In a Hadith, Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (1), was witnessed saying, “Love of Abu Bakr, radiallahu ‘anhu (2), and gratitude toward him are duties on everyone of my Ummah. (3)”
Abu Bakr (R)’s real name was Abdullah ibn Abi Quhafa. He was born in 573 and died in 634. He was three years younger than Prophet Muhammad (S).
The Holy Prophet, , told Abu Bakr, about his revelation at Mount Hira’, he told him that Allâh subhanahu wa ta’ala, has chosen him as His Messenger. When Abu Bakr heard this from the Prophet , he did not stop to think, he at once became a Muslim. He submitted to Islâm with such determination that once the Holy Prophet himself remarked, “I called people to Islâm, everybody thought over it, at least for a while, but this was not the case with Abu Bakr, the moment I put Islâm before him, he accepted it without any hesitation.”
When the Prophet (S) returned from his journey to Heaven, fellow Muslims even doubted what the Prophet was saying. Some people approached the Prophet’s friend, Abu Bakr (R) and said, “Look at what your companion is saying. He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night!” Abu Bakr replied, “If Muhammad said it happened, then it must have happened. I believed him when he first talked about Divine Revelation, why should I doubt him now?” This is how Abu Bakr earned the famous title of “As-Siddiq” (the Truthful).
Tabuk was the last expedition of the Holy Prophet. He was keen to make it a great success, he therefore asked people to help the expedition with whatever they could. This brought the best out of Abu Bakr who beat all records as he took all his money and household articles and heaped them at the Prophet’s feet.
“Have you left anything for your children?” asked the Prophet. Abu Bakr then responded with great faith “Allâh and his Messenger are enough for them”. Companions standing around, including Umar, radiallahu ‘anhu (2), were stunned they realized that whatever they do they could not outdo Abu Bakr in the field of service to Islâm.
Upon the death of the Prophet (S), there was much confusion and turmoil. Some refused to accept the fact of his death. Abu Bakr (R) famously said, “O people, verily whoever worshipped Muhammad, behold! Muhammad is indeed dead. But whoever worships God, behold! God is alive and will never die.”
A conference of eminent Companions of the Prophet (S) selected Abu Bakr (R) to become the next leader of the Ummah. People started calling him Khalifatullah, the Representative of God. He chastised people for this and insisted they call him Khalifat-u-Rasulullah, the Representative of the Messenger of God.
The Ummah faced many challenges under Abu Bakr (R). One of the most pressing issues was the refusal of some Muslims to pay Zakat, the obligatory poor due, one of the five pillars of Islam. He led a war against these people and brought unity to the Muslims.
The Prophet said, “Abu Bakr does not precede you in anything in the way of prayer or fasting but in a secret rooted deep in his heart.” (Manaqib as-Sahaba of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal)
With regard to prayers, Abu Bakr said, “He who prays five times a day is in the protection of God, and he who is protected by God cannot be harmed by anyone.”
He reportedly said, “Run away from greatness and greatness will follow you.”
(1) This Arabic formula is used for Prophet Muhammad alone, and it means “May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him”
(2) This Arabic formula is used to honor the male Companions of Prophet Muhammad and it means, “May Allah be pleased with him.” A feminine version is used for the wives and female Companions.
(3) An Arabic word meaning “nation” or “community,” that is applied to the global population of Muslims throughout time.