Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Legacy of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq

The Legacy of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. Abu Bakr became the Caliph on 8 June 632 and he died on 23 August 634. Though the period of his caliphate covers only two years, two months and fifteen days, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time: the Sassanid Empire and Byzantine Empire.
Abu Bakr had the distinction of being the first Caliph in the history of Islam and also the first Caliph to nominate a successor. He was the only Caliph in the history of Islam who refunded to the state treasury at the time of his death the entire amount of the allowance that he had drawn during the period of his caliphate.

He is revered for being the first Muslim ruler to establish:
  • Bayt al-mal
  • The Crown Pasture
  • 'Ijtihad'.
He has the distinction of purchasing the land for Al-Masjid al-Nabawi.
Abu Bakr had given up drinking wine even in the time before Islam. He was the foremost genealogist of the Quraysh and was well accomplished at interpreting dreams according to Ibn Sirin.

Sunni view

Sunni Muslims also consider Abu Bakr as one of al-`Ashara al-Mubasharîn fi-l-Janna (The Ten Promised Paradise) whom Muhammad had testified were destined for Paradise. He is regarded as Khalifa Rasulullah The successor of Messenger of Allah, and first of the Rightly Guided Caliphs - i.e. Rashidun and being the rightful successor to Muhammad. Abu Bakr had always been the closest friend and confidant of Muhammad throughout his life. He was always there beside Muhammad at every major event. It was Abu Bakr's wisdom that Muhammad always honored.

Abu Bakr is regarded to be among best persons from the followers of Muhammad, as Umar ibn Khattab stated that ‘If the faith of Abu Bakr was weighed against the faith of the people of the earth, the faith of Abu Bakr would outweigh the others.’ During the last few weeks of his life, Muhammad preferred Abu Bakr to lead the Muslims in prayer while he was ill. Upon Muhammad's death, it was Abu Bakr who demonstrated sagacity to keep the ranks of the Muslims together. Muhammad had not left behind a clear will on who would succeed him. There was dissension between the two original tribes of Medina, namely Aws and Khazraj regarding who would become the ruler over the Muslims after Muhammad. This even led to drawing of swords between them. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah rushed to the spot where the dispute almost turned bloody, and delivered his famous speech to show the path of unity between the Muslims and declared that Umar should become the first caliph. In turn, Umar declared his allegiance to Abu Bakr saying that there is no better man amongst the Muslims after Muhammad. The majority of the sahaba (companions of Muhammad) assembled there followed suit and pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr. Sunnis point out this fact of avoiding bloodshed between Muslims and preserving the unity of the state as of paramount importance, or it would have led to self-destruction of the new state. The famous scholar Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal also stated that he is among the foremost companions (sahaba) of prophet Muhammad.

Shi'a view

Shi'a Muslims have a different view of Abu Bakr. They believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was supposed to assume Caliphate, and had been appointed by Muhammad as his successor at Ghadir Khumm. It is also believed Abu Bakr and Umar conspired to take over power in the Muslim nation after Muhammad's death, in a coup d'état against Ali. According to them, they also met secretly with the tribal leaders of Mecca and Medina at Saqifah to elect Abu Bakr. The Shi'a do not view Abu Bakr's being with Muhammad in the cave when the two fled Mecca as a meritorious act.

The Shi'a criticize Abu Bakr for an alleged dispute between him and Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah, that, according to them, ended with her becoming angry with Abu Bakr and refusing to talk with him for the rest of her life, she died six months later. According to them, Abu Bakr had refused to grant her a piece of land which Muhammad had given to her as a gift before his death. However, Abu Bakr replied by saying that Muhammad had told him that the Prophets of God do not possess any worldly possessions and on this basis he refused to give her the piece of land. Some Shi'a also accuse him of participating in the burning of the house of Ali and Fatima. (see Fadak)

The Shi'a believe that Abu Bakr sent Khalid ibn Walid to crush those who were in favour of Ali's caliphate (see Ridda Wars). The Shi'a strongly refute the idea that Abu Bakr or Umar were instrumental in the collection or preservation of the Qur'an, claiming that they should have accepted the copy of the book in the possession of Ali.

Non-Muslim views

Edward Gibbon wrote about Abu Bakr as:

The moderation, and the veracity of Abu Bakr confirmed the new religion, and furnished an example for invitation.

William Muir states that:

Abu Bakr's judgment was sound and impartial; his conversation agreeable and his demeanor affable and much sought after by the Quraysh and he was popular throughout the city.... The faith of Abu Bakr was the greatest guarantee of Muhammad's sincerity in the beginning of his career, and indeed, in a modified sense, throughout his life. To have such a person as a staunch adherent of his claim, was for Muhammad a most important step.

William Montgomery Watt writes:

From 622 to 632 he (Abu Bakr) was Mohammed's chief adviser, but had no prominent public functions except that he conducted the pilgrimage to Mecca in 631, and led the public prayers in Medina during Mohammed's last illness.

Hadith transmitted by him

It has been transmitted from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that Abu Bakr related, "I said to the Prophet: 'O Messenger of Allah! Teach me a supplication which I may make in prayer.' He replied: 'Say: Oh Allah! I have done my soul a great harm and no one can forgive sins except You; so grant me forgiveness with Your Pleasure, and have Pity on me. You are Al Ghaffur, Ar-Rahim.'

In al-Adab al-Mafrud of Imam Al-Bukhari and in ibn Majah and the Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, it has been reported from Abu Bakr that Muhammad said, "Stick to speaking the truth because truth is a companion of birr (righteousness) and both these are in Paradise; and abstain from lying because it is a companion of fujur (sin) and both these are in Hell."

It is reported in Sunan Abu Dawood, Ahmad, and Tirmidhi that Abu Bakr said, "O people! You recite the verse (5:105): 'O you who believe! Guard your own souls; if you follow (right) guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who stray', but you misinterpret it and do not know what it means. I once heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'If people see someone practicing injustice and do not set him right, Allah will almost certainly visit them all with severe punishment." Another narration goes, "If they see evil practiced and do not attempt to change it..."

According to a narration of Abu Bakr as reported in Jami al Tirmidhi, Tafsir ibn Jarir and elsewhere, when Muhammed recited this verse (4:123), "And whoever does evil shall be requited for it" to him, he felt as if his back was broken. When Muhammed noticed the reaction on him, he asked, "What is the matter with you?" Thereupon, Abu Bakr submitted, "Ya RasulAllah, there is hardly anyone among us who can claim to have done nothing bad in one's life. Now if every evil deed has to be requited, who can hope to go unscathed from among us? He said, "O Abu Bakr, you and your believing brothers need not worry about it because worldly hardships that you face shall make amends for your sins." As it appears in another narration, he said, "O Abu Bakr, do you not get sick? Are you never tested by distress and sorrow?" Abu Bakr said, "No doubt, all this does happen." Then he said, "There, this is the requital of whatever evil you may have done."



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