In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Men of Insight and Sincere Self-reflection – [Why Abu Bakr Gave Precedence to Khaalid Bin Al-Waleed and Umar Gave Precedence to Abu Abaydah (may Allaah be pleased with them)]]
Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] stated: Amr Ibnul Aas [radiyallaahu-anhu] was one of those given authority and so was Abu Ubaydah Ibn Al-Jarraah [radiyallaahu-anhu]. And Khaalid Ibn Al-Waleed [radiyallaahu-anhu] was given preference over them due to his bravery and usefulness in Jihaad. When Abu Bakr [radiyallaahu-anhu] passed away, Umar Ibnul Khattaab [radiyallaahu-anhu] gave Abu Ubaydah [radiyallaahu-anhu] authority over all of them, because Umar Ibnul khattaab used to be tough for the sake of Allaah, therefore he appointed Abu Ubaydah because he was soft; Abu Bakr was soft and Khaalid was tough. Therefore, the soft one gave authority to the tough one and the tough one gave authority to the soft one to balance the affairs. These two [Abu Bakr and Umar] acted in a manner most beloved to Allaah with regards to fulfilling His Rights.
It has been reported in the authentic books of Hadeeth that when the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] consulted his companions regarding the affair of the prisoners of war during the battle of Badr, Abu Bakr [radiyallaahu-anhu] suggested that they should be set free after taking ransom on their behalf and Umar [radiyallaahu-anahu] suggested that they should be executed; so the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] said: Indeed Allaah softens the hearts of men until they become softer than cloth [of linen or cotton], and He toughens the hearts of men until they become tougher than a rock. And your likeness O Abu Bakr is that of Ibraaheem [alayhis-salaam], as Allaah informed us that he said: [فَمَن تَبِعَنِى فَإِنَّهُ ۥ مِنِّىۖ وَمَنۡ عَصَانِى فَإِنَّكَ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬ -But whoever follows me, he verily is of me. And whoever disobeys me, – still You are indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful]’’ [14:36]; And like Esaa [alayhis-salaam], as Allaah informed us that he said: [إِن تُعَذِّبۡہُمۡ فَإِنَّہُمۡ عِبَادُكَۖ وَإِن تَغۡفِرۡ لَهُمۡ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡعَزِيزُ ٱلۡحَكِيمُ – If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily You, only You are the All Mighty, the All Wise].’’ [5:118]
And your likeness O Umar is that of Nuh [alayhis-salaam] as Allaah informed us that he said: [وَقَالَ نُوحٌ۬ رَّبِّ لَا تَذَرۡ عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مِنَ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ دَيَّارًا – And Nuh (Noah) said: ‘My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth!][71:26] (1)
Selfless Men – Uthmaan Bin Affaan [may Allaah be pleased with him]
Al-Allaamah Rabee Bin Haadee [may Allaah preserve him] said: Uthmaan [radiyallaahu anhu] was one those who restrained the people from bloodshed the most and (restrained himself regarding the affair) of those who violated his honour. Shakhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [rahimahullaah] said, “And what is well known through successive numerous narrations is that indeed Uthmaan [radiyallaahu anhu] was one of those who restrained the people from bloodshed the most, exercised patience the most regarding the affair of those who violated his honour and those who made a determined attempt to shed his blood; so they besieged him and endeavoured to kill him, and he knew their desire to kill him. Indeed, the Muslims came to him from every place to help him and indicated to him to fight the besiegers, but he commanded them to refrain from fighting and commanded those who obeyed him not to fight. It has been reported that he said to his slaves, ‘Whoever restrains his hand is freed’. It was said to him, ‘Will you go to Makkah?’ He said, ‘I will not be amongst those who commit evil in the sacred precinct’. Then it was said to him, ‘Will you not go to Syria?’ He said, ‘I will not leave my place of Hijrah [i.e. Madeenah]’. Then it was said to him, ‘Fight them’, he said, ‘I will not be the first in the Ummah of Muhammad [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] to unleash the sword after the departure of Muhammad’. Uthmaan’s [radiyallaahu-anhu] patience until he was murdered is one of his greatest virtues in the sight of the Muslims'”. (2)
Men Who Neither Desired Leadership Nor Self-serving- Al Hasan Bin Ali and Mu’aawiyah Bin Abee Sufyaan [may Allaah be pleased with them]
Narrated Al-Hasan Al-Basri: By Allah, Al-Hasan bin `Ali led large battalions like mountains against Muawiya. `Amr bin Al-As said (to Muawiya), “I surely see battalions which will not turn back before killing their opponents.” Muawiya who was really the best of the two men said to him, “O `Amr! If these killed those and those killed these, who would be left with me for the jobs of the public, who would be left with me for their women, who would be left with me for their children?” Then Muawiya sent two Quraishi men from the tribe of `Abdi-Shams called `Abdur Rahman bin Sumura and `Abdullah bin ‘Amir bin Kuraiz to Al-Hasan saying to them, “Go to this man (i.e. Al-Hasan) and negotiate peace with him and talk and appeal to him.” So, they went to Al-Hasan and talked and appealed to him to accept peace. Al-Hasan said, “We, the offspring of `Abdul Muttalib, have got wealth and people have indulged in killing and corruption (and money only will appease them).” They said to Al-Hasan, “Muawiya offers you so and so, and appeals to you and entreats you to accept peace.” Al-Hasan said to them, “But who will be responsible for what you have said?” They said, “We will be responsible for it.” So, whatever Al- Hasan asked they said, “We will be responsible for it for you.” So, Al-Hasan concluded a peace treaty with Muawiya. Al-Hasan (Al-Basri) said: I heard Abu Bakr saying, “I saw Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) on the pulpit and Al-Hasan bin `Ali was by his side. The Prophet (ﷺ) was looking once at the people and once at Al-Hasan bin `Ali saying, ‘This son of mine is a Saiyid (i.e. a noble) and may Allah make peace between two big groups of Muslims through him.” (3)
Men Who Were Not Afflicted Excessive Self-importance Despite Their Great Achievements – [Taariq Bin Ziyaad (may Allaah have mercy upon him)]
Al-Andalus [Spain] was conquered in the year 92AH [by the army under the command] of Taariq Bin Ziyaad [rahimahullaah]–the protégé of Musa Bin Nusayr- during the khilaafah of Al Waleed Bin Abdil Malik. After the conquest, Taariq wrote to Musa Bin Nusayr and informed him about it, so Musa became (somewhat) jealous due to this great conquest at the hands of Taariq. He [Moosaa] wrote to Al-Waleed and informed him of the conquest. He also wrote to Taariq and warned him because Taariq entered Spain without his orders, and ordered him not to go beyond where he was stationed until he meets him. Then he [Musa] rode fast with his army and entered Spain with Habeeb Bin Abee Ubaidah Al-Fahriy, so Taariq met him and said to him, “Indeed I am a protégé of yours and this conquest was for you’’. (4)
[Ref 1: An excerpt from ‘Adwaa Min Fataawaa Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah)’- by Shaikh Saaleh al Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him)Vol: 2 page 568-569. slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Al-Mukhtaaraat Al-Bahiyyah Min Kutub Shaikhil Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah. Page 296. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 3: Sahih al-Bukhari 2704]
[Ref 4: Taareekh At-Tabari 5/520 & Taareekh Al-Islaam 2/254-256]