‘Ali was a Close Advisor to Abu Bakr
During the caliphate of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu whenever there would be a battle at hand he would consult the Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum and they would equally be of support and assistance to him. Among his councillors was ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. In order to prove this I shall present ahead a few historical narrations:
عن علي وقد شاوره ابو بكر في قتال اهل الردة بعد ان شاور الصحابة فاختلفوا عليه فقال ما تقول يا ابا الحسن فقال ان تركت شيأ مما اخذ رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم منهم فانت علي خلاف رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم فقال اما لأن قلت ذالك لأقاتلنهم ولو منعوني عقالا(اخرجه ابن السمان).
It is narrated from ‘Ali that Abu Bakr had sought his opinion with regards to fighting the apostates after he had consulted the rest of the Sahabah. Abu Bakr said, “What is your opinion, O Abu al Hassan?” He responded, “if you allow them not to pay any of that which Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would collect from them then you are indeed going against his Sunnah.” “Having said this, I will fight them even if it be for a cord (used to tie a camel),” exclaimed Abu Bakr.
عن هشام بن عروة عن ابيه عن عائشة قالت خرج ابي شاهرا سيفه راكبا علي راحلته الي ذي القصة فجاء علي بن ابي طالب فأخذ بزمام راحلته و قال الي اين يا خليفة رسول الله؟اقول لك ما قال لك رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم يوم احد شم سيفك ولا تفجعنا بنفسك فوالله لإن اصبنا بك لا يكون للاسلام بعدك نظام ابدا فرجع و امضي الجيش.
Aisha reports, “with his sword unsheathed, my father emerged upon his conveyance to subdue the people of Dhu al Qassah. ‘Ali, upon seeing this, came, took hold of the reigns of his conveyance and asked, ‘where are you headed to, O Khalifah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? I say to you what Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had said to you on the Day of Uhud, ‘sheath your sword and do not cause us grief with your loss. For Islam will suffer disorder if we have to lose you today.’ He thus returned and dispatched an army in his stead.”
Similarly, the Shia scholars have documented the remarks of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu wherein there is substantial proof of the fact that he was part of the pertinent events that took place during the initial stages of the caliphate of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. To the extent that he says, “we united against the opposition till din became firmly grounded and began flourishing peacefully.”
Ahead a few snippets from some Shia narrations will be presented:
Shia Narration 1
فنهضت في تلك الأحداث حتي زاغ الباطل وزهق واطمأن الدين وتنهنه
I rose to those challenges till falsehood vanished and truth calmly grounded itself and settled.
Shia Narration 2
تلك الأحداث التي وقعت من العرب إلي غاية زهوق الباطل واستقرار الدين وانتشاره.”
Those incidents that transpired among the Arabs till the termination of falsehood and the establishment of Din and its flourishment.
Shia Narration 3
فكأن الدين كان متحركا مضطربا فسكن وكف عن ذالك الإضطراب
It was as if the stability of the din was imbalanced. It, thereafter, became tranquil and regained its equilibrium.
I likewise, present before you the explanatory notes of Mulla Fath Allah al Qashani, a Shia scholar and commentator of Nahj al Balaghah, which he has added upon the letter of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, which he wrote to the people of Egypt and is documented in Nahj al Balaghah. He states:
بدان کہ در زمان خلافت ابی بکر بسیارے عرب برگشتند از دین ومراد شدند واصحاب در آن امر عاجز وحیران شدند۔ چون آنحضرت آن امر را چنان دید اصحاب را دلدادری کردہ بزور بازوۓ حیدری اہل ارتداد را بسقر فرستاد وباز امر دین را انتظام داد
During the times of Abu Bakr many a people had denounced Islam and had turned rebellious. The Sahabah were dismayed and helpless. ‘Ali upon seeing this state of affairs comforted his companions and gave them courage. Thereafter, through his might he sent the renegades to the abyss of hell fire and the order of din was reinstated.
Benefits of These Narrations
- ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was in favour of the caliphate of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu. His caliphate was not illegitimate. If it was illegitimate then ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would most certainly have protested against it and endeavoured to take charge of it just as he, “through his might”, had subdued the renegades of the time (as alluded to in the last reference).
- ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had very fervently sided with Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in withstanding the challenges of the time which indeed is a mark of his sincerity.
- It is likewise evident that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was not at logger heads with the khalifas. Rather he was united with and closely associated to them.
It is likewise recorded in the books of both parties that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu had given Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu glad tidings regarding a battle which he was to wage against Rome and Syria.
It is reported on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Awfa that when Abu Bakr had intended to declare war against Rome he summoned the elite from among the Muhajirin and the Ansar. ‘Ali, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sa’id ibn Zaid and Abu ‘Ubaidah availed themselves. Thereupon he consulted them. They all gave their opinions:
و علي في القوم لا يتكلم قال ابو بكر ما ذا تري يا ابالحسن!قال اري انك ان سرت اليهم بنفسك او بعثت اليهم نصرت عليهم ان شاء الله تعالي فقال بشرك الله تعالي بخير و من اين علمت ذالك؟قال سمعت رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم يقول لا يزال هذا الدين ظاهرا علي كل من ناواه حتي يقوم الدين واهله ظاهرون فقال سبحان الله ما احسن هذا الحديث لقد سررتني سرك الله.
‘Ali was seated silently among the people and had not as yet said anything. Abu Bakr said to him, “What is your view, O Abu al Hassan? He said, “If Allah wills you will be victorious regardless of whether you advance toward them by yourself or dispatch an army.” “May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala make good come your way, how do you know this?” asked Abu Bakr. He remarked, “I heard Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saying, ‘this din and its people will always reign supreme over anyone who plots evil against it till Qiyamah.” Thereupon Abu Bakr said, “Pure is Allah! How wonderful is this hadith. You have made me happy may Allah keep you happy as well.”
Our Shia friends have also made brief mention of this incident in their books. I present two references before you:
a. Ahmed ibn Yaqub, a scribe of the ‘Abbasid era, writes the following in his book al Tarikh al Yaqubi:
اراد ابو بكر ان يغزو الروم فشاور جماعة من اصحاب رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم فقدموا و اخروا فاستشار علي ابي طالب فاشار ان يفعل فقال ان فعلت ظفرت فقال بشرت بخير.
Abu Bakr intended to wage war against the Romans so he consulted a group amongst the Sahabah of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Some said he should go forward with it and others suggested that he postpone it for some other time. He then sought the opinion of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. ‘Ali suggested that he go ahead with the attack and said, “You will definitely be victorious if you do so.” Abu Bakr said, “Indeed you are a bearer of good news.” 
b. The author of Nasikh al Tawarikh, Muhammad Taqi Lisan al Mulk, has also made mention of this story in his book. He writes:
ابوبکر رو بعلی گفت یا ابا الحسن توچہ فرمای؟ علی فرمود تو راہ خود برگیری وچہ سپاہ تبازی ظفراست۔ ابوبکر گفت بشرک اللہ یا ابا الحسن از کجا گوی؟ فرمود از رسول خدا۔ ابوبکر گفت بدین حدیث مرا شادی کردی۔ اے مسلمانا علی وارث علم پیغمبر است ہر کہ درو شک کند کافرست۔
Abu Bakr sought the suggestion of ‘Ali, (and he said 🙂 “Victory awaits you whether you go by yourself of you send an army. Upon this Abu Bakr remarked, “May Allah, always bring glad tidings your way. On what basis are you saying this?” “The Rasul of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had informed us of this,” replied ‘Ali. Abu Bakr said, “You have pleased me with this information of yours. O Muslims! Whoever doubts this is out of the fold of Islam.”
During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu the Muslims were speculating that an attack will be launched upon Madinah by the enemies of Islam. Naturally, in such tough times there was need for civil defence. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu actively participated in securing Madinah from any danger at that time. Different strategies were devised by Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu which were implemented by the Sahabah. Study the narration below:
و جعل ابو بكر بعد ما اخرج الوفد علي انقاب المدينة نفرا عليا و الزبير و طلحة و عبد الله بن مسعود و اخذ اهل المدينة بحضور المسجد و قال لهم ايها المسلمون ان الارض كافرة وقد رأي وفدهم منكم قلة و انكم لا تدرون أليلا تؤتون ام نهارا و ادناهم منكم علي بريد.
Abu Bakr had appointed ‘Ali, Zubair, Talhah and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud as the leaders of the different contingents which he had fixed upon the various entrances into Madinah. He then gathered the rest of the people of Madinah and addressed them saying, “O Muslims! The enemies have conceived you to be little in number. You have no idea as to whether they will attack you by night or by day. The closest to you from among them is only a barid (12-14 miles) away.”
This incident is also recorded in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah and the Tarikh of Ibn Khaldun in the following manner:
فجعل الصديق علي انقاب المدينة حراسا يبيتون بالجيوش حولها فمن امراء الحرس علي بن ابي طالب و زبير بن عوام و طلحة بن عبيد الله و سعد بن ابي وقاص و عبد الرحمن بن عوف و عبد الله بن مسعود.
Abu Bakr designated surveillance troops at the different entrances into Madinah who would spend their nights with their contingents. Some of the leaders of these contingents were: ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam, Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf and ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud.”
The Benefits of These Narrations
- During the caliphate of Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu whenever advice was required regarding pertinent issues that confronted the state the suggestions of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu were sought and were held in great esteem. This is also indicative towards the sincerity, affection and love that they exuded for one another.
- ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu would call Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu with the title “Khalifah of Rasulullah”. He perceived the participation of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu in the battles which posed a potential threat to his life to be great loss for the Muslims.
- ‘Ali’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu notifying Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu of the victory promised to the Muslims and subsequent to that their mutual elation thereupon is an open sign of the love and veneration they had for each other.
- Likewise, his participation in civil defence under the instructions of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is indicative toward the same.
- All this is indubitable evidence of the fact that he perceived the caliphate of Abu Bakr to be legitimate.
If, hypothetically speaking, Abu Bakr’s radiya Llahu ‘anhu caliphate was illegitimate then rather than availing himself for the different challenges of the time it was his responsibility to remonstrate against him and overthrow his rule. But we find all the narrations to be diametrically opposite to this; for he is portrayed to be a proponent of his leadership, a friend, advisor and a helper. This, in the view of the impartial, is termed ‘unity’.
 Dhakha’ir al ‘Uqba, p. 97.
 Riyad al Nadirah 1/130: Chapter regarding his sternness against those who had turned apostate in the Arabs after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam; al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 6/315; Kanz al ‘Ummal 3/142-143; al Sawa’iq al Muhriqah p. 15: third section of the first chapter.
 Sharh Nahj al Balaghah of Ibn Abi al Hadid
 Sharh Nahj al Balaghah of Ibn Maytham al Bahrani
 Nahj al Balaghah 2/119: a letter of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the people of Egypt which he sent with Malik al Ashtar.
 Mulla Fath Allah al Qashani d 988 A.H. was a leading Shia scholar of the 9th century. The commentary is in Persian. Its name is Tanbih al Ghafilin wa Tadhkir al ‘Arifin. He is also the author of Manhaj al Sadiqin and its abridged form Khulasah al Manhaj. (Rawdat al Jannat, p. 486)
 Sharh Nahj al Balaghah: commentary of a letter of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu to the people of Egypt which he sent with Malik al Ashtar.
 Kanz al ‘Ummal, 3/143-144: chapter regarding Caliphate and leadership.
 Tarikh Yaqubi, p. 132: Days of Abu Bakr.
 Nasikh al Tawarikh 2/158: Chapter regarding Abu Bakr firmly intending to fight the Romans and subdue them.
 Tarikh Ibn Jarir al Tabari 3/223: events of the eleventh year after hijrah. Sharh Nahj al Balaghah 4/228.
 Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah 6/311: chapter regarding the preparation of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to combat the renegades; Tarikh Ibn Khaldun 2/858: Islamic Caliphate.Back to top