Shama-il Tirmidhi Chapter 47, Hadith Number 2 (327).

‘Amr ibnul ‘Aas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu reports: “(Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam gave attention, spoke and showed love to the worst person of a nation. So that, the person may feel he is being given special attention). He used to give attention, and spoke to me also in a manner, that I began to feel that I was the best among the community. (Therefore one day) I asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, am I better or is Abubakr better?’ He replied: ‘Abubakr’. I then asked: ‘Am I better, or ‘Umar?’ He replied. “Umar’. I asked: ‘Am I better or ‘Uthmaan?’ He replied: ‘Uthmaan’. When I asked him these questions, Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam told me the truth. (He did not tell me I was better to keep me happy. Afterwards I felt ashamed of myself on this deed). I felt I should not have asked such a question”.

This Sahaabi in the beginning due to the special attention given to him by Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam felt he was the best among the community. We find from the first lengthy hadith already mentioned, that it was his noble habit to give preference to the best. But, at times, to make one’s heart happy and in politeness he gave preference to that which was not the best. He even showed special love to the non-believers and the munafiqeen (hypocrites). In the hadith, the order in which the question were asked, is because in the time of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam the Sahaabah Radiyallahu ‘Anhum regarded Abubakr Radiyallahu ‘Anhu as the best amongst the people. It is also narrated in the ahaadith that in the time of Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam we regarded Abubakr as the best, and after him ‘Umar. Sayyidina Ibn ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu relates that in the time of Rasulullah Sallallahu’Alayhi Wasallam we did not regard anyone equal to Abubakr, after him was ‘Umar, and after him ‘Uthrnaan. After that the other Sahaabah were not given preference. This means that the superiority of these three Sahaabah in this order was manifest. In the time of Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam we the Sahaabah accepted this. Muhammad, the son of ‘Ali (Radiyallahu’Anhu), once asked his father ‘Ali Radiyallahu ‘Anhu who was the best person after Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam?. He replied: ‘Abubakr Radiyallahu ‘Anhu’ I asked after him who? He replied: “Umar’. There are many other ahaadith wherein during the time of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam this order is mentioned. Therefore ‘Amr Radiyallahu ‘Anhu asked the question in this order. He competed with the one who was regarded as the best then the second, then the third best. If I am not better than the first then surely I might be better then the second or third.