After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) said that in the last sermon he delivered on the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), he presented references which proved that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) did not punish people for their apostasy, rather he punished them on account of their rebellion.
Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) Remains Resolute in the Face of Tremendous Challenges
His Holiness (aba) said that the Hakam (judge) and Adl (just arbiter) of this age, the Promised Messiah (as) has also affirmed that the apostates during the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) had taken up rebellion. The Promised Messiah (as) described that dangerous and turbulent time that had transpired due to this open rebellion, in the face of which Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) remained brave and resolute. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) was very saddened by what had become of these people and would weep in prayer. His daughter Hazrat A’ishah (ra) describes that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) witnessed all kinds of rebellion and insurrection at the outset of his Caliphate, such that if the same burden had been placed upon mountains they would crumble. However, with the help of God Almighty, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) stood firm as he eradicated all of the threats which had presented themselves.
His Holiness (aba) further quoted the Promised Messiah (as) who said that when Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) was bestowed the mantle of Caliphate, the Muslims were in an extremely fragile state, yet God pulled the Muslims out from the deep depths of darkness through Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), such that afterwards, people would constantly praise and congratulate Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) and were prepared to obey him in any matter. This was all due to the truthfulness and steadfastness of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra).
Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) Rallies the Muslims to Combat the Rebellion
His Holiness (aba) said that during this wave of rebellion, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) deployed various envoys. There were those who had turned apostate and refused to give Zakat, but then there were also those who became apostates, then also adopted rebellion and had started killing Muslims. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) decided to obtain intelligence regarding the movements of this group, and so he gathered the Muslim army and set out from Madinah. Hazrat Ali (ra) requested Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) that rather than accompanying that army himself, he should send someone else in his stead for fear of something happening to him during battle. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) accepted this suggestion and instructed the army to go forth as he returned to Madinah.
His Holiness (aba) said that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) divided the Muslim army into eleven battalions with appointed leaders each assigned their own flag. They were sent to various places where rebels including those under the leadership of false claimants to prophethood were rearing their rebellion. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) also instructed each battalion to leave some strong Muslims behind in the areas to which they were being deployed in order to ensure security was maintained in the region. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) was constantly informed and kept up to date with the movements of each of these battalions and would know whenever these battalions were victorious. The rebellion had only started three months prior, and because the rebels thought that they had the upper hand and would be able to erase the Muslims in no time, they were not at all prepared for the organised Muslim army which they were made to face, and were thus defeated.
His Holiness (aba) explained that this distribution by Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) established an excellent system whereby the Muslim army remained in constant communication with each other, even when battalions were sent to various areas. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) also kept a portion of the army in Madinah in order to protect the headquarters and also maintained a group of elder companions for consultation on various matters. Thus, under the leadership of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), a systematic governmental system was established.
Hazrat Abu Bakr’s (ra) Letter to all of Arabia
His Holiness (aba) said that during this time, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) penned a letter for all those residing in Arabia, stating that he believed in that which was brought by the Holy Prophet (sa), and all those who deny that message are disbelievers. He said that the Holy Prophet (sa) was sent to this world with truth as a bearer of glad tidings and as a warner. Those who accepted him were bestowed the divine light of guidance. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) then explained through verses of the Holy Qur’an that after fulfilling his responsibilities, the Holy Prophet (sa) was to pass away just as everyone must pass on, so too would he. For example, God Almighty states:
‘We granted not everlasting life to any human being before thee. If then thou shouldst die, shall they live here for ever?’ (The Holy Qur’an, 21:35)
‘And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels shall not harm Allah at all. And Allah will certainly reward the grateful.’ (The Holy Qur’an, 3:145)
His Holiness (aba) said that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) said that whoever worshipped the Holy Prophet (sa) should know that he has passed away. Those who worshipped God should know that He is still alive and always will be. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) said that he enjoined everyone to believe in God and the message brought by the Holy Prophet (sa). He said that only those can attain guidance upon whom it is bestowed by God Himself. Furthermore, the good deeds of people would find acceptance in the sight of God once they accepted God and His faith.
His Holiness (aba) said that this letter was sent with each of the leaders appointed to the different battalions, and Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) informed the people that he had instructed the armies not to fight, but to invite people to accept the message delivered in this letter. However if they refused and persisted in their ways that the armies would have no other choice.
Admonitions to Leaders of Each Battalion
His Holiness (aba) said that Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) also wrote a letter addressed to each one of the leaders assigned to the eleven battalions. He enjoined them to adopt righteousness and that they should not fight upon reaching their assigned destination. First they should invite them to the faith and to fulfil their duties. However, if they saw that the people were bent on rebellion and fighting then they should not hesitate to take up arms in order to bring the injustices and cruelties which they had been perpetrating to an end. His Holiness (aba) re-emphasised the fact that these were not merely apostates but people who had been perpetrating heinous crimes and cruelties, and so they were dealt with according to the commandment of the Holy Qur’an, which states that the recompense of a crime should be the like thereof. His Holiness (aba) said that there is a narration which states that the instruction was given to burn the rebels. This was not a general instruction, because as the Holy Prophet (sa) has stated it is only for Allah to punish with fire. In this instance, this commandment was only given because those people in question had set Muslims on fire, and hence this instruction was given as a form of just and equal retribution.
His Holiness (aba) said that there may be sermons on other topics forthcoming during the month of Ramadan, but he would continue on this topic whenever he delivers the next sermon on the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra).
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions