Is this narration authentic?
Sayyiduna Abu Bakr entered the presence of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and sat near him. Thereafter, `Ali ibn Abi Talib requested permission [to enter], and then he [too] entered.
When Abu Bakr saw him, he moved [out of respect] for him.
Upon seeing this, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to him, “Why did you do this, O Abu Bakr?”
He said, “Out of honour and respect for him, O Messenger of Allah.”
He said, “Only virtuous people recognize other virtuous people.”
The Muhaddithun have labelled this incident a fabrication.
(Tanzihush Shari’ah, vol.1 pg.359. Also see Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 2613 and Al-Mudawi, Hadith: 1159)
However, concerning the last part, which explains how people of virtue recognise the virtue of others, ‘Allamah Sakhawi (rahimahullah) states that this is in deed a proven concept.
(Al-Maqasidul Hasanah, Hadith: 212)
Shari’ah definitely encourages us to give due where it’s due. Abiding by this is indeed a sign of one’s virtue.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar