Abu Bakr Siddiq (First Caliph) “No one has been a better companion to me than Abu Bakr,” said Prophet (SAW) in his last sermon. A great reward indeed! Abu Bakr (RA) had earned it.
Abu Bakr (RA) was two years younger than the Prophet (SAW). His parents named him Abdul Kaaba, which means the servant of the Kaaba. When he became a Muslim, the Prophet (SAW) changed his pagan name to Abdullah. However, in early youth he had adopted the surname of Abu Bakr. He had come to be known by this name among people. Even to this day, the world generally knows him as Abu Bakr.
The name of Abu Bakr’s father was Uthman, but he was known as Abu Qahafa. Salma was Abu Bakr’s mother. She was also known as Umm-ul-Khair. Abu Bakr belonged to a branch of the Quraish.
From early years, Abu Bakr (RA) was known for good and upright nature. He was honest and truthful. He came of a noble family. These things won him respect among the people. His goodness also won him the friendship of young Muhammad (SAW). The two became fast friends in early boyhood. The friendship was to prove lifelong and history-making.
When he grew up, Abu Bakr (RA) became a rich merchant. But he used to be very kind-hearted. When he saw someone in trouble, his heart melted. He did his best to help him. If his money could remove suffering, he did not care home much he had to spend. Once he gave away thirty-five dirham’s out of his total fortune of forty thousand. He was so honest in his dealings that people kept their money with him. Abu Bakr (RA) had a sincere heart and a firm will. Nothing could stop him from doing what he thought was the right thing to do.
These great qualities were soon to serve the noblest cause known to the world. Abu Bakr (RA) was to become the strongest supporter of the Redeemer of mankind. He was to become the first among the Companions. He was to make Arabia and thereby the world safe for Islam after the Prophet (SAW) has passed away.
All his life he stood by the side of the Prophet (SAW). He did not care for his life. He did not care for his riches. He did not care for what others said about him. His only ambition was to serve the Prophet (SAW) more than anyone else. The cost did not matter. The ambition was fulfilled. And Abu Bakr (RA) got his reward in full. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was well pleased with him. He gave him the first place among the Companions. Abu Bakr (RA) was to be the first man to fill the place of the Prophet (RA). He was also to lie in eternal rest by the Prophet’s (SAW) side.
Abu Bakr (RA) was always very close to the Prophet (SAW). He knew him better than any other man. He knew how honest and upright his friend had always been. So he was the first among men to believe in the Prophet’s (SAW) mission. He was the first adult male to accept Islam. After the first revelation, the Prophet (SAW) told him what had happened at Mount Hira. He told him that Allah had made him His Messenger. Abu Bakr (RA) did not stop to think. He at once became a Muslim. Once the Prophet (SAW) himself remarked, “I called people to Islam. Everybody thought over it, at least for a while. But this was not the case with Abu Bakr. The moment I put Islam before him, he accepted it without any hesitation.”
Abu Bakr (RA) did more than that. As soon as he became a Muslim, he began to preach Islam to others. He had many friends. The friends knew that Abu Bakr (RA) was sincere and truthful. They knew he would never support a wrong cause. He called them to Islam and they became Muslims. Among them were men like Uthman (RA), Zubair (RA), Talha(RA), Abdur Rahman bin Auf (RA)and Saad bin Waqqas (RA). These men later became the pillars of Islam.
The Prophet (SAW) called at Abu Bakr’s (RA) house every day. The two sad down and thought out ways of spreading Islam. Together they went to people and places and delivered the message of Allah. Wherever the Prophet (SAW) went, Abu Bakr (RA) went with him.
One day the Prophet (SAW) was saying his prayers in the Kaaba. He was totally lost in the thoughts of Allah. Abu Jahl and some other chiefs of Mecca were sitting in the courtyard of the Kaaba. “I must finish with Muhammad today,” said Abu Jahl. So saying, he took a long piece of cloth. He put it around the holy Prophet’s neck. Then he twisted it hard. He was going to strangle the Messenger of Allah (SAW) to death. The other chiefs looked on and laughed.
Abu Bakr (RA) happened to see this from a distance. He at once ran to the help of the Prophet (SAW). He pushed Abu Jahl aside and took off the cloth from around the Prophet’s (SAW) neck. Thereupon Abu Jahl and other enemies of Islam came down upon Abu Bakr (RA). They beat him very much. Indeed, the beating was so severe that Abu Bakr (RA) fell down senseless. He was carried home. He could not regain his senses till after several hours. And when he did come to himself, the first question he asked was, “Is the Prophet (SAW) un-hurt?” Abu Bakr (RA) did not care for his own suffering. He was glad that he was able to save the Prophet’s (SAW) life. Abu Bakr (RA) knew full well that if any harm came to the Prophet (SAW), the only hope of mankind would be gone. This made him risk everything he held dear, for the safety of the Prophet (SAW) and for the spread of his message.
Abu Bakr’s (RA) wealth came to the rescue of many helpless Muslim slaves. He bought them from their inhuman masters and set them free. Bilaal (RA), was one of such slaves. He was the slave of Omayya bin Khalaf. Omayya was a heartless man. He would strip Bilaal (RA) of all clothes, make him lie on the burning sand at mid-day and then lash him mercilessly. Despite this torture Bilaal (RA) would go on saying, “Allah is one! Allah is one!” One day Abu Bakr (RA) happened to pass by. He was greatly moved by the sight. “Why are you so cruel to this helpless man?” he asked Omayya. “If you feel for him, why you don’t buy him?” retorted Omayya. So Abu Bakr (RA) at once bought Bilaal (RA) at a heavy price and set him free. Bilaal (RA) afterwards became the well-known “Muezzin” [ one who gives the call for prayer ] at the Prophet’s Mosque.
The Title of “Siddiq”
I n the tenth year of his mission, the Prophet (SAW) had the Mairaaj of Ascension. One night the angel Jibraeel (AS) came with the word that Allah the Almighty wanted the Prophet (SAW) to come all the way up to the highest heaven. The Prophet (SAW) undertook the journey.
In the morning, after the ascension had taken place, the Prophet (SAW) talked to people about the Mairaaj. This drew the jeers of his enemies.
“Look!” the howled out, “what nonsense he talks! Surely, now his followers too will laugh at him. Who is going to believe in such a midsummer night dream?”
The talk was going on when Abu Bakr (RA) came up. “Do you know, Abu Bakr, what news your friend has for you in the morning?” said one of the mean. “He says he was on the highest heaven last night, having a talk with Allah, the Almighty. Would you believe it?”
“I would believe anything that the Messenger of Allah says,” replied Abu Bakr (RA)
When the Prophet (SAW) learnt of this, he at once said, “Abu Bakr is the `Siddiq’.” `Siddiq’ is a person so sincere of heart that doubts never mar his love. Abu Bakr earned this title because of his faith was too strong to be shaken by anything.
W hen the Makkans were intent on putting out, once and for all, the light of Islam, Allah commanded the Prophet (SAW) to move to Medina. In the burning heat of the midday sun, there was a knock at Abu Bakr’s (RRA) door. He ran to the door and found the Messenger of Allah (SAW) standing outside. “I must leave for Medina tonight,” said The Prophet (SAW).
“Will I also have the honor of going with you?” asked Abu Bakr (RA) eagerly.
“Of course. Set about getting things ready.” Replied the Prophet (SAW)
Abu Bakr (RA) was beside himself with joy. “I have been looking forward to this day for months,” he exclaimed. “I have specifically kept two camels to carry us to Medina.”
It was Abu Bakr (RA) who made all the arrangements for the historic journey. For three days he and the Prophet (SAW) lay hidden in the Thaur cave. Abu Bakr’s (RA) slave tended the flocks of goats near the cave all day and supplied them fresh milk for food. His son, Abdullah, brought news about what the Makkans were doing.
The Makkans were searching for the Prophet (SAW). Once they came right to the mouth of the cave. Abu Bakr (RA) grew pale with fright. He feared, not for himself, but for the Prophet (SAW). However, the Prophet (SAW) remained perfectly calm. “Do not fear,” he said to Abu Bakr, “certainly Allah is with us.”
Of all the companions, Abu Bakr (RA) had the honor of being with the Prophet (SAW) during the most critical days of his life. Abu Bakr (RA) knew full well what this honor meant. And he did full justice to the trust put in him.
When peace talks at Hudaibiya were going on, Abu Bakr (RA) sat by the side of the Prophet (SAW). During conversation, the spokesman of the Quraish ever now and then gave a jerk to the beard of the Prophet (SAW), after the Arab fashion. This was too much for Abu Bakr (RA). He took out his sword and looked angrily at the man. “If that hand touches the beard of the Prophet (SAW) again,” he warned, “it will not be allowed to go back.”
This amazed the Makkans agents. “What a change in Abu Bakr!” they whispered to one another. “He was known for soft-heartedness. How strong and firm he is now become! He is no longer the self-same Abu Bakr.”
Tabuk was the last expedition of the Prophet (SAW). He was keen to make it a great success. He asked people to help the expedition with whatever they could. This time Abu Bakr (RA) beat all past records. He took all his money and household articles and heaped them at the Prophet’s feet.
“Have you left back anything for your wife and children?” asked the Prophet (SAW).
“Allah and His Apostle are enough for them,” replied Abu Bakr (RA) calmly. Those standing around were stunned. It was impossible to outdo Abu Bakr in the field of service to Islam. The Prophet (SAW) felt much pleased at this answer. He made Abu Bakr (RA) the standard-bearer of the expedition. Abu Bakr’s closeness to the Prophet (SAW) and his boundless devotion to Islam won him universal respect. Not only was he the first man to accept Islam, he was also the foremost among Muslims to uphold the cause of Islam. Ever since he came to Medina, the Prophet (SAW) himself led prayers in the Prophet’s Mosque. It was an unusually high office which the Messenger of Allah (SAW) himself filled. During his last illness, the Prophet (SAW) could no longer lead prayers. He grew too weak to go to the mosque. He had to appoint someone to act in his place. This honor also fell to the lot of Abu Bakr (RA). Aisha (RA), who was Abu Bakr’s (RA) daughter and a wife of the Prophet (SAW), thought that the burden was too much for her tender-hearted father. She pleaded with the Prophet (SAW) to excuse here father from this duty. But the Prophet (SAW) did not change his mind. Thus in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAW) Abu Bakr (RA) came to fill the highest office under Islam. One day Abu Bakr (RA) was away on some business and Umar (RA) led the prayer in his absence. “This is not Abu Bakr’s voice,” remarked the ailing Messenger of Allah (SAW). “No one but he should lead prayers. He is the fittest person for this high office.” On the last day of his life, the condition of the Prophet (SAW) became suddenly better for a while. It was early morning. Abu Bakr (RA) was leading the prayer in the mosque. The Prophet (SAW) lifted the curtain of his door and fixed his gaze on the worshippers. They were busy in prayer under Abu Bakr’s (RA) leadership. A smile lite up on the pale face of the Prophet (SAW). He let go of the curtain, as his weak hand could no longer hold it. But he was happy at the thought that he had chosen the best man to fill his place. The news of the Prophet’s (SAW) death came as a stunning shock to everyone. How could it be? He had been ill for some days, they all knew. But death was unbelievable. That simply could not be. Huge crowds gathered in the mosque. No one knew what to do. There was utter confusion. Umar (RA) was so overcome with emotion that he drew his sword and declared, “If anyone says that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) is dead. I will cut off his head!” Things were in this state when Abu Bakr (RA) entered the mosque. Finding the Prophet (SAW) better that morning, he had gone a few miles outside of Medina, earlier in the day, but had come back on hearing the sad news. He took his stand in a corner of the courtyard and called out to the people. All eyes were turned towards him. Then he began his famous address: “O people! If anyone among you worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worship Allah, let him know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur’an. It says, `Muhammad is only a Messenger of Allah There have been Messengers before him. What then, will you turn back from Islam, if he dies or is killed?” These words of Abu Bakr worked magic. In no time the confusion was gone. The words of the Qur’an swept of all doubts from people’s minds. They got ready to face facts.
Election of Abu Bakr
The first problem before the people was the election of a new leader. There had to be a head of the State of things could not work. The need was too urgent to allow delay. Delay might have meant disorder and the undoing of all that the Messenger of Allah had done. The Prophet of Allah (SAW) had died but the head of the state had to live on. The two big groups among Muslims were the Muhajirin (refugees from Mecca) and the Ansar (helpers or the people of Medina). The Ansar gathered together at Thaqifa Bani Saida, their meeting place, near the house of Saad bin Abada. The talk naturally centered on the election of a Caliph. Saad, the Ansar leader, stood up and said that the Caliph must be from among them. Many voices seconded him. One man, however, stood up and said, “But how about the Muhajirin? They have perhaps a better claim.” “Then let there be two caliphs,” suggested someone, “one from among the Ansar and the other from among the Muhajirin.” Someone told Abu Bakr (RA) what was going on at this gathering. He saw the need to act quickly or confusion might set in again. So taking with him a part of Muhajirin he went to Thaqif Bani Saida. He addressed the gathering and said, “Both the Muhajirin and the Ansar have done great services to Islam. But the former were the first to accept Islam. They were always very close to the Messenger of Allah. So, O Ansar let the Caliph be from among them.”
To this a man from the Khazraj tribe replied, “If you don’t want a Caliph from among us, let there be two Caliphs, one an Ansari and the other a Muhajir.”
“That won’t work,” said Abu Obaida bin Jarrah. “O Ansar, you are the people who made Islam strong now, don’t do anything that may undo your work.”
Hearing this, another man said, “O Ansar, if we did anything for Islam, we did it to please Allah and His Apostle. We did not thereby oblige anybody. This should not be made a plea to win office. Listen, the holy Prophet belonged to the Quraish tribe. The Quraish have a greater right to fill his place. By Allah, I do not think it right to quarrel with them over this matter. Fear Allah, and do not oppose them.”
This speech of a man from among them silenced the Ansar. They agreed to have a Muhajif as the Caliph. So Abu Bakr (RA) said, “Friends, I think either Umar or Abu Obaida should be the Caliph. Chose one of these two gentlemen.”
Hearing this both Umar and Abu Obaida jumped to their feet, and exclaimed, “O Siddiq, how can that be? How can anyone else fill this office as long as you are among us? You are the top man among the Muhajirin. You were the companion of the Prophet (SAW) in the Thaur Cave. You led prayers in his place, during his last illness. Prayer is the foremost thing in Islam. With all these qualifications, you are the fittest person to be the successor of the Prophet (SAW). Hold out your hand that we many pledge loyalty to you.” But Abu Bakr (RA) did not stretch out his hand. Umar (RA) saw that delay might lead to the reopening of the whole question. That could easily create difficulties. So he himself took Abu Bakr’s (RA) hand and pledged loyalty to him. Others followed his example. Men from all sides rushed to pledge loyalty to the successor of the Prophet (SAW). Abu Bakr (RA) became Caliph by the general consent of the people.
The First Address
On the following day, Abu Bakr (RA) went to the Prophet’s (SAW) mosque here people took the general oath of loyalty. When this was over, Abu Bakr (RA) mounted the pulpit as the Caliph of Islam. Then he spoke to the gathering as follows: “O people, I have been elected your leader, although I am not better than anyone from among you. If I do any good, give me your support. If I go wrong, set me right. Listen, truth is honesty and untruth is dishonesty. The weak among you are powerful in my eyes, as long as I do not get them their due, Allah willing. The powerful among you are weak in my eyes, as long as I do not take away from them what is due to others, Allah willing. Listen, if people give up striving for the cause of Allah, Allah sends down disgrace on them. If a people become evil doers, Allah sends down calamities on them. Listen, you must obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. If I disobey Allah and His Messenger, you are free to disobey me.” Such was the Magna Carta granted by the first Caliph of Islam to his people, on the first day of his rule, without their asking. Abu Bakr (RA)showed by his example that in Islam government means government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Four or six months Ali (RA) and some of his relatives did not pledge loyalty to Abu Bakr (RA). That was because of a difference of opinion with the Caliph. The Prophet (SAW) had some land at Medina and Khaibar. His daughter, Fatima, and his uncle, Abbas, laid claim to this land. But Abu Bakr (RA) set aside the claim, in the light of what the Prophet (SAW) himself had said. “We Prophets cannot be inherited;” was his saying; “whatever we leave behind is public property.” Fatima (RA) new nothing of this saying of her father. She thought she was perfectly right in her claim. This created a little bitterness in her mind, and the mind of her husband, Ali (RA). The hypocrites were quick to add to the misunderstanding. But Abu Bakr (RA) and Ali (RA) were equally unselfish. During Fatima’s illness, Abu Bakr (RA) himself went to see her and cleared away the misunderstanding. After her death, Ali (RA) went to Abu Bakr (RA) and said, “O Siddiq, we admit your superiority. We do not envy the position Allah has given you. But as relatives of the Prophet (SAW), we thought Caliphate to be our right. You had taken away this right of ours.” These words brought tears in Abu Bakr’s (RA) eyes and he said, “By Allah, the relatives of the Prophet (SAW) are dearer to me than my own relatives.” The assurance satisfied Ali (RA). He went to the mosque and publicly took the pledge of loyalty.
The Passing Away Of Abu Bakr (RA)
After an illness of two weeks, Abu Bakr (RA) passed away. He was sixty-three at the time. He was buried by the side of the Prophet (SAW).Before his death he said, “Do not use new cloth to cover my dead body. The sheet of cloth I have on will do for me. Wash it clean.” “But this is too old and worn, father,” said his daughter Aisha.“This old and worn sheet will do for me,” he replied.This parting wish was acted upon. The second wish of the dying Caliphs was, “Sell my land and pay back in the public treasury all the money I got as my salary.” This was also done. Before he became the Caliph, Abu Bakr was a well-to-day merchant. The affairs of the Caliphate left him no time to look after his own business. The matter was put before the Companions. They allowed the Caliph a salary of six thousand dirham’s a year. All this money was paid back to the Bait-ul-Mal (the Public Treasury) after the Caliph’s death.Thus Abu Bakr (RA) , the first Caliph, left behind a noble example of selfless service. He lived and worked for Islam to the last breath. And for his tireless labors, he sought no worldly reward.
Two Years Caliphate of Abu Bakr’s
Abu Bakr (RA) was Caliph for only two years, three months and ten days. This was a relatively short period of time in the life of people. But during this short period, Abu Bakr (RA) was able to do great things for Islam. These achievements have made his name immortal. They have placed him among the greatest men of all time. When Abu Bakr (RA) too over, Islam was confined to Arabia alone. And here, too its hold was rather shaky. In many parts of the country, Islam was but a name. It was not a way of life with most people. Scores of tribes had thought of the Prophet (SAW) has a mere king. They tried to throw off his yoke as soon as he was no more. Abu Bakr (RA) taught these people a lasting lesson. He taught them that Islam was a way of life.
Abu Bakr (RA) was able to do this because of his unshakable faith. No difficulties could take him off the path of the Prophet. Abu Bakr (RA) was as sincere as he was firm in faith. He lived up to every word of what he said at the beginning of his Caliphate. He was never anything but the faithful agent of Allah and His Apostle, and the humblest servant of his people. It was this fact which won him the deepest love and respect for all classes of his people. The result was that Islam took an unshakable hold on the country of its birth. Soon it gathered enough strength to overlap its boundaries. It struck at the two most feared powers of the time. And lo! It was successful. Abu Bakr (RA) had put Islam on the road to worldwide expansion. Islam means total submission to the will of Allah. It means that utter absence of all selfishness. The Prophet (SAW) showed by his example how that goal could be reached. He showed how the power of the State should not be used for private ends but for the public good. Abu Bakr (RA) was the first among his followers to live up to the Prophet’s (SAW) example.. He spent every minute of the last two years of life in the service of his people, but got not a penny as wages. Abu Bakr (RA) had several sons and many near relatives. For public offices, he did not choose anyone of them. He rather chose other people who were fit for public service. He had to nominate his own successor to prevent quarrels. But his choice fell on none of his own relatives. His choice was rather the man whom he honestly believed to be the best among the Companions. All the same, he did not force his choice on people. He put his proposal before the Companions. When they had agreed to it, he put it before the people. In short, Abu Bakr (RA) showed the world what government of the people, for the people, and by the people really meant. Neither the East nor the West had ever known such a form of government before. The mighty empires of Iran and Byzantium were based upon naked force. In short Abu Bakr (RA) kept going the great work of the Prophet (SAW). For that he had to fight hard. He fought with a will and with a faith that amazed everyone. Islam is for ever grateful to him for the great services he rendered to it.