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:
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.