Why did the senior Companions burn the collections of ḥadīth?
It has been reported that Abū Bakr (rta) consigned such compilation of the hadith to fire. It indicates that Hazrat Abū Bakr (rta) had a collection of about five hundred narratives in his possession. He had given this collection in the custody of 'Ā'ishah (rta). One night 'Ā'ishah (rta) found Abū Bakr (rta) in state of anxiety. When she asked him what worried him, he said nothing. The next morning he retrieved the collection from her and burnt it. When 'Ā'ishah (rta) enquired about the reason, he said:
خشيت أن أموت وهي عندي فيكون فيها أحاديث عن رجل قد ائتمنتُه ولم يكن كما حدّثني فأكون قد نقلت ذلك فهذا لا يصح. (اسد الغابه 3/224)
I am afraid I may die having a compilation in my possession containing narratives related to me by a reliable person. But it is possible that the case is different from what he has told me and I commit it to writing. This does not sound right to me.
This reply shows that Abu Bakr (rta) did it for personal reasons. He might have thought that a narrative related to him might not be authentic. Since a narrative related by an individual is not considered conclusive then it would not be good to record it and make it seem conclusive, he might have thought.
Translated By: Abid Mahmood Hashmi