Abu Bakr

I'm really bad with reading book. I'm a slow reader and I think that's why. I bought this book at the previous KL International Book Fair but never really got the chance to start reading any of the books till recently. I am reading the book called "Men around the Messenger". It's about the companions of Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam. Salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam, means "peace and blessing of Allah be upon him" to be recited each time the Prophet is mentioned, is written as `(s)'. If written or absent, salawat (praises) upon the Prophet is a sign of Muslims' love for the Prophet.

Anyways, having read the pieces on the first 4 "rightly guided caliphs" I want to share the chapters on the two closest and most beloved of all companions, Abu Bakr and Umar Al-Khattab. Obviously not in one post but in two separate posts. Please note that the setting for these stories is the 6th and 7th century AD so do not be disturbed by the seemingly brutal setting but the reality is, those times were very brutal times especially in times of war. Even war in these days are very brutal - take the recent Israeli flotilla raid and Israel's "Operation cast iron" on Gaza... war is brutal. 

Ok, I'm just gonna make it long but here's the chapter I've promised. May he be an example to us, whether you are muslim or not. Enjoy!  
Abu Bakr was the first from among men to believe, "one of the two" in the Cave, the first Caliph of the Muslims, and the man whom Muhammad, salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam,(s) loved more than any other man.

The Prophet (s) said, "Everyone hesitated before accepting Islam except Abu Bakr."

The morning after the mi`raj (the Ascension) when the Prophet (s) narrated his experience, some of them came to Abu Bakr and said, "Have you listened to your friend? He is claiming that he visited Jerusalem and the Sublime Throne in the heavens last night and talked with Allah Almighty. Would you believe it?"

Immediately Abu Bakr replied, "If he said so, then it is absolute truth."

They insisted, "Do you really believe that he visited all these places and came back within a small fraction of the night?"

"Yes, of course," he said, "I believe even farther than that, I believe in hell and paradise."

This incident earned him the title "al-Siddiq", the most truthful.

He was a man easily overcome with weeping and he prayed to his Lord with a voice so soft that his beloved Prophet (s) asked him to raise his voice a little. He was frail and of slightly build and yet his actions outweighed the actions of any man except the Prophet (s).

`A'ishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and the wife of the Prophet (s) said, "While Allah's Messenger was resting his head on my laps on a moonlit night, I asked, `O Messenger of Allah, has anyone done as many good deeds as there are stars in the sky?' He replied, `Yes, `Umar [ibn al-Khattab] has.' I asked how Abu Bakr's good deeds compared with his and he replied, `All `Umar's good deeds are like one of Abu Bakr's good deeds."'

On another occasion, the Prophet (s) was reported to have said, "Abu Bakr was not deemed your superior on account of much praying and sadaqah (charity), but on account of something that was fixed in his heart."

The great saint and master Jalaluddin Rumi says, commenting upon this Hadith: "The Prophet (s) says that Abu Bakr's superiority over others was not by reason of much praying and much fasting, but because Allah's special favour was with him, namely, the love of Allah. On the Day of Judgement when men's prayers are brought, they will be put in the Balance, and likewise their fasting and charity, but when love is brought, it will not be contained in the Balance. So the root of the matter is love."

So this is the root of the matter. This is what we desire. This is the purpose of Islam and we must look to Abu Bakr for this. This love is dynamic and is expressed in the actions of the slave who possesses it.

When Abu Bakr was mentioned in `Umar's presence, he wept and said, "I wish all my good deeds could compare with what he did on a certain day and a certain night. The night was the one on which he went with Allah's Messenger to the cave, when they reached it, he said, `I swear by Allah that you will not enter it before I have first done so, for if there is anything in it, I shall be the one attacked by it and not you.' Then he entered the cave and swept it clean; then he tore up his lower garment and closed the holes he found on the cave walls with it. But as two holes were still left, he thrust his feet into them and told the Messenger of Allah to enter. When the Prophet had done so, he laid his head on Abu Bakr's lap and dozed off. Abu Bakr's foot in one of the holes was stung, but he did not move for fear Allah's Messenger might awake. However, his tears, falling on the Prophet's face, woke up the Prophet and he asked what was the matter. Abu Bakr replied, 'O you for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom, I have been stung.' The Messenger of Allah then spat on the spot and the pain left him, but the effect of the poison later returned and was said to be the cause of his death.

"The day was," `Umar continued, "soon after the death of the Messenger of Allah, when the Arabs turned back from Islam and refused to pay the zakat. He said, `If they were to refuse me the nose-rope of a camel, I would fight them over it.' I said, ' Successor of the Messenger of Allah, be affable and gentle to the people.' but he replied, `Have you who were a powerful man before Islam become weak in Islam? The revelation has ceased and the religion has been made perfect. Is it to diminish while I am alive?"'

Abu Bakr was utterly lost to himself in the love of the Messenger of Allah (s). The Prophet (s) stands as the door through which man has access to direct experience of Allah. He is the man's link to Divine Reality. We see, in the beginning, Abu Bakr was completely absorbed in the love of Muhammad (s). His every movement was permeated with this love. In the cave his actions were for the love of Allah's Messenger (s). He became afraid for him, and the Messenger of Allah (s) said, "What do you say to a company of two, the third of which Allah?" So Abu Bakr was absorbed in the love of Muhammad (s), while Muhammad (s) was absorbed in the presence of his Lord. Then the Prophet (s) took his companion by the hand and led him to the awareness of the eternal presence of the Living Lord.

When the Messenger of Allah (s) died, `Umar said, "By Allah, the Messenger of Allah is not dead." Then Abu Bakr came and uncovered the face of the Messenger of Allah, kissed him and said, "Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you. You are good in life and good in death. By Allah in whose hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice." Then Abu Bakr went out and said, "If anyone has been worshipping Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worship Allah, know that He is the Living and will never die." Then he recited:

Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, all the (other) apostles before him passed away: if he dies or is slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah will swiftly reward those who are grateful to Him.

Al `Imran, 3:144

The address of Abu Bakr touched the hearts of the people. `Umar cooled down. Ibn `Abbas says, "It seemed that the verse of the holy Qur'an was just revealed, although we had read it several times in the past."

What is the source of this strength that transformed this quiet man into one stronger than the most powerful Muslim? It is not until a man is made completely and utterly helpless before Allah that he may act in the Way of Allah. This helplessness made him to see that Allah was his only Helper and Rescuer; and from this helplessness came all his strength.

Then he was exalted and stood in the place of the Prophet (s) and led the entire Muslim community for two years until his death. He said to the people at the beginning of his caliphate, "By Allah, I never coveted the command, nor desired it even for a day or night, nor ever asked Allah for it openly or in secret, nor do I take any pleasure in having it." This is related by al-Zuhri.

There is a story related about Abu Bakr when he was the Caliph. He used to lead the afternoon prayer regularly and one day he noticed that an old blind woman who used to join the gathering had not been present for sometime. After the prayer he inquired after her and discovered that she was ill and now too old to join the prayer. Abu Bakr went to the woman's home and asked her if he could assist her in any way. He was told that it was now too difficult for her to leave her house to attend to her daily needs. So Abu Bakr agreed to come and empty her chamber pot every day at that time, and return with the clean container. This happened for a long time and was related by `Umar when he discovered where Abu Bakr disappeared to after the afternoon prayer every day. When `Umar asked the old woman about her helper, he found that she did not know who he was, and claimed he had come regularly for a long time.

Abu Bakr was the most distinguished figure among the Companions. He was mild and gentle but stern when necessary. He took the office of the caliphate at the most crucial and critical moment of Islamic history: Islam was in its infant stage, threatened by rebellions and rise of false prophets and apostasy movements. He crushed all the evil powers because of his unshakable faith. No amount of difficulties could make him deviate from the Sunnah of his Master. A great statesman, he brought unity among the Muslims and crushed all the rebellions. He occupies a unique place in the history of Islam and would remain forever in the minds of Muslims until the Last Day.

He spent all of his belongings for the sake of Allah and His Prophet (s). On his deathbed he called his daughter `A'ishah and said, "The camel that draws water for me and that Nubian slave are public property. On my death return these to `Umar, my successor. The garment that I am putting on now was purchased out of the allowance fixed for me; let this be my shroud."

After a fortnight's illness, al-Siddiq passed away at the age of 61 on Tuesday, the 22"d of Jamad al-Akhir, 13 AH. (23rd August, 634 AD.)

He lived and worked for the sake of Islam to his last breath but sought no reward. May Allah be pleased with him.