Short Biography of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A)
His Lineage and Title:
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.), popularly known as Abu Bakr, is the ﬁrst Caliph after the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). His full name is Abdullah bin Abu Quhafah Uthman bin Aamer Al Qurashi Al Taymi. His lineage joins with that of the Prophet (S.A.W.) six generations before himself, in Murrah Ben Kaab.
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) was born in Makkah in the year 573 AD (Christian Era), two years and some months after the birth of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) was brought up within his decent good parents, thus he gained a considerable self-esteem and noble status. His father Uthman Abu Quhafah accepted Islam on the Day of Victory in Makkah. His mother Salma bint Sakhar, also known as Umm Al Khair, embraced Islam early, and migrated to Madinah.
His physical appearance:
Abu Bakr (R.A.) was a slim white man with slight shoulders, thin face, sunken eyes, protruding forehead and the bases of his fingers were hairless. [As his daughter Aisha (R.A.) describe the physical appearance of her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.)]
His early Life:
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) spent his early childhood, like other Arab children of the time, among the Bedouins. In his early years, he played with the camel calves and goats, and his love for camels earned him the nickname "Abu Bakr", meaning ‘the father of the camel's calf.’
In 591 AD at the age of 18, Abu Bakr (R.A.) went into trade and adopted the profession of cloth merchant, which was his family's business. He started his business with the capital of forty thousand dirhams. In the coming years Abu Bakr (R.A.) traveled extensively with caravans (camel train, series of camels carrying passengers from one place to another). Business trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and many other countries in the current Middle East. His business flourished and though his father was still alive, Abu Bakr (R.A.) came to be recognized as chief of his tribe because of his many qualities such as knowledge about the history of Arabs tribes (genealogical knowledge), politics, trade/business, his kindness and many other.
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) was remarkably virtuous. Even before Islam, he had made intoxicants forbidden for himself. Once a person asked him:
“Have you ever drank intoxicant?”
Abu Bakr (R.A.) replied:
“I seek refuge in Allah, I never did it.”
Person asked again:
“I maintain my honor and preserve my dignity.”
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) has never prostrated to idols. Once in a gathering of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) and his Sahaba (Companions), Abu Bakr (R.A.) said:
"I have never prostrated to an idol. As I approached adulthood, my father led me to a chamber of idols (Kaaba). His father said: “These are your grand elevated gods.” After saying this, my father departed to attend to some other business. I advanced to an idol and said: “I am hungry can you feed me?” It didn't answer. I said: “I am in need of beautiful clothes; bestow them on me.” It didn't answer. I threw off a rock upon it, and it fell down." Thereafter, Abu Bakr (R.A.) never went to the chamber of idols in Kaaba to pray to the idols."
Even before Islam, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) obtained great values, high ethics, and good behaviors within the ignorant society. He was well-known among the people in Makkah as a leader over the others in morality and values. Thus, he had never been discarded or criticized for any deﬁciency among Quraish tribe.
His Acceptance of Islam:
Abu Bakr Siddq (R.A.) has accepted Islam after a long search for the true religion. In fact, Abu Bakr (R.A.) was the ﬁrst man to respond and believe in Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). His immediate acceptance for Islam was a consequence of the steadfast friendship with the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) knew the Prophet (S.A.W.) as a truthful, honest, and noble person, that he has never been untruthful to people, so how he would be untruthful to Allah?
When Abu Bakr (R.A.) embraced Islam, the Prophet (S.A.W.) was overjoyed, as Abu Bakr (R.A.) was a source of triumph for Islam, due to his intimacy with Quraish tribe and his noble character that Allah Has exalted him.
In fact, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) had always doubted the validity of idolatry and had very little enthusiasm for worshipping idols. So when he accepted Islam, he did his best to attract other people to it. Soon Uthman bin Affan (R.A.), Abdul-Rahman bin Awf (R.A.), Talhah bin Ubaydillah (R.A.), Saad bin Abi Waqqas (R.A.), Al-Zubair bin Al-Awwam (R.A.) and Abu Ubaydah bin AI-Jarrah (R.A.) all flocked to join Mohammad (S.A.W.). The Prophet (S.A.W.) once said:
''Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam immediately, without suspicion”.
As the number of Muslims rose to thirty-nine, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) asked the Prophet's (S.A.W.) permission to call the people openly to Islam. After persisting in this request, the Prophet (S.A.W.) gave his consent and they all went to the Makkah’s Holy Mosque (Kaaba) for preaching. Abu Bakr (R.A.) delivered a sermon which was the ﬁrst ever in the annals of Islam. When the unbelievers among the Quraish heard it, they fell upon Abu Bakr (R.A.) and the Muslims from all sides. Abu Bakr (R.A.) was beaten so severely until he fell unconscious and was near death. When he at last regained consciousness, he immediately enquired: “How is the Prophet?” In spite of all his pain and injuries, his ﬁrst thought was only for the Prophet (S.A.W.), his love for him was so unbounded that he considered himself with nothing but the Prophet's (S.A.W.) well-being.
His wife Qutaylah did not accept Islam and he divorced her. His other wife, Um Ruman, became a Muslim. All his children, except Abul Rehman, accepted Islam.
His Title “As-Siddiq” (The Truthful):
As-Siddiq, the most well-known of Abu Bakr's (R.A.) titles, comes from the word ‘Sidq’ which means truthfulness. Therefore, the word As-Siddiq means a person who is constantly truthful or who constantly believes in the truthfulness of something or someone. In Abu Bakr's (R.A.) case, in the truthfulness of the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). The title 'As-Siddiq' was given to Abu Bakr (R.A.) by none other than the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Migration to Madinah:
When the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions (Sahaba) suffered immensely from the harm of Quraish, the Prophet (S.A.W.) commanded his Companions to migrate to Madinah. As narrated by Aishah (R.A.) that the Prophet (S.A.W.) said to the Muslims:
"I have had a vision in which I have been shown the place to which you will migrate, a land of palm trees between two mountains and two stony tract of land." Thus some of the Muslims migrated to Madinah, and most of those who had left before for Abyssinia (Ethiopia) returned to Madinah. Abu Bakr prepared to leave for Madinah also but the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) said: "Wait a little while for I hope to be permitted to migrate as well." Abu Bakr said: “Do you expect so? May my parents be redeemed for you.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Yes." So Abu Bakr did not migrate in order to remain with the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). He prepared two camels and fled them well for four months to use them in their long journey. (Bukhari: 3905)
The people of Makkah have noticed that the Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) has got adherents and supporters in another place and they have noticed the migration of the Prophet's (S.A.W.) Companions. Fearing the departure of the Prophet (S.A.W.) from Makkah, they planned to kill him. Hence, the angel Gabriel informed Prophet (S.A.W.) to leave Makkah.
While the Prophet's (S.A.W.) house was besieged by a group of swordsmen from all the tribes of Makkah, he left his cousin, Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.), in his bed, slipped unnoticed from the house, and departed with Abu Bakr (R.A.) in the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Makkah to Madinah was full of adventure. As soon as the besieging swordsmen discovered that they were tricked, they went in search of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and Abu Bakr (R.A.). A public prize of a hundred camels was offered to anyone who might find them. However, it happened that when they hid in a cave named Thaur (where they spent three nights), a spider spun its web at the opening of the cave, and a pigeon built its nest there. The swordsmen followed their tracks until they reached their hiding place, but, seeing the web and the early hours of the morning, they went home, telling everyone that further pursuit was fruitless.
Abu Bakr (R.A.) said:
“I was with the Prophet (S.A.W.) in the Cave and when I raised my head I saw the feet of the people (he means the inﬁdels), I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, if any of them should look under his feet, he would see us.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) Said: "O Abu Bakr! What do you think of two persons the third of them is Allah?"
The incident is described in the Al-Quran as follows:
"If you do not aid the Prophet - Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, "Do not grieve; indeed, Allah is with us." (Surah al-Tawba: 9:40)
His role in Battles of Badr and Uhud:
Badr was the first large-scale engagement between the Muslims and the non-believers of Makkah which took place on Badr, near Madinah, on 17th Ramadan, 2 AH (March 13th, 624 AD).
In the Battle of Badr, Abu Bakr (R.A.) was one of the guards of Prophet’s (S.A.W.) tent and was entrusted with his safety. It is reported by Ibn Asaker that Abdul Rahman, the son of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.), was with the unbelievers on the Day of Badr. When he became a Muslim, he said to his father:
“You were exposed to me on the Day of Badr and I turned away from you, I did not kill you.”
Abu Bakr (R.A.) said:
“As for me, if you were exposed to me, I would not have turned away from you.”
In this situation, the greatness of the faith of Abu Bakr (R.A.), is exempliﬁed by the depth of his truthfulness and sincerity in preferring the love of Allah and His Messenger (S.A.W.) above everything else.
Abu Bakr (R.A.) truly applied the guidelines afﬁrmed in the Holy Quran and Hadith.
Allah the Great and the Almighty Has Said in Quran:
“You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred.” (Surah Al-Mujaadila: 58:22).
The Prophet (S.A.W.) said:
" None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his child, his father and all the people." (Ibn Mjah: 67)
Abu Bakr (R.A.) would never love his disbelieving son, due to his faithfulness to Allah and his Messenger (S.A.W.).
In the battle of Uhud, which took place the following year after Badr, the disbelievers won the battle because the archers left their places on the top of the mountain of Uhud. Only a dozen people stayed with the Prophet (S.A.W.) on this occasion, one of whom was the staunch believer Abu Bakr (R.A.).
His spending for Allah’s sake:
Allah's Messenger (S.A.W.) once said about Abu Bakr (R.A.):
"No one has helped me without reciprocating it, except for Abu Bakr, who has given me help, which Allah will reciprocate to him on the Day of Resurrection. No one's property has beneﬁted me to the extent of Abu Bakr's. And if I were to take a Khalil (friend), then I would have taken Abu Bakr as a Khalil, and indeed your companion is Allah's Khalil." (Tirmidhi: 3661)
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (R.A.) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) commanded us one day to give sadaqah (charity). At that time, I had some property. I said: Today I shall surpass Abu Bakr if I surpass him any day. I, therefore, brought half my property. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) asked: What did you leave for your family? I replied: The same amount. Abu Bakr brought all that he had with him. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) asked him: What did you leave for your family? He replied: I left Allah and His Apostle for them. I said: I shall never compete you in anything.'” (Abu-Dawud: 1678)
Abu Bakr (R.A.) had also liberated many slaves as he felt compassion for them. As per sources, he purchased and freed eight slaves, four men and four women, by paying forty thousand dinars for their freedom. Bilal bin Ribah (R.A.), one of the most loyal and trusted Companion of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.), was one of the salves that Abu Bakr (R.A.) freed from slavery.
The Day the Prophet Died:
When the Prophet (S.A.W.) died in 11 AH (632 AD), many people, among whom was Umar bin Khattab (R.A.), refused to believe he had died. But Abu Bakr (R.A.), steadfast as usual, addressed the bewildered multitude and convinced them that Mohammad (S.A.W.) was no more and there was no reason why they should not acknowledge his death.
It is reported from Ibn Abbas (R.A.) that when the Prophet (S.A.W.) died, Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) went out while Umar (R.A.) was speaking to the people. Abu Bakr (R.A.) said to him: 'Sit down O Umar,' twice, but Umar refused to sit.
Abu Bakr (R.A.) said:
“To proceed, if anyone amongst you used to worship Mohammad (S.A.W.), then Mohammad (S.A.W.) is dead, but if you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die.”
(Then he recited the following aya of Quran):
“Mohammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.” (Surah Al-Imran: 3:144)
Ibn Abbas (R.A.) said:
"By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah Had revealed this verse before, till Abu Bakr recited it and all the people took it from him, and I heard everybody reciting it."
Umar bin Khattab (R.A.) said:
“my legs could not support me and I fell down at the very moment of hearing him reciting it, declaring that the Prophet (S.A.W.) had died.”
(Bukhari: 4452, 4453)
First Caliph in Islam:
After the death of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr (R.A.) was unanimously accepted caliph. However, he had faced many crises after becoming caliph.
Imam Al-Dhahabi said:
“When the news of the death of the Prophet (S.A.W.) spread, many groups of people among the Arabs apostatized from Islam. They objected to pay the almsgiving (Zakat). Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) decided to ﬁght them. Umar and others impressed upon him to refrain from ﬁghting them, but Abu Bakr said: 'By Allah, if they refuse to pay a rope which they used to pay at the time of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), I will ﬁght them for withholding it."
Umar (R.A.) insisted:
“How can you ﬁght with these people although the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: "I have been ordered by Allah to ﬁght the people till they say: None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and whoever said it then he will save his life and property from me except on trespass the law, and his accounts will be with Allah."
Abu Bakr (R.A.), reiterated:
“By Allah! I will ﬁght those who differentiate between the prayer and almsgiving (Zakat), for almsgiving (Zakat) is a compulsory right to be taken from the property (according to Allah's orders).”
Then Umar (R.A.) said:
“By Allah, it was nothing, but Allah brought relief to Abu Bakr toward the decision (to ﬁght) and I came to know that this decision was right.”
Abu Bakr (R.A.) raised the banner of war on all fronts. The desert never witnessed, even in the lifetime of the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself, such grinding battles as those that occurred. But the men that were trained by Mohammad (S.A.W.) upon the recognition of the truth and total submission to it were sincere to Allah in their deeds. They dealt idolatry a blow that broke its spine and squeezed its soul until it faded into oblivion. They equally drove away the Romans from the boarders. They broke the spine of the apostates. Some of them came back into the fold of Islam and others perished far estranged from it. In no more than a few years, Islam triumphed and was seen and heard (far and wide) while other religions were on the brink of extinction.
Compilation of the Holy Quran:
One of the greatest achievements Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) rendered to Islam was the compilation of the Holy Quran. At that time, there were hundreds of memorizers who had memorized the entire Quran among the Companions during the life time of the Prophet (S.A.W.), but the Holy Quran had never been complied in a book-form, although its memorization continued after the death of the Prophet (S.A.W.). However, numbers of those memorizers had been martyred in the various battles that had ensued after the Prophet's (S.A.W.) passing. Consequently, it occurred to Umar (R.A.) that steps should be taken to preserve the Quran intact in its original form, against any kind of risk, and he saw that it was not prudent to depend exclusively upon those who had committed its memory to heart. Therefore, he urged Abu Bakr (R.A.) to have it written down in the form of a book. Abu Bakr (R.A.) at ﬁrst hesitated because this had not been done by the Prophet (S.A.W.) himself. However, after some debate on the subject, he agreed and appointed Zaid ibn Thabit (R.A.) for this work, Zaid (R.A.) hesitated at the thought of undertaking such a momentous task, but he later took heart and began the work. Zaid (R.A.) was the most capable person to be charged with this because he had acted as an amanuensis to the Prophet (S.A.W.), and one of the Companions, who had learnt the Quran directly from him.
After Zaid (R.A.) accomplished the tedious task and had organized the Quran into one book, he submitted the precious collection to Abu Bakr (R.A.), who kept it in his possession until the end of his life. During Umar's (R.A.) caliphate, it was placed in the custody of Umar's daughter, Hafsah (R.A.), who was also the Prophet's (S.A.W.) wife. Finally, in Uthman's (R.A.) days when different readers began to recite it differently, the caliph had several copies of it made and distributed them to the various countries which comprised the Islamic world. The modern edition of the Quran is the Uthman copy, which is considered the standard to which every other copy should conform.
Zaid ibn Thabit (R.A.), said:
“By Allah, If Abu Bakr (R.A.) had ordered to shift one of the mountains from its place it would not have been harder for me than what he had ordered me concerning the collection of the Quran.”
“I started locating Quranic material and collecting it from parchments, scapula, leaf-stalks of date palms and from the memories of men.”
It is reported from Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.), who said:
“The one who has the greatest reward amongst the people is Abu Bakr because he was unique in compiling the Quran.”
His Death and Burial Place:
Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) died on Monday, 22nd of Jumada Al-Akhirah, 13th AH (August 23rd, 634 AD) after suffering from fever for 15 days during which he gave instructions that Umar bin Khattab (R.A.) should lead the prayers. There is a story which accuses the Jews of putting poison in his food, but it lacks authenticity. When Abu Bakr died, he was sixty-three years old and his caliphate had lasted for only two years and three months. During his illness, he was thinking of Islam and its future stability. After consulting with many of the well-known companions of the Prophet (S.A.W.), Abu Bakr (R.A.) decided to confer the caliphate on Umar bin Khattab (R.A.).
Then he called Umar (R.A.) and advised him on how to lead his people, ending with these words:
"If you follow my advice, nothing unknown will be more acceptable to you than death; but if you reject it, nothing unknown will be more frightening than death."
Before he died, Abu Bakr (R.A.) gave back everything he had taken from the public treasury during his caliphate. It is said that he did not bequeath any money at all. He left only a servant, a camel and a garment. His orders were that after his death the garment should be delivered to his successor. On seeing it, Umar wept and said:
"Abu Bakr (R.A.) has made the task of his successor very difficult."
Abu Bakr (R.A.) recommended to Aishah (R.A), his daughter and wife of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.), to bury him beside the Prophet (S.A.W.). Abu Bakr (R.A.) was buried in Aishah's room, just beside the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) grave in Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid-e-Nabawi) in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. When he died, the funeral prayer was led by Umar (R.A.) and his grave was placed adjacent to the Prophet (S.A.W.). His grave was dug in such a way that his head was parallel to the shoulder of the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Upon hearing the sad news of Abu Bakr’s (R.A.) death, Ali bin Abi Talib (R.A.) rushed to his house. He made a long speech which he addressed to Abu Bakr (R.A.). Following are some words which Ali (R.A.) had said on the day of Abu Bakr’s (R.A.) death:
"O Abu Bakr (R.A.), you were the closest companion and friend of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), you were a comfort to him; you were the one he trusted most. If he had a secret, he would tell it to you and if he needed to consult someone regarding a matter, he would consult you. You were the first of your people to embrace Islam and you were the sincerest of them in your faith. Your faith was stronger than any other person's as was the degree to which you feared Allah and you were wealthier than anyone else in terms of what you acquired from the religion of Allah. You cared most for both the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) and Islam. Of all people, you were the best Companion to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.). You possessed the best qualities, you had the best past, you ranked highest and you were closest to him. And of all people, you resembled the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) the most in terms of his guidance and demeanor. Your ranking was higher than anyone else's and the Prophet (S.A.W.) honored you and held you in higher esteem than anyone else. On behalf of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) and Islam, may Allah reward you with the best of rewards. When the people disbelieved in the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.), you believed in him. Throughout Prophet’s (S.A.W.) life, you were both his eyes with which he saw, and his ears with which he heard. Allah has named you truthful in His book when He said:" “And the one who has brought the truth and [they who] believed in it - those are the righteous.” (SurahAl-Zamur 39:33)
People had gathered around Ali (R.A.) and listened to his speech until he was finished. Then they all cried with raised voices, and they all responded in unison to Ali’s speech saying, “Indeed you have spoken the truth."
Such was the peaceful death of Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) after a lifelong struggle for the cause of Islam. Throughout the early years of Islam, Abu Bakr (R.A.) was a source of comfort and constant help for the Prophet (S.A.W.), always willing to sacrifice his wealth and his very life for the cause of Islam. Then when he Prophet (S.A.W.) died, Abu Bakr (R.A.) continued where the Prophet (S.A.W.) had left off. He further strengthened the foundations of the Muslim nation, first by fighting against and defeating the apostates and then by spreading Islam in some of the major conquests that took place during his caliphate.
May Allah be pleased with Abu Bakr (R.A.) and reward him with the best of rewards. AMEEN