The First Narration
Abu al Darda’ radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
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 شيء فأسرعت إليه ثم ندمت فسألته أن يغفر لي فأبى علي فأقبلت إليك فقال يغفر الله لك يا أبا 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 تاركوا لي صاحبي مرتين فما أوذي بعدها
While I was sitting with Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu came, lifting one corner of his garment uncovering his knee.
Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Your companion has had a quarrel.”
Abu Bakr greeted and said, “O Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam! There was a quarrel between me and the Son of al Khattab. I talked to him harshly and then regretted, and requested him to forgive me, but he refused. Therefore, I have come to you.”
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said thrice, “O Abu Bakr! May Allah forgive you.”
Meanwhile, ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu regretted (his refusal of Abu Bakr’s excuse) and went to Abu Bakr’s house asking if Abu Bakr was there. They replied in the negative. So, he came to the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and greeted him, but signs of displeasure appeared on the face of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam till Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu pitied (‘Umar), so he knelt and said twice, “O Allah’s Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam! By Allah! I was more unjust to him.”
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah sent me to you people, but you said to me, ‘You are telling a lie,’ while Abu Bakr said, ‘He has said the truth,’ and assisted me with himself and his money.”
He then said twice, “Won’t you then give up harming my companion?”
After that nobody harmed Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
This tradition, through the afore-mentioned chain of narration and others establishes itself as sahih (authentic).
Commentary and Lessons Learnt from this Narration
1. This narration attaches great virtue to the celebrated Companion and vice-gerent of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam honoured him with the title of Sahib (companion). Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala refers to the same in the verse:
ثَانِيَ اثْنَيْنِ إِذْ هُمَا فِيْ الْغَارِ إِذْ يَقُوْلُ لِصَاحِبِهِ لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا
As one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed, Allah is with us.”
2. This narration depicts the anger of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on behalf of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
3. “Won’t you then give up harming my companion,” is a statement addressing ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, the ten Sahabah given glad tidings of paradise, and the rest of the respected Companions radiya Llahu ‘anhum. Together with the anger of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on behalf of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, there is an indication to his high status; more virtuous than the galaxy of Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu attested to this with the following statement:
إنا قد عرفنا فضلك وما أعطاك الله ولم ننفس عليك خيرا ساقه الله إليك
We know well your superiority and what Allah has given you, and we are not jealous of the good what Allah has bestowed upon you.
The superiority of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is clear in this narration by the anger displayed towards ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, whilst the noble status of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu is well known.
4. Imam Abu Hafs ibn Shahin rahimahu Llah says regarding the comment of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Won’t you then give up harming my companion,”:
تفرد ابو بكر الصديق بهذه الفضيلة لم يشركه فيها احد
This is an acknowledgment of his virtue in a manner unmatched by any other.
5. There is an indication in this narration that whoever seeks to hurt or defame Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu will be under the direct anger of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. What then do you, dear reader, think of one who reviles and thinks Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu a disbeliever? (May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala save us from such folly).
Imam Awza’i and others have said:
من شتم أبا بكر الصديق رضي الله عنه فقد ارتد عن دينه وأباح دمه
Whoever insults Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu has turned apostate and his liable for execution.
Imam Ahmed rahimahu Llah has said regarding one who insults Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhum:
ما اراه على الاسلام
I do not deem him to be a Muslim.
6. The phrase فهل أنتم (won’t you then) is in the meaning of انتهوا (stop). Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala uses the same phrase in the Qur’an after mentioning the vices of intoxicants, gambling, sacrificing on stone alters to other than Allah, and divining arrows:
فَهَلْ أَنتُمْ مُّنْتَهُوْنَ
So, will you not desist?
7. One lesser in status should not anger those above him in status.
8. This narration specifies the permissibility of displaying anger on behalf of the virtuous scholars and pious.
9. There is an indication to the khilafah of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in this narration and by extension the necessity of refuting on behalf of the leaders.
10. The permissibility of praising another by way of his virtues in front of people, if the one praising is reasonably certain that it will not lead to haughtiness in the one being praised.
11. This narration makes it clear that the disagreements, arguments, or mistakes of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had and/or made amongst themselves does not result in their expulsion from the faith.
12. The yardstick used when sizing up the pious and erudite scholars should be that of humanity. At times this may lead to acts which goes against the divine law of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, the result of humanity and not infallibility. The fortunate are those who turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala in repentance after committing such an act.
13. This narration shows that asking for forgiveness after committing an act of injustice is a characteristic of the Siddiqin (pious).
14. Immediately returning to righteousness is a characteristic of the Siddiqin.
15. The portion of the narration:
إن الله بعثني إليكم فقلتم كذبت وقال أبو بكر صدق
Allah sent me to you people, but you said to me, “You are telling a lie,” while Abu Bakr said, “He has said the truth.”
This text establishes that Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was amongst the first to accept the faith, preceded only by Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha. The narration outlining the incident of the cave speaks of the comment of Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha when Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam returned perturbed:
…كلا، أبشر، فوالله لا يخزيك الله أبدا
Glad tidings, for Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will never put you in harms way…
Some have indicated that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the first to embrace the faith, whilst others opine for Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Most of the scholars of the early and latter periods establish that is was Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The narrations give strength to this view as well. This view was famous amongst the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum as well, as can be gauged from the following couplets of Hassan ibn Thabit radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
فاذكر أخاك أبا بكر بما فعلا
|إذا تذكرت شجوا من أخى ثقة|
|وأول الناس طرا صدق الرسلا||
التالى الثانى المحمود مشهده
When remembering brothers of bravery;
Remember Abu Bakr and his accomplishments.
The second of the two praised;
And the first to believe in the Messenger.
Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates the following as recorded by ‘Abdullah ibn Imam Ahmed rahimahu Llah with an authentic chain of narration from Abu Nadrah:
ابطأ الزبير وعلي عن بيعة أبي بكر فلقيه ابو بكر فقال يا علي ابطأت عن بيعتي وأنا أسلمت قبلك
Zubair and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma delayed in taking the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. When Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu met him, he said “O ‘Ali, how is it that you delay your pledge at my hands whilst I embraced the faith before you.”
Hafiz ibn Kathir writes in al Bidayah:
وقد أجاب أبو حنيفة رضي الله عنه ، بالجمع بين هذه الأقوال بأن أول من أسلم من الرجال الأحرار أبو بكر ومن النساء خديجة ، ومن الموالي زيد بن حارثة ومن الغلمان علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنهم أجمعين
Imam Abu Hanifah rahimahu Llah has reconciled between the different views thus: “The first to embrace the faith from the free men was Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, from the women Khadijah, from the slaves Zaid ibn Harithah, and from the children ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhum”.
16. Forgiving and foregoing one’s right is more beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala than claiming it.
17. Conflict is something not liked by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
18. Unity of the scholars and those calling towards Islam is of utmost importance and forms part of the principles of prophethood.
19. Not accepting the excuse of one who has made a mistake can result in being a target of the anger of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. However, if the mistake done resulted in a liability or penalty then the situation would be different.
20. What is the meaning of the phrase:
تاركوا لي صاحبي
Give up harming my companion.
The word “Companion” is relative in its use in this narration. Though all the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum are the companions of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the meaning here is, “Give up harming he who has preceded you in companionship.” Just as Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has given some Prophets greater virtue than others, so too is the condition of the Companions of the Prophets ‘alayh al Salam.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala says in the Qur’an:
لَا يَسْتَوِيْ مِنْكُمْ مَّنْ أَنفَقَ مِنْ قَبْلِ الْفَتْحِ وَقَاتَلَ أُولٰئِكَ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً مِّنَ الَّذِيْنَ أَنفَقُوْا مِنْ بَعْدُ وَقَاتَلُوْا وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ
Not equal among you are those who spent before the conquest [of Makkah] and fought [and those who did so after it]. Those are greater in degree than they who spent afterwards and fought. But to all Allah has promised the best [reward].
This is a general rule of the Shari’ah; those first in realizing something are given preference over others by way of assistance and distinguished rights. This principle is found many times over in the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This narration and the following narration which speaks of the Ansar has this as a running theme. Similarly, the narration of Isra’ holds a similar thread of discussion:
فقلت : من هذا يا جبريل ؟ فقال : هذا أخوك موسى ، قلت : على من كان تذمره وصوته ؟ قال : على ربه ، قلت : على ربه ؟ قال : نعم ، قد عرف ذلك من حدته
I said, “Who is this Jibril?”
He replied, “It is your brother Musa.”
I said, “Who would he embolden himself to and raise his voice in disapproval?”
He said, “To his Lord.”
I said, “To his Lord?”
He said, “Yes, his appeal is quite sharp.”
See the difference between the Prophet Musa and the Prophet Yunus. When Yunus ‘alayh al Salam left his community angrily, he did not receive the assistance that Musa ‘alayh al Salam would receive. Yunus ‘alayh al Salam was kept in the belly of a large fish, whereas Musa ‘alayh al Salam and his sharpness was overlooked many times by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, as is in the Noble Qur’an.
Each person whilst recognising his worth should forever be humble to the believers.
21. Those that hold wisdom should seek to pacify the scholars and leaders when they are angry with the intent of fostering harmony.
22. Helping the cause of good with one’s life and wealth is amongst the characteristics of the Siddiqin. This act raises the status of a person and grants him a distinguished position, especially in times of dire need.
23. The Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum had clear communication without any hidden intent. Their friendship was true and their resolve as well wishers was unprecedented. A portion of this sublime conduct is nigh impossible to find in those that came after them. After all, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had selected them and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had nurtured them.
24. Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
اختصاص ابي بكر في الصحبة الإيمانية بما لم يشركه مخلوق ، لا في قدرها ولا في صفتها ولا في نفعها ، فإنه لو أحصي الزمان الذي كان يجتمع فيه أبو بكر بالنبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ، والزمان الذي كان يجتمع فيه عثمان أو علي أو غيرهما من الصحابة لوجد ما يختص به أبو بكر أضعاف ما اختص به واحد منهم
The distinguished mark Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu imprints on his companionship in faith is unlike anything else found in the creation. Neither in quantity, nor quality, nor in the benefit given therein. If the time spent with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu were to be quantified and compared to the time spent by ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, or any other companion, their time spent would pale in contrast to that of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
25. The deep love shared by Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum shines through in this narration. When Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu realised that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had become angry at ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu, he felt pained for him and sat on his knees in front of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and repeated twice that he was at fault. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala describes them in his Book thus:
مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِيْنَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.
Those that come after the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum find a unique example to follow in hastening towards unity, mutual love, and mercy. Similarly, the example left by them in staying far from hate, disdain, and ulterior motives. This narration was an example of a test in prophetic teachings, wherein the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum passed with flying colours. Apply the same principles in todays sphere of da’wah and see the great results that follow.
 The chain of narration of the author has been omitted for the sake of brevity. Refer to the original, Kitab al Arba’in fi Fadail al Sahabah of Dr ‘Abdullah ibn Salih ibn Muhammad al ‘Ubaid.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 3461. This narration has been recorded by al Bukhari. Those that have attributed it to Muslim are mistaken.
 Surah al Bara’ah: 40.
 Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3998.
 Al Kitab al Latif, pg. 157.
 Al Sharh wa al Ibanah, pg. 162.
 Al Sharh wa al Ibanah, pg. 161.
 Surah al Ma’idah: 91.
 Al Sunnah li al Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal, Hadith: 1222.
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, part. 4 pg. 73
 Surah al Hadid: 10.
 Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, Hadith: 8829.
 Minhaj al Sunnah, part. 8 pg. 416.
 Surah al Fath: 29.