Dr. A F M Khalid Hossain
The death of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) took place at a critical juncture of the young Islamic State. Internal trouble and external revolts posed a severe threat to Madinah, the citadel of socio-political system established by Prophet himself. Some of the Arabs who in most parts of the peninsula embraced the new faith Islam and acknowledged the authority of the Messenger of Allah, upon his death reneged and broke off from the newly organized state 1 and lapsed again into apostasy, tribal kinship and pagan culture. The rebellion, thus flared up apparently was religious in nature but it was indeed a political one. 2 According to, Ibn Ishaque an Arab chronicler, Hadrat Ayesha Siddiqah (RA) pen pictured the gravity of the prevalent situation, arising out of the demise of Holy Prophet of Islam in the following thought provoking words:
“When the Apostle Allah breathed his last, the Arabs were on all sides rising in rebellion; Jews and the Christians began to stretch out their necks; the hypocrites openly raised their heads against Islam and the believers who were like a flock of sheep without a shepherd in the stormy night. Almighty Allah organized them under the leadership of Abu Bakr”. 3
At this most critical juncture of history, Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) took the office of Khilafatur Rasul- the successor of the Apostle of Allah. Soon after assuming the power he faced the challenges threw out by pretenders of prophet hood, rejecters of Zakat and the renegades. Then Abu Bakr (RA) asserted:
“Should Islam Perish and I survive?4
During his two year long Khilafat he dealt with the ridda or apostasy movement with an iron hand. He became successful in thwarting the politico-religious nature rebellions of al Aswad al Ansi in Yeman, Musaylama al Kazzab among the tribe of Hanifa in the Yamamah, Tulayha in the tribes of Asad and Ghatfan and the prophetess Sadjah in the tribe of Tamim in assistance with the General Khalid bin Walid (RA) and other trusted companions of the Prophet (SAW), Subsequently, the inveterate opponents of Muslims were quelled in al-Bahrain, Oman, Yamen, Hadramawt and the whole of the central Arabia was brought under his authority. Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) carried on the mission left by the Prophet with exceptional vigor suppressing all the evil forces that were out to disintegrate the solidarity of nascent Islamic society 5 and extinguish the light of Islam. That is why, Prof. Philip K. Haiti remarks: “The peninsula was united under Abu Bakr by the sword of Khalid. Arabia had to conquer itself before it could conquer the world” 6
The first public address delivered by Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) as head of the state bear’s testimony to his utmost simplicity, political sagacity and the rejection of pretension. He declared:
“I am not the best among you; I need all your advice and all your help. If I do well, support me, if I mistake, counsel me. To tell truth to a person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance; to conceal it is treason. In my sight the powerful and the weak are a like and to both I wish to render justice. As I obey Allah and his Prophet, obey me; if I neglect the laws of Allah and the Prophet I have not more right to your obedience”. 7
THE EARLY CONVERT
Abu Bakr Ibn Abu Quhafa al Taymi was known among the Quraish as a man well versed in their genealogy which has great influence over the society. He is the most fortunate person of Arabia who accepted the prophet hood of Muhammad (SAW) next to Hadrat Khadizah (RA) and thus became first male adult to enter the fold of Islam.8 Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) held a venerable social status in Makkah and he always associated the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) with his utmost sincerity. Due to great confidence in him Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) immediately accepted the New Faith-Islam as soon as he heard about the prophetic mission.9 He was the first man to broadcast and profess his conversion to new-faith in Allah and the Apostleship of Muhammad (SAW) and to repudiate the idolatry prevalent among his companions particularly and the people in general in Makkan society.
He trusted Prophet Muhammad (SAW), whom he knew to be worthy of this trust and whose truthfulness was, as far as Abu Bakr (RA) was concerned, beyond doubt.10 When somebody informed Abu Bakr (RA) “Your friend Muhammad (SAW) has gone mad and he preaches against idols, upholding the worship of one God.” He immediately replied” If he says so, he must be right because I have never seen him to be untrue (in any one of his statements.)”.11 The disbelievers of Makkah launched oppression and persecution on the new converts particularly on Hadrat Bilal (RA) an Abyssinian slave, his master Umayya Ibn Khalaf threw Bilal (RA) on to the burning sand under the porching sun, laid a heavy stone on his master Umayya Ibn Khalaf threw Bilal (RA) on to the burning sand under the scorching sun, laid a heavy stone on his chest and left him there to die for no reason except for his reiteration of his faith in Islam, Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) came forward to pay for securing his freedom and immediately set him free.12 Not only this Abu Bakr (RA) spent his wealth generously for the emancipation of the slaves who were being thus tortured by the unbelievers for their allegiance and adherence to Islamic doctrine.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAM) had chosen Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) to accompany him on his emigration to Yathrib13 when Prophet was being hunted out of Makkah, an event to which reference is made in the Holy Quran.14 on the way to Yathrib the Prophet (SAW) and Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) concealed themselves for three nights in the cave of the Mount Thawr about three miles away from Makkah as the disbelievers chased them and combed every hill with an aim of plotting against for their lives.15 In this critical juncture Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) did not dissociate himself from the Prophet’s companionship. For this reason, Allah (SWT) declared Abu Bakr (RA) as the companion of the Prophet.16 the Holy Prophet of Islam reached Yathrib on the 24th September 622 and expressed his desire to erect a mosque there. On hearing desire of the Prophet (SAW) Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA), in an instant, proceeded to purchase a piece of land on behalf of the Prophet (SAW)17 from Sahl and Suhail the two orphans in front of the residence of Hadrat Abu Ayub Ansari (RA) where the present location of the mosque of the Prophet is. It was the sacred land on which situated the residential apartments of the Apostle of Allah, the holy place of his prayer and the place of his eternal rest.18
Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) is he who donated all his belongings to the war fund of the Prophet (SAW) on the eve of the formidable19 expedition of Tabuk20 against Christian confederates headed by Roman Empire Heracleus.21 The Christian axis deployed their one lakh troops at Tabuk with a view to crushing the rapidly growing power of Islam.
As the deputy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) led a mission of three hundred pilgrims to Makkah at the instruction of the Prophet (SAW) to teach them the correct rituals and methods of Hajj.22 It was the first obligatory Hajj in the history of Islam. Before it people would perform the Hajj in accordance with pagan rites. Some days before demise, the Holy Prophet (SAW) fell sick and became physically unable to carry on duties as usual. Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) at the behest of Prophet (SAW) led the prayer at the central Mosque of Madinah.
It was Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) to whom awarded the honorific title of ‘Siddique’-the testifier to the Truth by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for Abu Bakr’s firm conviction to Prophet’s Miraj, the Ascension to Heaven physically riding on the Divine carriage- Buraq within the shortest possible of time. It was one of the remarkable miracles of the Prophet (SAW) but the non-believers of Quraish rejected the truth out and out saying ‘By God’ this is plain absurdity! Many of them went to Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) and said: what do you think of your friend now, Abu Bakr? Muhammad asserted that he went to Jerusalem last night, prayed there and came back to Makkah. They said: there is Muhammad in the mosque telling of his trip. Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) instantly replied:
“If he says so then it is true and what is so surprising in that? He tells me that communication from Allah from Heaven to the Earth come to him in an hour or a day or a night and I believe him and that is most extraordinary than that at which you boggle!”
It is worthwhile to note here that the great story of the Miraj of the Prophet (SAW) is a fitting prelude to journey of the human soul in its religious growth in life. “The miraculous event of Miraj and its literature’ Professor Spaniard Miguel Asin, Department of Arabic in the University of Madrid, Spain says, ‘had a great influence on the Mediaeval literature of Europe and especially on the great Italian poem, the Divine Comedy (or Drama) of Dante, which towers like a landmark in the Mediaeval European literature.”
It was that she-camel Qaswa presented by Hadrat Abu Bakr riding on which the Prophet (SAW) migrated to Yathrib from Makkah and resting on its back the Holy Prophet of Islam delivered his Farewell Sermon in a multitudinous gatherings of people at Arafat under Makkah.
In a nutshell we may say that Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) proved himself as a great disciple of the greatest leader participating in all the expeditions led by Prophet (SAW). His special position in the Islamic Ummah was marked by his unprecedented service to Islam and the Holy Prophet (SAW). From the day of his proselytisation till the death of the Prophet (SAW) he devoted all his time, energy and resources to the cause of Islam. Although his life he constantly stood by the Prophet (SAW), ready to help with counsel and remained unswerving steady as a rock in critical junctures he did never lose heart, nor did his remarkable degree of love for the Holy Prophet (SAW) ever shake. The remark of Allama Iqbal in this respect deserves special mention:
“What is light to the moth and what is a flower to the night angle. The Prophet of Allah suffices for Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) in the like manner”
Considering the great service rendered by Hadrat Abu Bakr (RA) to the Islamic society and state, which become a legend, the Prophet (SAW) reiterated them with fervor and thus set an example of recognition which is to be followed by the succeeding generations.
- Philip K Haiti, History of the Arabs, p. 111.
- William M. Watt, “Mohammad”, the Cambridge
History of Islam, vol. iA, p.58.
- Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Sheikh Muhammad Ibn
Abdul Wahab, Mukhtasar Sirat, p. 471.
- Shah Muinuddin Nadwi, Tarikh-I-Islam, vol.i pp.136-7
- Abdul Hamid Siddiqui, Annotation on Sahih Muslim, vol iv, p. 1274.
- Philop K Hitti, History of the Arabs, p.142.
- Ibu Jaur Tabari, Tarikh al Umam Wal Muluk, vol. ii, pp.41- 42
- Ibn Jarir Tabari, Tarikh al Rasul Wal Muhuk, vol. ii, pp.314-316; Ibn Khalin, Tarikh, vol ii, p.715..
- Dr. Majd Ali Khan, Muhammad, the Final Messenger, p.73
- Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Muhammad, p.82
- Dr. Majud Ali Khan, Muhammad the Final Messenger, p.74.
- Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Muhammad, p. 91
- Bukhari, Sahi, vol i, p.553; Ibn Hisham, Sirart al Nabawiyyah, Book 1, p.485; Shibli Samani, Siratun Nabi, vol. 1,p.270.
- Al-Quran, Sura al Tauba: 40; Sura al Anfal:30.
- Ibu Khaldun, Trikh vol. II.p.738; Muhammad Zrqani, Sharah al Mawahib al Ladunniyah, vol.i , p-395.
- Al-Quran, Sura al Tauba:40.
- Ibu Sad, Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. i, p.239; Muhammad Zurqani, Sharah al Mawahib al Ladunniyaah, vol. i,p.364.
- Abu Daud, Sunan, vol. i, p. 173; Abdur Rahman Suhaili, al Raud al Unuf, vol. iii, p 12-13;
Payambar, English version, vol. iii, p. 27.
- Al-Quran, Sura. Tauba; 41-123
- Tabuk is a midway place of Madinah and Damuscus and 700 Kilometeres away from Madinah.
- Ibn Sad, al Tabaqat al Kubra, vol. ii, p.165.
- Ibn Kathir, al Bidayga wa Nihayah, vol. v, p.36; Ibn Abd al Bar, al Durar, pp-266.
- Al-Quran, Sura Bani Israil: I, An Najm: 8-10.
- Ibn Hisham, al Sirat al Nabawiyyah, Book-l pp. 396-408.
- Ibn Ishaque , al Sirat al Nabawiyyah, English version, The life of Muhammad by A. Guillaume, pp.182-3.
- Abdullah Yousuf Ali, The English translation and commentary on the Holy Quran, p.772.
- The Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. i, p.110.
- Abdul Hamid Siddiky, Annotation on Sahih Muslim, vol. iv, p.1274.
- Dr.Muhammad Iqbal, Bang-E-Dara, p-225.