Is Abu Bakr worthy of caliphate because he led the prayers? Ibne Taymiyyah’s view
Muslims believe they have some ‘strong’ proofs why Abu Bakr was worthy of being the caliph after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). One of these involves the Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) so-called order for Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. According to the Muslims, such an ‘order’ makes Abu Bakr superior to the Muslims and worthy of leading the nation after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
We will prove that the position of Imamat in leading the prayers cannot be a proof for being the Noble Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) successor. First and foremost, the scholars of Ahle Tassanun rely on fabricated traditions to prove the so-called command to lead the prayers. This so-called tradition does not have a reliable chain of narrators in their books. Even if we assume as correct the order of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to Abu Bakr for leading the prayers in his (s.a.w.a.) stead, this tradition cannot be a proof for the greater Imamat and the successorship. This is because when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) went out of Medina, he always appointed someone for leading the prayers for the people in his (s.a.w.a.) place. Among them – as the scholars have narrated – on one such occasion he appointed the blind Ibne Umm Maktoom for leading prayers in his (s.a.w.a.) place.
Regarding this tradition, Abu Dawood has a chapter in his Sunan vol. 1 p. 203 under the Book of Prayers – Chapter of Imamat of the Blind. Under the chapter Abu Dawood records: Abu Abdillah Muhammed b. Abdul Rahman Ambari narrated from Ibn Mahdi and he from Imran Qattan and he from Qataadah from Anas who said: Prophet (s.a.w.a.) made the blind Ibn Umm Maktoom as his successor for leading the Muslims in prayers. Does any Muslim believe in the Imamat and caliphate of Ibn Umm Maktoom on the ground that the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.) appointed him as his successor for leading the prayers?!
This is so clear that even Ibne Taymiyyah – who is called Shaikhul Islam by the Salafis – has acknowledged this and he records in his book Minhaaj al-Sunnah vol. 7 p. 339:
‘Appointing a successor during the lifetime is considered as a kind of representation, which is an inescapable affair for every authoritative person (Wali). It does not mean that everyone who was appointed as Wali-e-Amr during the lifetime of the person has the capability for successorship on some of the affairs of the nation and on the death of the person he also has the capability to remains his (Wali-e-Amr) successor. This is because the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) during his lifetime has made more than one person as his successor and among them no one was having the capability of successorship after the death of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) just as Prophet (s.a.w.a.) made the blind Ibn Umm Maktoom his successor during his lifetime, while he (Ibn Umm Maktoom) was not having the capability of successorship after the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). In the same way Bashir b. Abd al-Munzir and others (were also appointed).’
In fact, their narrators have even narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) prayed behind Abdul Rahman b. Auf (God forbid). If this tradition, by an impossible assumption is correct, it does not become a proof for Abdul Rahman b. Auf’s successorship after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and because of this very reason no one has made such a claim. It is clear that this tradition is false, because it is against a necessary and definite affair that Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has not prayed behind anyone from his nation, and there is no need to analyze the chain of narrators of the tradition.
Put simply, neither the tradition regarding Abu Bakr nor that of Abdul Rahman b. Auf leading the prayers with Prophet (s.a.w.a.) praying behind him (God forbid) is a proof of successorship for either of them. Simply because the Ahle Tasannun consider the two traditions ‘reliable’ and the chain of narrators as ‘complete’ does not make their successorship a reality. Abu Bakr does not have any right or authority over other Muslims in his claim to lead the nation any more than Abdul Rahman b. Auf or even Ibne Umm Maktoom. As we have seen even Ibne Taymiyyah accepts this fact.