بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Let us imagine that an authentic hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa alihi, reads:
أبو بكر خليفتي في كل مؤمن من بعدي
Abu Bakr is my khalifah over every believer after me.
How would the Ahl al-Sunnah have interpreted it?
What about this one:
أبو بكر ولي كل مؤمن بعدي
Abu Bakr is the wali of every believer after me.
أبو بكر أخي وصاحبي ووارثي ووزيري
Abu Bakr is my brother, and my companion, and my inheritor and my wazir.
We have absolutely no doubt that the Ahl al-Sunnah would cite these statements as unassailable proofs of Abu Bakr’s legitimate khilafah over the Ummah immediately after the Messenger of Allah. However, as we have discussed in our second book, On the Khilafah of ‘Ali over Abu Bakr, the above ahadith and similar others actually exist with reliable chains in the Sunni books – except that instead of “Abu Bakr”, it is the name of Amir al-Muminin ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, ‘alaihi al-salam, that is mentioned in them. This is why the Ahl al-Sunnah do not like, and always struggle against, them.
When we quote the actual ahadith with the name of ‘Ali to our Sunni brothers, they usually instinctively respond with a tired counterargument: the Prophet deputized Abu Bakr to lead the salat during his fatal illness. To them, that, in a weird way, is a stronger, and more explicit, proof of khilafah than any of the ahadith about ‘Ali! Apparently, the world is indeed a very strange place. When the Messenger of Allah said “ ‘Ali is my khalifah over every believer after me”, Sunnis think he was NOT naming ‘Ali as his khalifah! But, when he allegedly appointed Abu Bakr to lead salat as he had similarly appointed many others before him – to our brothers from the Ahl al-Sunnah - he was somehow naming him his khalifah!
In this book, we are thoroughly investigating the Sunni reports on the alleged leadership of salat by Abu Bakr during the fatal illness of the Messenger. We will be analyzing the bewildering contradictions between the so-called “sahih” Sunni ahadith on the claim; and we will be questioning the historicity of the whole episode. In particular, we will be examining the correct implications of leadership in salat, according to orthodox Sunni Islam. Does it indicate superiority? Does it confer the khilafah? Do our brothers from the Ahl al-Sunnah really have any case, even if the tale about Abu Bakr had been true?
We seek Allah’s Help in this effort, and we implore Him to forgive us all our mistakes in it, and to accept it as a worthy act of ‘ibadah. And may Allah send His salawat and barakat upon our master, Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah, and upon his purified offspring.