Question:

I am a Shia and have this doubt about Ahl ul-Sunnah, and no Sunni Mufti is agreeing to answer a few questions. I have, such as amongst the companions Abu Bakr is viewed as the most superior on account of his closeness to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). If this is indeed the case then why did the Prophet not select him to be his brother when he divided the companions in to pairs on the Day of Brotherhood? Rather, the Prophet chose Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him saying “You are my brother in this world and the next”, so on what basis is Abu Bakr closer? See the History of the Caliphs who took the right way, by Jalaladeen Suyuti, English translation by Abdassamad Clarke p177, (Taha publishers).
Fatwa:
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.
 
The excellence of Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him over all other companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them is something on which the Muhaajireen (those who migrated from Makkah to Madeenah) and the Ansaar (the citizens of Madeenah who helped and gave aid to the Muhaajireen) agreed in a consensus. Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated: “During the reign of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) we were not used to equal anyone to Abu Bakr, then to ‘Umar then to ‘Uthamaan  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them and then we did not distinguish between the remaining companions [considered the rest as equal in rank]. [Al-Bukhaari]
Moreover, Al-Bayhaqi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him reported that Al-Shaafi’ee  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:’None of the companions nor their righteous followers differed with regard to the preference of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar over all other companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them; nonetheless some of them differed in relation to ‘Ali and ‘Uthmaan as to whom is better than the other.
Indeed, there are many texts [evidences] which prove the excellence and preference of Abu Bakr over all other companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them in excellence and as a caliph; we are going to mention some of them. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “If I were to take an intimate friend, I would have taken Abu Bakr as one, but he is my brother and my companion.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] It is also confirmed that ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him asked the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ):”Who is the dearest person to you?” He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) replied: “‘Aa’ishah.” I asked: “And among men? He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Her father.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]Furthermore, ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  himnarrated: “When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was ill during his death sickness, when it was time for the prayer and the call to the prayer was made, He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Order Abu Bakr to lead the Muslims in prayers.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
As regards the narration that you mentioned in the question, it is reported by At-Tirmithi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said to ‘Ali,  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him You are my brother in this world and in the Hereafter.”Some scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him classified the narrators of this narration to be weak. Even if we presume that this narration is authentic, the most that could be said about it is that it proves the excellence of ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him this is a matter that no one doubts. Indeed there are many texts about his excellence and virtues.
However, in the above narration there is nothing that suggests that he is better than Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him and this is not a defect or imperfection to Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him because if it was the case, it would be said; why didn’t ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him accompany the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when he migrated, and why the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) did not say: “I would have taken ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him as a close friend Instead of Abu Bakr may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him “, and so forth.
Therefore, the excellence and preference of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, over other companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them is evident, and Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  himis the best of all other companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them without exception. This is indeed what ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him himself believed in and said. ‘Abdullaah Ibn Salam ah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated: “I heard ‘Ali  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him saying: “The best of the people after the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is Abu Bakr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him and the best of the people after Abu Bakr is ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him .“[Ibn Maajah]
Allaah Knows best.
Fatwa answered by:The Fatwa Center at Islamweb

 

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