|On beginning to talk about the rightly Guided Caliphs, we begin to feel the true love filling our hearts, because we are talking about well-known people and truly beloved by all of us.
We will begin with the first Caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq, but before talking about Abu Bakr, I would like to ask a question: What was the miracle of Islam? Each religion had its own extraordinary miracle, which astonished people of the time. The miracle of ‘Isa (Jesus) was restoring life to the dead and curing the blind and the leprous. The miracle of Musa (Moses) was his stick, which divided the sea, turned into huge snakes and astonished magicians of the time and made them prostrate. So what about the miracle of Islam?
Of course it is always said that the Holy Qur’an is the miracle of Islam, but we did not understand why? We all thought it was because of its eloquence and were too shy to say we did not feel it nowadays. So what is the real miracle of the Qur’an? The real miracle of the Qur’an is that whenever man truly follows it, he would become one of the greatest people of the world. People of no value in life who followed the Qur’an, became leaders of the world, and changed the history of humanity in any place and any time. It was a must that the miracle of this religion and this Prophet who is the last Prophet to be continuous, it could not have been a miracle bounded by time, a miracle for people of the time, a miracle that just took place once upon a time and ended. It had to be a continuous one.
The miracle is in the people, in you, in us, in mankind. The miracle is that when people apply what is in this book they would become masters of the whole world, just like the simple man from Bani Wohayb, Sa‘d Ibn Abi Waqqas, after following Islam and following the Qur’an, he became a great military leader who changed Persian lands in Qadeseya battle from being the origin of corruption into the seed of great Islam. Another harsh tough man, who buried his young daughter alive, ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab after embracing Islam turned into a hero, a great man in history; in politics, economics and military. This bedouin was one day the leader of Arab’s Island, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and the entire Islamic world. Another simple merchant turned into one of the greatest men of the world, who is the man we will talk about, Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq (R.A.).
I did not come today to give you a better picture of Abu Bakr, I cannot do that, because his picture is so beautiful already, but I will try to help you and help myself to discover Abu Bakr’s character from the inside. So let us first make an identification card for Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq.
Abdullah, which was why his messages and letters always began saying “From Abdullah Abu Bakr Ibn Abu Qohafa, the Caliph of Allah’s Messenger to whom this message is for….etc” He was called: “Al Atiq”, for which there were many reasons:
It was said that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) gave him that name, when one day Abu Bakr was passing by and the Prophet said to his Companions: “Whoever wished to look at a man released “Atiq” from hell-fire by Allah, may look at Abu Bakr.” And in another story, Prophet Muhammad once said to Abu Bakr “O’Abu Bakr, you are released from hell-fire by Allah.”
All of us pray in Ramadan that Allah would release us from hell-fire, and we hope we really are, but could anyone point to a specific man and say that he is released from hell-fire? Only Abu Bakr was pointed at by the Prophet that he was released from hell-fire.
It was also said that he was called by that name before Islam for his beautiful face, and it was said also for his good manners. Notice that many of the Companions were good looking, in opposite to the humble picture that we had for them before. This word “Atiq” stands for something old of a precious value, which meant his manners.
He was also called: Al Sedeeq, about which we will talk later.
He was from Bani Tayyem which was a part of Quraysh, and he shared with Prophet Muhammad his sixth grandfather Morah Ibn Ka‘b”. He was also responsible for Al-deyyat (paying blood money to the family of slain) before Islam, which was a great honour.
He was born two years after the Year of the Elephant, i.e. he was two years younger than Prophet Muhammad and which meant that he embraced Islam 38 years old. Notice that this was his beginning, at that age, which means that it is never too late; I am telling this to the youth who say they would not be able to learn Qur’an, it is too late, you are still so young. You too, older people, never give up, Abu Bakr began at the age of 38, and he was so close to his forties. He migrated from Makkah to Al Madinah with Prophet Muhammad at the age of 51, and became Caliph at the age of 61 for two years and died at the age of 63, just like Prophet Muhammad died on Monday, as if it was Allah’s will that he would follow the Prophet even in his death, just as he had followed him all through his life. Notice that Allah (S.W.T.) chooses for good people everything good which matches their truthfulness and their lives.
His wives, sons, and daughters:
He had two wives before Islam, and two wives he married after Islam. As for his wives before Islam; the first one was Qotayla Bint Abdel ‘Oza, and we have not enough information whether she died as Muslim or not, or whether he divorced her or not, because this marriage was before Islam. She was the mother of Abdullah Ibn Abu Bakr, his elder son, who helped in the migration of Prophet Muhammad as he was responsible for transferring the news to Prophet Muhammad in Hira’ Cave. Abdullah Ibn Abu Bakr embraced Islam long ago, he fought with Prophet Muhammad in his battles and died when Abu Bakr was Caliph; Abu Bakr prayed for him at his death and buried him. Abdullah died having six dirhams, which Abu Bakr thought was too much. Qotayla was also the mother of Asma’. So Asma’ and ‘A’isha did not have the same mother.
His second wife was Um Roman the mother of his son Abdur- Rahman and his daughter ‘A’isha. Um Roman embraced Islam long ago and was one of the good obedient Muslims. ‘A’isha was the Mother of the Believers, our mother, but her brother Abdur- Rahman was late to embrace Islam. He fought against Muslims in Badr and Uhud incursions, but he embraced Islam at the Hodaybeya and was one of the best Muslims, he was always fighting with Khaled Ebn Al-Waleed at Yamama battle and battles in Al Sham and battles in Iraq.
The third wife, whom he married after Islam was Asma’ Bint ‘Omays and she was the mother of a son, Muhammad. She got married to many of the Companions. She was the wife of Ja‘far Ibn Abi Talib before, and they had three children, Muhammad, ‘Omar and Abdullah. She was one of the greatest Companions. Abu Bakr asked that when he died she would be the one to wash him, so she was the first woman to wash her husband in Islam. After Abu Bakr died she married ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, so she was the wife of great men.
The fourth wife was Habiba Bint Zayd Al-Khazraji from Al-Khazraj. She was pregnant when Abu Bakr died and she gave birth to Um Kolthoum.
So Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq had three sons and three daughters.
What he looked like:
He was very slim, he had thin legs, and his eyes were deep inside with a bony face. He was not tall, nor was he short. His back was slightly bent. He was white and had a beard, which he used to put henna on it so it looked somehow red. He had a very clear forehead and a pointed nose. The most characteristic thing in his look was his thinness. I was keen to tell you all about how he looked like because this had its reflection on his character.
What he was famous for before Islam:
1- He never prostrated before idols. His father once took him to stand before the idols and said to him: “These are your gods, magnify them, and prostrate before them.” And then he left him, so he stood looking at them and said: “Feed me, give me drink, give me something to wear”, and when they did not answer him, he took a stone and threw it at them so they were smashed into pieces. One day he was asked: “Abu Bakr, don’t you prostrate before Al-Lati & Al-‘Ozza (their worshipped idols)?”. “And who are Al-Lati & Al-‘Ozza?” he answered. “Daughters of God,” they answered. “So who is their mother?” said Abu Bakr. They had nothing to say.
2- Secondly, he never drank wine. He was 38 when he became a Muslim, but he never drank wine. He was once asked why and his answer was: “To save my sense of humanity and protect my honour,” he answered. It was said that once upon a time when Abu Bakr was young, he saw someone drinking wine and because that man was drunk, took garbage from the ground and put it in his mouth. Since that day Abu Bakr decided he would never humiliate himself in this way.
3- Also he was loved by all people. He had great manners and very solemn.
4- He was the best genealogist in Quraysh. This was very useful in Islam because he used to tell Prophet Muhammad about the tribes and people of the tribes. One day Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr were approaching a tribe, and among the people of this tribe was a poet. Poets at that time were people of culture and arts. Abu Bakr pointed at a man and told Prophet Muhammad that that was Zohayr the poet. When it was time for shaking hands with men of the tribe, each man was introduced to Prophet Muhammad and when this man was introduced by name, Prophet Muhammad commented “Oh, the poet!” This man commented afterwards that he had never been pleased by something as he was pleased when Prophet Muhammad recognised him.
5- He was a merchant who traveled a lot and knew lots of people, so he knew about people and their kinds and could not be fooled by them.
6- He was a rich man. When Prophet Muhammad became the Messenger of Allah he had a fortune of 40,000 dirhams, but at the time of migration he only had 5,000 dirham. The day he became Caliph, he had nothing and the day he died he had 6,000 dirhams debt.
7- He was a friend of Prophet Muhammad before Islam. It was said that he accompanied Prophet Muhammad when he was with his uncle, Abi Talib in their trip when they met Bohayra the monk – the famous story.
These past words introduced Abu Bakr. Now let us start with words that shake our hearts. I will begin with three narrations. Prophet Muhammad said: “The most truthful among people in his faith is Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq.” He said: “The most firm among people in his faith is Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq.” Also Prophet Muhammad said, “If the faith of the whole nation was put in one hand, and the faith of Abu Bakr was put in the other hand (of the scale), it will be the faith of Abu Bakr which will be of more value.”
Notice how solid was his faith. Prophet Muhammad also said, “Abu Bakr did not beat you with much praying and fasting, but he beat you with something deep in his heart.” What was that thing and why did not the Prophet tell us what was this thing? Did he want us to think about it? What was the key to Abu Bakr’s character? The key that if we knew, we would have been able to understand and predict all his actions? A hard question it is. For example, the key for the character of ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab was his strength.
The key for the character of Abu Bakr was the love of right. Wherever he found the right, he was ready to give his life and all what he owned for the sake of the right. On the day Prophet Muhammad died, because he always hung on to the right, he was the only one who had a very clear vision, while all the people were so confused. He searched for the right, and found it on the day he became Muslim.
This is my personal opinion, and that of the famous writer Al-Aqqad, when he was writing about the key to Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq’s character, nearly said what I have said. He was ready to sacrifise his life for the sake of the right’s victory. Let us take a look, and remember this key. You will find that it rules all his actions. The right for him was of a very great value. So if Prophet Muhammad was the symbol of right, it was worth giving our lives for his sake. And if Prophet Muhammad is dead, then he should follow his path. This was the key to this character, and this is from my point of view, I might be correct and I might be wrong, but this is what is obvious throughout his life story. So let me begin telling you his story.
We begin with the first day, the day he embraced Islam. Scholars agreed that the first woman who embraced Islam and prostrated before Allah was Khadijah, the first child was Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the first slave was Zayd Ibn Haretha, and the first man was Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq. When Prophet Muhammad became the Messenger of Allah, the first man he went to and talked to was his friend, Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq. The moment Prophet Muhammad told him about Islam, he said: “I testify there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.”
He was very quick to Islam. This was very strange. Prophet Muhammad said that whenever he talked to anyone about Islam, he took sometime to think about it, except Abu Bakr, once he talked to him about Islam he quickly replied testifying that there was no God except Allah and Muhammad was His Prophet. It was not that he was in a hurry nor was he naive. No, it was that at the moment he saw the right and was sure about it (and he quickly knew it because he knew the Prophet before, and he was waiting to know the right and that he never prostrated before idols), he got his deep belief. Since that day, the right began to fill his heart. People who know that this religion is the truth, live for it, copy Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr did not beat us by much praying and fasting. Abu Bakr beat us because the day he saw the right, he lived for it with all he owned, with his blood, money, with his soul, time, effort, position, children, with everything he had. He gave the right all what he had.
Brothers and sisters, it takes us 10 years to be religious, 15 years to wear the head scarf, ten years to go to the mosque and six years to learn to read the Qur’an. Why does it take you so long? Learn from Abu Bakr, when you see the right, live for it. I swear this is the most valuable lesson I am saying today. Why do you hesitate if you saw the right so obvious in front of your eyes? Why do you waste your life? Abu Bakr saw the right and told the Prophet: “I testify that you are the Messenger of Allah.” He sat with the Prophet and learnt only a couple of words. On the first week of becoming a Muslim, he persuaded six out of the ten who were promised Paradise to embrace Islam. He did not wait.
Those who embraced Islam because of him:
This was on his first week. Who has more knowledge about Islam, ourselves today or Abu Bakr on the day of his embracing Islam? Of course you have more knowledge. He on the day of becoming a Muslim did not yet know anything. So how did he persuade six people to embrace Islam? And why do we not talk to anyone about Islam? Brothers and sisters, it is the key of the character what caused this. He loved this religion. What is this thing in Abu Bakr’s heart that he beat us with? It was that he loved this religion, he knew where the right was and lived for it and did not have any goal in life except that this right would grow.
Brothers and sisters, this is the message and the meaning. Whoever felt the right and did not live for it, is wrong. Abu Bakr knew the right so he convinced six out of the ten who were promised Paradise. What was his knowledge then? Nothing, he knew nothing. So how did he talk to them? How did he make them take religion seriously? How did he make them Muslims? He did not know except very few things. He knew that Allah is One. He knew that there is Paradise. He knew that there is hell. He knew that there is a Judgment Day. Don’t you know these things? Yes. So why don’t you tell people about it? Why do not you take hands of people to the right? Because you do not feel it, you know it, but you do not feel it. But he felt it, so he persuaded six out of the ten who have been promised Paradise to Islam.
Imagine that all the good deeds of those six were in the scale of Abu Bakr. Abu ‘Obayda Ibn Al-Jarrah conquering Al Sham, it is in the scale of Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq till Judgment Day. Talha and Zubair lead Muslim troops, which is also in Abu Bakr’s scale. Sa‘d Ibn Abi Waqqas conquered Iraq, and defeated the Persian Empire. All this is in your scale, Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq. Imagine what this scale looks like and imagine the reward. You too, guide people to Islam so that your balance would be like this. He did not stop at this point, but he also helped more people to enter Paradise. Al-Arqam Ibn Abul Arqam, whom the Prophet used to meet his Companions in his house, embraced Islam on his hands. ‘Othman Ibn Math‘oon also became Muslim on his hands, and many others. This was not all, he was always unique and preceding. Whenever Abu Bakr was mentioned, ‘Ali Ibn Abi Taleb said “the precursory”.
Abu Bakr also went on doing great deeds. He went freeing slaves. Any slave who was tortured by Quraysh, he freed him with his money, the 40,000 dirhams I have been telling you about. He freed seven slaves; Al-Nahdeya and her daughter, Zeneera, Bilal and Amer Ibn Fohayrah. To the extent that Bilal was tortured by Omaya Ibn Khalaf, so Abu Bakr asked him: “Don’t you have mercy for this man?” Omaya said: “You, have mercy upon him.” “Yes,” answered Abu Bakr. “How much do you want to set him free?” A slave at that time was worth an ounce of gold, and Bilal was not a so valuable slave, but Omaya said: “I would sell him for nine ounces of gold.” Although one or two ounces was his price. “And I will buy him,” said Abu Bakr immediately. Omaya laughed and said: “You know Abu Bakr, if you had told me I won’t by him except for a quarter ounce, I would have sold him to you.” “And I swear if you had asked for one hundred ounces, I would have also bought him,” Abu Bakr answered.
Abu Bakr went freeing women and weak people so his father came and asked him to free strong young men, not women and weak people, but Abu Bakr answered him that he only did it to attain satisfaction of Allah. Non-Muslims then went spreading rumours that Abu Bakr freed Bilal because he had done him a favour before, so it was stated in Qur’an: “And have in their minds no favour from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, but only the desire to seek for the Countenance of their Lord Most High; And soon will they attain (complete) satisfaction.” (Qur’an, T.M.Q. 92:19-21) Imagine that Chapter Al-Lail was descended to defend Abu Bakr. Imagine when Allah says of someone, “And soon will they attain (complete) satisfaction.”
He spent his money and after having 40,000 dirham, he only had 5,000 dirham at the time of migration. He guided people to Islam, paid his money to free slaves, and Qur’an was stated in his favour. He did all that in his first few years. See brothers and sisters when the right was obvious in front of him how did he live for its sake? Brothers and sisters live for the religion. When you see right in front of you, do not hesitate. It should not take you six or seven years going one step ahead and another step behind. Go forward towards Allah.
What was more amazing that despite of his weak slim body, he defended Prophet Muhammad. One day the great Companion ‘Ali was sitting with the other Companions and someone asked him, “Who is the bravest of people? Is it you, Prince of Believers?” “No,” he said. “The bravest man is Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq.” “How?” he asked. ‘Ali began telling us a story from which we could know who Abu Bakr Al-Sedeeq really was. He said: “I swear I have seen the Prophet with the disbelievers of Quraysh gathered around him pulling and pushing and beating him.” Imagine ten people gathered around someone and did all this to him; imagine that all this was done to Prophet Muhammad. ‘Ali said: “And we were far away watching.” Of course, because anyone who would put himself inside this fight, would get killed. Young men, old men, strong men and everybody watched from a distance, everyone was afraid to go to the fight and defend the Prophet. ‘Ali continued, “Until Abu Bakr came and saw the Prophet alone and all this being done to him, he went pushing them away from the Prophet saying: “Would you kill a man saying my god is Allah?” then they left the Prophet and took Abu Bakr, and a man named Uqba Ibn Abu Ma‘eed pushed Abu Bakr so hard that he fell on his back, then he took off his shoes and went beating Abu Bakr on his face.” Imagine that all this was done to Abu Bakr for the sake of the Prophet. “And he beat him continuously until the face of Abu Bakr became swollen and unrecognizable, his eyes were closed and his face was bleeding so hard that we hardly recognized his face from his back till he fainted. Then his tribe, Bani Tayyem, came and carried him home thinking he had died no doubt. Then they returned to Uqba saying “We swear Uqba, if he died we would take revenge.” When they brought him home, they said to his mother: “If he was to live, feed him and give him drink, but we doubt he would live.” The moment Abu Bakr opened his eyes, it was the first thing he uttered: “What happened to the Prophet?”
Brothers and sisters, do you love the Prophet this much? We have never endured anything for the sake of our religion and Abu Bakr had all his face bleeding. “Abu Bakr’s mother who had not yet become Muslim, answered: “And you still mention him?” Abu Bakr said: “I swear I will not eat, nor will I drink until I am sure the Prophet is safe. Go to Um Jamil, Fatima Bint Al-Khattab, ‘Omar Ibn Al-Khattab’s sister and ask her if Prophet Muhammad is alright.” So she went to her and told her that Abu Bakr was asking he what was done to Prophet Muhammad. Fatima Bint Al-Khattab did not announce that she had embraced Islam, so she answered her: “I don’t know who your son is nor do I know who Muhammad is, but if you wish I could come with you to see your son and make sure he is alright.” And she went with her. Abu Bakr again asked: “What was done to Prophet Muhammad?” She answered: “I don’t know who Muhammad is, take care your mother is with us.” “No problem, she is my mother,” said Abu Bakr. So she answered him, “He is alright.” Abu Bakr said: “I swear I won’t eat nor drink till I see him with my own eyes.” They told him: “Wait till it gets quite.”
He got up and still could not walk alone, so he leaned upon both of them and went to Dar Al-Arqam. He knocked on the door and it was opened for him and the Prophet saw him. The Prophet sympathized with him very much and hugged him. All of us long for this hug, don’t we? But what did you do to earn that hug? Abu Bakr was upset that the Prophet was worried about him. “Abu Bakr said: “O’Messenger of Allah, I swear nothing happened to me, I am alright except for my face.” Prophet Muhammad invocated for him. Abu Bakr said: “O’Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah He would guide my mother to Islam.” He asked this when he felt Prophet Muhammad was pleased with him. So Prophet Muhammad invocated, and at once they found the lady saying: “I testify there is no God except Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.”
Introduction to Abu Bakr and his Characteristics