith.

Al Zurqani says:

 

These I will testify for,” with regards to sacrificing their bodies and souls, and orphaning their children, for those who had children.

Abu Bakr al Siddiq said, ‘Are we not their brothers, O Messenger of Allah? We accepted Islam as they accepted Islam and strove as they strove’” Why are they singled out for your testimony (in their favour)?

The Prophet said, “Rather, you are their brothers,’ to the end of his statement. “I do not know what you will do (tuhdithun) after me,” that is the reason why I limited the testimony to them.

“Abu Bakr cried and cried,” he cried incessantly on account of the great sadness (he felt upon the thought) of being separated from the Prophet. Then he said, “Will we exist after you?” (meaning) will we live “after you?” This is an expression borne out of sadness and not an actual question as it is inconceivable for such a question to come from Abu Bakr after the Prophet informed him.[15]

 

Imam al Baji says:

 

Abu Bakr’s statement, “O Messenger of Allah, are we not their brothers? Did we not accept Islam as they accepted Islam and strive as they strove,” was an attempt to gain favour with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam because of what he saw of their (the martyrs of Uhud) exclusivity in a ruling he wished his portion in it would be great and the portion of those Sahabah who participated in it (the Battle of Uhud) would be confirmed.

Therefore, he said, “Our actions were similar to their actions,” (it was) in reference to iman which is the root and jihad which was the last of their actions and he asked, “Will you be a witness for us as you will be a witness for them?” The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “I do not know what you will do after me.”

Some scholars have said that the statement, even though it was directed to Abu Bakr, refers to others besides him whom the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was unaware what their end condition and action would be and what they would die upon. As for Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he was informed that he was of the people of Jannat. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam bore testimony to that by virtue of his apparent good actions and because it was revealed to him, and was informed about Allah’s pleasure with him. However, when Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked the question in a general sense and did not specify himself asking about his own personal condition, the answer too was general. The Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam preferring him and informing him about what Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has preserved for him of good, a great reward, and a generous return; make clear that he was not of those who did actions nullifying what they did after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

 

He goes on to say:

 

There is another possible interpretation, in my opinion. It is that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam meant, “These persons I will testify to what I witnessed of their actions in jihad which led to their death in the path of Allah.” He did not say that he is a witness for the one who witnessed this day and fought (in it) and was saved from death in it such as ‘Ali and Talhah and Abu Talhah, who stood the test of that day, and others who were better than most of those who died on that day. However, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam specified this ruling (his testimony) for the one whom he witnessed his jihad to the point where he was killed as a martyr. This is what the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam meant with his statement to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, “I do not know what you will do after me.” The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not refer to actions which would contravene the shari’ah. Rather, he intended all actions, those that were in conformity with the shari’ah and those that opposed it. The meaning of that (statement) is, “I will not witness what you do after me. Therefore, I cannot testify on your behalf in relation to it even though I know that amongst you are those who will die upon what pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala of good actions but those actions have not been identified to me. (For example), it has been said to me that such a person will strive in jihad in such a place, and one of you will kill Zaid, or ‘Amr will kill him. For that reason, I cannot be a witness for you for the same actions and its details in the manner that I will testify to the details of the actions of these and what I witnessed of some of you in terms of general practice upon the revelation and the instruction of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. Upon this interpretation the meaning of his words are, “I do not know what you will do after me,” addressing all the Sahabah, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and others besides him.

As for his statement, “then Abu Bakr wept and wept and said, ‘are we going to exist after you;’” it means he wept for an extended time. He clarified the reason for his weeping with his words, “are we going to exist after you?” It was out of sadness at the thought of remaining behind after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and being alone after him, and being deprived of his blessings and Allah’s subhanahu wa ta ‘ala favour on account of him (his presence). All of the aforementioned indicates that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu understood from the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement, “I do not know what you are going to do after me,” that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not fear or (even) imagine that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu would do something in contradiction of the shari’ah and consequently oppose the precedent of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as weeping for that reason would have been more appropriate. If that was indeed the case, he would have said, “Are we going to innovate such actions which will repel from your path and oppose your precedent?” Because he did not say that or cry on account of that and he only cried on account of his separation from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam we know that he understood (from the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam statement) what we explained before. And Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala knows best.[16]

 

As for his statement:

I said, “If the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the first to doubt Abu Bakr, and did not bear witness against him, because the Messenger did not know what would happen after him …”

 

Our comment:

Does this mean that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the first to doubt himself since Kharijah ibn Zaid relates that he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “By Allah, I do not know what Allah will do with me though I am Allah’s Messenger.[17]”?

Did the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam doubt him when he appointed Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to lead the prayers during his final illness?

What about when he came out in his fatal illness with a piece of cloth tied round his head and sat on the pulpit. After thanking and praising Allah he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “There is no one who had done more favour to me with his life and property than Abu Bakr. If I were to take a Khalil other than Allah, I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr but the Islamic brotherhood and friendship are sufficient.”

Earlier in the book, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is wrongfully accused of claiming that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was incoherent in his speech. I ask you, esteemed reader, does Tijani’s interpretation not imply that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was incoherent?

 

Tijani goes on to say:

 

It is within my right to doubt and not to have a preference for anybody until I know the truth. Evidently, these Hadiths contradict and nullify all the known Hadiths in favour of Abu Bakr and Umar, because they are more realistic than these which mention their alleged virtues.

The audience said, “How could that be?” I said, “The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not bear witness against Abu Bakr and said: I do not know what they will do after me! This sounds very reasonable. History has proved that, and the Holy Qur’an and history bear witness that they did change after him. Because of that Abu Bakr cried for he changed and angered Fatimah al Zahra, daughter of the Messenger as we explained before, and he changed until he repented and wished that he was not a human being. As for the Hadith: If the faith of my nation and the faith of Abu Bakr were put on balance, the faith of Abu Bakr would weigh heavier”, it is invalid and implausible. It is not possible for the faith of a man, who spent forty years of his life believing in polytheism and worshipping idols, to be greater than the faith of the entire nation of Muhammad, which has many God-fearing and pious people and martyrs and Imams, who spent all their lives fighting for the sake of Allah.

How could Abu Bakr fit into this Hadith? If it was true, he would not, in later life have finished that he was not a human being. Further, if his faith was greater than the faith of the entire nation of Muhammad, Fatimah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah and the leading lady, would not have been angry at him or asked Allah to punish him in each prayer she prayed.”[18]

 

Our comment:

We have come to realize the extent of Tijani’s objectivity, even if it implies that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam doubts himself. Tijani has proven to us, repeatedly, that he has already taken a stance on Abu Bakr. With the aid of the vagueness in a few narrations he sets himself up in the perfect position to reject all the authentic explicit narrations.

We have also come to realize that there are no objective academic criteria that he is prepared to subject himself to. It stands to reason that he can doubt whom he wishes, condemn whom he wishes, accept what he wishes, and reject what he wishes.

As for his statement:

The Holy Qur’an and history bear witness that they did change after him.

 

Do these verses give any hint that the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum were going to change after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise?

لٰكِنِ الرَّسُوْلُ وَالَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا مَعَهٗ جَاهَدُوْا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ وَأُوْلٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْخَيْرَاتُ وَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ أَعَدَّ اللّٰهُ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِيْ مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِيْنَ فِيْهَا ذٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيْمُ

But the Messenger of Allah and those who believed with him fought with their wealth and their lives. Those will have [all that is] good and it is those who are the successful. Allah has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide eternally. That is the great attainment.[19]

 

Did the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam fight the Mushrikin at Badr, when their numbers reached one thousand fighters, and at Uhud, when their numbers reached three thousand, and other battles, with a band of true believers whose number did not exceed ten?

Was Allah unaware of the status of the Sahabah when He made them role models to be followed?

 

وَالسَّابِقُوْنَ الْأَوَّلُوْنَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِيْنَ وَالْأَنْصَارِ وَالَّذِيْنَ اتَّبَعُوْهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوْا عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِيْ تَحْتَهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِيْنَ فِيْهَا أَبَدًا ذٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيْمُ

And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajirin and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct—Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.[20]

 

Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says:

 

لِلْفُقَرَآءِ الْمُهَاجِرِيْنَ الَّذِيْنَ أُخْرِجُوْا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُوْنَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللّٰهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنْصُرُوْنَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُوْلَهؕٗ   أُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُوْنَۚ   وَالَّذِيْنَ تَبَوَّءُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيْمَانَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّوْنَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُوْنَ فِيْ صُدُوْرِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِمَّآ أُوْتُوْا وَيُؤْثِرُوْنَ عَلٰى أَنْفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌؕ   وَمَنْ يُّوْقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهٖ فَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَ

For the poor emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger, [there is also a share]. Those are the truthful and [also for] those who were settled in the Home [i.e. Madinah] and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what they [i.e. the emigrants] were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul—it is those who will be the successful.[21]

 

We do not expect any commentary from Tijani. Let the ‘infallible’ Imam of the Twelver Shia, ‘Ali ibn Hussain, elaborate on these verses. ‘Ali ibn Abi al Fath al Arbili relates his book Kashf al Ghummah fi Ma’rifat al A’immah from ‘Ali ibn Hussain:

 

A group of people came to him from Iraq and made some disparaging remarks about Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman. When they completed what they had to say, he said to them, “Are you from the group (described by the verse), ‘for the first emigrants who were expelled from their homes and their properties, seeking bounty from Allah and [His] approval and supporting Allah and His Messenger of Allah. Those are the truthful’?” They answered, “No.”

He asked, “Are you then from the group (described by the verse), ‘those who were settled in the Home [i.e. Madinah] and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what they [i.e., the emigrants] were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation’?” They answered, “No.”

‘Ali ibn Hussain then said, “As for you, you have distanced yourselves from being either one of these two groups and I testify that you are not amongst those whom Allah says about them:

وَالَّذِيْنَ جَآءُوْا مِنْۢ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُوْلُوْنَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِيْنَ سَبَقُوْنَا بِالْإِيْمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِيْ قُلُوْبِنَا غِلًّا لِّلَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوْفٌ رَحِيْمٌ

And (there is a share for) those who came after them, saying: “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts (any) resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.[22],[23]

Be gone from me, Allah will do with you what He wills.[24]

 

Tijanis Hadith criticism

Tijani writes:

 

As for the Hadith: If the faith of my nation and the faith of Abu Bakr were put on balance, the faith of Abu Bakr would weigh heavier”, it is invalid and implausible. It is not possible for the faith of a man, who spent forty years of his life believing in polytheism and worshipping idols, to be greater than the faith of the entire nation of Muhammad.

 

Our comment:

This has been a journey of sorts and we have often found Tijani venturing off into the wilderness without a compass. This time Tijani veers off the course of academic hadith criticism and rejects a narration based solely on its content. The alarming indiscretion is not Tijani’s rejection of this narration; it is the reason for rejection.

Tijani ignored the procedure of studying the chain of transmission in order to establish the reliability of the report or not. This approach of his speaks volumes for the inconsistency in his evaluation of facts. His outright rejection means that he was not even prepared to entertain the content value of such a narration.

The report, “Had the iman of Abu Bakr been compared with the iman of the Ummah,” is a statement of ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu which has been narrated by Ishaq ibn Rahuyah, and al Bayhaqi in al Shuab with an authentic chain.

Al Sakhawi says:

 

Hudhayl ibn Shurahbil narrates it from ‘Umar. Likewise, (it has been recorded) by Ibn Mubarak in al Zuhd, and Mu’adh ibn al Muthanna in Ziyadat Musnad Musaddad. Ibn ‘Adi also narrates it in the biography of ‘Isa ibn ‘Abdullah in al Kamil, and in Musnad al Firdows with the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar which leads to the Prophet with the wording, “If the iman of Abu Bakr is weighed against the iman of the Ummah, his iman will outweigh it.” Appearing in the chain of this hadith is ‘Isa ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Sulaiman, who is considered a weak transmitter. That being said, he is not the only person to narrate it in this manner. Ibn ‘Adi narrates this hadith (reaching the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) from a different transmitter with the wording, “If the iman of Abu Bakr is weighed against the iman of the people of the world it would outweigh theirs.” There is also a shahid (corroborating narration) in the Sunan from Abu Bakrah, from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It reads, “A man came to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I saw (in dream) it was as if a scale descended from the sky and you weighed against Abu Bakr and you were heavier than him. Then Abu Bakr was weighed against the rest and he outweighed (the rest)…’”[25]

 

We thus find that the hadith was a subject of discussions among Sunni scholars. The statement from ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is further corroborated by the narration appearing in the Sunan. Is it plausible that Tijani deliberately chose to overlook this and reject it because it doesn’t agree with his worldview?

Is it implausible that Abu Bakr iman could outweigh the rest of the Ummah despite being responsible for the Islam of five of the ten promised Jannat? ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan, al Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam, ‘Abd al Rahman ibn al ‘Awf, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd Allah all entered into Islam through the efforts of Abu Bakr. Is it farfetched that he will share in all their reward? Abu Bakr has the lion’s share of setting slaves free in the Makkan period, does this account for nothing?

Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu accepted Islam without hesitation. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

ما عرضت الإسلام على أحد إلا كانت له عنده كبوة أو تردد غير أبي بكر فإنه لم يتلعثم

I did not present Islam to anyone except that he had a stumble or hesitation except for Abu Bakr, he did not hesitate.[26]

 

Compare Tijani’s rejection of the hadith with the question Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (known as ibn al Hanafiyyah) asked his father:

 

قلت لأبي أى الناس خير بعد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال أبو بكر‏.‏قلت ثم من قال ثم عمر‏‏ وخشيت أن يقول عثمان قلت ثم أنت قال ما أنا إلا رجل من المسلمين

“Who is the best of all people after the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?”

“Abu Bakr,” came the reply.

“Who then?” asked Ibn al Hanafiyyah.

“‘Umar,” replied ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah says, ‘I feared he would say ‘Uthman next if I asked him, so I said, “Then you.”’

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “I am but an ordinary man from the Muslims.”[27]

 

As for Tijani’s statement:

 

It is not possible for the faith of a man, who spent forty years of his life believing in polytheism and worshipping idols, to be greater than the faith of the entire nation of Muhammad, which has many God-fearing and pious people and martyrs and Imams, who spent all their lives fighting for the sake of Allah.

 

We will respond to this from multiple perspectives:

a. The burden of proof lies with Tijani. He has made an outlandish claim that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to worship idols for forty years. On the basis of this ridiculous claim Tijani is prepared to reject the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam words.

b. There has been no proof that Abu Bakr worshipped idols. He was a friend of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the period of Jahiliyyah. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was known not to have worshipped idols. It is not farfetched that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was a Hanif as well. There are some narrations whose integrity we do not rely on completely which read:

 

Abu Bakr once said in the company of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions, “I never prostrated to an idol. That is because when I was close to puberty Abu Quhafah grabbed hold of my hand and took me to a closet in which was idols. He then said to me, ‘These are your idols,’ and left me alone in it and left. I drew close to the idol and said, ‘I am hungry, feed me!’ but he did not respond. Then I said, ‘I am naked, clothe me!’ but he did not respond. Then I threw a rock on top of it and it fell on its face.”[28]

 

Our defence of Abu Bakr is not in light of the above narration. We have merely cited it to show that there is some evidence contrary to what Tijani has claimed. He bears the burden of furnishing evidence to back up his claim.

c. If we accept that Abu Bakr was engaged in idol worship during the Jahiliyyah period, this is of no consequence after his Islam since Allah pardons all sins of the past:

قُلْ لِّلَّذِيْنَ كَفَرُوْا إِنْ يَّنْتَهُوْا يُغْفَرْ لَهُمْ مَّا قَدْ سَلَفَ

Say to those who have disbelieved (that) if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them.[29]

 

In a lengthy hadith the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu:

 

أما علمت أن الإسلام يهدم ما كان قبله

Do you not know that Islam eradicates what came before it?[30]

 

Embracing Islam removes whatever sins the person committed and expiates it.

d. This reality is acknowledged by the Rafidah as well. Al Kulayni narrates from Imam al Baqir in al Kafi, under the chapter, “the Muslim is not taken to task for what he did in his days of ignorance”:

 

Some people came to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam after they accepted Islam and said, “O Messenger of Allah, will a man amongst us be taken account of for what he did during his days of ignorance after accepting Islam?”

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to them, “The person whose Islam is good, and the conviction in his iman is correct, Allah will not take him to account for what he did during his days of ignorance. (On the other hand) whosoever’s Islam is weak, and the conviction in his iman is not correct, Allah will take into account all that he did from the first to the last (of his actions).”[31]

 

If anything it also shows the shallowness of Tijani’s claim where he says:

I have no enmity towards Abu Bakr or Umar or ‘Uthman or Ali or even Wahshi, the killer of our master al Hamzah, as long as he became a Muslim, and the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forgave him.[32]

 

Why should Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu be taken to task for what he had allegedly done during the period of Jahiliyyah? If he is to be taken to task then Tijani’s sentiments are self-contradictory.

e. Ibn Taymiyyah says:

 

Not every person born in Islam is better than the person who entered into Islam by himself such as Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Indeed, it has been established that the greatest of all generations is the first generation and most of them accepted Islam on their own after unbelief. They are better than the second generation who were born into Islam.[33]

 

There remains his assertion that it is impossible for Abu Bakr’s iman ‘to be greater than the faith of the entire nation of Muhammad, which has many God-fearing and pious people and martyrs and Imams, who spent all their lives fighting for the sake of Allah’.

The truth is that after Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Abu Bakr is their leader. One has to appreciate the extent to which the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would become annoyed if anyone upset Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Al Bukhari narrates from Abu al Darda’:

 

كنت جالسا عند النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ أقبل أبو بكر آخذا بطرف ثوبه حتى أبدى عن ركبته، فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ أما صاحبكم فقد غامر‏‏‏ فسلم وقال إني كان بيني وبين ابن الخطاب شىء فأسرعت إليه ثم ندمت فسألته أن يغفر لي فأبى على فأقبلت إليك فقال يغفر الله لك يابا بكر‏ ثلاثا ثم إن عمر ندم فأتى منزل أبي بكر فسأل أثم أبو بكر فقالوا لا‏ فأتى إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فسلم فجعل وجه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يتمعر حتى أشفق أبو بكر فجثا على ركبتيه فقال يا رسول الله والله أنا كنت أظلم مرتين‏ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم‏ إن الله بعثني إليكم فقلتم كذبت‏‏ وقال أبو بكر صدق‏‏ وواساني بنفسه وماله، فهل أنتم تاركو لي صاحبي‏ مرتين فما أوذي بعدها‏

I was sitting with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when Abu Bakr headed towards us holding onto the edge of his cloak to the extent that he exposed his knees.

The Prophet said, “As for your friend he is upset.”

Abu Bakr greeted and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Something happened between me and Ibn al Khattab (‘Umar). I hastened (after the incident) towards him and regretted (my action) and asked him to forgive me but he refused. Therefore I came to you.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “May Allah forgive you, O Abu Bakr, ” repeating it thrice.

Then ‘Umar regretted his action and went to the house of Abu Bakr and asked, “Is Abu Bakr home,” and they replied that he was not.

He then went to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw him, his face turned red to the point that Abu Bakr regretted (taking the matter to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

Abu Bakr sat up and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I was the one in the wrong,” repeating it twice.

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, “Allah sent me to you and you all said, ‘You are lying,’ and Abu Bakr said, ‘You speak the truth,’ he provided me with both physical and financial assistance. Will you not leave my Companion for my sake?” repeating it twice.

He (Abu Bakr) was never inconvenienced again after that.[34]

 

Abu ‘Uthman reports that ‘Amr ibn al ‘As radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrated when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent him with the army of Dhat al Salasil:

 

أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بعثه على جيش ذات السلاسل فأتيته فقلت أى الناس أحب إليك قال عائشة‏‏‏ فقلت من الرجال فقال‏ أبوها قلت ثم من قال‏ ثم عمر بن الخطاب فعد رجالا‏

I went to him and said, “Who is most beloved person to you?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “‘Aisha.”

I asked, “And from the men?”

He replied, “Her father.”

I enquired, “Who thereafter?”

He said, “‘Umar ibn al Khattab,” and then mentioned a number of other men.[35]

 

Abu Bakr was also considered the greatest of the Companions in terms of righteous actions. Muslim narrates with his chain to Abu Hurairah who said:

من أصبح منكم اليوم صائما قال أبو بكر أنا.قال فمن تبع منكم اليوم جنازة قال أبو بكر أنا قال فمن أطعم منكم اليوم مسكينا قال أبو بكر أنا قال فمن عاد منكم اليوم مريضا قال أبو بكر أنا.فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما اجتمعن في امرئ إلا دخل الجنة

One day the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked, “Who amongst you is fasting?”

Abu Bakr replied, “I am.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then asked, “Who followed a Janazah today?”

Abu Bakr replied, “I did.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Who amongst you fed a needy person today?”

Abu Bakr said, “I did.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Who amongst you visited the sick today?”

Abu Bakr said, “I did.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, “These (acts) are not combined in one person except that he enters Jannat.”[36]

 

Notwithstanding all of the difficulty, hardship, and suffering that he endured from the earliest days of Islam. All of that without displaying any signs of cowardice, embarrassment, or failure. He gracefully defended the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, fighting the Mushrikin at times with his hand, at times with his tongue, and at times with his wealth.[37]

‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:

 

قال لي رسول الله يوم بدر و لأبي بكر مع أحدكما جبريل و مع الأخر ميكائيل و إسرافيل ملك عظيم يشهد القتال أو يكون في القتال

The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to me and Abu Bakr on the Day of Badr, “Jibril was with one of you and Mika’il was with the other. And Israfil is a huge angel; he witnessed or partook in the battle.”[38]

 

It is overwhelmingly clear that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the leader of the righteous and Tijani’s snide comments are the result of nothing but prejudice.

I conclude this discussion with a narration recorded by the Twelver Shia scholar, Abu al Hassan al Arbili, in his book, Kashf al Ghummah, from ‘Urwah ibn ‘Abdullah:

 

I asked Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn ‘Ali (al Baqir) about adorning the swords and he said, “There is no problem with it. Indeed, Abu Bakr al Siddiq adorned his sword.”

I asked him, “Do you too say al Siddiq?”

He jumped up and faced the Qiblah and said, “Yes, (he is) al Siddiq! Yes, (he is) al Siddiq! Yes, (he is) al Siddiq! The person who does not call (or regard) him as al Siddiq, Allah will not attest to a word he said in the world or in the hereafter.”[39]

 

NEXT ⇒ 4. Tijani’s enlightenment and his attitude towards Abu Bakr


[1]  Surah Taha: 114

[2]Then I was guided 128-129

[3] Al Tamhid, vol. 21 pg. 228

[4] Surah al A’raf: 188

[5] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Sawm, hadith 1897; Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Zakat, hadith 1027

[6]Sunan al Tirmidhi, Kitab al Manaqib, Hadith no. 3679; Tabrani in his al Kabir, vol. 1, Hadith no: 7-10; Refer also to Sahih al Tirmidhi, Hadith no: 2905

[7]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no: 3471, vol. 3

[8]Sunan al Tirmidhi, Kitab al Manaqib, Bab Manaqib ‘Abd al Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Hadith no: 3747

[9]  Ibid, Hadith no: 3665

[10]  Surah al Tawbah: 40

[11]Fath al Bari, vol. 7, p. 12

[12]Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 8, p. 381

[13] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Jana’iz, hadith no. 1243

[14] There is no doubt in the falseness of this statement but I have cited it to clarify the scope of Tijani’s continuous contradictions.

[15]Sharh al Zurqani ‘ala Muwattaʼal Imam Malik, vol. 3, p. 49-50.

[16]Al Muwattaʼ Sharh al Baji, vol. 3, p. 207-209.

[17] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Jana’iz, hadith no. 1243

[18]Then I was guided, p. 129-130

[19]  Surah al Tawbah: 88-89

[20]  Surah al Tawbah: 100

[21]  Surah al Hashr: 8-9

[22]  Surah al Hashr: 10

[23]  Ibid

[24]Kashf al Ghummah, vol. 2, p. 291, under the heading Fada’il al Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin

[25] Al Maqasid al Hasanah,

[26]Refer to al Shaykhan, Abu Bakr al Siddiq, al Baladhuri, p. 21.

[27] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Fada’il Ashab al Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, hadith 3671

[28]  Refer to al Tarikh al Islami by Mahmud al Shakir, vol. 3, p. 31; and Muhktasar al Mahasin al Mujtami’ah by ‘Abd al Rahman al Safuri, p. 38.

[29]  Surah al Anfal:38

[30]Sahih Muslim with its commentary, Kitab al Iman, Bab ‘hal yu’khadh bi a’mal al Jahiliyyah

[31]Usul al Kafi, vol. 2, p. 333.

[32]Then I was guided, p. 82.

[33] Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 8, p. 284.

[34] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no. 4361.

[35]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no. 4362.

[36]Muslim with it commentary, Bab Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no. 1028.

[37]Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 8, p. 79

[38]Musnad Abu Ya’la, vol. 1, p. 340, Musnad ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the editor commented and said: “Its sanad is authentic.”

[39]Kashf al Ghummah by Arbili, vol. 2, p. 360.