Featured Islamic History

Hazrat Abu Bakr

Hazrat Abu Bakr (M. Siddique Shahid) Hazrat Abu Bakr was the most trusted and devoted companion of the Holy Prophet and the first Caliph. He was born in Mecca in 572 A.D. He was two or three years younger than the Holy Prophet. His father’s name was Uthman Quhafaah and his mother’s name was Salma surname Umul Khair. In pre-Islamic days, he was known by the name of Abdul Kabah and on his conversion to Islam was given the name of Abdullah and the title of As-Siddiq (the most truthful) by the Holy Prophet, (peace be on him). He was one of the most respected leaders even before his acceptance of Islam. He was well known as a man of high principles, honesty, and truthfulness. He was a trader and undertook several commercial trips to Syria and Yemen. Abu Bakr was a close friend of the Holy Prophet even before he embarked on his prophetic mission. Once on his return to Mecca from a business tour he learned from his female servant that his friend Muhammad (peace be on him) had claimed to be a Prophet. On hearing this he hurried to him and asked what had happened. The Prophet fearing lest Abu Bakr should mis- understand began a long explanation. Abu Bakr stopped the Prophet and asked for a clear answer to the question. The Holy Prophet said “Yes” and Abu Bakr at once declared his faith and embraced Islam. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “Whenever I invited any person to accept Islam he showed some hesitation before embracing it except Abu Bakr who accepted without the slightest hesitation and was steadfast.” (Tarikhul Khilafathy Suyuti). Among the adults he was the first to accept Islam. After accepting Islam he placed his entire wealth in the service of Islam and he freed many slaves including Hazrat Bilal whom he purchased from his master and freed him. The Holy Prophet said. “No one’s wealth has stood me in such good stead as that of Abu Bakr.” Once the Holy Prophet asked his companions to contribute towards the cost of a defensive campaign against the opponents. Hazrat Umar being a 22 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS wealthy man thought to take advantage of that golden opportunity and thus surpassed Hazrat Abu Bakr in the service of Islam. He hurried to his house and brought a considerable portion of his wealth. The Holy Prophet was pleased and asked him “Have you left anything at home for your children?” “Half of my wealth I have left at home for my children” replied Umar. Then Hazrat Abu Bakr came with his own share and the same question was asked by the Holy Prophet. He replied, “the names of Allah and His Prophet are sufficient for home.” Umar was deeply touched and said “It would never be possible for me to surpass Abu Bakr.” All Ibn Abi Talib used to say: “I swear in the name of Him who has my life in His hands that never did we hasten to do a good thing but that we were beaten hollow by Abu Bakr.” Hazrat Abu Bakr underwent all kinds of hardship, suffering, and persecution willingly in the service of Islam. Once, he was so severely beaten by the opponents of Islam in the Ka’aba that he became unconscious. After some years of persecution the Holy Prophet was instructed by God to leave Mecca on account of the plot of the enemies to murder him. He selected Abu Bakr as his companion in that dangerous hour. They both took refuge in the cave of Thaur, three miles distant from Mecca. This incident has been mentioned in the Holy Quran in these words: “When the disbelievers drove him forth while he was one of the two when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion, ‘Grieve not, for Allah is with us.’ Then Allah sent down His peace on him . . .:” (9:40) The verse sheds important light on the high spiritual status of Abu Bakr who accompanied the Holy Prophet in his flight from Mecca and was then one of “the two” referred to in the verse. The Holy Prophet’s words “Grieve not for Allah is with us” speak volumes for Abu Bakr’s spiritual greatness for .also the the pronoun “us” signifies that God was .not only with the Holy Prophet but also with Abu Bakr. Hazrat Abu Bakr fought shoulder to shoulder with the Holy Prophet in all the battles which were fought in the lifetime of the Prophet. He displayed a shining example of sacrifice. Hazrat Abu Bakr was the trusted companion of the Holy Prophet of Islam and he was much loved by him for his virtues and noble deeds. Once the Holy Prophet said: “I have paid back the obligations of all except those of Abu Bakr who will have his reward on the Day of Judgement.” He also said “If I were able to choose a companion in the next world I would prefer Abu Bakr above all men for he surpasses all men in kindness and comradeship. Helpless as I am to take anyone with me, one brethren in faith and fraternity will have to wait till God unites us on the Day of Judgement.” It was on account of this virtue that the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “Abu Bakr is the best man after me unless a Prophet should appear.” HAZRAT ABU BAKR 23 (Knzul Ammal). When the Holy Prophet fell seriously ill, he appointed Abu Bakr to lead the congregational prayers. It was a unique distinction indeed. Hazrat Abu Bakr possessed the qualities of humility, piety, kindness and simplicity. He never lacked wisdom, intelligence and far-sightedness. He had the wisdom to understand the underlying significance of the words of God and the words of The Holy Prophet about which the other companions were unaware. When the life of the Holy Prophet was nearing its end he said to his companions that God said to a man: “If it pleases you, you may return to me, or you may work a little longer reforming the world.” The man said that he preferred to return to His Lord. Abu Bakr was among the audience. He at once understood the parable that the Holy Prophet was talking about himself and that he was to leave them for ever to meet his God. He at once burst into tears, the other Companions including Umar who took a surface view of what they had been listening to, were amazed to see Abu Bakr thus shedding tears. What could be the matter with Abu Bakx? They said: The Prophet was relating to coming victories of Islam and then the story of somebody else. Yet he was weeping. Only the Holy Prophet understood what was happening and only Abu Bakr he thought had understood him. Then the Holy Prophet went on to say “Abu Bakr is very dear to me. If I were to have an intimate friend I would have Abu Bakr my friend. O my people all the doors which open to the mosque should be closed from today except the door of Abu Bakr.” (Muslim). There is no doubt that this last instruction was a prophecy indicating that after the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr would be the first Khalifa or successor to lead the Faithful in Prayers. He would have to come to the mosque five times a day and to do this he would have to keep open the door of his house leading into the mosque. When the Holy Prophet passed away, Abu Bakr was not in Madinah. All the companions were greatly shocked and stupefied by the news of the death of the Holy Prophet and were not ready to believe it. Hazrat Umar even drew his sword and threatened to kill those who would say the Prophet had died. In the meantime some companions went in search of Abu Bakr, found him and told him what had happened. Abu Bakr came back and entering his master’s apartment, uncovered the face of the Prophet, bent down and kissed the forehead. Choking with grief and with tears in his eyes he said “Sacred were you in life and sacred are you in death, God is our Witness. Death will not come upon you twice over.” Having said this great sentence over the dead body of the Prophet, Abu Bakr came out and made silently to the pulpit in the mosque and said: “Those amongst you who worshipped God, let them know that God is still alive and will ever remain alive. But those amongst you who worshipped Mohammad let them know it from me that Muhammad is dead.” He then recited the verse of the Holy Quran: “And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, all 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Messengers have passed away before him. If then he die or be slain, will you turn on your heels?” (3:145) , These words from the Holy Quran brought home that it was only Allah who was everlasting and unchangeable. The Holy Prophet had been a Messenger of Allah and had died like other messengers of Allah who had been before him. By that Abu Bakr taught the people that every Prophet earlier had died. According to one tradition, Umar was so overcome that his legs began to tremble and give way. He fell down exhausted. Khilafat On the death of the Holy Prophet, there arose the matter of electing his successor. Abu Bakr asked the Muslims to choose either Omar or Abu Obaida bin al-Jarrah, but both these worthies said “No, none deserves it better than you. You are the chief among Muhajirins (refugees). You were the Prophet’s comrade in the cave and you led the Prayers in his absence.” Thus Abu Bakr was elected the first Caliph of Islam. After his election, he delivered the following memorable speech. “Brothers, now I have been elected as your Amir. I am not the best among you. I need all your advice and all your help. If I do well support me, If I make a mistake counsel me. To tell truth to a person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance, to cancel it is treason. In my eyes, the powerful and the weak are alike; and to both I wish to render justice. As long as I obey God and His Holy Prophet, obey me, if I neglect the laws of God and the Holy Prophet, I have no right to your obedience.” After Hazrat Abu Bakr was elected Khalifa he found that a very difficult task was rested upon him. As soon as the Holy Prophet closed his eyes from this .world a number of tribes rebelled against the order of the Khalifa, and some others refused to pay the.Zakat. Hazrat Abu Bakr who was basically kind-hearted and humble in his nature stood like a rock against such a disintegrating trend and dealt with the rebellious firmly till they submitted to his authority. It is said that the situation was so gloomy that even a person of such calibre and strength of character as Hazrat Umar was said to have advocated exemption of Zakat for those people. But Hazrat Abu Bakr said “I swear by Allah that even if a piece of cord to tie a camel is withheld from the Zakat tax, I will fight for it with all the resources at my command.” Another serious affair, along with the revolt of the tribes, was that a number of false prophets also raised their heads in various parts of Arabia. Among them, the name of Musailemah the liar. Hazrat Abu Bakr sent eleven expeditions against Musailemah and the task of reducing him was entrusted to HAZRAT ABU BAKR 25 Khalid bin-al Wahid who eventually killed him. Thus a great danger to the solidarity of Islam was uprooted in the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr and an Islamic government was established on a sound footing. The Holy Prophet had intended to send an army under command of Usamah bin Zaid to Syria to meet an expected attack by the Byzantine forces. With the death of the Holy Prophet the door of apostacy was flung open and rebellion and anarchy spread throughout the length and breadth of the Arabian Peninsular. Some of the companions advised him to abandon the despatch of the expedition. Abu Bakr who was a man of quick understanding and quick decision refused to accept the advice. He replied. “Who am I to withhold the army that the Holy Prophet had ordered to proceed? Come what may, let Madinah stand or fall, the caliphate live or perish, the Holy Prophet’s commands must be carried out even if beasts should tear me to pieces or the enemy insult our womenfolk in the streets of Medina.” The soldiers were ordered to proceed forthwith and they accomplished their task within 40 days. This action of Abu Bakr had an indirect affect on many of the tribes who felt that if a considerable detachment as well equipped as Usamah’s could be spared for distant operations then the Caliph’s government at Madina must be firmly sound and stable. During the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr, Islam spread beyond the Arabian Peninsula. He launched a campaign in Syria against the Byzantine forces and in Iraq against the Persian Army. A meagre portion of Iraq was captured during the Khilafat of Hazrat Abu Bakr while the decisive and final battle was fought during the reign of Hazrat Umar. The battle in Syria also started during the Khilafat of Abu Bakr and ended in the reign of Hazrat Umar. Beside all this another distinctive work which Hazrat Abu Bakr did was the compilation of the Holy Quran. Hazrat Abu Bakr’s Khilafat lasted for two years, three months and seven days. He died in the year 634 A.C. He was buried in a grave by the side of the Prophet’s tomb.