The Merits of the Companions according to Ahle Sunnah
By: Ahmad Namaee
The author of the above-mentioned book has attributed some merits to the Companions and has devoted a chapter to “Abu Bakr in the shade of the Qur'an”, another one to “Proof of Abu Bakr's caliphate in traditions and narrations” which we review them as follow: He narrates the verse ﴾If you do not help him, then Allah has already helped him when the faithless expelled him, and one of the two when the two of them were in the cave, he said to his companion, do not grieve; Allah is indeed with us. Then Allah sent down His composure upon him.﴿ (Q: 9/40), and mentions that God has honored Abu Bakr in this verse.
We should say that this verse is not an admiration, but rather a narration. It refers to the emigration of the Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.) when he had left his house for Medina, he returned to Abu Bakr, he picked him up and they proceeded towards the cave of Thaur. Those who were looking for the Prophet climbed up to the cave. The voices were not far off; they were still approaching the cave. Abu Bakr felt grief. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) looked at him and said, ﴾”Do not grieve; Allah is indeed with us.” Then Allah sent down His composure upon him.﴿ (Q: 9/40). The two of them stayed in the cave for three days. Then they left for Quba' near Medina.
Of course, accompanying the Prophet is a great merit and honor, but more meritorious than he, is 'Ali who was continuously with the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) from his early childhood, and would follow him “like a young camel following in the footprints of its mother”.
He believes the verses ﴾The God-fearing shall be spared it. He, who gives his wealth to purify himself,﴿ (Q: 92/17-18) refer to Abu Bakr. Quoting the verse ﴾Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing among you.﴿ (Q: 49/13) he concludes that Abu Bakr is the most God-fearing among the Companions.
Abu Bakr himself confessed before his death, “I wish I had not committed three acts. I wish I had not broken into Fatima's house even if it had been closed to us for fighting. I wished I had not burned al-Fuj'at (al-Fujah) al-Sullami alive. I wish I had killed him or made him free. I wish, on the Saqifa day, I had submitted caliphate to 'Umar or Abu 'Ubayda, so as one of them had been emir and I had been his vizier.” Then he added, “I wish I had asked the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) about the matter of caliphate; to whom did it belong so as the people did not argue about it?” 
He ignored the great sin of his commander, Khalid b. Walid, when he ordered the execution of a Muslim, Malik b. Nuwayra, and married his widow at the same night. We wonder how such a man could be more God-fearing than one who never worshipped any god but the One God and never committed any sins, neither in the Time of Ignorance nor after the advent of Islam.
Quoting the verse ﴾Allah was certainly pleased with the faithful when they swore allegiance under the tree.﴿ (Q: 48/18); he says that Abu Bakr was among those who swore allegiance under the tree.
The pledge of Good Pleasure (al-ridhwan) took place under a tree in Hudaybiya; there were at least seven hundred men present there; and Abu Bakr was one them. God says ﴾O you who have faith! Obey Allah and obey the Apostle, and do not render your works void.﴿ (Q: 47/33).
Elsewhere He says ﴾Say, 'I do not ask of you any reward for it except the affection for [my] relatives.'﴿ (Q: 42/23). May God be pleased with whom His Apostle's daughter, Fatima is displeased? God knows best.
He says the verse ﴾Let the well off and the opulent among you not fail to give the relatives and the needy, and to those who have emigrated in the way of Allah.﴿ (Q: 24/22) refer to Abu Bakr.
It is true. This verse refers to Abu Bakr and his nephew, Mistah b. Uthatha b. al-Muttalib b. 'Abd Manaf. The latter had been among those who cast doubt on the fidelity of 'A’isha during the affair of her absence from the camp of Muslims. Abu Bakr, deeply offended by his conduct, vowed that he would no longer provide him as he had done in the past, even after Mistah formally repented of his mistake. The Holy Qur'an, however, commanded him not to neglect his duty towards his needy nephew and to pardon him. It is a reminder, not an approval.
He believes the verse ﴾O you who have faith! Should any of you desert his religion, Allah will soon bring a people whom He loves and who loves Him, [who will be] humble towards the faithful stern towards the faithless.﴿ (Q: 5/54) is concerned with Abu Bakr.
As we saw above it was 'Ali b. Abi Talib about whom, in the battle of Khaybar, the Prophet said, “If Allah wills, tomorrow I will give the standard to a man who is an assailant not a runaway, he loves Allah and His Apostle; and Allah and His Apostle love him. He will not come back until Allah conquers by his means”.
He says the verse ﴾Will you kill a man for saying, “My Lord is Allah.”﴿ (Q: 40/28) refers to Abu Bakr.
The whole story is ﴾And Pharaoh said, 'Let me slay Moses, and let him invoke his Lord. Indeed I fear he will change your religion, or bring forth corruption in the land.' Moses said, 'Indeed I seek the protection of my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant one who does not believe in the day of Reckoning'. Said a man of faith from Pharaoh's clan, who concealed his faith, will you kill a man for saying, “My Lord is Allah” while he certainly brings you manifest proofs from your Lord.﴿ (Q: 40/26-28).
The text clearly implies that these verses are about Moses and Pharaoh, not about Muhammd (S.A.W.A.). Moreover, Abu Bakr never concealed his faith. When he became a Muslim, he showed his faith openly and called others to God and to His Apostle. The only man among Quraysh who concealed his faith and never showed it openly was Abu Talib, but it is not concerning him, either.
The author relates some traditions concerning the merits of Abu Bakr and 'Umar.
Before discussing the proof of Abu Bakr's caliphate in traditions and narrations, it is necessary to say that fabricating traditions began even during the Prophet's life. 'Ali b. Abi Talib says, “Certainly what is current among the people is right and wrong, true and false, repealing and repealed, general and particular, definite and indefinite, exact and surmised. Even during the Prophet's days false saying had been attributed to him so much so that he had to say in his sermon that, 'whoever attributes falsehood to me makes his abode in Hell'.”
After the year of the community ('am al-jama'a), at the end of his letter Mu'awiya wrote to his tax collectors. “When this letter from me reaches you, summon the people to relate the merits of the Companions and the first caliphs. Do not let any Muslim relate anything about 'Ali b. Abi Talib without bringing something that contradicts this about the Companions. This I like better and it pleases me more, it invalidates Abu Turab's claim and those of his Shi'ite in a more definitive way and it is for them more difficult to bear than the virtues and merits of 'Uthman.”
Mu'awiya's letters were read out to the people, and many fabricated reports concerning the merits of the Companions without any grain of truth were related. The people went out of their way in relating reports in this vein until they spoke thereof in glowing terms from the pulpits. The teachers in the schools were instructed to teach their young pupils in a vast quantity of these until they related them and studied them just as they studied the Qur'an, and until they taught these to their daughters, wives and servants. God knows how long they persisted to this activity.
'A’isha, as it is well known, championed her father's right to the succession of the Prophet and backed the caliphate of his appointed successor, 'Umar. In the election of the shura after the murder of 'Umar, she clearly preferred 'Uthman to 'Ali. She soon became, however, a vocal critic of 'Uthman's conduct as caliph and her agitation against him contributed to the outbreak of open rebellion. When 'Uthman was murdered by the rebels and they raised 'Ali to the caliphate, she immediately turned against him, claiming the revenge for the dead caliph.
After the defeat of her Umayyad alliance in the Battle of Camel, she withdrew from active politics. However, she never criticized Mu'awiya for the public cursing of 'Ali b. Abi Talib in the congregational prayers. She ignored Mu'awiya's bribing, cheating, bribing extorting, frightening, and murdering his way through his reign and appointing his impious son Yazid to his succession. When they killed her brother Muhammad b. Abi Bakr, put him inside the carcass of a donkey, and burned, she only cursed Mu'awiya and 'Amr b. al-'As in the qunut of her prayers and she did not criticize them openly.
The burial of al-Hasan b. 'Ali in Medina provoked fighting between the Hashimite and the Umayyad. Al-Hasan had instructed his family before his death to bury him with his grandfather if they did not fear evil. When they proposed interring him next to the Prophet, Marwan interfered, declaring, ”'Uthman will not be buried in Hashsh Kawkab and al-Hasan here.” The Banu Hashim and Bau Umayya assembled, each group with their supporters, brandishing their weapons. Abu Hurayra, this time taking the side of the Prophet's family, asked Marwan, “Will you prevent al-Hasan b. 'Ali from being buried in this place when I have heard the Messenger of God say about him and his brother al-Husayn b. 'Ali that they are the two lords of the youth of the inmates of Paradise?”
Marwan told him, “Leave us alone. The hadith of the Prophet would be lost if nobody but you and Abu Sa'id Khudri had preserved it. You have become a Muslim only at the siege of Khaybar.” Abu Hurayra protested that he had indeed accepted Islam in Khaybar, but from then on, he stayed constantly with the Prophet and knew everyone whom he loved and whom he hated, for whom he prayed and whom he cursed. However, 'A’isha taking the side of Bau Umayya, said, “The apartment is mine. I shall not permit anyone to be buried in it.” Al-Hasan b. 'Ali then was buried in Baqi' al-Gharqad.
On fabricating traditions, it is worth narrating the following anecdote from Ibn Hibban: Yahya b. Ma'in and Ahmad b. Hanbal once came together in the mosque of al-Rusafa, where a storyteller (qass) preached to the people. He used to say, “Ahmad b. Hanbal and Yahya b. Ma'in once related to me, on the authority of 'Abd al-Razzaq, from Ma'mar, from Qatada, from Anas. That the Messenger of God is reported to have said, “He who says la ilah illa Allah causes a bird to be created from every word; its beak is made of gold and its plumage of pearls.” Ahmad and Yahya looked at one another and asked each other, “Did you really transmit this tradition?” They both swore that, they had never heard it until that moment. They waited until the storyteller had finished and collected his money.
Then Yahya beckoned to him and asked him to draw nearer. Thinking that another coin would come his way, he did so and Yahya asked him, “Who related this tradition to you?” Yahya b. Ma'in and Ahmad b. Hanbal was the answer. Then he said, “But I am Yahya b. Ma'in and this man is Ahmad b. Hanbal and we have never heard this mentioned as a prophetic tradition. If you have to tell obvious lies, do not bother us with them.”
“Are you really Yahya b. Ma'in?” the storyteller asked. “Yes.” “I have always heard that Yahya b. Ma'in is stupid,” the man proceeded, “and I have never set eyes on him until this moment.” Yahya said, “But how do you know I am stupid?” The storyteller replied, “As if there were in the whole world no other Yahyas or Ahmads except you two! I have written down from seventeen different people called Ahmad b. Hanbal apart from this man here.” Then Ahmad b. Hanbal wrapped his face in the sleeve of his cloak and said “Let him be.” With wicked glee, the storyteller watched them go.
Regarding this preliminary, we will discuss the merits of the Companions.
1. Hudhayfa said, that the Messenger of God had said, “I do not know how long I will live among you, so you should follow Abu Bakr and 'Umar after me.”
The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A.), from the beginning of his mission to the end of his life continuously appointed 'Ali b. Abi Talib to his succession.
a) When the Warning Verse (Q: 26/214) came down, he invited his nearest kinsfolk and called them to God. The men remained silent and 'Ali, though the youngest, said, “O Prophet of God, I will be your helper in this matter.” The Messenger of God (S.A.W.A) laid his hand on the back of 'Ali's neck and said, “This is my brother, my executer and my successor among you. Hearken to him and obey him.”
b) In A.H. 9, while the Messenger of God with his Companions was making for the Byzantines (Tabuk), he left 'Ali behind to look after his family. The hypocrites spoke evil of him, saying that he had been left behind because he was a burden to the Prophet and he wanted to get rid of him. On hearing this, 'Ali seized his weapons and caught up with the Messenger of God when he was halting in al-Jurf, and repeated to him what the hypocrites were saying. The Prophet (S.A.W.A) replied, “They lie. I left you behind because of what I had left behind, so go back and represent me in my family and yours. Are you not content, 'Ali, to stand to me as Aaron to Moses, except that there will be any prophets after me?”
c) On his return from the Farewell Pilgrimage, he stopped at Ghadir Khumm to communicate God's revelation (Q: 5/67) to the pilgrims who accompanied him before they dispersed. Taking 'Ali by the hand, he declared, “He of whom I am the master (mawla) this man, 'Ali, is also the master.” He pleaded, “O God, Be the friend of him who is his friend, and be the enemy of him who is his enemy; support whom he supports him and desert whom he deserts. Then Gabriel came down and revealed this verse,
﴾Today the faithless have despaired of your religion. So do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.﴿ (Q: 5/3.).
Then 'Ali received in his tent, the congratulations of the Muslim men and women who greeted him with the title of the Commander of the Faithful (Amir al-Mu'minin), among them was 'Umar b. al-Khattab.
2. Qays b. 'Ubada said that 'Ali b. Abi Talib had said, “Once the Messenger of God was ill for some days and nights. At the time of the call to prayer, he told me to say Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. When he (S.A.W.A.) died, we considered the prayer is the standard of Islam and the pillar of the faith. Therefore, we were pleased for our world with someone whom the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) was pleased for our faith. And we pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr.”
While the Prophet's illness began and grew more serious, despite the fact that he could barely lift himself off the ground through weakness, he arose and decided to go to the mosque. 'Ali took his hand and al-Fadhl took the other. He leaned on them both and his feet dragged a trail along the ground because of his weakness. When he came out into the mosque, he found Abu Bakr had already got to the mihrab. He indicated with his hand that he should withdraw and Abu Bakr withdrew. The Messenger of God took his place. He said the takbir and began the prayer, which Abu Bakr had begun before without taking any account of what he had already performed.
The Prophet (S.A.W.A) did not let Abu Bakr continue leading the communal prayers. How did he tell 'Ali to say Abu Bakr to lead the prayers at this time?
In the Guardian Verse (Q: 5/55), God implicitly refers to 'Ali b. Abi Talib as the successor to the Prophet. The Prophet does not speak out of his own desire and it is not reasonable to, contrary to his previous will, say, “You should follow Abu Bakr and 'Umar after me.” Moreover, 'Ali b. Abi Talib and Banu Hashim did not swear allegiance to Abu Bakr after the Prophet's death. 'Umar and his companions took charge of securing the pledge of allegiance of all residents in Medina.
They rushed towards the house of Fatima, who was bereaved of her father's death, and the Companion al-Zubayr with some of the other Emigrants had assembled there. 'Umar came to the house and told, “By God, I will set the house on fire, unless you come out and swear allegiance to Abu Bakr.” Then he broke into the house. Fatima came out and told them, “By God, you should go out of my house, or I will unveil my hair and bewail before God.”
Fatima lived a short time after her father: seventy-five or forty days. She made a will to be buried secretly at night, in order to prevent her enemies' attendance. If 'Ali b. Abi Talib had swore allegiance to Abu Bakr his house would not have been rushed and set on fire.
3. Jubayr b. Mut'im said that, “Once a woman came to the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and consulted him about a business. He told her to come later. She asked, 'If I come and cannot see you (if you were dead), whom may I confer with then?' He said, 'If you cannot find me, then discuss with Abu Bakr'.”
This tradition and the preceding ones are contrary to the previous statements of the Messenger of God who appointed 'Ali b. Abi Talib as his successor.
4. 'Ali b. Abi Talib said that, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) had said, “Abu Bakr and 'Umar are the two lords of the old of the inmates of Paradise, except the prophets and the messengers.”
The author himself knows that the Paradise inmates are the young and the old will become young while in the Paradise. This is an inexpertly fabricated tradition, imitating the famous one; al-Hasan and al-Husayn are the two lords of the youth of the inmates of Paradise.
5. 'Ali b. Abi Talib said that, “The best of the comm-unity after its Prophet are Abu Bakr and then 'Umar.”
'Ali b. Abi Talib openly criticizes the caliphs before him. In Shiqshiqiyya Sermon he says, “By Allah so and so [the son of Abi Qahafa] dressed himself with it [the caliphate] and he certainly knew that my position in relation to it was the same of as the position of the axis in relation to the hand-mill. The floodwater flows down from me and the bird cannot fly up to me. I put a curtain against the caliphate and kept myself detached from it.
Then I began to think whether I should assault or endure calmly the blinding darkness of tribulations wherein the grown up are feeble and the young grew old and the true believer acts under strain until he meets Allah. I found that endurance thereon was wiser. Therefore, I adopted patience although there was mote in the eye and suffocation in the throat”. He never believed in them. During the election (shura), 'Uthman had twice pledged without hesitation that he would follow the Book of God, the Sunna of His Prophet, and the practice of Abu Bakr and 'Umar, while 'Ali had cautiously stated that he would do so to the limit of his ability.
After the Kharijites left Kufa, 'Ali's followers offered him a renewed oath of allegiance on the basis that they would be friends of those he befriended and enemies for those he took as enemies. 'Ali b. Abi Talib stipulated adherence to the Book of God and the Sunna of the Prophet in the oath. Rabi'a b. Shaddad al-Khath'ami suggested, “On the Sunna of Abu Bakr and 'Umar.” 'Ali b. Abi Talib objected that if Abu Bakr and 'Umar had been acting on anything but the Book of God and the Sunna of His Messenger, they would have been remote from the truth.
If 'Ali b. Abi Talib believed that Abu Bakr and 'Umar were the best of the community after its Prophet, during the election (shura), he could pledge that he would follow the practice of Abu Bakr and 'Umar, and he would not lose his chance for caliphate. In addition, he would not object Rabi'a b. Shaddad al-Khath'ami, who had suggested, “On the Sunna of Abu Bakr and 'Umar”. The Prophet (S.A.W.A.) addressing Abu Bakr said, “You are my Companion in the cave and on the hawdh (Heavenly Water).”
This is another imitation of thaqalayn tradition: “Indeed, I have left among you the Book of God and the offspring of my family (ahl al-bayt). Do not try to outdo them, for then you will be destroyed.” 
6. Abu Sa'id Khudri said that he had heard the Messenger of God say, “Certainly the most benevolent to me in actions and wealth is Abu Bakr. If I were to take a friend (khalil), I would take Abu Bakr as my friend. All the doors leading to the Mosque should be blocked except for Abu Bakr's.”
When the Messenger of God instituted brother-hood between his fellow Emigrants and the Helpers in Medina he said, “Let each of you take a brother in God.” He himself took 'Ali by hand and said, “This is my brother.” Therefore, the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and 'Ali became brother.
a) It is interesting that the Prophet could choose a brother, but he could not choose a friend.
b) The Prophet ordered that all private doors leading to the mosque be blocked except for 'Ali. He said, “O 'Ali, no one is allowed to enter the mosque while he is impure (junub) except me and you.” There are many other traditions in this effect.
Therefore, it is a more reasonable version, and it is confirmed by the verses, ﴾Indeed Allah desires to repel all impurity from you, O People of the Household, and purify you with a thorough purification.﴿ (Q: 33/33).
And ﴾Should anyone argue with you about them, after the knowledge that has come to you, say come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, our souls and your souls, then let us pray earnestly, and call down Allah's curse upon the liars.﴿ (Q: 3/61). Here, God considers 'Ali b. Abi Talib as the soul of the Prophet.
7. 'A’isha said that she had heard the Messenger of God say, “It does not behoove a community to lead their prayers anyone else while Abu Bakr is among them.”
See on Abu Bakr leading communal prayers, above, (page 37).
8. Anas b. Malik said that the Messenger of God had said, “The kindest to my community among them is Abu Bakr.”
Abu Bakr would have been the kindest to the community among them, if he had not broken into Fatima's house. If he had not disinherited the Prophet's daughter from her father's inheritance. If Fatima had been happy with him when she died. If he had not made Khalid b. Walid murder Malik b. Nuwayra, and he had punished Khalid who married Malik's widow at the same night he killed her husband. If he had not burned al-Fuj'at (or Fujah) al- Sullami alive; and if….
9. 'Abd Khayr said that he had heard 'Ali say (while he was preaching) on the pulpit, “Would you like to inform you of the best man of the community after its Prophet?” Then 'Ali named Abu Bakr. Again, he said, “Would you like to inform you of the second?” This time, he named 'Umar.
We discussed 'Ali's attitude towards the caliphs before him (page 159).
10. 'A’isha said, “The Messenger of God told me during his illness, 'call your father and your brother to me so that I may write a letter. For I fear that someone will have wishful fancies and someone will say, I am more worthy, but God and the faithful refuse anyone but Abu Bakr'.”
If Abu Bakr had had such a letter it would have shown it to the people in Saqifa, and he would not have offered people to accept 'Umar or Abu 'Ubayda as the caliph. Moreover, he did not wish he had asked the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) about the matter of caliphate: to whom had it belonged, as the people had not argued about it.
11. The Messenger of God said, “Regard for my Tr-adition (Sunna) and the Traditions of the divinely and rightly-guided caliphs, take the Traditions and hold on to them with your wisdom teeth.”
The man who fabricated this tradition did not know that the term 'the divinely and rightly guided caliphs' had not been used during the Prophet's life. It was initiated later during the Umayyad or 'Abbasid caliphs to distinguish them from the first four ones; moreover the Prophet (S.A.W.A) said, “When you come to me at the heavenly waters (hawdh), then indeed I will ask you about two important things (thaqalayn) which I have left behind. Take care how you follow me with regard to the Book of God and the offspring of my family (ahl al-bayt). Do not try to outdo them, for then you will be destroyed.”
11. The Messenger of God said, “Abu Bakr is blessed, 'Umar is blessed, 'Uthman is blessed, 'Ali is blessed, Talha is blessed, Zubayr is blessed, 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Awf is blessed, Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas is blessed, Sa'id b. Zayd is blessed and Abu 'Ubayda b. al-Jarrah is blessed.”
As we discussed before, the pledge of Good Pleasure (al-ridhwan) took place under a tree in Hudaybiya; there were at least seven hundred men present there not only ten.
 Salimi, 18-21.