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Summary of 9.7 "Imamite Concept II"

In the seventh program we continued the discussion of the notion held by Shiite Muslims of the Imamite concept.  This basically centers around the succession of the Prophet in terms of rulership within a part of his family: the descendants of Ali.  We covered why the majority of Muslims (over 90%) don’t share in this view.  More heavily we covered why it is an untenable assumption to assume that the companions of the Prophet who were the most pious and self sacrificing of people to have collectively disobeyed the Prophet (PBUH) if it were true that he appointed Ali.  If he really did appoint Ali they would have immediately followed his instructions.  We elaborated on why this could not have been the case.


9.8 "Virtues of Abu-Bakr, Omar & Othman


Host:  Could we examine what the Prophet (PBUH) said about Abu Bakr?

Jamal Badawi:

There is reference to Abu Bakr in the Quran when it speaks about the 2 who were in the cave during the migration from Mecca to Medina.  The first person was Prophet Muhammad and the second was Abu Bakr who was called Rafiq Al Ghar which means the companion of the Prophet.  The Prophetic sayings about Abu Bakr are really amazing.  In one saying he said that “Among all the people that I am indebted too, in terms of doing favors to me, both in his in his property and company is Abu Bakr.  If I were to take khalil, one who is a dearest love, other than my Lord I would have taken Abu Bakr but he is my brother and my companion for God has taken me as His dearest and closest Love.”  In other words he is saying that had God not been his closest love he would have chosen Abu Bakr.  There are other versions of this saying which are narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim.

In another saying narrated in bukhari and Muslim the Prophet was asked “Who among all people is most beloved to you?  He replied Aisha, his wife.  Then the person who is next of men? He said her father.”  Abu Bakr was Aisha’s father.  So not only was he the close companion of the Prophet but he also gave his daughter to the Prophet in marriage.  “Then he asked who is next and the Prophet said Omar.”  This is quite revealing because the Prophet put Aisha as number one in closeness to him then Abu Bakr from men and then Omar who were also the first and second Caliphs.  In Altirmithi the Prophet said that “None of the people have any favor on us, that we have not already compensated, except for Abu Bakr.  We ow Abu Bakr favors that only Allah will reward him for on the day of judgement.”  In Altirmithi there are two other citations which are quite interesting: in one the Prophet addressed Abu Bakr and said “You are saved by Allah from the Hell Fire.”

In the other saying the Prophet said “You are my companion in the cave and you are also my companion at the fountain (in reference to the fountain in the hereafter).  In Abu Dawood the Prophet says “Oh Abu Bakr you are the first one of my followers to enter into Paradise.”  This again is an expression of his status.  In Ibn Maja and Tirmithi it was narrated that the Prophet said that Abu Bakr and Omar are the masters of the elderly people in Paradise from beginning of the world till the end except for the Prophets and Messengers.”  So he put them in the status immediately following Prophets and messengers who are definitely have a higher status than any companion.  In Al Tirmithi the Prophet said that every Prophet had two “deputies” in Heaven and two “deputies” on earth.  As for me I have two deputies n heaven whom are Gabriel and Michael and my deputies on earth are Abu Bakr and Omar (in that order).”  These sayings are sufficient to show the great status of Abu Bakr and that he was second to none to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  There are other sayings of the Prophet which prophesy that Abu Bakr will be the first to rule the Muslim community after his death.


Host:  Can you shed some light on these sayings in their proper context?  Explain weather they are consistent with the freedom of choice of rulers?

Jamal Badawi:

There is no inconsistency between the prophecy and freedom of choice.  The context of these sayings are not of imposition.  It is not like the Prophet instructing the people that they must take Abu Bakr.  These sayings have an element of prophecy but never a sense of imposition on the people.  No Sunni scholar takes this as “the” evidence that Abu Bakr was the eligible person to be chosen after the Prophet.

When the Prophet was sick, shortly before his death, he asked Abu Bakr to lead the prayers.  Usually in Islamic Law, if the ruler is present, he is the one who should lead public prayers.  Prophet Muhammad did not only lead the community of Muslims but also lead the prayers.  Both functions were one and the same really.  By him asking Abu Bakr during his sickness and choosing him in particular above all other companions to lead the prayers carries very significant implications.  In another important saying which was narrated both in Bukhari and Muslim it says that a woman came to ask something of the Prophet and he said to her come back some other time and she asked what she should do if she could not find him he replied that she should find Abu Bakr.  In Al Tirmithi the Prophet said more clearly “Follow the steps of those who will come after me: Abu Bakr and Omar.”  He was giving an indication that they were rightly guided and that their leadership was not something that should be rejected but again without imposition.  On his deathbed it was narrated in Muslim that the Prophet told Aisha, his wife, call your father and brother I would like to give a write recommendation (as to whom may be best to succeed him) because I am afraid that some aspirant might say me but God and the believers wont except anyone but Abu Bakr.  It was very revealing because after the Prophet’s death there was one person, Sa’ad Ibn Ubada, who was about to be nominated to be the successor of the Prophet.  He was a little uncomfortable that Abu Bakr was chosen by everybody else.  This is a clear indication by way of hinting and prophecy what would happen after the death of the Prophet.


Host:  Was the recommendation ever written down?

Jamal Badawi:

There is no evidence that this document was ever written or that he even uttered what he thought of saying.  This raises the question as to why this document was not written?  In my understanding there could be two viable explanations: One, there had been a pattern in the life of the Prophet that if he doesn’t receive revelation in a particular aspect he applies his judgement, if his judgement differs from God’s judgement the Quran comes and corrects it.  Even though he did things with good intentions the revelation would come and have it done a different way.  It is quite possible that after the Prophet thought of that, he received a revelation that it is better not to do so possibly to maintain the principle freedom of choice.  A second viable explanation is the possibility that the Prophet himself had a second thought and maybe what he intended was to recommend or nominate Abu Bakr to be his successor.  He might have feared that this would have been taken as an obligation and president and would establish a principle that is contrary to the the Quran and his own teachings.  In any case, with or without that document, the virtually unanimous position of all Muslims from Medina or the Migrants from Mecca all agreed that the most qualified person was Abu Bakr.  The judgement here was quite consistent with the desire of the Prophet even though he did not impose it.


Host:  What are some Prophetic sayings about Omar

Jamal Badawi:

Like Abu Bakr there are so many favorable sayings about Omar.  Anyone who studied Islamic History knows how great he was as an administrator, states person he was really in a class all on his own.  The Prophet (PBUH) said “From among the nations before you (Islam) there were individuals who were inspired and if anyone among my followers is so inspired it is Omar.”  In Al Tirmithi the Prophet said “If there were any Prophet after me it would have been Omar.”  Of course there weren’t any Prophets but this was said because of Omar’s insight and inspirational type of qualities.  Narrated by Abu Dawood the Prophet said that “God has placed truth upon the tongue and heart of Omar.”  There is a saying of the Prophet which is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim which it show when some issues were subject to discussion Omar would take certain positions and gave certain opinions which happened to be identical to what came down later from God to the Prophet.  This is a reflection of this insight on the part of Omar.  There is a Prophetic saying found in Abu Dawood, Al Tirmithi and Ibnu Maja where he said “People in Paradise will look up to the people who occupy the highest position in Paradise like you look at the stars in the horizons, and among those people are Abu Bakr and Omar.”

In Al Tirmithi the Prophet was quoted to have said to Omar “Omar if Satan is going down one particular path and you start going down that same path he will take another path.  Even the devil is scared of you.”  If anyone studies the life of Omar they will be amazed at his steadfastness and strictness in the implementation of truth.  There are two other really interesting sayings of a Prophet which were revealed to him through a dream.  One was narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim, the two primary sources of Prophetic Tradition, in which the Prophet said “While I was sleeping somebody brought me a cup of milk, I kept drinking from it till I was totally full then I gave the extra milk to Omar.”  The companions asked him how he interpreted that dream and he said it meant knowledge.  So he said that he had all the knowledge that he could absorb and then whatever remained was given to Omar.  Like Abu Bakr the praises of the Prophet towards Omar were not only restricted to praise but were clear prophecies that he would also be the Caliph after the Abu Bak.

Before Omar accepted Islam as narrated in Ahmad and Al Tirmithi the Prophet made a prayer “Oh God strengthen Islam either by Abu Jahl or by Omar.”  It ended up that Islam was strengthened greatly by Omar’s strong personality and faith.  It was under the Caliphate of Omar that an estimated 36,000 townships came under the rule of Islam in such places as Persia, Syria and Egypt.  This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  In another saying which seems to relate to the subject of the spread of Islam under the rule of Omar which is narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet said “While I was in my sleep I saw people being shown to me and each one had a shirt on him, some people had shirts up to their chests and some had shirts shorter than that and then Omar came and he had a shirt that was dragging behind him.”  Again the companions asked how he interpreted this dream and he said religion.  This meant the spread and preservation of religion.  In other words Islam would be a certain amount here and there but during the reign of Omar it would spread so much which is symbolized in the long shirt which was dragging behind Omar.  The greatest number of townships that came under the rule of Islam occurred during the Caliphate of Omar.

Another revealing prophecy narrated in Bukhari and Muslim in which  the Prophet said “While I was sleeping I saw myself on a well with a pulley and bucket, I drew as much water as God willed and then Abu Bakr came and he drew a few buckets full; after this the buckets grew and then Omar came.  I had never seen anyone as strong as Omar in drawing plenty of water from that well, to the point that people settled in this area and made it a resting place for camels.”  We notice that if this water was in reference to the rule and spread of Islam that Abu Bakr ruled for a few years.  Omar’s reign continued for a little over ten years during which Islam spread greatly.  This again was a clear prophecy about the contribution of Omar to the strengthening of the faith.  It should be observed that the positions here of Abu Bakr and Omar as the deputies of the Prophet during his lifetime which is a matter that was recognized in his lifetime even by his enemies.  In  the battle of Uhud when the Pagans thought that they had defeated the Muslims and some of them thought that they had killed the Prophet; Abu Sufyan (not Muslim at the time) started to shout at the Muslim camps asking if Muhammad was among them and no one replied so he started to think that he was killed.  Then he asked if Abu Bakr was among them and no one replied.  His third question was if Omar was among them.  In other words he was very concerned with making sure the biggest heads were killed: the Prophet and his two deputies, Abu Bakr and Omar.


Host:  What are some Prophetic sayings about Othman and then Ali?  Was there mention of the third Caliph Othman in Prophetic Tradition?

Jamal Badawi:

In Al Tirmithi and Ibn Maja the Prophet said “Every Prophet has a companion in Paradise and my companion in Paradise is Othman.”  In preparation for one of the battles known as Jaish Al Usra during a very difficult and tough time the Prophet appealed to people to donate to help equip the army.  Othman came forward and donated 100 camels complete with saddles and packsaddles.  That was not enough so the Prophet kept urging people to donate more.  Othman increased it to 200 camels.  Upon further urging he increased it to 300 camels full with saddles and pack saddles.  At this moment said that there would be nothing to be held against Othman after this.  In other words even if he makes mistakes here and there God will forgive him because of this great act of devotion on his part.  Like Abu Bakr and Omar there seemed to be some indication that Othman would be among the first four Caliphs and that he would die as a martyr.

In a saying narrated in Bukhari it says that Abu Musa Al Ashaari, a companion of the Prophet, acted as a gate keeper of the Prophet.  Abu Bakr came to seek audience with the Prophet and when he talked to the Prophet that someone is waiting to see him the Prophet said let him in and give him the glad tiding that he will go to Paradise.  Then Omar came and the Prophet said let him in and give him the glad tiding that he will go to Paradise.  The third person to seek audience with the Prophet was Othman and when the Prophet was told he said let him in and give him the glad tidings that he will go to Paradise but that a calamity will befall him.  This again was a prophecy that he would be killed by rebels.

One time the Prophet along with Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman stood on the mount of Uhud.  There was some kind of trembling and the Prophet told the mountain to “Calm down because on top of you is a Prophet, Al Sidique (the truthful) and two martyrs.”  The Prophet was Prophet Muhammad the Sidique is Abu Bakr and the two Martyrs were Omar and Othman who were Martyred.  In another saying of the Prophet narrated in Al Tirmithi, Al Nasai and Al Dar Qutni the Prophet was even more specific and said “Othman maybe God will dress you a shirt.”  He meant by a shirt the responsibility of leading the Muslim community.  Then he continued “And if they wish you to take it off don’t take it off for them.”  That is exactly what happened because the rebels came to force Othman to resign and he did not resign as a matter of principle because there was no justification to give in to the commands of these unreasonable rebells.  It is quite obvious from these sayings that the prophecy of the Prophet about Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman were clearly stated by the Prophet were clearly stated in that particular order.  If his teachings and instructions was that only Ali was the legitimate heir he would have said something different and much more explicate.


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