There was no need to write on this topic, but the writer encountered such a problem that he had to write it. I have a mentor who is a Sayyid by birth and a Sufi by faith. He is always organizing functions on birthdays of the Infallibles (a.s.) and mourning ceremonies (Majalis) and he invites both Ahlul Sunnat and Shias in these programs.
One day I was at his residence on the occasion of a birthday. There, I saw a poet of the new generation, who had recently earned great fame and people used to gather in large numbers to hear his recitations. That is why there was extraordinary crowd on that day. The reciter gave a great performance. When he finished the poetry part, he began to give a speech. He had learnt that I was not from Ahlul Sunnat. This information caused him great discomfort. On the basis of the enmity that he harbored against my ancestors, he began to say in his speech:
“Abu Bakr and Umar were of perfect faith while the faith of Ali (a.s.) was imperfect (Allah forbid!), etc. What did Ahlul Sunnat have to stop of him from such nonsense? They all continued to hear it and he went on speaking this rubbish. Anyway, that speech ended, but below I present a detailed classification of the faiths of the two Caliphs and His Eminence, Ali (a.s.).
Regarding Abu Bakr, I would like to say that if he really had perfect faith, he would not have abandoned the Holy Prophet (S) and fled from the battles of Uhud and Hunayn. One with a perfect faith cannot act in this way. Anyone with perfect faith would not hesitate to sacrifice his life in the way of Allah. The way Abu Bakr left and ran away is not expected even from an ordinary friend.
As far as I know, no respectable person will run away leaving his friend in danger. It is most shameful for a man, what type of a Muslim behavior is it? That a person goes for Jihad, but when there are difficult times, he leaves the Prophet in a lurch and disappears from the battlefield. What type of a ‘perfect faith’ is it?
A Muslim cannot act in this manner. The flight of Abu Bakr shows that his faith was not even like that of an ordinary Muslim. He ran away from Marhab and Harith during the battle of Khaybar for two days. Common sense tells us that the faith of such a person is not perfect. Where was he hiding in Medina during the Battle of Ditch is best known to himself or his friend, Umar. He did not even see the face of Amr Ibn Abde Wudd. Are these incidents insufficient to prove the defective faith of Abu Bakr? Certainly not! A person with a perfect faith will never abandon the Prophet to save his own skin; and it seems improper to call such a person a Muslim, who has always avoided Jihad. How can he be considered a Caliph of the Prophet? These were practical examples of Abu Bakr’s defective faith.
Now, I will show from his sayings that if Islam had any place in his heart, he would not have acted like that in the Battle of Uhud and he would not have uttered: “Muhammad has been killed, you all turn back on your religion.” The readers may refer to the above writing of the author and they will know the facts about the above statement. One who can say such a thing, cannot have perfect faith. The Almighty Allah has also refuted this statement. Allah says:
“And Muhammad is no more than an apostle; the apostles have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed, will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least…”1
It is very surprising that Allah is so emphatically prohibiting people to turn back to Ignorance (Jahiliya) and Abu Bakr is doing the opposite and exhorting Muslims to return to it. Indeed, this shows that Islam had not wholly occupied the heart of Abu Bakr, due to which he did not have perfect faith. The military activities of Umar are the same as that of Abu Bakr. Their flights from battlefields are equally recorded. With these conditions, how can anyone call them perfect believers? He also seems to have defective faith, like Abu Bakr.
Apart from written records, his saying at the treaty of Hudaibiya is: “I never had such doubt on Prophethood as I had today.” This sufficiently proves that he always had doubts regarding the prophethood of the Prophet, but at the allegiance of Hudaibiya, it was intensified.
This doubt shows that like Abu Bakr, leave alone perfect faith, he had no sort of faith worth praise. It is surprising that in the battles, where Abu Bakr and Umar took to heels, Ali (a.s.) was seen to be performing extraordinary feats of bravery. Apart from this, Ali (a.s.) never uttered a sentence that could show any type of weakness of faith. He was verbally and practically always the follower of the Messenger of Allah (S). He never did anything against the command of the Prophet. He was an exemplar of perfect faith. On the basis of his words and actions, he had absolute right of the successorship of the Prophet. The fact is that he remained steadfast in every military encounter.
Not only was he steadfast, he was instrumental in the victory of every battle. He never left the side of the Prophet. He always defended the Messenger of Allah (S) from the enemies of religion. He did not allow the slightest cowardice to come near him. Then on the basis of his achievement, the Prophet twice said: “All the good deeds of the creatures, past, present and future cannot equal the military exploits of Ali (a.s.).”
In such circumstances, no one can have any doubt about the perfection of his faith. Rather, it could be said with justice that there would never be anyone with such perfect faith as that of Ali (a.s.). What a pity that the opponents have labeled the faith of Ali (a.s.) to be defective and that of the two Caliphs as perfect. The fact is that bigotry blinds man and a bigot cannot see the truth.