Kalifa Abu Bakr

The exact date of birth of Abu Bakr is not known. According to traditions he was younger than the Holy Prophet of Islam by two years and a few months. As the Holy Prophet was born in 571 CE, we can safely hold that Abu Bakr was born at Makkah in the year 573 C.E.

Abu Bakr's father was Othman Abu Qahafa, and his mother was Salma Umm-ul-Khair. They belonged to the Bani Taim branch of the Quraish.

The genealogy of Abu Bakr joined with that of the Holy Prophet, eight generations back in their common ancestor Murrah.

The Holy Prophet was the son of Abdullah, who was the son of Abdul Muttalib, who was the son of Hashim, who was the son of Abd Manaf, who was the son of Qussayi, who was the son of Kulab, who was the son of Murrah.

Abu Bakr was the son of Othman, who was the son of 'Amar, who was the son of 'Amr, who was the son of Ka'ab, who was the son of Sa'ad, who was the son of Taim, who was the son of Murrah.

The original name of Abu Bakr was Abdul Ka'aba-the servant of Kaaba. Some children were born to his parents before him, but they did not survive. When he was born, he was taken to the Ka'aba, dedicated to the gods of Ka'aba, and named Abdul Ka'aba.

Abu Bakr's family enjoyed affluence, and he was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. No detailed accounts are available about the life of Abu Bakr during the period of childhood. Like other Arab children, he spent early years in the open air of the desert. He grew as a typical son of the soil. The leanness and barrenness of the land around him was reflected in his physique. He was lean and thin with a slender constitution, but was otherwise very hardy and had a strong mind. He had the tenacity and the strength of the rocks around him. Like the golden sand of the desert, his face glowed with a white and red complexion. By all standards he was beautiful, and for his beauty he earned the surname of 'Atiq'.

Having been bred up in the early years in the midst of the Bedouins who called themselves 'Ahl-i-Ba'eer'- the people of the camel, he developed particular fondness for camels. In the early years he played with the young ones of the camels, and his love for the camels earned him the surname of "Abu Bakr-the father of the foal of the camel."

A story is preserved that once when Abu Bakr was a child, his father took him to the Ka'aba, and asked him to pray before the idols. His father went away to attend to some other business, and Abu Bakr was left alone with the idols. Addressing an idol, Abu Bakr said, "O my God, I am in need of beautiful clothes, bestow them on me." The idol remained indifferent. Then Abu Bakr addressing another idol said, "O God, give me some delicious food. I am so hungry." The idol remained cold to the prayer. That exhausted the patience of young Abu Bakr. He lifted a stone, and addressing an idol said, "Here I am aiming a stone; if you are a God protect yourself." Abu Bakr hurled the stone at the idol, which broke into pieces. Abu Bakr left the Ka'aba. Thereafter Abu Bakr never prayed to the idols in the Ka'aba. This Abraham style of encounter with the idols made Abu Bakr a Muslim at heart long before his formal profession of Islam.

As in the case of other Arab children, he did not receive any formal education. He was, however, a keen observer and observed things around him with a keen sense of perception. Even at an early age, he developed an eloquent way of expression. He even composed verses. He used to attend the annual fair at 'Ukaz, and participate in poetical symposia. He had a very good memory, and could recite verses after he had heard them only once.

At the age of eighteen, Abu Bakr went into trade and adopted the profession of a cloth merchant which was the family's business. Makkah was a commercial centre at the crossing of the caravan routes from Yemen to Syria and Iraq to Abyssinia, and the Quraish of Makkah sponsored trade caravans to Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Abyssinia. Abu Bakr travelled extensively with such caravans. Business trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. These travels brought him wealth, added to his experience, and broadened his outlook. He was honest, hardworking, steadfast. generous, hospitable, and diligent. These qualities paid rich dividends. His business flourished and he rose in the scale of social importance. He came to be recognized as one of the richest merchants of Mecca.

While still a young man, Abu Bakr came to be recognized as the chief of the Bani Taim section in spite of the fact that his father was alive. His office was something like the office of an Honorary Magistrate. His judgments and awards were always fair and just which satisfied the parties.

In spite of being a rich man, Abu Bakr was of a meditative cast of mind. As a trader he did not indulge in trade tricks. He stood for fair deals, and above board transactions. He came to enjoy reputation for honesty, and integrity. He had a wide circle of friends, and commanded considerable influence in the contemporary society of Makkah. He had a flair for social work. He delighted in attending to the sick, and looking after the poor. He gave rich bounties to the poor, and felt pleasure in helping those in distress.

When Muhammad (peace be on him) married Khadija and shifted to her house, he became a neighbour of Abu Bakr. That was the quarter of Makkan aristocracy. Like the house of Khadija, the house of Abu Bakr was double storied and palatial in structure.

As neighbours Muhammad (peace be on him), and Abu Bakr came in contact with each other, and were mutually attracted. Both of them were of the same age. Both of them were traders and good managers. Both of them were kind hearted and tender hearted gentlemen who felt for others. Both of them were men of strong and sterling character. They were men of strong convictions, and when they came to hold a particular view they knew no wavering. They never minced matters and always called a spade a spade. Both of them were critical of the evils that honeycombed the idolatrous society of Makkah. They had an identity of views on various matters. They felt themselves to be kindred spirits, and that set the base for life-long attachment between the two men who were destined to make history.

When the Holy Prophet gave the call of Islam, Abu Bakr was out of Makkah. He had gone on a business trip to Yemen. When Abu Bakr returned to Makkah, he was informed by some of his friends that in his absence Muhammad (peace be on him) had declared himself as the Messenger of God, and proclaimed a new religion. On hearing this, Abu Bakr lost no time in calling on the Holy Prophet.

The Holy Prophet told Abu Bakr full details of his experience in the cave of Hira, the visitation of the angel Gabriel, and the command of Allah to call the people to Him. On hearing the account, Abu Bakr felt inspired. He felt convinced that what the Holy Prophet had said was the truth. Overwhelmed with emotion, and elated with joy at the discovery of the truth, Abu Bakr said, "I believe in you and your mission from the depths of my heart. I testify and confirm that what you say is the truth. Call me to your religion, for verily you are the Prophet of God and that is a great honour."

The Holy Prophet stretched his hand, and Abu Bakr grasped it reverently as a mark of faith and allegiance. He declared with great solemnity, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet and messenger." This declaration forged new bonds between the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Heretofore only three family members of the Holy Prophet, namely Khadija, Ali, and Zaid bin Harith had accepted Islam. Abu Bakr was the first person outside the family of the Holy Prophet to become a Muslim.

Significance of the conversion of Abu Bakr. In the annals of Islam, the conversion of Abu Bakr was an event of great significance. Abu Bakr was a rich merchant, and his business depended on the goodwill of the people around him. He knew that his conversion to the new faith would make him unpopular with people around him, and that would adversely affect his business. He was well aware that by such conversion he would be inviting the wrath and hostility of the Quraish. But his mind was made up. He felt convinced that Muhammad (peace be on him) had discovered the truth, and was required of him was to support the cause of the truth, whatever the cost.

Islam changed the course of the life of Abu Bakr. Before conversion he was known as Abdul Ka'aba. The name was indicative of paganism, and after conversion the Holy Prophet changed his name to Abdullah. The change in name marked a change in the purpose of life for Abu Bakr. He was no longer the servant of the Ka'aba; henceforward he was to be the servant of Allah.

His wife Qutaila did not accept Islam and he divorced her. His other wife Umm Ruman became a Muslim at his instance. All his children except Abdur Rahman accepted Islam, and Abu Bakr separated from his son Abdur Rahman.

During the times of Abu Bakr, slavery was a deep rooted institution, and was a conspicuous feature of Makkah. Most of the Quraish were slave owners and thus in the society of Makkah there was a considerable sprinkling of slaves. These slaves were the victims of exploitation, and were treated in an inhuman way by their masters. Many of the slaves were attracted by Islam, for in its teachings lay a charter of freedom for the distressed humanity. Islam preached the cult of equality. It stipulated that all persons were the slaves of God, and no person could be the slave of another person. When many slaves accepted Islam, the slave owners of Makkah felt much concerned, and considered such conversions as a threat to their economic interests.

Bilal, an Abyssinian who later became the 'Muadhdhin' of Islam was a slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf. Bilal accepted Islam and thereupon his master subjected him to great torture. Umayyah would make Bilal lie down on the burning sand, and would place a huge block of stone on his chest. Umayyah would then ask Bilal to give up Islam, or he would be tortured to death Umayyah would ,sometimes tie a rope round the neck of Bilal, and had him dragged in the streets. Sometimes Bilal was made to put on steel armour, and stand in the hot sun for hours. In spite of these tortures and threats, Bilal remained firm and steadfast in his faith in Islam. The condition of Bilal excited the pity of Abu Bakr. He purchased him from his master and set him free.

Abu Fakih was a slave of Safwan bin Umayyah. Abu Fakih accepted Islam, and when Safwan came to know that Abu Fakih had become a Muslim, he subjected him to great torture. He would bind him with a rope, and drag him on the burning sand. Abu Fakih was asked to worship the idols, but he said that he would worship Allah alone. His master put a very heavy stone on his chest which brought out his tongue. In spite of these persecutions, the faith of Abu Fakih in Islam did not waver. When Abu Bakr came to know of the pitiable condition of Abu Fakih, he purchased him from his master and set him free.

Lubaynah was a slave girl of Umar. She accepted Islam, and Umar who had not accepted Islam by that time would beat her mercilessly until he was tired. He would then say, "I have only stopped beating you, because I am tired." She would say. "May God treat you in the same way". He asked her to renounce Islam, but she stuck to her faith. When Abu Bakr came to know of her sad state, he paid for her, and set her free.

Al Nahdiah and her daughter who became Muslims were the slaves of a lady of Bani Abdul Dar. Their mistress subjected them to great torture when she came to know that they had accepted Islam. Abu Bakr remonstrated with the lady at the treatment she meted out to her slaves. The mistress said, "You have corrupted them; you may free them if you are so sympathetic to them." Abu Bakr paid the price asked for, and liberated the women.

Abu Bakr also liberated two women slaves, Umm Ubays and Zinnira. Abu Jahl beat Zinnira on her conversion to Islam to such an extent that she lost her eye sight. When she lost her eye sight the Quraish said that she had lost her sight because of the curse of Al Lat and Al Uzzah. She was asked to recant, but she remained steadfast in her faith in Islam. She prayed to God, and miraculously her eye sight was restored. Abu Bakr paid for these women and set them free.

Abu Bakr's father's reaction to the liberation of slaves. Most of the slaves liberated by Abu Bakr were either women or old and frail men. The father of Abu Bakr said to him, "Son, I hear you are freeing old and weak persons; why don't you free healthy and strong persons who could be a source of strength to you?" Abu Bakr replied that he was freeing the slaves for the sake of God, and not for his own sake.

The Holy Prophet of Islam was all praise for Abu Bakr for his generosity in purchasing the freedom of slaves who were tortured on the ground that they had accepted Islam.

The conduct of Abu Bakr was approved by God in the following verses of the Holy Quran: "He who gives in charity and fears Allah And in all sincerity testifies to the Truth; We shall indeed make smooth for him the path of Bliss" {92:5-7}

"Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification; And have in their minds no favor from any one For which a reward is expected in return, But only the desire to seek the Countenance, Of their Lord, Most High; And soon they shall attain complete satisfaction." {92:8-21}

In 619 C.E. Abu Talib and Khadija died. Among the Muslims the year 619 C.E. came to be known as 'The Year of Sorrow'. Abu Talib had been more than a father to the Holy Prophet. In spite of the strong pressure of the Quraish he had protected the Holy Prophet. Khadija had been for the Holy Prophet more than a wife. She had placed all her wealth ,which was considerable, at his disposal. She had given him love. She was the first person to be converted to Islam, and had been a pillar of strength for the Holy Prophet as well as the Muslims.

The passing away of Abu Talib and Khadija created a great vacuum in the life of the Holy Prophet, and he felt very lonely and disconsolate. In this hour of bereavement Abu Bakr tried to console the Holy Prophet, and he spent most of his time in his company. It was the endeavor of Abu Bakr that he should as far as possible fill the vacuum created by the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija.

Khawla bint Hakim suggested to the Holy Prophet that he should marry some young lady as well who could keep him company. Whom could he marry, inquired the Holy Prophet. Khawla suggested that Ayesha the daughter of Abu Bakr would be a good choice. The Holy Prophet left it to Khawla to pursue the matter with Abu Bakr. Khawla approached Abu Bakr, and his wife Umm Ruman and made the proposal for the engagement of Ayesha to the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr felt honoured at the proposal, but his difficulty was that Ayesha was already engaged to Jubayr son of Mut'im, and it was against Abu Bakr's code of conduct to break his pledge. When this difficulty was brought to the notice of the Holy Prophet, he said that God would Himself provide a way out of the difficulty.

Mut'im. Abu Bakr called at the house of A1Mut'im. Al-Mut'im was still a disbeliever, and Mu'tim's wife said to Abu Bakr "O son of Abu Qahafa, suppose we married our son to your daughter, you would turn him into an infidel, and convert him to your religion". Abu Bakr made no reply, but turning to Mut'im said, "What does she mean? " Mut'im said indifferently, "She is saying what you have heard."

Abu Bakr said, "This means that you repudiate the engagement." "So let it be," said Al-Mut'im.

At the repudiation of the engagement by Al-Mut'im, Abu Bakr felt happy, and returned home relieved of a great burden. God had Himself provided a way out of the difficulty. Abu Bakr hastened with the good news to Khawla, and asked her to invite the Holy Prophet to his house. The Holy Prophet responded to the call, and formally asked for the hand of Ayesha. Abu Bakr was overwhelmed with joy and emotion and said, "O Prophet of God, all that I have is yours".

At a simple ceremony Ayesha was engaged to the Holy Prophet. It was, however, decided that the actual marriage ceremony would be held later.

Abu Bakr's relationship with the Holy Prophet. After the engagement of Ayesha to the Holy Prophet, the new relationship further strengthened the bond, between the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was now not merely a follower or a disciple; he was the Holy Prophet's father-in-law as well. That added to his stature, and Abu Bakr felt elated at the honour.

The first thing that the Holy Prophet called upon the Muslims to do at Madina was to build a mosque which was to be the prayer house as well as the community centre. The owner of the plot of land selected for the purpose of building the mosque insisted on donating the land free. The Holy Prophet, however, paid the price at the market rate, and this price was paid by Abu Bakr. All the Muslims including the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr participated in the construction of the mosque. As the Muslims laboured, they chanted: "There is no life, but the life of the next world, O God have mercy on the Muhajreen and the Ansar."

When the Muslims were duly settled in Madina, and the families of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr had come to Madina, it was decided that the formal ceremony of the marriage of Ayesha the daughter of Abu Bakr to the Holy Prophet should be performed. Ayesha was now of age. The crisis of Islam was over. The Holy Prophet was no longer a persecuted person; he was now the ruler of Madina. The Holy Prophet needed a young lady by his side whom he could love. One day early in 623 C.E., the Holy Prophet accompanied by his companions went to the house of Abu Bakr at Sukh to seek the hand of Ayesha in marriage.

Ayesha's account of marriage. Ayesha has left an account of the wedding day in the following terms: "The Prophet of Allah came to our house where many of the companions were waiting. My mother brought me sitting in a litter on two poles. She made me descend; then she smoothened my hair, and washed my face with water. Then she led me to the door of the house where she stopped until I regained my composure. Then she took me to where the Prophet of God was sitting in our house, and made me sit near him saying, 'These are your people. May God bless them through you, and you through them'. The people then left, and the Prophet consummated the marriage while in our house."

A short time after returning from the farewell pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet fell sick. The poison which a Jewess had given to him at Khyber had slowly penetrated into his system, and had begun to show its fatal effects. The Holy Prophet felt that having fulfilled his mission, his earthly life was to end, and he was to be summoned to his Master.

After Abu Bakr had left for Al-Sukh, the condition of the Holy Prophet grew worse, and within a few hours he passed away.

When the sad news of the death of the Holy Prophet was conveyed to Abu Bakr at Al-Sukh, he burst into sobs. Without the Holy Prophet, there appeared to be no charm of life for Abu Bakr. Everything around him appeared to be dark. The passing away of the Holy Prophet was a great tragedy, and the grief of Abu Bakr was too poignant to be told in words. But then Abu Bakr felt that that was not the occasion to give way to personal grief, in spite of the stupendousness of the shock. The death of the Holy Prophet was verily the end of an epoch, but that was not the end of his mission. His mission had to be carried forward.

Abu Bakr wiped his tears and hastened to Madina. Entering the apartment where the dead body of the Holy Prophet lay, Abu Bakr removed the sheet that covered the face of the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr felt the pulse and then touched the body of the Holy Prophet. There was no sign of life, and the soul had departed from the body. In spite of the paleness of death the face of the Holy Prophet shone with divine radiance. Bending low, Abu Bakr kissed the auspicious forehead of the Master, and choking with grief said: "Master, sacred you were in life, and sacred you are in death. Since you have tasted of death ordained by God, henceforth you will be immune from its clutches. Your abode will now be in the Paradise close to Allah. From Allah you came, and to Allah you have returned "

Abu Bakr was elected as the successor to the Holy Prophet on the very day of the death of Holy Prophet, the 8th of June 832 C.E.

On the 7th of Jamadi-ui-Akhir of the 1 3th A H. corresponding to the 8th of August 634 C.E, Abu Bakr fell sick, and out of this sickness he never recovered. There are two accounts about the sickness of Abu Bakr. One account is that the 8th of August 634 was a cold day, when Abu Bakr took a bath and caught a chill. Another account is that about a year ago, along with some other companions Harith bin Kaladah, and Attab bin Usaid he had eaten some food which was poisoned, and which was to have its effect after a year. Harith b. Kaladah and Attab b Usaid died on the same day as Abu Bakr, and that lends support to the theory that the death of Abu Bakr was because of the effect of poison.

Abu Bakr developed high fever, and was confined to bed. His illness prolonged, and when his condition worsened, he felt that his end was near. Some companions called on him to inquire about his welfare. They said, "O Vicegerent of the Apostle of God, may we call a physician to examine you". He said that the physician had already visited him. They inquired as to what had the physician said. Abu Bakr said that the physician had said that he would do what he would do.

His death took place between the hours of the Maghrib and Isha prayers. He was 63 years at the time of his death. That was the exact age at which the Holy Prophet had died. According to the will of Abu Bakr, his dead body was prepared for burial by his wife Asma b Umas. She was helped by his son Abdul Rahman. The funeral prayer was led by Umar. He was buried the same night in the house of Ayesha by the side of the grave of the Holy Prophet. In life, Abu Bakr had the honour of being a bosom companion of the Holy Prophet, after death he had also the honour of resting by the side of the Master.

Abu Bakr married four wives in all. He had six children, three sons and three daughters.

His first wife was Qutaila. She belonged to the Bani Aamir tribe. She was the mother of two children, Asma and Abdullah. She not accept Islam, and Abu Bakr divorced her. Some time after 'Hijrat', Qutaila went to Madina to see her daughter Asma. Asma asked of the Holy Prophet whether she could see her mother, and whether she could stay with her. The Holy Prophet permitted Asma to play host to her mother.

His second wife was Umm Ruman. She was the daughter of Aamir bin Umair. She was first married to Abdullah bin Harith. She had one son from Abdullah who was named Tufail. Abdullah was a friend of Abu Bakr, and on his death, Abu Bakr married Umm Ruman. She was the mother of two children of Abu Bakr, namely Abdur Rahman and Ayesha. When Abu Bakr became a Muslim; Umm Ruman also accepted Islam. She died at Madina in 628 C.E. The Holy Prophet himself led her funeral prayers. The Holy Prophet is reported to have said, "If any one wishes to see a houri of the paradise, let him see Umm Ruman".

The third wife of Abu Bakr was Habiba. She was the daughter of Zaid bin Kharijah Ansari, with whom Abu Bakr had the bond of brotherhood established by the Holy Prophet. While Umm Ruman lived at Madina, Abu Bakr resided with Habiba in Sukh, a suburb of Madina Habiba was the mother of Umm Kulsum who was born after the death of Abu Bakr.

The fourth wife of Abu Bakr was Asma She was first married to Jafar bin Abu Talib, a brother of Ali. She migrated with Jafar to Abyssinia in 615 C.E. She had three sons from Jafar, namely, Muhammad, Abdullah, and Aun. In 630 C.E., Jafar was martyred in the battle of Mauta. Six months later, Abu Bakr married her. She had one son from Abu Bakr who was also named Muhammad. She was a stepsister of Umm Salma, wife of the Holy Prophet. Asma was a talented lady. She was well versed in the interpretation of dreams. According to the will of Abu Bakr, Asma was authorized to prepare his dead body for the burial. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma married Ali from whom she had a son Yahya.

He was the first person to liberate slaves in the way of God.

When God ordered that the teachings of Islam should be made public, the first public address calling the people to God and His Prophet was delivered by Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr was the first person to build a mosque in the history of Islam.

The land for Masjid-i-Nabvi at Madina was purchased with the money of Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr had the distinction of being the first Caliph in the history of Islam. He was the first Caliph to nominate a successor. He was the only Caliph in the history of Islam who refunded to the state treasury at the time of his death the entire amount of the allowance that he had drawn during the period of his caliphate.

According to Waqidi, Abu Bakr in personal appearance was a man having a fair colour and a slender body. His waist was slightly bent so that the cloth that he wore round it often slipped down. He had a thin face with deeply set eyes and broad forehead. He had no flesh on his finger joints. His height was in proportion to his body. He had curled hair. His voice was sweet. He dyed his beard.


Abu Bakr blessed was with extraordinary memory. He had but to listen to any verses once, and he could thereafter repeat them accurately. He memorized the Holy Quran. He was most eloquent. His addresses were always characterized by deep thinking which impressed the listeners. He could quote the traditions with authority.

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