Friday, November 2, 2018

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq: Eminent Companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Whenever the names of eminent and most revered companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are taken, the name of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq takes precedence over everyone else, for Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was the first adult person outside the family of the Prophet of Allah who embraced Islam. He submitted to Islam with such determination that once the Prophet ﷺ 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,”  for Abu Bakr knew the Prophet of Allah better than any other man.

Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah (27 October 573 CE – 23 August 634 CE), popularly known as Abu Bakr served as a trusted advisor to Muhammad. During Muhammad's lifetime, he was involved in several campaigns and treaties. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  gave the title of "atiqa (the one saved from hell fire by God)" and also called him Al-Siddiq (Testifier to the Truth) for he believed event of Isra and Mi'raj  of the Prophet  when other people hesitated.

Three years younger to the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr has known the him much before the advent of Islam, probably for the reason that both were merchants and otherwise been from the same clan of Qureysh, as lineage of Abu Bakr joined that of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the eighth degree in their common ancestor Murrah ibn Ka'b.

Abu Bakr was more than a great believer, as soon as he became a Muslim, he immediately began to preach Islam to others. Among those who accepted Abu Bakr’s invitation to Islam were ‘Uth man, Az Talhah, ‘Abdur– Zubayr, Rahman ibn Awf, Sa’ad ibn Waqqas and others who later became the pillars of Islam.

Abu Bakar was always by the side of the Prophet of Allah and at many a times saved Him of misconduct by the pagans of Makkah.  Once while the Holy Prophet ﷺ was busy his prayers in the Ka’bah, a disbeliever by the name of ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’it took a long piece of cloth and put it around the Prophet’s neck and twisted it hard in an attempt to strangle the Prophet to death. When Abu Bakr saw the Prophet ﷺ in distress, he ran to the help of the Prophet, he pushed ‘Uqbah aside and took off the cloth from around the Prophet’s neck. Thereupon the enemies of Islam came down upon Abu Bakr and beat him unmercifully. Abu Bakr with faith like a rock did not care for his own suffering, he was glad that he was able to save the Prophet of Allah, even at the risk of his own life. 

Though Abu Bakr was one of the wealthiest man of Makkah, he had a big heart and upon embracing Islam he opened his vaults for the help of the poor who had embraced Islam and were deprived of their daily wages by their disbeliever masters. He also bought away many slave who embraced Islam from the shackles of their non Muslims masters and saved them from the barbaric torture meted out to them. Abu Bakr could not bear the ugly scenes that one came across every day when the Muslim slaves were stripped naked and made to lie on the burning sands with heavy stones put on their chests. Bilal Al-Habashi, the slave of Umayya bin Khalaf, was among those who were set free by Abu Bakr, who later became the Mu’azzin (prayer caller) at the Prophet’s mosque. 

Most of the slaves liberated by Abu Bakr were either women or old and frail men. Once father of Abu Bakr asked him why he didn't liberate strong and young slaves who could be a source of strength for him, Abu Bakr replied that he was freeing the slaves for the sake of Allah, and not for his own sake. According to Sunni tradition the following verses of the Qur'an were revealed due to this: 
As for him who gives and is god fearing and confirms the reward most fair, We shall surely ease him to the Easing. {92:5–7}....he who gives his wealth to purify himself and confers no favour on any man for recompense, only seeking the Face of his Lord the Most High; and he shall surely be satisfied. {92:18–21}.
While preparing for the Battle of Tabuk, when the Prophet of Allah asked his companions to generate funds for an upcoming event, Abu Bakr brought every piece of his household. Seeing the enormous consignment, the Holy Prophet  asked Abu Bakr that what he had left back home for his family. Abu Bakr replied: "Allah and his Messenger are enough for them." Hearing this, the Holy Prophet  ﷺremarked: "Abu-Bakr has favored me much with his property and company. If I were to take a Khalil (an intimate friend) from mankind I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr.” (Bukhari).

When living in Makkah became difficult for the Muslims, the Holy Prophet  decided to migrate to Medina and chose Abu Bakr to accompany him. When pagans of Makkah came to know of Holy Prophet's flight from Makkah, they sent armed men in all directions to apprehend him. Sensing the danger at one time, the duo hid themselves in the Cave of Thaur. Ad when one of the patrol almost reached at the mouth of the cave, Abu Bakr got frightened but the Holy Prophet  calmed him and told him "do not fear, certainly Allah is with us”. Read the complete incident already posted in one of our posts: Prophet's Migration to Medina and Miracle of Allah

Once settled in Medina, Prophet   desired to construct a mosque. A piece of land was chosen and the price of the land was paid for by Abu Bakr. Muslims constructed a mosque named Al-Masjid al-Nabawi at the site and Abu Bakr also took part in construction. Abu Bakr re-started the his cloth business in Medina and soon his business firmly established. Early in 623, Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha, who was already engaged to Muhammad, was handed over to Muhammad in a simple marriage ceremony, and this further strengthened the relation between Abu Bakr and Prophet Muhammad .

Abu Bakr was by the side of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in all battles fought against the disbelievers. During the battles of Uhud and Hunain, when some members of the Muslim army showed signs of weakness, Abu Bakr’s faith never wavered and he always stood like a rock by the side of the Holy Prophet. In the  Battle of Badr, Abu Bakr's son, Abdur Rahman, was fighting on the side of the army of Makkah. After accepting Islam, Abdur Rahman said to his father, “O Father, at Badr, you were twice under my sword, but my love for you held my hand back.” To this, Abu Bakr replied, “Son, if I had you only once under my sword, you would have been no more.” 

The standing of Abu Bakr near the Messenger ﷺ of Allah can be judged from the fact that Messenger ﷺ of Allah made him lead the prayers in Masjid e Nabawi in His own nonappearance. The Prophet ﷺ has been quoted as saying: “Tell Abu Bakr from my side to offer Salat to people (Muslims). [In absence of Prophet ﷺ ]” (Bukhari and Muslim). While one day when Abu Bakr was away, Umar was appointed by the companions to lead the prayers in his absence. Realizing the change of voice, the Prophet ﷺ said: “This is not Abu Bakr’s voice, no one but he should lead prayers, he is the fittest person for this position”.

And it was Abu Bakr who on the day of demise of Prophet ﷺ controlled the emotions of the companions and calmed them down. He said: “O People! If anyone among you worshiped Muhammad ﷺ, let him know that Muhammad ﷺ is dead. But those who worshiped Allah, let them know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur’an. It says: “Muhammad ﷺ 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?” Abu Bakr's acumen and leadership qualities thus made the Muslims of the time realize that they needed a man like Abu Bakr to fill the position of leadership amongst them.

After the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , there arose a dispute as to who should be the first caliph from among the Muhajirun (refugees from Mecca) or the Ansar (the people of Madinah). At this critical juncture, Abu Bakr rose to the occasion and said: “Both Muhajirun and Ansar have done great service to Islam. But the former were the first to accept Islam, they were always very close to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ . So, O Ansar, let the Caliph be from amongst them”. After a short discussion, the Ansar agreed that they should choose the Caliph from amongst the Muhajirun, being from the tribe of Quraish and being the first to accept Islam. Abu Bakr then suggested two names: Umar bin Al-Khattab and Abu Ubaida Ibn A-Jarrah. Bewildered by the decision, both honourable companions said:  “O Siddiq, how can that be? How can anyone else fill this position as long as you are among us? You are the top man amongst he Muhajirun. You were the Companion of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the Thawr 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 Holy Prophet  . Hold out your hand that we may pledge loyalty to you”. But Abu Bakr was hesitant to assume this great burden did not stretch out his hand. Umar saw that the delay might lead to the reopening of the disagreements so he himself took Abu Bakr’s hand out and pledged loyalty to him. Others followed by example, and Abu Bakr became the first Caliph by general consent of the Muslims.

After his election as the Caliph, Abu Bakr addressed the Muslims with these words: 
“O People! I have been chosen by you as your leader, although I am no better than any of you. If I do any wrong, set me right. Listen, truth is honesty and untruth is dishonesty. The weak among you are the powerful in my eyes, as long as I do not give them their dues. The powerful among you are weak in my eyes, as long as I do not take away from them what is due to others. Listen carefully, if people give up striving for the Cause of Almighty Allah, He will send down disgrace upon them. If people become evil-doers, Almighty Allah will send down calamities upon them. “Obey me as long as I obey Allah and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. If I disobey Allah and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, you are free to disobey me.”
Ali, cousin of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ along with some of his relatives delayed their pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr for six months after a difference of opinion with the Caliph due to the right of inheritance of the Prophet’s land. Although both men respected each other, and Ali soon after the death of his wife Fatimah gave the pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr's Caliphate lasted for 27 months, during which he crushed the rebellion of the Arab tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the successful Ridda Wars. In the last months of his rule, he sent general Khalid ibn al-Walid on conquests against the Sassanid Empire in Mesopotamia and against the Byzantine Empire in Syria. This would set in motion a historical trajectory (continued later on by Umar and Uthman ibn Affan) that in just a few short decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history. 

Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving the Qur'an in written form. Please read details in our earlier post: Brief History of Compilation of the Holy Quran

On 23 August 634, Abu Bakr fell sick and did not recover. His illness was prolonged, and when his condition worsened and realizing end was near, he felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death. He appointed Umar as his successor after discussing with some companions. Some of them favored the nomination and others disliked it, due to the tough nature of Umar. Abu Bakr thus dictated his last testament to Uthman ibn Affan as follows:
In the name of Most Merciful Allah. This is the last will and testament of Abu Bakr bin Abu Quhafa, 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.
On Monday, 23 August 634 (hijri: 7th of Jamadi-ui- Akhir of the 13th AH), Abu Bakr died. The funeral prayer was led by Umar. and was buried the same night by the side of grave of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  in Aisha's house near Al-Masjid al-Nabawi.

Background Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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