Answered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad
Question: Is there a valid difference of opinion among the Ahly Sunnah regarding the superiority of Abu Bakr over all the other companions? If so, who narrated consensus regarding this point?
Answer: Consensus over the superiority of Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) over all other Companions within Sunni Islam was stated by the Four Imams, Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari in the Risala ila Ahl al-Thaghr (Consensus 46) and al-Ibana, and al-Tahawi. Within the latter’s Maturidi School it is discussed at length in the chapter on ‘Tafdil Abu Bakr’ in Abu al-Mu`in al-Nasafi’s Tabsirat al-Adilla. It is supported by the verse of Surat al-Tawba stating that he was “the Second of Two,” and the Prophetic hadiths stating that the third of those two is Allah Most High Himself, and that if the Prophet had a friend besides Allah, it would be Abu Bakr, and the mass transmissions from the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, alluding to the primacy of his successorship, in addition to the explicit statements of the foremost Companions that he was the best of human beings after the Prophet, including that of our liegelord `Ali himself, Allah be well-pleased with all of them. To hold otherwise is, also by consensus, a bid`a of misguidance in Islam, and Allah knows best and He alone is our Protector.