There is an Ijma' of the Ahl Al-Sunnah Wa Al-Jamaa’ah on the fact that Sayyiduna Abu Bak Al-Siddeeq is the most superior amongst the companions of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him and Allah is pleased with them all). He, who believes that Sayyiduna Ali or any other companion is more superior above Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, is misguided from the Ahl Al-Sunnah Wa Al-Jamaa'ah. This is what Imam Ahmad Raza in his various Fatwas and Sadr Al-Shari’ah in his Bahar-e-Shari’at have established. Imam Ahmad Raza has also written two pamphlets on this issue, “Matla’ Al-Qamarayn” and “Al-Zulaal Al-Anqaa” in which there are many and many references and quotes of our most authentic personalities from the past.
A few quotes from Imam Ahmad Raza (Allah is pleased with him) relevant to the question will be of much benefit. He says, “According to research the word Qat’I is used for two meanings. Firstly, when there is absolutely no possibility of another meaning and nothing affects it, like in Muhkam and Mutawatir. Secondly, there is no possibility of another meaning which is produced through evidence although a possibility remains, like in Majaaz and Takhsees. The first type is known as Ilm Al-Yaqeen 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”.
Imam Ahmad Raza then explains that the superiority of Sayyiduna Abu 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’I evidence for we do not call the Tafdeelies, infidels. We seek refuge in Allah from calling such. However, their misguidance is established through the other meaning of Qat’I which only an unaware person would refute. This is because much evidence (Nusoos) has come to prove this and the Ahadeeth have reached Al-Tawatur Al-Ma’nwiy, therefore, weak and unstable possibilities which are not produced through evidence have no affect in Qat’I of this meaning. The scholars of Usool have clearly explained this”.
Further more, Imam Ahmad Raza 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 Imam 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 Ahadeeth, 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 Ibraheem 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 Sahabah that another is more superior than Abu Bakr (Allah is pleased with all of them).
Imam Ahmad Raza 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’I meant the second type of Qat’I and those who mentioned it as Zanni meant the highest type of Zanni which is the same as the second type of Qat’i. From this we understand that those who mentioned there is no ijma’ on this issue, simply meant that there is no Qat’I Ijma’, (in the meaning of the first type of Qat’i) on this issue.
Verily this issue is not from amongst the Usool of our religion. However, if one says, because this issue is not from the Usool of our religion and not Qat’I, therefore, we are free to choose whether to accept it or not, the Imam says, “Tell them to leave all the necessary (Waajib) aspects of the religion and then observe what kind of a wrath the Shari’ah 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’i. Imam Ahmad Raza 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 Tawaatur that he would give superiority to the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and Umar) above himself and the whole of the ummah. Further he removed all ambiguity from this issue in the narration of Daar Qutni where he said, anyone who gives superiority for me above Abu Bakr or Umar, verily I shall punish him the punishment of an accuser. Imam Zahabi says the narration is Saheeh. Is it possible that Sayyiduna Ali (Allah is pleased with him) would carry out such statement if it was not Qat’I 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 Sayyiduna Maymoon Ibn Mahraan who is amongst the Fuqaha of the Taabi’een. He was asked if Abu Bakr and umar were more superior or Ali. His hair rose in fear and his veins began to expand upto the etent 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 Abu Bakr and Umar. From amongst them is Imam Maalik Ibn Anas when he was asked who is most superior after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he replied, Abu Bakr and Umar, then he said, is there any doubt in that? Also, amongst them is the great Imam Abu Hanifah. 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 Abu Bakr and Umar as most superior after the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him. 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 Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafa’I who recorded the ijma’ of the Sahabah and the Tabi’een on this issue. Among them is also the Imam of Ahl Al-Sunnah Wa Al-Jama’ah Imam Ab Al-Hasan Al-Ash’ari, Imam Hujjah Al-Islam Al-Ghazali, Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, Imam Ahmad Al-Qustalani, Imam Abd Al-Baaqi Al-Zarqaani and Imam Mulla Ali Al-Qaari and many others (May Allah shower mercy upon them all). Al-Sayyid Al-Shareef Ab Al-Husayn Al-Noori narrated from his Sheikh and Murshid Ale Rasool Ahmadi, he said that I heard from Shah Abd Al-Azeez Al-Dahalwi, he used to say that the superiority of the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and Umar) is Qat’I or similar to Qat’I”.
Finally, Imam Ahmad Raza finishes by saying, “The superiority of the Shaykhayn is Qat’I in its second meaning and it is similar to Qat’I 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 rejector. 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 Imam Ahmad Raza’s 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’an, Hadith and the statements of our predecessors and what I have mentioned above is not but a drop from its ocean and surely Allah knows best.
Ref: Zahid Hussain Al-Qadri