Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, `Atiq ibn Abi Quhafa, Shaykh al-Islam, `Abd Allah ibn `Uthman ibn `Amir al-Qurashi al-Taymi (d. 13), the Prophets intimate friend after Allah, exclusive companion at the Prophets Basin (hawd) and in the Cave, greatest supporter, closest confidant, first spiritual inheritor, first of the men who believed in him and the only one who did so unhesitatingly, first of his four Rightly-Guided successors, first of the ten promised Paradise, and first of the Prophets Community to enter Paradise.
Alone among the Companions, Abu Bakr repeatedly led the Community in prayer in the lifetime of the Prophet. The latter used to call him by his patronyms of Abu Bakr and Ibn Abi Quhafa, and he named him with the attributes "The Most Truthful" (al-Siddîq) and "Allahs Freedman From the Fire" (`Atîq Allâh min al-nâr). When the Quraysh confronted the Prophet after the Night Journey, they turned to Abu Bakr and said: "Do you believe what he said, that he went last night to the Hallowed House and came back before morning?" He replied: "If he said it, then I believe him, yes, and I do believe him regarding what is farther than that. I believe the news of heaven he brings, whether in the space of a morning or in that of an evening journey." Because of this Abu Bakr was named al-Siddîq: the Very Truthful, the One Who Never Lies.
Among the Companions who narrated from him: Anas, `Aisha, Jabir, Abu Hurayra, the four `Abd Allahs (Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Amr), `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali. The latter is one of the narrators of the Prophets hadith cited by Abu Bakr: "We [Prophets] do not leave anything as inheritance. What we leave behind is charity (sadaqa)."
`Umar said: "Abu Bakrs faith outweighs the faith of the entire Umma." This is confirmed by the following hadith: The Prophet asked: "Did any of you see anything in his dream?" A man said to the Prophet: "O Messenger of Allah, I saw in my dream as if a balance came down from the heaven in which you were weighed against Abu Bakr and outweighed him, then Abu Bakr was weighed against `Umar and outweighed him, then `Umar was weighed against `Uthman and outweighed him, then the balance was raised up." This displeased the Prophet who said: "Successorship of prophethood (khilâfa nubuwwa)! Then Allah shall give kingship to whomever He will." `Umar also said: "The best of this Community after its Prophet is Abu Bakr." `Ali named him and `Umar the Shaykh al-Islam of the Community and said: "The best of this Community after its Prophet are Abu Bakr and `Umar," "The most courageous of people is Abu Bakr," and "The greatest in reward among people for the volumes of the Quran is Abu Bakr, for he was the first of those who gathered the Quran between two covers." He was also the first to name it mushaf.
Abu Bakrs high rank is indicated, among other signs, by the fact that to deny his Companionship to the Prophet entails disbelief (kufr), unlike the denial of the Companionship of `Umar, `Uthman, and `Ali to the Prophet. This is due to the mention of this companionship in the verse: "The second of two when the two were in the cave, and he said unto his companion: Grieve not" (9:40) which refers, by Consensus, to the Prophet and Abu Bakr. Allah further praised him above the rest by saying: "Those who spent and fought before the victory are not upon a level (with the rest of you)." (57:10)
The Prophet confirmed his high rank in many of his sayings, among them:
"Allah gave one of His servants a choice between this world and what He has with Him, and that servant chose what Allah has with Him." Abu Bakr wept profusely and we wondered why he wept, since the Prophet had told of a servant that was given a choice. The Prophet himself was that servant, as Abu Bakr later told us. The Prophet continued: "Among those most dedicated to me in his companionship and property is Abu Bakr. If I were to take an intimate friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr. But what binds us is the brotherhood of Islam and its love. Let no door [of the Prophets mosque] remain open except Abu Bakrs."
"I am excused, before each of my friends, of any intimate friendship with anyone. But if I were to take an intimate friend, I would take Ibn Abi Quhafa as my intimate friend. Verily, your Companion is the intimate friend of Allah!"
"You [Abu Bakr] are my companion at the Basin and my companion in the Cave."
"Call Abu Bakr and his son so that I will put something down in writing, for I fear lest someone ambitious forward a claim, and Allah and the believers refuse anyone other than Abu Bakr."
`Amr ibn al-`As asked: "O Messenger of Allah, who is the most beloved of all men to you?" He replied: "Abu Bakr."
"It is impermissible for a people among whom is Abu Bakr, to be led by other than him."
"Take for your leaders those who come after me: Abu Bakr and `Umar."
"O`Ali! Abu Bakr and `Umar are the leaders of the mature inhabitants of Paradise and its youth among the first and the last, except for Prophets and Messengers."
"The sun never rose nor set over anyone better than Abu Bakr."
"The Prophet used to hold nightly conversations with Abu Bakr in the latters house, discussing the affairs of Muslims, and I [`Umar] was present with them."
`Umar was angered by Abu Bakr one day and left him in anger. Abu Bakr followed after him, asking his forgiveness, but `Umar refused and shut his door in his face. Abu Bakr then went to the Prophet and took hold of his garment until his knee showed. The Prophet said: "Your companion has been arguing!" Abu Bakr greeted him and said: "There was a dispute between me and `Umar, then I felt remorse and asked him to forgive me but he would not, so I came to you." The Prophet said, repeating three times: "Allah forgives you, O Abu Bakr! Allah forgives you, O Abu Bakr! Allah forgives you, O Abu Bakr!" Then `Umar felt remorse and went asking for Abu Bakr at his house without finding him. He came to the Prophet and greeted him, but the Prophets face changed with displeasure. Seeing this, Abu Bakr sat up on his knees in fear before the Prophet, saying twice: "O Messenger of Allah! I am the one who trangressed. O Messenger of Allah! I am the one who transgressed." The Prophet said to the people: "Allah sent me to you and you all said: You are lying! But Abu Bakr said: He said the truth. Abu Bakr gave me solace with his person and property. Will you leave my companion alone once and for all? Will you leave my companion alone once and for all?!" After this Abu Bakr was never harmed again.
"Jibril came to me, took me by the hand, and showed me the gate through which my Community shall enter Paradise." Abu Bakr said: "Would that I were with you to see it!" The Prophet said: "Did you not know? You will be the first of all my Community to enter it."
Al-Suyuti relates through Ibn Sa`ds report from `Aisha her description of Abu Bakr: "He was a man with fair skin, thin, emaciated, with a sparse beard, a slightly hunched frame, sunken eyes and protruding forehead, and the bases of his fingers were hairless." He was the foremost genealogist of the Quraysh and the best of them at interpreting dreams after the Prophet according to Ibn Sirin. `Aisha related that both he and `Uthman had relinquished drinking wine even in the Time of Ignorance. His caliphate lasted two years and three months in which he opened up the lands of Syria and Iraq for the Muslims, suppressed apostasy among the Arab tribes, fought the pseudo-Prophets al-Aswad al-`Ansi, Tulayha al-Asadi who recanted and declared his prophethood in Najd, and Musaylima the Liar who was killed in the devastating battle of al-Yamama.
Imam al-Nawawi pointed out that Abu Bakrs genealogical tree alone regroups four successive generations of Companions of the Prophet: his father Abu Quhafa, himself, his daughter Asma, and her son `Abd Allah, in addition to Abu Bakrs son `Abd al-Rahman and his grandson Abu `Atiq. Nawawi states that only one hundred and forty-two hadiths of the Prophet are narrated from Abu Bakr. He comments: "The reason for this scarcity, despite the seniority of his companionship to the Prophet, is that his death pre-dated the dissemination of hadiths and the endeavor of the Followers to hear, gather, and preserve them." Among Abu Bakrs sayings: "Whoever fights his ego for Allahs sake, Allah will protect Him against what He hates."
Main sources:Al-Nawawi, Tahdhib al-Asma wa al-Lughat 2:181-182; Abu Nu`aym, Hilya al-Awliya 1:62-72 #1; al-Dhahabi, Siyar A`lam al-Nubala 1-2:467-508 #2.