Imam Fakhr Al-Deen Al-Razi’s proof for the legitimacy of Abu Bakr’s, Umar’s, and Uthman’s Caliphates (رضي الله عنهم). Contrary to the Twelvers, who claim that the three were illegitimate rulers, who usurped leadership from ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه). Al-Razi writes:
|[We claim] that the legitimate Imam after the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is Abu Bakr, and then Umar, and then Uthman, and then ‘Ali (رضي الله عنهم).
As for the Rafida, they claim: the legitimate Imam after the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه).
And there are several proofs for our position:
First: it is established by mass transmission that ‘Ali (رضي الله عنه) did not take up arms against Abu Bakr to secure power. And if the rule of Abu Bakr were illegitimate, then ‘Ali would have taken up arms to fight him as he did against Mu’awiya.
Second: if the position of Caliph was ‘Ali’s [divinely appointed] right, and he did not fight for it, then he (رضي الله عنه) has complied with injustice. And he who complies with injustice is unjust. And the one who is unjust is unfit to be Caliph.
Third: the Prophet ﷺ’s saying: “follow in the footsteps of those who come after me [from amongst my Companions], Abu Bakr and ‘Umar”. This means: follow in the footsteps of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. And if their rule was to be unjust, then the Prophet ﷺ would not have commanded the Muslims to follow in their footsteps.
Thus, the legitimacy of their rule has been established.
– Al-Razi, Al-Masa’il Al-Khamsoon (pg. 71)
 As the Twelvers claim it is.
And if it is argued: “there is some weakness in the chain of this narration” or “this is merely a singular narration, and mass transmission is a condition for certainty”.
We respond: the argument holds when we take into consideration the piety of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and how the Prophet ﷺ praised them both on many occasions. So even if each of the many reports attributing praise of Abu Bakr or Umar to the Prophet ﷺ is singular, they are collectively mass transmitted proof for this praise. In the same way each of the many narrations reporting ‘Ali’s bravery is singular, even though those reports are collectively mass transmitted proof for ‘Ali’s bravery.
 The first two arguments equally apply to both ‘Umar and ‘Uthman.