Imam Abu Hanifa, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "We affirm that the best people in our community after the Prophet, may Allah bless him and so welcomed - is Abu Bakr al-Syddyk, then Umar, then Uthman, then Ali, yes Allah be pleased with them all - according to the words of Allah:
في جنات النعيم
Meaning: "And the forerunners, the forerunners - Those are the ones brought near [to Allah] In the Gardens of Pleasure". (The Quran, 56:10-12)
And one of them, who was earlier, he's better. And every believer loves them and hates miserable hypocrite".
Ahl al-Sunnah willing to admit that the best of companions is Abu Bakr. And the proof of this is the story, when Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, stood on the minbar in Kufa, and Muhammad ibn al-Hanafi asked him: "Who is the best man in our community after the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and so welcomed? And Ali said: "Abu Bakr". And he asked: "And then?" Ali said, "Umar". Then he asked: "And then?" Ali said, "Usman". He asked: "And then who?" And Ali said nothing. And then he said: "If you want, I'll let you know who the fourth". And Muhammad ibn al-Hanafi said: "It is you. And Ali said: "Your father - a man from among the Muslims". And he did not say anything because I did not want to praise himself. The same is said in "Al-Bahr Kalyam".
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