The first caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, a companion and through his daughter Aisha, a father-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He has the honor of being one of the first converts to Islam and supported the Prophet ﷺ wholeheartedly; physically, emotionally, financially, by being there for him at times of ease and conflicts.
Ateeq & Al-Siddiq
Before Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه accepted Islam, he was known as Ateeq, meaning “saved one”, this title was also used by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in order to address him. And after converting to Islam, when he testified that Muhammad ﷺ is telling the truth on accounts of Isra and Mairaj, the Holy Prophet gave him the title of Al-Siddiq (the truthful). A habit which all of us need to embed in our daily routine activities.
First to Accept Islam
Ibn Kathir, in his Al Bidaya Wal Nihayah, stated that ‘the first woman to embrace Islam was Khadijah رضي الله عنه. Zayd ibn Harithah was the first freed slave to embrace Islam. Ali ibn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه was the first child to embrace Islam, for he has not even reached the age of puberty at that time, while Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه was the first free man to embrace Islam.’
Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه had gone for a business trip to Yemen, and on his return, he was informed that while he was away, Muhammad ﷺ had declared himself the Prophet of Allah, and is preaching Islam, a new religion. While he had not been there and didn’t witness Muhammad’s ﷺ declaration, but the seed of piety, devotion to a one and only supreme power (he didn’t worship idols like others), and love of Muhammad ﷺ was enough as a witness to step towards Islam. Although there are different views on who accepted it first, but Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه holds great importance as a Muslim, as a person, and as a caretaker of the powerless and the needy, and hence included in the early believers’ list.
Prophet’s Love for Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه
Towards the very end of his life, the Prophet ﷺ said this about his dear friend, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq رضي الله عنه:
“The person who has done the greatest number of favors to me, through his good companionship and through his wealth, is Abu Bakr.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Allahu Akbar, what an honor it is, that the beloved of Allah is praising the first caliph, Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, and terming his support as favors to him, which only The Almighty can reward and repay indeed. This hadith narrates the love of our Holy Prophet ﷺ for his trusted companion and is a testimony of Abu Bakr’s رضي الله عنه love, devotion and sacrifice for Allah and His messenger ﷺ.
A prominent Hadith about establishing the prayer shows the status of Caliph Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه;
Narrated Hisham ibn `Urwa’s father:
`Aisha said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ordered Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer during his illness and so he led them in prayer.” `Urwa, a sub narrator, added, “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) felt a bit relieved and came out and Abu Bakr was leading the people. When Abu Bakr saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) he retreated but the Prophet beckoned him to remain there. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) sat beside Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was following the prayer of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and the people were following the prayer of Abu Bakr.”
Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 683
A Heart of Gold
Caliph Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه was a selfless soul with the purest of hearts, he used to motivate people to recite the First Kalima as a means to purify one’s hearts. He used to say: “Glory to God who has not vouchsafed to His creatures any means of attaining knowledge of Him except through impotence to attaining such knowledge”.
Imam Ibn Al Qayyim and other Muslim scholars have mentioned, that Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه every morning, used to go to the outskirts of Madinah to a tent. One day Omar رضي الله عنه began to wonder where does Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه go every morning. So one morning Omar رضي الله عنه followed Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه and saw Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه enter a tent. So Omar رضي الله عنه waited, and after some time Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه left the tent and the area. Omar رضي الله عنه entered the same tent and saw a woman sitting on the floor. He asked, “who are you?”. The woman replied, “son, I am a blind, poor and destitute woman. My husband died some time ago, and I don’t have anyone to help me after Allah. So Omar رضي الله عنه asked, “Who is that man who entered the tent? Do you know him? What does he do?” The woman replied, “I don’t know who he is. All I know is that he comes every morning, sweeps my floor, cooks my food, and milks my cattle.” So Omar رضي الله عنه sat down and cried. This amazing man Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه used to do this act of kindness, when he was the Caliph, the leader of the Muslims. When people would have given him anything, he preferred to please Allah. He was a humanitarian.
Fear of The Day of Judgement
Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه would often sigh, fearing the Almighty, and the hereafter, thus received the title of Awwah (one who sighs much) and said, “I wish I were a bird”, or “I wish I were a tree”, or again “I wish I were a hair on the body of a Momin”. On seeing a bird perched on the branch of a tree, Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه would heave a sigh and say, “O bird you are happy. You eat of the fruits of the tree and live under its shadow. You have no fear of rendering accounts. How I wish I had been in a position similar to yours”.
Indeed, this is the mental state of a person who has devoted himself completely for spreading the deen, and his thoughts at all times are of a constant fear of his creator. His goal is to be ready at all times to meet his Lord, leaving no stone unturned to get a PASS on his report card.
Reliance on Allah
In one such instance he brought all of his belongings as aid for expedition of Tabuk. When the Holy Prophet ﷺ inquired if he had left something for himself, he replied:
‘I have brought all I had, I have left Allah and His Prophet for myself and my dependents. ”
Alas! Height of piety, and symbol of a sensitive soul with utmost love of the Almighty, for he رضي الله عنه had no love for dunya or its material jewels, rather, he believed in giving it all away for the sake of Allah.
We, believers, think of ourselves as dutiful and generous after offering voluntary and involuntary charities, worth only portions of our wealth. Sparing the whole of our financial assets for the sake of Allah, leaving nothing as a backup for our future, this example shows the height of reliance on Allah!
For Caliph Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه poverty was a voluntary choice, he was a cloth merchant and was well-off since birth. But his aim was of devoting his life, assets, soul for the sake of Almighty, for gaining pleasure of His blessings, spreading Islam, and helping the poor and the needy.
Pivotal Role After Muhammad’s ﷺ Demise
Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه played a very active role in spreading Islam. He was known as a person with a very soft and sensitive personality, who was actively involved in charity, helping others, spreading Islam. But after the passing away of Muhammad ﷺ, there was a sudden shift of challenges and difficulties that he had to face. This was a time when there was no governmental structure, no fixed taxes, no framework of a central ruling policy. The Arabs were not used to following governmental policies, paying zakat or any kind of taxes etc. Every tribe was led by a clan leader, controlling it all themselves, turning almost all of Arabia into a compromised state. Also, there was a challenge of posers who put forth themselves as the messengers of Allah.
This was a very critical situation for Caliph Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, he faced the challenge of destroying the movements with regard to Nongivers of Zakat, fighting people who made false claims of prophethood, carrying on with the plans that were already in progress in the life of Muhammad ﷺ and controlling rifts with people who were not in the favor of Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه being designated as the first caliph after Muhammad ﷺ. Now someone who was kind, soft spoken, sensitive now had to rise above in order to crush the revolts and unify the whole of Arabia, and thus uncovering his traits of an iron-like strong personality, courageous, firm, farsighted with a strong reliance on Allah. He was able to deal with all these challenges, returning peace to the Arab state, reaffirming the belief of the people in the Islamic principles as ordained by the last messenger of Allah, making it clear to the non-believers that no revolt can crush the spirit of Muhammad’s ﷺ followers.
Role Model for All
He was a role model for all of us, a reflection of the personality of Muhammad ﷺ, and a beacon of light for all the Muslims who lost focus after the demise of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
He surpassed everyone in generosity, he surpassed everyone in modesty, he surpassed everyone in salah, he surpassed everyone in qirat al qur’an. He surpassed everyone in everything, and that’s why Ali رضي الله عنه said about Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, “… if you think about something good, then Abu Bakr would have already done it.”
He was indeed the only choice as a leader who could consolidate the chaos and revolts, ultimately progressing towards spreading Islam, and gaining additional geographical space for the same. A kindhearted, sensitive soul, empathetic towards all, while an epitome of strength, resilience, uprightness, and just towards all who were a threat to the Prophetic mission or in the spreading of Islam.
Here are some thoughts from various Islamic Scholars in a video from Islamic Guidance