Is the Superiority of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr asSiddîq rađiyAllāhu ánhu proven with Ijma’?

Mufti Zahid Hussain al-Qadri

Question: What is the verdict of the Ulamā Ahl al-Sunnah in regards with the superiority of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr as-Siddîq rađiyAllāhu ánhu is there Ijma’ on this issue or is just the verdict in regards to the Jamhūr? Answer: There is an Ijma' of the Ahl al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah on the fact that Sayyidunā Abū Bakr asSiddîq rađiyAllāhu ánhu is the most superior amongst the companions of our beloved Prophet şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam. He, who believes that Sayyidunā Alī rađiyAllāhu ánhu or any other companion is more superior above Sayyidunā Abū Bakr as-Siddîq rađiyAllāhu ánhu, is misguided from the Ahl Al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah. This is what Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu in his various Fatwās and Sadr al-Sharī’āh in his Bahār-e-Sharī’at have established. Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu has also written two pamphlets on this issue, Matla’ al-Qamarayn and al-Zulaal al-Anqaa in which there are many references and quotes of our most authentic personalities from the past. A few quotes from Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu relevant to the question will be of much benefit. He says, According to research the word Qat’ī is used for two meanings. Firstly, when there is absolutely no possibility of another meaning and nothing affects it, like in Muhkam and Mutawātir. Secondly, there is no possibility of another meaning which is produced through evidence although a possibility remains, like in Majāz and Takhsees. The first type is known as Ilm al-Yaqīn and the person who rejects it is known as an infidel. The second type is known as Ilm al-Tamaaniyyah and the person who rejects such is known as an innovator and misguided. One can in no circumstance call a person who rejects the second type an infidel. Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu then explains that the superiority of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr is proven through the second type mentioned above. He says, We do not need to prove the superiority through the first type of Qat’ī evidence for we do not call the Tafdhīlī’s, infidels. We seek refuge in Allah from calling such. However, their misguidance is established through the other meaning of Qat’ī which only an unaware person would refute. This is because much evidence (Nusūs) has come to prove this and the Ahadīth have reached al-Tawātur al-Ma’nwīy, therefore, weak and unstable possibilities which are not produced through evidence have no effect in Qat’ī of this meaning. The scholars of Usūl have clearly explained this. Furthermore, Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu explains, Without doubt, weak, in reality has absolutely no contradiction with authentic, therefore weak contradiction will neither cause loss to us neither will it benefit he who refutes us. The great Imām also clears the misunderstanding that most people fall victim to whilst dwelling into this issue,

Contradiction is one thing and mere affirmation or negation is another thing. One will realise this when he reads the following Ahadīth, do not give superiority to a Prophet over another Prophet, do not give me superiority over Yunus Ibn Matta, Adam is the most superior amongst the Prophets and Ibrahīm is the best of all creation. Will anyone accept these as a contradiction to the superiority of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him and upon them all). Hence the answer to the fact that there are narrations from the Sahāba that another is more superior than Abū Bakr rađiyAllāhu ánhu. Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu also explains that the reconciliation between the statements of the scholars is simple after understanding what has been mentioned before. Those scholars who mentioned this issue as Qat’ī meant the second type of Qat’ī and those who mentioned it as Zannī meant the highest type of Zannī which is the same as the second type of Qat’ī. From this we understand that those who mentioned there is no Ijma’ on this issue, simply meant that there is no Qat’ī Ijma’, (in the meaning of the first type of Qat’ī) on this issue. Verily this issue is not from amongst the Usūl of our religion. However, if one says, because this issue is not from the Usūl of our religion and not Qat’ī, therefore, we are free to choose whether to accept it or not, the Imām says, Tell them to leave all the necessary (Wājib) aspects of the religion and then observe what kind of a wrath the Sharī’ā’ brings upon them. When it has become known and clearly proven by the statements of our predecessors, it is necessary for one to accept it. Verily when scholars apparently differ we must reconcile and accept those that are the pillars of our religion, especially those who mentioned this issue as being Qat’ī. Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu writes, Amongst them is he who has mentioned this issue most, the lion of Allah, whose blessed face Allah has glorified. It is established through Tawātur that he would give superiority to the Shaykhayn (Abū Bakr and Umar rađiyAllāhu ánhuma) above himself and the whole of the Ummah. Further he removed all ambiguity from this issue in the narration of Dārqutanī where he said, anyone who gives superiority for me above Abū Bakr or Umar rađiyAllāhu ánhuma, verily I shall punish him the punishment of an accuser. Imām Zahabī says the narration is Sahīh. Is it possible that Sayyidunā Alī rađiyAllāhu ánhu would carry out such statement if it was not Qat’ī and had contradiction? Whereas it is he who narrates from the Prophet (peace be upon him), wave punishments as much as possible for the Muslims. Amongst them is also Sayyidunā Maymūn Ibn Mahrān who is amongst the Fuqahā of the Tābi’een. He was asked if Abū Bakr and Umar were more superior or Alī. His hair rose in fear and his veins began to expand up to the extent that his knife fell from his hand and he said, I had never thought that I’d live to see the day when people begin to give superiority for another above Abū Bakr and Umar. From amongst them is Imām Mālik Ibn Anas when he was asked who is most superior after the Messenger of Allah şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam, he replied, Abū Bakr and Umar, then he said, is there any doubt in that? Also, amongst them is the great Imām Abū Hanīfa. He was asked about the signs of the Ahl al-Sunnah. He replied that the sign of the Ahl al-Sunnah is that one believes Abū Bakr and Umar as most superior after the Messenger of Allah şallAllāhu álayhi wa sallam.( How can it be a sign if one who believed otherwise would also remain amongst the Ahl al-Sunnah?). Also, amongst them is the great Imām

Muhammad Ibn Idrīs al-Shâfi’î who recorded the Ijma’ of the Sahāba and the Tābi’een on this issue. Among them is also the Imām of Ahl al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah Imam Abu alHasan al-Ash’arī, Imām Hujjah al-Islam al-Ghazalī, Imām Ibn Hajar al-Asqalanī, Imām Ahmad al-Qastalānī, Imām Abd al-Bāqī al-Zarqāni and Imām Mulla Alī al-Qāri and many others rađiyAllāhu ánhum. Al-Sayyid al-Shareef Abu al-Husayn al-Nūrī narrated from his Sheikh and Murshid Aale Rasūl Ahmadī, he said that I heard from Shah Abd al-Azīz alDehlwī, he used to say that the superiority of the Shaykhayn (Abū Bakr and Umar) is Qat’ī or similar to Qat’ī. Finally, Imām Ahmad Ridā rađiyAllāhu ánhu finishes by saying, The superiority of the Shaykhayn is Qat’ī in its second meaning and it is similar to Qat’ī in its first meaning. Now it has become clear that if one says regarding those who say there is an Ijma’ on this issue, that even they are established on Zann then he is correct as long as he means Zann Bi Al-Ma’na Al-A’am or Qat’i Bi Al-Ma’na Al-Akhas and this will not cause any loss to us neither will it benefit the rejecter. If he meant vice versa then he is wrong and he has no strength to prove his point for the many and many evidences that have been established against him. The above are not but extracts from the Khatamah (Conclusion) from one of Imām Ahmad Ridā’s rađiyAllāhu ánhu pamphlets on this issue. If one wishes then he shall seek refuge towards them for surely they are full of enlightened evidence from the Qur’ān, Hadīth and the statements of our predecessors and what I have mentioned above is not but a drop from its ocean and surely Allāh knows best. Zahid Hussain al-Qadrī (Beggar at the doorstep of scholars)

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