Is there any virtue for Abu Bakr in the Incident of the Cave?
Tags: Ahle Sunnah, Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), Sahaabah, Salafi, Sunnah
Many so-called Muslims claim the superiority of Abu Bakr as he was the companion of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) inside the cave on the night of migration. Among other points, they conclude that this makes him an automatic choice as the caliph of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)!! (Take lesson, O people of wisdom!)
Accompanying the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is not a virtue unless it is on a divine command. Without a divine command, it is like any other action and no special position or virtue can be claimed for it. Particularly, for accompanying the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the cave, which as we shall see was a source of ignominy and humiliation for Abu Bakr.
Argument of the skeptics
Let us first examine the argument advanced by the skeptics favoring Abu Bakr.
As proof they advance the 40th verse of Surah Taubah (9):
‘If you do not help him, Allah certainly will help him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.’
These Muslims derive the following points from the verse:
- Allah, the Merciful in the Quran has mentioned His messenger (s.a.w.a.) and also mentioned Abu Bakr as the “second of the two”.
- Allah in this verse has mentioned both (Messenger and Abu Bakr) together which underlines their special relation
- In the aforementioned verse, Allah mentioned Abu Bakr as the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) companion which tells us Abu Bakr’s status.
- Allah has informed Abu Bakr through the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) which is stated as ‘don’t grieve’
- The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed Abu Bakr that Allah is with us and friend to both of us
- In this verse Allah has informed about the descent of His tranquility upon Abu Bakr, because the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) has always been in tranquility, hence descent of tranquility on Messenger (s.a.w.a.) has no meaning.
We will now advance a point by point rebuttal on each of these points. This will prove that accompanying the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in the cave was not a virtue for Abu Bakr; rather, it stripped him of all virtues and proved to be a source of disgrace for him.
- There is no merit in Abu Bakr being the second person, since this can mean that he is either a believer or a disbeliever or a hypocrite and establishing his belief through this is incorrect and baseless. So, togetherness and being the second one can’t be used as proof of superiority and eligibility for caliphate.
- Mention of both the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and Abu Bakr together in the same place doesn’t prove any merit for Abu Bakr because as stated in the first point being together at the same place is not the proof of superiority. It is possible for a believer and a disbeliever to assemble in the same place as the Holy Quran testifies:
‘But what is the matter with those who disbelieve that they hasten on around you, on the right hand and on the left, in sundry parties?’ (Surah Ma’aarij (70): Verses 36-37)
Even the Ark of Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) carried the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Shaitaan and the quadrupeds (four-footed animals), does this mean that Shaitaan and the quadrupeds turn into virtuous companions of the Prophet Nuh (a.s.) by spending time with the Prophet inside the Ark for a few hours?
Likewise Iblis worshipped Allah while standing in the ranks of angels.
Prophet Moosa’s (a.s.) companions were chastised for 40 years in the wilderness in his company. Do they become virtuous by spending 40 years with Hazrat Moosa (a.s.)? And if indeed they were virtuous, why the chastisement?
Wives of Hazrat Lut (a.s.) and Hazrat Nuh (a.s.) stayed in the same house as the Prophets (a.s.) and still could not save themselves from the hellfire (Surah Tahreem (66): Verse 10)
Being in the same place does not become an automatic source of virtue. Hence, these so-called Muslims cannot claim any superiority for Abu Bakr in this regard.
Now if it is about being a companion, even then there is no superiority because the meaning of the word صاحب is companion and nothing else. It is possible that a believer and disbeliever travel together which is mentioned in the Holy Quran:
3) ‘His companion said to him while disputing with him: Do you disbelieve in Him Who created you from dust?’ (Surah Kahf (18): Verse 37)
Even Hazrat Yusuf’s (a.s.) companions in the prison did not believe in Allah and were apostates.
‘O my two mates of the prison! Are sundry lords better or Allah the One, the Supreme? You do not serve besides Him but names which you have named, you and your fathers; Allah has not sent down any authority for them; judgment is only Allah’s; He has commanded that you shall not serve aught but Him; this is the right religion but most people do not know.’ (Surah Yusuf (12): Verses 39-40)
4) As for the argument that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said to Abu Bakr (لا تحزن) ‘Grieve not’ not only is it far from being a virtue it is in fact a reprimand and it proves Abu Bakr’s folly because:
Grieving of Abu Bakr was either an act of obedience or disobedience. If it was obedience then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) would not have prohibited him from this act. Thus, it means that it was an act of disobedience for which the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) reprimanded him.
5) The saying of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to Abu Bakr(ان الله معنا ) ‘Allah is with us’ doesn’t mean that Holy Prophet(s.a.w.a.) was referring to both of them. On the contrary he was referring only to himself. The Holy Prophet(s.a.w.a.) has used the plural form (we) over here, just like Allah, the Wise, used the plural form for Himself in the Holy Quran in many places – for e.g.:
‘Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its Guardian.’ (Surah Hijr (15): Verse 9)
Or as Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) uses the plural:
‘And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them.’ (Surah Kahf (18): 80)
6) The claim of these Muslims that the tranquility (سَكِينَتَهُ) was for Abu Bakr since the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was in no need of tranquility is contradictory to the last part of the verse because tranquility was sent on him only whom Allah helped with hosts which can’t be seen (جنودا لم تروها) and that is none save the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If these Muslims say that both tranquility and unseen host were for Abu Bakr and not the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), then they have deprived the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) of his Prophethood and have conferred upon Abu Bakr a status higher than that of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) (Allah forbid!). Therefore, the only conclusion is that tranquility was sent down on Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) only, since he (s.a.w.a.) was the only person who was the eligible for both (tranquility and unseen host).
There are other instances the Holy Quran has mentioned about the descent of tranquility and the believers were included along with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on these occasions:
‘Then Allah sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers.’ (Surah Taubah (9): Verse 26)
But in the Verse of the Cave, Allah the High mentions only one recipient of the tranquility while there were two residents inside the cave and clearly this sole recipient is the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and not Abu Bakr. So there are several questions these Muslims need to answer when it comes to Abu Bakr’s so-called virtues:
- In all instances in the Quran of tranquility, it has either descended on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) or on the believers or on both. But in the Verse of the Cave, tranquility descends only on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – while a companion was present with him (s.a.w.a.) who if he was a believer should also have been a recipient of tranquility as is the case with other verses on tranquility.
- Why did Allah single out the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) for tranquility (سَكِينَتَهُ) and leave out his companion Abu Bakr?
- Doesn’t the Verse of the Cave establish Abu Bakr’s lack of belief or in the least unworthiness for tranquility?
- With so many points going against Abu Bakr only with reference to a single incident of the cave, how can these Muslims make a sweeping claim for his superiority and hoist him on the pedestal of caliphate?
The only conclusion one can derive is that these Muslims have erred in their understanding of the Incident of the Cave or rather have deliberately concluded some points to fashion a backdoor entry for Abu Bakr after the matter of caliphate was conclusively settled by Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in favor of Ameerul Momineen Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.)!