Peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet aba al-Qasim Muhammad, his pure family, his virtuous companions and all those who followed them in goodness until the day of judgement.
Indeed some of the greatest virtues and praise of the two elders Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq and `Umar bin al-Khattab were narrated by `Ali ibn abi Talib may Allah be pleased with all of them. The Prophet’s (saw) cousin `Ali always praised the two men and spoke of their virtues as reported by many narrations such as:
“The best of the mature and young men of heaven are Abu Bakr and `Umar.”
“It was Allah who named Abu Bakr “The truthful” from above seven heavens.”
“Abu Bakr takes the biggest reward when it comes to the Qur’an as he was the first to collect it in this book.”
“We did not think it unlikely that the divine presence spoke with the tongue of `Umar.”
However, in this research we intended only to gather all -or at least the vast majority- of chains for the narration of `Ali ibn abi Talib may Allah be pleased with him in which he says: “The best of this nation after its prophet (saw) are Abu Bakr and `Umar” And for the narration: “If anyone prefers me over Abu Bakr and `Umar he shall be punished as a slanderer.”
It is clearly obvious from our research that this Hadith from `Ali, is mass transmitted, it is Mutawatir from him, and that no one can reject his statement except a stubborn ignorant who follows his desires. Sadly, this is the case of the Shia in our days, as they are Rafidhah (rejecters) who reject the Shaykhayn -Abu Bakr & `Umar- and curse them and swear at them, may Allah disown them as they disowned them.
Who narrated this tradition from `Ali ibn abi Talib?
-Abu Juhayfah Wahb al-Khayr (Sahabi).
-`Abd Khayr al-Kufi (Sahib `Ali Thiqah Thabt).
-Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah (Thiqah).
-`Alqamah ibn Qays al-Nakh`ee (Thiqah Thabt).
-Al-Hakam bin Jahl al-Basri (Thiqah).
-`Amro bin Hurayth al-Qurashi (Sahabi).
-Al-Harith bin `Abdullah al-A`war al-Kufi (Muttaham bil Kazib).
-`Ali bin Rabi`ah al-Wabiliy (Thiqah).
-Al-Nazzal bin Sabrah al-Hilali (Thiqah Lahu Suhbah).
-`Abdullah ibn Salamah al-Muradi (Maqboul).
-Abu al-Tufayl `Amir ibn Wathilah (Sahabi Lahu Idrak).
-`Atiyyah al-`Awfi (Da`eef).
-Katheer al-Ahmasi al-Bajali (Majhool).
-`Imran ibn Malhan al-`Utarudi (Thiqah).
-Suwayd ibn Ghaflah al-Ju`fi (Thiqah).
-Abu Sa`eed al-Khudari (Sahabi).
-Sa`eed bin Fayrouz abu al-Bakhtari al-Ta’ee (Thiqah Yursil `an `Ali).
-`Abdul-Rahman bin abi Laylah (Thiqah).
-Abu Hilal al-`Akki (Majhoul).
-Lahiq bin Humayd al-Sadusi ibn Mijlaz (Thiqah).
-`Abdullah bin Zurayr al-Ghafiqi (Thiqah Shi`ee).
-Mas`adah al-Bajali (Majhool).
-Abu Hukaymah `Ismah al-Basri (Majhoul).
-Yahya bin Shaddad (Da`eef).
-`Abdullah ibn `Abbas (Sahabi).
-Abu Hurayrah (Sahabi).
-Al-Qadi Shurayh bin al-Harith abu Umayyah (Thiqah).
-Shareek ibn `Abdullah (Saduq).
-`Aziz bin Muknif (Majhoul).
-Anas ibn Malik (Sahabi).
-Zirr bin Hubaysh al-Kufi (Thiqah Jaleel).
-`Amro bin Shurahbeel (Thiqah).
-Rafi` al-Ashja`i abu al-Ja`d (Mukhtalaf fi Suhbatihi).
-`Abdul-Rahman bin `Abdullah al-Asbahani (Thiqah).
-Abu Makhlad (Majhoul).
-Ibrahim bin Yazid al-Nakh`ee (Thiqah).
-Talhah bin Musarif (Thiqah).
-`Ubaydullah bin `Umar al-`Adawi (Thiqah Thabt Lam Yasma` `Ali).
-Al-Husayn bin `Ali (Sahabi).
-`Umar bin Kurayb bin Subh (Majhoul).
-Mu’ammal Mawla `Amro bin Hurayth (Majhoul).
-Asbagh bin Nabatah (Rafidhi Muttaham bil-Kazib).
-`Amir al-Sha`bi (Thiqah Mashhour).
-`Amro bin Ma`di Karib (Sahabi).
-Zayd ibn Wahb al-Juhani (Thiqah).
-Abu Hazim Salman al-Ashja`i (Thiqah Lam Yasma` min `Ali).
-`Ali bin Shu`bah (Majhoul).
-Abu `Atiyyah Jabir bin Humayd (Majhoul).
-`Ammar bin Yasir (Sahabi).
-Abu `Abdullah al-Tabari (Majhool).
They number at around 50 individuals, some are Sahabah, some are Tabi`een and some are family members of `Ali ibn abi Talib. The one who is properly educated in the field of Rijal will also notice that a lot of these people are Shia (followers) and companions of `Ali, many are supporters of `Ali who were a part of his army.
One my wonder, why is this narration so strong and widespread? There are a couple of reasons:
Firstly, based on the narrations, `Ali stood on the Mimbar of Kufa and delivered a Sermon in front of all his supporters, this would not be the last Khutbah he delivers on his Mimbar as Khalifah concerning the superiority of Abu Bakr, for instance Muhammad bin `Aqeel ibn abi Talib reports that `Ali also delivered a sermon to his followers speaking of the virtues and superiority of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq. The fact that he delivered such a sermon openly meant that a lot of people heard it, and as the reader can see from the list above, many popular companions and followers who were present heard it, also many non-popular Arabs and Bedouins who attended his mosque heard it and related it.
The second reason was that it was `Ali ibn abi Talib himself who delivered the sermon, not one of his relatives and companions claimed it, and he was the Khalifah and the top authority at the time, he delivered it in his own fortress, the city of Kufa, while surrounded by his followers and supporters.
The third reason, was that it apparently took place after the incident with the people of Basarah, as the narrations declare, `Ali had just returned from the battle of Jamal victorious and his supporters were all in high moral, they awaited his next orders and were anxious to hear his sermon.
The fourth matter is the importance of the topic, in the final days of the Khilafah of `Uthman ibn `Affan a group was being formed, led by suspicious men, they were telling people that `Ali was divinely appointed and his right was usurped by the three who preceded him. During the Khilafah of `Ali, the situation was chaotic, a part of the nation decided to form an army and seek revenge for the death of `Uthman, another part of the nation accused `Ali of ordering his assasination and refused to pay him allegiance, and a part separated from `Ali’s army and formed the Khawarij who rejected both sides. Midst all of this confusion and unrest, groups of deviants started to spread rumors of `Ali having secret knowledge entrusted to him by the Prophet (saw), and they went as far as to claim he was a god, so he finally started burning and exiling them. `Ali ibn abi Talib decided to confront these people and refute them directly, no divinity, no superiority and no secrets, he was a man from the Muslims, a slave of God, a lover of the companions of his cousin (saw).
The fifth reason is that a big amount of companions, of pious followers and of the scholars who followed them, they decided to spread this narration of `Ali to refute the deviants and innovators who worshiped God by cursing the Shaykhayn, they also started to spread the virtues of `Ali himself to refute the Nawasib and the mouths of the government who opposed `Ali and denied his leadership. These are Ahlul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah, the followers of the Prophet (saw) who love his companions and in their books are virtues preserved for all these great men.
Hadith-ul-Afdaliyya is Mutawatir from `Ali ibn abi Talib (ra), download the PDF files by clicking on the titles below: