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By Habtoor Information & Research Department

  Born in the town of Mecca, Abu Bakr Al Siddiq was a Quraishi of the Banu Taim clan. Originally called Abd-ul-Ka'ba ("servant of the Kaaba"), on his conversion he assumed the name Abd-Allah ibn Abi Quhafah. According to early Muslim historians, he was a merchant, quite wealthy, and highly esteemed as a judge. When the new Faith came, it attracted a large number of the young, the poor, the insignificant and the slaves.Yet he was one of the first people to convert to Islam, and he became instrumental in converting many of the Quraishis and the residents of Mecca. He was also linked to the Prophet by marriage: Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha married Muhammad soon after the migration to Medina.

  Abu Bakr, as one of the early converts, had to bear the full wrath of Qureish. But that wrath fell hardest upon the slaves who had converted to Islam. Their owners could torment them at will, whereas the free Muslims were often protected by their kinsfolk. Abu Bakr is said to have impoverished himself buying the freedom of several Muslim slaves.

  As years went by, the people of Mecca became more and harder upon the Muslims. They made life difficult for them. Muslim slaves who had non-Muslim masters were the worst sufferers. They could not run away from their cruel masters, nor would they give up their faith. The heartless masters tried all kinds of torture to make them give up Islam. They made them lie, all naked, on burning sand. Then they put big rocks on their chests. The poor slaves silently bore this all. They had no way of escape. Some of them found escape only in death.

  "No one has been a better companion to me than Abu Bakr," said the Prophet  (Peace be Upon him) in his last sermon. Abu Bakr had earned this great reward. All his life he stood by the side of the Prophet. 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 Lord through the Prophet.

  Abu Bakr came of a noble family. From early years, he was known for his good and straight nature. He was honest and truthful. These things won him respect among the people. His goodness also won him the friendship of the young Muhammad (Peace be Upon him).

  Abu Bakr 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 was sincere and truthful. They knew he would never support a wrong cause. He invited them  to embrace Islam and they accepted and became Muslims. Among them were men like Uthman, Zubair, Talha, Abdur Rahman bin Auf and Saad bin Abi Waqqas. These men later became the pillars of Islam.

  The holy Prophet  (Peace be Upon him) called at Abu Bakr's house every day. The two sat down and thought out ways of spreading Islam. Together they went to people and places and delivered the message of Allah. Wherever the holy Prophet went, Abu Bakr went with him.

  When Muhammad fled from Mecca in the migration to Medina of 622, Abu Bakr was the onle one to accompany him. The Prophet and his companion took shelter in the cave of Harra’, where with the help of God, a pigeon followed them to the entrance built a nest swiftly, and laid an egg. More than that, a spider also came and made a home of fune threads closing the entrance. The Meccans were searching for the holy Prophet like mad hounds, andOnce they came right to the mouth of the cave. Abu Bakr grew pale with fright. He feared, not for himself, but for the Prophet. However, the holy Prophet remained perfectly calm. "Do not fear," he said to Abu Bakr, "certainly Allah is with us."

  Of all the companions, Abu Bakr had the honor of being with the Prophet during the most critical days of his life. Abu Bakr knew full well what this honor meant. And he did full justice to the trust put in him.

  In the tenth year of his mission, the holy Prophet had Al Isra’a Wal Miraj (Ascension to Heavens). One night the angel Gabriel came with the word that Allah the Almighty wanted the holy Prophet to come all the way up to the highest heaven. The holy Prophet undertook the journey. In the morning, after the ascension had taken place, the holy Prophet talked to people about the Miraj. This drew the jeers of his enemies.

  The talk was going on when Abu Bakr came up. "Do you know, Abu Bakr, what news your friend has for you in the morning?" said one of the men. "He says he was on the highest heaven last night, having a talk with Allah, the Almighty. Would you believe it?" Abu Bakr answered "I would believe anything that the Messenger of Allah says,"

  When the Prophet 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.

  The message of Islam made the people of Mecca very angry. The idols were their gods. The holy Prophet openly mocked at these gods. He declared they could do neither any good nore harm. Among the chiefs of Mecca was one Abu Jahl. He became the greatest enemy of the holy Prophet. He was always on the lookout to hurt him or even kill him, if he could. Abu Bakr kept an eye on this man, lest he should do a grave harm to Islam.

  One day the holy Prophet 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 to death. The other chiefs looked on and laughed.

  Abu Bakr happened to see this from a distance. He at once ran to the help of the Prophet. He pushed Abu Jahl aside and took off the cloth from around the holy Prophet's neck. Thereupon Abu Jahl and other enemies of Islam came down upon Abu Bakr. They beat him very much. Indeed, the beating was so severe that Abu Bakr 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 un-hurt?"

  Tabuk was the last expedition of the Prophet . He was keen to make it a great success. He asked people to donate whatever they could to the expedition. This time Abu Bakr beat all records. He took all his money and household valuables and heaped them at the Prophet's feet.

  "Have you left back anything for your wife and children?" asked the holy Prophet."Allah and His Apostle are enough for them," replied Abu Bakr calmly.

  Immediately after the death of Mohammed, in the year 632, a gathering of prominent Ansaris (Al Medina Moslems) and some of the Muhajiruns (Meccan Mslems who fled toMedinah earlirer), acclaimed Abu Bakr as the new Muslim leader or caliph.

  Troubles emerged soon after Abu Bakr's succession, threatening the unity and stability of the new community and state. Various Arab tribes of Hejaz and Nejd rebelled against the caliph and the new system. Some withheld the zakat, the alms tax, though they did not otherwise challenge the religion of Mohammad. Others apostatized outright and returned to their pre-Islamic religion and traditions, classified by Muslims as idolatry. The tribes claimed that they had submitted to Mohammad and that with Mohammad's death, their allegiance was ended.

  Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader but joined the Muslim religious community, of which he was the new head. Apostasy is a capital offense under traditional interpretations of Islamic law, and Abu Bakr declared war on the rebels. This was the start of the Ridda wars, Arabic for the Wars of Apostasy. The severest struggle was the war with Ibn Habib al-Hanefi, known as "Musailimah the Liar", who claimed to be a prophet and Muhammad's true successor. The Muslim general Khalid bin Al Walid finally defeated al-Hanefi at the Battle of Akraba.

  After suppressing internal dissension and completely subduing Arabia, Abu Bakr directed his generals towards the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. Khalid bin Al Walid conquered Iraq in a single campaign, and a successful expedition into Syria also took place.

  Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving the Holy Quran. During the hard-won victory over Musailimah, Umar ibn al-Khattab, saw that many of the Muslims who had memorized the Qur'an from the lips of the prophet had died in battle. He requested Abu Bakr to order the collection of the revelations, which the latter approved and instructed the famous companion of the Prophet, Zeid Buin Thabet, to oversee the job.

  Abu Bakr initially served without pay. His followers insisted that he take an official stipend. At his death, his will returned all these payments to the treasury.

  Abu Bakr died on August 23, 634 in Medina. Shortly before his death, likely of natural causes (one tradition ascribes it to poison), he urged the Muslim community to accept Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. The community did so, without serious incident.

  Abu Bakr lies buried in the Masjid al Nabawi mosque in Medina, alongside Muhammad and Umar ibn al-Khattab.


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