What is the original source of this narration?
‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said:
‘No one regards me as superior to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) but I will beat him, the beating of a fabricator’
Imams Ahmad ibn Hambal, Abu Bakr ibn Abi ‘Asim, Bayhaqi, Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahumullah) and others have recorded this narration.
(Fadailus Sahabah of Imam Ahmad, Hadith: 49, Kitabus Sunnah, Hadith: 1219, Al I’itiqad of Imam Bayhaqi, pg. 504 and Tarikh Dimashq, vol. 30 pg. 382/383)
Although some chains are weak, ‘Allamah ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) states that this narration has been proven from Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) through many chains.
(Majmu’ul Fatawa, vol. 4 pg. 479)
These chains when combined, gain collective strength.
‘Allamah ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) states that it has been proven beyond doubt (mutawatir, the highest level of authenticity) that Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) stood on the pulpit in Kufa and said, ‘The best of this Ummah after it’s Nabi is Abu Bakr and ‘Umar’.
This has been reported through eighty chains approximately.
(Minhajus Sunnah, vol. 1 pg. 308 and Majmu’ul Fatawa, vol. 4 pg. 407)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar