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Abu Bakr Lecture

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  • Abu Bakr Lecture

    Abu Bakr : An Epitome of Truthfulness

    Arabia... A desert as huge as almost 3000 square kilometers, but from which humanity souls have been revived repeatedly over the course of history, from Adam to Abraham, and to Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Them ALL.

    As recounted in the Qur'an (Ibraham, 14:34-41) Abraham left his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael in the valley of Makkah on Gods command. The Ka' ba was there, but it had been destroyed in time. When Ishmael was young, he and Abraham reconstructed the Ka' Ba together. Because of the sanctity of the Ka' Ba people began to settle around it, and this is how Makkah as a town and a center of pilgrimage and trade connecting merchants on caravans from Syria and Jordan, all the way to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Organized in tribes Makkah suffered from racial fanaticism and feudal warfare for centuries, leaving women, without a value as they could not take part in wars.

    In a larger context, the Byzantium and Persian Empires were in constant conflict and intermittently fought for over 60 years which exhausted their respective peoples. There was a desperate need for a message that prioritized peace over war. A message that celebrated freedoms and rights for everyone regardless of race, color, or gender. And came the Prophet from Makkah who taught and promised all of these. He was not alone in his mission, and his closest friend was Abu Bakr.

    Also called As-Siddiq, ("The Upright" in Arabic), Abu Bakr was approximately 2 years younger than The Prophet. Before embracing Islam Abu Bakr was known as Abdul Ka' Ba (Servant of the Ka' Ba) then The Prophet changed his name to Abdullah (The servant of God). Among the youth, frolics, and frivolities, were very common behaviors, but Abu Bakr was completely different. He led a very disciplined life. Once he was asked if he had drank wine in his days of ignorance. He said he had never touched the wine, because he wanted to keep his reputation and respectability. This shows he enjoyed a good reputation and respectability even before Islam. (Ibn Al-Athir, 1280)

    He did not receive a formal education as many other Arab men, but he was a keen observer; he was constantly observing what was going on around him. He had a very good memory as he could recite verses if he only heard them once. He attended poetical events.(Ibn Al-Athir, 1280)

    Abu Bakr traveled to different countries including Abyssinia, Yemen, and Syria. These trips brought him wealth, expertise and broadened his outlook on life. He became one of the richest businessmen in Makkah. Accordingly, his social importance increased among the people. He was hard working, generous, friendly, truthful and committed. He had a lot of influence among his friends and acqaintances. As a trader he was always fair and just, he never deceived people. He would visit the sick, he gave alms to the poor, (At-Tabari, 1987)

    One day The Prophet asked his people, "Is there anyone who visited a sick one today?" Abu Bakr said, :I did." "Is there anyone who fasted today?" Abu Bakr said, "I did." "Is there anyone who participated in a funeral?" Abu Bakr said, "I did." Is there anyone who assisted someone was poor?" Abu Bakr said, "I did." The Prophet said, " Whoever does these 4 deeds in one dayis counted among the people of heaven."

    While Abu Bakr was still young, he volunteered for an office whick decided the blood money for the killed or injured. It was like a Judge or Magistrate's Office. He always satisified both sides with his fair decisions. (At-Tabari, 1987)

    When Gods message was revealed to Muhammad, the first person to believe him was Abu Bakr. On the day he stated his belief, he gave his decision quickly and without hesitation showing he had complete trust in Muhammad. The Prophet admired his acceptance of Islam with the words, "Except Abu Bakr, everyone I have invited to Islam has experienced some period of hesitation. But Abu Bakr accepted my invitation without any hesitation." (Bukhari, 870) In fact Abu Bakr doubted the validity of idolatry and had no enthusiasm for worshiping idols.

    When Islam began to spread in Makkah, Makkahan polytheists inflicted torture and intimidation on the believers, forcing many of them to immigrate to Abyssinia. Yet, Abu Bakr did not leave. He preferred to stay with the Prophet to support him in his time of need. And he was going to be in the company of the Prophet in the Hijrah, his historical journey to Medina, which would transform the course of history forever.

    Later when the battles of Badr and Uhud took place between Muslims and Arab pagans. Abu Bakr, along with a few other Companions, were entrusted with the Prophets safety. When Makkah was last subdued in 630 AD, ALL the tribes of Arabia were convinced that Muhammad was a Messenger sent from God. They stopped resisting and sent delegates to Medina proclaiming their allegiance to him. While he was busy receiving delegates, he entrusted Abu Bakr to preside over the pilgrims. This incident proved of vital importance later when a Caliph was chosen after the death of the Prophet. (Ibn Al-Kathir, Isma' il, 1932)

    The Prophet made a pilgrimage 2 years after the conquest of Makkah, This would be called the "Farewell Pilgrimage", as the Prophet became ill on his return to Medinah and died 2 weeks after his illness. During the last days of his illness, he could not lead the prayers in the Mosque, (Masjid.) He gave instructions to his wife A'isha to tell her father, Au Bakr to lead the prayers. This was taken by the Muslims as another sign to choose Abu Bakr to be their Caliph after the Prophets departure. (Ibn Hisham, 1992)

    When the Prophet died in 632 AD, many people, among whom was Umar bin Al-Khattab, were shocked and refused to believe that Prophet Muhammad died. But, Abu Bakr, steadfast as usual, addressed the bewildered masses and convinced them that Muhammad was no more than just a Prophet like other Prophets who had died before him. After much debate, in which both sides-The Medinians and the Makkans-expressed their opinions elaborately and freely, Abu Bakr was unanimously accepted to be the first Caliph. Soon after there was a public meeting in the Mosque, (Masjid), and people flocked from near and farto swear their Oath of Allegiance to Abu Bakr. (Ibn Hisham, 1992)

    The Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, Categorically Rejected Racism and Tribalism. He also put an end to Tribal Wars. Sir William Muir makes the following comment: "The first peculiarity, then, which attracts our attention is the subdivision of the Arabs into innumerable bodies... each independent of the others: restless and often at war amongst themselves; and even when united by blood or by interest, ever ready on some significant cause to separate and give way to an implacable hostility. Thus at the Era of Islam the retrospect of Arabian History exhibits, as in the kaleidoscope, an ever-varying state of combination and repulsion, such as had hitherto rendered abortive any attempt at a general union... The problem had yet to be resolved, by what forces these tribes could be subdued, or drawn to one common center; and it was solved by Muhammad." (Sir William Muir, 1988)

    Instead of tribalism and tribal attachment, The Prophet instituted Virtue and God Consciousness. He also instituted allegiance or public consent. People were free to elect their own administrator. So after the Prophets death, his followers came together and discussed amongst themselves who would be their new leader. Since the one who would lead the Newly-Established Muslim Community would succeed the Prophet in ALL THINGS except his Prophethood Abu Bakr was named the successor. The Caliphmeans the One who succeeds. So the leaders of the Muslim Community were called Caliph.

    1.) The Wars on Apostasy:
    Abu Bakr had to struggle with apostates and false prophets. What elements caused the War on Apostasy? First, the death of the Prophet was a great shock to the Muslims. For the first time in the lives of the Makkans and Medinians, they were united around a single religion. Their centuries old customs and feudal and tribal vaues and understandings were abolished. Their absorbtion of the new system would not be easy. They accepted this system in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad. so his death was a great shock. Adoption of the new system was voice especially for the newly-converted desert tribes. Some of them left the religion and followed false prophets who appeared among them and called them back to their old ways.

    Secondly, Islam instituted Zakat (Alms-Giving or Charity). It was collected from the rich, and spent for the well-being of the poor and the wayfarers left without money to complete their travel. It was also used for those who can't pay their debts, and for those who strive in "Gods Cause". Some desert tribes refused to pay it after the Prophet death. This signaled their revolt against the new administration in Medina.

    Thirdly, the influence of the Romans from the north and the Persians and Abyssinians from the east and the south encouraged the distant tribes to return back to their own beliefs and customs.

    2.) Usame's Punitive Expedition
    The changes brought about by the Muslims in Arabia drew the attention of the Roman (Byzantium) Empire. In order to prevent their growing strength. they sent armies. During the time of the Prophet, Muslim and Roman Armies fought in Muta, on the border of Jordan. No army could overpower the other in this first encounter. One year before the Prophets death the Romans organized another army. On hearing this, the Prophet left Medina with his army and went as far as Tabuk, in the far north of Arabia. The Prophets illness caused this army to stay in Medina without departing. After his death due to the news of rebellions in some desert tribes, some Muslims wanted to cancel this expedition. But, Abu Bakr, the newly elected caliph, firmly opposed the idea saying: "I will never cancel anything initiated by the Prophet," The curious thing about this army was that it was made up of mostly the early companions of the Prophet, but its leader was Usame ibn Zayd, who as only 18 years old. During the lifetime of the Prophet, his old companions objected,but they were given a heated sermon in which both Usame and his father were praised as competent leaders. (At-Tabari, 1987)

    3.) Compilation of The Qur'an

    1,200 Muslims were killed in the battle called Aqraba, among them were many who were committing the Qur'an to memory. Umar ibn Al-Khattab, whose brother Zaydwas among the dead, thought deeply of what might happenif wars continued and more such people were killed. He reached the conclusion that if the Qur'an was to be preserved, it ought to be compiled into one volume. At that time it was scattered among the companions of the Prophet, with each preserving certain portions of it. Methods of preservation differed. Some had it written on parchment; others on palm branches stripped of their leaves; a third group was written on bone; and a fourth group written on stone tablets; a large number also memorized it by heart, then a portion of the book might disappear. So Umar, went to the Caliph, who was then sitting in the Prophets Grand Mosque (Masjid). He (Umar) discussed his idea with him (Abu Bakr), but Abu Bakr rejected it because it was not something done by the Prophet. A lengthy debate followed, after which Abu Bakr was convinced that Umar was right.

    Abu Bakr's compilation is regarded by many as his most significant accomplishment. It was even more significant than the Wars of Apostasy and the conquest of Iraq and Syria. Ali ibn Abu Talib used to say: "May God have mercy upon Abu Bakr! He is worthy of being superbly rewarded because he was unique in compiling the Qur'an." (Ibn Hajar, 1988)
    Last edited by Talha_E_D; 23-08-13, 05:48 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Abu Bakr Lecture

    -JazakAllahu Khair, can't wait, Abu Bakr and Umar always inspire me. I love hearing about them, thanks for the interesting read so far ahki.