What is the status of the story of Abu Bakar being late in his arrival for the congregational prayer with the Prophet PBUH?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
According to the above question, here we first state the story meant:
يقال أن: أبا بكر الصديق لم تفته الركعة اﻷولى خلف رسول الله يوما ، ولكن في أحد الأيام تأخر قليلا ، وكادت أن تفوته الركعة اﻷولى ، ولكنه أدركها في الركوع ، وبينما هو راكع إذ حمد الله أنه أدركها ، وفي تلك اللحظة نزل الوحي على الرسول صل الله عليه وسلم ، وأخبره بأن الله تعالى قد سمع حمد أبي بكر الصديق ، فرفع الرسول من الركوع قائلا : (سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ) فاحتار الصحابة ، ولكن سيدنا أبو بكر علم أنه المعني باﻷمر ، فردد قائلا: (رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ) فأصبحت سنة إلى يوم القيامة
“It is said that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq never missed the first rakaat behind the Prophet PBUH even for a day. One day, Abu Bakar RA was a little late and he thought that he might has missed the first rakaat. However, he managed to perform rukuk in the first rakaat and he recite tahmid to Allah grateful that he manages to get the first rakaat. At that time, revelation came to the Prophet PBUH, informing him that Allah SWT heard the tahmid recited by Abu Bakar. After coming up from rukuk, the Prophet PBUH said “سمع الله لمن حمده” (Allah SWT hears whoever recite tahmid to Him). All the Companions are baffled but Saidina Abu Bakar knew that he was the person meant. Then, he recites: ربنا ولك الحمد (Our Lord, for You are all praises)”. Afterwards, it became a sunnah until the Last day.”
We did not find this narration in renowned hadith books except that it is included in later fiqh books such as Hasyiah ‘Ianah al-Tholibin [1/180] and Hasyiah al-Jamal [1/366]. Furthermore, this narration is mentioned without stating its sanad. However, there is another narration in Sunan al-Nasaie which has a similar meaning to this hadith but it did not happen to Abu Bakar AS, it is as the following:
- From Rifa’ah bin Rafi’, he said:
كُنَّا يَوْمًا نُصَلِّي وَرَاءَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَلَمَّا رَفَعَ رَأْسَهُ مِنَ الرَّكْعَةِ قَالَ: "سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ"، قَالَ رَجُلٌ وَرَاءَهُ: رَبَّنَا وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا طَيِّبًا مُبَارَكًا فِيهِ، فَلَمَّا انْصَرَفَ، قَالَ: "مَنِ المُتَكَلِّمُ" قَالَ: أَنَا، قَالَ: "رَأَيْتُ بِضْعَةً وَثَلاَثِينَ مَلَكًا يَبْتَدِرُونَهَا أَيُّهُمْ يَكْتُبُهَا أَوَّلُ."
One day we were praying behind the Prophet. When he raised his head from bowing, he said, "Sami`a l-lahu liman hamidah." A man behind him said, "Rabbana wa laka l-hamdu, hamdan kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi" (O our Lord! All the praises are for You, many good and blessed praises). When the Prophet completed the prayer, he asked, "Who has said these words?" The man replied, "I." The Prophet said, "I saw over thirty angels competing to write it first." The Prophet rose (from bowing) and stood straight till all the vertebrae of his spinal column came to a natural position.
Sahih al-Bukhari (799)
Imam al-Syaukani said that the man meant in the hadith is Rifa’ah as stated in the chapter of the hadith. (See: Nayl al-Awthar, 2/376). However, the story asked by the questioner is an incident that happened to Abu Bakar al-Siddiq and not to Rifa’ah.
To conclude, the above story’s origin is unknown and is not mentioned in any renowned books although it is mentioned in later books. Lastly, may Allah SWT make us from among those with the akhlak of the salaf soleh of whom has lived in the best of times. Amin.