5. Tijani’s proofs for the superiority of ‘Ali over Abu Bakr

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5. Tijani’s proofs for the superiority of ‘Ali over Abu Bakr

 

Tijani has a sectioned titled, ‘‘Ali is more worthy of being followed.’ In this section he presents the reasons, both textual and rational, why he believes that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was superior to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and more deserving of the Caliphate. He writes:

 

One of the reasons which led to my enlightenment and ultimately made me leave the tradition [Sunna] of my forefathers was the comparison between the positions of Ali ibn Abi Talib and that of Abu Bakr, based on logical deductions and historical references.

As I stated in earlier parts of this book, I only included in my research the references which have been agreed on by both, the Shiites and the Sunnis.

I searched in the books of both parties and found that only Ali received total support, and both Shiites and Sunnis agreed on his leadership in accordance with the texts they approved of. However there is neither support nor agreement on the leadership of Abu Bakr except by a small group of Muslims, and we have mentioned what Umar said about his succession to the caliphate.[1]

 

Responding to Tijani’s proofs for the superiority of ‘Ali over Abu Bakr

The reasons given above could be expected from an individual who is trapped between the threshold of fantasy and reality. How else can the undertaking of objectivity be reconciled with such gross obfuscation of historical facts?

Let us pause for a moment. What would be a logical analysis of the situation after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise? How do we approach this delicate subject in a manner that is aligned with sound reasoning, yet detached from emotional bias? While we acknowledge the merit in a proposal to make sense of a murky situation based on mutually agreed upon facts, our objection against Tijani is uncompromising since his execution of the said proposal ignores the very facts which he pledged to consider.

In the passages that follow we are going to demonstrate that the ‘reasons for enlightenment’ are not just a farce, but an insult to the intelligence of the astute reader. In order to proceed we will have to accept the following underlying assumptions:

  • ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu behaves in a rational manner and his behaviour is consistent
  • ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu behaviour is an accurate indicator of how he interpreted situations

Bearing the underlying assumptions in mind, we can state with confidence that there is no disagreement on the fact that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu fought Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu with a formidable army at Siffin. Both the Ahlus Sunnah and Shia agree that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the legitimate Khalifah. Similarly there is no disagreement that Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu resisted pledging allegiance to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, which is a point in favour of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in this unfortunate battle.

When the pledge was given to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, there was no resistance from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. If ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu displayed no sign of resistance when Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was nominated as Khalifah, and fought Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu when Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu resisted pledging allegiance; we are left with only two possible outcomes. Either ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu acknowledged the legitimacy of Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Caliphate, hence no resistance, or—Allah forbid—’Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu behaviour was erratic. It is the responsibility of the Rafidah, like Tijani, to explain the inconsistency in his behaviour since the understanding of the Ahlus Sunnah is not only plausible, but portrays ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the most positive light.

In a desperate attempt to show face, someone like Tijani might say that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was coerced and he had no alternative and had no army. The truth is that the army of Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was camped at al Jurf outside of Madinah, which meant that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no army as well. If there was support for ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from within Madinah after the assassination of ‘Uthman, surely there would have been support for him after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise.

After the assassination of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu he nominated ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to be part of the six-member Shura from whom the new khalifah ought to be elected. Why would ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu agree to be a candidate, if he were nominated by authoritative text as Tijani asserts? All he had to do was to announce his Caliphate. Why agree to a process of election if he was already the khalifah? ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu had no army since he had not yet been elected. If ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the only candidate to receive total support, why is it that the Caliphate went to ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu without resistance from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu?

If our expression appears a bit harsh it is only because the dignity of Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is sacrificed at the altar of foolish arguments of people like Tijani who do not realise the consequences of their rants. One wonders if Tijani has no shame; to insinuate that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu displayed such erratic behaviour!

Another fact to consider is how was ijma’ on the leadership of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu attained when history testifies that an ijma’ was established on the leadership of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu? It is given that no ijma’ existed regarding ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu leadership after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise from Sunni sources; but it might come as an unpleasant surprise that no such ijma’ exists even in Twelver Shia[2] sources.

Our argument is further reinforced by Tijani’s contradiction:

However there is neither support nor agreement on the leadership of Abu Bakr except by a small group of Muslims.

Our comment: If only a small group pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, as Tijani alleges, why did ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu not contest this? He went to war against Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu and he was a legitimate khalifah by consensus. Why not here?

We ought to reiterate that the pledge of allegiance was initially given by those present at Saqifah Bani Sa’idah. Subsequently, the general Bay’ah took place where the entire community of Madinah, including ‘Ali and Zubair radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Then he says:

Furthermore there are many virtues and good deeds attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib by the Shiites and cited as authentic references in the Sunni books.[3]

Our comment:

The Ahlus Sunnah do not deny the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. They have compiled exclusive chapters about the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in their hadith collections. Similarly, many of the other Companions of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have virtues and merits. The difference between the Ahlus Sunnah and the likes of Tijani is that the Ahlus Sunnah have scrutinised these narrations, whether they extol the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu or the rest of the Companions; in addition to understanding these narrations in their proper context.

Tijani is finding it increasingly difficult to exercise restraint; his predilection for exaggeration manifests itself in his statement:

 

The sayings are full of the virtues of Ali, more than any other Companion ever received, and even Ahmed ibn Hanbal said: No one among the Companions of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had more virtues than Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Qadi Ismail, al Nasa’i and Abu Ali al Naisaburi said: “No Companion had as many virtues attributed to him as Ali.”[4]

 

Our response: What was intended by these scholars is that the narrators who transmit the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are greater in number. They are not referring to the number of hadith in terms of the Prophetic text; rather it is in reference to the vast number of chains of transmission by which these reports have been recorded. For example, the narration, “Whoever considers me his Mawla, ‘Ali is his Mawla.” This hadith has many chains even though it is one and the same narration.

We realise the reason for the abundant chains of narration for the ahadith which mention the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is that he was subject to criticism by the Nawasib. This resulted in many hadith scholars quoting these narrations and popularising them so that the rank and position of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu be properly recognised. It is for this reason that Ibn Hajar says:

 

Ahmed, Ismail al Qadi, Nasa’i, and Abu ‘Ali al Nishapuri, say, “There are not as many good narrations pertaining to any of the Sahabah as what has been transmitted about ‘Ali. Perhaps the reason was his late death. It was in his era that the Ummah split and he faced opposition. Therefore, the narration of his virtues spread as many of the Sahabah narrated it in order to respond to those who opposed him.”[5]

 

Notwithstanding the abundant narrations which mention ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu merits, not all of them are reliable and true. Al Dhahabi says in Talkhis al Mawdu’at:

 

The virtues of no Companion have been narrated as much as was been narrated about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Those narrations are of three categories:

a) Sahih (authentic) and Hassan (acceptable)

b) A number of da’if (weak) ahadith, and they are plenty,

c) A number of mawdu’at (fabricated), and they are many with perhaps some of them bearing misguidance and zandaqah (an effort to corrupt the din from the inside).[6]

 

Therefore, not everything narrated about the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is necessarily authentic. Rather, the liars fabricated a substantial number of narrations extolling his virtues. The Imamiyyah Shia confirm this. Ibn Abi al Hadid, the Shia, says:

 

The root of fabrications in hadith in the genre of virtues stemmed from the Shia. Indeed, they fabricated a number of ahadith relating to their Companion (‘Ali) initially. Their enmity towards their adversaries motivated them to do that.[7]

 

Al Kashshi confirms this in his book Rijal al Kashshi:

 

From Ibn Muskan—from someone who narrated to him from our Companions—from Abu ‘Abdullah al Sadiq whom I heard saying, “May Allah curse Mughirah ibn Sa’id. Indeed, he used to forge (ahadith) from my father and Allah made him taste the heat of the steel.”[8]

 

He further states:

 

From Yunus, who said, “I visited Iraq and found a group of the students of Abu Jafar there. I found the students of Abu ‘Abdullah in abundance. I listened (to ahadith) from them and took their books (from them) and later presented it to Abu al Hassan al Rida. He denied a large number of the ahadith; that they could possibly be attributed to Abu ‘Abdullah, and said, “Indeed, Abu al Khattab forged a number of ahadith upon Abu ‘Abdullah. May Allah curse Abu al Khattab! Likewise the students of Abu al Khattab smuggle these ahadith into the books of the students of Abu ‘Abdullah until today.”[9]

 

These are admissions from Shia narrators found in reliable Shia books. We do not have to refer to the Ahlus Sunnah to confirm that a substantial number of narrations mentioning the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are lies which have been forged by those who claim to be his Shia!

Tijani’s subtle reference to Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal might imply that he considered ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu greater in status than Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. The truth is that Imam Ahmed held the view that the best of this Ummah after its Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was Abu Bakr then ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma.

‘Abdullah ibn Ahmed ibn Hanbal says:

I heard my father (Ahmed ibn Hanbal) saying, “As for superiority, I say, Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman, then ‘Ali.”[10]

He also says:

I asked my father about superiority between Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali and he replied, “Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, then ‘Ali, the fourth of the khalifas’.” I said to my father, “Some people say he was not a khalifah,” and he replied, “This is an evil statement!”[11]

 

In the Masa’il of Ibn Hani, he says:

 

I heard Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Hanbal saying about superiority (amongst the Sahabah), “Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman and if someone should say ‘Ali I will not rebuke him,” (then his son asked him about the Caliphate).”

He says further, “I asked my father about the Imams and he said, ‘Abu Bakr, then ‘Umar, then ‘Uthman, then ‘Ali in terms of the Caliphate.’”[12]

 

This is the view of Ahmed ibn Hanbal regarding rank and Caliphate.

Tijani goes on to say:

As for Abu Bakr, I searched in the books of the two parties, and found that the virtues attributed to him by the Sunnis were much less than that attributed to Ali…[13]

Until he says:

Despite the fact that Abu Bakr was the first caliph, and had all the power and authority, despite the bribes and gifts that the Umayyad’s gave to everyone who praised Abu Bakr, Umar and ‘Uthman, and despite all the alleged virtues and good deeds that they invented for Abu Bakr, which filled many books … despite all that, they did not amount to a fraction of the true virtues of Imam Ali. [14]

 

Our comment: It is amazing how Tijani’s objectivity could lead him to copious narrations of the merits of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, yet blinded him from the ahadith which mention the merits of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This is the same objectivity which led him to reject the ahadith mentioning the virtues of Abu Bakr because they are ‘Umayyad-sponsored forgeries’. This eye of scrutiny was so focused on finding fault with narrations favouring Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu that it overlooked what is written in Rijal al Kashshi :

From Ibn Muskan—from someone who narrated to him from our companions—from Abu ‘Abdullah al Sadiq whom I heard saying, “May Allah curse Mughirah ibn Sa’id. Indeed, he used to forge (ahadith) from my father on account of which Allah made him taste the heat of the steal.”[15]

 

This is a Jafar al Sadiq, the sixth of the twelve ‘infallible’ Imams, cursing an individual who professes to be a Shia yet forges narrations in the name of his Imams. Is this the objective research that Tijani was referring to? May Allah protect us all from such objectivity.

Furthermore, the onus is on Tijani to provide evidence that supports his claim that the Umayyads gave gifts and bribes to narrators for forging ahadith about Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Furthermore, what purpose would that serve since Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was from the branch of Banu Taym and ‘Umar was from Banu ‘Adi? Their lineage meets up much later.

Little does Tijani realise that some of the same narrators who narrate the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu are those who narrate the virtues of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma! Are their narrations only sound if they narrate the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu? By Allah this is a unique brand of objectivity. The implication is even more damning if Tijani insinuates that the forgers of hadith were the Companions of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. May Allah have mercy on Imam Malik for such a profound statement:

These people criticise the Companions of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. They criticise his Companions and (nothing prevents) someone from saying, “(He was) an evil man and he had evil companions. If he was a good man he would have had good companions.”[16]

 

Tijani has not concluded his analysis. He seeks to elaborate further on his findings:

Furthermore, if we analyze the alleged sayings that were in favour of Abu Bakr, we find them incompatible with the historical facts, and no sensible man or creed could accept them.[17]

 

Our comment:

One wonders if Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is worthy of any virtue according to Tijani? What seems evident here is that Tijani’s research is based on retrospective analysis from a point of absolute blind faith. Tijani has failed to prove that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the prime candidate for Caliphate after the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam demise, not by direct nomination—as he alleges—nor by the process of Shura. Tijani’s blind faith, however, is that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was divinely appointed for the post. Regardless of what evidence is presented, he is going to dismiss it on any grounds as we have demonstrated earlier. Considering his blind faith in ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu leadership, every hadith in favour of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu must now be dismissed as a forgery and in conflict with reality. For him the virtues of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and the virtues of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu are mutually exclusive, absolutely incompatible. His logic is that any acknowledgement of virtues for Abu Bakr puts ‘Ali’s candidacy in jeopardy; and since his faith is that ‘Ali is the divinely appointed leader any hadith which mentions his virtue is validated regardless if it was narrated by a known forger.

The Ahlus Sunnah, on the other hand, acknowledge virtues for both ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The virtues and merits of one, does not detract from the other. Their merits and virtues are not based on the perception of the Ahlus Sunnah in terms of their superiority in rank. Instead their merits are established from the narrations which are subject to scrutiny. The criteria of analysing narrations are not on the basis of any predisposition toward any of the Sahabah. The narrations are examined on the basis of their chain of transmission to establish whether they are reliable or not.

If we were to base these narrations on historical fact we find that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the one who contributed to the cause of Islam financially in its early days. He was nearly beaten to death when he stood up in defence of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in the early days in Makkah.

‘Urwah ibn al Zubair relates that he asked ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, “Tell me of the worst thing which the mushrikun did to the Prophet?”

He said, “While the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was praying in the Hijr of the Ka’bah; ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’ayt came and put his garment around the Prophet’s neck and throttled him violently. Abu Bakr came and caught him by his shoulder and pushed him away from the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, “Do you want to kill a man just because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah?’”[18]

 

Who was the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companion during the hijrah (emigration)? ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha narrates:

 

Some Muslims emigrated to Abyssinia and Abu Bakr also prepared himself for the emigration, but the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said (to him), “Wait, for I hope that Allah will allow me also to emigrate.”

Abu Bakr said, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you. Do you expect to emigrate (soon)?”

The Prophet said, “Yes.” So Abu Bakr waited to accompany the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and fed two she-camels he had on the leaves of an acacia tree regularly for four months. One day while we were sitting in our house at midday, someone said to Abu Bakr, “Here is the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, coming with his head and a part of his face covered with a cloth at an hour he never used to come to us.”

Abu Bakr said, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, (O Prophet)! An urgent matter must have brought you here at this hour.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came and asked permission to enter, and he was allowed. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam entered and said to Abu Bakr, “Let those who are with you excuse themselves.”

Abu Bakr replied, “There is no stranger; they are your family. Let my father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah!”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “I have been allowed to leave (Makkah).”

Abu Bakr said, “Shall I accompany you, O Messenger of Allah, May my father be sacrificed for you?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes,”

Abu Bakr said, “O Messenger of Allah! May my father be sacrificed for you. Take one of these two she camels of mine.”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “I will take it only after paying its price.”

So we prepared their baggage and put their journey food in a leather bag; and Asma’ bint Abi Bakr cut a piece of her girdle and tied the mouth of the leather bag with it. That is why she was called Dhat al Nitaqayn. Then the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr went to a cave in a mountain called Thawr and remained there for three nights. ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr, who was a young intelligent man, used to stay with them at night and leave before dawn so that in the morning, he would be with the Quraysh in Makkah as if he had spent the night among them. If he heard of any plot contrived by the Quraysh against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Abu Bakr, he would understand it and (return to) inform them of it when it became dark. ‘Amir ibn Fuhayrah, the freed slave of Abu Bakr used to graze a flock of sheep for them and he used to take those sheep to them a while after the ‘Isha prayer. They would sleep till ‘Amir awakened them when it was still dark. He used to do that in each of those three nights…”[19]

 

Then he says:

 

Earlier on we explained the saying attributed to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “If the faith of Abu Bakr and the faith of my nation are put on the balance, the faith of Abu Bakr will be heavier”.

If the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was aware of this high degree of faith in Abu Bakr, he would not have appointed Usamah to command the army; nor would he have refused to bear witness for him as he did for the martyrs of Uhud, and then said to him that he did not know what he was going to do after him, so that Abu Bakr cried.[20]

 

Our comment:

Many of these criticisms have been dealt with in detail earlier in the book. Nonetheless, we will commit to brief comments here. I am taking the liberty of expressing Tijani’s argument as coherent as is possible:

How could Abu Bakr have iman greater than the entire Ummah when someone as junior as Usamah was appointed the leader of an army instead of him!

In the narration quoted above Tijani has not only ignored the study of the chain of transmission for considerations that stand opposed to sound reason; but subtly implies that Usamah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was inadequate as a leader. This is the consequence of unprincipled reckless research. Tijani has not realised that this insinuation of his undermines the objection which he raised against ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the beginning of the book; even though he falsified the information there to implicate ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

Furthermore, in his haste to reject this narration he has overlooked so many others. He has simply ignored the fact that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed Abu Bakr as the leader of prayer during his sickness. Similarly he has ignored the statement of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu when asked by his son Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah:

 

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,” was his reply.

“Who then?” asked Ibn al Hanafiyyah.

“‘Umar,” replied ‘Ali.

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.”[21]

 

Earlier in the book we objected to the manner in which a phrase from the lengthier hadith was translated

 

عن مالك عن أبي النضر مولى عمر بن عبيد الله أنه بلغه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال لشهداء أحد‏ هؤلاء أشهد عليهم‏ فقال أبو بكر الصديق ألسنا يا رسول الله بإخوانهم أسلمنا كما أسلموا وجاهدنا كما جاهدوا فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏ بلى ولكن لا أدري ما تحدثون بعدي‏‏ فبكى أبو بكر ثم بكى ثم قال أئنا لكائنون بعدك

Abu al Nadr, the freed-slave of ‘Umar ibn ‘Ubaydillah said that it has reached him that the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said over the martyrs of Uhud, “I testify for them.” Abu Bakr al Siddiq said, “O Messenger of Allah! Are we not their brothers? We entered Islam as they entered Islam and we strove as they strove.” The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Yes, but I do not know what you (all) will do after me.” Abu Bakr wept profusely and said, “Are we really going to out-live you!”

 

The statement of Abu Bakr earlier translation in Then I was Guided read, “We are going to alter many things after your departure.”

At that instance it would have been unfair on us to raise this objection against Tijani since the error was clearly with the translator in the manner in which the hadith had been translated. However, here we find that the charge of distortion and interpolation against Tijani is warranted. As a matter of fact, the translation has masked Tijani’s deception on this occasion.

The original wording quoted by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam responding to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu using the pronoun which is plural i.e. “I do not know what you all will do after me.” In the original version of his book Tijani has substituted the plural pronoun for the singular; thus restricting the general mode of address by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu specifically. Ultimately, it is up to the discerning reader to decide how genuine the claim of impartiality and fair assessment of fact is.

Then he says:

In addition to that, the Prophet would not have sent Ali ibn Abi Talib to take “Surat Bara’a” from him and prevented him from transmitting it.[22]

Our comment:

Again, the facts have been distorted. It is unanimously accepted that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instated Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu as the leader of the Hajj in the ninth year after the hijrah. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was subsequently sent to announce this during the Hajj as it was revealed after Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu departure. After reviewing all the narrations which describe this, we cannot find a single narration which prohibits Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu from transmitting it.

Al Tabari, Ishaq ibn Rahuyah in his Musnad, Nasa’i, Darimi, Ibn Khuzaymah, and Ibn Hibban all narrate by way of Ibn Jurayj, who says, “‘Abdullah ibn ‘Uthman ibn Khaytham narrated to us—from Abu Zubair—from Jabir who said:

 

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, after his return from the ‘Umrah which commenced at Ji’irranah, sent Abu Bakr to lead the Hajj. We proceeded until we were close to al ‘Arj when the adhan for Fajr was called out and the sound of the Messenger’s camel was heard and sitting on it was ‘Ali. Abu Bakr said to him, “Have you been sent as a leader or a messenger?” He said, “Rather, the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent me with (Surat) al Bara’ah to recite to the people.” We arrived in Makkah and one day before the Day of Tarwiyah, Abu Bakr came and addressed the people with regards to their rituals. Upon the completion of his address ‘Ali stood up and recited (Surat) al Bara’ah to the people until he completed it. The Day of al Nahr passed by in the same manner and the Day of al Nafr passed by in the same manner.[23]

 

During this Hajj, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu proclaimed that no mushrik may perform Hajj after that year, and no person may perform tawaf in an unclothed state. He commanded his other Companions to do the same. This is supported by what al Bukhari narrates from Abu Hurairah, who said:

بعثني أبو بكر في تلك الحجة في مؤذنين يوم النحر نؤذن بمنى أن لا يحج بعد العام مشرك ولا يطوف بالبيت عريان‏‏ قال حميد بن عبد الرحمن ثم أردف رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عليا فأمره أن يؤذن ببراءة قال أبو هريرة فأذن معنا علي في أهل منى يوم النحر لا يحج بعد العام مشرك ولا يطوف بالبيت عريان.

Abu Bakr sent me during that Hajj amongst the announcers on the Day of Nahr at Mina that no mushrik may perform the Hajj after that year and no person may perform tawaf naked. Humaid ibn Abd al Rahman says, “Then the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam seated ‘Ali (on his camel) and instructed him to announce (recite Surat) al Bara’ah (to the people).”

Abu Hurairah says, “Then ‘Ali announced with us amongst the people in Mina the Day of al Nahr (Surat) al Bara’ah and that no mushrik may perform the Hajj after that year and that no person may perform tawaf naked.”[24]

 

The reason for sending ‘Ali was that since the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was a leader, it was Arab custom that only he, or someone from his household could convey this instruction.

Al Tabarani narrates from Abu Rafi’, part of a lengthier report:

No one may convey it except you or a man from you![25]

 

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam sent ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu for this reason and not to prevent Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu as stated by Tijani. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the one who appointed him to lead the Hajj and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was amongst Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu Companions.

As for Tijani’s statement:

Nor would the Prophet have said in Khayber while presenting the flag: “Tomorrow I will give my flag to a man who loves Allah and His Messenger, ever going forward and never retreating, Allah had tested his heart with the faith” then he gave it to Ali and no one else.[26]

 

Our comments:

Firstly, he ascribes this narration to Sahih Muslim.

Despite expending every effort we did not find this hadith with this wording in Sahih Muslim. The hadith in Sahih Muslim is the hadith of Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said on the Day of Khaybar:

 

لأعطين هذه الراية رجلا يحب الله ورسوله ، يفتح الله على يديه ، قال عمر بن الخطاب : ما أحببت الإمارة إلا يومئذ ، قال : فتساورت لها ، رجاء أن أدعى لها ، قال : فدعا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، علي بن أبي طالب فأعطاه إياها ، وقال : إمش ولا تلتفت حتى يفتح الله عليك ، قال : فسار علي شيئا ، ثم وقف ولم يلتفت فصرخ : يا رسول الله : على ماذا أقاتل الناس ، قال : قاتلهم حتى يشهدوا أن لا إله إلا الله ، وأن محمدا رسول الله ، فإذا فعلوا ذلك ، فقد منعوا منك دماءهم وأموالهم إلا بحقها ، وحسابهم على الله

“I will most certainly give this flag to a man whom Allah and His Messenger love, Allah will grant victory at his hands.”

‘Umar said, “I did not wish for leadership except on that day.”

‘Umar then said, “Then I moved towards it hoping I would be called for it. The Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called ‘Ali and gave it to him and said, ‘Walk and do not turn around until Allah gives victory by you.’”

‘Ali travelled for a little while and then stopped and he did not turn around. Then he shouted, “O Messenger, on what basis should I fight the people?”

The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “Fight them until they testify that there is no deity besides Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah! When they do that they prevent you from their blood and their wealth, except by its rights, and their reckoning is by Allah.”[27]

 

No doubt this hadith records the merits of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu. However, there is no disparagement in it towards Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu whatsoever. The flag was not with Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and then given to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Also it is not logical to single out Abu Bakr for criticism here as it would apply to all the Companions as well, including those whom Tijani loves.

If we study the statement of the Prophet, “I will give this flag to a man whom Allah and his Messenger love. Allah will give victory at his hands,” no intelligent person will claim that this is exclusive to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. It is established that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam testified on behalf of ‘Abdullah ibn Hammar when he came to receive the prescribed punishment for consuming alcohol more than once and a man amongst the people said, “O Allah curse him! How often he has perpetrated what he did.” The Prophet said:

 

لا تلعنوه فوالله ما علمت أنه يحب الله ورسوله

Do not curse him, for indeed, I know him to love Allah and His Messenger.[28]

 

Will any intelligent person say that it is exclusive to ‘Abdullah ibn Hammar and excludes ‘Ali? Also it is well-known that the Sahabah were great in number and therefore it is not acceptable for all matters and praises and merits and precedence to restrict itself to a single Sahabi. Rather, every Sahabi is from the close friends of Allah having a certain status by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and there is no doubt that the one whom Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam affirm his Companionship; Allah and His Messenger love him. Therefore, proving ‘Ali’s superiority over Abu Bakr with this hadith is without merit.

Let us not forget that it is the same Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu—whom Tijani is prepared to accuse of forging ahadith—who narrates this hadith. Has the objectivity gone on lunch?

As for his statement:

If Allah knew that Abu Bakr had such a high degree of faith, and that his faith exceeded the faith of all Muslims, Allah – praise be upon Him – would not have had to threaten him that He would spoil his work when he raised his voice above the Prophet’s voice.[29]

 

Our response: This verse was revealed to educate the Muslims in general and the Sahabah specifically with regards to their interaction with the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The general address of this verse indicates how it should be understood, unless some evidence emerges to specify it.

Scholars have pointed out that there is more than one sabab al nuzul (reason for revelation) for this verse? One of these is that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma argued with each other in the presence of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam so this verse was revealed which starts with the words, “O those who believe..” Thus we learn that the verse was revealed to discipline the Sahabah and educate them and inform them of the appropriate behaviour in the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam presence.

Having acknowledged this, if we apply it to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu then it is a divine acknowledgement to his belief as Allah addressed him as “O you who believe…”

Imam Muslim records a narration that indicates it was revealed regarding Thabit ibn Qays radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:

 

لما نزلت هذه الآية يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لاَ تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِىِّ إلى آخر الآية ، جلس ثابت في بيته ، قال : أنا من أهل النار . واحتبس عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقال النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لسعد بن معاذ : ” يا أبا عمرو ، ما شأن ثابت ؟ أشتكى ؟ ” فقال سعد : إنه لجاري ، وما علمت له بشكوى . قال : فأتاه سعد فذكر له قول رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقال ثابت : أنزلت هذه الآية ، ولقد علمتم أني من أرفعكم صوتا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فأنا من أهل النار . فذكر ذلك سعد للنبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ” بل هو من أهل الجنة “

When this verse, “O those who believe, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam…” was revealed, Thabit ibn Qays remained in his house and said (to himself), “I am from the dwellers of the fire,” and he avoided the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Then the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked Sa’d ibn Mu’adh (about his whereabouts) and said, “O Abu ‘Amr, what is the matter with Thabit? Is he sick?” Sa’d replied, “He is my neighbour and I am not aware that he is sick.” Then Sa’d went to him and mentioned to him the statement of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Thabit replied, “This verse was revealed and you all know that I am the loudest amongst you when addressing the Prophet and I am therefore from the inmates of the Fire.” Sa’d then mentioned that to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who said, “Rather, he is of the residents of Jannat!”[30]

 

If this explanation applies to Thabit ibn Qays; then what about Abu Bakr? He is one of those whom the Prophet gave the glad tidings of Jannat on a number of occasions, Hakim narrates in his book, al Mustadrak, with a complete chain leading to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:

 

لما نزلت على النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم إِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ يَغُضُّوْنَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِنْدَ رَسُوْلِ اللّهِ أُولٰئِكَ الَّذِيْنَ امْتَحَنَ اللّهُ قُلُوْبُهُمْ لِلتَّقْوٰى قال أبو بكر رضي الله عنه فآليت على نفسي أن لا أكلم رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم إلا كأخي السرار

When the verse, “Indeed, those who lower their voices before the Messenger—they are the ones whose hearts Allah has tested for righteousness,” was revealed, Abu Bakr narrated, “I said to the Messenger, ‘I swear by Allah, I will not speak to the Messenger of Allah except as my secretive brother.’”[31]

 

In summary, Abu Bakr al Siddiq was not infallible. Rather he was correct at most times and erred at others, though he was informed about his error. The Qur’an disciplined him and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam groomed him in character. If anything, this is a compliment to him. Furthermore, it is a divine certification of his iman as he was addressed as one who believes.

Tijani seeks to detract from Abu Bakr by implying that he had no right to suggest candidates less worthy if he was the most deserving of the Caliphate. This is what he seeks to convey in his statement:

And on the Day of Saqifah he tossed down the matter to one of the two men, ‘Umar or Abu ‘Ubaydah.[32]

Our comment: This issue has been dealt with adequately by Hafiz Ibn Hajar in his book Fath al Bari. He says:

 

This statement of Abu Bakr has been regarded as dubious (by some) taking into consideration that he knew he was the most rightful for the Caliphate on account of his appointment to lead the salah among other signs. The answer to that is that he was too shy to nominate himself and say, for example, “I am happy to be your leader.” This, in addition to the fact that he knew neither of them would accept that responsibility. ‘Umar clearly said this (in his account of) the story and (it may be inferred that) Abu ‘Ubaydah (was not interested) to a greater extent as he was lower in rank than ‘Umar in terms of merit. This is unanimously agreed upon by the Muslim Ummah. It therefore sufficed Abu Bakr to leave open for himself the option (of assuming leadership) as no one denied him that (right). In that is an indication that he was the most rightful (for the position). It is therefore clear that there was nothing in his speech which may be inferred from that he was discounting himself from assuming the leadership.[33]

 

Ibn Hajar says at another place:

 

Some Shia hold tightly to Abu Bakr’s statement when he said, “I am happy for you with one of these two men,” and argue that he did not believe it necessary for him to be the leader and that he did not see himself fit for the position. The answer to this (misconception) is from many angles:

  1. He said that out of humility,
  2. He believed it permissible for the person lower of rank to lead in the presence of the person higher in rank, therefore, if it was his right to assume the leadership then it was his right to relinquish it,
  3. He knew that neither of the two of them would be pleased with taking the lead ahead of him and he hinted to the fact that if he did not enter into that (the position of khalifah) then the matter was between the two of them alone. Therefore, at the time of his death he instated ‘Umar as the leader after him because Abu ‘Ubaydah was away in jihad in al Sham, conquering it.

(The fact that ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not interested in the position) is known from his statement, “for me to brought forth and my neck chopped…” supports the aforementioned claim.[34]

 

Another basis by which we can assess Tijani’s objectivity is to consider the extent to which he attempted to discredit Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. He went out of his way to find trivial issues to build his case. If it hasn’t already become clear, this ought to be glaring evidence that Tijani approached his research with the objective of disparaging Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. After he collected whatever possible data he could gather he retrospectively adapted his narrative to that of an unbiased researcher who had not yet formed an opinion and was going to go where the evidence leads him. The following passage is yet another example of how trivial he can be:

 

Let us consider the saying: If I was taking a close companion, I would have chosen Abu Bakr. This saying is like the previous one. Where was Abu Bakr on the day of the small Brotherhood” in Mecca before the Hijra, and on the day of the great Brotherhood” in Medinah after the Hijra; when in both of them the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam chose Ali as his brother then said to him, You are my brother in this life and in the Hereafter” and did not turn to Abu Bakr, thus depriving him of the brotherhood in the Hereafter and from the close companionship. I do not wish to go on about this subject, and it is sufficient to bring the above mentioned examples which I have found in the Sunni books. As for the Shiites, they do not recognize these sayings at all, and they have their own clear proof that they were invented sometime after the death of Abu Bakr.[35]

 

Our comment:

The hadith of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “If I were to take a Khalil, I would have taken Abu Bakr; but he is my brother and my Companion (in Islam),” has been narrated with strong chains of narration and appear abundantly in the Sahih collections. In addition to this, it has been reported from numerous companions; Abu Hurairah, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id al Khudri, ‘Abdullah ibn al Zubair among others.

Even if we assumed the argument that Abu Bakr was not mentioned when the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said to ‘Ali, “You are my friend in this life and the next,” is that sufficient reason to reject the hadith above, despite its multiple authentic chains?

The hadith about the minor and major Mu’akhat (bonds of brotherhood), “You are my brother in the world and the Hereafter,” which Tijani rests his argument on is considered baseless. Tirmidhi, Ibn ‘Adi, and Hakim all narrate it from a narrator called Hakim ibn Jubayr—from Jami’ ibn ‘Umair.

Hakim ibn Jubayr is a weak narrator, whilst Jami’ ibn ‘Umair is a known fabricator about whom Ibn Hibban said:

“He is a Rafidi who fabricates ahadith.”

Ibn Numair said about him, “He was of the most deceitful people.”[36]

Ibn Taymiyyah says about the ahadith of the mu’akhat, “It appears that all of them were fabricated.”[37]

Let us put aside what both ahadith say for the moment. Both ahadith are alleged statements made by the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. These statements have been passed down in the form of reports. How do we know whether any of the reports is correct? We have to examine the source of these reports, and how reliable they are. If we are still uncertain about whether a report could have been a result of an inadvertent error, we could attempt to find some other supporting evidence that corroborates what is carried by the said report. This process is not unfamiliar with investigators or even professional journalists who wish to verify the integrity of information they receive. I am not inferring that the correctness of the process is established because it is used by investigators or journalists with integrity. Instead they use the process because it is so efficient.

Getting back to the narrations that we are investigating, the hadith about Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu has been narrated with numerous chains. All the narrators in these chains are reliable transmitters of the Sunnah. Each narration is narrated from a different companion with different chains of narrators, which further corroborates the individual chains.

The hadith about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is restricted to a common chain. One of the narrators in the chain is considered weak and has not memorized his hadith all that well. Another narrator is known to lie and forge ahadith.

Tijani says the first hadith must be a forgery because it contradicts what is mentioned in the second. Again, I ask; is this objective investigation; or is this simply a case of prejudiced reasoning?

Then he says:

As for the Shiites, they do not recognize these sayings at all, and they have their own clear proof that they were invented sometime after the death of Abu Bakr.[38]

All the evidence points to the fact that ahadith were invented about ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Notwithstanding that, we the Ahlus Sunnah acknowledge that authentic ahadith do exist mentioning the merits of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. We await practical demonstration to prove that the ahadith we have provided about Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu were forged after his death.

Tijani goes on to say:

History has recorded many facts telling us that Ali was the most knowledgeable man among all the Companions and they used to consult him on every important matter, and we do not know of any event in which he declined to give his advice.

Abu Bakr said, “May Allah never put me in a predicament that Abu al Hassan cannot solve.”[39]

 

Our comment:

The Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah consider ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu from the Fuqaha (jurists) among the Sahabah, although knowledge alone is not the criteria for candidacy of Caliphate. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu consulted ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu just as he consulted numerous other Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu didn’t consult him because he was incapable of making a decision independently; rather he valued diversity of views and had high regard for ‘Ali’s contribution.

If Abu Bakr had usurped the Caliphate from ‘Ali, why would he consult him on issues affecting the Ummah? Even stranger, why would ‘Ali—if he accepted himself the divinely appointed successor to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam—give counsel to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu since that is an implicit approval?

Returning to the issue of who is considered the most knowledgeable of the Sahabah after the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the Ahlus Sunnah agree that it was Abu Bakr then ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. More than one scholar has quoted ijma(consensus) on this matter. As a matter of fact it is established that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu acquired knowledge from Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

This narration appears in the Sunan from Asma’ bint al Hakim al Fazari who said:

 

سمعت عليا رضى الله عنه يقول كنت رجلا إذا سمعت من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حديثا نفعنى الله منه بما شاء أن ينفعنى وإذا حدثنى أحد من أصحابه استحلفته فإذا حلف لى صدقته قال وحدثنى أبو بكر وصدق أبو بكررضى الله عنه أنه قال سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول ما من عبد يذنب ذنبا فيحسن الطهور ثم يقوم فيصلى ركعتين ثم يستغفر الله إلا غفر الله له ثم قرأ هذه الآية والذين إذا فعلوا فاحشة أو ظلموا أنفسهم ذكروا الله إلى آخر الآية

I heard ‘Ali saying, “I was a person when I heard (something) from the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, with which Allah benefitted me in a manner that He willed me to benefit and when one of his Sahabah related a hadith to me I would request him to take an oath and when he took an oath for me I believed him. Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu related a hadith to me, and Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu spoke the truth, he said, ‘I heard the Messenger saying that there is no slave who commits a sin then diligently performs wudu, then stands and prays two raka’at (of salah), then asks Allah for His forgiveness except that Allah forgives him, then he recited this verse, ‘And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves (by transgression), remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins.’”[40]

 

This is in addition to ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu siding with Abu Bakr in the matter of attacking those who refused to give the Zakat.

Muslim, in his Sahih, and Ahmed in his Musnad, narrate part of a lengthier hadith in which the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

 

فإن يطيعوا أبا بكر وعمر يرشدوا

If they obey Abu Bakr and ‘Umar they will be rightly guided.[41]

 

Ibn Taymiyyah says:

 

It has been established from Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he used to issue legal rulings through the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, if he was unable (to issue a ruling from the Book of Allah) then the Sunnah of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and if was unable to do that he would align his ruling with the views of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. He never did the same in relation to ‘Uthman and ‘Ali. Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the habr (learned man) of this Ummah and the most knowledgeable of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum during his time and he used to issue legal rulings in accordance with the views of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma giving them preference over the views of others. It has been established that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O Allah, grant him (Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhu) understanding in the din and teach him the interpretation (of the Qur’an).”[42]

 

This indicates the deep understanding of the din Abu Bakr possessed. It is not known that he contradicted the texts in any matter where he exercised his discerning judgement. There are few cases where ‘Umar and ‘Ali issued rulings that do not align with the revealed texts, perhaps on account of them not being aware of those ahadith.

This is part of a lengthier hadith found in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim from Abu Sa’id al Khudri, who said:

 

وكان أبو بكر أعلمنا (أي) بالنبي

Abu Bakr was the most knowledgeable of us (in other words, about the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).[43]

 

Ibn Hazm made a valuable contribution on this topic in his invaluable work al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Ahwa’ wa al Nihal, which I feel compelled to relate in full on account of its importance:

 

Abu Muhammad says, “They (the Rafidah) argue that ‘Ali was the most knowledgeable amongst them (the Sahabah). The person who says this is a liar. The knowledge of a Sahabi is only known in one of two ways, there is no third way. Firstly: Abundance of his narrations and his fatawa (legal rulings). Secondly: The frequency of the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam use of his services. Therefore, it is impossible and false that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used the services of a person with no knowledge. These are the greatest testimonies of knowledge and its vastness.”

Then we researched the matter and we found that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam appointed Abu Bakr to manage the salah for the entire duration of his illness when all the senior Sahabah were present; such as ‘Ali, ‘Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, Ubay, and others besides them but he preferred him (Abu Bakr) over them. This is different to his appointing a successor when he went on a campaign as such a successor is only left in charge of the females and those unable to join the campaign. It is necessary, therefore, to know that Abu Bakr was the most knowledgeable with regards to the salah and its rulings and it is the foundation of the din.

We found the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also using him (Abu Bakr) in matters of Zakat and this must mean that he had knowledge of Zakat, (knowledge) similar to others besides him from amongst the scholars of the Sahabah, not less but perhaps more, or perhaps not more as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam employed others besides him (to fulfil that duty) as well. That being said the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam only employed a person knowledgeable of the duty he was entrusted with. The proof of our claim concerning the completeness of Abu Bakr’s knowledge with regards to Zakat is that the ahadith relating to Zakat, the most authentic of them and the one practiced upon and not opposed is the hadith of Abu Bakr running through the transmitter, ‘Umar. As for when the hadith runs through the transmitter, ‘Ali, then there is some confusion in it and in those narrations is information which the scholars have neglected altogether such as the ruling that for every twenty five camels, five sheep are given in Zakat.

We also found the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam using Abu Bakr’s services with regards to leading the hajj. Therefore, it is correct to say, by way of necessity, that Abu Bakr was the most knowledgeable of all the Sahabah with regards to the rites of hajj. And the aforementioned duties are the pillars of Islam.

Then we found the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instating him as the leader of military campaigns. Therefore, it is correct to say that he had knowledge of the laws of jihad similar to the other leaders whom the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instated as leaders of jihad, as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not utilise the services of a person for a particular duty unless he was knowledgeable of it. Therefore, Abu Bakr had knowledge of jihad in the same way that ‘Ali had (knowledge of jihad) and all other leaders of military campaigns, not more and not less.

Therefore, it is correct to say that Abu Bakr was ahead of Ali and other than him in terms of knowledge of the salah, Zakat, and hajj; and he was similar to him in relation to the knowledge of jihad. This is the core of knowledge.

Then we found the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam keeping Abu Bakr in his company, and in his private conversations, and his travels, and in his residence and, consequently, Abu Bakr witnessed his issuing of laws more than what ‘Ali witnessed. Therefore, it is correct, by way of necessity, that Abu Bakr was more knowledgeable about it.

Is there any knowledge remaining except that Abu Bakr is the leader who cannot be caught or a participant therein who cannot be beaten? Therefore, there claim is futile, and all praise is for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.

 

Then he says:

 

Indeed, we should not be suspected of intending to lower any Sahabi from his status and we should not be suspected of intending to raise anyone above his status. If we divert away from ‘Ali, may Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala protect us from that, we tread the path of the Khawarij and indeed Allah has purified us from such fanaticism, and if we become extreme in our partisanship towards him we tread the path of the Shia, and indeed Allah has protected us from this falsehood and fanaticism. Therefore, others besides us have either become disillusioned with him or fanatical about him and they are the ones who should be suspected either in his favour or against him.

After all this it is impossible for the person subscribing to Islam to resist the evidence of the Sahabi’s abundance of knowledge on account of the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam utilising those whom he utilised from amongst the Sahabah for what he utilised them for from the matters of the din.

If the Rafidah say that the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made ‘Ali responsible for the Akhmas (the spoils of war) and for the governance of Yemen, we say to them: Yes, however, Abu Bakr’s witnessing the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam rulings is superior in knowledge and more established than what was by ‘Ali in Yemen. Indeed, the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam instated Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu as leader of military campaigns in which there was Akhmas. Therefore, Abu Bakr’s knowledge was equal to ‘Ali’s knowledge without doubt as the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not select someone for a duty except that he was knowledgeable about what he appointed him to do. It is correct that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar issued fatawa during the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam lifetime, with the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam knowledge, and it is impossible that the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would allow them to do that except if they were more knowledgeable than those besides them. Indeed, he appointed Mu’adh ibn Jabal and Abu Musa al Ash’ari along with ‘Ali over the governance of Yemen. Therefore, ‘Ali had many partners in this trait including Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Then we find Abu Bakr being unique in the majority of the fields previously mentioned.

This Rafidi says that ‘Ali was the best reciter of the Qur’an amongst the Sahabah. This is slander from a number of angles. Firstly, it is a criticism against the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as he said, “The best reader amongst you should lead the salah. If they are equal in their recitation then the most learned. If they are equal in their knowledge as well then the one earliest in hijrah,” then we find the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam giving preference to Abu Bakr with regards to leading the salah for the duration of his illness even though ‘Ali was present and the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw him morning and evening. Despite that, he did not see anyone more fit for it than Abu Bakr. Therefore, it is correct to say that he was the best reader amongst them, the most learned amongst them, and the earliest amongst them in hijrah.

Sometimes the person who has not memorised the entire Qur’an from memory is a better reciter than the person who memorised the entire Qur’an, as he is better in his pronunciation of the words and better in terms of the pace at which he recites. This is on the premise that Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Ali, none of them completed the memorisation of the entire Qur’an. However, it is necessary to believe that Abu Bakr was a better reciter than ‘Ali because of his preferring Abu Bakr despite the presence of ‘Ali. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would not have preferred for the imamah (leading of the salah) the person with lesser knowledge in terms of reciting over the person with greater knowledge in terms of recitation and he would not have given preference to the person with lesser knowledge of fiqh over the person with greater knowledge of fiqh. The Rafidah’s efforts from this angle, therefore, are also null and void, and all praise is for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.[44]

 

From this we come to realize the superiority of Abu Bakr in knowledge and his deep understanding of the religion.

Tijani’s petty arguments continue:

 

Abu Bakr was once asked about the meaning of the word “Abb” [herbage] in the words of Allah, the Most High:

وَفَاكِهَةً وَّأَبًّا مَّتَاعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِأَنْعَامِكُمْ

And gardens of dense shrubbery. And fruit and grass

Abu Bakr replied, “Which sky would give me shade, and which land would carry me if I say something I do not know about the Book of Allah.”[45]

 

Our comment:

I am going to refer to the Tafsir al Qur’an al Azim by Ibn Kathir to clarify this matter. This particular narration is transmitted from Ibrahim al Taymi from Abu Bakr; and the chain of transmission between Ibrahim and Abu Bakr is interrupted.

It should not be understood from this hadith that Abu Bakr did not know the meaning of the word Abb as its meaning is very clear in that it refers to the produce of the earth as Allah says:

فَأَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبًّا وَّعِنَبًا وَّقَضْبًا وَّزَيْتُونًا وَّنَخْلًا وَّحَدَائِقَ غُلْبًا وَّفَاكِهَةً وَّأَبًّا مَّتَاعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِأَنْعَامِكُمْ

And caused to grow within it grain; and grapes and herbage. And olive and palm trees. And gardens of dense shrubbery. And fruit and grass —enjoyment (i.e. provision) for you and your grazing livestock.

 

However, he could not specify the type of produce. In other words, he was unable to describe its form, its type, etc. This is what he meant by that statement.

It is similar to what Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates about ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he recited on the mimbar:

 

وَفَاكِهَةً وَّأَبًّا

And he said, “This fruit we know; but what is al Abb?” Then he said to himself, “This is burdening oneself, O ‘Umar!”[46]

 

Therefore, some exegetes offer the meaning ‘produce from the earth’ as the general meaning for the word al Abb, without specifying whether fruit, vegetable, herb etc., is implied.

 

From Mujahid, Sa’id ibn Jubayr, and Abu Malik (they say), “Al Abb is al Kala (grass).”

Mujahid, Hassan, Qatadah, and Ibn Zaid say, “Abb is for domesticated animals what fruit is for human beings.”

From ‘Ata, “Everything that grows on the face of the earth is Abb.”

Dahhak says, “Everything which the earth produces besides fruit is Abb.”[47]

 

The meaning, as is clear, (of the word Abb) is “what grows on the earth” but the Sahabah did not specify it in terms of its type. This does not prove the absence of knowledge. If the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had to clarify it by specifying its type then the Sahabah would have known about it. It is therefore, interpreted to mean everything which grows on the earth.

 

NEXT ⇒ 6. Tijani criticises Abu Bakr for applying the Law of Allah


[1]Then I was guided, p. 140

[2]  We have shown in earlier passages that Shia scholars have reported that the pledge was given to Abu Bakr refer to Chapter 6.4.

[3]Then I was guided, p. 140-141

[4]Then I was guided, p. 141

[5] Fath al Bari, vol. 7, p. 89

[6]  See the footnote of the book al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah, p. 186

[7]Sharh Nahj al Balaghah by Ibn Abi al Hadid, vol. 3, p. 17, Dar al Fikr

[8]Rijal al Kashshi, p. 195

[9]  Ibid

[10]Al Sunnah by Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmed ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 573, hadith no. 1347

[11]  Ibid

[12]Masa’il Ibn Hani, vol. 2, p. 169, see the questions and the letters narrated from Imam Ahmed ibn Hambal, compiled by ‘Abd al Allah al Ahmedi, vol. 1, p. 385

[13]Then I was guided, p. 141

[14]Then I was guided, p. 142-143

[15]Rijal al Kashshi, p. 195

[16]Al Fatawa al ‘Iraqiyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah, p. 157

[17]Then I was guided, p. 143

[18] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab Manaqib al Ansar, hadith no. 3856

[19] Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Libas, hadith 5807

[20]Then I was guided, 143

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

[22]  Ibid

[23]Fath al Bari vol. 8 p. 171

[24]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Tafsir, vol. 4, Hadith no. 4378

[25] Fath al Bari vol. 8 p. 169

[26]Then I was guided, 143

[27]Muslim with its commentary, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah, Hadith no. 2405

[28]Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab al Hudud, Bab: Ma Yuhrah min La’n Sharib al Khamr, Hadith no. 6397

[29]Then I was guided, p. 143

[30]Sahih Muslim with its commentary, Kitab al Iman, vol. 2, Hadith no. 119

[31]Fath al Bari,vol. 8, p. 456

[32]Then I was guided, p. 143

[33]Fath al Bari, vol. 7, p. 38-39, Kitab Fada’il al Sahabah

[34]  Ibid, Kitab al Hudud

[35]Then I was guided, 144

[36]Mizan al I’tidal by al Dhahabi, vol. 1, p. 421, no. 1552

[37]Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 7, p. 361; Refer also to al Silsilah al Mawdu’ah by al Bani vol. 1, p. 355-366

[38]Then I was guided, p. 144

[39]Then I was guided, p. 146

[40] Sunan Abu Dawood, Bab Tafri’ Abwab al Witr, Hadith no. 1521; See also Sahih Abu Dawood, Hadith no. 1346

[41]Sahih Muslim with its commentary, Kitab al Masajid wa Mawadi’ al Salah, Hadith no. 681

[42]Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 7, p. 503

[43]Sahih al Bukhari,Kitab al Salah, Bab: al Khawkah wa al Mamarr fi al Masjid, Hadith no. 454; Refer also to Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 7, p. 507

[44]Al Fisal fi al Milal wa al Nihal by Ibn Hazm, vol. 4, p. 212-215

[45]Then I was guided, p. 147

[46]  Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al Iman, Bab fi Ta’zim al Qur’an, p. 424 with a reliable sanad; and Hakim in al Mustadrak, vol. 2, p. 514, he says: “This is authentic according to the standards of Shaykhayn but they did not narrate it.” Al Dhahabi agreed with him.

[47]Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 4, p. 504