Sacrifices, achievements of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.)

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By: Prof. Bashir Ahmad Dar

Among the greatest Suhaba or companions of Prophet (SAW) who rendered unparalleled services to Islam was Amirul Moomineen Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.). He was destined to be the first Caliph after the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). His full name is Abdullah bin Abu Quhafah Uthman bin Aamer Al Qurashi Al Taymi. He belonged to the Quresh tribe to which the Prophet (S.A.W.) belonged and his lineage joins with that of the Prophet (S.A.W.) six generations before himself, in Murrah Ben Kaab.

Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) took birth in Makkah Arabia  in the year 573 AD (Christian Era), two years and some months after the birth of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) was brought up nicely by his good parents, thus he gained a considerable self-esteem and noble status . His father Uthman Abu Quhafah accepted Islam on the Day of Victory in Makkah whereas his mother Salma bint Sakhar, also known as Umm Al Khair, had embraced Islam in the early years of spread of Islam, and migrated to Madinah.

His daughter as also Umul Moomineen (Mother of the Muslims), Aisha (R.A.) describes the physical appearance of her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) as being a slim white man with slight shoulders, thin face, sunken eyes, protruding forehead and the bases of his fingers were hairless.

Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) spent his early childhood, like other contemporary Arab children, among the Bedouins. It is said that in his early years, he played with the camel calves and goats, and it was his love for camels that earned him the nickname “Abu Bakr”, meaning ‘the father of the camel’s calf.’ But others say that this title signifies his being first and foremost to the prophet (SAW).

It was in the year 591 AD at the age of 18, that Abu Bakr (R.A.) took to trade as his profession of cloth merchant, which happened to be the business of his family. He commenced his business with the capital of forty thousand dirhams. In the coming years Abu Bakr (R.A.) travelled extensively with caravans (camel train, series of camels carrying passengers from one place to another). Business trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and many other countries in the current Middle East. His business progressed and in spite of the fact that his father was still alive, Abu Bakr (R.A.) came to be recognized as chief of his tribe owing to his many qualities such as knowledge about the history of Arabs tribes (genealogical knowledge), politics, trade/business, his kindness and many other.

Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) was immensely virtuous. Even before becoming Muslim, he would never indulge in taking intoxicants. He would refrain from such evils to the extent that once while passing through a street he saw some persons gambling at a distance, he at once changed that route and took to another one so that he might not have had aardvark glimpse of  the people indulging in evil practices.

Moreover, even before accepting Islam, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) had never prostrated to idols. Once sitting inthe company of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) and his Sahaba (Companions), Abu Bakr (R.A.) informed the gathering that he had never prostrated to an idol. Narrating an incident he said, “As I approached adulthood, my father led me to a chamber of idols (in Kaaba)”. Pointing to the gods his father said: “These are your grand elevated gods.” After saying this, my father departed to attend to some other business. I advanced to an idol and said: “I am hungry can you feed me?” It didn’t answer. I said: “I am in need of beautiful clothes; bestow them on me.”  It didn’t answer. I threw off a rock upon it, and it fell down. “Thereafter, Abu Bakr (R.A.) did never go to the

chamber of idols in Kaaba to pray to the idols.

Thus, even before entering the fold of Islam, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) had attained great values, high ethics, and sound behaviour within the ignorant society. He had gained fame amongst the Makkan people as a leader over the others in morality and values. Thus, the Quraish tribesmen would never discard or criticise him for any deficiency.

It was after a long search for the true religion that led Abu Bakr Siddq (R.A.) to accept Islam. In fact, Abu Bakr (R.A.) was the first man to respond and believe in Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). His prompt acceptance for Islam was a sequel of the steadfast friendship he had with the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) was fully aware that the Prophet (S.A.W.) has been  a truthful, honest, and noble person, that he has never been untruthful to people, so how he would be untruthful to Allah?

As Abu Bakr (R.A.) embraced Islam, the Prophet (S.A.W.) got overjoyed, because Abu Bakr (R.A.) proved to be a source of triumph for Islam, due to his intimacy with Quraish tribe and his noble character that Allah Has exalted him.

As a matter of fact, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) had always doubted the validity of idolatry and had never any inclination for worshipping idols. So when he joined the realm of Islam, he did his best to attract other people to it. Soon Uthman bin Affan (R.A.), Abdul-Rahman bin Awf (R.A.), Talhah bin Ubaydillah (R.A.), Saad bin Abi Waqqas (R.A.), Al-Zubair bin Al-Awwam (R.A.) and Abu Ubaydah bin AI-Jarrah (R.A.) all flocked to join Mohammad (S.A.W.). In a Hadith (tradition) the Prophet (S.A.W.) has said:

”Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam immediately, without suspicion”.

With the number of Muslims rising to thirty-nine, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) sought the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) permission to call the people openly to Islam. It was only after persisting request that the Prophet (S.A.W.)  noded his consent and they all proceeded to the Makkah’s Holy Mosque (Kaaba) for preaching. Abu Bakr (R.A.) delivered a sermon which was the first ever in the annals of Islam. As the pagan Quraish heard it, they fell upon Abu Bakr (R.A.) and the Muslims from all sides. Abu Bakr (R.A.) was beaten so severely that he felt unconscious and was nearer to death. As he regained consciousness, he promptly enquired about  the Prophet(SAW).  Bearing all his pain and injuries, he only thought for the Prophet (S.A.W.), and in fact his love for him was so unbounded that he pondered over nothing except the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) well-being.

As his wife Qutaylah did not accept Islam so he divorced her. His other wife, Um Ruman, became a Muslim. All his children, except Abul Rehman, accepted Islam.

The titles of Abu Bakr (R.A.) include Ateeq which means saved one from the fire of hell. The most well-known of Abu Bakr’s (R.A.) title is As-Siddeeq, (means a person who is constantly truthful). As he would constantly follow telling the truth as also in the truthfulness of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.), he was called so. However, it is also said that since he was the first to believe in the Mi’raj or the heavenly journey of the prophet (SAW), The title ‘As-Siddiq’ was given to Abu Bakr (R.A.) by none other than the Prophet (S.A.W.).

Hirah and Abu Bakr (R.A.)

The immense suffering at Makkah led the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions (Sahaba R.A.) ,on the commands of Allah  to migrate to Madinah. A tradition narrated by Aishah (R.A.) reports that the Prophet (S.A.W.) informed the Muslims that he had had a vision(dream) in which he had been shown the place to which they would migrate, a land of palm trees between two mountains and two stony tract of land.” As such some of the Muslims migrated to Madinah, and most of those who had gone to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) returned to Madinah. Abu Bakr ( RA) started preparing to leave for Madinah also but the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) instructed him to  wait a little more as the Prophet (SAW) hoped to be permitted to migrate as well. Abu Bakr said: “Do you expect so? May my parents be redeemed for you.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: “Yes.” So Abu Bakr did not migrate in order to remain with the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). He prepared two camels and fed them well for four months to use them in their long journey. (Bukhari: 3905)

The Makkan people noticed that the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) did get supporters at another place and they noticed the migration of the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) Companions. Expecting the migration of the Prophet (S.A.W.) from Makkah, they hatched a plan to (نعوذ باللہAllah forbade) kill him. Thus came the angel Gabriel informing the Prophet (S.A.W.) to leave Makkah.

As the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) house was besieged by a group of swordsmen from all the tribes of Makkah, he kept his cousin, Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.), in his bed, leaving unnoticed from the house, and departed with Abu Bakr (R.A.) in the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Makkah to Madinah was full of adventure. As soon as the besieging swordsmen came to know that the Prophet (SAW), they started searching for the Prophet (S.A.W.) and Abu Bakr (R.A.).  Publicly the prize of a hundred camels was offered to anyone who might find them. However, it happened that while they were hiding in a cave named Thaur (where they spent three nights), a spider spun its web at the opening of the cave, and a pigeon built its nest there. The swordsmen followed their tracks until they reached their hiding place, but, finding the web in the early hours of the morning, they returned home, informing everyone that further pursuit was fruitless.

Abu Bakr (R.A.) said:

“I was with the Prophet (S.A.W.) in the Cave and when I raised my head I saw the feet of the people (he means the infidels), I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if any of them should look under his feet, he would see us.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) Said: “O Abu Bakr! What do you think of two persons the third of them is Allah?”

The incident is described in the Surah al-Tawba (9:40) of Al-Quran as follows:

“If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of the two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed, Allah is with us.”

Role of Abu Bakr (RA) in the battles of Badr and Uhud

The battle of Badr is of immense significance as it was the first large-scale engagement between the Muslims and the non-believers of Makkah which took place on Badr, near Madinah, on 17th Ramadan, 2 AH (March 13th, 624 AD).

During the Battle of Badr, Abu Bakr (R.A.) happened to be one of the guards of Prophet’s (S.A.W.) tent and was entrusted with his safety. It is reported by Ibn Asaker that Abdul Rahman, the son of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.), was with the unbelievers on the Day of Badr. After becoming Muslim, he  told his father that he was  exposed to him on the Day of Badr and he had turned away from him, and did not kill him.

Abu Bakr (R.A.) responded with the remarks that as for him, if he (his son) would have been exposed to him, he would not have turned away from him.

These remarks immensely exemplify the depth and intensity of the faith of Abu Bakr (R.A.), of his truthfulness and sincerity in preferring the love of Allah and His Messenger (S.A.W.) above everything else.

Thus Abu Bakr (R.A.) truly and sincerely applied the guidelines affirmed in the Holy Quran and Hadith.

Allah the Great and the Almighty says in the Surah Al-Mujaadila ( 58:22) in the Quran:

“You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred.”

The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: ” None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his child, his father and all the people.” (Ibn Mjah: 67)

Due to his faithfulness to Allah and his Messenger (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr (R.A.) would never love his disbelieving son.

The battle of Badr was followed by the battle of Uhud the disbelievers made a sudden attack as the archers had left their positions on the top of the mountain of Uhud. Barely a dozen people stayed with the Prophet (S.A.W.) on this occasion, one of whom was the hardests supporter and the staunch believer Abu Bakr (R.A.).

Striving for Allah’s cause monetarily:

In a tradition Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.) once remarked about Abu Bakr (R.A.):

“No one has helped me without reciprocating it, except for Abu Bakr, who has given me help, which Allah will reciprocate to him on the Day of Resurrection. No one’s property has benefited me to the extent of Abu Bakr’s. And if I were to take a Khalil (friend), then I would have taken Abu Bakr as a Khalil, and indeed your companion is Allah’s Khalil.”  (Tirmidhi: 3661)

Hazrat Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (R.A.) has said:

“The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) commanded us one day to give sadaqah (charity). At that time, I had some property. I said: Today I shall surpass Abu Bakr if I surpass him any day. I, therefore, brought half my property. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) asked: What did you leave for your family? I replied: The same amount. Abu Bakr donated all that he had with him . The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) asked him: What did you leave for your family? He replied: I left Allah and His Apostle for them. Hazrat Umer Farooq said: I shall never compete you in anything.’” (Abu-Dawud: 1678)

Abu Bakr (R.A.) was instrumental in liberating many slaves as he felt compassion for them. The contemporary sources reveal that he purchased and freed eight slaves, four men and four women, by paying forty thousand dinars for their freedom. Bilal bin Ribah (R.A.), one of the most loyal and trusted Companion of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.), was one of the salves that Abu Bakr (R.A.) freed from slavery.

When the Prophet (S.A.W.) left for heavenly abode in 11 AH (632 AD), many people, among whom was Umar bin Khattab (R.A.), refused to believe he had really left for the eternal world. But it was Abu Bakr (R.A.) who steadfastly as usual addressed the bewildered multitude and convinced them that Mohammad (S.A.W.) had left for the eternal world and there was no reason why they should not acknowledge this thing.

It is reported from Ibn Abbas (R.A.) that on the occasion Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) went out while Umar (R.A.) was speaking to the people. Abu Bakr (R.A.) said to him: ‘Sit down O Umar,’ twice, but Umar refused to sit. Abu Bakr (R.A.) in his address told them that if anyone amongst them used to worship Mohammad (S.A.W.), then Mohammad (SAW) has left for the heavenly abode but if they used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.” Then he recited the following aya of Quran:

“Mohammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.” (Surah Al-Imran: 3:144)

Ibn Abbas (R.A.) said:

“By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah Had revealed this verse before, till Abu Bakr recited it and all the people took it from him, and I heard everybody reciting it.”

Umar bin Khattab (R.A.) said: “My legs could not support me and I fell down at the very moment of hearing him reciting it, declaring that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had left us.” (Bukhari: 4452, 4453)

Abu Bakr as the First Caliph in Islam:

After the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr (R.A.) unanimously accepted the caliph. However, he had to face many crises after becoming caliph.

With the spread of the news of the Prophet (S.A.W.) leaving for heavenly abode , many groups of people among the Arabs apostatized from Islam. They objected to pay the almsgiving (Zakat). Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) decided to fight them. Umar and others impressed upon him to refrain from fighting them, but Abu Bakr said: ‘By Allah, if they refuse to pay a rope which they used to pay at the time of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), I will fight them for withholding it.”

Umar (R.A.) insisted:

“How can you fight with these people although the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: “I have been ordered by Allah to fight the people till they say: None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespass the law, and his accounts will be with Allah.”

Abu Bakr (R.A.), reiterated:

“By Allah! I will fight those who differentiate between the prayer and almsgiving (Zakat), for almsgiving (Zakat) is a compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah’s orders).” Then Umar (R.A.) said: “By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah brought relief to Abu Bakr towards the decision (to fight) and I came to know that this decision was right.”

Abu Bakr (R.A.) took to raise the banner of war on all fronts. The desert never witnessed, even in the lifetime of the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself, such grinding battles as those that occurred. But the great men that were trained by the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) upon the recognition of the truth and total submission to it were sincere to Allah in their deeds. They dealt idolatry a blow that broke its spine and squeezed its soul until it faded into oblivion. They equally drove away the Romans from the boarders. They literally broke the spine of the apostates. Some of them came back into the fold of Islam and others perished far estranged from it. In a short span of time Islam triumphed and was seen and heard (far and wide) while other religions were on the brink of extinction.

Abu Bakr (RA) and the Compilation of the Holy Quran:

One of the outstanding achievements Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) rendered to Islam was the compilation of the Holy Quran. At that time, there were hundreds of memorizers who had memorized the entire Quran among the Companions during the life time of the Prophet (S.A.W.), but the Holy Quran had never been complied in a book-form, although its memorization continued after the Prophet (S.A.W.) had left for eternal world. However, the number of those memorizers had been martyred in the various battles that had ensued after the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) passing. Consequently, it occurred to Umar (R.A.) that steps should be taken to preserve the Quran intact in its original form, against any kind of risk, and he saw that it was not prudent to depend exclusively upon those who had committed its memory to heart. Therefore, he urged Abu Bakr (R.A.) to have it written down in the form of a book. Abu Bakr (R.A.) at first hesitated because this had not been done by the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself. However, after some debate on the subject, he did agree and appointed Zaid ibn Thabit (R.A.) for this work, Zaid (R.A.) hesitated at the thought of undertaking such a momentous task, but he later took heart and commenced the work. Zaid (R.A.) was the most capable person to be kept in charge of this as he had acted as an amanuensis to the Prophet (S.A.W.), and one of the Companions, who had learnt the Quran directly from him.

As Hazrat Zaid (R.A.) accomplished the tedious task and had organized the Quran into one book, he submitted the precious collection to the caliph Abu Bakr (R.A.), who kept it in his possession until the end of his life. During Umar’s (R.A.) caliphate, it was placed in the custody of Umar’s daughter, Hafsah (R.A.), who was also the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) wife. Finally, in Hazrat Uthman’s (R.A.) caliphate when different readers began to recite it differently, the caliph had several copies of it made and distributed them to the various countries which comprised the Islamic world. The modern edition of the Quran is the Uthman copy, which is considered the standard to which every other copy should conform.

Zaid ibn Thabit (R.A.), said:

“By Allah, If Abu Bakr (R.A.) had ordered to shift one of the mountains from its place it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran.”He continued,

“I started locating Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men.”

It is reported from Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.), who said:

“The one who has the greatest reward amongst the people is Abu Bakr because he was unique in compiling the Quran.”

Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) left for eternal world on Monday, 22nd of Jumada Al-Akhirah, 13th AH (August 23rd, 634 AD) after suffering from fever for 15 days during which he gave instructions that Umar bin Khattab (R.A.) should lead the prayers.  When Abu Bakr died, he was sixty-three years old and his caliphate had lasted for only two years and three months. Even during his illness, he was pondering of Islam and its future stability. After holding consultations with many of the well-known companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr (R.A.) decided to confer the caliphate on Umar bin Khattab (R.A.). Thereafter, he called Umar (R.A.) and advised him on how to lead his people, ending with these words:

“If you follow my advice, nothing unknown will be more acceptable to you than death; but if you reject it, nothing unknown will be more frightening than death.”

Before he died, Abu Bakr (R.A.) gave back everything he had taken from the public treasury during his caliphate. It is said that he did not bequeath any money at all. He left only a servant, a camel and a garment. His orders were that after his death the garment should be delivered to his successor. On seeing it, Umar wept and said:”Abu Bakr (R.A.) has made the task of his successor very difficult.”

Abu Bakr (R.A.) recommended to Aishah (R.A), his daughter and Ummul Moomineen (wife of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) to bury him beside the Prophet (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) was laid to rest in Hazrat Aishah’s room, just beside the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) in Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid-e-Nabawi) in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. When he died, the funeral prayer was led by Hazrat Umar (R.A.) and his grave was placed adjacent to the Prophet (S.A.W.). His grave was dug in such a way that his head was parallel to the shoulder of the Prophet (S.A.W.).

Upon hearing the sad news of Abu Bakr’s (R.A.) death, Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.) rushed to his house. He made a long speech which he addressed to Abu Bakr (R.A.). Following are some words which Hazrat Ali (R.A.) had said on the day of Abu Bakr’s (R.A.) death:

“O Abu Bakr (R.A.), you were the closest companion and friend of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), you were a comfort to him; you were the one he trusted most. If he had a secret, he would tell it to you and if he needed to consult someone regarding a matter, he would consult you. You were the first of your people to embrace Islam and you were the sincerest of them in your faith. Your faith was stronger than any other person as was the degree to which you feared Allah and you were wealthier than anyone else in terms of what you acquired from the religion of Allah. You cared most for both the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) and Islam. Of all people, you were the best Companion to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). You possessed the best qualities, you had the best past, you ranked highest and you were closest to him. And of all people, you resembled the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) the most in terms of his guidance and demeanor. Your ranking was higher than anyone else’s and the Prophet (S.A.W.) honored you and held you in higher esteem than anyone else. On behalf of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) and Islam, may Allah reward you with the best of rewards. When the people disbelieved in the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), you believed in him. Throughout Prophet’s (S.A.W.) life, you were both his eyes with which he saw, and his ears with which he heard. Allah has named you truthful in His book when He said:” “And the one who has brought the truth and [they who] believed in it – those are the righteous.” (SurahAl-Zamur 39:33)

People had gathered around Ali (R.A.) and listened to his speech until he was finished. Then they all cried with raised voices, and they all responded in unison to Ali’s speech saying, “Indeed you have spoken the truth.”

Such was the peaceful end of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) after a lifelong struggle for the cause of Islam. Throughout the early years of Islam, Abu Bakr (R.A.) was a source of comfort and constant help for the Prophet (S.A.W.), always willing to sacrifice his wealth and his very life for the cause of Islam. Then after the Prophet (S.A.W.) Abu Bakr (R.A.) took the thread were the Prophet (S.A.W.) had left off. He further augmented and strengthened the foundations of the Muslim nation, first by fighting against and defeating the apostates and then by spreading Islam in some of the major conquests that he launched during his caliphate.

(The author can be contacted at email id: [email protected])

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