Pearl of Wisdom

describing the intelligent person, 'He regards the little good that others do as being much and regards the abundance of good that he himself does as being little.'

Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa [sawa]
Tuhaf al-'Uqul, p. 286

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Library » Islamic Unity » Shi'ah View of Abu Bakr
Shi'ah View of Abu Bakr E-mail


Shi'a believe he and Umar conspired to take over power over the Muslim nation after the death of Muhammad – a coup d'état - overthrow against Ali.

Shi'a do not view Abu Bakr's being with Muhammad in the cave as a meritorious act. They argue that being there did not constitute a merit in itself, as any merit should be derived from his action and behavior there. Then, they quote Sunni sources:

Narrated Abu Bakr:

I was with the Prophet in the Cave. When I raised my head, I saw the feet of the people. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! If some of them should look down, they will see us." The Prophet said, "O Abu Bakr, be quiet! (For we are) two and Allah is the Third of us."
[Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:259]

Shi'a argue that a behavior that resulted in Muhammad responding "O Abu Bakr, be quiet!" can not be constituted as meritorious, especially when compared to Ali, who voluntarily slept in the bed of Muhammad essentially risking his life. It is Ali's meritorious act that saw the following Qur'anic verse revealed

And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah: And Allah is full of kindness to (His) devotees. (Holy Quran, 2:207)

However Sunnis claim that these verses were not for Abu Bakr when read in reference to the context. Some Sunnis say that the fact that Abu Bakr was referred to as the "Companion" (Sahib) of Muhammad in the Cave, in the Qur'an, shows his high status. However, Shi'a claim that this word does not represent a high status at all. In the Qur'an, Yusuf (Joseph) talks to two disbelievers in prison who are referred to as his "Companions" for the sole reason that they are in close physical proximity to him, clearly showing that the word "Companion" in the Qur'an does not represent a high status, but just may describe the physical proximity of someone to another person. The word "Sahib" used for Abu Bakr however is used to refer to Muhammad quite a few times, describing him as "The companion who is not possessed".

It is interesting to note that Sura At-Tawba states:

If you do not aid the Prophet - Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, "Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us." And Allah sent down his peace upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah - that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (Holy Quran, 9:40)

The above verse is cited where Prophet Muhammad says to Abu Bakr "Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us." The last few words are cited to be so as to show high status of Abu BAkr. But even common sense can understand make out that Abu Bakr was afraid and started crying. For which Prophet Muhammad had to say "Do not Grieve".

Further more examination of the verse shows that Allah (sawa) send down tranquility upon "HIM" i.e Prophet Muhammad only with Abu Bakr excluded from divine peace. This verse is not an admiration, but rather a narration. It refers to the emigration of the Messenger of God 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.﴿ (Holy Quran: 9:40).

Coup d'état / Overthrow of Ali's Position

Abu Bakr returned to Medina after the news of Muhammad's death reached him. At that point, Umar stopped threatening people with death if they spread the news of Muhammad's death. While Abu Bakr was in the house where Muhammad's body was kept, accompanied with the rest of Banu Hashim, Umar informed him of the meeting of Saqifah.

Shi'a believe that Abu Bakr leaving the house without informing anyone of the meeting, proves that he went there in bad faith.

If Muhammad had predicted the four caliphs as Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs), then there was no need for the meeting at Saqifah to decide the first caliph and the later three caliphs. Even though Hasan ibn Ali ruled the Muslims, he has not been included in the Rightly Guided Caliphs, especially being declared as the Chief of the Youth of Paradise along with Husayn ibn Ali by Muhammad.

Abu Bakr and Fatimah

Shi'a criticize the Sunnis for refusing taking part in the dispute between Muhammad's then living child, Fatimah (the wife of Ali) and Abu Bakr, a dispute that ended with Fatimah becoming angry with Abu Bakr and refusing to talk with him for the rest of her life, six months, according to the most reliable Sunni sources including Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, and her being buried in a secret location, still unknown, instead of with her father.

Shia believe that Fatima being angry at Abu Bakr was enough to stop him from taking the caliphate. They quote the hadith narrated Al-Miswar bin Makhrama:
Allah's Apostle said, "Fatima is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry."
[Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:57:61]

So, the Shi'a reason that if Abu Bakr angered Fatimah, he also angered Muhammad, therefore that did not give him any rights to the caliphate.

It is noteworthy that Fatimah openly refused to recognize the first caliph as Ulul-Amr, the one with authority and to be obeyed as per the Qur'an, thus proving that the Muslims chose Abu Bakr after a bitter dispute and turmoil at Saqifah and many refused to obey the hastily installed caliph.

Persecution on the Followers of Ali

They believe the armies Abu Bakr sent against the Muslims that did not want to give him Zakat was in line with his coup d'état / Overthrow of Ali's Rightly Position. There were many Muslims that refused to give allegiance to Abu Bakr, let alone give him taxes, but they did not deny the need to pay Zakat, nor any other Muslim principle.

As soon as Abu Bakr came into power, he sent against them the former champion general of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Muhammad's former arch enemy, Khalid ibn al-Walid. It is important to note that Khalid ibn al-Walid's tactical decision making had been the reason for the Muslim's loss in the second Battle of Uhud. However, he soon became a Muslim at the hand of Muhammad, and was sent by him as a commander on various military missions prior to his death.

Shi'a refer to several hadith that mention three conditions where a Muslims blood may be shed, and not paying Zakat is not one of them.

Khalid ibn al-Walid killed several people, including Malik ibn Nuwayrah. Khalid married the wife of Malik bin Nuwayrah, Layla bint al-Minhal, in the same night he ordered the death of her husband. Shi'a believe that Khalid raped her as he had not waited for the full period of waiting.

Thus, Shi'a consider him as a persecutor of Shi'as, employing the former arch-enemies of Islam as his highest generals, and protecting him when they committed murder and rape.

The Holy Quran Collection

Shi'as strongly refute the idea that Abu Bakr or Umar were instrumental in the collection or preservation of the Qur'an, rather that they refused to accept Ali's compiled Qur'an, while th Shi'ah are confident that only Allah's choosen repsentative after Prophet Muhammad could complete such a task.

Abu Bakr's Caliphate Era

Shi'a believe that the entire history of Abu Bakr's life was whitewashed by Umayyad propaganda, fabricating hadith where possible and giving black propaganda spins to the parts that were regarded as established history. Even through the Umayyad's endeavours to obscure the truth, it remains evident in the main events that are recognized as authentic by both Shi'a and Sunnis:

  • Fatimah completely broke her relations with Abu Bakr the same week Muhammad died.
  • Rather than being buried with her father at the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, Fatimah was buried in a still secret location.
  • Ali refused to give allegiance to Abu Bakr.
  • Ali did not support Abu Bakr in the attack of Muslim, who were declared apostates on the sole issue of not paying taxes to a man they did not regard as their caliph.

Shi'a conclude that they had no motivation to give taxes to Abu Bakr, since 100,000 heard Muhammad say in the hadith of the pond of Khumm that Ali was every Muslim's mawla. Further, Shi'a conclude that it is evidence that anyone going against the wishes of every Muslim's mawla and Muhammad's daughter can not be on the right path.

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