Abū Bakr Aṣ-Ṣiddīq once entered a Jewish place of study and found a group of Jews gathered around one of their men named Finḥāṣ, who was one of their scholars and their Rabbis. Abū Bakr said to Finḥāṣ: "Woe to you O Finḥāṣ, fear Allah and embrace Islam, for by Allah you know that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah who has brought the truth to you from Allah. He is mentioned in your Torah."
Finḥāṣ responded: “What do we need from a poor God? Verily He is poor unto us. We do not ask Him to loan us anything yet He asks from us. Verily we are rich compared to Him, and He is not rich unto us. If He were rich compared to us then He would not ask us to lend Him our wealth."
Abū Bakr became angry and punched the face of Finḥāṣ with a mighty blow. He then said to him: "By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if it were not for the treaty between us, O enemy of Allah, I would have killed you."
Finḥāṣ went to the Messenger of Allah and said: "O Muḥammad! Look at what your companion has done to me."
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ asked Abū Bakr: "What has driven you to do what you did?"
He said: "O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, this enemy of Allah has said something very serious. He claimed that Allah is poor and they are rich. When he said that I became angry for the sake of Allah and hit his face."
Finḥāṣ denied it and said "I did not say that." And so Allah revealed the verse responding to the lie of Finḥāṣ and confirming the words of Abū Bakr:
لَّقَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ وَنَحْنُ أَغْنِيَاءُ ۘ سَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَالُوا وَقَتْلَهُمُ الْأَنبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَنَقُولُ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ الْحَرِيقِ
Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who said: "Verily, Allah is poor and we are rich!" We shall record what they have said as well as their unjust killing of the Prophets, and We shall say: "Taste the punishment of the Burning Fire." [3:181]
(Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr 434)
Some points to ponder upon - Abū Bakr was a strong and mighty man, whoever wishes to portray him as being weak has lied against him. Verily he was always ready to stand up against the enemies of Allah and to fight them. Indeed he was a noble man who did not tolerate disbelief and strove hard to establish the Religion of Allah.
- The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not believe the words of Finḥāṣ as he did not rebuke Abū Bakr despite Finḥāṣ denying having said those words. Rather he waited for divine revelation to prove that Abū Bakr was the honest one of the two.
- The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not rebuke Abū Bakr for punching the enemy of Allah as what Finḥāṣ had said was utter disbelief and cannot be tolerated by a believer. This shows that whilst we must call the people to Islam, it does not mean that we let them abuse us or insult our Religion.