Praise of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar by ‘Ali
In this chapter I intend to present before you all those narrations which appear in our books wherein ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is reported to have commended Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma or to have made mention of their merits and accolades. I shall likewise present Shia narrations that corroborate these narrations wherever possible. All the narrations that will be presented in this chapter are divided into twelve themes.
The primary message derived from these narrations is that these godly saints had mutual love and veneration throughout their lives and at all given times.
Theme One: Narrations Regarding the Virtues of Abu Bakr and’Umar
In Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d the following has been narrated from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
عن ابي سريحة سمعت عليا يقول علي المنبر الا ان ابا بكر اواه منيب الا ان عمر ناصح الله فنصحه.
Abu Sarihah says that he heard ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu saying upon the mimbar, “Verily Abu Bakr was soft-hearted, frequently turning to Allah. Verily ‘Umar was sincere in his actions to Allah, hence Allah had dealt amiably with him.”
The following also appears in the same source:
عبيد الله بن موسي قال أبو عقيل عن رجل قال سئل علي عن أبي بكر رضي الله عنه وعمر رضي الله عنه فقال كانا أمامي هدي راشدين مصلحين منجحين خرجا من الدنيا خميصين.
‘Ali was once asked regarding Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. He said, “They were rightly guided leaders, reformers of their nation and successful individuals in their endeavours. They departed from this world enduring hunger and hardship.”
In Musnad Ahmed the following narration has been narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn Jalil from ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
قال سمعت عليا رضي الله عنه يقول أعطي كل نبي سبعة نجباء من أمته و أعطي النبي صلي الله عليه وسلم أربعة عشر نجيبا من أمته منهم أبو بكر وعمر رضي الله عنهما.
‘Abdullah reports that he heard ‘Ali saying, “every prophet was granted seven sincere devout companions from his people and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was granted twelve such people from his followers. From amongst them were Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.”
Ibn al Athir al Jazari has cited the following narration in his book Usd al Ghabah on the authority of Ibn Marduwayh with a consistent chain of transmission which reaches ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu:
عن عبد خير عن علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه قال إن الله جعل أبابكر وعمر حجة علي من بعدها من الولاة إلي يوم القيامة فسبقا والله سبقا بعيدا وأتعب من بعدهما إتعابا شديدا.
‘Abd Khayr narrates that ‘Ali said, “Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala has made Abu Bakr and ‘Umar proof against all rulers to rule till the Day of Judgment. They have, by Allah, surpassed everyone by far and they have, by Allah, set such high standards that they have very rigidly exhausted all those to come after them.”
Imam al Suyuti has cited the following narration in his book Tarikh al Khulafa’ on the strength of Bazzar and Ibn ‘Asakir. The Qur’an exegetes of the Shi’ah have also cited this narration in their Tafasir (exegeses of the noble Qur’an). The narration reads as follows:
وأخرج البزار وابن عساكر عن أسيد بن صفوان وكانت له صحبة قال قال علي والذي جاء بالحق محمد صلي الله عليه وسلم وصدق به أبو بكر.
Usaid ibn Safwan, he was a Sahabi, narrates that ‘Ali, whilst commentating on the verse, “the one who came with the truth and the one who attested it,” said, “the one who came with the truth was Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the one who attested to it was Abu Bakr.”
‘Ali al Muttaqi al Hindi has cited the following narration in his book Kanz al ‘Ummal on the strength of many a scholar of hadith:
عن ابي المعتمر قال سئل علي ابي طالب عن ابي بكر و عمر فقال انهما لفي الوفد السبعين الذي يقدمون الي الله عز و جل يوم القيامة مع محمد صلي الله عليه وسلم ولقد سألهما موسي عليه السلام فأعطيهما محمد صلي الله عليه وسلم.
Abu al Mu’tamir narrates that ‘Ali was once asked about Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. He responded, “They will be part of that fortunate delegation that will proceed to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Musa ‘alayh al Salam had previously beseeched Allah to make them his companions but Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala granted them to Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.”
The following merit of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, mentioned by ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, is cited by several scholars of hadith:
عن ابي اسحاق عن الحارث عن علي بن ابي طالب قال قال رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم لأبي بكر يا ابا بكر ان الله اعطاني ثواب من امن به منذ خلق الله ادم الي ان تقوم الساعة و ان الله اعطاك يا ابا بكر ثواب من امن بي منذ بعثني الله الي ان تقوم الساعة.
‘Ali ibn Abi Talib narrates that Rasulullah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala said to Abu Bakr, “verily Allah has granted me the reward of whoever has believed or will believe in me from the time Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had created Adam ‘alayh al Salam till the Day of Judgement. And Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will grant you the reward of whoever accepted iman upon me from the time he sent me as a nabi till the Day of Judgement.”
Al Sheikh Abu Bishr Muhammad ibn Ahmed ibn Hammad ibn Dulab and Shah Wali Allah al Dehlawi have narrated the following narration in their books, Kitab al Kuna wa al Asma’ and Izalat al Khafa’ ‘an Khilafat al Khulafa’ respectively:
عن عبد الخير صاحب لواء علي عن علي قال ان اول من يدخل الجنة من هذه الامة ابو بكر و عمر فقال رجل يا امير المؤمنين يدخلانهما قبلك؟قال اي والذي خلق الجنة و برأ النسمة ليدخلانهما قبلي.
It is reported that ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “The first to enter Jannat from this ummah will be Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.” A person enquired, “will they enter Jannat before you, O Amir al Mu’minin?” He replied, “Most certainly! By the oath of that being who created Jannat and has created the soul they will enter it before me.”
The Following can be Deduced From the Above Cited Narrations
- They were compassionate, concerned and well-wishers for the din of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala.
- They were guides and reformers of this ummah.
- They enjoy a very lofty position in this ummah and belonged to noble families
- They served as evidence of the din of Allah.
- They had from the very inception of Islam embraced its message.
- They will be from the elite group which will appear before Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala with honour.
- They will receive boundless reward from Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala because Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala had chosen them to be a source of guidance for countless people.
- They supersede others in entering the dwelling of the pleasure of Allah i.e. Jannat al Firdows.
A letter of ‘Ali Wherein he Commends Abu Bakr and ‘Umar
Appropriate to this theme is a narration which I have procured from Shia sources wherein ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu is reported to have praised Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma in a letter that he wrote to Muawiyah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Many Shia scholars, i.e. the commentators of Nahj al Balaghah, have made mention of this in their respective commentaries. The narration reads as follows:
وكان افضلهم في الاسلام كما زعمت و انصحهم لله و لرسوله الخليفة الصديق و خليفة الخليفة الفاروق ولعمري و ان مكانتهما في الاسلام لعظيم و ان المصاب بهما لجرح في الاسلام شديد يرحمهما الله و جزاهما بأحسن ما عملا.
And the most virtuous in Islam, as you had stated, and the most sincere to Allah and his Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were: the successor of Rasulullah — al Siddiq and his successor — al Faruq. By the oath of my life! They hold a very high rank in Islam and verily their loss is a great loss to Islam. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala shower his mercies upon them and reward them for all the good they have carried out.
Benefits of This Narration
- Abu Bakr and ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, were the most virtuous of people in their era. They were likewise the most sincere of people to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and his Rasul salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
- They enjoyed a very lofty position in Islam.
- Their loss was indeed a very grave loss to Islam.
- ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu supplicated that the mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, descend upon them and that he, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, compensate them for their good.
- To claim that the words “as you have stated” allude to the fact that he was just reiterating the thoughts of the addressee and was not really conceding their virtue is absurd. Simply because in the sentences subsequent to that he takes an oath of his life and thereafter he further emphasises what he is to say with “verily”. Can there be any possibility other than earnestness in an address filled with such pressing emphasis.
 Tabaqat Ibn Sa’d 3/121: Mention of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Ibid 3/149: Mention of Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Musnad Ahmed 1/143: the consistent narrations of ‘Ali; Hilyah al Auliya’ 1/128: the mention of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud.
 Usd al Ghabah 4/68: Mention of ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu
 Tarikh al Khulafa’ p. 37; Majma’ al Bayan of al Sheikh al Tabarsi, p. 321.
 Kanz al ‘Ummal 6/366.
 Kitab Fada’il Abi Bakr al Siddiq of Abu Talib al ‘Ashari, p. 6; Tarikh Baghdad 4/256: under the mention of Ahmed ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz; Riyad al Nadirah 1/167; Kanz al ‘Ummal 6/318.
 Kitab al Kuna wa al Asma’ 1/120; Izalat al Khafa’ ‘an Khilafah al Khulafa’ 1/68, 1/317.
 Sharh Nahj al Balaghah of Ibn Maytham al Bahrani, p. 486 (old edition), p. 362 (new edition).Back to top