The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs
By praising one of them, it does not mean that it lessens the value of the others. The Prophet’s Companions were like the children of the Prophet; each child is valued by the parent in his own unique way. For example, one child may be the smartest, while another child may be the most religious of them, and another may be the funniest. In fact, we see this in the following Hadith in which the Prophet said: “The most compassionate of my Community towards my Community is Abu Bakr; the staunchest in Allahâ€™s Religion is Umar; the most truthful in his modesty is Uthman, and the best in judgment is Ali.”
Therefore, we have hereby collected some Hadith which are in praise of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali. If the Prophet called Ali his “Mawla”, then this does not put Ali over Abu Bakr, because the Prophet gave many honors to Abu Bakr that he did not give to Ali. Each of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs (and many of the other Sahabah including the Prophet’s wives and daughters) were given great titles of respect and to isolate one of them without looking at the entire context is not appropriate.
What the Shia do is that they accept all the Hadith in Sunni literature that is in praise of Ali, without even looking at the Isnad of the Hadith at all! In fact, Mickey Mouse himself could narrate a Hadith and the Shia would accept it if it helped prove Shi’ism. On the other hand, the Shia reject all Hadith in favor of Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman. We should remind them that if they want to use the Sunni Hadith in favor of Ali, then we should always examine them in the proper context (i.e. examining similar Hadith in favor of the Three Caliphs).
Furthermore, we can examine all of the Hadith in the Sunni collections which praise Ali and this serves as proof that the Ahlus Sunnah is not Nasibi in any way. Therefore, when we look at all the praise given to `Ali by the Ahlus Sunnah, we find that the Shia accusations that we hate `Ali to be baseless.
Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, also known as Shaykh al-Islam, was the Prophetâ€™s intimate friend after Allah, exclusive companion at the Prophetâ€™s Basin (hawd) and in the Cave, greatest supporter, closest confidante, first spiritual inheritor, first of the men who believed in him and the only one who did so unhesitatingly, first of his four Rightly-Guided successors, first of the ten promised Paradise, and first of the Prophetâ€™s Community to enter Paradise.
Alone among the Companions, Abu Bakr repeatedly led the Community in prayer in the lifetime of the Prophet. The latter used to call him by his patronyms of Abu Bakr and Ibn Abi Quhafa, and he named him with the attributes “The Most Truthful” (al-SiddÃ®q) and “Allahâ€™s Freedman From the Fire” (AtÃ®q AllÃ¢h min al-nÃ¢r). When the Quraysh confronted the Prophet after the Night Journey, they turned to Abu Bakr and said: “Do you believe what he said, that he went last night to the Hallowed House and came back before morning?” He replied: “If he said it, then I believe him, yes, and I do believe him regarding what is farther than that. I believe the news of heaven he brings, whether in the space of a morning or in that of an evening journey.” Because of this Abu Bakr was named al-SiddÃ®q: the Very Truthful, the One Who Never Lies.
`Umar said: “Abu Bakrâ€™s faith outweighs the faith of the entire Ummah.”
`Umar also said: “The best of this Community after its Prophet is Abu Bakr.”
`Ali named him and `Umar the Shaykh al-Islam of the Community and said: “The best of this Community after its Prophet are Abu Bakr and `Umar,”
`Ali further said: “The most courageous of people is Abu Bakr,” and “The greatest in reward among people for the volumes of the Qurâ€™an is Abu Bakr, for he was the first of those who gathered the Qurâ€™an between two covers.” He was also the first to name it mushaf.
Abu Bakrâ€™s high rank is indicated, among other signs, by the fact that to deny his Companionship to the Prophet entails disbelief (kufr), unlike the denial of the Companionship of `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali to the Prophet. This is due to the mention of this companionship in the verse: “The second of two when the two were in the cave, and he said unto his companion: Grieve not” (9:40) which refers, by Consensus, to the Prophet and Abu Bakr. Allah further praised him above the rest by saying: “Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you).” (57:10)
The Prophet said: “Among those most dedicated to me in his companionship and property is Abu Bakr. If I were to take an intimate friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr. But what binds us is the brotherhood of Islam and its love. Let no door [of the Prophetâ€™s mosque] remain open except Abu Bakrâ€™s.”
The Prophet said: “If I were to take an intimate friend, I would take Ibn Abi Quhafa (i.e. Abu Bakr) as my intimate friend. Verily, your Companion is the intimate friend of Allah!”
The Prophet said: “You (Abu Bakr) are my companion at the Basin and my companion in the Cave.”
The Prophet said: “Call Abu Bakr and his son so that I will put something down in writing, for I fear lest someone ambitious forward a claim, and Allah and the believers refuse anyone other than Abu Bakr.”
`Amr ibn al-`As asked: “O Messenger of Allah, who is the most beloved of all men to you?” He (the Messenger) replied: “Abu Bakr.”
The Prophet said: “It is impermissible for a people among whom is Abu Bakr, to be led by other than him.”
The Prophet said: “Take for your leaders those who come after me: Abu Bakr and `Umar.”
The Prophet said: “O`Ali! Abu Bakr and `Umar are the leaders of the mature inhabitants of Paradise and its youth among the first and the last, except for Prophets and Messengers.”
The Prophet said: “The sun never rose nor set over anyone better than Abu Bakr.”
The Prophet said: “Jibril came to me, took me by the hand, and showed me the gate through which my Community shall enter Paradise.” Abu Bakr said: “Would that I were with you to see it!” The Prophet said: “Did you not know? You will be the first of all my Community to enter it.”
The Prophet respected Abu Bakr’s Companionship so much that he would marry his daughter, Aisha bint Abu Bakr. Therefore, Abu Bakr had the honor of being the Prophet’s father-in-law.
`Umar bin Khattab
`Umar ibn al-Khattab was referred to by the Prophet as “Al-Farooq” meaning “one who discriminates between right from wrong.” He was referred to by Ali as “Shaykh al-Islam” and he was the first to be called by the general masses with the title of “Amir al-Muâ€™minin” (Commander of the Faithful).
`Umar had the special distinction of being a person whom the Prophet prayed for that he become Muslim. The Prophet realized that `Umar was a very strong and brave man, necessary for the Islamic movement to thrive. It is narrated in Hadith that the Messenger of Allah said: “O Allah! Strengthen Islam with `Umar ibn al-Khattab.” Indeed, the Muslims were greatly strengthened by `Umar’s conversion to Islam; before his conversion, they were hiding in fear and with `Umar’s conversion, the Muslims declared Islam openly. Where once the Muslims had been banned from the Qaba, now the Muslims prayed therein. Abdullah ibn Masood said of `Umar’s conversion: “`Umarâ€™s conversion to Islam was a conquest, His Migration was a victory, his period of rule was a blessing; I have seen when we were unable to pray at ‘the house’ (Qaba) until `Umar converted; when he converted to Islam he fought them [the antagonistic idolaters] until they left us alone and we prayed (inside the Qaba).”
`Umar was second only to Abu Bakr in closeness to and approval from the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah said: “I have two ministers from the inhabitants of the heaven and two ministers from the inhabitants of the earth. The former are Jibril and Mikaâ€™il, and the latter are Abu Bakr and `Umar.”
The Prophet said of Abu Bakr and `Umar: “These two are [my] hearing and eyesight.”
The Prophet instructed the Companions: “Follow those that come after me: Abu Bakr and `Umar.”
The Prophet said: “Allah has put the truth upon Umarâ€™s tongue and in his heart.”
The Prophet also said: “If there were to be a prophet after me it would be Umar ibn al-Khatab.”
Abu Bakr said of `Umar: “There is not on the face of the earth a man more beloved to me than `Umar.”
Aisha bint Abu Bakr said: “He was, by Allah, skillful in managing affairs, absolutely unique.”
`Umar also had the unique distinction of having his views confirmed by the revelation in the Holy Qurâ€™an. It is narrated that `Umar used to approach the Prophet and give his opinion on matters, and then the Quran would descend upon the Prophet confirming the opinion of `Umar. And in other instances, `Umar asked the Prophet to ask Allah for Quranic verses on certain issues which `Umar and the people wanted clarification on; it would not then be long before Allah revealed verses to the Prophet clarifying the matter brought up by `Umar.
The Prophet respected `Umar’s Companionship so much that he would marry his daughter, Hafsa bint Umar. Therefore, `Umar had the honor of being the Prophet’s father-in-law. It should be noted that both of the Shaikhayn (Abu Bakr and `Umar) were given this honor of being father-in-law to the Prophet.
`Uthman bin Affan
`Uthman bin Affan was known as the “The Man of Two Lights” for the honor bestowed upon him by the Prophet. `Uthman was reknowned for his generosity and he thereby acquired the title of “Ghani” meaning “Generous.” He was the third of the four Rightly-Guided Successors of the Prophet and third of the Ten promised Paradise.
The Prophet said about `Uthman: “Every Prophet has an assistant, and my assistant will be `Uthman.”
The Prophet appointed `Uthman with the great and noble task of being an emissary to the Quraish infidels of Mecca. When `Uthman went to the Quraish, they detained him for days without informing anyone of it. When the Muslims in Medinah did not hear back from `Uthman, they thought he had been killed by the Quraish. This outraged the Muslims and, without exception, all of the 1,400 Muslims present pledged that they would stand firm together to avenge `Uthman’s murder. After everybody had taken the pledge, the Prophet placed his own right hand on his left hand and took the pledge on behalf of `Uthman.
`Uthman was extremely wealthy and generous. When he heard the Prophet say: “Whoever equips the army of al-`Usra, Paradise is for him,” he brought the Prophet a thousand gold dinars which he poured into his lap. The Prophet picked them up with his hand and said repeatedly: “Nothing shall harm `Uthman after what he did today.” It is also narrated that equipped the army of al-`Usra with seven hundred ounces of gold, or seven hundred and fifty camels and fifty horses.
`Uthman provided two hundred camels for the impoverished army of the Muslims complete with saddle blankets and reins. Moreover he distributed thousands of dinars (currency at that time) for the welfare of Islam. Prophet Mohammad said of this: “O `Uthman! Allah has forgiven you your previous sins as well as your future sins, what you have hidden, as well as what you have made public and whatever is until the Day of Judgment.”
The Prophet said: “The most truthful in his modesty is `Uthman.”
One day, `Uthman knocked on the Prophet’s door, to which the Prophet said to another companion present: “Admit him and give him the glad tidings of entering Paradise.”
The Prophet climbed Mount Uhud with Abu Bakr, `Umar, and `Uthman. The Prophet declared: “Be firm, O Uhud! For on you there are no more than a Prophet and a Siddeeq (truthful person) and two Shaheeds.”
`Ali said: “`Uthman was one of those who were â€˜mindful of their duty and [did] good works, and again [were] mindful of [their] duty, and [believed], and once again [were] mindful of their duty, and did right. Allah loves those who do good.â€™” referring to a verse in the Quran.
The Prophet said of `Uthman: “whoever is with him is on the side of rightfulness.”
The Prophet thought of `Uthman as having such good character that he gave two of his daughters in marriage to `Uthman. First, the Prophet married Ruqayyah to `Uthman, but she died of an illness, and thereafter, the Prophet gave `Uthman his other daughter, Umm Kulthoom. For this honor of having married two of the Prophet’s daughters, `Uthman was honored with the title of “the Man of Two Lights.”
`Ali ibn Abi Talib
`Ali was lovingly referred to by the Prophet by the nickname of “Abu Turab.” He was the Prophet’s standard-bearer in battle, the Door of the City of Knowledge, and the most judicious of the Companions.
The Prophet declared that `Ali was the “possessor of a wise heart and enquiring tongue.”
In one battle, the Prophet said: “I shall give the standard to a man (`Ali) who loves Allah and His Messenger, and whom Allah loves and also His Messenger.”
The Prophet likened `Ali to Haroon, saying: “Are you not happy to stand next to me like Haroon next to Musa, save that there is no Prophet after me?”
The Prophet said: “I am the city of knowledge and `Ali is its gate.” Another version states: “I am the house of wisdom and `Ali is its gate.”
The Prophet said: “Anyone whose protecting friend (mawla) I am, `Ali is his protecting friend.” `Umar said: “Congratulations, O `Ali! You have become the protecting friend of every single believer.”
The Prophet said: “`Ali is part of me and I am part of `Ali!”
Some people complained to the Prophet about `Ali, whereupon he stood and said: “Do not accuse `Ali of anything!”
The Prophet said to `Ali: “Verily Allah shall empower your tongue and guide your heart.”
The Prophet said: “Whoever harms `Ali harms me.”
The Prophet loved `Ali so much that he honored him in the same manner that he honored `Uthman, by giving `Ali a daughter of his in marriage. Not only this, but the Prophet loved Ali so much that he declared `Ali’s family to be an honorary member of his family (i.e. Ahlel Bayt) alongside his own family.
The Shia will bring up Hadith such as the one in which the Prophet calls `Ali his “Mawla” (protecting friend) but then they should also look for similar Hadith about other Sahabah. For example, the Prophet said to `Umar: “If there were to be a prophet after me it would be `Umar ibn al-Khatab.” And to take it one step further, you will not find a Sunni who tries to use this Hadith about `Umar to prove `Umar’s superiority to Abu Bakr. The reason we cannot do this is that we should look at all of the Hadith instead of taking one out of context. Therefore, the Shia claim that such-and-such Hadith proves `Ali’s superiority to the other Three Caliphs is a very myopic view of things and is easily refuted by looking at the other Hadith in which other Sahabah are praised in a similar fashion.