Accusation of Confessing to Error and Sin

Virtues and Outstanding Traits of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Siddiq
September 11, 2015
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September 11, 2015

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Accusation of Confessing to Error and Sin


The enemies of the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum raise the objection against Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he was not worthy of the khilafah on account of what he stated in his sermons and other speeches, namely:


ان لي شيطانا يعتريني

I have a devil that troubles me


اني لست بخيركم

I am not the best among you


Therefore, from this type of speech we learn that in accordance to his confession, he was not worthy of the khilafah.

Ibn Mutahhar al Hilli discusses this criticism in Minhaj al Kiramah in the following text:


منها ما ردوه عن ابي بكر انه قال على المنبر ان النبي صلى الله عليه وآله كان يعتصم بالوحى وان لي شيطانا يعتريني فان استقمت فاعينوني وان زغت فقوموني …الخ

وكيف يجوز امامه من يستعين بالرعية على تقويم مع ان الرعية تحتاج اليه


… Amongst them it is narrated from Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu that he sat on the pulpit and said: “Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would hold on firmly to revelation and there is a devil that troubles me. If I remain firm in religion, then help me and if I stray, then straighten me.”


How can the Imamah of such a person who is in need of his subjects to straighten him be permissible, whereas the subjects are in need of him?


If this speech came from Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu and it is proven with an authentic chain of narration, then the interpretation of it will be:

Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was making it apparent that he is not infallible and he is not safe from error.


فقال ان استقمت على الطاعة فاعينوني عليها وان زغت عنها فقوموني

You should help me in that which is best and in taqwa. If I remain firm upon obedience (the Qur’an and the Sunnah), then help me and if I stray from obedience, then correct me.[1]


The senior scholars often mentioned statements like this at times. The best answer is that on account of being overwhelmed by the fear of Allah Ta’ala, they mentioned this type of speech. Moreover, this type of speech is found in the books of the Shia as well from their Imams. So, whatever answer they provide there, the same will be the answer for the speech of Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.

In the book of al Kulayni, there is an authentic narration from Imam Jafar al Sadiq rahimahu Llah: “There is a devil with every believer that turns him away from the straight path.”[2]

Moreover, the same type of speech uttered by Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is narrated from Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu in Nahj al Balaghah:


لا تكفوا عن مقاله بحق او مشورة بعدل فاني لست في نفسي يقوق ان اخطى ولا آمن ذالك من فعلي


Do not stay away from me in saying the truth or in giving me counsel of the truth. I am not beyond error and I am not safe from error in my deed.[3]


Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to supplicate:


اللهم اغفرلي ما تقربت به اليك بلساني ثم خالفه قلبي اللهم اغفرلي رمزات الألحاظ وسقطات الألفاظ وشهوات الجنان وهفوات اللسان


O Allah, forgive me for that speech through which I acquired closeness to You, then my heart went against it. O Allah, forgive me for the indications of my eye and my useless words and desires of my heart and the errors of my tongue.[4]


Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin (‘Ali ibn Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu) used to supplicate:


ها انا ذا يا رب مطروح بين يديك انا الذي اوقرت الخطايا ظهره وانا الذي افنت الذنوب عمره وانا الذي بجهله عصاك ولم تكن اهلا منه لناك …الخ


Here I am, O Rabb, thrown before You, I am the one that attests to my sin that has burdened by back and I spent my life in sin and I am the one that disobeyed You out of ignorance…[5]


In another place, he says:


واغفرلي ما تعلم من ذنوبي ان تعذب فانا الظالم المفرط المضيع الاثم المقصر المضجع المغفل …الخ


And forgive me for those of my sins that You are aware of, if You punish, then I am the oppressor, the one who has been extreme in my life, the extravagant in sin, the one who falls short, one asleep, one who is negligent…[6]


Moreover, Imam Zayn al ‘Abidin rahimahu Llah supplicates elsewhere:


اللهم اجعل ما يلقي الشيطان في روعي من التمني والتظني والحسد نكرا لعظمتك وتفكرا في قدرتك وتدبيرا على عدوك وما اجرى على لساني من لفظته فحش او هجرا وشتم عرض او شهادة باطل او اغتياب مؤمن غائب او رسب حاضر وما اشبه ذالك نطقا بالحمد لك واغراقا في الثناء عليك وذهابا في تمجيك وشكرا نعمتك واعترافا باحسانك واحصا لمننك …الخ


O Allah, whatever Shaitan has placed in my heart of hopes and jealousy, make it into mention of Your greatness and into pondering over Your power and whatever lewd talk Shaitan has placed in my tongue: futile talk, dishonouring someone, baseless testimony, backbiting of a Muslim and speaking ill of a person in his presence; turn it into praise for You, exaggeration in Your glory, gratitude for Your bounty, confession of Your favour, counting Your bounty…[7]


In summary

From the speech of the Imams quoted above, whatever words have been narrated, there is confession of sin, Shaitan affecting the heart etc., just as it is found within the infallible Imams, and it did not negatively affect their Imamah in any way, so too these things are found in the speech of the senior Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum like Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and cannot form the basis of any objection or criticism.

In short, whatever your reply is, that will be our reply.’


NEXT⇒ Accusation regarding Abu Bakr and ‘Umar not being present at the Janazah of Rasulullah

[1]Al Muntaqa p. 336

[2]Tuhfah Ithna ‘Ashariyyah p. 270

[3]Nahj al Balaghah vol. 1 p. 436, Furu’al Kafi vol. 3 p. 165

[4] Nahj al Balaghah vol. 1 p. 127

[5]Al Sahifah Kamilah Sajjadiyyah p. 83

[6]  Ibid p.301

[7]  Ibid p.106

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