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Abu Bakr
1st Caliph of Rashidun Caliphate
Rashidun Caliph in Medina
Abu Bakr as-Șiddīq (Abdullah ibn Abi Quhafa)
Successor of the Messenger
  • Assiddiq الصدِّيق
  • Companion of the Cave
  • Companion of the Tomb
  • Shaikh Akbar
  • Attique
Preceded by Muhammad (Abu Bakr was not a prophet, but the successor to Muhammad)
Succeeded by Umar ibn Al-Khattab
Personal details
Born c. October 573
Mecca, Arabia
Died 22 August 634(634-08-22) (aged 61)
Medina, Arabia
Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza (Divorced)
Um Ruman
Asma bint Umays
Habibah bint Kharijah

Abdullah ibn Abi Qhuhafah (Arabic: عبد الله بن أبي قحافة, translit. ʿAbd Allāh ibn Abī Quḥāfah), c. 573 CE – 23 August 634 CE, popularly known by his nickname Abu Bakr [1] was a senior companion (Sahabi) and the father-in-law of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632–634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad's death.[2] As Caliph, Abu Bakr succeeded to the political and administrative functions previously exercised by Muhammad. He was called Al-Siddiq (The Truthful)[3] and was known by that title among later generations of Muslims.

As a young man, Abu Bakr became a merchant and he travelled extensively in Arabia and neighboring lands in the Middle East, through which he gained both wealth and experience. He eventually came to be recognized as the chief of his clan.[4] On his return from a business trip to Yemen, he was informed that in his absence Muhammad had openly declared his prophethood. Not long after, Abu Bakr accepted Islam and was the first person outside the family of Muhammad to openly become a Muslim. He was instrumental in the conversion of many people to the Islamic faith[5] and early in 623, Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha was married to Muhammad, strengthening the ties between the two men.[3]

Abu Bakr served as a trusted advisor and close friend to Muhammad. During the lifetime of Muhammad, he was involved in several campaigns such as the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of the Trench, the Invasion of Banu Qurayza, Battle of Khaybar, the Conquest of Mecca, the Battle of Hunayn, the Siege of Ta'if, and the Battle of Tabuk where he was reported to have given all of his wealth for the preparation of this expedition.[6] He also participated in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and was made one of the witnesses over the pact.[6]

Abu Bakr's Caliphate lasted for a little over two years (or 27 months), ending with his death after an illness. Though the period of his caliphate was not long, it included successful invasions of the two most powerful empires of the time, a remarkable achievement in its own right. He set in motion a historical trajectory that in few decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history.

Lineage and title

Islamic Empire during the reign of Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr's full name was Abd Allah ibn 'Uthman ibn Aamir ibn Amr ibn Ka'ab ibn Sa'ad ibn Taym (from whom the at-Taymi al-Quraishi) ibn Murrah ibn Ka'ab ibn Lu'ai ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr al-Quraishi.[1][7] The lineage of Abu Bakr joined that of Muhammad in the eighth degree in their common ancestor Murrah ibn Ka'b. The lineage of Abu Bakr was: Abu Bakr; the son of Uthman Abu Quhafa; the son of Amar; the son of Umru; the son of Kaab; the son of Saad; the son of Taym; the son of Murrah. The lineage of Muhammad was: Muhammad; the son of Abd Allah ibn Abd al Muttalib; the son of Abdul Muttalib; the son of Hashim ibn 'Abd Manaf; the son of Abd Manaf ibn Qusai; the son of Qusai ibn Kilab; the son of Kilab ibn Murrah; the son of Murrah.[8]

In Arabic, the name Abd Allah means "servant of Allah". One of his early titles, preceding his conversion to Islam, was atiqe, "the saved one". Muhammad later reaffirmed this title when he said that Abu Bakr is the "atiqe" (the one saved from hell fire by God).[9] He was called Al-Siddiq (the truthful)[3] by Muhammad after he believed him in the event of Isra and Mi'raj when other people didn't, and Ali confirmed that title several times.[10]

There is a dispute over his name being Abdullah. Ibn Hajar in Al-Isaabah, vol. 4, p. 146 and many other narrations, narrates from Qasim Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, "I asked Ayesha the name of Abu Bakr. She said Abdullah. I said people are saying Ateeq. She said Abu Quhafa had three children, one was Ateeq, second Mu’taq and third, Otaiq. All three names are similar and derived from the same root."

He was mentioned in the Quran as the "second of the two who lay in the cave" in reference to the event of hijra, where with Muhammad he hid in the cave in Jabal Thawr from the Meccan search party that was sent after them, thus being one of few who were given direct mention in the Quran.[11]

Imam Jafar al Sadiq famously narrated how the title Siddiq was given to Abu Bakr from Muhammad.[12][13] Jafar was a direct descendant of Abu Bakr from his maternal side, as well as being a descendant of Ali from his father's side. Jafar al-Sadiq was also the successor of the Naqshbandi Sufi order believed to be originating from Abu Bakr himself.[14][15][16][17][18] Imam Muhammad al Baqir, the father of Imam Jafar Sadiq, also called Abu Bakr with the title Siddiq.[19]

Much of the knowledge we have about Muhammand is narrated through Abu Bakr's daughter, Aisha. After the passing of Abu Bakr, her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali. After Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Umayyads, Aisha raised and taught her nephew al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Aisha also taught another nephew Urwah ibn Zubayr. He then taught his son Hisham ibn Urwah, who was the main teacher of Malik ibn Anas whose views many Sunni follow. Qasim's mother was of ‘Ali's family and his daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim, who married Muhammad al-Baqir, was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq. Therefore al-Qasim was the grandson of the first caliph Abu Bakr and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq.

Another of Abu Bakr's grandsons, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, was very close to Husayn bin Ali. After Hussein ibn Ali was betrayed by the people of Kufa and killed by the Syrian Roman Army now under the control of Yazid I, the Umayyad ruler,[20] Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr confronted Yazid and expelled him from Iraq, southern Arabia and the greater part of Syria, and parts of Egypt. Following a lengthy campaign, on his last hour Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr asked his mother Asma' bint Abu Bakr, the daughter of the first caliph, for advice. Asma' bint Abu Bakr replied to her son:[21] "You know better in your own self, that if you are upon the truth and you are calling towards the truth go forth, for people more honourable than you have been killed and if you are not upon the truth, then what an evil son you are and you have destroyed yourself and those who are with you. If you say, that if you are upon the truth and you will be killed at the hands of others, then you will not truly be free". Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr left and was later also killed and crucified by the Syrian Roman Army now under the control of the Umayyads.

Early life

Abu Bakr was born in Mecca some time in 573 CE, to a rich family in the Banu Taym[8] clan of the Quraysh tribe. Abu Bakr's father's name was Uthman Abu Quhafa (nicknamed Abu Quhafa) and his mother was Salma bint Sakhar (nicknamed Umm-ul-Khair).

He spent his early childhood like other Arab children of the time among the Bedouins who called themselves Ahl-i-Ba'eer- the people of the camel, and developed a particular fondness for camels. In his early years he played with the camel foals and goats, and his love for camels earned him the nickname "Abu Bakr", the father of the foal of the camel.[22]

When Abu Bakr was 10 years old, he went to Syria along with his father with the merchants' caravan. Muhammad, who was 12 years old at the time, was also with the caravan. In 591 at the age of 18, Abu Bakr went into trade and adopted the profession of cloth merchant, which was the family's business. In the coming years Abu Bakr traveled extensively with caravans. Business trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. These travels brought him wealth and added to his experience. His business flourished and he rose in the scale of social importance. Though his father, Uthman Abu Quhafa, was still alive, he came to be recognized as chief of his tribe.

Like other children of the rich Meccan merchant families, Abu Bakr was literate and developed a fondness for poetry. He used to attend the annual fair at Ukaz, and participate in poetical symposia. He had a very good memory and had a good knowledge of the genealogy of the Arab tribes, their stories and their politics.[23]

A story is preserved that once when he was a child, his father took him to the Kaaba, and asked him to pray before the idols. His father went away to attend to some other business, and Abu Bakr was left alone with the idols. Addressing an idol, Abu Bakr said "O my God, I am in need of beautiful clothes; bestow them on me". The idol remained indifferent. Then he addressed another idol saying "O God, give me some delicious food. See that I am so hungry". The idol remained cold. That exhausted the patience of young Abu Bakr. He lifted a stone, and addressing an idol said "Here I am aiming a stone; if you are a god protect yourself". Abu Bakr hurled the stone at the idol and left the Kaaba. Thereafter, he never went to the Kaaba to pray to the idols.[24]

Abu Bakr was a thin man with white skin.[25] Tabari relates (Suyuti also relates the same through Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi's report) from Aisha her description of Abu Bakr:

He was a man with fair skin, thin, emaciated, with a sparse beard, a slightly hunched frame, sunken eyes and protruding forehead, and the bases of his fingers were hairless.[26]

Acceptance of Islam

On his return from a business trip from Yemen, he was informed by friends that in his absence Muhammad had declared himself the Messenger of God, and proclaimed a new religion. Tabari, the most famous Muslim historian, in his Ta'rikh quotes from Muhammad Bin Sa'ad Bin Abi Waqqas, who said:

"I asked my father whether Abu Bakr was the first of the Muslims. He said, 'No, more than fifty people embraced Islam before Abu Bakr; but he was superior to us as a Muslim. And Umar ibn Khattab had embraced Islam after forty-five men and twenty-one women. As for the foremost one in the matter of Islam and faith, it was Ali ibn Abi Talib'"[27][28]

Other Sunnis and all Shi'a Muslims maintain that the second person to publicly accept Muhammed as the messenger of God was Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first being Muhammad's wife Khadija.[29]

Life after accepting Islam

His wife Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza did not accept Islam and he divorced her. His other wife, Um Ruman, became a Muslim. All his children except Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr accepted Islam, and Abu Bakr separated from his son Abdu'l-Rahman.

His conversion brought many people to Islam. He persuaded his intimate friends to convert to Islam.[30][31] and presented Islam to others in such a way that many of his friends accepted Islam.

Those who converted to Islam at the insistence of Abu Bakr were:[5]

Abu Bakr's acceptance proved to be a milestone in Muhammad's mission. Slavery was common in Mecca, and many slaves accepted Islam. When an ordinary free man accepted Islam, despite opposition, he would enjoy the protection of his tribe. For slaves however, there was no such protection and they commonly experienced persecution. Abu Bakr felt compassion for slaves, so he purchased eight slaves (four men and four women) and then freed them, paying 40,000 dinar for their freedom.[32][33]

The men were

  • Bilal ibn Ribah
  • Abu Fakih
  • Ammar ibn Yasir
  • Abu Fuhayra

The women were:

  • Lubaynah
  • Al-Nahdiah
  • Umm Ubays
  • Harithah bint al-Muammil

Most of the slaves liberated by Abu Bakr were either women or old and frail men.[34] The father of Abu Bakr asked him why he doesn't liberate strong and young slaves who could be a source of strength for him, Abu Bakr replied that he was freeing the slaves for the sake of God, and not for his own sake. According to Sunni tradition the following verses of the Qur'an were revealed due to this:[citation needed]

He who gives in charity and fears Allah And in all sincerity testifies to the Truth; We shall indeed make smooth for him the path of Bliss {92:5–7}.

Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification; And have in their minds no favor from any one For which a reward is expected in return, But only the desire to seek the Countenance, Of their Lord, Most High; And soon they shall attain complete satisfaction {92:8–21}.

Shias maintain these verses were revealed about Ali.[35]

Persecution by the Quraysh, 613

For three years after the advent of Islam, Muslims kept secret their faith, and prayed in secret. In 613 Muhammad was commended by God to call people to Islam openly. The first public address inviting people to offer allegiance to Muhammad was delivered by Abu Bakr.[36] In a fit of fury the young men of the Quraysh tribe rushed at Abu Bakr, and beat him mercilessly till he lost consciousness.[37] Following this incident Abu Bakr's mother converted to Islam. Abu Bakr was persecuted many times by the Quraysh. Abu Bakr's beliefs would have been defended by his own clan, but not by the entire Quraysh tribe.

Migrations to Abyssinia, 615

Being the first man to go over to Islam, Abu Bakr had brought upon himself the special anger and hatred of the Meccan chiefs. Soon he felt hard pressed and asked permission of Muhammad to go to Abyssinia. The permission was granted and Abu Bakr set off on his journey. However, on the way he met Ibn al-Daghinna, the chief of Qara. Under Ibn al-Daghinna's protection, he soon came back to Mecca.[38]

Last years in Mecca

In 617, the Quraysh enforced a boycott against the Banu Hashim. Muhammad along with his supporters from Banu Hashim, were cut off in a pass away from Mecca. All social relations with the Banu Hashim were cut off and their state was that of imprisonment. Before it many Muslims migrated to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). Abu Bakr, feeling distressed, set out for Yemen and then to Abyssinia from there. He met a friend of his named Ad-Dughna (chief of the Qarah tribe) outside Mecca, who invited Abu Bakr to seek his protection against the Quraysh. Abu Bakr went back to Mecca, it was a relief for him, but soon due to the pressure of Quraysh, Ad-Dughna was forced to renounce his protection. Once again the Quraysh were free to persecute Abu Bakr.

In 620 Muhammad's wife and uncle died. Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha was engaged to Muhammad, however it was decided that the actual marriage ceremony would be held later. In 620 Abu Bakr was the first person to testify to Muhammad's Isra and Mi'raj (night Journey).[39]

Migration to Medina

In 622, on the invitation of the Muslims of Medina, Muhammad ordered Muslims to migrate to Medina. The migration began in batches. Ali was the last to remain in Mecca, entrusted with responsibility for settling any loans the Muslims had taken, and famously slept in the bed of Muhammad when the Quraysh led by Ikrima attempted to murder Muhammad as he slept. Meanwhile Abu Bakr accompanied Muhammad in his migration for Medina. Due to the danger of the Quraysh, they did not take the road to Medina. They moved in the opposite direction, and took refuge in a cave in Jabal Thawr some five miles south of Mecca. `Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr, the son of Abu Bakr, would listen to the plans and talks of the Quraysh, and at night he would carry the news to the fugitives in the cave. Asma bint Abi Bakr, the daughter of Abu Bakr, brought them meals every day.[40] Aamir, a servant of Abu Bakr, would bring a flock of goats to the mouth of the cave every night where they were milked. The Quraysh sent search parties in all directions. One party came close to the entrance to the cave, but was unable to sight them. Due to this the following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:

If ye help not (your Leader) (it is no matter): for Allah did indeed help him; when the unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion: they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion "Have no Fear, for Allah is with us": then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which ye saw not, and humbled to the depths the word of the Unbelievers. But the word of Allah is exalted to the heights: for Allah is Exalted in might, Wise. [Quran 9:40]

'Aa'ishah, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri and ibn 'Abbaas in interpreting this verse said that Abu Bakr was the companion who stayed with Muhammad in the cave.

It is narrated from al-Barra' ibn 'Azib, he said,

One time, Abu Bakr bought a ride from 'Azib for 10 Dirham, then Abu Bakr said to 'Azib, "Tell your son the Barra to deliver that beast." Then 'Azib said, "No, until you tell us about your journey with the Messenger of Allah when he went out of Makkah while the Mushrikeen were busy looking for you." Abu Bakr said, "We set out from Makkah, walking day and night, until it came the time of Zuhr, so I was looking for a place so that we can rest under it, it came to be that I saw a big rock, so I came to it and there was the place, so I spread a mattress for the Prophet, then I said to him, " Rest O' Prophet of Allah." So he rested, while I surveyed the area around me, are there people looking for us coming here to spy... Suddenly I saw there was a shepherd herding his sheep to the direction of the place under the rock wanting to shade himself like us, so I asked, "Who is your master O' slave?" He answered, "Slave of the fulan, someone of the Quraish." He mentioned the name of his master and I knew him, then I asked, "Does your sheep have milk?" He answered, "Yes!" So he took one of the sheep, after that I ordered him to clean the breasts of the sheep first from dirt and dust, then I ordered him to blow his hand from dust, so he pat his two hands and he started milking, while I prepared a vessel with its mouth wrapped with cloth to contain the milk, so I poured the milk that was milked to the vessel and I waited until the bottom was cold, then I brought to the Prophet and it was that he had waken up, instantly I told him, "Drink O' Messenger of Allah." So he started to drink until I saw that he was full, then I told him, "Are we not going to continue walking O' Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "Yes!" At last we continued the journey while the mushrikeen kept looking for us, not that could pursue us except Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju'sham who rode his horse, so I said to the Messenger of Allah, "This man has succeeded in pursuing us O' Messenger of Allah," but he answered, "ﻻ ﺗﺤﺰ ﻥ ﺇ ﻥ ﺍﷲ ﻣﻌﻨﺎ" (Do not worry, verily Allah is with us).

It is narrated from Anas from Abu Bakr he said,

I said to the Prophet when we were in the cave, "If only they had looked under their feet we would assuredly be seen" The Messenger answered, "ﻣﺎ ﻇﻨﻚ ﻳﺎ ﺃ ﺑﺎ ﺑﻜﺮ ﺑﺎ ﺛﻨﻴﻦ ﺍﷲ ﺛﺎ ﻟﺘﻬﻤﺎ" (What do you think O' Abu Bakr about two people if Allah is the third, meaning God was with them.)[41]

After staying at the cave for three days and three nights, Abu Bakr and Muhammad proceed to Medina, staying for some time at Quba, a suburb of Medina. While Sunni sources portray Abu bakr in an exalted light in the cave, Shia sources however generally tend to portray the incident in the cave as a Quranic condemndation of Abu Bakr for cowardice and fear.[42]

Life in Medina

In Medina, Muhammad decided to construct a mosque. A piece of land was chosen and the price of the land was paid for by Abu Bakr. Muslims constructed a mosque named Al-Masjid al-Nabawi at the site and Abu Bakr also took part in construction. Abu Bakr was paired with Khaarij ah bin Zaid Ansari (who was from Medina) as a brother in faith. Abu Bakr's relationship with Khaarjah was most cordial, which was further strengthened when Abu Bakr married Habiba, a daughter of Khaarijah.

Khaarij ah bin Zaid Ansari used to live at Sunh, a suburb of Medina, and Abu Bakr also settled there. After Abu Bakr's family arrived in Medina he bought another house near Muhammad's.[43]

The climate of Mecca was dry, but the climate of Medina was damp and this adversely affected the health of the immigrants, so that on arrival most of them fell sick. Abu Bakr also suffered from fever for several days and during this time he was attended to by Khaarijah and his family. At Mecca, Abu Bakr was a trader in cloth and he started the same business in Medina. He was a wholesaler, and had his store at Sunh, and from there cloth was supplied to the market at Medina. Soon his business flourished at Medina. Early in 623, Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha, who was already engaged to Muhammad, was handed over to Muhammad in a simple marriage ceremony, and this further strengthened the relation between Abu Bakr and Muhammad.[6]

Military campaigns under Muhammad

Battle of Badr and Uhud

In 624 Abu Bakr was involved in the first battle between the Muslims and the Quraysh of Mecca, known as the Battle of Badr, but did not fight, instead acting as one of the guards of Muhammad's tent. In 625 he participated in the Battle of Uhud which ended in a rout by the majority of the Muslims. Before the battle begun, Abu Bakr's son Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr, who was still non-Muslim and was fighting from the side of the Quraysh, came forward and threw down a challenge for a duel. Abu Bakr accepted the challenge but was stopped by Muhammad. His son later converted to Islam and gained fame during the Muslim conquest of Syria as a fierce warrior. In the second phase of the battle, Khalid ibn al-Walid’s cavalry attacked the Muslims from behind, changing a Muslim victory to defeat. Many Muslim warriors fled from the battlefield due to fear or to plunder the spoils of war. So did Abu Bakr, however, he was among the first to return according to few Sunni Hadith. Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Talhah and a few other Muslims remained guarding Muhammad from the attacks of the Quraysh soldiers, majority of Shia and many Sunni Hadith agree to this. Criticisms of his lacklustre military achievements in comparison with the extremely accomplished Ali should be put into context: Abu Bakr was a middle aged man during these battles, was not a soldier but a merchant by trade, and had never seen battle before – it may thus be unfair to directly compare him with Ali in this regard.

However it is related that once Ali asked his associates as to who they thought was the bravest among men. Everyone replied that Ali was the bravest of all men. Thereupon Ali said:

No. Abu Bakr is the bravest of men. In the Battle of Badr we had prepared a pavillion for the prophet, but when we were asked to offer ourselves for the task of guarding it none came forward except Abu Bakr. With a drawn sword he took his stand by the side of Prophet of Allah and guarded him from the infidels by attacking those who dared to proceed in that direction. He was therefore the bravest of men.

[44] In Sunni accounts during one such attack, two discs from Abu Bakr's shield penetrated into Muhammad's cheeks. Abu Bakr went forward with the intention of extracting these discs but Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah requested he leave the matter to him, losing his two incisors during the process. In these stories subsequently Abu Bakr, along with other companions, led Muhammad to a place of safety.[6]

Conflict with Jewish tribes

Later in the year Abu Bakr was a part of campaign against the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir.

Battle of the Trench

In 627 he participated in the Battle of the Trench and also in the Invasion of Banu Qurayza.[6] In this battle, Muhammad divided the ditch into a number of sectors and a contingent was posted to guard each sector. One of such contingents was under the command of Abu Bakr. The enemy made frequent assaults in the attempt to cross the ditch. All such assaults were repulsed. Abu Bakr showed great courage in guarding the belt of the trench in his sector. To commemorate this event a mosque was later constructed at the site where Abu Bakr had heroically repulsed the charges of the enemy. The mosque was later known as 'Masjid-i-Siddiq'.[45]

In 628 he participated in Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and was made one of the witnesses over the pact.[6]

In 628 he was a part of the Muslim campaign to Khaybar.

Military campaigns during final years of Muhammad

In 629 Muhammad sent 'Amr ibn al-'As to Zaat-ul-Sallasal from where he called for reinforcements and Muhammad sent Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah. Commanding an army under him were Abu Bakr and Umar and they attacked and defeated the enemy.[46]

In 630 when Muslim armies rushed for the Conquest of Mecca, Abu Bakr was a part of the army. Before the conquest of Mecca his father Uthman Abu Quhafa converted to Islam.

Battle of Hunayn and Ta'if

In 630 he was part of Battle of Hunayn and Siege of Ta'if. In the Battle of Hunayn as the Muslim army passed through the valley of Hunayn some eleven miles north east of Mecca a rain of arrows fell on it let loose by a group of archers of the hostile tribes that lay hid in the mountain pass. Taken unaware the advance guard of the Muslim army fled in panic. There was considerable confusion, and the camels, horses and men ran into one another in the attempt to seek cover. Muhammad stood firm. There were only nine companions around him including Abu Bakr. All the rest had fled. Under the instructions of Muhammad, Abbas shouted at the top of his voice "O Muslims come to the Prophet of Allah". The call was heard by the Muslim soldiers and they gathered beside Muhammad. When the Muslim had gathered in sufficient number, Muhammad ordered a charge against the enemy. In the hand-to-hand fight that followed the tribes were routed and they fled to Autas.

Muhammad posted a contingent to guard the Hunayn pass and led the main army to Autas. In the confrontation at Autas the tribes could not withstand the Muslim onslaught. Finding the resistance useless the tribes broke the camp and retired to Ta'if.

Abu Bakr was commissioned by Muhammad to lead the attack against Ta'if. From Autas the Muslim forces set out for Ta'if. The tribes shut themselves in the fort and refused to come out in the open. The Muslim employed catapults to throw stones in the town, but this did not lead to any tangible results. The Muslim tried the testudo device whereunder a group of soldiers shielded by a cover of cowhide advanced to set fire to the gate. The enemy threw red hot scraps of iron on the testudo which made it ineffective.

The siege dragged on for two weeks, and still there was no sign of the fall of the fort. Muhammad held a council of war. Abu Bakr advised that the siege might be raised and that God would Himself make arrangements for the fall of the fort. The advice was accepted, and in February 630, the siege of Ta'if was raised and the Muslim army returned to Mecca. A few days later Malik bin Auf the commander, came to Mecca and became a Muslim. Thus the forecast of Abu Bakr came to be fulfilled, and the God Himself arranged for the surrender of Ta'if.[47]

Expedition of Tabuk

In 630 AD Muhammad decided to lead an expedition to Tabuk on the Syrian border. In order to finance the expedition Muhammad invited contributions and donations from his followers. Uthman provided ten thousand camels. Umar made a liberal contribution. When Muhammad asked him how much he had left for himself and his family he said that he has given one half of his wealth for the cause of God and had left one half for himself and his dependents. Then Abu Bakr came loaded with his contribution and Muhammad put him the same question as to how much wealth he had for himself and his family. Abu Bakr said "I have brought all that I had. I have left Allah and His Prophet for myself and my family". This episode has formed the theme of one of the poems of Allama Iqbal. The last verse of this poem reads:

For the moth the lamp, and for the nightingale the flower

For Siddiq God and His Prophet Suffice.

The call to arms was given at a very critical period. The weather was burning hot. Crops were ripe and ready for harvesting. The journey was long and arduous. Many persons preferred to stay back. In spite of these obstacles and difficulties, an army of thirty thousand persons was raised. The army assembled at Al Jorf outside Medina. Muhammad remained at Medina for some time to attend to other affairs, and at Al Jorf Abu Bakr deputised for Muhammad and led the prayers.

The Muslim army reached Tabuk after a weary march. At Tabuk the standard of the army was entrusted to Abu Bakr. There were no Byzantine forces to meet the Muslims. On coming to know of the advance of the Muslim army the Byzantines had withdrawn their army well within Syria. The Muslim achieved their object without fighting a shot. The Byzantines who had at one time threatened to invade Arabia were no longer in the mood to measure swords with the Muslims.[48]

Abu Bakr as Amir-ul-Hajj

In 631 AD, Muhammad sent from Medina a delegation of three hundred Muslims to perform the Hajj according to the new Islamic way. Abu Bakr was appointed as the leader of the delegates. Abu Bakr had thus the honour of being the First Amir-ul-Hajj in the history of Islam.

Some time after Abu Bakr and his party had left for Hajj, Muhammad received a revelation about the regulation of the Hajj, and the ordering of relationships with the infidels. It is related that when this revelation came, some one suggested to Muhammad that he should send news of it to Abu Bakr. Muhammad said that only a man of his house could proclaim the revelation.

Muhammad summoned Ali, and asked him to proclaim the revealed verses to the people on the day of sacrifice when they assembled at Mina. Ali went forth on Muhammad's slit-eared camel, and overtook Abu Bakr. When Ali joined the party, Abu Bakr wanted to know whether he had come to give orders or to convey them. Ali said that he had not come to replace Abu Bakr as Amir-ul-Hajj, and that his only mission was to convey a special message to the people on behalf of Muhammad.

At Mecca, Abu Bakr presided at the Hajj ceremony, and Ali read the proclamation on behalf of Muhammad. The main points of the proclamation were:

  1. Henceforward the non-Muslims were not to be allowed to visit the Kaaba or perform the pilgrimage.
  2. No one should circumambulate the Kaaba naked.
  3. Polytheism was not to be tolerated. Where the Muslims had any agreement with the polytheists such agreements would be honoured for the stipulated periods. Where there were no agreements a grace period of four months was provided and thereafter no quarter was to be given to the polytheists.

From the day this proclamation was made a new era dawned in Arabia. Henceforward Islam alone was to be supreme in Arabia.

In some quarters an argument is advanced that as on this occasion the proclamation was read by Ali on behalf of Muhammad, this establishes the precedence of Ali over Abu Bakr, and that therefore when after the death of Muhammad, Abu Bakr became the Caliph in disregard of the claims of Ali, he was a usurper.

On this occasion Ali did not replace Abu Bakr as Amir-ul-Hajj. Ali was merely assigned a special mission to read the proclamation as according to Muhammad only a man from his own house could communate the revelation. We can thus say that on this occasion Abu Bakr represented the temporal side, while Ali represented the spiritual side. After the death of Muhammad there was no longer the question of any spiritual representation; the issue was only temporal representation, and for this Abu Bakr was the best choice as he had thus represented Muhammad even in his lifetime.[49]

Military campaigns as commander

Abu Bakr also led one military campaign as commander, known as Expedition of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq,[50] which took place in Nejd, in July 628 AD,3rd Month 7AH, of the Islamic Calendar[50] Abu Bakr led a large platoon in Nejd on the order of Muhammad. Many were killed and taken as prisoner.[51] The Sunni Hadith collection, Sunan Abu Dawud mentions the event[52]

Death of Muhammad

Abu Bakr
An imagining of Abu Bakr stopping the Meccan Mob, in a Turkish miniature from the 16th century C.E.
Born c. 573 C.E.
Died c. 634 C.E.

A short time after returning from the farewell pilgrimage, Muhammad became ill. In his fatal illness, Muhammad came out with a piece of cloth tied around his head and sat on the pulpit. After thanking and praising God he said,ﺇ ﻥ ﺍ ﷲ ﺧﻴﺮ ﻋﺒﺪﺍ ﺑﻴﻦ ﺍﻟﺪ ﻧﻴﺎ ﻭ ﺑﻴﻦ ﻣﺎ ﻋﻨﺪ ﻩ ﻓﺎ ﺧﺘﺎ ﺭ ﺫ ﻟﻚ ﺍﻟﻌﺒﺪ ﻣﺎ ﻋﻨﺪ ﺍﷲ "Allah has given one of His Slaves the choice of receiving the splendor and luxury of the worldly life whatever he likes or to accept the good which is with Allah. So he has chosen that good which is with Allah."

Abu Bakr wept profusely and said, "Our fathers and mothers be sacrificed for you." The companions were astonished by this (they wondered why Abu Bakr wept), and the people said, "Look at this old man! Allah's Apostle talks about a Slave of Allah to whom He has given the option to choose either the splendor of this worldly life or the good which is with Him, while he says "our fathers and mothers be sacrificed for you". It turned out Muhammad himself was that servant, as Abu Bakr later told the companions.

Muhammad continued:

No doubt, I am indebted to Abu Bakr more than to anybody else regarding both his companionship and his wealth. And if I had to take a Khalil from my followers, I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr, but the fraternity of Islam is sufficient. Let no Door of the Mosque remain open, except the door of Abu Bakr[53]

The good referred in the first part means the good in the hereafter. Khalil means intimate friend. The door referred to here is the door to the mosque of Muhammad. When the fever developed he directed Abu Bakr to go to the war following Usama who was 18. When Muhammad died Muslims gathered in Al-Masjid al-Nabawi and there were suppressed sobs and sighs. Abu Bakr came from his house at As-Sunh (a village) on a horse where he had been with his new wife. He dismounted and entered the Prophet's Mosque, but did not speak to anyone until he entered upon 'Aa'isha. He went straight to Muhammad who was covered with Hibra cloth (a kind of Yemenite cloth). He then uncovered Muhammad's face and bowed over him and kissed him and wept, saying, "Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. By Allah, Allah will never cause you to die twice. As for the death which was written for you, has come upon you." 'Umar was making a sermon to the people saying, "By Allah, he is not dead but has gone to his Lord as Musa ibn Imran went and remained hidden from his people for forty days. Musa returned after it was said that he had died. By Allah, the Messenger of Allah will come back and he will cut off the hands and legs of those who claim his death."[54]

Abu Bakr arrived and said, "Sit down, O 'Umar!" But 'Umar refused to sit down. So the people came to Abu Bakr and left Umar. Abu Bakr said, "To proceed, if anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad, then Muhammad has passed away, but if (anyone of) you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die. Allah said, "And Muhammad is but a messenger; the messengers have come before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to Allah in the least and Allah will reward the grateful." (3.144)

'Umar said, "By Allah, when I heard Abu Bakr reciting it, my legs could not support me and I fell down at the very moment of hearing him reciting it, declaring that Muhammad had passed away."[55]

Other Ahadith on the Virtues of Abu Bakr

There are many ahadith that mention the virtues and special position of Abu Bakr:

Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 455: Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri

The Prophet delivered a sermon and said, "Allah gave a choice to one of (His) slaves either to choose this world or what is with Him in the Hereafter. He chose the latter." Abu Bakr wept. I said lo myself, "Why is this Sheikh weeping, if Allah gave choice to one (of His) slaves either to choose this world or what is with Him in the Here after and he chose the latter?" And that slave was Allah's Apostle himself. Abu Bakr knew more than us. The Prophet said, "O Abu Bakr! Don't weep. The Prophet added: Abu- Bakr has favored me much with his property and company. If I were to take a Khalil from mankind I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr but the Islamic brotherhood and friendship is sufficient. Close all the gates in the mosque except that of Abu Bakr.[56]

Ayshah reported that Muhammad said, "It does not behoove a people who have Abu Bakr among them to have anybody other than him as their imam."[57][specify]

Ayshah also reported that Muhammad said to her: "Call your father (Abu Bakr) and brother [`Abd al-Rahman] here so I will put something down in writing, for truly I fear lest someone forward a claim or form some ambition, and Allah and the believers refuse anyone other than Abu Bakr." from Sahih Muslim[specify]

Jubayr ibn Mut'im reported that a woman came and spoke to Muhammad about a matter. He asked her to come back later some time. She said, "Tell me if I come later and do not find you?" Jubayr ibn Mut'im said that it seemed that she meant he may not be alive when she came back. He said, "If you do not find me then go to Abu Bakr."[58][specify]

Abu Hurairah reported that Muhammad said, "Jibreel came to me, held my hand and pointed out to me the gate of Paradise through which my Ummah will enter it." Abu Bakr said, "O Messenger of Allah! I wish that I had been with you and seen the gate!" So, Muhammad said, "Know, O Abu Bakr, you will be the first of my Ummah to enter Paradise."[59][specify]

Ibn Umar said that one day, Muhammad came out and entered the masjid, Abu Bakr and Umar with him, to his right and left. Muhammad had held their hands and he said, "The three of us will be raised on the Day of Resurrection in this way."[57][specify]

Abu Saeed al Khudri reported that Muhammad said: "Every prophet has two wazeer (ministers) from the dwellers of the heaven (angels) and two wazeer from the inhabitants of the earth. So, my wazeer from the dwellers of heaven are Jibrael and Mikael and my wazeer from the earthlings are Abu Bakr and Umar."[57][specify]

Election of Abu Bakr to Caliphate

Caliph Abu Bakr's empire at its peak in August 634.

After Muhammad's death, previously dormant tensions between the Meccan immigrants, the Muhajirun, and the Medinan converts, the Ansar, threatened to break out and split the Ummah. Other Arabic tribes also wished to revert to local leadership and split from Medina's control. In some places, people claiming prophethood started to establish leaderships to oppose Medina, e.g. Al-Aswad Al-Ansi and Musaylimah. All of which are events that led to splitting the Muslim community.[60] The Ansar, the leaders of the tribes of Medina, met in a hall or house called saqifah, to discuss whom they would support as their new leader. When Abu Bakr was informed of the meeting, he, Umar, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah and a few others rushed to prevent the Ansar from making a premature decision. Accounts of this meeting vary greatly. All agree that during the meeting Umar declared that Abu Bakr should be the new leader, and declared his allegiance to Abu Bakr, followed by Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, and thus Abu Bakr became the first Muslim caliph, who was given the title, Khalifa-tul-Rasool (Successor of messenger of Allah), a title accepted by Sunni Muslims.

Sunnis believe that all the Muslims in Medina gave their allegiance to Abu Bakr, including Ali. All Sunnis acknowledged Abu Bakr as the rightful successor to Muhammad. On account of him being one of the earliest of companions, and on account of his aiding and supporting Muhammad in his mission from the very early days of Islam, from his deep knowledge and piety from having spent so many years with Muhammad, and on account of so many indications that Muhammad gave that Abu Bakr is the right successor. Examples of these include Muhammad specifically designating Abu Bakr to lead the Muslims in prayer in his last days when he was too ill to lead the prayer. Muhammad also appointed to Abu Bakr to lead the pilgrimage to Mecca. There was also a time when a woman came to Muhammad with a question and he asked her to come back tomorrow, she then asked "What if I do not find you", and he then said "Go to Abu Bakr". According to Sunnis all of these show the virtue of Abu Bakr and his being the rightful successor.[citation needed]

The Twelver Shia and the Ismaili Shia believe that Ali should have been the first Caliph. Their main argument is based on the Hadith of the pond of Khumm.[citation needed] However later a minority, took this concept one step further and also started thinking, what if history took a different course and these ideas were later adopted by some Twelver Shia and institutionalised by the Safavids in the 1500s. For the first time in the history of Islam, the Safavids also established a hierarchical organization of the Shiite clergy and funded this hierarchy through the collection of waqf and Khums.[61][62] Because of the relative insecurity of property ownership in Persia, many private landowners secured their lands by donating them to the clergy as so called vaqf. They would thus retain the official ownership and secure their land from being confiscated by royal commissioners or local governors, as long as a percentage of the revenues from the land went to the ulama the quasi-religious organizations run by dervishes (futuvva). Increasingly, members of the religious class, particularly the mujtahids and the seyyeds, gained full ownership of these lands, and, according to contemporary historian Iskandar Munshi, Persia started to witness the emergence of a new and significant group of landowners.[63] From then on many seyyeds also further propagated the idea that Ali should have been the first caliph and that by becoming the first caliph, Abu Bakr had broken the link that proved that they should have more rights. Before that point Jafar al-Sadiq disapproved of people who disapproved of his great grand father Abu Bakr the first caliph.

Reign as a Caliph

After assuming the office of Caliphate Abu Bakr's first address was as follow:

I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right. Sincere regard for truth is loyalty and disregard for truth is treachery. The weak amongst you shall be strong with me until I have secured his rights, if God wills; and the strong amongst you shall be weak with me until I have wrested from him the rights of others, if God wills. Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger. But if I disobey God and His Messenger, ye owe me no obedience. Arise for your prayer, God have mercy upon you.

[citation needed]

Abu Bakr's Caliphate lasted for 27 months, during which he crushed the rebellion of the Arab tribes throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the successful Ridda Wars. In the last months of his rule, he launched campaigns against the Sassanid Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) and thus set in motion a historical trajectory[60] (continued later on by Umar and Uthman ibn Affan) that in just a few short decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history. He had little time to pay attention to the administration of state, though state affairs remained stable during his Caliphate. On the advice of Umar and Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah he agreed to have a salary from state treasury and abolish his cloth trade.

Ridda Wars

Map detailing the sites of Major battles fought during ridda wars.

Troubles emerged soon after Abu Bakr's succession, threatening the unity and stability of the new community and state. Several Arabic tribes revolted against Abu Bakr. In four of the six centres of the insurrection, the rebels rallied around people who claimed to be prophets, the most prominent among these was Musaylimah. The tribes claimed that they had submitted to Muhammad only, and that with Muhammad's death, their allegiance had ended. This was common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia. After the death of a tribal leader the alliance with the tribe of that leader was regarded as having ended.[64] Thus several tribes acted in accordance to this pre-Islamic practice and refused to pay Zakat. Abu Bakr, however, insisted that they had not just submitted to a simple human leader but joined the Muslim religious community, of which he was the new head. So, in contrast to pre-Islamic times, their allegiance was not seen as having ended at all.

This was the start of the Ridda wars (Arabic for the Wars of Apostasy). The apostasy of central Arabia was led by self-proclaimed prophet Musaylimah of in al-Yamama, while the other centers were to the south and east in Bahrain, Oman, Mahra region and Yemen.[60] Abu Bakr planned his strategy accordingly and formed the Muslim army into 11 corps. The strongest corps, and this was the main punch of the Muslim army, was that of Khalid ibn al-Walid and was used to fight the most powerful of the rebel forces. Other corps were given areas of secondary importance in which to bring the less dangerous apostate tribes. Abu Bakr's plan was first to clear the area of west and central Arabia (the area nearest Medina), then tackle Malik ibn Nuwayrah, and finally concentrate against the most dangerous enemy Musaylimah. After series of successful campaigns, Khalid ibn al-Walid finally defeated Musaylimah and his tribe, the Banu Hanifa, in the Battle of Yamama.[65] The Campaign of the Apostasy was fought and completed during the eleventh year after Hijra. The year 12 Hijri dawned, on 18 March 633, with Arabia united under the central authority of the Caliph at Medina.

In July 632, Abu Bakr raised an army mainly from the Banu Hashim (the clan of the prophet Muhammad).[citation needed] Ali ibn Abi Talib, Talha ibn Ubaidullah and Zubair ibn al-Awam, were each appointed as commander of one-third of the newly organised force. They fought the Battle of Zhu Qissa against the forces of Tulayha, a self-proclaimed prophet[66] and his followers as they prepared to launch an attack on Medina during the Ridda wars.[citation needed] The Radishun commanders held until they were reinforced by Abu Bakr. Tulayha was defeated and his forces were driven back to Zhu Hussa.[67][unreliable source?][68][unreliable source?]

This phenomenon was later regarded as primarily a religious movement by Arabic historians. However, the early sources indicate that in reality it was mainly political.[69][70] After all, the revolting Arabs only refused to pay Zakat (Charity), but they did not refuse to perform the salah.[70] This however is disputed and explained by Muslim scholars in that the dictation of Zakat was one of the Five pillars of Islam and its denial or withholding is an act of denial of a cornerstone of faith, and is therefore an act of apostasy. Bernard Lewis states that the fact that Islamic Historians have regarded this as a primarily religious movement was due to a later interpretation of events in terms of a theological world-view.[64] The opponents of the Muslim armies were not only apostates, but also – if not most of them – tribes which were largely or even completely independent from the Muslim community.[70] However, these revolts also had a religious aspect: Medina had become the centre of a social and political system, of which religion was an integral part; consequently it was inevitable that any reaction against this system should have a religious aspect.[71]

The Qur'an — preservation

According to Sunni Islam, Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving the Qur'an in written form. It is said that after the hard-won victory over Musaylimah in the Battle of Yamama fought in 632, Umar (the later Caliph Umar), saw that many of the Muslims who had memorized the Qur'an had died in battle. Fearing that the Qur'an may be lost or corrupted, Umar requested the Caliph Abu Bakr to authorize the compilation and preservation of the Book in written format. After initial hesitation, Abu Bakr made a committee headed by Zayd ibn Thabit which included the memorizers of the Qur'an and Umar and to collect all verses of the Book. After collecting all Qur'anic verses from texts in the possession of various sahaba, Zayd ibn Thabit and members of his committee verified the reading by comparing with those who had memorized the Qur'an. After they were satisfied that they had not missed out any verse or made any mistakes in reading or writing it down, the text was written down as one single manuscript and presented in a book form to the Caliph Abu Bakr. It is believed that this process happened within one year of the death of Muhammad when most of his sahaba (companions) were still alive.

Prior to his death, Abu Bakr gave this authorized copy of the Qur'an to Umar – his successor. It remained with him throughout his tenure as Caliph (10 years). Prior to his death, Umar gave this Book to his daughter Hafsa bint Umar, who was one of the wives of Muhammad. Umar did not nominate his successor on his deathbed, and thus preferred to leave this copy with Hafsa so as not to indicate his personal preference of who would be the next caliph. Later on, it became the basis of Uthman Ibn Affan's definitive text of the Qur'an which was published far and wide merely 18 years after the death of Muhammad. Later historians give Uthman Ibn Affan the principal credit for re-verification and publishing the Qur'an. Shi'as reject the idea that Abu Bakr or Umar were instrumental in the collection or preservation of the Qur'an.[72]

Military expansion

Once the rebellions had been put down, Abu Bakr began a war of conquest. Whether or not he intended a full-out imperial conquest is hard to say; he did, however, set in motion a historical trajectory that in just a few short decades would lead to one of the largest empires in history. Abu Bakr began with Iraq, the richest province of the Persian Empire. He sent his most brilliant general Khalid ibn al-Walid to invade the Sassanid Empire.

Conquest of Sassanid Persian Empire

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Iraq.

Abu Bakr was strong enough to attack the Persian Empire in the north-east and the Byzantine Empire in the north-west. There were three purposes for this conquest: 1. Along the borders between Arabia and these two great empires were numerous Arab tribes leading a nomadic life and forming a buffer-like state between the Persians and Romans. Abu Bakr hoped that these tribes might accept Islam and help their brethren in spreading it. 2. The Persian and Roman taxation laws were arbitrary and oppressive; Abu Bakr believed that they might be persuaded to help the Muslims, who sought to release them from injustice. 3. Two gigantic empires surrounded Arabia, and it was unsafe to remain passive with these two powers on its borders. Abu Bakr hoped that by attacking Iraq and Syria he might remove the danger from the borders of the Islamic State.[73] A tribal chief of north eastern Arabia, Muthanna ibn Harithah, raided the Persian towns in Iraq. With the success of the raids, a considerable amount of booty was collected. Muthanna ibn Harithah went to Medina to inform Caliph Abu Bakr about his success and was appointed commander of his people, after which he began to raid deeper into Iraq. Using the mobility of his light cavalry he could easily raid any town near the desert and within moments could disappear again into the desert, into which the Sassanid army was unable to chase them. Muthanna’s acts made Abu Bakr think about the expansion of the Rashidun Empire.[74]

Abu Bakr started with the invasion of Iraq. The problems faced by Abu Bakr were that the Arabs feared the Persians with a deep, unreasoning fear which ran in the tribal consciousness as a racial complex and was the result of centuries of Persian power and glory. In return the Persian regarded the Arab with contempt. It was important not to suffer a defeat, for that would confirm and strengthen this instinctive fear. To make certain of victory, Abu Bakr decided on two measures; that the invading army would consist entirely of volunteers; and he put in command of the army his best general Khalid ibn al-Walid. After defeating the self-proclaimed prophet Musaylimah in the Battle of Yamama, Khalid was still at Al-Yamama when Abu Bakr sent him orders to invade the Sassanid Empire. Making Al-Hirah the objective of Khalid, Abu Bakr sent reinforcements and ordered the tribal chiefs of north eastern Arabia, Muthanna ibn Harithah, Mazhur bin Adi, Harmala and Sulma to operate under the command of Khalid along with their men. In about third week of March 633 (first week of Muharram 12th Hijrah) Khalid set out from Al-Yamama with an army of 10,000.[74] The tribal chiefs, with 2,000 warriors each, joined Khalid; Thus Khalid entered the Persian Empire with 18,000 troops.

After entering Iraq with his army of 18,000, Khalid won decisive victories in four consecutive battles: Battle of Chains, fought in April 633; Battle of River, fought in the 3rd week of April 633; Battle of Walaja, fought in May 633 (where he successfully used a double envelopment manoeuvre), and Battle of Ullais, fought in the mid of May 633. By now the Persian court already disturbed by the internal problems, was down and out. In the last week of May 633, Hira capital city of Iraq fell to the Muslims after resistance in the Siege of Hira. After resting his armies, in June 633 Khalid laid siege of Al Anbar, which resisted and was eventually surrendered after a siege of a few weeks in July 633 after the Siege of Al-Anbar.

Khalid then moved towards the south, and conquered the city of Ein ul Tamr after the Battle of Ein ut Tamr in the last week of July 633. By now, almost the whole of Iraq (Euphrates region) was under Islamic control. Khalid got a call of help from northern Arabia at Daumat-ul-Jandal, where another Muslim Arab general, Ayaz bin Ghanam, was trapped among the rebel tribes. Khalid went to Daumat-ul-jandal and defeated the rebels in the Battle of Daumat-ul-jandal in the last week of August 633. Returning from Arabia, he got news of the assembling of a large Persian army. He decided to defeat them all separately to avoid the risk of defeat to a large unified Persian army. Four divisions of Persian and Christian Arab auxiliaries were present at Hanafiz, Zumiel, Sanni and Muzieh. Khalid devised a brilliant plan to destroy the Persian forces. He divided his army in three units, and attacked the Persian forces in brilliantly coordinated attacks from three different sides at night, starting from the Battle of Muzieh, then the Battle of Sanni, and finally the Battle of Zumail during November 633. These devastating defeats ended Persian control over Iraq, and left the Persian capital Ctesiphon unguarded and vulnerable for Muslims attack, before attacking the Persian Capital Khalid decided to eliminate all Persian forces from south and west, he accordingly marched against the border city of Firaz, where he defeated the combined forces of the Sassanid Persians, Byzantine Romans and Christian Arabs in the Battle of Firaz in December 633. This was the last battle in his conquest of Iraq. While Khalid was on his way to attack Qadissiyah, a key fort in the way to Persian Capital Ctesiphon, he received the letter of Caliph Abu Bakr and was sent to Roman front in Syria to assume the command of Muslim armies to conquer Roman Syria.[75]

Invasion of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire

Map detailing Rashidun Caliphates invasion of Levant.

With a successful invasion of Sassanid Persian province of Iraq, Abu Bakr’s confidence grew. He concentrated four large corps at Zhu Qissah and sent them to Roman Syria. Each corps was assigned its own commander and its own target. The leaders of the different corps received intelligence of a concentration of large Byzantine armies at Ajnadayn while on the march. The army stopped its advance and the leaders wrote to Abu Bakr for help. Since the Muslim position in Iraq was stable by now, the Caliph accordingly wrote to Khalid to take half of his forces of Iraq to Syria and to assume command of all Muslim armies in Byzantine Syria. The Byzantine province of Syria in those days consisted of modern day Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and southern Turkey. There were two routes towards Syria from Iraq, one was via Daumat-ul-Jandal and the other was through Mesopotamia passing though Ar Raqqah. Since it was believed that the Muslim armies in Syria were in need of urgent reinforcement, Khalid avoided the conventional route to Syria via Daumat ul Jandal because it was a long route and would take weeks to reach Syria. He also did not take the Mesopotamian route because Roman garrisons held northern Syria and northern Mesopotamia. A conflict with these Roman forces would have forced Khalid to spend too much time while Muslim armies were being outflanked in Syria. Khalid selected, instead, a short and unconventional route to Syria, passing though the Syrian Desert. Although probably hyperbole, some sources state that his soldiers marched for two days without a single drop of water before reaching an oasis that Khalid had selected in advance. Khalid thus entered Northern Syria at a point where he was least expected, catching the Byzantine forces on their right flank. More recent historians have suggested that this surprises attack unhinged the Byzantine defenses in Syria.

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.

Khalid entered Syria in June 634 and quickly captured the border forts of Sawa, Arak, Tadmur, Sukhnah. al-Qaryatayn and Hawarin after the battles of Qaryatayn and Hawarin. After dealing with all these cities, Khalid moved towards Damascus, passing though a mountain pass which is now known as Sanita-al-Uqab (Uqab pass) after the name of Khalid's army standard. From here he moved away from Damascus, towards Bosra, the capital of Ghassanid Arab kingdom, a vassal of Eastern Roman empire. He had ordered other Muslim commanders to concentrate their armies at Bosra, which were still near the Syrian-Arabia border. At Maraj-al-Rahab, Khalid defeated a Ghassanid army of Christian Arabs in a quick Battle of Marj-al-Rahit. Meanwhile Abu Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah, the supreme commander of Muslim armies in Syria had ordered Shurhabil ibn Hasana to attack Bosra. The latter laid siege of Bosra with his small army of 4000 men. Roman and Ghassanid Arab garrison, noticing that this might be the advance guard of the larger Muslim army to come, decided to attack and destroy Shurhabil’s army. They came out of the fortified city and attacked Shurhabil, surrounding him from all sides; Khalid reached the arena with his advance guard cavalry and saved the day for Shurhabil. The combined forces of Khalid, Shurhabil and Abu Ubaidah then laid the siege of Bosra, which surrendered some time in mid July 634. thus effectively ending the Ghassanid Dynasty.

Here Khalid took over the command of Muslim armies in Syria from Abu Ubaidah, as per the instructions of Caliph. The massive Byzantine armies were concentrating at Ajnadayn to push the invading armies back to desert. Early Muslim sources have mentioned its size to be 90,000, while most of the modern historians doubt the figures, but consider this battle to be the key to breaking the Byzantine power in Syria. According to the instructions of Khalid all Muslim corps concentrated at Ajnadayn, where they fought a decisive battle against Byzantine on 30 July 634. Defeat at the Battle of Ajnadayn, left Syria vulnerable to the Muslim invaders. Khalid decided to capture Damascus, the Byzantine stronghold. At Damascus Thomas, son in law of Emperor Heraclius, was in charge. Receiving the intelligence of Khalid's march towards Damascus he prepared for the defences of Damascus. He wrote to Emperor Heraclius for reinforcement, who was at Emesa that time. Moreover Thomas, in order to get more time for preparation of a siege, sent the armies to delay or if possible halt Khalid's march to Damascus, one such army was defeated at Battle of Yaqusa in mid-August 634 near Lake Tiberias 90 miles from Damascus, another army that halted the Muslim advance to Damascus was defeated in Battle of Maraj as Saffer on 19 August 634. These engagements delayed Khalid’s advance and gave Thomas enough time to prepare for siege. Meanwhile Heraclius's reinforcement had reached the city, which he had dispatched after the bad news of Ajnadyn. Before Heraclius's another regiment could reach Damascus, Khalid had finally reached Damascus. Khalid reached Damascus on 20 August and besieged the city. To isolate the city from rest of the region, Khalid placed the detachments south on the road to Palestine and in north at Damascus-Emesa route, and several other smaller detachments on routes towards Damascus. Heraclius's reinforcement was intercepted and routed at the Battle of Sanita-al-Uqab, 20 miles from Damascus. Khalid's forces withstood three Roman sallies that tried to break the siege. Khalid finally attacked and conquered Damascus on 18 September 634 after a 30-day siege. According to some sources the siege lasted for four or six months. Heraclius, having received the news of the fall of Damascus, left for Antioch from Emesa. The citizens were given peace on the terms of annual tribute; the Byzantine army was given a three-day peace to go as far as they could. After the three-day deadline was over, the Muslim cavalry under Khalid's command attacked the Roman army, catching up to them using an unknown shortcut, at the Battle of Maraj-al-Debaj, 190 miles north of Damascus. Abu Bakr died during the siege of Damascus and Umar became the new Caliph. He dismissed his cousin Khalid ibn al-Walid from the command and appointed Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah the new commander in chief of Islamic army in Syria. Abu Ubaidah got the letter of his appointment and Khalid's disposal during the siege, but he delayed the announcement until the city was conquered.


File:Doorof Abu Bakr Mosque in Madina.jpg

Abu Bakr Mosque in Medina.

On 23 August 634, Abu Bakr fell sick and did not recover due to his old age. There are two accounts about the sickness of Abu Bakr. One account states that 8 August 634 was a cold day and when Abu Bakr took a bath, he caught a chill. Another account indicates that, about a year before, along with some other companions, Harith bin Kaladah and Attab bin Usaid, he had eaten some poisoned food which did not affect him for a year.

Abu Bakr developed high fever and was confined to bed. His illness was prolonged and when his condition worsened he felt that his end was near. Realizing his death was near, he sent for Ali and requested him to perform his ghusl since Ali had also done it for Muhammad.

Abu Bakr felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death, though there was already controversy over Ali not having been appointed.[76]

He appointed Umar as his successor after discussing with some companions. Some of them favored the nomination and others disliked it, due to the tough nature of Umar.

Abu Bakr thus dictated his last testament to Uthman Ibn Affan as follows:

In the name of Most Merciful God. This is the last will and testament of Abu Bakr bin Abu Quhafa, when he is in the last hour of the world, and the first of the next; an hour in which the infidel must believe, the wicked be convinced of their evil ways, I nominate Umar bin al Khattab as my successor. Therefore, hear to him and obey him. If he acts right, confirm his actions. My intentions are good, but I cannot see the future results. However, those who do ill shall render themselves liable to severe account hereafter. Fare you well. May you be ever attended by the Divine favor of blessing.[77]

Abu Bakr next asked Aisha as to how many pieces of cloth were used for Muhammad's shroud. Aisha said that three pieces had been used. Abu Bakr thereupon desired the same number for his own shroud. On Monday 23 August 634, Abu Bakr died. The funeral prayer was led by Umar. He was buried the same night by the side of Muhammad's grave in Aisha's house near Al-Masjid al-Nabawi


Father: Uthman ibn Amir Abu Quhafa [78]
Mother: Umm al-Khair Salma bint Shakhr ibn Amir ibn Ka'ab ibn Sa'ad ibn Taim [78]
Brother: Mu'taq (presumably the middle)
Brother: Utaiq (presumably the youngest)[79]
Brother: Quhafah ibn Uthman
Sister: Fadra [78]
Sister: Qareeba [78]
Sister: Umme-e-aamer [78]
Himself: Atiq (presumably the eldest) [78]
Wife: Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza ibn 'Abd ibn As'ad (divorced) [78]
Daughter: Asma bint Abu Bakr [78]
Grandson Abd-Allah ibn al-ZubayrHis birth spread happiness amongst Muslims, killed by Hajjaj bin Yousef.
Grandson Abdullah ibn Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
Grandson Abu-Atiq Muhammad ibn Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
Grandson Urwa ibn al-Zubayr
Granddaughter Hafsa bint Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
Great grandson Hisham ibn Urwa
Great grandson Aba-Sulaiman ibn Muhammad Abu Nauman ibn Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
Great grandson Talha ibn Abdullah ibn Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr
Son: Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr [78]
Wife: Um Ruman bint Amir ibn Uwaymir ibn Zuhal ibn Dahman (from Kinanah) [78]
Step son: Tufail ibn Abdullah, The son of Abd-Allah ibn Harith
Son: Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr [78]
Daughter: 'Aa'ishah [78]
Son in law: Muhammad, tree
Wife: Asma' bint Umays ibn Ma'ad ibn Taym al-Khath'amiyyah (previously wife of Jafar ibn Abi Talib and after Abu Bakr's death, became the wife of Ali ibn Abi Talib) [78]
Son: Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr [78]
Grandson Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr
Great granddaughter: Farwah bint al-Qasim
Great great grandson: Ja'far al-Sadiq
Wife: Habibah bint Kharijah ibn Zayd ibn Abi Zuhayr (from the tribe of Banu al-Haris ibn al-Khazraj
Daughter: Umm Khultum bint Abu Bakr.[41]

Today there are many families which are the descendants of Abu Bakr. Most of them are known by the name Siddiqui And Al-Atiqi's Or Al-Atiqi (Al-Ateeqi) ((In Arabic)). But they are also known by some other names in different localities. For example, In East Ethiopia, Siddiqis are usually called Qallu, which means people of the religion, as they were the first to bring Islam to this area. In Somalia, they are commonly known as Sheekhaal and they are well respected by other Somali clans. In Bangladesh, they are known by the name of Qureshi. There are also Al-Atiqi or Atiqi Families in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other places in the Arabia Peninsula. All the descendants of Abu Bakr, their Ancestors are: Abdurahman Ibn Abu Bakr and Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr. The Al-Bakri Family in Egypt are the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr while the sheekhaal or Fiqi Umar Family found in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya and the Aala Atiq Families found in the Arabia Peninsula are the descendants of Abdurahman Ibn Abu Bakr.


Abu Bakr became the Caliph on 8 June 632[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

He is revered for being the first Muslim ruler to establish:

  • Bayt al-mal
  • The Crown Pasture

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.’[80] 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 Muhammad.

Shia view

The Twelver Shia have a different view of Abu Bakr. They believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib was supposed to assume the Caliphate, and that he had been publicly and unambiguously appointed by Muhammad as his successor at Ghadir Khumm. It is also believed that Abu Bakr and Umar conspired to take over power in the Muslim nation after Muhammad's death, in a coup d'état against Ali. The Twelver Shi'a do not view Abu Bakr's being with Muhammad in the cave when the two fled Mecca as a meritorious act and indeed find significant criticism of Abu Bakr in the Qur'anic verse of the cave.

The Twelver Shia criticize Abu Bakr for an alleged dispute between him and Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah. Furthermore, Abu Bakr had refused to grant her the lands of Fadak which Muhammad had given to her as a gift before his death. He refused to accept the testimony of her witnesses, so she claimed the land would still belong to her as inheritance from her deceased father. However, Abu Bakr replied by saying that Muhammad had told him that the Prophets of God do not leave as inheritance any worldly possessions and on this basis he refused to give her the lands of Fadak.

Sahih Al Bukhari [56] Volume 5, Book 57, Number 60 Narrated by 'Aisha:

"Fatima sent somebody to Abu Bakr asking him to give her her inheritance from the Prophet from what Allah had given to His Apostle through Fai (i.e. booty gained without fighting). She asked for the Sadaqa (i.e. wealth assigned for charitable purposes) of the Prophet at Medina, and Fadak, and what remained of the Khumus (i.e., one-fifth) of the Khaibar booty. Abu Bakr said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'We (Prophets), our property is not inherited, and whatever we leave is Sadaqa, but Muhammad's Family can eat from this property, i.e. Allah's property, but they have no right to take more than the food they need.' By Allah! I will not bring any change in dealing with the Sadaqa of the Prophet (and will keep them) as they used to be observed in his (i.e. the Prophet's) life-time, and I will dispose with it as Allah's Apostle used to do," Then 'Ali said, "I testify that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Apostle," and added, "O Abu Bakr! We acknowledge your superiority." Then he (i.e. 'Ali) mentioned their own relationship to Allah's Apostle and their right. Abu Bakr then spoke saying, "By Allah in Whose Hands my life is. I love to do good to the relatives of Allah's Apostle rather than to my own relatives" Abu Bakr added: Look at Muhammad through his family."

Sahih Al Bukhari [56] Volume 8, Book 80, Number 722 : Narrated by 'Urwa

'Aisha said, "When Allah's Apostle died, his wives intended to send 'Uthman to Abu Bakr asking him for their share of the inheritance." Then 'Aisha said to them, "Didn't Allah's Apostle say, 'Our (Apostles') property is not to be inherited, and whatever we leave is to be spent in charity?'"

The Twelver Shia accuse him of participating in the burning of the house of Ali and Fatima.[81][citation needed] (see Fadak). The Zaydis and the Sunnis do not think such a thing happened.

The Twelver Shia believe that Abu Bakr sent Khalid ibn Walid to crush those who were in favour of Ali's caliphate (see Ridda Wars). The Twelver 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[82]

Zaydis do not agree with the Twelver Shia. After the death of Abu Bakr, Ali raised Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was the son of Abu Bakr and was raised by Ali.[83] When Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Ummayads[83] Aisha the wife of Muhammad, also a renowned scholar of her time, raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr. Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakrs mother was from Alis family and Qasims daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim was married to Muhammad al-Baqir and was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq. Therefore Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr was the grand son of Abu Bakr the first caliph and the grand father of Jafar al-Sadiq. Jafar al-Sadiq disapproved of people who said anything bad about his great grand father Abu Bakr the first caliph. Zaydis, the largest group amongst the Shia before the Safavid Dynasty and currently the second largest group, believe that on the last hour of Zayd ibn Ali (the uncle of Jafar al-Sadiq), he was betrayed by the people in Kufa who said to him: "May God have mercy on you! What do you have to say on the matter of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab?" Zayd ibn Ali said, "I have not heard anyone in my family renouncing them both nor saying anything but good about them...when they were entrusted with government they behaved justly with the people and acted according to the Qur'an and the Sunnah"[73][84][85]

The differences between the Sunni and Shia amplified after the Safavid invasion of Persia and the subsequent Safavid conversion of Iran to Shia Islam due to the politics between the Safavids and the Ottoman Empire.[86] The Zaydis were also forced to convert. To consolidate their position, the Safavid's also exploited the deep rooted differences between areas formally under the Persian Sassanid Empire and areas formally under the Byzantine Roman Empire. Differences that existing from the Roman–Persian Wars and the Byzantine–Sassanid Wars. For the first time in the history of Islam, the Safavids also established a hierarchical organization of the Shiite clergy and institutionalised the differences.

Non-Muslim views

Edward Gibbon wrote about Abu Bakr as:

The moderation, and the veracity of Abu Bakr confirmed the new religion,[87] 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.[88] 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.[89]

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."

See also

  • Bodla
  • List of Sahaba
  • Sunni view of the Sahaba
  • Muadh ibn Jabal


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Further reading

  • Walker, Adam, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.

External links

Urdu Audio

Abu Bakr
Banu Taim
Sunni Islam titles
New creation Rashidun Caliph
Succeeded by

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