Kalifa Abu Bakr

Pre-Islamic Period

Date of birth. 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 some time in the year 573 C.E.

The family. Abu Bakr's father was Othman surnamed Abu Qahafa, and his mother was Salma surnamed 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.

Name. 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.

Childhood. 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'.

Abu Bakr. 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."

Abu Bakr's encounter with the idols of the Ka'aba. 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.

The monk Bahira. Jalal-ud-Din Syuti has preserved an account that when at the age of twelve, the Holy Prophet accompanied his Uncle Abu Talib along with a trade caravan, Abu Bakr was also with the caravan. The Holy Prophet reclined under a lote tree. The monk Bahira asked Abu Bakr as to who was the person who was reclining under the lote tree. Abu Bakr told the monk that he was Muhammad the son Abdullah. Thereupon the monk said, "Then, by Allah he is the prophet for none has taken shelter under this tree since the time of Jesus, the son of Mary." The war of Fijar. During the eighties of the sixth century, there was the war of Fijar between the Hawazin and the Quraish. We know that the Holy Prophet participated in this war, and his role lay in picking up the stray arrows thrown by the enemy, and handing to his Uncle Abu Talib. The sources are silent about the participation of Abu Bakr. We can, however, safely presume that Abu Bakr would have also participated in this war and played some peripheral role. Hilf-ul-Fudul. After the war of Fijar, the "Hif-ul-Fudul" was set up at Makkah. Its avowed object was to help all wronged persons I the redressing of their wrongs. The Holy Prophet often said that he was proud of the oath that he had taken about the fulfillment of the objectives of the "Hilf-ul-Fudul." The sources make no reference to Abu Bakr in this respect. The organization was set up at the house of Abdullah b Jad'aan who belonged to the same clan of the Quraish as Abu Bakr, we have thus reason to presume that Abu Bakr was also a member of the league and subscribed to its objective. Disciplined life. Though bred and brought up in an aristocratic family in the midst of an idolatrous society, conspicuous for indulgence in wine, women, and gambling. Abu Bakr resisted these temptations and led a disciplined life avoiding the frolics, frivolities, and dissipations that characterized the life of the contemporary youth of Makkah. Once Abu Bakr was asked whether he ever drank wine during the days of ignorance. He replied, "God forbid, I never touched wine even in the days of ignorance." He was asked, "why", and he said, "I sought to preserve my reputation and retain my decorum, and verily he who drinks wine destroys his reputation and his decorum." This shows that Abu Bakr enjoyed a good reputation and was known for his decorum.

Education. 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.

Occupation. 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 center 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 traveled 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.

Political office. 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. Abu Bakr was assigned the office of awarding blood money in cases of murder. His office was something like the office of an Honorary Magistrate. His judgments and awards were always fair and just which satisfied the parties.

His marriages and children. Abu Bakr's first wife was Qutaila. She belonged to the Bani Amar. She was the mother of Asma and Abdullah. Some time later, Abu Bakr married another wife Umm Ruman. She was a widow and belonged to the Bani Kinana section. She was the mother of Abdur Rahman and Ayesha.

Character of Abu Bakr. 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.

Genealogical lore. Abu Bakr was expert in genealogical lore. He knew intimately who was who in Makkah, and what was his ancestry. He carried in his head minutes" details about the genealogies of various families in Makkah He raised genealogy to the dignity of a science Abu Bakr had all the elements that make a historian or a scientist.

Abu Bakr and the Holy Prophet. When Muhammad (peace be on him) married Khadija and shifted to her house, he became a neighbor of Abu Bakr who lived in the same locality. 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 neighbors 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.

Conversion to Islam

Birth of Islam. One day in the year 610 C.E. when Muhammad (peace be on him) was praying in the cave of Hira outside Makkah, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and conveyed to him the tidings that Allah had chosen him as His Messenger, and he was to convey to the people the message of Islam. That was a novel sensation. As the Holy Prophet came home, he felt agitated. Khadija comforted him, and was the first person to be converted to Islam. Khadija consulted her cousin Waraqa who was proficient in religious lore. He gave Khadija the glad tidings that her husband was the Prophet of God, about whose advent there were references in the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians. After Khadija, Ali, then a young boy living with the Holy Prophet, accepted Islam. Thereafter Zaid b Harith a slave whom the Holy Prophet had adopted as his son became a Muslim.

Abu Bakr's conversion to Islam. 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 honor."

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.

Prior to his conversion, Abu Bakr asked no questions; he did not enter into any argument, he laid down no conditions; and he wanted no assurances. He did not hesitate even for a moment; no doubts assailed him; and there was no wavering in his mind. His declaration of faith in Islam was spontaneous as if he had been waiting for such a declaration all his life.

Years later, the Holy Prophet recalling the conversion of Abu Bakr said, "Whenever I offered Islam to any one, he always showed some reluctance and hesitation and tried to enter into an argument. Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam without any reluctance or hesitation, and without any argument."

Reasons for the ready acceptance of Islam by Abu Bakr. Apart from Abu Bakr, Khadija was the other person who had accepted Islam readily and without any hesitation. In the case of Khadija we know that she had already a premonition that Muhammad (peace be on him) was destined to be a prophet. Indeed she had been prompted to marry Muhammad (peace be on him) because she had an inner conviction that a great destiny awaited Muhammad.

It appears that Abu Bakr had a similar inner conviction that a great destiny awaited Muhammad (peace be on him). There is a story that when Muhammad at the age of twelve accompanied his uncle Abu Talib along with a trade caravan to Syria, and the monk Bahira on seeing Muhammad (peace be on him) had foretold prophethood for him, Abu Bakr was also with the caravan, and since that day Abu Bakr had harbored the conviction that Muhammad (peace be on him) was going to be a prophet. Abu Bakr traveled extensively, and in the course of such travels he had the occasion to learn from the Jewish rabbis and the Christian monks that the advent of a prophet was expected. This implies that Abu Bakr was already expecting the advent of a prophet, and when Muhammad (peace be on him) proclaimed his prophethood, and by first hand knowledge, Abu Bakr knew of the stainless character of Muhammad (peace be on him), he felt certain that Muhammad (peace be on him) was the prophet whose advent was expected, and as such there was no hesitation on his part in accepting the new faith.

As-Suyati's account of the premonition of Abu Bakr about the advent of the Holy Prophet. In As-Suyuti's book History of the Caliphs, there is an account which corroborates the conclusion that Abu Bakr had a premonition about the advent of the Prophet. It is related that before Muhammad (peace be on him) had declared his mission, Abu Bakr had visited Waraqa bin Naufal, who was expert in Scriptures, and Waraqa had told Abu Bakr of the advent of the Prophet. According to As-Suyuti, Abu Bakr is reported to have declared: "I had a premonition about the advent of the Prophet. Therefore when the Apostle of God was sent, I believed in him. and testified to him."

According to Al Bayhaqi as quoted by As-Suyuti, Abu Bakr accepted Islam readily because he had been accustomed to behold the proofs of the prophetic mission. Al Bayhaqi also states on the authority of Aba Maysarah, the freed man of Abbas an uncle of the Holy Prophet, that when before the call, the Holy Prophet went forth, he used to hear some invisible person calling him, "O Muhammad." The Holy Prophet used to tell of these voices to Abu Bakr who was his intimate friend.

Impact of Islam on Abu Bakr. 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.

Change in family relationship. Islam brought a change in the family relationship of Abu Bakr. 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.

Abu Bakr's services to Islam. Abu Bakr was a man of shrewd judgment. He was highly intelligent and was endowed with the sense to discern the truth. When Abu Bakr accepted the new faith without any hesitation that was indicative of the fact that Islam was the truth. The conversion of Abu Bakr in fact set the pace for the extension of Islam. Abu Bakr commended considerable social influence, and he pressed such influence into service for promoting Islam. He made no secret of his conversion to Islam. Indeed he felt proud and honored that he had been blessed with Islam. In fact he became the messenger of the Messenger of God. He persuaded his intimate friends to accept Islam. He presented Islam to others in such a way that many of his friends opted for Islam.

Abu Bakr's missionary efforts. Those who accepted Islam at the instance of Abu Bakr were: 

  1. Othman bin Affan 

  2. Zubair bin Awam 

  3. Talhah bin Ubaidullah 

  4. Abdur Rahman b 'Auf 

  5. Sa'ad b Abi Waqas 

  6. Umar b Masoan 

  7. Abu Ubaidah b. Al-Jarrah 

  8. Abdullah b. Abdul Asad 

  9. Abu Salma 

  10. Khalid b Saeed 

  11. Abu Hudhaifah. 

All of them were men of status and high social standing and they proved to be great assets for Islam.

After conversion. Before conversion to Islam, Abu Bakr used to meet Muhammad (peace be on him) occasionally. After becoming a Muslim, Abu Bakr made it a point to spend most of his time every day in the company of the Holy Prophet. Conversion to Islam made a phenomenal change in the life of Abu Bakr. He was little more than thirty seven years at the time of conversion to Islam. He lived thereafter for twenty six years, and during all these years, Islam was for him the end all and be all of existence.

Significance of the conversion of Abu Bakr. According to Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)-"the moderation, and the veracity of Abu Bakr confirmed thc new religion, and furnished an example for invitation. "Muir has observed (Life of Muhammad): "Abu Bakr's judgment was sound and impartial; his conversation agreeable and his demeanor affable and much sought after by the Quraish and he was popular throughout the city.... The faith of Abu Bakr was the greatest guarantee of the sincerity of Muhammad in the beginning of his career, and indeed, in a modified sense, throughout his life. To have such a person as a staunch adherent of his claim, was for Muhammad a most important step."

Witness to Truth

Liberation of the Slaves

Slavery. 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.

Persecution of the slaves. Of all the persons who became Muslims, the slaves were the most vulnerable. These men of the Quraish who were converted to Islam continued to enjoy the protection of their respective tribes. The slaves enjoyed no such protection. In order to arrest the progress of Islam among the slaves, the Quraish accordingly resorted to a campaign of persecution and torture against the slaves who professed to be Muslims.

Bilal. 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 armor, 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. 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. 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. 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.

Umm Ubays and Zinnira. 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.

Slaves liberated by Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr purchased the freedom of eight slaves-four men and four women. The men were Bilal, Abu Fakih, Ammar, and Abu Fuhayra. The women were: Lubaynah, Nabdiya, Umm Ubays, and Zinnira.

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.

Divine approval. 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}

Migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia. As more and more persons in Makkah became Muslims, the Quraish lost their nerve, and intensified their persecutions against the Muslims. Seeing the afflictions on his companions, the Holy Prophet advised them to migrate to Abyssinia, the ruler whereof was known for his tolerance. When the first batch of the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, Abu Bakr decided to stay in Makkah to be by the side of the Holy Prophet.

Boycott against the Banu Hashim. Some time in 617 C.E., the Quraish enforced a boycott against the Banu Hashim, and the Holy Prophet and whole of Banu Hashim, except Abu Lahab and his family, were shut up in a pass away from Makkah. All social relations with the Banu Hashim were cut off and their state was that of a sort of imprisonment.

Three groups of the Muslims. At this stage the Muslims came to be divided in three groups. One group comprised of the emigrants to Abyssinia. The other group comprised of the Banu Hashim who were ex-communicated. The rest of the Muslims formed the third group. They were not ex-communicated. but there was no relaxation in their persecution by the unbelievers.

Abu Bakr's migration. Abu Bakr belonged to the third group. He felt sad at the ex-communication of the Banu Hashim. As Abu Bakr looked around him he felt much distressed. With a heavy heart, Abu Bakr left Makkah one day with the intention to migrate to Abyssinia. He took the road to Yemen from where he was to sail for Abyssinia. When he had proceeded some five stages from Makkah, he met Ad-Dughna at Barka al Ghamaad Ad-Dughna was an old friend of Abu Bakr. He was the chief of the Qarah tribe, a section of the Quraish. The Qarah tribe was in alliance with the Bani Zuhra.

Ad-Dughnas's offer of protection. Ad-Dughna inquired of Abu Bakr as to where he was going, and he told him that he was going to seek refuge in Abyssinia as the Quraish of Makkah would allow him no peace. Ad-Dughna who had a high opinion about Abu Bakr said: "O Abu Bakr, we cannot suffer you to go from Makkah. You are an asset to the city. You are always keen to fulfill the needs of others. You are so good and noble. I take you under my protection, and you should come back with me to Makkah. Rest assured no harm will come to you."

Back in Makkah. Back in Makkah, Ad-Dughna declared that Abu Bakr was under his protection and that no one should molest him in any way. Abu Bakr built a small mosque by the side of his house. This was indeed the first mosque built in the history of Islam. In this mosque Abu Bakr would pray and recite the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr was tender hearted and he was so overwhelmed with the depth of the Word of God that while reciting the verses he would burst into sobs and tears. He had a sweet melodious voice, and his recitation from the Holy Quran had a melody which appealed to the heart. Women and young men of the Quraish watched him pray and recite verses from the Holy Quran with particular interest, and they felt that if a man of the status and standing of Abu Bakr could be so overwhelmed with these words, these must be the Word of God and should have a ring of truth about them.

Withdrawal of the protection of Ad-Dughna. The Quraish felt nervous. They apprehended that if Abu Bakr continued his prayers in the open, he might attract some persons to him. Some of the leading Quraish went to Ad-Dughna and said, "Have you given him this protection so that he may publicly injure our feelings? He recites the Quran in a sweet voice, and we fear that he may seduce our women and youth to his faith. You should advise him to pray indoors."

Ad-Dughna saw Abu Bakr and advised him that the most expedient course for him was to pray indoors and not to annoy the Quraish. To Abu Bakr there could be no expediency in the matter of faith. He said to Ad-Dughna "You are advising me as I am under your protection. What if I renounce your protection ?" "In that case I will have nothing to say" answered Ad-Dughna. Thereupon Abu Bakr said, "Under these circumstances I renounce your protection. The protection of Allah is enough for me."

Ad-Dughna returned crest-fallen, and he told the Quraish that as Abu Bakr was no longer under his protection, they could deal with him direct in any way they liked.

Holy Prophet's Engagement to Ayesha

Deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija. 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.

Holy Prophet's marriage with Sauda. At the instance of Khawla bint Hakim the Holy Prophet married Sauda bint Zama'a. Sauda was an elderly lady and was among the early converts to Islam. She was a good housewife, and looked very well after the house and the children of the Holy Prophet.

Proposal for engagement to Ayesha. 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 honored 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.

Ayesha's engagement to the Holy Prophet. 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.

Age of Ayesha. In most of the accounts that have come down to us, it is stated that at the time of her engagement to the Holy Prophet, Ayesha was a girl of six or seven years only. This appears to be an understatement. We have it on record that when Abu Bakr became a Muslim his children included Abdur Rahman, Abdullah, Asma, and Ayesha. Abu Bakr became a Muslim in 610 A.D. and Ayesha must be at least eleven or twelve years of age at the time of her engagement, and not six or seven years.

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 honor.

Witness to Truth

Ascension. One night in 620 C.E ., after the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija when the Holy Prophet felt sad and disconsolate, and things for Islam appeared to be dark, the Holy Prophet was uplifted to the Heavens, and there he was assured of the destiny of Islam. After this experience of ascension the Holy Prophet declared that the previous night he had been carried from Makkah to Masjid al Aqsa at Jerusalem, and from there he had ascended to the heavens.

Reaction of the people. When the non-believing Quraish heard of this visitation to the heavens, they regarded it as an absurdity, and ridiculed the Holy Prophet for his declaration. They contended that a caravan took a month to reach Jerusalem, and another month to come back, and thus it was impossible for any one to go to Jerusalem and return in one night. They further held that it was fantastic that a man should ascend the heavens.

Reaction of Abu Bakr. There were some Muslims as well who wavered in their belief in the truth about the ascension of the Holy Prophet to the heavens. Some persons went to Abu Bakr, and told him of the news of the journey of the Holy Prophet to Jerusalem and ascension to the heavens. When some persons expressed doubts about the veracity of the ascension, Abu Bakr silenced them with the remarks: "There are many things beyond one's comprehension, and if Muhammad (peace be on him) says that he went to Jerusalem and ascended the heavens, it must be true for he never tells a lie, and being a prophet he commands resources that are not available to others."

Witness to truth. On hearing the news, Abu Bakr hastened to the mosque where the Holy Prophet was describing his nocturnal journey to the people who had assembled there. After hearing the account, Abu Bakr stood up and said: "All this is true. Your description is faithful and correct. I believe in every word of what you have said, for you say nothing but the truth. I testify that you are the Messenger of God, and God has placed invisible forces at your disposal. As such there is nothing improbable in your ascension to the heavens."

Siddiq-the Veracious. The Holy Prophet felt happy at what Abu Bakr had said. Addressing Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said: "Verily, Abu Bakr you are the Siddiq. You have a penetrating vision and you can discern the truth which an ordinary person finds difficult to understand. Surely many things can be done under the command of Allah which ordinary human intellect may not be able to grasp." That is how Abu Bakr got the honorific title of 'Siddiq'- the Veracious (Witness to Truth), which henceforward became a part and parcel of his name.

Life at Madina

Quba. When the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr reached in the neighborhood of Madina their first stop was at Quba, a suburb of Madina. As they arrived at Quba the people crowded round them. As the people had not seen them before, it was difficult for them to know as to who out of the two was the Holy Prophet. Seeing this predicament of the people, Abu Bakr stood up and shielded the Holy Prophet with his mantle. Thereupon the people came to know who was the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr stayed at Quba for a few days, and then they proceeded to Yathrib which was named Madinat-un-Nabi or Madina in the honor of the arrival of the Holy Prophet.

Reception at Madina. At Madina the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr were given a royal welcome. The maidens of Madina mounted on the roof tops of their houses and sang: "From the hill tops of the south, The full moon cloth arise, With what a lovely call, Unto God doth he call, And we thank him for it all. O you sent by Allah the Rahman We bow to thy demand."

The change. The world of Madina was quite different from the world of Makkah. At Makkah the Muslims were a persecuted people, at Madina they were the masters of their destiny. The life at Madina was a great break with the past. The days of trial, tribulations and tortures were now over, the Muslims were now set on the path of fulfillment. They were now poised to build a new commonwealth and a new ideal society.

Construction of the mosque. 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 center. 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 labored, they chanted: "There is no life, but the life of the next world, O God have mercy on the Muhajreen and the Ansar."

Within a few months the mosque was completed. It was square in form each side measuring fifty yards. It faced towards the north, and had three gates on each of the remaining three sides. Adjoining the mosque, apartments were constructed for the household of the Holy Prophet, and for some of the companions, including Abu Bakr. The mosque was a monument of simplicity. The walls were made of mud bricks, and the roofs were supported by trunks of palm trees. The apartments for the houses of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr were simple structures, and blankets of camel hair were hung at the doors. The courtyard in each case was hardly six to seven paces in length, and the length of the rooms did not extend beyond ten paces.

Rehabilitation of the Muhajireen. To rehabilitate the migrants from Makkah in the society of Madina, the Holy Prophet established a fraternity among the Muslims of Makkah and those of Madina whereunder each migrant was paired with an Ansar of corresponding status. The brotherhood thus established was unique in the annals of mankind. So strong and cordial were these bonds that they even surpassed the relationship of blood. In this roll of brotherhood, Abu Bakr was paired with Khaarij ah bin Zaid Ansari. Abu Bakr's relationship with his brother-in-Islam was most cordial which was further strengthened when Abu Bakr married Habiba, a daughter of Khaarijah.

Sukh. Khaarijah had his house at Sukh, a suburb of Madina. Abu Bakr also settled at Sukh. When the family of Abu Bakr came from Makkah they were lodged in the apartments adjoining the Prophet's mosque at Madina. Abu Bakr visited them frequently but he continued to have his personal residence at Sukh. He usually walked from Sukh to Madina on foot. Sometimes he rode on a horse.

Change in climate. The climate of Makkah was dry, but the climate of Madina was damp. That adversely affected the health of the emigrants. On arrival at Madina most of the emigrants fell sick. Abu Bakr also suffered from fever for several days. During his sickness he was attended to by Khaarijah and his family.

Trade in Madina. At Makkah, Abu Bakr was a trader in cloth. He started the same business at Madina. He was a wholesaler. He had his store at Sukh, and from there cloth was supplied to the market at Madina. Abu Bakr was a shrewd businessman, and we have reasons to hold that his business flourished at Madina in the same way as it did at Makkah. From the accounts, that have come down to us, it appears that at the time of his conversion to Islam Abu Bakr had an amount of 40,000 Dirhams, and that at the time of his death he left no money. These accounts tend to give the impression that after conversion to Islam, Abu Bakr did not attend to business, and subsisted all the years from 610 to 634 C.E. on the original amount of 40,000 Dirhams. That is not the correct position. As a matter of fact, Abu Bakr remained active in business throughout his life. It is related that even alter he had been elected as a Caliph he took the cloth to the market for disposal. At the insistence of Umar, and Abu Ubaida he suspended his business activities and accepted a meager allowance from the treasury. This shows that up to the time of his election as the Caliph, Abu Bakr remained active in business.

Abu Bakr as the Chief Counselor. After attending to business it was the wont of Abu Bakr to spend his spare time in the company of the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr always acted as the 'Second of the Two'. He was the Chief Counselor of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet consulted Abu Bakr on all important matters, and the advice tendered by him was usually accepted. The Holy Prophet used to say that Abu Bakr was the best counselor. At meetings Abu Bakr was always assigned a special place to the right of the Holy Prophet.

Abu Bakr and Finhas the Jew

The Jews of Madina. In Madina there was a considerable number of Jews They were wealthy, controlled the trade, and commanded great influence. The Holy Prophet followed the policy of 'live and let live'. He accordingly entered into a treaty with the Jews. According to the terms of the treaty the Jews were to enjoy religious freedom and there was to be no interference in religious affairs. The Muslims and the Jews were to be on friendly terms, and were to help each other in the promotion of objects of mutual interest. It was stipulated that Muslims and the Jews would help each other in case of an attack by an enemy. No party was to give protection to the Quraish, and in case the Quraish invaded Madina, both the Muslims and the Jews were to join hands in the defense of the city.

Betrayal of the Jews. The Jews knew that in their holy books there were references to the advent of a prophet in Arabia. They were however under the impression that the prophet would rise from their midst. When the Holy Prophet rose from the ranks of the Quraish in Makkah, the Jews recognized in him all the signs of prophethood foretold in their sacred books. When the Holy Prophet came to Madina the Jews thought that he would be subservient to them and would acknowledge their supremacy. When the Holy Prophet followed an independent policy, the Jews followed the policy of betrayal and embarked on a campaign of ridicule.

Abu Bakr and Finhas the Jew. One day Abu Bakr came across Finhas, one of the Jewish rabbis. Abu Bakr invited him to Islam, but Finhas ridiculed the offer. The Holy Prophet had enjoined on the Muslims to spend in the way of Allah, and according to the Holy Quran this was to be a loan against God repayable manifold the original amount. The Muslims were forbidden to charge interest. According to the religion of the Jews, interest was permissible. In this context Finhas argued: "We are rich, but your Allah is poor for He asks loan of us. Had He been independent of us He would not have given us interest, which He has denied to you."

The blasphemy

Abu Bakr felt outraged at this blasphemy. In a fit of anger Abu Bakr slapped him in the face and said: "Were it not for the treaty between the Muslims and the Jews, I would have cut off your head, you enemy of Allah." Finhas went to the Holy Prophet and complained that Abu Bakr had struck him on the face. When put to explanation, Abu Bakr said, "This enemy of Allah spoke blasphemy. He alleged that Allah was poor and they were rich. At such insolence against Allah I could not control myself, and I hit him."

Revelation of the Holy Quran. Finhas denied the charge leveled against him by Abu Bakr. A revelation, however, confirmed what Abu Bakr had alleged. According to the revelation it was said that Allah had heard the speech of those who had said that Allah was poor and they were rich. About Abu Bakr's anger, the following verses were revealed: "And you will certainly hear from those Who received the Book before you and from the polytheists much that is wrong, But if you preserve and fear God, That is the steadfastness of things."

Ayesha's Marriage to the Holy Prophet

Marriage of Ayesha. 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."

After the marriage. After the marriage, Ayesha was assigned a separate quarter adjoining the mosque. Ayesha was handsome, intelligent and eloquent, and the Holy Prophet loved her intensely. The marriage brought Abu Bakr still closer to the Holy Prophet. There is a tradition that once a companion asked the Holy Prophet whom did he love most, and he said 'Ayesha'. 'And whom do you love next' asked the companion, and the Holy Prophet said 'Her father Abu Bakr'.

Jealousy against Ayesha. On account of the Holy Prophet's love for Ayesha many persons got jealous of her. One day one of the other wives of the Holy Prophet complained in strong terms against the favor shown to Ayesha. The Holy Prophet wanted Ayesha to hear the complaint and reply thereto. Ayesha replied with such force and eloquence that she won her case, Thereupon the Holy Prophet said "Do you see how eloquent Ayesha is, and what great force is in her arguments. She is after all the daughter of Abu Bakr. No wonder for her qualities she deserves to be loved."

Fatima and Ayesha. One day Fatima the daughter of the Holy Prophet at the instance of the other wives of the Holy Prophet complained against the preferential treatment accorded to Ayesha. The Holy Prophet merely smiled and said, "My dear, wont you love the person whom your father loves?"

Ordeal of Falsehood

Ordeal of falsehood. In 628 C.E. the jealousy of vested interests against Ayesha culminated in what came to be known as the 'ordeal of falsehood.' Ayesha had accompanied the Holy Prophet on the expedition against Banu al-Mustaliq. On the way back the army camped for the night and early next morning departed without realizing that Ayesha was not in the litter on the camel. She had gone to answer the call of nature where her necklace dropped and it was with some difficulty that she was able to locate the lost necklace. When she returned, the caravan had left.

The scandal. Ayesha wrapped herself and lay down. After some time a companion Safwan bin Mu'attal passed that way. He led his camel to Ayesha which she mounted. Safwan walked on foot leading the camel Ayesha joined the camp at the next stop. The interested parties made this simple incident the subject of scandal and calumny. Hamna daughter of Jahsh, and a sister of Zainab another wife of the Holy Prophet, Abdullah bin Ubayye the hypocrite, Mistah a relative of Abu Bakr whom he supported, and Hassan bin Thabit, the poet, were active in spreading the calumny.

The crisis. The Holy Prophet became cool to Ayesha and she shifted to her father's house. Her mother Umm Ruman said, "My daughter, take life calmly for it is seldom that a beautiful woman married to a loving husband, having rival wives, will not have problems for them and other people." This incident created a great crisis for Abu Bakr and he was at a loss to understand what to do or not to do.

The revelation. One day the Holy Prophet called at the house of Abu Bakr and said, "If Ayesha is guilty of what is said about her she should repent and ask for the forgiveness of God." Ayesha said, "I swear I shall never ask forgiveness for the thing you speak of, for if I admit, that will be an admission of what I have never done, and if I do not admit you will not believe me. At this some verses of Surah Nur were revealed to the Holy Prophet absolving Ayesha of the false accusation against her. The Holy Prophet recited the revealed verses and said, "Ayesha rejoice, for God has revealed to me your innocence."

Umm Ruman wanted Ayesha to rise up and thank the Holy Prophet. Ayesha said, "I will never get up, in gratitude to him for I have no one to thank except God Who has declared me innocent."

The predicament of Abu Bakr. Ayesha next turned to Abu Bakr and said "Father would you not have pardoned me if there had been no revelation." Abu Bakr kissed her on the forehead and said, "What heaven would cover me, and what earth would carry me if I judged that which I could not know."

Mistah. The Holy Prophet went to the mosque and told the people of the revelation. Those who had taken part in the calumny without any proof were punished. Mistah used to get an allowance from Abu Bakr, and in view of the part played by Mistah in the ordeal of falsehood, Abu Bakr decided to discount the allowance, and swore that he would no longer help Mistah. On this descended the verse: "And let not those who possess dignity and affluence among you, swear not to give to kinsmen and the poor, and those who migrated for God's sake. Let them forgive and show forbearance. Do you wish that God should forgive you; And God is Forgiving, Merciful."

When this revelation was brought to the notice of Abu Bakr he said, "Yes, by Allan, I want God to forgive me." Thereupon he restored the allowance to Mistah.

Appointment of Abu Bakr as the Imam

Illness of the Holy Prophet. 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.

One night the Holy Prophet went to the graveyard and there prayed for the soul of his companions who had fallen in the battle of Uhud. The Holy Prophet felt that he was soon going to meet his dead companions. After the visit to the graveyard the Holy Prophet came home and visited the apartment of his wife Maimuna. There the fever became violent. The Holy Prophet assembled all his wives, and told them that on account of his sickness it would not be possible for him to visit the apartment of each wife according to her turn. He wanted their permission to stay in the apartment of Ayesha till he recovered. All the wives agreed to the proposal, and the Holy Prophet supported by Ali and Abbas moved to the apartment of Ayesha.

The Imamat of Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet directed Abu Bakr to lead the prayers in the Prophet's mosque during his illness. Ayesha intervened to suggest that her father be not entrusted with this responsibility. She said that her father had a tender heart, and he would burst into tears while reciting the Holy Quran in the course of the prayer. The Holy Prophet overruled the objection and insisted that Abu Bakr alone should lead the prayers.

Holy Prophet's tribute to Abu Bakr. After shifting to the apartment of Ayesha the Holy Prophet felt some relief. A day later he took a bath. Refreshed by the bath, he felt some relief and went to the mosque to offer the noon day prayer. At the conclusion of the prayer the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit, and addressing the congregation said: "There is a servant whose Lord has given him the option between this life, and the life in the next world close to the Lord, and the servant has chosen the latter."

Out of the congregation, Abu Bakr alone understood the implication of the address. Tears trickled down from his eyes, and with a heavy heart he said, "Holy Prophet, how can we live without you?" Thereupon the Holy Prophet continued: "O people, it has reached me that you are afraid of the approaching death of your Prophet. Has any previous prophet lived forever among those to whom he was sent so that I would live forever among you? Behold, I am about to go to my Lord. You too will go sooner or later."

The Holy Prophet paid a glowing tribute to Abu Bakr when he said: "There has been none more bountiful to me for his unwavering loyalty, devotion and sacrifice of wealth than Abu Bakr. If I were to choose a bosom friend it would be he, but Islam has made a closer brotherhood among us all."

The Holy Prophet also directed: "Let every door that leads into the mosque be closed, except the door of Abu Bakr." Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha.

The last address of the Holy Prophet. The malady of the Holy Prophet increased, and his condition grew worse. The night following the seventh of June 632 lay heavy upon him. He was overheard praying constantly to Allah for His blessings. The morning of the 8th June brought some relief. Fever and pain somewhat abated. Moving the curtain of his apartment he saw the faithful offering their prayers under the Imamat of Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet supported by Ali walked to the mosque. The people made way for him, opening their ranks as he stepped forward. Abu Bakr stepped backward to vacate his seat for the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet told Abu Bakr by a motion of his hand to continue to lead the prayers.

After the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet took his seat on the pulpit, and addressed the faithful thus: "By the Lord ! As for myself, I have not made lawful any thing excepting that which God has declared lawful; nor have I prohibited naught but that which God has forbidden."

The Muslims felt happy to see the Holy Prophet in their midst. They felt that the Holy Prophet had recovered, and that there was no danger to his life. Abu Bakr greeted the Holy Prophet on his recovery, and got his permission to go out of Madina to visit his family at Al-Sukh. Thereafter the Holy Prophet returned to the apartment of Ayesha and Abu Bakr left for Al-Sukh.

Death of the Holy Prophet

Passing away of the Holy Prophet. 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 in Madina. 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 "

The faithful assembled in the mosque

The faithful were assembled in the mosque. They sat in groups here and there. There was an air of uneasiness in the atmosphere. There was a whispering that the Holy Prophet of Islam was dead. There were suppressed sobs and sighs. Many persons were weeping. What would happen to the Muslims when the great Prophet was to be no more in their midst was the thought that disturbed every body.

All eyes were turned to the quarter of Ayesha. The faithful had the fond hope that the door of the chamber would open any moment, and the Holy Prophet would emerge therefrom with his face radiating divine light.

In the courtyard of the mosque, Umar moved among people and said: "Who says that the Holy Prophet is dead? I testify that he is alive, and has gone to Allah like Moses, and would return to us after some time."

Abu Bakr's address to the Muslims. The door of the chamber of Ayesha opened, and a thin frail old man walking stoopingly moved towards the courtyard of the mosque. He was dressed in a long loose toga with a shawl spread over his shoulders. His complexion was fair; his beard was dyed red; and he had the look of a patriarch. He was Abu Bakr.

As he stood among the people, his furrowed face and tear stained eyes betrayed the grief within him. In measured words he said: "Listen to me, ye people. Those of you who worshipped Muhammad know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad (SAW) know that He is alive and would live for ever."

A hushed silence fell on the assembly. They were stunned and bewildered with the poignancy of grief. Abu Bakr wiped the tears from his eyes, and turning to the people recited the following verses from the Quran: "Muhammad is but a messenger, Messengers of God have passed away before him; What, if he dies or is killed? Will you turn back upon your heels? And whosoever turns back upon his heels will by no means do harm to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful."

Abu Bakr added. "Verily Muhammad the great Prophet of Allah was a mortal. Having fulfilled his mission he has gone back to his Master. From God he came, and to God he has returned."

Effect of Abu Bakr's address. The effect of Abu Bakr's address was electrical in character. It appeared as though the people did not know that the verses of the Holy Quran had come down until Abu Bakr; had recited them that day. Umar said: "By God when I heard Abu Bakr recite these words I was dumb-founded so that my legs would not bear me, and I fell to the ground knowing that the Holy Prophet was indeed dead."

Election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph

Crisis in the affairs of the Muslims. The death of the Holy Prophet led to an immediate crisis in the affairs of the Muslims over the question as to who was to be the leader of the Muslims after the Holy Prophet.

While the dead body of the Holy Prophet of Islam was being prepared for burial the Ansar of Madina assembled at their meeting place 'Saqeefa Bani Sa'dah' to discuss the question of succession to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets, and there was to be no prophet after him. He was also the leader of the Muslims, and it was therefore necessary that after him there should be some one who should be the head of the Muslim community.

The Ansars. At the meeting of the Ansars at Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah', Sa'd bin Ubadah, a leader of the Ansars made a passionate plea that the successor to the Holy Prophet for managing the temporal affairs of the Muslims should be chosen from the Ansars. He argued that as they were the people who had protected Islam and offered a home for the Holy Prophet and his companions when they were persecuted by their own people, the Ansars had right to the leadership of the Muslims. It was through the efforts of the Ansars that Islam had grown and spread; their city was capital of the Muslim state, and it was but meet that an Ansar should be the head of the State after the Holy Prophet. When Sa'd concluded his speech, he was applauded by the Ansars. The arguments advanced by him appealed to them, and it appeared that they were poised to choose him as their leader in succession to the Holy Prophet.

Reaction of the emigrants. When the meeting was being held at Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah it was reported to the emigrants assembled in the Prophet's mosque that the Ansars had assembled to choose a successor to the Holy Prophet. It was a critical situation. The burial of the Holy Prophet was a matter that needed priority, but the question of choosing a successor to the Holy Prophet was a question of life and death for the Muslim community, and if any wrong decision was taken at that stage, the future of Islam itself was likely to be jeopardized. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah accordingly decided among themselves to proceed to Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah' to negotiate the matter with the Ansars before it was too late.

Abu Bakr's appeal to the Ansar. When Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah reached Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah the Ansars were on the verge of electing Sa'id bin Ubadah, the Ansar leader, as the successor to the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr took the stage and brought home to the people assembled, the gravity of the problem. He pointed out that the matter did not concern the citizens of Madina alone; it was a matter of concern for all the Arabs who had become Muslims. All the Arab tribes were not likely to accept the leadership of the Ansars, particularly when there were differences among the two principal tribes of the Ansars themselves. Abu Bakr pointed out that under the circumstances the Quraish who were the custodians of the Kaaba could alone provide the leadership for the Muslim community. Addressing his appeal to the Ansar he said: "O Ansar, none can deny the superiority of your position in religion or the greatness of your eminence in Islam. You were chosen by Allah as the helpers of His religion and His Apostle. To you the Prophet was sent on his emigration from Makkah and from you come the majority of his companions and his wives. Indeed in position you are next only to the earliest companions. Therefore it would be fair if we take the Amirat and you accept the ministry. You should not be obstinate in your stand. We assure you that we will do nothing without consulting you."

The Debate. After the address of Abu Bakr, Habab bin Mandhar an Ansar leader rose to say that the Amirat was the right of the Ansars and they could not forego their right. He added that the utmost concession that they could make in favor of the emigrants was that they could have two Amirs, one from the Ansars and the other from the emigrants,

Umar said that Islam stood for unity-one God, one Prophet, and one Quran. It followed as a necessary corollary that the Muslim community should have one Amir. lf the proposal of having two Amirs was once accepted, other people would later lay claim to the election of an Amir from them. Such multiple Amirat would lead to the disintegration of the Islamic polity. Umar emphasized that in the interest of the solidarity of Islam they could not have more than one Amir, and it was imperative that such Amir should be from the Quraish, the tribe of the Holy Prophet.

There was some exchange of hot words between Habab and Umar. Then Abu Ubaida appealed to the Ansars saying: "O Ansars you were the first to help Islam: do not now be the first to take steps towards the disintegration of Islam."

That appeared to have some effect on the Ansars, and they seemed to hesitate to press their demand. Thereupon Abu Bakr took the stage again and said: "God is our witness that we are not pressing the claim of the Quraish because of any selfish interest. The proposal is based solely on the interest and solidarity of Islam. To give you a proof positive of our sincerity I declare before you that I do not covet the office. Here are Umar and Abu Ubaida. You may choose any one out of these two." That softened the attitude of the Ansars. Zaid bin Thabit an eminent Ansar leader rose to say: "In fact the Holy Prophet was among the Quraish. There is considerable force in the proposal that after him his successor should also be selected from among the Quraish. God chose the 'Ansars' as helpers, and it is but meet that they should continue to play thc role of helpers." Supporting him another Ansar leader Bashir bin Sa'd said: "O Ansars, if we have secured a position of superiority in holy wars against the polytheists and gained precedence in the matter of religion it was with the object of pleasing our Allah and obeying the Holy Prophet. It is not proper for us to make this a ground for self-aggrandizement. We should leave our reward to Allah. We must realize that the Holy Prophet came from the Quraish, and that the Quraish have the strongest claim for his succession. We should not quarrel with the Quraish on this issue."

That turned the tables, and the Ansars now appeared to be inclined to choose the leader from among the Quraish. Taking advantage of this situation, Abu Bakr repeated his proposal that they might choose any one out of Umar, or Abu Ubaida.

Election of Abu Bakr. At the offer of Abu Bakr, Umar rose quickly to say: "O Abu Bakr, how can I or Abu Ubaida be preferred to you? You are undoubtedly the most excellent of the Muslims. You were the 'Second of the Two' in the Cave. You were appointed as 'Amir-ul-Haj'. During his illness the Holy Prophet appointed you as the Imam to lead the prayers. Of all the companions you were the closest and the dearest to the Holy Prophet. As such you are dear to us. Stretch your hand so that we may offer our allegiance to you."

Umar made Abu Bakr stand, and then touched his hand reverently in token of allegiance. Abu Ubaida was the next to pay allegiance. Thereafter all the Ansars assembled there offered their allegiance to Abu Bakr turn by turn. Only Sa'd bin Ubadah did not offer allegiance. Thus 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 83 2 C.E.

Inaugural Address of Abu Bakr

Assembly of the people. On the day following the meeting at Saqeefa Bani Salida, all the Muslims of Madina assembled in the Prophet's mosque for Zuhr prayer, and for offering allegiance to Abu Bakr as the Caliph. The Holy Prophet had come from God, and to God he had returned. What could not be cured had to be endured, and for sheer survival the Muslim community had to perforce express faith in some leader who could lead them, and follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet All were agreed that such leader could be no one other than Abu Bakr, the bosom companion of the Holy Prophet, the "second of the two" according to the Holy Quran, and the man whom the Holy Prophet had himself appointed as the Imam to lead the prayers.

Introductory address of Umar. Umar addressed the faithful gathered in the mosque in the following terms: "I expected that the Holy Prophet would outlive us all, but it was the will of God that after having fulfilled his mission he should return to God. Verily, the Prophet came from God, and to God he has returned. He has left with us the Holy Quran from which we can always receive guidance. And we have in our midst, Abu Bakr, Companion of the Prophet, and the "Second of the two in the Cave", who is undoubtedly the worthiest among us to conduct our affairs. To strengthen his hands and to maintain the integrity of the Muslim community, it is necessary that we should repose our confidence in him and offer him our allegiance. Now come and offer bait (allegiance) to him."

Ceremony of bait. Having made this appeal, Umar requested Abu Bakr to take his seat on the pulpit. Abu Bakr took his seat on the pulpit, a step below that which used to be occupied by the Holy Prophet. This gesture was expressive of the fact that the leadership of the Holy Prophet was to continue, and the new leader was not to be the successor of the Prophet, he was to be his deputy only. Abu Bakr stretched his hand, and the Muslims assembled in the mosque filed past the pulpit touching the stretched hand of Abu Bakr reverently as a mark of allegiance. It was a solemn ceremony, each Muslim acknowledged the leadership of Abu Bakr.

Inaugural address. When all the Muslims, gathered in the mosque, had offered their allegiance to Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr rose to address them. After praising Allah and offering his tribute to the Holy Prophet of Islam, Abu Bakr addressed the congregation in the following terms: "O people, I swear by Allah that I never coveted the caliphate either by day or by night, nor had I any inclination towards it. I never prayed to God openly or in secrecy to confer the office on me. I merely accepted this office lest some mischief might arise at this critical juncture in the history of the Muslims and thereby adversely affect the interests of Islam. In fact a big task has been assigned to me which is beyond my power to fulfil except with the help of the Almighty Allah and your whole hearted cooperation. I wished to see the strongest of men in my place this day. Now, it is beyond doubt that I have been elected your Amir, although I am not better than you. Help me, if I am in the right; set me right if I am in the wrong. Truth is a trust; falsehood is a treason. The weak among you will be strong with me till, God willing, his rights have been vindicated; and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet, when I disobey Him and His Prophet, then obey me not. And now rise for prayers; may God have mercy on you."

Abu Bakr and the Caliphate. The caliphate issue. Immediately on the death of the Holy Prophet, the caliphate issue came to pose a great threat to the solidarity of the Muslim community. The Ansars insisted that in view of their services of Islam, the office should go to them. The Holy Prophet was a Quraish, and according to the Arab custom, Quraish insisted that the office should go to them. The Ansars by way of compromise proposed that they might have two leaders, one from the Ansars and one from the Quraish. The proposal militated against the solidarity of the Muslim community, and was not agreed to by the Quraish. The issue did not concern the Quraish and the Ansars alone; it pertained to the entire Muslim community. If the Caliph was chosen from the Quraish, the tribe to which the Holy Prophet belonged, the other tribes could accept him, but if the Caliph was chosen from among the Ansars, the other tribes were likely to demand that they should also have their own Caliphs. This would have led to the disintegration of the Muslim community. The Quraish wanted the Caliph to be chosen from among them, not because they coveted power, but because they wanted to maintain the integrity and unity of the Muslim community.

Election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph. It was with considerable difficulty and after a good deal of discussion and even exchange of hot words that Abu Bakr ultimately succeeded in persuading the Ansars to let the Quraish have the office of the Caliph. Abu Bakr did not covet the office for himself. He wanted that any one out of Umar or Abu Ubaida should be elected. Umar and Abu Ubaida insisted that Abu Bakr should have the office. Abu Bakr realized that if he hesitated, the Ansars might change their mind. Abu Bakr accordingly let the people offer him allegiance. The entire process of election was spontaneous. There was nothing preplanned about it. The things moved in the course they did as ordained by destiny.

Abu Bakr's concept of the Caliphate. In the inaugural address which Abu Bakr delivered at the time of the assumption of power, he declared his concept of the caliphate in unequivocal terms. He held: 

  1. Help me, if I am in the right; set me right, if I am in the wrong; 

  2. The weak among you shall be strong with me till God willing his rights have been vindicated, and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him. 

  3. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet, when I disobey Him and His Prophet, obey me not.

Sectarian differences. Unfortunately, the caliphate issue led to sectarian differences. Accounts that have come down to us in this respect are conflicting as well as confusing, and it is difficult for a student of history to assess the correct position. According to one account, Ail offered allegiance to Abu Bakr along with other Muslims. According to another account, Ali did not offer allegiance, and opposed the caliphate of Abu Bakr. In this he was supported by the Hashemites. It is alleged that Umar threatened to suppress this opposition with force. According to another account, Ali offered allegiance to Abu Bakr six months later, after the death of Fatima. Whatever the case, so much at least is undeniable that Abu Bakr's allegiance was duly taken by Ali some time during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. Ali was actively associated with the administration during the caliphate of Abu Bakr. When Abu Bakr died, Ali in his oration dilated at length on the superb qualities of Abu Bakr, and expressed full faith in his leadership. Ali married the widow of Abu Bakr, Asma, and looked after Abu Bakr's son Muhammad as his own son. This shows that the differences, if any at all, between Abu Bakr and Ali were duly reconciled during the lifetime of the Caliph Abu Bakr.

Nature of the issue. After Ali had taken the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr the controversy about the caliphate issue should have come to an end, and it should not have been made a religious issue. The Holy Prophet was a spiritual as well as a temporal leader. After his death, revelations ceased, and the new leaders of the Muslim community were to be temporal leaders only. The election of such leaders could be nothing but a political issue, and it was not correct to make it a religious issue. On the occasion of the farewell pilgrimage, Allah declared that He had completed the religion for the Muslims. If the caliphate were to be a religious issue, Allah or the Holy Prophet would have given instructions on the point. The very fact that the Holy Quran as well as the Sunnah are silent in the matter of caliphate shows that the matter is explicitly political and not religious in character.

Right of Ali. Some sections hold that in becoming the Caliph, Abu Bakr usurped the rights of Ali, and he was therefore a usurper. On the face of the fact that Ali did offer allegiance to Abu Bakr, though after some time, this argument loses its force. Abu Bakr's avowed policy was to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet and to do things as the Holy Prophet would have done if he were alive. Abu Bakr was very meticulous in carrying out all the commands of the Holy Prophet, in letter as well as in spirit. When all persons around Abu Bakr Holy Prophet him not to dispatch Usamah's expedition to Syria as Madina itself was threatened with danger, Abu Bakr overruled the objection on the ground that the order of the Holy Prophet had to be carried into effect. When he was asked to appoint someone else as the Commander instead of Usamah, he held that he could not reverse an appointment made by the Holy Prophet. It is well-known that Abu Bakr did not covet the office for himself. This is established by the fact that at the time of his death, he refunded all remuneration that he had drawn from the public treasury as Caliph. Under the circumstances, if there had been any indication that the Holy Prophet wanted Ali to be the Caliph, Abu Bakr would have been the last man to stand in the way of Ali.

Choice of the leader. It is well known that the Holy Prophet left no instructions about his successor. Islam is from God, and in whatever way the history of Islam has shaped itself is the unfolding of the Will of God. We cannot, therefore, say that if the Holy Prophet did not nominate a successor, it was an omission or an accident. We must hold that such omission to nominate a successor was deliberate, and in accordance with the Will of God. The intention obviously was that the matter being political in nature, the community should in the matter stand on its legs, and choose the leader for itself.

Claim of Ali. Ali's claim was not based on seniority or merit; it was based on inheritance. The Holy Prophet declared in unequivocal terms that in the case of prophets, there was nothing to be inherited. The Holy Prophet did beget some sons but they did not survive. It appears that there was a set purpose behind that. The Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets, and it was accordingly the Will of God that with his death, there was the end of the prophethood, and there was nothing to be inherited. The caliphate could not be claimed on the basis of inheritance, it was a political office, and the community was free to choose, whomsoever they liked. If for some reason, Ali was not chosen, this could not be made a ground for religious grievance.

Judgment on the caliphate of Abu Bakr. In passing any judgment on the caliphate of Abu Bakr, two points deserve particular consideration. The first point is that we have definite indications that the Holy Prophet wanted Abu Bakr to succeed him. The second point is that the caliphate of Abu Bakr must be judged on the basis of its results. With regard to the first point, the Holy Prophet appointed Abu Bakr as the Imam, and that vested Abu Bakr with the mantle of the leadership of the Muslim community. The Holy Prophet declared that he was under obligation to no one other than Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet also declared that all doors opening in the mosque should be closed except the door of the quarter of Abu Bakr.

As regards the second point it has to be borne in mind that when Abu Bakr was elected as the Caliph, Islam was confined to Makkah, Madina, and Taif only, and in the rest of Arabia the tribes had risen against Islam. When barely two years later, Abu Bakr died, the whole of Arabia was in the fold of Islam and even Iraq and Syria had come under the domination of Islam. The irresistible conclusion is that such a man could not be a usurper.

The verdict of history is that Abu Bakr successfully and faithfully carried out the mission of the Holy Prophet, and his policy aimed at securing the integrity and unity of the Muslim community, paid rich dividends. Nothing succeeds like success, and in view of the outstanding success of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, it should not be made the subject of any sectarian prejudices. 

Usamah's expedition to Syria. On assuming the caliphate the first issue that Abu Bakr was called upon to decide was whether the expedition to Syria which the Holy Prophet had directed to be sent under the command of Usamah should proceed to its destination, or should it be abandoned because of the change in circumstances following the death of the Holy Prophet.

The background. The background of the expedition was that in 629 C.E. the Holy Prophet had sent an expedition against the Syrians under Zaid bin Harith. In the confrontation that had taken place at Mutah, Zaid had been martyred. The command was then taken over by Jafar bin Abu Talib. He too met martyrdom. Abdullah bin Rawahah who next took the command was also martyred. At that critical juncture, Khalid bin Walid took the command. By his superb strategy he succeeded in retrieving the position and bringing back the Muslim forces safely to Madina. For this act of heroism, Khalid bin Walid received from the Holy Prophet the title of Saifullah--the Sword of Allah. In 630 C.E. the Holy Prophet himself led an expedition to Tabuk. The Byzantines avoided a confrontation with the Muslim army which returned to Madina without any action. In 632 C.E., on return from the 'farewell pilgrimage,' the Holy Prophet ordered a detachment to be sent against the Syrians under the command of Usamah the son of Zaid bin Harith. Some persons objected to the command of Usamah on the ground that he was a mere youth of nineteen. Usamah was very dear to the Holy Prophet. He was the son of Zaid who was an adopted son of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet accordingly loved Usamah as a grandson. When the Holy Prophet entered Makkah after the peace of Hudaibiya, Usamah had the honor of sitting on the camel behind the Holy Prophet. Usamah was very brave, and on the occasion of the battle of Uhud he volunteered to fight when he was only a child. The Holy Prophet wanted the Muslims not to object to the command of Usamah for he was worthy of the command.

When the Holy Prophet fell ill, the detachment of Usamah was encamped at Jorf a few miles from Madina on the road to Syria. On account of the serious illness of the Holy Prophet, Usamah delayed his departure. When the Holy Prophet died, Usamah returned to Madina and sought further orders.

Advisability of undertaking the expedition. Abu Bakr was advised that, as at that critical stage in the history of Islam, most of the tribes had apostatized from Islam and Madina itself was surrounded by hostile tribes, it was not advisable to send the army outside the country. Abu Bakr said that it was the wish of the Holy Prophet that the army should be sent to Syria and this wish of the Master should be fulfilled at all costs. When some of the companions reiterated the danger to which Madina was exposed, Abu Bakr declared in unequivocal terms: "Who am I to withhold the army that the Holy Prophet had ordained to proceed? Come what may: let Madina stand or fall; the Caliphate live or perish, the command of the Holy Prophet shall be carried out."

The view of Abu Bakr was not based on any obstinacy or foolhardiness. It was based on ideal loyalty to the Holy Prophet envisaging the carrying out of his wish, coupled with the faith that whatever the Holy Prophet had ordered was in the best interests of the community. Against the firmness of the stand of Abu Bakr, the companions of Abu Bakr could offer no argument.

Command of Usamah. It was contended before Abu Bakr with considerable vehemence that in case the expedition was necessarily to be dispatched, there should be a change in the command, and some veteran and seasoned General should be appointed as the Commander instead of Usamah. Umar was commissioned by the companions to put up this demand before the Caliph. Abu Bakr listened attentively to what Umar had to say, and then said: "Umar, Usamah was appointed by the Holy Prophet, and you want me to veto the appointment made by the Holy Prophet. Does it lie in your mouth to take such a recommendation? How can I as the Caliph of the Holy Prophet cancel an order made by the Holy Prophet after due consideration. Go, and tell those who have commissioned you to make this recommendation that this is sheer sacrilege, and as long as Abu Bakr lives he cannot be party to such a sacrilegious act."

This reply considerably embarrassed Umar. He felt sorry for making the recommendation which evoked bitter comments from the Caliph. He returned to Jorf and told all concerned as to what had transpired between him and the Caliph. He was very bitter with those who had chosen him as their spokesman for making a recommendation to the Caliph to make a change in the command.

Departure of the army. Abu Bakr directed the army to depart on its mission. Abu Bakr went to Jorf to bid farewell to the army and addressed them in the following terms: "See that you avoid treachery. Depart not in any wise from the right. Do not mutilate any one. You should not kill children, women or old men. Do not injure the date palm; do not burn it. Do not cut down any tree wherein there is food for men and beasts. Do not slay the flocks of herds of camels save for needful sustenance. You may eat of the meat that the men of the land may bring to you in their vessels, making mention thereon of the name of Allah. Do not molest the monks in the churches, and leave them to themselves. Now march forward in the name of God. Fulfil the mission entrusted to you. May Allah protect you from sword and pestilence!"

Abu Bakr walked for some distance alone with the army to see it depart. Usamah who was riding on horseback prayed that he should be permitted to dismount, or the Caliph should also ride on a horse. Abu Bakr said: "No. neither should you dismount, nor would I mount a horse. You ride in the service of God, and I shall account to God for these steps that I take in your company."

The Campaign. The army of Usamah left Jorf towards the close of June 632 C.E. After a ten days march, the Muslim army penetrated into the region of Wadi-al-Qara, and fell on Banu al-Qidzah and other border tribes. Usamah rode on his father's horse 'Sabah". He sought the person who had killed his father at the battle of Mutah, and having recognized him put him to the sword. The Byzantine forces avoided confrontation with the Muslim force, and the border tribes left to themselves were no match for the Muslim forces. They were thoroughly discomfited, and hastened to offer allegiance to the authorities at Madina. The expedition proved to be a great success. It secured the safety of the frontier with the Byzantines and averted the threat of any attack from the Byzantines. The success that attended the Muslim arms made the unruly tribes realize that Islam was not dead with the death of the Holy Prophet, and that the Muslims were strong enough to meet all emergencies. Usamah's army returned to Madina, in August 632 C.E. laden with considerable booty. On return to Madina, the army of Usamah was given a tumultuous welcome.

political organization

Government of Abu Bakr. As Caliph, Abu Bakr was the Head of the Government of the Islamic State. Abu Bakr held Government to be a sacred trust, and he ran Government as if he were administering the affairs of a trust. To Abu Bakr, the office of the Caliph was not a means of earthly glory; he regarded it as a burden that he had to discharge in the interest of Islam. About the nature of his office, and his responsibilities he declared in unequivocal terms: "O ye men, now do I long that some one else may take the burden of the State on his shoulders. If you expect from me that I should come up to the standard set by the Holy Prophet, then you must know that I cannot fulfil your expectations because he was immune from all sins and had the assistance of divine revelations while I am an ordinary man subject to human fallibility."

Character of Polity. Abu Bakr took pains to impress upon the people that he was only the first among the equals. For him, all men, rich or poor, high or low were equal. His rule was the rule of the law, but the law that he had to administer was not man made law: it was divine law. There is no priesthood in Islam, and as such the caliphate was not a theocracy. As all power lay with the people, the political order was democratic in character, but the democracy was not like the democracy we know today. In the polity that Abu Bakr administered the will of the people was paramount, but it was subject to divine will. As such the polity was neither theocracy nor democracy in the sense in which the West understands these terms. It was democracy under the umbrella of divinity, the vicegerency of the people organized to carry into effect the will of God as embodied in Islam.

Constitutional ruler. Abu Bakr was a constitutional ruler as his rule was subject to constitution. But the constitution in this case was not man made; it was divine. As a ruler; Abu Bakr had to discharge a three-fold responsibility. He was responsible to God, and it was his responsibility to enforce the commandments of God as contained in the Holy Quran. He was responsible to the Holy Prophet, and it was his endeavor to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet, and prove himself to be a true representative of the Holy Prophet. In this respect he had to seek guidance from the Sunnah. He was also responsible to the people. It was his endeavor to ensure that all that he did commanded the approval of the people. As Caliph, Abu Bakr was the Head of the State as well as the Government. As representative of the Holy Prophet he was also the religious head. He wielded power, but the polity was organized in such a way that power did not lead to corruption; it served as an instrument of service. As Caliph, Abu Bakr was more of a father to the people than as the ruler.

Advisory Council. The Caliph was aided by an Advisory Council. It comprised all companions. There was, however, nothing hard and fast about the Advisory Council. Its constitution, its conduct of business were all informal. All decisions were arrived at through the process of consensus. There was no monopoly about the Advisory Council. Even an ordinary Muslim could express his views and render advice. It was open to the Caliph to accept or not to accept the advice offered to him, but whenever Abu Bakr did not accept the advice tendered to him, he advanced reason therefore.

Secretariat. The Government of Abu Bakr carried correspondence. Ali, Usman, and Zaid b Thabit acted as Secretaries. There was, however, no elaborate Secretariat. No remuneration was paid to the Secretaries. There were no palatial buildings to house the Government offices. All Government business was conducted in the main mosque at Madina. There were no elaborate departments for the conduct of Government business. There was however division of functions among the Companions, and each Companion was responsible for specified functions. Umar acted as a Minister to the Caliph, and was in charge of judicial administration. Abu Ubaida Jarrah was in charge of the financial administration.

Caliphal duties. As Caliph, Abu Bakr did not live in any palace. He lived in an ordinary house as a commoner. He was accessible to every person. If any person had any grievance, he could place it before the Caliph without any difficulty or formality. Abu Bakr always took prompt steps to redress the grievances of the people. Abu Bakr personally led the prayers. He reviewed the problems every week in the Friday Khutba and took the people in confidence in formulating his policies.

Local administration. For the purpose of local administration, the country was divided into provinces each under a Governor. Arabia proper was divided into ten provinces, namely, Madina, Makkah, Taif, San'a, Hadramawt, Khaulan, Zubaid, Jund, Bahrain, and Najran. Iraq was divided into three provinces, namely: Hirah, Dumatul Jandal, and Muzainah. Syria was divided into four provinces: Hims, Damascus, Jordan and Palestine. The Governor was required to lead prayers. He superintended the army; collected taxes; administered justice; maintained law and order; supervised public morals; and provided social services. He was aided by an Amil who collected revenues, and a Qadi who administered justice. Subject to the payment of 'Jizya', the minorities enjoyed cultural autonomy and managed their affairs themselves.

Social Organization

Social values of Islam. Islam revolutionized social life in Arabia. The Holy Prophet set the pattern for Islamic society, and it was the endeavor of Abu Bakr to follow in the footsteps of the Master, and promote the social values of Islam. Abu Bakr was the embodiment of all the social values for which Islam stood, Islam stood for piety, and by all accounts, Abu Bakr led a pious life. He led the prayers in the mosque. All the Muslims in Madina gathered for prayer in the mosque five times a day. On Fridays there were special congregations. Abu Bakr addressed such congregations and delivered eloquent addresses. Abu Bakr took steps to ensure that there was no lapse in the matter of the observance of the injunctions of Islam. When his son Abdullah lost in the love of his wife Atika failed to fulfil his religious obligations, Abu Bakr asked him to divorce his wife. When some tribes suggested that they would offer prayers, but would not pay Zakat, Abu Bakr declared that if they withheld even a moiety of what was payable in Zakat he would fight against them. As a result of this strictness on the part of Abu Bakr, the society came to be fully impregnated with the values of Islam.

Egalitarian society. Abu Bakr took pains to build an egalitarian society in which there was no distinction between the high and the low. He said, "None should look down upon any Muslim for in the eyes of Allah even an inferior Muslim is great". It was suggested to him that the spoils of war should be distributed according to the status of the people. He did not accept the suggestion, and insisted on equal distribution regardless of the rank or status of the people. It was the endeavor of Abu Bakr that all those who were destitute were provided maintenance at state expense. A story is told of a blind woman who lived in a suburb of Madina who had no one to support her. Abu Bakr visited her every day and looked after her needs. Wherever there was any person in distress, Abu Bakr was always there to relieve the distress. As a result of this policy of Abu Bakr, a society emerged which was free from social distress.

Social justice. Abu Bakr was very particular that due justice should be done to all the members of the community without fear or favor according to the injunctions of Islam. At the time of the assumption of office as Caliph he declared: "The weak among you shall be strong with me till God willing his rights have been vindicated and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him". Abu Bakr strictly followed this policy and administered evenhanded justice. As a result of this policy, a society came to be established in Madina, which was practically litigation free.

Simplicity. Abu Bakr took pains to ensure that the people led simple lives free from ostentation. Abu Bakr himself set the pattern for simple living. He slept on the floor. His meals were abstemious. He attended to his jobs himself. He lived in an ordinary house. There were no guards to attend to him. According to Gibbon, "The pride of his simplicity insulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth". It is related that one of the wives of Abu Bakr once wished for a sweet dish. The Caliph said that he had no money for such luxury. She said, "Then permit me to save something daily, and then have a sweet dish when sufficient amount has been collected". He gave the permission, and in a few days she saved some amount. Abu Bakr deposited this amount in the public treasury, and got his daily allowance reduced by such amount as had been saved by his wife. When some members of the ruling family of Yemen arrived in Madina they wore rich attire. When they saw that the Caliph wore simple coarse clothes they felt ashamed and discarded their finery. All the companions of Abu Bakr followed his example, and vied with one another in simple and unostentatious living. In this way the social life in Madina came to be marked by simple living devoid of all show and ostentation.

Society of action. The pre-Islamic society was tribal in concept and complexion; the new Islamic society was universal in character. There was thus a broadening of social horizons. The society impregnated with Islamic values came to be characterized by social refinement, social decorum, social justice, and social health. That led to social solidarity and happiness. The people living in such social environments came to feel that they had a destiny to fulfil. That motivated them to play their part in the fulfillment of their destiny. The society thus came to have a creative outlook and the Arabian Desert heretofore known for the ignorance and backwardness of its people became the nursery of heroes. The static society thus came to be transformed into a society of action.

Moral values. The moral values of Islam provided the guidelines for the social life. The people became accustomed to a disciplined life in which there was no place for any frivolity. Care was taken to ensure that in business matters there were no unfair deals. Great emphasis was laid on above board transactions. In Islam there was no place for fraud or deception. Islam called a spade a spade. The society over which Abu Bakr presided was accordingly an elevated and purified society conspicuous for its high social and moral values.

Women. In the new society women played a creative role. They rocked the cradles in which heroes were bred. Women wrote poetry. Some women like Ayesha were eminent scholars. Women fought in battles, e.g. Umm 'Amara, Khaula, and Jawariya. The age produced beautiful women like 'Atika, Umm Hakim, Laila the wife of Khalid and princess Kirama.

Economic Organization

Character of the State. In the Islamic State under Abu Bakr, the emphasis was on moral values, and the people were not motivated by material considerations. There was no race among the people to get rich overnight. Islamic laws operated to discourage the amassing of wealth. Islam favored trade, but the faithful were enjoined not to indulge in any unfair practices. In the Muslim society there was no economic exploitation of one class by another, although there were slaves, they were not exploited, and in the families the slaves were treated like other members of the families.

The economic levies. The economic levies were few. These were limited to Zakat, Ushr, Kharaj, Jizya, and Fay. When the Muslims embarked on their career of conquest "Ghanimah" i.e. the spoils of war became a major source of revenue.

Zakat. Zakat had some characteristics of a tax, but it was basically a religious obligation. It was levied on the basis of capital assets, and the idea was that one who was endowed with assets should pay a part in the way of Allah for distribution to the poor. It was in theory an instrument for the equalization of wealth. A scale for the levy of Zakat was prescribed. Usually the criterion was that for every forty rupees of capital, one rupee should be paid as Zakat.

Ushr. Ushr was a tax on land produce. It was levied at one-tenth of the produce, and hence the name 'Ushr'-one-tenth.

Kharaj. In the case of land in conquered territories, the landowners had to pay a levy called "Kharaj". The rate of Kharaj was slightly higher than the rate of Ushr in Arab lands.

Jizya. In conquered territories where the people did not become Muslims they had to pay Jizya in lieu of protection to be afforded by the State. It was a poll tax payable at a certain rate per able-bodied adult male. The poor, the disabled, and the monks as well as the women and children were exempt from the levy.

Fay. Fay was the income accruing from State land.

Ghanimah. In the days of Abu Bakr much wealth came to the state on account of the spoils of war. The movable property won as booty on the battlefield was known as "Ghanimah". Four-fifth of the spoils of war was immediately distributed among the soldiers who had taken part in the battle. The remaining one-fifth went to the State. The State's one-fifth share was further divided into three parts. One part went to the family of the Holy Prophet, one part went to the Caliph, and one part was spent for welfare purposes.

Annuities. When Abu Bakr assumed office as Caliph there was no money in the treasury. After the end of the apostasy campaigns, Zakat came to be paid by all the tribes and that eased the situation. With the conquest of Iraq and Syria untold wealth poured into State treasury. The economic condition of the people improved to such an extent that there was no one to get Zakat. Abu Bakr, therefore, distributed annuities to the entire Muslim community, every one receiving an equal share.

Economic prosperity of the people. The economic organization of the Islamic State under the Holy Prophet and thereafter under Abu Bakr was unique in the annals of mankind. The State had no salaries bill to foot. All State functionaries at the higher level worked honorably. Military service was performed on voluntary basis. Nominal taxes were levied on the people, and these were returned to the people as annuities. In most cases what the State paid to the people was more than what it had realized from them as taxes. Under Abu Bakr the Muslim community was thus the most prosperous community ever known to history.

Military Organization Under Abu Bakr

Army. In the time of Abu Bakr, no standing army or mercenary force was kept by the State. In the case of any emergency, recruiting parties were sent to the various tribes to recruit volunteers. Inspired by religious fervor for 'Jihad' and for patriotic and economic considerations, volunteers willingly enrolled themselves in large numbers whenever there was a call to arms. On this basis for every military expedition, a new militia was raised, and when the expedition was over, the militia was disbanded.

Military service. Military service constituted the noblest of professions in the eyes of the Arabs. "Jihad" was according to the tenets of Islam incumbent on every adult male Muslim, and the entire community was regarded as the army of Islam. No salary was paid to the soldiers. They were allowed a share in the spoils of war. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, so great were the spoils of war, particularly in the campaigns in Iraq and Syria that every soldier amassed so much wealth as sufficed for his lifetime.

The Caliph. As the Caliph, Abu Bakr was the Generalissimo or the Supreme Commander. A commander was appointed for each column by the Caliph. The Caliph personally awarded the standard to each commander. The commander was responsible to the Caliph, and the Caliph issued directions from time to time to direct military operations. The commander as the representative of the Caliph presided at daily prayers, and all soldiers in the column were required to attend the congregation.

Composition of the army. The army was composed of cavalry and infantry. The cavalry was armed with shields, swords and long lances. The infantry was armed with shields, and bows. The formation of the infantry was generally in line three deep with lancers in front and the archers in the rear. The cavalry was usually posted on the flanks. The cavalrymen wore chain armor with steel helmets. The infantrymen were clad in tight fitting tunics. The armies were always well provisioned. Long marches were made on camels.

March to the battlefield. The army marched to the battlefield chanting verses from the Holy Quran. Orators were attached to every column who exhorted the soldiers to do their duty to Islam, and to live up to the standards of the Arab ideals of chivalry. The Muslims marched to the battlefield with the beat of drums. They delivered the attacks with the shouts of "Allah-o-Akbar".

Offer to the enemy. Before attack, the enemy was always offered three alternatives, namely acceptance of Islam, payment of Jizya or decision by sword. Where a people accepted Islam, they were treated as part and parcel of the Muslim community and no conditions were imposed. Where a people wished to stick to their faith, and pay Jizya they were allowed cultural autonomy and were guaranteed full protection. Where a people chose to fight, the Muslim attacks were always violent, and in many cases the entire force of the enemy was exterminated. Those who were taken captive were either released on ransom or kept as slaves.

On the battlefield. All battles began with personal duels between chosen warriors from both sides. In such duels the Muslim champions always won. After such duels the battle developed into a general hand to hand fight in which all the troops took part. On the battlefield the army divided itself in five units called "Khamis". These were the center, the right wing, the left wing, the vanguard and the rear guard. The flanks were covered by the cavalry. The archers were so disposed as to cover both cavalry and infantry. The organization of the army was based on tribal units. Each tribe had its own distinct contingent with its own leader and banner. Many tribes marched to the battlefield with their families in their train. There were special contingents of women. They were employed as nurses, cooks, store guards, and water carriers.

Code of conduct. The soldiers were required to follow strict code of conduct. They were required to observe strict discipline and scrupulously obey the command of their superiors. Persons found guilty of breach of discipline were punished. Where a soldier displayed any cowardice on the battlefield he was subjected to the humiliation of his turban being taken off his head. The soldiers had strict orders not to kill monks, priests, women, children, the slaves, the sick and the aged. They were not to sack any town or village, or destroy or ravage any arable land. There was to be no wanton pillaging, no trees were to be cut, and no crops were to be burnt or destroyed. No corpses of the enemy were to be burnt or mutilated. The dead of the enemy were to be buried with due respect, and where requests were made for particular corpses by the enemy, these were to be freely handed over.

Victories of the Muslims. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr all the military campaigns undertaken by the Muslims ended in their victory. The Muslims fought against forces superior to them in strength and numbers, but victory always lay with the Muslims. The Muslims won reputation for their invincibility. Even the biased western writers have been forced to admit that during the period of the caliphate of Abu Bakr, the desert of Arabia became the nursery of heroes. The story of the Muslim conquest of Iraq and Syria, the miraculous exploits of the Muslim heroes, and the manner in which they dealt blows after blows on the armies of Persia and Byzantium read like some fiction from the Arabian Nights. And if truth were to be ever stranger than fiction, that is so in the case of Muslim conquests under Abu Bakr,

Causes of Muslim victories. The main causes of the victories of the Muslims during the caliphate of Abu Bakr were the high morale of the Muslim soldiers, their religious enthusiasm, their endurance, their mobility, and the superb directions of Abu Bakr. To these basic causes may be added the unique generalship of Khalid, heroism of Muslim soldiers and the blessings of Allah and His Prophet.

Abu Bakr and the Hadith

The Hadith. When companions of the Holy Prophet heard anything from him, or saw him doing an act, they faithfully preserved an account of what he had said or done. When all such accounts were compiled and edited, the corpus became the Hadith, a source for the Muslims.

Items of the Hadith attributed to Abu Bakr. Out of the entire collection of Hadith running into thousands of items, only 142 items are attributed to the authority of Abu Bakr. Of all the companions of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was the closest to him, and one would expect Abu Bakr to be a repository of a larger number of traditions. The comparatively smaller number of traditions owing their authority to the reporting of Abu Bakr is attributed to the extraordinary care and caution exercised by Abu Bakr in sifting the tradition.

Ayesha's account of the preservation of traditions by Abu Bakr. According to Ayesha, Abu Bakr had originally a collection of over five hundred traditions, and he deposited the compilation with her for custody. Ayesha relates that one night she noticed that Abu Bakr felt very restless. He tossed about in the bed, and could not sleep. Ayesha got worried whether he was suffering or was worried. He made no reply, but remained restless throughout the night. The following morning he asked Ayesha to bring him the collections that he had deposited with her. She brought the compilation and he set fire to it. On the enquiry of Ayesha, Abu Bakr explained his conduct thus: "The collection contained many traditions that I had heard from other people. I thought that if I died and left behind traditions accepted by me as authentic, but really not so, then I would have to answer for that."

Traditions authenticated by Abu Bakr. Some of the tradition authenticated by Abu Bakr are as follows: 

  1. If the water is flowing, any aquatic animal found dead therein would be Halal. 

  2. He who cleanses his teeth pleases God. 

  3. If a man is with Wudu, and then takes his meals, he need not have the Wudu again. 

  4. He who offers the morning prayers comes under the protection of Allah. 

  5. No prophet dies until he offers prayers behind some one of his followers. 

  6. If any body sins, and then offers prayers of repentance, Allah pardons him. 

  7. The prophet dies at the spot where he is to be buried. 

  8. The Jews and the Christians have earned the displeasure of God for worshipping the graves of their prophets. 

  9. The dead man suffers because of the mourning over his dead body. 

  10. Give in charity, even though it may be a single date. 

  11. Do your job yourself. Do not put yourself under the obligation of any person for doing anything for you. 

  12. He who deceives a Momin (firm believer) is accursed. 

  13. He who is bad tempered, dishonest, unjust and tyrannous has no place in paradise. 

  14. Prophets of Allah leave nothing to be inherited 

  15. He who travels in the way of Allah has a claim to paradise. 

  16. Wherever there are two Muslims, the third one among them is Allah. 

  17. Do not speak a lie, for a falsehood poisons faith. 

  18. A just ruler is the shadow of Allah on earth. 

  19. He who helps a person in distress earns the protection of Allah. 

  20. If the people of paradise were to trade in anything they would have traded in cloth. 

  21. He who wants to escape from torture of hell should not be hard on the people. 

  22. If you wish for the mercy of Allah, be kind to His people. 

  23. The people who abandon Jihad will not prosper. 

  24. He who builds a mosque for Allah, Allah will build a house for him in the paradise. 

  25. Religion is the standard of Allah, hold it aloft. 

  26. On the occasion of the pilgrimage, the most excellent actions are the raising of the voice in the talbiyah, and the shedding of the blood of the animals brought for sacrifice. 

  27. He whose feet becomes dusty in the service of Allah, Allah will preserve him from hell fire. 

  28. Infidelity moves more stealthily among my people than the creeping of an ant. 

  29. There is no part of the body that complains not of the sharpness of the tongue. 

  30. The thief must be put to death for the fifth theft. 

  31. The Friday prayer is an atonement for all that occurs until the next Friday prayer, and ablution on a Friday is an atonement for ablutions until the next Friday. 

  32. To every one who, has fought at Badr, is announced the tiding of paradise. 

  33. He who condoles with a bereaved mother, Allah will cover him with His shadow. 

  34. A slanderer will not enter paradise. 

  35. Neglect not to invoke Allah against Satan. 

  36. The Surah of Hud has made me (the Holy Prophet) grey.

Abu Bakr and Fiqh

Origin of Fiqh. The Holy Prophet got most of his knowledge directly from God through the process of revelation. Whenever the Holy Prophet had a difficult point to decide, he got the guidance from Allah. After the death of the Holy Prophet, the process of revelation ceased, and the task before the Muslims was to take decisions in the light of guidance that could be obtained from the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. That gave rise to Fiqh, the application of the principles of Islam to the day to day problems, and the settlement of disputes.

Father of Fiqh. The process of Fiqh began with Abu Bakr, and he is regarded as the 'Father of Fiqh'. He was the first to frame the rules of Ijtihad. He laid down the principle that in deciding a case he would obtain guidance the first instance from the Holy Quran. If the Holy Quran was silent in the matter, he would look for guidance to the traditions of the Holy Prophet as duly authenticated. If the traditions were also silent he was to decide the case according to his best judgment He held: "If my decision is just then it will be from God. If it is erroneous, it will be mine, and may God pardon me."

Primacy of Abu Bakr in the matter of Fiqh. According to traditions, a woman came to the Holy Prophet in the last days of his life, and asked for his decision on a particular point. The Holy Prophet was unwell, and he asked her to come again. The woman said, "If I come next, and you are not there, to whom should 1 go?" The Holy Prophet said, "In that case go to Abu Bakr". That establishes the primacy of Abu Bakr in the matter of Fiqh.

Burial of the Holy Prophet. Immediately on the death of the Holy Prophet controversy arose as to the place where the Holy Prophet should be buried. Many different opinions were expressed in the matter. One view was that the Holy Prophet should be buried in the Prophet s mosque. Another view was that he should be buried in the common graveyard at Madina where his companions were buried. One view was that he should be buried at Jerusalem where other prophets lay buried. And yet another view was that he should be buried in the Holy Ka'aba at Makkah. As successor to the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr gave the decision that in accordance with a tradition of the Holy Prophet, the prophets are to be buried at the spot where they breathe their last, and as such he should be buried in the quarter of Ayesha where he had breathed his last. This decision commanded the approval of all, and was duly carried into effect

Property at Fidak. The Holy Prophet had some property at Fidak. The income from the property was utilized for the maintenance of the family of the Holy Prophet, and for other beneficial purposes. After the death of the Holy Prophet, Fatima and some other members of the Holy Prophet's family lodged a claim for the inheritance of the property. Abu Bakr ruled that, according to a tradition of the Holy Prophet, all that the prophets leave is for the community, and the usual laws of inheritance are not to apply to such property. Abu Bakr accordingly did not accept the claim for inheritance. He ruled that the property would be state property, but the income therefrom would be utilized for the same purposes for which it was utilized during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet.

Exemption from Zakat. Immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet when the wave of apostasy spread over the land, some of the tribes demanded that they should be exempted from the payment of Zakat. The companions around Abu Bakr advised that in view of danger that threatened the Muslims, the demand should be exempted Abu Bakr held that the payment of Zakat was a fundamental requirement of Islam, and it was not open to him to compromise on a fundamental injunction of Islam. He accordingly rejected the demand, and declared that if Zakat was not paid, he would fight for it.

Obedience to the orders of the Holy Prophet. During his lifetime the Holy Prophet had ordered that an expedition should be sent to Syria under the command of Usama b Zaid. After the death of the Holy Prophet the general view of the companions was that in view of the danger that threatened Madina, the expedition to Syria should be abandoned. It was held that if the expedition was to be necessarily sent, a veteran commander should be appointed instead of Usama who was a young lad of nineteen only. Abu Bakr held that as on these points the Holy Prophet had already given specific instructions, it was not open to him to amend or vary the orders of the Holy Prophet. He therefore ordered that the expedition to Syria was to be undertaken under the command of Usama as ordered by the Holy Prophet.

Murder of Malik b Nuweira. When in the campaign against Bani Tamim, Khalid b Walid killed Malik b Nuweira, and married his beautiful wife Laila and it was alleged that Khalid was guilty of murdering a Muslim, Abu Bakr held that as Commander in the field, Khalid had the authority to exercise his discretion, and if Malik had been killed it was, in the circumstances of the case, a lapse and not a willful murder. Abu Bakr settled the case by paying blood money to the heirs of Malik. When Umar insisted on the punishment of Khalid Abu Bakr declared that he could not sheathe the sword, which God had willed to be wielded against the infidels.

Al Faja'a. Al Faja'a, an adventurer posed to be a Muslim, and got some arms from Abu Bakr to fight against the apostates. Al Faja'a betrayed the trust. Action was taken against him. He was taken captive, and brought to Madina where Abu Bakr ordered him to be roasted alive. Later, Abu Bakr regretted the decision. He wished he had pardoned him or killed him in some other way.

Father's share. Once a man complained before Abu Bakr that his father wanted to appropriate all that he had. Abu Bakr summoned the father, and asked him to take as sufficed for his maintenance, and leave the rest to his son.

A son disowned by the father. Once a man was brought before Abu Bakr who had been disowned by his father Abu Bakr ordered: "Smite him on his head for Satan is in his head."

Vow of silence. Once Abu Bakr went to a woman of the tribe of Ahmas called Zaynab. She did not speak as she was under a vow of silence. Abu Bakr said to her, "Speak, for silence is not lawful; it is one of the practices of the times of Ignorance."

Loss of an ear. Once in a quarrel a person had been deprived of an ear. Abu Bakr awarded him fifteen camels. He said, "The hair and turban will conceal the disgrace of it."

Killing a man in anger. Once Abu Bakr was enraged with a man and his anger became violent. One of the companions said, "O Caliph, shall I cut off his head?" Abu Bakr said, "Woe to you, this is not lawful."

Unlawful food. Once a slave of Abu Bakr brought him some food that he ate. Later the slave told him that he had earned some money by telling fortune, and the food had been purchased with that money. Abu Bakr held that such food was unlawful. He put his hand on his throat and vomited what was in his stomach.

Pre destination. Once Abu Bakr was asked, "Do you think that fornication by a man is predestined?" He was next asked, "If it is predestined why should the man be punished?" Abu Bakr said, "The man is responsible for his act, but God knows beforehand how a man would act."

Insulting the Holy Prophet and satirizing the Muslims. In Yemen, a woman in her songs said nasty things against the Holy Prophet. Another woman recited verses satirizing the Muslims. Muhajir b Umayya, the Governor of Yemen cut off the hands of both the women. When the case was reported to Abu Bakr he held that the women who had insulted the Holy Prophet should have been killed, while the other woman who had merely satirized the Muslims deserved a lenient treatment.

Asma bint Numan. In Yemen, Ikramah married a lady Asma bint Numan. The marriage became the subject of criticism because at one time Asma had been married to the Holy Prophet, and it was not lawful for a Muslim to marry a woman the Holy Prophet had married. Abu Bakr decided that as in that case the Holy Prophet had returned the lady to the tribe without consummating the marriage, there was no objection to a Muslim marrying her.

Marriage to the first husband. Once a woman was divorced by a person, and she married another man. Before her second marriage was consummated she reconciled with her former husband, and wanted to return to him. Abu Bakr ruled that she could not return to her first husband unless the second marriage was consummated, and she was properly divorced.

The case of Umar's son Aasim. Umar divorced one of his wives, and she took her young son Aasim with her. One day Umar saw his son playing in the street. He lifted the boy and brought him to his house. The mother applied to Abu Bakr for the restoration of the child. Umar resisted the suit, but Abu Bakr decided the case against Umar, and awarded the custody of the child to the mother.

Grandfather's share. In a case where the father was not alive, but the grandfather was alive, Abu Bakr awarded to the grandfather the share otherwise admissible to the father.

Share of the grandson. In a case where the son was not alive, Abu Bakr awarded to the grandson the share otherwise admissible to the son.

Share of the grandmother. In a case, Abu Bakr awarded the grandmother one-sixth share in the property left by the grandson.

Execution of the thief. Once a man came to Abu Bakr from Yemen. His hands had been cut off for some act of theft. He stayed with Abu Bakr for the night, and prayed for all the time. The man represented that the Governor of Yemen had cut off his hands in a high handed way. Abu Bakr felt impressed with the piety of the man, and thought that perhaps the Governor of Yemen had been unfair to the man. In the morning, Asma the wife of Abu Bakr complained that she had lost her locket. On enquiry it transpired that the man had stolen the locket, and sold it to a goldsmith. Abu Bakr ordered the man to be killed.

Mutilation. About awarding the punishment of mutilation, Abu Bakr addressed a Governor as follows: "I have heard that you laid hands on a woman who had showered abuses on me, and you got her hands amputated. God has not sought vengeance even in the case of polytheism, which is a great crime. He has not permitted mutilation even with regard to manifest infidelity. Try to be considerate and sympathetic in your attitude towards others in future. Never mutilate because it is a great offence. God purified Islam and the Muslims from rashness and excessive wrath. You are well aware of the fact that those enemies fell into the hands of the Messenger of Allah who had been recklessly abusing him, who had turned him out of his home, and who had fought against him, but he never ordered their mutilation." (Abu Bakr ke Sarkari Khatut by Khurshid Ahmad Fariq.)

and pus only."

Sayings of Abu Bakr

Thus spoke Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was of a contemplative bent of mind. He often expressed his thoughts in words conspicuous for their wisdom. A number of his sayings has come down to us, and these show the depths and dimensions of his thought and philosophy. Some of the sayings of Abu Bakr which have assumed the character of proverbs are given hereunder:

Greatness. About greatness, Abu Bakr said: 

  1. Run away from greatness and greatness will follow you. 

  2. There is greatness in the fear of God, contentment in faith of God, and honor in humility. 

Good actions. About good actions, Abu Bakr said: 

  1. Good actions are a guard against the blows of adversity. 

  2. Be good to others, that will protect you against evil. 

  3. If you expect the blessings of God, be good to His people. 

  4. Every day, nay every moment, try to do some good deed. 

Death. About death, he said: 

  1. Have an earnestness for death, and you will have life. 

  2. Death is the easiest of all things after it, and the hardest of all things before it. 

Knowledge. About knowledge, he said: 

  1. The more knowledge you have, the greater will be your fear of Allah. 

  2. Without knowledge action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile. 

  3. Knowledge is the life of the mind. 

  4. When a noble man learns knowledge he becomes humble, when an ignoble person gains knowledge he gets conceited. 

  5. When knowledge is limited, it leads to folly; when knowledge exceeds a certain limit, it leads to exploitation. 

Advice. In the matter of advice, he said: 

  1. When you seek advice, do not withhold any facts from the person whose advice you seek. 

  2. When you advise any person you should be guided by the fear of God. 

  3. If any body seeks your advice, offer right and sincere advice. 

  4. He who is not impressed by sound advice lacks faith. 

Kindness. About kindness he said: 

  1. If you expect the blessings of God, be kind to His people. 

  2. He who aspires to paradise should learn to deal with the people with kindness. 

  3. He who fears to weep should learn to be kind to those who weep.

Self-control. About self-control he said, "If you want to control other people, first control your self."

Patience and confidence. With regard to patience and confidence, he said: "Patience is half faith, and confidence is full faith."

Society of evil persons. About the society of evil persons he held, "Solitude is better than the society of evil persons."

Honesty. About honesty he said, "The greatest truth is honesty, and the greatest falsehood is dishonesty."

Treatment of Muslims. About the treatment of Muslims he said, "Do not look down upon any Muslim, for even the most inferior believer is great in the eyes of God."

Help and cooperation. About help and cooperation, he said: 

  1. "God blesses him who helps his brother". 

  2. "Do not non-cooperate with one another, and have no grudge of jealousy". 

  3. "Muslims should live like brothers". 

  4. "God helps those who fear Him''. 

  5. "Allah will help him who moves in the way of Allah".

Jihad. About "Jihad", he said: 

  1. "The people who abandon Jihad fall a victim to humility and degradation". 

  2. "Jihad is obligatory for the Muslims". 

  3. "To fight against the infidels is Jihad, but to fight against your evil self is greater Jihad.

Intentions. With regard to intentions, he said, "Intentions count in your actions".

Sadaqah. In the matter of the offering of "Sadaqah" he said, "When you offer any Sadaqah to a beggar, do it with humility and respect, for what you are offering is an offer to Allah".

Mosques. With regard to mosques he said: "He who builds a mosque in the way of Allah, God will build a house for him in the paradise."

Way of life. About the way of life he said, "Follow the way of life, which the Holy Prophet has shown you, for verily that is the right path".

Prayers. With regard to prayers, he said, "He who prays for five times a day is in the protection of God, and he who is protected by God cannot be harmed by any one."

Neighbors. About neighbors, he said, "You should not quarrel with your neighbor, for he will remain where he is, but your high handedness will become the talk of the people".

Appearance of things. About the outward appearance of things he said: 

  1. "Maybe a thing that you do not like is really in your interest". 

  2. "It is possible that a thing that you may desire may be against your interest".

Love of God. About the love of God, and the love of the world, he said, "He who comes to take the love of God can have no taste for the love of the world".

Becoming a Muslim. About becoming a Muslim, he said, "He who becomes a Muslim does so in his own interest".

Falsehood. About falsehood, he said "He who indulges in falsehood will find the paths of paradise shut to him".

Boasting. About boasting, he said, "He who boasts lowers himself".

Pride. About pride he said, "Pride in the case of a rich man is bad, but pride in the case of a poor man is worse".

Elation. In the matter of elation, he said, "Do not get elated at any victory, for all such victory is subject to the will of God."

Avoidance of complaints. With regard to the avoidance of complaints he said, "He who avoids complaints invites happiness."

Attraction of the things of the world. About the attraction of the things of the world, he said, "If an ignorant person is attracted by the things of the world this is bad, but if a learned person is thus attracted, it is worse." He also said, "O man you are busy working for the world, and the world is busy trying to turn you out".

Justice. About justice, he said: "In the matter of justice, all should be equal in your eyes".

Deception and faithlessness. About deception and faithlessness he said, "Do not deceive or be faithless even with your enemy."

Measure. About the use of measure he said, "Use same measure for selling which you use for purchase".

Sin. About Sin, he said: 

  1. It is good to repent from sin; it is better to avoid sin. 

  2. It is bad for a young man to sin, but it is worse for an old man to sin.

Evil. About evil he said "Cursed is the man who dies himself, but the evil done by him survives."

Dyeing of hair. In the case of the dyeing of hair he said, "Youth is not restored by the dyeing of your hair".

Early rising. About early rising, he said, "It is a matter of shame that in the morning the birds should be awake earlier than you."

Piety. About Piety he said: Piety is the most solid goodness, and the vilest of what is evil is vice.

Truth and falsehood. About truth and falsehood he said, "Truth is a trust, falsehood a treason."

Vain desires. About vain desires, he said, "Do not follow vain desires for verily he prospers who is preserved from lust, greed and anger."

The best. Abu Bakr prayed, "O Lord, render You the best of my life its close, the best of my deeds as the last, and the best of my days the day of Your meeting." "O God verily I ask of You that which may be the best for me in the end. O God vouchsafe that the last good that You bestow upon me, is Your approbation."

Deadly things. Abu Bakr said, "The most deadly of things are the two that are red, gold and saffron."

Reward of the believer. Abu Bakr said, "The true believer is rewarded in every thing, even in affliction."

Life of the world. About the life of the world, Abu Bakr said, "Our abode in this world is transitory. Our life therein is but a loan. Our breaths are numbered, and our indolence is manifest. "

Condolence. While condoling the death of a companion, Abu Bakr said to the bereaved family: "There is no harm in patience, and no profit in lamentation. Death is easiest to bear than that which precedes it, and more severe than that which comes after it. Remember the death of the Apostle of God, and your sorrow will be lessened. "

Prayer for a dead man. When praying for a dead man. Abu Bakr said: "O God his people and his goods and his kindred have forsaken this servant of Yours. His sin was grievous, but You are Merciful and Compassionate."

Sermons of Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr's eloquence. Abu Bakr was known for his eloquence and oratory. He used to address the faithful every week on Fridays. His sermons and addresses were the specimen of masterly eloquence, every word thereof vibrated with superb faith and appealed directly to the heart. All his sermons and addresses have not been preserved. Only a few of his sermons and addresses have come down to us, and these classical addresses which are veritable gems of literature evoke our admiration.

Inaugural address. On assuming office, he delivered the following address, which is a unique document for the guidance of all rulers "Gentlemen, I have been placed in authority, though by Allah I was averse to the assumption of authority. I would have been pleased if any of you had taken over the office, and I would have assisted him. I have been made to rule over you though I am not the most worthy among you. If you expect me to act as did the Holy Prophet of God, know that I cannot do so, for the Apostle of God was a servant whom the Lord honored with His inspiration and preserved him thereby from error I am an ordinary mortal and not better than any of you. Therefore, watch over me. When you see that I am steadfast and obey Allah and His Prophet, then obey me when you see that I turn aside from the right path do not obey me. Help me if I am in the right; set me right if I am in the wrong. Know that I have a devil that seizes upon me. Therefore, when you see me enraged avoid me for at that time I cannot be influenced by your counsels or glad salutations. We have the Quran for our guidance. We have also with us the instructions of the Holy Prophet. These will be our unerring guides. Know O men that piety is the most solid goodness, and the vilest of what is evil is vice. Truth is a trust, falsehood a treason. The weak among you shall be strong with me till God willing his rights have been vindicated; and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him."

Guidelines for the faithful. In the following sermon, Abu Bakr set the guidelines for the conduct of the faithful: "Beware you of following vain desire, for verily he prospers who is preserved from lust, greed and anger; and beware you of pride for what pride belongs to him who is made of earth, and whom the worms devour after death, To day you are alive; tomorrow you may be dead. Therefore act uprightly from day to day and hour to hour. Be you patient for every work is accomplished through patience. Be you watchful for watchfulness is profitable. Act uprightly for a good act is acceptable to God. Refrain from things against which the Lord has warned you under pain of His wrath. Vie you with one another in hastening to obtain the things that the Lord has promised you in His mercy. Be heedful and in fear for the Lord has declared to you things for which He destroyed those that were before you and things through which He delivered those before you. Verily He has manifested to you in His book His commands and His prohibitions, the works He approves and that He abhors. God is He Whose assistance should be implored. There is no power or strength but in the Lord. Obey God, preserve your portion of excellence. Make your charitable donations even when you are poor. O Servants of God, think of your brethren and companions who have departed. Verily, the Lord has no co-partner, and between Him and any of His creatures there is no mediatory influence that can bestow good upon him or avert from him evil save in His worship and obedience to His commands for verily there is no good after which comes hell fire, and no evil after which comes heaven".

The light of the Book of God. In another sermon, Abu Bakr said: "I commend to you piety to God. Praise Him as befits Him. Mingle desire with fear, for God praised Zikriya and the people of his house and said, "These strove to excel in good works and called upon Us with love and with fear and humbled themselves before Us". Therefore, know, O servants of God, that the Lord holds your lives as a pledge for what is due to Him, and has taken your compacts regarding it, and has purchased of you a little that is perishable, in exchange for eternal abundance, and this Book of God is among you, whose light cannot be extinguished, nor its wonders end. Therefore, seek you illumination from its light, and accept counsel from His Book and seek light from it in the day of darkness. Verily He has created you for His worship and has appointed for you guardian angels honorable in the sight of God writing down actions, who know that which you do. And know O servants of God that you proceed and draw nigh to an appointed time, the knowledge of which, verily, is hidden from you. Vie you with one another in fulfilling the obligations of your appointed times before your appointed periods are completed, lest they cast you upon the evilest of your works, and verily there are some who have made over the obligations of their appointed times on others, and have taken no heed of themselves. Therefore, I forbid you to be like them. Then haste, flee, flee for behind you is a nimble pursuer, swift of deed. Where are the comely, beautiful of countenance, exulting in their youth? Where are the monarchs who built cities and entrenched them round about? Where are they who boasted of victories on fields of battle? Verily their pillars were overthrown when fortune betrayed them, and they went down into the darkness of the grave. Haste, haste, flee, flee."

Death of Abu Bakr

Passing away of Abu Bakr

Illness of Abu Bakr. 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.

The physician. 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.

Refund of the amount drawn from the treasury. When Abu Bakr felt that his end was near, he wanted to know what amount he had drawn from the State treasury as allowance for the office of the Caliph. He was told that this amount was six thousand dirhams. He directed that the plot of land which belonged to him should be sold, and from the sale proceeds, the amount of six thousand dirhams should be paid to the State treasury. He next took stock of the personal fortune that he had acquired since becoming the Caliph. These assets included a slave, a camel, and some cloth. He directed that these assets should be handed over to the new Caliph. When in pursuance of the will of Abu Bakr, the amount of six thousand dirhams and other assets were handed over to the new Caliph, Umar, the new Caliph wept and said, "O Abu Bakr, may God bless you; you have made the task of your successor most difficult."

Property bequeathed to Ayesha. Abu Bakr had bequeathed some property to Ayesha. Now that he was on deathbed he desired that the property should be divided among her two brothers and three sisters in accordance with the Islamic Law. Ayesha said that they were two sisters, Asma and herself, and inquired as to who was the third sister? Abu Bakr said that his wife Habiba was pregnant, and he had a feeling that the child would be a girl. Indeed after the death of Abu Bakr, a girl was born to Habiba, who was named Umm Kulthum. Ayesha complied with the wish of her father and released the property in her charge for distribution among her brothers and sisters.

The Coffin. Abu Bakr next asked Ayesha as to how many pieces of cloth were used for the coffin of the Holy Prophet. Ayesha said that three pieces had been used in the coffin of the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr thereupon desired that for his coffin as well, three pieces should be used. He wanted that the two sheets that he was wearing should be washed and used for his coffin, while the third piece might be purchased. Ayesha said that they were not so poor as not to afford to purchase all the three pieces required for the coffin. Abu Bakr said, "No, the new material will be of more use to the living than the dead. The cloth for the dead body is merely meant to absorb blood and pus, and it is not necessary that the cloth should be new."

The day of death. Abu Bakr inquired of Ayesha as to what was the day on which the Holy Prophet had died. She replied that the day was Monday. Abu Bakr next inquired as to what was the day that day. She said that it was Monday. Abu Bakr said that in that case he would die that day. He desired that if he died that day, he should be buried the same day.

Last moments of Abu Bakr. As Abu Bakr lay on the deathbed, Ayesha wailed: "And one so unsullied in honor that the cloud draws moisture from his face; the protection of orphans. the defense of widows." Abu Bakr said, "No, this encomium must be reserved for the Holy Prophet alone". Ayesha said: "Wealth is of no avail to a man; on the day when the death-rattle is in his throat, and his breast is contracted by it." Abu Bakr uncovered his face and said, "It is not so, Say that the agony of death shall come in truth; this, O man, is what you sought to avoid." He swooned, and on regaining consciousness, he recited the verse of the Holy Quran: "Lord, let me die a true believer: And join me with the blessed ones on high who are virtuous."

With these words of the Holy Quran on his lips, Abu Bakr expired. From God he had come and to God he returned. It was 22nd of Jamadi-ul-Akhir of 13 A.H. corresponding to 23rd of August, 534 C.E. The day was Monday. 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.

Burial. 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 honor of being a bosom companion of the Holy Prophet, after death he had also the honor of resting by the side of the Master.

Abu Qahafa. When Abu Bakr died, his father Abu Qahafa was at Makkah. It is reported that when Abu Bakr died, the city of Makkah was convulsed by an earthquake. Abu Qahafa said that the earthquake was indicative of some calamity. Soon the sad news arrived of the death of Abu Bakr. Abu Qahafa mourned the death of his son. Abu Qahafa died six months later at the age of ninety-seven.

Appointment of Umar as his Successor

Nomination of successor. Realizing that his end was drawing near, Abu Bakr felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death. Abu Bakr summoned Abdul Rahman bin Auf, and asked for his opinion about the nomination of Umar as the Caliph, Abdul Rahman favored the nomination. Some other companions were also consulted. The general consensus was that Umar was the fittest person to be appointed as the Caliph. Usaid bin Hudai said, "After you, O Caliph, Umar is the most deserving person for the office of the Caliph. There is none more resolute than he among us. His inner self is better than his exterior." Usman favored the nomination and remarked, "What is hidden of Umar is better than what outwardly appears; there is not his equal amongst us." Sayeed bin Zaid supported the proposal emphatically.

The general consensus. The general consensus was that Umar was the fittest person to be nominated as the Caliph. There was, however, an under current of feeling that Umar had the fiery and irascible temper, and he might not be able to show moderation so necessary for the head of the community. Abu Bakr observed that Umar's display of severity was meant to counteract his (Abu Bakr's) leniency. Abu Bakr felt that when the full responsibility of government was devolved upon Umar, he would become moderate in his opinion. Abu Bakr said: "I can say from my personal experience that Umar has always cooled me down whenever I have lost my temper with any one, just as whenever he felt me to be too lenient he counseled greater severity. For this reason I feel certain that with time, Umar will achieve the moderation that you desire."

Objection of Talha. Talha who was related to Abu Bakr, and perhaps coveted the caliphate for himself objected to the nomination of Umar. He said: "O successor of the Prophet, you knew full well how harsh Umar has been towards us all during your regime, and God only knows what he will meet to us when you are gone. You know that you are leaving us forever, and yet you are content to leave us in the hands of a man whose fierce and ungovernable rages are well known to you. Think O Chief, what answer will you give to Your Lord for such a behest?"

At this objection of Talha, Abu Bakr who was lying prostrate on his bed rose up with considerable effort and addressing Talha said: "Have you come to frighten me? I swear that when I meet my Lord, I will gladly tell Him that I appointed as ruler over His people, the man who was the best of them all."

Ali. Thereupon Ali who was present on the occasion rose to say that he would acknowledge no one as Caliph save Umar. Abu Bakr was much impressed with the integrity of Ali for not pressing his own claim, and putting the interests, of the community above his personal interests. Turning to Ali, Abu Bakr said: "Ali, you are indeed a prince in the most exalted sense of the word, for others are mere men."

Umar. Then Abu Bakr sent for Umar, and informed him that he had nominated him as his successor. Umar said that he did not covet the office. Thereupon Abu Bakr said, "But the office needs you. I have prayed to God to direct me rightly to the choice of my successor, and my choice is fundamental for the unity and of the Muslims."

The testament. Umar acquiesced, and Abu Bakr dictated the testament to Usman in the following terms: "In the name of Most Merciful God. This is the last will and testament of Abu Bakr bin Abu Qahafa, when he is in the last hour of the world, and the first of the next; an hour in which the infidel must believe, the wicked be convinced of their evil ways, I nominate Umar bin al Khattab as my successor. Therefore, hear to him and obey him. If he acts right, confirm his actions. My intentions are good, but I cannot see the future results. However, those who do ill shall render themselves liable to severe account hereafter. Fare you well. May you be ever attended by the Divine favor of blessing."

Approval of the people. The testament having been drawn up, Abu Bakr supported by his wife Asma walked up to the door and addressed the people who had collected there. He told them that he had appointed Umar as his successor. They said, "We approve". After obtaining the approval of the people in general terms, Abu Bakr lay on the bed, and prayed to God: "O Lord! I have made this testament for the welfare of the community in order to counteract discord among them. What my intentions are, You know full well. I have spared no pains in making the best selection, O God, I entrust the Muslims to Your care. O Allah, keep their ruler on the right path. O God, make my successor the most pious of rulers, and confer peace on the Muslims."

Counsel to Umar. Addressing his successor, Umar, Abu Bakr said: "Let not sorrow for me divert you from the service of the Lord. You saw what I myself did when the Prophet died, and there could be no greater sorrow for mankind than that. Truly, if grief had stayed me then from girding my loins in the cause of the Lord and of His Prophet, and if, I swear by Allah, I had shown the slightest weakness in carrying out the command of Allah on that day. He would have punished us by bringing on us destruction. I expect you to do your duty against all odds. May God bless you."

Wishes and Regrets of Abu Bakr

Wishes and regrets of Abu Bakr. On his deathbed, when reviewing the main events of his life, Abu Bakr gave expression to certain wishes and regrets. He said that there were three things that he did and which he wished he should not have done. There were three things which he did not do and wished that he should have done them. There were three things which he did not inquire from the Holy Prophet, and which he should have inquired.

Things which he did but should not have done. The first thing, which he did but wished that he should not have done, was that he should not have insisted on Ali offering him allegiance as Caliph. The second thing was that when Faja'a Salmi was brought to him he should not have ordered him to be burnt alive, but should have killed him otherwise or let him free. The third thing was that he should not have accepted the caliphate, but should have seen that either Umar or Abu Ubaida were declared as the Caliph, and he should become a Minister to the Caliph. When Ali was asked to take the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr, that annoyed Fatima, and Abu Bakr felt sorry for such annoyance. Faja'a was burnt to death, and that was against a tradition of the Holy Prophet which laid down that if a person professed to be a Muslim, he should not be burnt to death. Abu Bakr had no personal interest in the Caliphate, and, therefore, he always longed that someone else from among the Quraish should have become the Caliph, and he could have helped him as his Minister. 

Things which he did not do, and wished that he should have done them

The first thing which he did not do, but wished that he should have done it was that when Asha'as bin Qais was brought to him as a captive he should have ordered him to be killed, and should not have pardoned him. The second thing was that when he sent the forces against the apostates he should have remained at Zul Qissa, so that he could have proceeded to the help of the Muslim force fighting against the apostates. The third thing was that when he commissioned Khalid to proceed to the Syrian front, he should have sent Umar to Iraq and in this way he should have spread both his hands in the way of Allah. Asha'as the Kinda chief was deceitful by nature, and Abu Bakr not only pardoned him, but married his sister to him. Abu Bakr felt that that was a mistake as Asha'as was a faithless person. Abu Bakr directed the apostasy campaign from Madina. Abu Bakr felt that a better base for such operations was Zul Qissa.

When Khalid was withdrawn from the Iraq front, the Muslim position on this front became weak. It would have been a better course of action if reinforcement should have been sent to Iraq under the command of a leader like Umar.

Things that he should have inquired from the Holy Prophet. The first thing which Abu Bakr wished to have inquired from the Holy Prophet was as to who should be his successor. The second thing was what share should be allowed to the Ansar in the administration. The third thing was as to what part of the inheritance should be allowed to a niece or a paternal aunt. The caliphate issue has remained a source of great headache to the Muslims and Abu Bakr felt that if there had been any definite instructions of the Holy Prophet on the point that could have eased the situation. The question of the equation between the Ansars and the emigrants also involved considerable controversy, and it would have been in the fitness of things if some definite guidance from the Holy Prophet on the point was forthcoming. The question of giving share to a niece or a paternal aunt involved difficulty and if there had been a specific ruling from the Holy Prophet that would have solved the point. 

Elegy on the Death of Abu Bakr

Kufaf bin Umayr. On the death of Abu Bakr, Khufaf b Umayr wrote an elegy mourning the death of Abu Bakr. He was a descendant of the famous Arab poet Imraul Qais. He was also known as Iba Nudbah, the latter being his mother's name. He was present at the battle of Hunain. At the time of the conquest of Makkah he carried the standard of Banu Salim. He has the honor of being one of the greatest poets of Arab chivalry.

The Elegy. Mourning the death of Abu Bakr, Kufaf said: "Tell every living thing that there is no permanence for it; and for the whole universe, its decree is destruction. The goods of men are but as a trust; Borrowed on the condition of repayment; And a man strives, but there is one who lies in wait for him; The eye mourns for him, who is no more. The man first in faith, without a peer. Verily Abu Bakr was as the rain. That brought verdure to the parched land. When the young Muslim community was threatened with danger He led the Muslims to victory. He was verily a great hero, No one can attain the excellence of his days, may God bless him, and may his soul rest in peace."

Wives and Children of Abu Bakr

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

Qutaila. His first wife was Qutaila. She belonged to the Bani Aamir tribe. She was the mother of two children, Asma and Abdullah. She did 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.

Umm Ruman. Her 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".

Habiba. 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.

Asma. 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.

Abdur Rahman. The eldest son of Abu Bakr was Abdur Rahman. His mother was Umm Ruman, and he was the real brother of Ayesha. When Abu Bakr became a Muslim, and his other children were converted to Islam, Abdur Rahman refused to be converted to Islam. Abu Bakr accordingly separated from him. In the battles of Badr and Uhud, Abdur Rahman fought on the side of the Quraish against the Muslims. He became a Muslim after the Pact of Hudaibiya. Thereafter he participated in the various battles fought by the Muslims. At the battle of Yamama, he killed Mahakkam al Yamama, the General Commanding the forces of Musailma. At the battle of Busra in Syria, he entered the city of Busra through a subterranean passage, and then dashing towards the city gates opened them for the main Muslim army to enter it. He died in 675 C.E,, and buried at Makkah.

Abdullah. The second son of Abu Bakr was Abdullah. He was born of Qutaila. He was married to Atika who was the daughter of Zaid bin Amr bin Naufal. She was a cousin of Umar. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and Abdullah was so much lost in her love that he failed to participate in the various expeditions undertaken by the Muslims. He even neglected his prayers. Abdullah was so much overwhelmed with the love of Atika that he could not attend to other duties. Abu Bakr gave vent to his anger, and told his son in plain words that his failings and shortcomings were too serious to be passed over. Abdullah placed himself at the mercy of his father Abu Bakr decreed that the penalty for such lapses was that Abdullah should divorce Atika within three days. Abdullah divorced Atika in pursuance of the command of his father. That, however, upset the mental equilibrium of Abdullah. He would neither eat nor drink. He would sob and sigh and sing heart-rending verses giving expression to his grief over the loss of his beloved. When the Holy Prophet came to know of the matter, he annulled the divorce, and the lovers were reunited. Thereafter, Abdullah was very particular to take care that his love for Atika did not stand in the way of his duty to God. In all the campaigns that were undertaken by the Holy Prophet thereafter, Abdullah took active part and fought valiantly. Abdullah was wounded in the battle of Taif, and later died of these wounds in 633 C.E. in the first year of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. After the death of Abdullah, Umar married Atika.

Muhammad. The third son of Abu Bakr was Muhammad born of Asma bint Asma. He was hardly two or three years old at the time of the death of Abu Bakr. Asma had two sons who both bore the name 'Muhammad', One was the son of Jafar and the other was the son of Abu Bakr. After the death of Abu Bakr, Asma married Ali and Muhammad bin Abu Bakr was brought up under the care of Ali. He was a great partisan of Ali and he was very active in the coup that led to the martyrdom of Usman. During the caliphate of Ali, Muhammad became the Governor of Egypt. When Muawiyiah captured power, he had Muhammad killed.

Asma. The eldest daughter of Abu Bakr was Asma. Her mother was Qutaila who did not become a Muslim and was divorced by Abu Bakr. When the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr sought refuge in a cave outside Makkah on the occasion of Migration to Madina, Asma used to carry food to them under the cover of darkness. When the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr left the cave, Asma tore her apron and tied the goods with the two belts. For this ingenuity, she received from the Holy Prophet, the title "She of the two belts". She was married to Zubair, a cousin of the Holy Prophet. At Madina, soon after migration, Asma gave birth to Abdullah, who was the first Muslim child to be born after migration. After the tragedy of Kerbala, Abdullah declared himself as the Caliph at Makkah. When the Umayyads stormed the city of Makkah, Abdullah consulted Asma who was then eighty years old, as to what he should do. She advised, "If you believe your cause to be right you should be ready to die for it, if on the other hand your object is merely worldly gain, then you may certainly compromise with your enemy". When Abdullah died and the Umayyads had his body hung at the city gate, Asma went to the dead body of her son, and she said pathetically, "The rider is still riding the horse".

Ayesha. The second daughter of Abu Bakr was Ayesha, who had the unique honor of being the only virgin to be married to the Holy Prophet. She became a widow at a young age. During the caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar she enjoyed great influence. When Ali became the Caliph, she was involved in the battle against him. Thereafter she retired from politics, and lived a quiet life at Madina. She was very talented and was an authority on theological and judicial matters.

Umm Kulsum. The third daughter of Abu Bakr was Umm Kulsum. She was born of Habiba bint Zaid Ansari. Umm Kulsum was born after the death of Abu Bakr. On coming of age, Umm Kulsum was married to Talha bin Ubaidullah. On the death of Talha, she married his brother Abdur Rahman bin Ubaidullah.

Abu Bakr, The Man

Distinctions of Abu Bakr

Distinctions of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was a man of many distinctions. A study of his life reveals that in many respects he had the unique distinction of being the first or the topmost person. Hereunder we attempt to catalogue the main distinctions of Abu Bakr.

Acceptance of Islam. Outside the family of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was the first person to accept Islam. While other persons always indulged in some argument in accepting Islam. Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam without any reluctance or hesitation and without any argument.

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

First public address. 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.

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

His titles. He had the unique distinction of being given the titles of 'Siddiq' and 'Atiq' by the Holy Prophet.

Companionship of the Holy Prophet. Of all the companions, Abu Bakr was the closest and the dearest to the Holy Prophet. He had the unique distinction of being the companion of the Holy Prophet in the cave in Mt. Thaur on the occasion of the Holy Prophet's migration from Makkah to Madina.

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

Wealth of Abu Bakr. When Abu Bakr accepted Islam, he had 40,000 dirhams with him. He spent the whole of this amount in the cause of Islam. The Holy Prophet acknowledged that he had utilized the wealth of Abu Bakr more than the wealth of any other person. When the Holy Prophet invited contributions to finance the Tabuk expedition, Abu Bakr had the unique distinction of contributing all that he had.

The Holy Prophet's regard for Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet was pleased to appoint Abu Bakr as the first "Amirul Hajj" in the history of Islam. Abu Bakr had the distinction to be appointed as the Imam to lead the prayers in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. In his last address at Masjid-i-Nabvi, the Holy Prophet ordered that all doors opening into the mosque should be closed except the door leading to the house of Abu Bakr.

Caliphate. 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.

As a ruler. He was the first Muslim ruler to establish Baitul Mal. He was the first Muslim ruler to establish crown pasture. He was the first Muslim ruler to establish 'Ijtihad'.

His virtues. In the matter of virtue, Abu Bakr excelled all other companions of the Holy Prophet.

Fiqh and Tasawuff. He is the Father of Fiqh. He is the Imam of Sufis. After the Holy Prophet, he was the best interpreter of dreams.

Companionship of the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr had the distinction of being the closest and the dearest companion of the Holy Prophet. Four generations of the family of Abu Bakr had the distinction of being the companions of the Holy Prophet, namely Abu Qahafa the father of Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr himself, Abdul Rahman the son of Abu Bakr, and Abu Atiq Muhammad, a grandson of Abu Bakr. No other family had such distinction. Abu Bakr was the only ruler who became the Caliph during the lifetime of his father.

Conquests. When after the death of the Holy Prophet, most of the tribes of Arabia apostatized, it was Abu Bakr who reconquered Arabia for Islam. He was the first Muslim ruler to conquer Iraq. He was the first Muslim ruler to conquer Syria.

Compilation of the Holy Quran. He was the first person to compile the Holy Quran and called it "Mashaf".

After death. After death, Abu Bakr had the distinction of being buried by the side of the Holy Prophet.

Abu Bakr in the Holy Quran

References in the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr has the unique distinction of being referred to in the Holy Quran in several verses.

Al-Bara'at. In Sura "A1-Bara'at', there is a reference to Abu Bakr in the following verse: "He being the second of the two, When they were in the cave and when Muhammad said to his companion 'Grieve not, surely God is with us,' then God came to their help, and protected them with an army which they saw not". {9:40}

Al-Lail. The following verses in the Sura "Al-Lail" refer to Abu Bakr: "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 will they attain complete satisfaction." {92:18-21}

"He who gives in charity, and fears Allah and in all sincerity testifies to the best, We will indeed, make smooth for him, the path to bliss". {92:1-7}

Al-Ahzab. When the verse "Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet" {33:56} was revealed, Abu Bakr inquired of the Holy Prophet whether he was included in the divine grace which was bestowed on the Holy Prophet. It was on this that the following verse was revealed which contains an implied reference to Abu Bakr: "He it is, Who sends His blessings on him, and so do His angels that He may bring him forth out of utter darkness into light, and He is merciful to the believers'. {33:43}.

Al-lmran. The commentators are agreed that the following verse of Sura "Al-lmran" refers to Abu Bakr and Umar: "And take counsel with them in the affair". (3:158)

Al-Waqiah. Shah Wali Ullah and other commentators hold that in the following verse of Sura "AI-Waqiah", the "believers that are good refers to Abu Bakr and Umar: "And if you back up each other against him, then surely Allah it is Who is his Guardian, and Gabriel, and the believers that do good, and the angels will be his helpers." {66:4}.

Ar-Rahman. According to commentators the following verse in Sura "Ar-Rahman" refers to Abu Bakr: "And for him who fears to stand before his Lord are two gardens", (15:46)

Al-Imran. The following verse in Sura "Al-Imran" with reference to the Jews has an implied reference to Abu Bakr: "And you will certainly hear from those who received the Book before you and from the polytheists much that is wrong, but if you preserve and fear God, that is the steadfastness of things."

An-Nur. In Sura "An-Nur", the following verse refers to Abu Bakr: "And let not those of you who possess grace and abundance swear against giving to the near of kin and the poor and those who have migrated in the way of Allah, and they should pardon and turn away. Do you not like that God should forgive you?" {18:24}

Holy Prophet's Estimate of Abu Bakr

Most virtuous. The Holy Prophet said that if all the virtues were catalogued these would be three sixty in number and Abu Bakr possessed all the three sixty virtues. Among the Companions Abu Bakr was the most virtuous.

Special way. The Holy Prophet said, "Allah will show His glory to the people in a general way, but He will show it to Abu Bakr in a special way."

Greatness of Abu Bakr. About the greatness of Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said: "Never has the sun risen or set on a person, except a Prophet, greater than Abu Bakr." Best of human beings. The Holy Prophet said, "Verily, Abu Bakr is the best of human beings, except the Prophets".

Companionship of Abu Bakr. About the companionship of Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said: "Abu Bakr, you were my companion in the cave and you will be my companion in Heaven on the spring of Kausar."

Kindliest of Persons. Abu Bakr was a kind-hearted person and he freely spent his money for the relief of the Muslims in distress. For this attribute, Abu Bakr earned the following remarks from the Holy Prophet: "The kindliest of my followers towards the believers in faith is Abu Bakr."

Truthful and veracious. About the truth and veracity of Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said: "Never did I invite any person to accept Islam who did not doubt and hesitate and express anxiety save only Abu Bakr who embraced it without the slightest hesitation when I spoke to him of the faith."

The Holy Prophet's confidence in Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet said: "Never was anything revealed to me that I did not pour in Abu Bakr's ears."

Glad tidings of paradise. The Holy Prophet gave glad tidings of paradise to ten of his companions. Abu Bakr headed this list. Addressing Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said: "Abu Bakr, you will be the first of my people to enter paradise. "

Place for Abu Bakr in the paradise. The Holy Prophet even beseeched God to recognize the merits of Abu Bakr: "Almighty God, give, I beseech You, a place to Abu Bakr like that of mine in paradise on the Day of Judgment."

The Holy Prophet's obligations to Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet said: "There is none whom I owe obligation and I did not repay it except Abu Bakr, for I owe him much for which Allah will compensate him on the Day of Judgment."

Obligations of the people to Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet enjoined the Muslims as follows: "The love of Abu Bakr and gratitude towards him is incumbent upon every one of my people "

Abu Bakr, The Man

Personal description. According to Waqidi, Abu Bakr in personal appearance was a man having a fair color 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. Indeed he had the look of a patriarch.

Virtues of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was a paragon of virtues. According to a tradition the Holy Prophet addressing his companions one day asked who out of them had attended a funeral; who had paid alms; who had visited a sick person; who had visited a graveyard; and who had kept a fast. Abu Bakr alone answered to all these requirements. The Holy Prophet said that if all the virtues were catalogued these would be three hundred and sixty in number. The Holy Prophet was pleased to observe that Abu Bakr possessed all these three hundred and sixty virtues.

Siddiq. The Holy Prophet conferred on Abu Bakr the honorific title of Siddiq. There may not be much in a name, but there is much in a surname. If we were to sum the qualities of Abu Bakr in one word, that word would be Siddiq. The word Siddiq may be rendered as "truthful, faithful and veracious". Abu Bakr was truthful. He always spoke the truth. He was a man of strong views. His faith had the strength of rocks. He was a man of iron resolution and when once he formed an opinion, no body could influence him. He was a man of great devotion and dedication. He was a man of great and deep insight and extraordinary judgment. He had a highly developed faculty of perceiving the truth and arriving at unerring judgment. When the Holy Prophet declared his mission, Abu Bakr accepted the call without any hesitation, reluctance or argument. That was because Abu Bakr could perceive where the truth lay. When the Holy Prophet declared that the previous night he had ascended the Heaven, Abu Bakr forthwith believed in such ascension.

Intelligence of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was highly intelligent. When men like Umar felt unhappy over the terms of the Hudaibiya Pact, Abu Bakr felt that the Pact was in fact in the interests of the Muslims. When on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage the Holy Prophet declared that God had perfected the religion for them that day and other persons felt happy, Abu Bakr felt sorry for this implied that having completed his mission the Holy Prophet was about to pass away. When during his illness the Holy Prophet declared that God had given his servant the choice between immortality or a return to Him, and he had accepted the latter course, Abu Bakr wept for this implied that the Holy Prophet was not going to survive his illness.

Memory of Abu Bakr. 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.

Judgment and scholarship of Abu Bakr. About the judgment and scholarship of Abu Bakr, Shah Wali Ullah of Delhi has made the following observations: "He was just like other scholars among the Companions in his knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah. In what he excelled others was that whenever he was faced with a difficult problem, he would exercise his judgment and deeply ponder over it. The Almighty would cast a ray of enlightenment on his heart and would reveal to him the truth. As the manifestation of this enlightenment was connected with the excellence of the heart it impressed itself in the form of determination and not a mere idea".

Steadfastness of Abu Bakr. Because of his inner insight and conviction, Abu Bakr was always steadfast in his actions. When the Holy Prophet died and the people would not believe that he was dead, Abu Bakr made them realize the grim reality, and advised them to be steadfast. When some of the tribes offered to remain Muslims provided they were exempted from the payment of Zakat, and the Companions around him advised him to accept the offer, he remained steadfast and refused to compromise. When Usama's army was to be sent to Syria, many persons advised that it was not the proper time to send the expedition. He remained steadfast in the decision, and decided that the expedition to Syria would be undertaken, whatever the consequences.

Courage of Abu Bakr. Because of his faith and resolution he was very courageous. It is stated that once Ali asked his companions as to whom they considered to be the bravest person. They said that he (Ali) was such a person. Ali said, "No, Abu Bakr was the bravest. On the day of the battle of Badr, when no one was forthcoming to stand guard at the pavilion where the Holy Prophet prayed, Abu Bakr stood with his sword and did not allow the enemy to come near the site."

Abu Bakr's love for Islam. Abu Bakr's love for Islam was of great depth. Islam in fact became the end all and be all of his existence. In the battle of Badr, Abdul Rahman a son of Abu Bakr who had by that time not accepted Islam fought on the side of the Quraish. When Abdul Rahman became a Muslim he told his father that on the day of the battle of Badr, he had on several occasions come within a striking distance, but he went the other way. Abu Bakr said that if he had such an opportunity, he would not have spared him. Abu Bakr was a loving father, but when his son Abdullah in his love for his wife Atika neglected his prayers and did not participate in some expeditions, Abu Bakr took him to task and asked him to divorce his wife.

Generosity of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was very generous. When he became a Muslim he had an amount of 40,000 dirhams. The entire amount was spent by him in the cause of Islam. He paid for the liberation of slaves. He financed the journey of the Holy Prophet from Makkah to Madina on the occasion of emigration. He paid for the land acquired for the construction of the Prophet's mosque at Madina. When the Holy Prophet invited contributions for financing the Tabuk expedition, Abu Bakr contributed all his assets for the purpose, and when the Holy Prophet inquired as to what he had kept for himself and his dependents he said that for himself and his dependents he had left Allah and His Prophet.

Selflessness of Abu Bakr. He was an embodiment of selflessness. When he became the Caliph he was paid a meager allowance from the treasury. On his deathbed he sold a plot of his land and repaid the entire amount to the treasury. He lived a simple unostentatious life. One of his wives once expressed the wish to have a sweet dish. Abu Bakr deposited the amount in the public treasury and had his allowance reduced to the extent of the saving made by his wife, on the ground that such amount was surplus to his genuine needs.

Humility of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was very humble. When he would see a bird he would sigh that he were like such a bird. He would often say that he would prefer to be a hair on the body of a Muslim. When he went to perform the 'Hajj', and some people walked in his train, he asked them not to follow him, but to go their own way. Before becoming the Caliph he used to milk the goats in the neighborhood. After becoming the Caliph when Abu Bakr passed the street, one of the women said that as he had become the Caliph he would no longer milk the goats for them. Abu Bakr heard these remarks and said that the caliphate made no difference to him, and that he would continue to milk their goats. If any one praised him, he would say, "O Allah, You know me more than myself, and I know myself more than these people who praise me. Make me better than what they think of me, and forgive those sins of mine of which they have no knowledge, and do not hold me responsible for what they say."

His avoidance of obligation to others. He took particular care to avoid obligation to others. He would do all the work for himself with his own hands and would not allow other people to oblige him. Even if he happened to drop the reins of the camel from his hands he would alight from the camel, and pick up the reins himself, instead of asking some one else to help him. Once the people around him asked why he did not let other persons do the petty jobs for him. He said, "My beloved Prophet has ordered me not to seek the obligation of any human being, for I want to remain obliged to God alone."

His regard for the poor. Abu Bakr looked after the wants of all the poor people. During the winter he would distribute clothes and blankets among the poor. There is story that in an out of the way street in Madina there was a blind old woman. Umar would go to her house every morning, but he always found that someone else had anticipated his visit and supplied all the wants of the old lady. One day Umar went to the house of the lady earlier than usual and found that the man who visited the old lady every morning was none other than Abu Bakr.

Greatness of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr lived a devoted and dedicated life and he was particular to follow in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet. Love for the Holy Prophet was a passion with him. The Holy Prophet was pleased to acknowledge that while he had been able to repay all the obligations that he owned to others, he had not been able to repay the obligations that he owed to Abu Bakr. During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was only the "second of the two", and he played a supporting and corroborative role. After the death of the Holy Prophet, he rose to his full stature, and he verily proved to be a giant among men. He had to face many crises, but with his wise handling of the situations, all such crises were successfully overcome and Islam was launched on the road to destiny. The Holy Prophet had lit the lamp, and though after the death of the Holy Prophet, a furious storm raged Abu Bakr guarded the lamp with great care, and saw to it that no blowing could extinguish the flame.

Abu Bakr as seen by Western Writers

Western writers. Some of the western writers have paid glowing tributes to Abu Bakr. The assessments made by non-Muslim writers give objective view of the greatness of Abu Bakr.

Encyclopaedia of Islam. In the Encyclopaedia of Islam, it is stated about Abu Bakr: "His was a gentle character. During recitation of the Quran he shed tears, a thing that made great impression on many, but especially on the women; and as his daughter related, he wept with joy at the news that he would accompany Muhammad as companion on emigration. No sacrifice was too great in his eyes for the sake of the new faith. Thus it came about that of his considerable fortune estimated at 40,000 dirhams, he brought to Madina the small sum of 5,OOO dirhams".

Von Kremer. In his book The Orient under the Caliphs, Yon Kremer says: "Abu Bakr the successor and representative of the Prophet in the highest affairs of the Muslim community was a simple man of the old Arabian fashion, and when summoned to the caliphate he was changed in no respect...His household remained as unpretentious as ever. He had only one slave who after finishing the domestic work, made himself useful by cleaning the swords of the faithful."

H. G. Wells. In his History of the World, H. G. Wells writes: "...There can be little doubt that if Muhammad was the mind and imagination of primitive mind. Abu Bakr was its conscience and its will. Throughout their life together it was Muhammad who said the thing, but it was Abu Bakr who believed the thing."

Sir William Muir. In his book The Caliphate, its Rise, Decline and Fall, Sir William Muir has made the following assessment of the character of Abu Bakr: "Abu Bakr had no thought of personal aggrandizement. Endowed with the sovereign and irresponsible power, he used it simply for the interests of Islam, and the people's good. But the grand secret of his strength was faith in Muhammad. "Call me not the Caliph of Allah" he would say, "I am but the Caliph of the Prophet of Allah". The question with him ever was what did Muhammad command, or what now would he have done? From this he never swerved a hair's breadth. And so it was that he crushed apostasy and laid secure the foundations of Islam. His reign was short, but after Muhammad himself there is no one to whom the faith is more beholden."

Stanley Lanepole. In his book Studies in a Mosque, Stanley Lanepole observed: "Abu Bakr's calm judgment and quick sagacity joined to a gentle and compassionate heart, were of incalculable service to the faith of Islam."

Andre Servier. About the qualities of Abu Bakr, Andre Servier has observed as follows in his book, lslam and the Psychology of the Mussalmans: "He was a man of simple manners and in spite of his unexpected elevation lived in poverty, when he died, he left behind a worn out garment, a slave, and a camel. A true patriarch, after Madina's own heart, he had one great quality-energy. He possessed what had given victory to Muhammad and what was lacking in his enemies, an unshakable conviction. He was the right man in the right place."

Dr. Weil. In his work A History of the Islamic Peoples, Dr. Weil writes as follows: "Abu's Bakr's private life was as irreproachable as was his public life. He used the treasures which his Generals sent to him out of the booty for the purposes of the State and State alone. He himself remained as poor as before. He was kind, simple and pious. As the first collector of the Quran, to him belonged the credit of its complete preservation. As a law giver he set an excellent example for his successor, for in cases unprovided for in the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet, he gave decisions in consultation with the jurists, decisions which with few exceptions became binding authorities."

Edward Gibbon. In his History of the Saracens, Edward Gibbon writes: "When Abu Bakr assumed the office of the Caliph, he enjoined on his daughter Ayesha to take a strict account of his patrimony. That it might be evident whether he were enriched or impoverished by three pieces of gold only, but on the Friday of each week, he distributed the residue of his own and the public money first to the most worthy, and then to the most indigent of the Muslims. The remains of his wealth, a coarse garment and five pieces of gold were delivered to his successor, who lamented with a modest sigh of his own inability to equal such an admirable model."

Simon Ockley. In his book History of Saracens, Simon Ockley writes: "He never saved any money in the public treasury, but every Friday night distributed what there was among persons of merit. His chastity, temperance, and neglect of the things of this life was exemplary. He desired Ayesha to take an account of all that he had gotten since he was Caliph, and distributed it among the Mussalmans, being resolved not to be enriched by his preferment. His whole inventory amounted to no more than five dirhams which when Umar heard, he said that Abu Bakr had left his successor a hard pattern."

Abu Bakr in History

Role of Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr's place in history. Abu Bakr became the Caliph on the 8th of June 632 C.E. and he died on 23rd August 634 C.E. The period of his caliphate covers two years, two months and fifteen days only. Judged by the usual standards this period was too short to make an impact on history. Surprisingly enough, however, the caliphate of Abu Bakr did not merely make an impact on history; it changed the very course of history. The suppression of apostasy, the unification of Arabia, and the conquests of greater parts of Iraq and Syria within the space of two years are the extraordinary marvels of history. The speed, the magnitude, the extent and the permanence of these campaigns excite our wonder and evoke our admiration. For these achievements, Abu Bakr holds a unique position in the history of the world in general and the history of Islam in particular.

Dynamics of the leadership of Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr came to power in the midst of a crisis-loaded situation. The crises which he was called upon to encounter were multi-dimensional in character, being psychological, religious, political and international. Islam stood at the brink of a precipice, and any wrong step on the part of Abu Bakr at that stage would have led to the disintegration of Islam. That he not only averted the process of disintegration, but made Islam a world force which could successfully contend against the giant empires of Byzantium and Persia speaks for the dynamics of his leadership.

Historic role of Abu Bakr. The historic role of Abu Bakr comprehends the following achievements: 

  1. His supporting role of Islam, 

  2. His suppression of apostasy and unification of Arabia; and 

  3. His confrontation with the giant empires of Byzantium and Persia and conquests of parts of great Iraq and Syria.

Supporting role of Islam

Conversion to Islam. He accepted Islam without any hesitation, argument or reluctance. His conversion to Islam became a landmark in the history of Islam. His conversion according to Muir proved to be the greatest guarantee of the sincerity of Muhammad (peace be on him).

Missionary of Islam. He was the greatest missionary of Islam after the Holy Prophet. Through his efforts many young men among the Quraish joined the fold of Islam.

Liberation of slaves. When the slaves who had accepted Islam were tortured by the Quraish, Abu Bakr purchased these slaves from their masters and set them free.

Persecutions of the Quraish. Whenever the Quraish maltreated the Holy Prophet and did him violence, Abu Bakr always intervened to protect the Holy Prophet.

Ascension. When the Holy Prophet gave an account of his ascension and some of the Muslims, even, were overcome by doubts, Abu Bakr declared in unequivocal terms that what the Holy Prophet said was the truth. Abu Bakr became a witness to the truth.

Migration. When the Holy Prophet migrated from Makkah to Madina, Abu Bakr was his companion. Abu Bakr looked after the Holy Prophet with the affection and tenderness of a true friend. He met the entire expenses of the journey.

Masjid-i-Nabvi. When the Holy Prophet purchased a plot of land for constructing a mosque at Madina, Abu Bakr paid the price.

Battles. In the battle of Badr, Abu Bakr acted as a bodyguard of the Holy Prophet. In the battle of Uhud when there was confusion and other companions dispersed, Abu Bakr was the first to join the Holy Prophet. In the battle of Hunain when the other companions dispersed, Abu Bakr continued to attend the Holy Prophet.

Hudaibiya Pact. When the Hudaibiya Pact was executed and some of the companions, including Umar were critical of the terms of the Pact, Abu Bakr supported the Holy Prophet, and held that it was in the best interest of the Muslims.

Liberal contribution. When the Holy Prophet invited contributions for the financing of the Tabuk expedition, Abu Bakr donated all that he had, saying that for him and his family Allah and the Holy Prophet were enough.

Psychological crisis. When the Holy Prophet died the entire Muslim community was in the throes of a psychological crisis, and even such a man as Umar declared, "Who says that the Holy Prophet is dead? Moses like he has gone to meet the Lord, and would return to us after some time". At this juncture, Abu Bakr perceived the grim reality and said, "He who worships Muhammad let him know that Muhammad (peace be on him) being a mortal is dead. But he who worships the God of Muhammad (peace be on him), let him know that He being immortal lives and would live for ever".

Support for the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr did not support the Holy Prophet in his lifetime alone; he supported him even after his death. When it was suggested to him that Usama's expedition should not be dispatched or at least Usama should be replaced by a veteran commander, Abu Bakr rejected the demands on the ground that the orders of the Holy Prophet had to be followed at all costs, and could not be reversed.

Zakat. When some tribes sought exemption from Zakat, Abu Bakr refused the demand on the ground that with regard to a fundamental injunction of Islam there could be no compromise.

Caliphate. When a political crisis threatened the Muslim community in the matter of the successor to the Holy Prophet, Abu Bakr was able to persuade the Ansar to relinquish the caliphate in favor of the Quraish.

Savior of Islam. When after the death of the Holy Prophet the Muslim community came to be threatened with danger from all sides, Abu Bakr piloted the crisis with consummate skill. He did not merely save Islam in Arabia; he made Islam a world force which successfully confronted the empires of Persia and Byzantium. Abu Huraira, an eminent companion, declared that but for Abu Bakr, Islam would have disintegrated. Abu Bakr, verily, played the role of the savior of Islam.

Preservation of the Holy Ouran. Abu Bakr sponsored the compilation of the Mushaf, and in this way the Word of God was preserved for all times for the guidance of mankind.


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