His Personality and Character
Abu Bakr ((may Allah be pleased with him) was gentle and good-tempered by nature, and was a man of deep compassion and mercy. However when it came to the matter of duties and responsibilities he showed zero tolerance. He was loved by everyone due to the soundness of his ideas, the uprightness in his treatment of and courtesy towards others, the breadth of his experience, the control he had over his nafs, and his sincerity. He was pleasant and cheerful, a friend of Allah and His Messenger with good character, behaviour and he was well-spoken. People would easily become familiar with him and their love for him would increase over time. Even in the period of ignorance he was modest and humble. He was very dignified, generous and noble.
There was a tremendous balance in his life. He was always humble and modest but never did he display lowliness or incapacity. He was always dignified but never did he become proud or arrogant. He was extremely forgiving, tolerant, tender, and soft-natured, however he also knew how to be strong and brave when the need arose. He was a model of balance and moderation in his every state.
His Being as-Siddiq
When the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was to inform the Quraysh about the event of the Isra and the Mi’raj he said to the angel Gabriel:
“O Gabriel. My people will not support me”.
“Abu Bakr will affirm you. He is siddiq” (Ibn Sa’d, I, 215)
When the pagans did in fact hear of the event, they immediately ran to Abu Bakr saying:
“Your friend claims to have gone to the Masjid al-Aqsa in one night, and from there to the heavens and returned to Mecca before the morning. What do you say to that?”
Abu Bakr replied:
“Whatever he says is true. There is no possibility of him lying. I believe in advance in whatever he says”.
The pagans repeated:
“Do you affirm what he says, that he went to the Bayt al-Maqdis in one night and returned?”
Abu Bakr replied:
“Indeed I do. What is so incredible about that? I swear by Allah that he tells me news comes to him from Allah at any time of the day or night and I believe him without a doubt”.
Later Abu Bakr went to the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who was sitting in the Ka’bah. He listened to what the prophet had to say about the event and said:
“Sadaqta o Messenger of Allah (You have spoken the truth)”.
Allah’s Messenger was very pleased with his affirmation and smiling with his radiant smile that lit up the whole world he said to Abu Bakr:
“O Abu Bakr. You are as-Siddiq” (Ibn Hisham, II, 5).
This unshakeable and unfaltering affirmation by Abu Bakr of the Messenger of Allah can only be explained by the strength of faith that he had in his heart. Ali ((may Allah be pleased with him) once said to him in regard to the strength of his heart:
“You were like a great mountain that not even the most violent of storms could move nor the most intense of tremors could shake”.
He was always with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) loved Abu Bakr greatly. He stopped by to see him every day. Moreover, Abu Bakr could find no peace until he had seen Allah’s Messenger. He was never separated from the Messenger of Allah. That is, they spent their lives together.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would always visit the house of Abu Bakr either in the morning or in the evening. However on the day that Allah gave him permission to migrate, he came to our house at noon, which was not his habit to do. When my father saw him he said:
“The Messenger of Allah does not come at this time. There must be something important”.
When the Messenger of Allah entered, my father rose from where he was sitting and offered him his seat. My sister Asma and I were with my father. The Messenger of Allah said to my father:
“Let those who are present leave now (We are going to discuss an important matter)” My father said:
“O Messenger of Allah, they are my daughters (do not worry that they will cause any harm). May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, what is this important matter?”
The Messenger of Allah replied:
“Allah Most High has given me permission to migrate from Mecca”. My father asked:
“O Messenger of Allah. Am I to accompany you?”
The prophet replied:
“Yes we will be together”.
Abu Bakr began to weep with joy. I swear by Allah that until that day I did not know that a person could cry from happiness (Ibn Hisham II, 97-98).
During the migration to Madina, as they were heading towards the cave of Thawr, Abu Bakr would sometimes walk ahead and sometimes behind the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah’s Messenger asked him:
“O Abu Bakr. Why are you doing that?”
Abu Bakr replied:
“O Messenger of Allah. When I think that the pagans may catch up to you from behind, I walk behind you and when it occurs to me that they may be lying in wait for you ahead, I walk in front of you”.
Later they reached the cave of Thawr. Abu Bakr said:
“O Messenger of Allah. Wait here until I clean out the cave”. He then entered the cave and began to clear it out. He was checking everywhere with his hands and when he found a hole, he would cut off a piece of his robe and plug the hole with it. He used his entire upper garment to plug up all the holes except for one. After he stuck his heel into that hole he said:
“You may now enter o Messenger of Allah”.
Seeing that Abu Bakr was no longer wearing an upper garment he asked him in surprise:
“Where is your dress o Abu Bakr?”
Abu Bakr then told him what he did. The Messenger of Allah was very touched by this noble act of his and he raised his blessed hands and prayed for Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him).
At one time when the pagans had come close to the cave, Abu Bakr began to become extremely anxious and said to the prophet:
“If they slay me, I am only one person and I will pass away. However if something happens to you, then this community will be ruined”.
The prophet would pray standing with Abu Bakr watching out for him. At one point he said:
“The Meccans are searching for you. By Allah I am not worried about myself. But I fear that they will harm you”.
The Messenger of Allah replied:
“O Abu Bakr. Grieve not, for surely Allah is with us” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 223-224; Diyarbakri, I, 328-329).
When Abu Bakr saw the feet of the pagans who were searching about, he said:
“O Messenger of Allah. If one of them just happens to bow down and look they will definitely see us”. The Messenger of Allah replied:
“O Abu Bakr! What do you think of two (persons) the third of whom is Allah” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 9/9; Muslim, Fadail as-Sahaba, 1).
During his caliphate, Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) once heard some men talking as if they held him to be superior to Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). Umar became very angry. Later he remembered the difficult days of the migration. He remembered the night that the Messenger of Allah spent with Abu Bakr in the cave of Thawr and with great longing he said:
“By Allah. That one night of Abu Bakr is better than all of Umar’s family…” (Hakim, III, 7/4268).
And so it was that at the Thawr stage during this elevated journey of Abu Bakr’s (with the prophet), for three days and nights, he witnessed many divine mysteries, and was subject to many secrets and wisdom that emerged from the heart of the prophet.
He was honoured with a special closeness to and a unique spiritual interaction with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Overwhelmed by the divine mystery in that cave, which became a form of schooling in which his heart was opened up he attained the degree of being ‘the second of the two, the third of whom was Allah’. The prophet said to his dear friend: “Grieve not, for surely Allah is with us”. He inspired in him the nature of the mystery of ‘maiyyah’, that is, the peaceful state that the heart reaches as a result of being with Allah. As was mentioned before, the gnostics describe this state as being the beginning of khafi or private dhikr, and one of the most important manifestations of the spiritual inspiration that allows the heart to be content and at peace with Allah.
Thus as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first ‘fortunate’ addressee of this prophetic training and inspiration and is considered the first link, after the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), in this Golden Chain that will, by the will of Allah, continue until the end of time
From this we can also gather that the purpose of all elevated journeys emerges in proportion to one’s love, sacrifice and service to Allah and His Messenger. The condition of love is that one loves the things that one’s beloved loves. This is an important step in taking on the state of one’s beloved and becoming like him and Abu Bakr’s (may Allah be pleased with him) life is filled with countless examples of this. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) once said to him:
“You are my friend at the head of the Fountain of Kawthar in Paradise, and in the cave” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3670).
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would frequently mention the names of Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) when he spoke. He would speak of how they performed some task together or how they went somewhere together. In regards to certain wondrous phenomenon that people had trouble believing he would say: “I believe this and so do Abu Bakr and Umar”. This shows that they were never apart and were constantly together (Bukhari, Ashabu an-Nabi, 6, 8; Ahmad, I, 109, 112).
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) would talk to Abu Bakr about the affairs of the Muslims until late in the night, and I would sit with them” (Tirmidhi, Salat, 12/169).
One time Allah’s Messenger entered the masjid, with Abu Bakr on one side and Umar on the other. The prophet was holding their hand saying:
“We will be raised like this on the Day of Judgement” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3669).
Annihilating oneself in the prophet
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) lost himself in the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with great loyalty, submission, love and passion. He experienced a bond of the heart with him to the highest degree. Until his very last breath he abandoned his own self, with the fire of divine love and could only find life in the Messenger of Allah’s existence. At every meeting and every discussion with the Messenger of Allah, he experienced a different ecstasy and enthusiasm. Even when he was in the presence of Allah’s Messenger his love and longing for him increased when it should have been satisfied; it was as if he had become one with him. It was because of this that the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Abu Bakr is from me and I am from him. Abu Bakr is my brother in this world and the next”.
This state of being one was only realised after many sacrifices and at a great price. A person pays the greatest price for the sake of his love. The biggest price paid in this fleeting world, is the price of divine love.
In order to drown in the profound pleasure of friendship with Allah and His Messenger, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) paid every price for love of Allah and His Messenger, without hesitation and lived his life in this struggle and with this excitement.
One day Abu Bakr (may Allah pleased with him) stood at the Ka’bah inviting the people to belief in Allah and His Messenger. The pagans became enraged and began to trample and severely beat Abu Bakr and his fellow believers. The perverse Utbah stood on top of Abu Bakr and began to stomp on him, kicking his face with his iron-soled shoes. Abu Bakr was left in a bloodied state. His tribe, the Bani Taym, finally managed to save Abu Bakr from the hands of the pagans and took him home in that state. They feared he would die.
Towards the evening Abu Bakr finally came to his senses and the first question he asked, with great difficulty, was:
“How is the Messenger of Allah? Is he well?” His mother Umm al-Khayr kept saying:
“Why do you not eat or drink something?” But it was as if Abu Bakr did not even hear and he kept asking:
“How is the Messenger of Allah? What is he doing?”
When it was night he went with great difficulty and in secret to Dar al-Arkam to see the Messenger of Allah, and did not eat or drink anything. As soon as he saw him he knelt down and said:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you o Messenger of Allah. That vile sinner knocked me about, that is all, I am fine”[.
The following event also demonstrates the state of Abu Bakr who reached a peak in ‘fana fil Rasul’:
During the conquest of Mecca he brought his aged, blind father to the Messenger of Allah so that he could become Muslim. The Messenger of Allah said to him:
“O Abu Bakr! Why did you tire your aged father, I could have gone to him”.
Abu Bakr replied:
“It is more fitting that he come to you. Also by means of this I wanted my father to gain extra reward”.
When Abu Quhafa extended his hand to the blessed hand of Allah’s Messenger to make his pledge to him, Abu Bakr became very emotional and began to weep. When the Messenger of Allah asked him why he was weeping he replied:
“O Messenger of Allah! How I wish that the hand that now reaches out to you to make its pledge to you had have been the hand of your uncle Abu Talib, and Allah could have pleased you instead of me. You loved him greatly and so desired that he have faith…” (See Haysami, VI, 173-174; Ibn Sa‘d, V, 451).
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) would always say:
“By Allah it is more pleasing to me to watch out for and protect the relatives of Allah’s Messenger more than my own relatives” (Bukhari, Ashab an-Nabi 12, Maghazi 14).
One time the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“I never benefitted from the wealth of anyone as much as I benefitted from the wealth of Abu Bakr”.
Abu Bakr perceived in these words a kind of separateness in these complimentary words and he said in tears:
“Do not I and all of my wealth belong to you o Messenger of Allah?” (Ibn Majah, Muqaddimah, 11; Ahmad, II, 253).
He thus declared that he had dedicated his entire existence and had virtually lost himself in him.
The Closest Intimate To The Prophetic Secret
The heart of Abu Bakr was like a clear mirror reflecting the realm of the heart of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). In this respect then he was the most embodied example of becoming lost (fani) in the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). As a result of this state of fana, everything related to the Messenger of Allah gained deep meaning within his heart.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) reached such a state that he became the leading Companion in the matter of perceiving the wisdom in the prophet’s words and acts. With his superior foresight and deep discernment he was able to comprehend the fine details and nuances of the prophet that nobody else was able to.
The following verse was revealed at the Farewell Pilgrimage:
‘…Today I have perfected your deen for you and completed My blessing upon you and I am pleased with Islam as a deen for you…’ (Maida, 5:3).
That day, everyone was pleased at the religion having been completed. However, with his great insight, Abu Bakr sensed that this was an indication that Allah, Most High, would soon invite His Beloved Messenger to the eternal realm. He was drowned in sorrow from the pain of separation.
Another example that demonstrates the fine discernment of Abu Bakr:
During the last days of the Messenger of Allah, his illness became so severe that he was unable to go to the masjid to pray. He appointed Abu Bakr to lead the congregation in prayer. However, at one point he felt well enough to go to the masjid. After counselling his Companions he said the following:
“Allah gave one of His servants the choice between this world and that which is with Him, and the servant chose that which is with Allah…”
Hearing these words the delicate and tender heart of Abu Bakr was filled with sorrow and he began to weep. He sensed that this was a kind of farewell of the prophet. He was the closest intimate to the prophetic secret. He began to weep like the reed-flute (the ney) which laments at separation. Sobbing he said:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you o Messenger of Allah. We would sacrifice our fathers, our mothers, our lives, our wealth and our children for you…” (Ahmad, III, 91).
No one else in that congregation was able to sense the profound emotional state of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and that he was in a state of giving his farewells to the world. In fact, the Companions did not understand why Abu Bakr was weeping and they said to each other in surprise:
“How strange is this old man who weeps when the Messenger of Allah speaks of a righteous person who chooses to go back to his Lord” (Bukhari, Salat, 80).
They did not even imagine that the righteous slave who chose that which was with Allah was in fact the prophet himself and they did not perceive the truth that Abu Bakr perceived.
At that point the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), in an attempt to console the sorrowful heart of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and to declare his worth in front of the other Companions said:
“We have paid back in kind, or more, all of the goodness that has been done to us by others, however Abu Bakr is an exception…He has done so much good to us that Allah will be the one to reward him on the Day of Judgement.
Be it with his words or with his wealth, he is the one who has offered me the most. If I were to have taken an intimate friend other than my Lord I would have taken Abu Bakr to be my friend. However Islamic brotherhood is more superior”.Only a few days before the Messenger of Allah passed away, he said:
“Let all of the private doors that open on to the Masjid close except that of Abu Bakr’s. Let it remain open. I see a light over his door”[.
All of the doors were closed while Abu Bakr’s door remained open. This is an indication that a private door to closeness to the Messenger of Allah can be opened with complete loyalty, submission, obedience, selflessness, friendship and love as that displayed by Abu Bakr as Siddiq.
He Sacrificed Everything He Had in The Way of Allah
Abu Bakr was the wealthiest of the Companions but he generously sacrificed everything he had, his life and his wealth after becoming lost in Allah and His Messenger.
When the prophet received his prophethood, Abu Bakr had wealth which amounted to 40 thousand dirhams. He gave a good amount of it for the cause of Islam. He freed Muslim slaves, and gave all manner of support to the believers.
He took his last 5000 dirhams during the migration to Madina and continued to spend it in charity for the sake of Allah.
One day his father, Abu Quhafa said to him:
“My son, you are always buying and freeing weak and powerless slaves. Since you are going to free a slave why do you not buy strong and mighty slaves so that they can protect you from all manner or danger and evil?”
Abu Bakr replied:
“Dearest father, the sole purpose in doing what I do is to seek Allah’s pleasure. By freeing them I desire only the reward that is with Allah”.
Another time when Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah and gave him his entire wealth, Allah’s Messenger asked him:
“What have you left for your family o Abu Bakr?”
“I have left them Allah and His Messenger” (Abu Dawud, Zakat, 40/1678; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3675).
In fact, Allah’s Messenger did not give permission for any of his Companions to donate their entire wealth. He made Abu Bakr an exception and only gave him permission. It was probable that certain hearts would feel regret after giving their entire wealth and living under conditions of poverty, due to the whisperings of Satan and one’s nafs. Such regret would then cause loss of the reward that would have come from this good deed. However the heart of Abu Bakr as Siddiq was filled with contentment, submission, sincerity and piety and was like an unshakeable fortress of faith riveted with love for Allah and His Messenger. This is why Allah and His Messenger’s pleasure made him forget all worldly distress and hardships. In fact these difficulties and hardship were a means to an indescribable pleasure he felt in his heart.
His Love of Worship
When the pagans prohibited Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) from worshipping in the Ka’bah, he made a place to pray in the front of his house. He began to pray there and recite the Qur’an. Since he was a soft and tender-hearted man he would become very moved when reciting from the Qur’an and be unable to prevent the tears from flowing.
He would recite the Qur’an in such deep ecstasy that the pagan women and children would gather around him to listen in awe. This alarmed the Quraysh and they tried to prevent him. Abu Bakr, however, continued to worship having sought refuge in Allah’s protection.
Like all those who love Allah, worship carried out at dawn carried a unique importance in the heart of Abu Bakr.
The following event is a clear indication of how fond he was of night worship:
At one time the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had postponed his night prayer (‘isha) to the last third of the night, for eight or nine nights. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him:
“O Messenger of Allah! Could you not lead the ‘isha prayer a little earlier so that it will be easier for us to wake up for our night worship”.
After that the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) led the ‘isha prayer at an earlier time (Ahmad, V, 47).
One day the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“The one who gives double charity for the cause of Allah will be called from various gates of Paradise as such: “O beloved servant of Allah! Come, here there is goodness and blessings”. Those who prayed continually will be called from the gate of prayer, the mujahids will be called from the gate of Jihad, the fasters will be called from the gate of Rayyan, and those who loved to give charity will be invited to Paradise via the Gate of charity”.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) asked:
“May my mother and father be sacrificed for you o Messenger of Allah. In fact, one who is called from any one of these gates will have no need to be called from another but will there be any people who will be called from all of these gates at the same time?”
The Messenger of Allah ((peace and blessings be upon him) replied:
“Yes there is and I hope that you will be one of those fortunate people” (Bukhari, Sawm 4, Ashab an-Nabi 5; Muslim, Zakat 85, 86).
On another day the Messenger of Allah ((peace and blessings be upon him) asked his Companions who were gathered around him:
“Is there anyone amongst you who is fasting?”
“Is there any amongst you who took part in a funeral prayer?”
“Is there any amongst you who fed the needy?”
“Is there any amongst you who visited the sick?”
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) gave positive answers to all of these questions. Allah’s Messenger then said:
“Whoever combines these righteous deeds will certainly enter Paradise” (Muslim, Fadail al-Sahaba, 12).
One day Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him):
“O Messenger of Allah. Teach me a prayer that I can read in my salat”.
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Pray as follows:
“O Allah! I have greatly transgressed against my soul. And You are the only One who can forgive sins. In that case forgive me with Your unending grace and have mercy on me. You are the sole One whose forgiveness is unending and whose mercy is endless.” (Bukhari, Adhan, 149; Dawat, 17; Tawhid, 9; Muslim, Dhikr, 48).
On another day Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said to the Messenger of Allah:
“O Messenger of Allah! Can you teach me some blessed words that I can recite them day and night?”
Allah’s Messenger said:
“O Allah, who created the heavens and the earth and the seen and unseen realms! O Lord and Master of all things, I bear witness that there is no god but You. I seek refuge in You from the evil of my nafs, the evil of Satan and his inviting me to associate partners with You” He told me to pray as such and to repeat these words in the morning, the evening and before going to bed” (Abu Dawud, Adab 100-101/5067; Tirmidhi, Dawat, 14/3392).
His Sensitivity in The Matter of Lawful Provision
One time when Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) had a slave, his slave would give him a certain share of his earnings, and he would eat from that. One day this slave brought everything he had earned. Abu Bakr took one bite to eat when the slave said to him:
“You did not ask me what I earned tonight, whereas you used to ask me about my earnings before.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) replied:
“I was very hungry and forgot to ask… how did you earn this food?
The slave said:
“Even though I knew nothing about fortune-telling I once deceived a man with fortune-telling during the days of ignorance. I encountered him today. That man gave me this food that I offered you today in response”. When Abu Bakr heard this he immediately stuck his finger in his throat (despite the discomfort) and brought up everything he ate saying:
“Woe to you! You almost ruined me”. When he was asked:
“Was it worth such pain for only one bite?”
“Even if I knew I would lose my life I would still have brought up that food. The Messenger of Allah said:
“The body that is nourished by unlawful food is worthy of Hellfire”.
After this event the following verse was revealed:
“But as for him who feared the Station of his Lord and forbade the lower self its appetites, the Garden will be his refuge” (Nazi ‘at, 79:40-41).
Abu Bakr and Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) were like the eyes and the ears of the prophet. The Messenger of Allah said about them: “After I am gone, follow Abu Bakr and Umar” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3662).
One time a woman came to the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to talk to him about some matter. He gave her some advice and then told her to come back to him after she had done what he said. The woman said:
“O Messenger of Allah! What shall I do if I cannot find you when I come back?”
She meant if he had passed away. He answered:
“If you cannot find me, then go to Abu Bakr.” (Bukhari, Ashab an-Nabi, 5; Muslim, Fadail al-Sahaba, 10; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 16/3676).
According to a narration by Qasim ibn Muhammad, during his last days of illness, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) told Aisha ((may Allah be pleased with her) of his intense pain saying:
“I considered sending word to Abu Bakr and his son that I request that he be the Caliph after I am gone. In this way I wished to prevent the gossip of some about the caliphate and prevent the hope of some who desire it. But then I thought to myself: “Allah, Most High, will not give the caliphate to one who is not worthy of it and the believers will distance one who is not worthy from the caliphate. Or, Allah Most High will distance from the caliphate the one who is not worthy and the believers will not choose one who is not worthy of that position”, and so I decided against it” (Bukhari, Marda 16, Ahkam 51; Muslim, Fadail al-Sahaba 11).
All of this is an open ruling and decisive proof of the worthiness of Abu Bakr for the caliphate and it leaves no room for argument.
When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) passed away, the Ansar and the Muhajirun all gave their allegiance (bay’ah) to Abu Bakr at Saqifa. A day later there was a general allegiance made to him and Abu Bakr, the best of the men after the prophets addressed the people as follows:
“O people! Even though I am not the most righteous amongst you, I have been selected to be your Caliph. If I carry out my duty properly then help me. If I make a mistake then warn me. Uprightness is a sign of trustworthiness and deceit is treachery. The weak amongst you shall be strong with me until I have secured his rights. The strong amongst you shall be weak in my sight until I have wrested from him the rights of others. If a nation abandons struggling in the way of Allah they will be disgraced. If evil becomes widespread amongst a people then Allah will give them a general calamity. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. If I am faulty in obeying Allah and His Messenger then you owe me no obedience. Now rise for prayer and may Allah have mercy on you” .
In a later sermon Abu Bakr said:
“I swear by Allah that on no day or night did I ever desire or wish for this position. I never asked Allah Most High for such a thing, not in secret nor in the open. But when the people were left idle I feared that mischief and dissension would arise (I accepted this duty out of anxiety and a feeling of responsibility). Otherwise there is no comfort for me in this position of leadership. Such a weighty task has been placed upon my shoulders that without Allah Most High’s help I would not have the strength nor the opportunity to carry it out. How I wish that the strongest amongst the people in terms of leadership were in my place”
The Muhajirun accepted wholeheartedly these sincere words of Abu Bakr. Ali and Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with them both) commended the new Caliph saying:
“…After the Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr is the one most worthy of this position. He was the sole companion in the cave in which they hid during the migration. Allah Most High mentions him as being the “second of the two” in the Holy Qur’an. We are witness to his honour and his greatness. While he was still alive Allah’s Messenger commanded him to lead the people in the prayer”
In a sermon he gave one month after the death of the Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr said:
“Even though I did not desire it, I have been given the position of Caliph. How I wish that someone else would come and take this duty upon themselves. Beware! If you expect me to behave as the Messenger of Allah did, know that I am not capable of this. He was a man upon whom Almighty Allah bestowed revelation and he was made immune to error.
I am a mere man like you and I am no better than any of you. Watch over me and if I am upright then follow me but if I slip, then correct me…” .
These words are a result of the effect of the beautiful character of the Messenger of Allah upon Abu Bakr. They are a clear indication of how humble he was and how devoted he was to the Sunnah and to Allah and His Messenger.
When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) became Caliph, he asked for help from the Companions. Abu Ubayda (may Allah be pleased with him) helped him with the affairs of the Bayt al-mal (State Treasury) whilst Umar took up the duty of judge (Qadi). Through the training of the Messenger of Allah, the Blessed Companions had formed the most virtuous of societies. This is why a year would pass and not even two people would come to the court with a complaint.
Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) took up the duty of being Abu Bakr’s scribe and advisor.
He was constantly in the assembly of the Caliph helping him and advising him in matters of keeping public order in the community.
Abu Bakr, the prophet’s closest friend, his companion in the cave, his father-in-law, his vezir, his adviser and the first Caliph, was able to overcome many troubles during his Caliphate by the grace and help of Allah. In particular he resolutely suppressed the Ridda Wars (the Wars of Apostasy) that began to arise after the death of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In this way he prevented the dissolution of the Islamic State and ensured the continuation of new conquests.
Abu Bakr never compromised in rulings of religion and was a resolute defender of Islam. Another act of rebellion that arose after the death of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was the refusal to pay zakat and he showed a resolute resistance against this saying:
“I will fight them if they so much as hide a small piece of rope from their wealth and refuse to pay the zakat for it…”
In this way he prevented this dissension from growing and closed all the doors that could lead to distortion of the religion.
Even Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), that model of justice and courage, admired and was left in awe of this resolute and brave stance of his.
It was also during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Qur’an was gathered together as a written manuscript (mushaf) in the exact way it was revealed to the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). It was compiled with great care from the palm leaves upon which it had been written, from flat stones, fine slabs and from the memories of the hafiz (memorisers of the Qur’an).
Thus many likely causes of dissension that would have arisen in matters of religion were prevented. In short, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) signed his name to many important acts of service to the community of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by allowing them to advance in the direction of the Qur’an and the sunnah and showed an extraordinary effort in ensuring that they progress in unity and togetherness. His caliphate, which lasted for only 2 years and 3 months, was a period filled with prosperity and blessings in Islamic history, like the afternoon shadow, short in time but whose shadow is long.
His Humility, Compassion and Forgiving Nature
After he became caliph, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) continued to live a life of modesty and abstention just as he had done prior to becoming caliph. He would milk the sheep of the orphan girls in his neighbourhood and see to their needs. His neighbours assumed that after he became Caliph he would be too preoccupied, or that his living conditions would change and they would therefore not receive any help from him. However nothing changed. He continued to milk the orphans’ sheep and fulfil their needs with the same humility as before.
Almighty Allah praises those of His servants who have such beautiful character as follows:
‘The slaves of the All-Merciful are those who walk lightly on the earth…’ (Furqan, 25:63)
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “In my ummah the most merciful towards the ummah is Abu Bakr…” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 32/3790-3791).
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was also known by the title ‘Awwah’, due to his tenderness, his grace, his compassion and his mercy.
One day the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was sitting with his Companions when a man came and insulted Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was offended but remained silent and did not respond. That person came back a second time and insulted him once more, causing him pain. Abu Bakr remained silent once more. When the man came back a third time and insulted him, Abu Bakr gave him a fitting reply. At that point the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) immediately rose and left. Abu Bakr raced after him saying:
“O Messenger of Allah. Did I offend you?
Allah’s Messenger replied:
“No I am not. It is only that an angel came down from the heavens and was refuting what that person said to you and responded in your place. But when you responded and defended yourself that angel went and in his place came Satan. And I cannot not stay in a place where Satan is” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 41/4896).
He Preferred The Hereafter Always
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said:
“I see people as two groups, those who desire this world and those who desire the hereafter. However I prefer my Lord…When I entered Islam two deeds met me; those of this world and those of the hereafter. I always chose those of the hereafter…”
Abu Bakr saw this world as the tillage of the hereafter and he would pray as follows:
“O Allah! Expand this world for me and make me abstain from it”.
That is, what he meant was ‘first give me this world but then remove love for it from my heart so that I am protected from its hazards and let me be in poverty and want of my own accord and desire’.
Before and after he became caliph, not once did he incline towards this world. Just like the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), his sole desire was that he complete his journey to the hereafter, with peace of heart, free from the weight of the world and with an eagerness to meet his lord. This is why, close to his death, he made a last request to have a piece of land that he owned sold in order to return the wage to the state treasury that he received out of necessity while he was caliph.
While he was on his death bed he told his daughter Aisha (may Allah be pleased with them both) to give the camel from which they drank their milk, the pot with which he dyed his clothes, and the qadi robe he wore to Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). The reason he gave for this was that he benefited from these while attending to the affairs of the Muslims. After her father’s death Aisha gave these to Umar, the new caliph, who when he received them said:
“Abu Bakr. May the mercy of Allah be upon you. You have left those who came after you in a very difficult position”.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) would also make the following sincere supplication:
“O Allah! Let the best part of my life be its end, let the best part of my deeds be their result, and let the best day of my life be the day I am reunited with You”.
According to a narration by Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) the cause of death of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was the profound sorrow he felt at the demise of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). In fact he was so saddened by his death that his blessed body gradually melted away and became weaker and weaker until he eventually passed away.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:
“At one point during the illness which led to my father’s death I went to his side and he asked me:
“How many pieces of cloth did you shroud the prophet in?”
“We shrouded him with three pieces of white cotton, not including the shirt and headpiece”.
“On which day did the prophet pass away?”
“On a Monday”
“What day is it today?”
“I hope that my death comes between now and tonight” (after that he said:)
“If I die tonight do not make me wait until tomorrow (to be buried). The most pleasing of days and nights to me is that which is the closest to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)” (Ahmad, I, 8).
Then Abu Bakr looked at the dress he had on and saw that it had a saffron stain on it. He said:
“Wash this and then add two more garments and shroud me with these”.
“Dear father, this garment is old”. Abu Bakr replied:
“The living are more worthy of wearing new clothes than the dead. The shroud of the dead is going to be stained with blood anyway”.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) passed away on a Monday night, and was buried before the morning (Bukhari, Janaiz, 94).
He was reunited with the Messenger of Allah, whom he had missed for 2 years, 3 months and 10 days. May Allah be pleased with him.
Like the Messenger of Allah, he was 63 years old when he passed away. The date was the 22nd of Jumada al akhir 13 (the 23rd of August, 634).
His last words were the dua from the following verse:
“O Allah! ….take me as a Muslim at my death and join me to the people who are righteous (salihuun)…” (Yusuf, 12:101).
His words of wisdom“There is no good in:
a word that does not seek the pleasure of Allah;
wealth that is not spent in the way of Allah;
a person whose ignorance overrules his gentleness;
a person who fears being blamed for a task he will do for the sake of Allah.
“There is no blood bond between Allah and any of His creatures. Being subject to good and protected from evil (and thereby coming closer to Allah) is only possible through obedience to Him and abiding by His commands”.
“Know well that there is a deed that Allah desires to be done by day and does not accept at night; and there is a deed that He desires be done at night which He does not accept during the day”.
“Allah is not pleased with the word of His servant that he does not act upon”.
“Talking too much makes a person forgetful”.
“Think well about what you say, when you say it and to whom you say it”.
“The friends of Allah are of three classes (according to their personality). Each three class is then known by three signs:
The first class are those who are in a state of khawf (fear of Allah). These are:
However many good deeds they have done, they always see them as being insufficient.
They consider their small mistakes to be great.
The second class are those who have raja (hope):They are an example for people in their every state and act, displaying virtue and beauty.
They become the most generous of people by spending their wealth in the way of Allah.
They always have a good opinion about the servants of Allah.
The third class are the arif (gnostics) who worship Allah with love and passion.They spend out of what they love for the sake of Allah.
They aim for the pleasure of Allah in every state and act and thus are not affected by the censure of the ignorant and are not uneasy at their crude behaviour
They try to perform acts that are difficult for their nafs and in spite of it; they obey the commands and prohibitions of Allah in every state and act”.“Be the slave of the arifun who know Allah”.
“Do not hide your state from one who wants to guide you. Otherwise you will have deceived yourself”.
“Reform yourself so that people will treat you well”.
“Four kinds of people are from the righteous servants of Allah”:The one who is pleased when he sees a person who has repented,
The one who pleads to his Lord for the forgiveness of his sins,
The one who prays for his Muslim brother in his absence,
The one who helps and serves the person needier than himself.“
If faith is limited to the mosque (and is not reflected in every aspect of one’s life), if property remains in the hands of the misers, weapons remain in the hands of the cowards, and power remains in the hands of weak, then affairs will go awry”.
“An intelligent person is one who has taqwa; an ignorant person is one who is oppressive”.
“Allah, Most High, mentions in the Qur’an both the reward and punishment that He has promised so that the servant can vie for worship and fear punishment”.
“If you miss out on doing a good deed try to make up for it, and when you do, try to do it even better” .
“Doing good to others protects a person from calamities and misfortunes”.
“Do not argue with your neighbour for everyone will leave but they will remain”.
“Flee from fame so that honour can follow you. Be prepared for death so that you can be given life”.
“There is no misfortune, which has no other that is not worse than it”.
“There is never harm in patience and no benefit in sorrow and haste”.
“Patience is half of faith, whilst yaqin or certainty (freedom from doubt and a state of complete confidence) is all of it”.
“Ask Allah for health. After yaqin (certainty) no one has been given anything more virtuous than health”.
“To me, being healthy and being grateful for it is more acceptable than being patient after being subject to a misfortune and being tested”.
“This world is a trading place for the believer; day and night is his capital; good deeds are his produce; Paradise is his gain and Hellfire is his loss”.
Whenever Abu Bakr heard somebody praise him he would say:
“O Allah, You know me better than I know myself and I know myself better than they do. O Allah, make me better than what they think of me. Forgive me for the mistakes that they do not know about and do not take me to account for what they say about me”.“When a servant becomes proud on account of a worldly bounty, Allah detests him until that bounty leaves him”.
“Beware of boasting! Why would a person who was created from the earth and who will return to it, and who will be eaten by worms, boast? He is alive today, dead tomorrow”.
Abu Bakr once said in a sermon:
“Where are those beautiful people whom everyone admires? Where are those brave young men proud of their youth?
Where are those rulers who built magnificent cities and encased them with high fortresses?
Where are those heroes who never knew defeat on the battlefield?
Time has decayed them and razed them to the ground.
They have all been buried in the darkness of the grave.
Make haste, make haste! Come to your senses before it is too late and quickly prepare for what is to come after death!
Save yourselves, save yourselves”.“
Ponder on the state of those servants of Allah who came and went before you. Where were they yesterday and where are they now?”.