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This article is about the Shi'a view of Abu Bakr, the first Sunni Caliph.


Shi'a believe he and Umar conspired to take over power over the Muslim nation after the death of Muhammad – a coup d'état against Ali.

Hijra — 620

Shi'a do not view Abu Bakr's being with Muhammad in the cave as a meritorious act. They argue that being there did not constitute a merit in itself, as any merit should be derived from his action and behavior there. Then, they quote Sunni sources:

Narrated Abu Bakr: I was with the Prophet in the Cave. When I raised my head, I saw the feet of the people. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! If some of them should look down, they will see us." The Prophet said, "O Abu Bakr, be quiet! (For we are) two and Allah is the Third of us."[1]

Shi'a argue that a behavior that resulted in Muhammad responding "O Abu Bakr, be quiet!" can not be constituted as meritorious, especially when compared to Ali, who voluntarily slept in the bed of Muhammad essentially risking his life. It is Ali's meritorious act that saw the following Quraanic verse revealed

and there is the type of man who gives his life willingly to earn the pleasures of Allah; and Allah is full of kindness to his devotees- [2:207]

whereas the preceding verse, verse 204, was suiting for Abu Bakr

there is the type of man whose speeches about the worlds life may dazzle thee...Yet he is the most contentious of enemies.. and when he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny, but Allah loveth not mischief- [2:204–205]

Some Sunnis say that the fact that Abu Bakr was referred to as the "Companion" (Sahib) of the Prophet in the Cave, in the Qur'an, shows his high status. However, Shi'a claim that this word does not represent a high status at all. In the Qur'an, Yusuf (Joseph) talks to two disbelievers in prison who are referred to as his "Companions" for the sole reason that they are in close physical proximity to him, clearly showing that the word "Companion" in the Qur'an does not represent a high status, but just may describe the physical proximity of someone to another person. The word "Sahib" used for Abu Bakr however is used to refer to Muhammad at quite a few times describing him as "The companion who is not possessed".

Coup d'état — 632

Abu Bakr returned to Medina after the news of Muhammad's death reached him. At that point, Umar stopped threatening people with death if they spread the news of Muhammad's death. While Abu Bakr was in the house where Muhammad's body was kept, accompanied with the rest of Banu Hashim, Umar informed him of the meeting of Saqifah.

Shi'a believe that Abu Bakr leaving the house without informing anyone of the meeting, proves that he went there in bad faith.

If Muhammad had predicted the four Caliphs as Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs), then there was no need for the meeting at Saqifah to decide the first caliph and later three caliphs also. Even though Hasan ibn Ali ruled the Muslims, he has not been included in the Rightly Guided Caliphs, especially being declared as the Chief of the Youth of Paradise along with Husayn ibn Ali by Muhammad.

Abu Bakr and Fatimah

Shi'a criticize the Sunnis for refusing taking part in the dispute between Muhammad's only then living child, Fatimah and Abu Bakr, a dispute that ended with Fatimah becoming angry with Abu Bakr and refusing to talk with him for the rest of her life, six months, according to the most reliable Sunni sources including Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, and her being buried in a secret location, still unknown, instead of with her father.

It is noteworthy that Fatimah openly refused to recognize the first Caliph as Ulul-Amr, the one with authority and to be obeyed as per the Qur'an 4:59, thus proving that the Muslims chose Abu Bakr after a bitter dispute and turmoil at Saqifah and many refused to obey the hastily installed Caliph.

Caliphar — Persecution of Shi'a

They believe the armies Abu Bakr sent against the Muslims that did not want to give him Zakat was in line with his coup d'état. There where many Muslims that refused to give allegiance to Abu Bakr, let alone give him taxes, but they did not deny the need to pay Zakat, nor any other Muslim principle.

As soon as Abu Bakr came into power, he sent against them the former champion general of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Muhammads former arch enemy, Khalid ibn al-Walid. It is important to note that Khalid ibn al-Walid's tactical decision making had been the reason for the Muslim's loss in the second Battle of Uhud. However, he soon became a Muslim at the hand of Muhammad, and was sent by the Prophet as a commander on various military missions prior to his death.

Shi'a refer to several hadith that mention three conditions where a Muslims blood may be shed, and not paying Zakat is not one of them.

Khalid ibn al-Walid killed several people, including Malik ibn Nuwayrah. Khalid set the wife of Malik bin Nuwayrah free. It was noted that she respected him for the type of justice he did to her regardless of what happened. Shi'ah believe that Khalid raped her even though the sources cannot be independently verified.

Thus, Shi'a consider him as a persecutor of Shi'as, employing the former arch-enemies of Islam as his highest generals, and protecting him when they committed murder and rape.


Shi'as strongly refute the idea that Abu Bakr or Umar were instrumental in the collection or preservation of the Qur'an, rather that they refused to accept Ali's compiled Qur'an.[2]

The Qur'an has been revealed in one night according to Soorah al-Qadr and Dukhaan and there was no need to collect it in a book form. The arrangement of the Suras shows that the presentation and printing is not in the chronological order. There are some Ahadees attributing the loss of Suras and Ayah in the Sehah, which imply collection and destruction of the divine revelation, contrary to the assertion of protection of the Qur'an.

End of life — 634

Umar helped Abu Bakr to come into power during the Succession to Muhammad, and Abu Bakr appointed Umar as his own successor.

Shi'a also quote Sunni sources where Abu Bakr wished he was not a human, rather a bird, at the end of his life.[3]


Shi'a believe that the entire history of Abu Bakr's life was whitewashed by Umayyad propaganda, fabricating hadith where possible and giving black propaganda spins to the parts that were regarded as established history. Even through the Umayyad's endeavours to obscure the truth, it remains evident in the main events that are recognized as authentic by both Shi'a and Sunnis:

  • Fatimah completely broke her relations with Abu Bakr the same week Muhammad died.
  • Rather than being buried with her father, Fatimah was buried in a still secret location.
  • Ali refused to give alligance to Abu Bakr at least as long as Muhammad's only child lived.
  • Ali did not support Abu Bakr in the attack of Muslim, who were declared appostates on the sole issue of not paying taxes to a man they did not regard as their Caliph.

Shi'a conclude that they had no motivation to give taxes to Abu Bakr, since 100,000 heard Muhammad say in the hadith of the pond of Khumm that Ali was every Muslim's mawla. Further, Shi'a conclude that it is evidence that anyone going against the wishes of every Muslim's mawla and Muhammad's daughter can not be on the right path.

See also

  • Shi'a view of Ali


External links