I read the following Hadeeth but I don't know the source of it. Please give the reference and inform us about its authenticity. Nadyan ibn Aswad Narrated: [3.191] Those who remember Allaah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire: Rasul Allaah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, asked Abu Bakr, "Oh Abu Bakr what do you think when you read that verse?" And Abu Bakr said: "I think of Hellfire and it's tribulations and I am worried about your Ummah - so I feel I have an obligation to the whole human race and I say: Oh my Lord make me in a way that I will be so big to fill Hellfire! Until Hellfire comes all over me and nobody will enter. I will carry the whole punishment of all the human beings and the Ummah will be saved." The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Your thinking has been rewarded more than 70 years of worship. The one that cares most for my Ummah is Abu Bakr as-Sidiq."
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.
We have not come across the narration that is mentioned in the question in the books of Sunnah, and the signs of lies clearly appear on it. How could it be possible that Abu Bakr would ask Allaah to punish him in Hellfire in order that the Muslim nation will be saved from it, while he knows that entering Hellfire means that Allaah is angry with the person and he knows that a person who will be among the dwellers of Hellfire would wish, on the Day of Judgement, to ransom himself from the punishment by all the people of the earth? Abu Bakr did not embrace Islam except in order to save himself from Hellfire. So the narration in question is clearly fabricated and Abu Bakr is well-known for his excellence. There is no need to invent lies to prove his excellence and superiority, and his mercy on this nation. There is absolutely no person who would wish to enter Hellfire in order to save others from it. Allaah described the Prophet as merciful but he used to seek refuge in Allaah from Hellfire as he said: "O Allaah, I seek refuge in You from the punishment of the grave and from the torment of the Fire…" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Allaah Knows best.
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