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Thursday, December 15, 2005

As-Siddeeq (The Testifier to the Truth)

The Prophet (pbuh - peace be upon him): "If I were to take a friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr (ra - may Allah be pleased with him) as a friend." The word 'Caliph' is the English form of the Arabicword 'KHALIFAH,' which is short for KhalifatuRasulil-lah. The latter expression means Successor tothe Messenger of God, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The title 'Khalifatu Rasulil-lah'. wasfirst used for Abu Bakr (ra), who was selected head of the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet (pbuh).The mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him),like that of the earlier messengers of God, was tocall people to the worship of and submission to theOne True God. In practice, submission to God means toobey His injunctions as given in the Holy Qur'ân andas exemplified by Sunnah {the practice of the ProphetMuhammad (peace be on him)} As successor to theProphet, The Caliph {KHALIFAH} was the head of theMuslim community and his primary responsibility was tocontinue in the path of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him).
Since religion was perfected and the door ofDivine revelation was closed at the death of theProphet Muhammad (peace be on him), the Caliph{KHALIFAH} was to make all laws in accordance with theQur'ân and the Sunnah. He was a ruler over Muslims butnot their sovereign since sovereignty belongs to Godalone. He was to be obeyed as long as he obeyed God.
He was responsible for creating and maintainingconditions under which it would be easy for Muslims tolive according to Islamic principles, and to see thatjustice was done to all. Abu Bakr (ra), at the time heaccepted the caliphate, {Khilaafat} stated hisposition thus:

"The weak among you shall be strong with me untiltheir rights have been vindicated; and the strongamong you shall he weak with me until, if the Lordwills, I have taken what is due from them... Obey meas long as I obey God and His Messenger (pbuh). If I disobey Him and His Prophet, then obey me not."The Prophet's (pbuh) closest Companion, Abu Bakr (ra), was not present when the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) breathed his last in the apartment of his beloved wife of later years, Aaishah {ra- may Allah be pleased with her}, Abu Bakr's (ra) daughter. When Abu Bakr (ra) came out of the Prophet Muhammad's (peace be on him) apartment and broke the news, disbelief and dismay gripped the community of Muslims in Medina. Muhammad (peace be on him) had been the leader, the guide and the bearer of Divine revelation through whom they had been brought from idolatry and barbarism into the way of God. How could he die? Even Umar (ra), one of the bravest and strongest of the Prophet Muhammad's (peace be on him)Companions, lost his composure and drew his sword and threatened to kill anyone who said that the Prophet (pbuh) was dead. Abu Bakr (ra) gently pushed him aside, ascended the steps of the lectern in the mosque and addressed the people, saying "O people, verily whoever worshipped Muhammad (pbuh), behold! Muhammad (pbuh) is indeed dead. But whoever worships God, behold! God is alive and will never die." And then he concluded with a verse from the Qur'ân: "And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Many Messengers have gone before him; if then he dies or is killed, willyou turn back upon your heels?" Al-Qur'ân Soorah Ale-Imraan 3:144 On hearing these words, the people were consoled.Despondency gave place to confidence and tranquility.This critical moment had passed. But the Muslimcommunity was now faced with an extremely seriousproblem: that of choosing a leader. After somediscussion among the Companions of the ProphetMuhammad (peace be on him) who had assembled in order to select a leader, it became apparent that no one was better suited for this responsibility than Abu Bakr (ra). Abu Bakr ('The Owner of Camels') was not his realname. He acquired this name later in life because ofhis great interest in raising camels. His real namewas Abdul Ka'aba ('Slave of Ka'aba'), which Muhammad(peace be on him) later changed to Abdullah ('Slave ofGod'). The Prophet (pbuh) also gave him the title of'Siddeeq' 'The Testifier to the Truth.' Abu Bakr (ra) was a fairly wealthy merchant, and before he embraced Islam, was a respected citizen of Mecca. He was three years younger than Muhammad (peace be on him) and some natural affinity drew them together from earliest child hood. He remained the closest Companion of the Prophet (pbuh) all through the Prophet's (pbuh) life. When Muhammad (pbuh) first invited his closest friends and relatives to Islam, Abu Bakr (ra) was among the earliest to accept it. He also persuaded Uthman (ra) and Bilaal (ra) to accept Islam. In the early days of the Prophet's (pbuh) mission, when the handful of Muslims were subjected to relentless persecution and torture, Abu Bakr (ra) bore his full share of hardship. Finally when God's permission came to emigrate from Mecca, he was the one chosen by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) to accompany him on the dangerous journey to Medina.
In the numerous battles which took place during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), Abu Bakr (ra) was always by his side. Once, he brought all his belongings to the Prophet (ra), who was raising money for the defense of Medina. The Prophet Muhammad(peace be on him) asked "Abu Bakr (ra), what did you leave for your family?" The reply came: "God and HisProphet (pbuh)."
Even before Islam, Abu Bakr (ra) was known to be a man of upright character and amiable and compassionate nature. All through his life he was sensitive to human suffering and kind to the poor and helpless. Even though he was wealthy, he lived very simply and spent his money for charity, for freeing slaves and for the cause of Islam. He often spent part of the night in supplication and prayer. He shared with his family a cheerful and affectionate home life.
Such, then, was the man upon whom the burden ofleadership fell at the most sensitive period in thehistory of the Muslims. As the news of the Prophet's death spread, a number of tribes rebelled and refused to pay Zakaah (poor-due), saying that this was due only to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). At the same time a number of impostors claimed that the Prophethood had passed to them after Muhammad (peace be on him) and they raised the standard of revolt. To add to all this, two powerful empires, the Eastern Roman and the Persian, also threatened the new-born Islamic state at Medina.
Under these circumstances, many Companions of theProphet Muhammad (peace be on him), including Umar{Radiyallaahu'anhu}, advised Abu Bakr Radiyallaahu'anhu} to make concessions to the Zakaahevaders, at least for a time. The new Caliphdisagreed. He insisted that the Divine Law cannot bedivided, that there is no distinction between theobligations of Zakaah and Salaah (prayer), and thatany compromise with the injunctions of God wouldeventually erode the foundations of Islam. Umar (ra) andothers were quick to realize their error of judgment.
The revolting tribes attacked Medina but the Muslimswere prepared. Abu Bakr {Radiyallaahu'anhu} himselfled the charge, forcing them to retreat. He then madea relentless war on the false claimants to Prophethood, most of whom submitted and again professed Islaam. The threat from the Roman Empire had actually arisenearlier, during the Prophet's (pbuh) lifetime. The Prophet (pbuh) had organized an army under the command of Usaama {Radiyallaahu'anhu} , the son of a freed slave. The army had not gone far when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) had fallen ill so they stopped. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) the question was raised whether the army should be sent again or should remain for the defense of Medina.
Again Abu Bakr {Radiyallaahu'anhu} showed a firmdetermination. He said, "I shall send Usaama's army on its way as ordered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), even if I am left alone."
The final instructions he gave to Usaama{Radiyallaahu'anhu} prescribed a code of conduct inwar which remains unsurpassed to this day. Part of hisinstructions to the Muslim army were: "Do not be deserters, nor be guilty of disobedience Do not kill an old man, a woman or a child. Do not injure date palms and do not cut down fruit trees. Do not slaughter any sheep or cows or camels except for food. You will encounter persons who spend their lives in monasteries. Leave them alone and do not harm them."
Khalid bin Waleed (ra) had been chosen by the ProphetMuhammad (peace be on him) on several occasions tolead Muslim armies. A man of supreme courage and aborn leader, his military genius came to full flowerduring the Caliphate (Khilaafat) of Abu Bakr (ra).Throughout Abu Bakr's (ra) reign Khalid bin Waleed (ra)led his troops from one victory to another against theattacking Romans.
Another contribution of Abu Bakr (ra) to the cause ofIslaam was the collection and compilation of theverses of the Qur'ân.
Abu Bakr (ra) died on 21 Jamadi-al Akhir, 13 A.H. (23August 634 C.E.), at the age of sixty-three, and wasburied by the side of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). His caliphate had been of a meretwenty-seven months duration. In this brief span,however, Abu Bakr (ra) had managed, by the Grace of God, to strengthen and consolidate his community and the state, and to secure the Muslims against the perilswhich had threatened their existence.


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