Can I learn the names of the two Companions whom the Prophet (pbuh) followed in prayer? How did it happen?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

As far as we know, the Prophet performed prayers behind two people among his Companions. The first one was Abdurrahman b. Awf.

While the Prophet and the Companions were on the Expedition of Tabuk, they stopped in a place between Hijr and Tabuk. The Messenger of Allah went away to answer the call of nature after dawn. The congregation feared that the sun would rise and made Abdurrahman b. Awf lead the prayer. When the Prophet (pbuh) made wudu and returned, Abdurrahman was in ruku’. When the congregation realized that the Messenger of Allah had come, they were about to stop the prayer. Abdurrahman wanted to leave but he continued prayer upon the gesture of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The Messenger of Allah performed one rak’ah following him and performed the second rak'ah alone by standing up after salutation. When the prayer ended, he said, "You did very well." (see Musnad, 4/247; Ibn Sa'd Tabaqat, 3/129; Waqidi, Maghazi, 3/1011)

Abdurahman b. Awf was among those who accepted Islam with the efforts of Hz. Abu Bakr. He is the 8th Muslim. He received more than twenty arrow and spear blows in the Battle of Uhud; therefore, he walked lame after that.

He took part in all of the battles in which the Prophet fought. The Prophet appointed him as the commander of the army sent to conquer Dumatul-Jandal and wrapped the turban around Abdurrahman’s head with his own hands. [Three expeditions were organized to Dumatul-Jandal and Abdurahman b. Awf was appointed as the commander in the second one. (see TDV İ. Ans., X/1)]

He donated 40.000 dinars (half of his wealth), 500 horses and a trade caravan of 700 camels with goods on them when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive.

He freed many slaves throughout his life. He said to Umm Salama, one of the wives of the Prophet, “Will the abundance of my wealth cause my destruction? I am worried about it.”

He died at the age of 75. His janazah prayer was led by Hz. Uthman. He is one of the ten Companions who were given the glad tiding of Paradise when they were alive. (see Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 25; Musnad, 1/193)

The other Companion behind whom the Prophet performed a prayer was Abu Bakr as-Siddiq.

When the Messenger of Allah was ill, he would go to the mosque only when adhan was called and lead the prayer.

Three days before his death, his illness got verse. Therefore, he could no longer go to the mosque. He said,

"Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer to the believers." (Ibn Sad, Tabaqat, 2/217)

Thus, he left the imamate to Hz. Abu Bakr. When the Prophet was alive, Hz. Abu Bakr led seventeen prayers.

On Monday, during the morning prayer, the Prophet drew the curtain on the door of Hz. Aisha’s room and looked at the congregation in the mosque. The congregation was performing the prayer behind Hz. Abu Bakr. When he saw the ranks of the believers, he smiled. Hz. Abu Bakr thought the Prophet wanted to lead the prayer and moved back a bit on his heels. The congregation became very pleased and almost stopped the prayer.     

The Prophet (pbuh) made a sign with his hand meaning "Stand where you are and complete the prayer." He followed Hz. Abu Bakr and performed the prayer behind him. (see Musnad, 3/110, 196; Sirah, 4/302; M. Asım Köksal, İslam Tarihi, Köksal Publications: 8/266-268)

Hz. Abu Bakr Siddiq (r.a) (571-634) is the first free man who believed after Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) started to convey the religion of Islam, the first one of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the first of the ten people given the glad tiding of Paradise. He is the great Companion that was also known by the nicknames Jamiul-Quran, as-Siddiq and al-Atiq. He is mentioned in the Quran because he was together with the Messenger of Allah during the Migration:

“…they two were in the cave…” (at-Tawba, 9/40)

After believing in the Messenger of Allah, Hz. Abu Bakr started to invite people to Islam; most of the first Muslims who contributed a lot to the spread of Islam like   Uthman b. Affan, Zubayr b. Awwam, Abdurrahman b. Awf, Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas and Talha b. Ubaydullah became Muslims upon his invitation. Hz. Abu Bakr was always with the Messenger of Allah throughout his life; they established a great friendship when they were children. The Messenger of Allah preferred his view related to many issues. The Prophet consulted his Companions related to general and particular issues; he consulted especially Hz. Abu Bakr regarding some issues. (Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddima, 206)

Although Hz. Abu Bakr’s caliphate was rather short (two years and three months), the Islamic state developed greatly during his caliphate. Hz. Abu Bakr became ill due to the disease he caught in the month of Jumadal-Akhir in 13 H; he wanted Hz. Umar to lead the prayer on behalf of him. He consulted the Companions and told them that he regarded Hz. Umar appropriate for the caliphate. He answered the criticisms like Hz. Umar’s being stern and harsh and dictated the decree of caliphate to Hz. Uthman.

Hz. Abu Bakr also died at the age of sixty-three like the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), whom he loved very much. As he willed, he was buried next to the Messenger of Allah, at his shoulder level. Thus, the friendship of those two great people continued in the grave too.

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