Friday, 15 March 2019

Hadith: "Abu Bakr RA is the Best Except if a Prophet Comes"

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم

According to a Hadith, it is reported that Abu ad-Dardaa (radi Allahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sall Allahu alaihi wasallam) said:

مَا طَلَعَتِ الشَّمْسُ وَلا غَرَبَتْ عَلَى أَحَدٍ أَفْضَلَ أَوْ أَخْيَرَ مِنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ إِلا أَنْ يَكُونَ نَبِيٌّ
“The sun has never risen nor set on anyone superior or better than Abi Bakr, except if a Prophet comes.”
(Musnad Abd Bin Hamid p.200, Hadith #212):

There is some slight criticism of the chain of this Hadith due to the alleged tadlis of Ibn Jurayj who is narrating ‘an’an from Ataa bin Abi Rabah. Furthermore, there seems to be some confusion over the narrator Abu Sa’id al-Bakri, whether he is Abd Allah bin Shayba bin Khalid or someone named Aban, as Ibn Asakir has stated (Tarikh Dimashq v.30 p.208):

Abu Sa’id Aban bin Taghlib al-Bakri, although he was a Shi’ite, was nonetheless authenticated by the muhaddithin, the likes of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Yahya bin Ma’in and Abu Hatim ar-Razi (Mizan ul-I’tidal v.1 p.5):

Imam Ahmad has in fact brought out another chain for this Hadith in his book Fada’il us-Sahaba
مَا طَلَعَتِ الشَّمْسُ عَلَى أَحَدٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ ، إِلا أَنْ يَكُونَ نَبِيُّ
The sun has not risen on anyone more excellent than Abi Bakr, except if a prophet comes
(p. 352, Hadith #508):

However, the narrator narrating from Ibn Jurayj, a certain Abu Bakr, is unknown. Nevertheless, this certainly strengthens the narration in the Musnad of Abd bin Hamid.

There is another version of this Hadith narrated through the companion Salama bin al-Akwa’ (radi Allahu anhu):

أَبُو بَكْرٍ خَيْرُ النَّاسِ إِلا أَنْ يَكُونَ نَبِيًّا
“Abu Bakr is the best of the people except if a Prophet should come.”
(Akhbar Isbahan of Abu Nuaym al-Isbahani)

However, a certain narrator, Isma’il bin Ziyad, has been criticized. Nevertheless, the narration of Salama bin al-Akwa’ strengthens that of Abu ad-Dardaa (radi Allahu anhuma).

As for the significance of the Hadith, it proves that a prophet shall appear in the future who shall be greater in rank than sayyidina Abi Bakr as-Siddiq (radi Allahu anhu), and perhaps it is pointing to the coming of the promised Messiah, who is a prophet but under the obedience of Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam), and Allah knows best.

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