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When I Grow Up I Wanna Be Abu Bakr!

by Muhammad Alshareef

After groups of people had become Muslim, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu insisted to RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam that they, the Muslims, declare their Islam publicly and not hide. RasulAllah finally agreed and as a group they entered the courtyard of the Ka'bah, each taking a corner, and called out to the people about Islam. Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu was the first khateeb to invite to Allah and His Messenger.

When the mob sitting there heard Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu and the others speaking about Allah and Islam, they ignited in anger and began stoning and beating the Muslims. Utbah pounced on Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu with his leather sandals, slapping him repeatedly in the face until Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu was knocked down. He then fell on top of Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu punching him in the stomach and continued the facial blows. Abu Bakr's tribe finally peeled Utbah off of him and swore that if Abu Bakr died, they were going to chop off Utbah's head in revenge. Abu Bakr laid in blood, his face indiscernible, unconscious.

It was only upon nightfall that Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu began to show signs of life. Do you know what the first words he spoke were? "What happened to RasulAllah? What happened to RasulAllah?" His mother offered him food but he refused. "I shall not touch food until I am taken to RasulAllah and am reassured that he is alright."

They carried him to Daar Al-Arqam and when he entered, RasulAllah cried at the state that Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu was in and hugged him. He held the hug as the Muslims gathered around.

Role Models. In his book Risaalat Al-Mu'allim, Jamal Abideen tells us that at the age of 2 perhaps earlier the boy or girl begins habitually imitating all that they see. At the age of 5 or 6 when the child is in kindergarten and grade 1 they reach a climax in imitating anything that they see, good or bad. Then this habit of imitating smoothes out but continues to play the most vital role in the child's upbringing.

Ibn Khaldoon writes in his Muqaddimah about this issue: "Children are influenced most by a role model. In their early years, children think that everything that adults do is correct and good and that their parents are the best amongst the adults and the most perfect."

Children do not learn by being told, they learn by example. How much weight does a commandment to a child to fast have when the parent or teacher himself is eating a sandwich? For this reason, it is something hated and despised by Allah that a person should command good and he himself do other than what he commands. For indeed, his words will have little worth when the two his actions and commandments - are contradictory.

Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise / O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? / Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do (Al-Saff 61/1-3).

And in Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said:

"A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and be thrown into Hellfire. The inhabitants of Hellfire shall gather around him and say, O so and so! What is wrong? Were you not the one that would tell people to do good and tell them to stay away from doing bad? He shall say, Yes, I used to command people to do good but I would not do it myself, and I would command people to stay away from bad and I myself would commit it.'"

The severity of this warning stems from the harmful scars that cut into a child's personality when he sees his role models doing wrong and not doing what's right. By us not following what we claim to believe in, we could be causing the destruction of dozens of lives on the Day of Resurrection.

It is in this search for our role models that we turn to the shining light, Abu Bakr as Siddeeq radi Allahu anhu. When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam received the first revelations, the first man he approached was his best friend, Abu Bakr. When Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu heard that Muhammad had been chosen as a Prophet, he immediately announced, "I've never tasted a lie from you. I testify that there is no God but Allah, and you are the Messenger of Allah." RasulAllah later said, "There is no one that I have spoken to about Islam that did not debate the issue with me except Abu Bakr."

With the few verses that he knew, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu set off to invite to this deen of Al-Islam. Soon, he was escorting by the hand the likes of Uthman, Az-Zubayr, Abd ArRahmaan ibn Owf, Sa'd, Abu Ubaidah, and Talha six of the ten people who were promised Jannah during their time on earth. And on the Day of Resurrection they shall all be written in the book of Abu Bakr's good works.

In the early days of Islam, Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu would walk around the markets and homes observing all the Muslim slaves that were being tortured. He would watch as Umayyah dragged Bilal out to the grilling desert at noontime, the hottest moments of the day. Umayyah would press Bilal to the scalding ground and place a boulder on top of his chest to increase the torture. Bilal would say nothing but, "Ahad, Ahad (One, only One)." Abu Bakr would watch and whisper to Bilal, "YunJeeka AlWaahidul Ahad (The One [Allah] shall save you)."

Abu Bakr went to Umayyah and requested that he sell Bilal to him for 5 uwqiyyah of gold. Umayyah was astonished at that amount and hurriedly agreed. "Take Bilal. There is no good in him."

After the deal was done, Umayyah snickered, "Had you refused to pay more than 1 uwqiyyah I still would have sold him to you."

And Abu Bakr announced, "And had you refused to sell him for no less than 100 uwqiyyah I still would have bought him!"

Evil wishers like always spread rumors about Abu Bakrs freeing of Bilal, saying that he did it only because of a favor he owed him. In the Quran, in verses to be recited till the end of time, Allah lay clear the intentions of Abu Bakr:

He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification, / And have in his mind no favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return, / Except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High; / He surely will be pleased [when he will enter Paradise] (Al-Layl 92/18-21).

Read that last verse again. Allah is telling Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu that he is going to make him satisfied. Allahu Akbar! Imagine if Allah told you that. Would anything in the world be more valuable to you than that one ayah?

This was Abu Bakr; this was Khaleefatu Rasulillaah. When Amr ibn Al- Aas became Muslim, RasulAllah appointed him as a leader for one of the Muslim armies. Amr believed that this could only be so because RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam loved him the most. So after the army had returned, Amr went and sat by RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and asked him a question out loud so that everyone would hear the answer. He asked, Who do you love the most?

RasulAllah replied, "Aisha," his wife.

Startled, Amr asked, "No, no, from the men who?"

He said, "Her father!" Abu Bakr, radi Allahu anhu.

PART II: Who are our Role Models?

Have you ever sat with your children or some Muslim neighbor's children? Give them a basketball and lower the rim for them and listen to what they say. All with a few exceptions will call out the name of a kafir basketball player as they take the shot. You'll hear the name of Michael Jordan shouted out and others, a name that comes from their heart as they slam the ball in glee.

Listen carefully; they are innocently calling to the world, "I wanna be a kafir basketball player, just like that kafir Jordan." Don't be surprised when they reach university, after they've lost their precious youth, that they can spit a ball into a basket with unbelievable precision, yet they cannot read Al-Fatiha without fumbling like a baby. On the Day of Resurrection, these entertainment idols shall disown all those that took them as role models and imitated their sins. Interestingly, Reebok advertised one of these entertainment idols dunking a ball and at the end of the commercial he walks to the camera and says, "Just because I dunk a ball doesn't mean I have to raise your kids." Subhan Allah, if children and parents only understood what he said.

Look at the real models and the children that took them as their models. Aisha narrates that RasulAllah used to visit them in the mornings and in the evenings. But one day he came at noon time a time that signified something different was happening. Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu opened the door and RasulAllah

announced that Allah had given him permission to do Hijrah to Madinah. Abu Bakr bounced out, "Together, Yaa RasulAllah, together!"

And Rasul Allah replied, "Together."

Abu Bakr began to cry. Aisha comments, "I never believed that someone could cry from happiness until I saw my father that day cry when he found out he would be doing Hijrah with RasulAllah."

Look at the Hijrah incident and you shall see that all the characters involved other than Abu Bakr were children. Aisha and her brother Abd ArRahmaan. Asmaa was slapped in the face by Abu Jahl when she refused to tell him where her father was. The guide that took them to Madinah was also a young boy. Subhan Allah, these children grew up to be amongst the greatest humans to ever walk this earth. How not when they had the greatest role models RasulAllah and Abu Bakr.

After over 10 years of da'wah and jihaad in Madinah, when RasulAllah passed away, 'Umar called all the people, sharpened his sword and spoke. "Muhammad is not dead. He went to his Lord as Musa went to his Lord and he shall come back as Musa did. When he does, he shall kill all those who said he was dead."

News reached Abu Bakr of the Prophet's death. He prepared himself and galloped on his horse to RasulAllah's home. There, RasulAllah lay covered in a cloth. Abu Bakr raised the cloth and kissed RasulAllah saying, "Tibta Hayyan wa Mayyitan (You are blessed in life and in death)." He then stepped outside as 'Umar was addressing the people. "Sit down 'Umar," said Abu Bakr. He then praised Allah and began, "Whoever worships Muhammad let him know that Muhammad is dead, and whoever Allah let him know that Allah is alive and never dies." He then recited the verse:

Muhammad is nothing more than a Messenger. Messengers came and went before him. If he dies or is killed shall you turn on your heels?

'Umar said, "When I heard that verse, my knees became soft as I fell. I knew that RasulAllah had died."

Soon after that, Abu Bakr sent out the army of Usama. Usama was 18 at that time, the age of one of our youth in grade 12. He led an entire Muslim army, fought the Romans and came home victorious, breeding fear in all those that wanted to attack the Muslims in Madinah.

As Usama was leaving Madinah, Abu Bakr was escorting his horse as he walked along side it. Usama said, "You shall ride with me or I shall come down and walk."

But Abu Bakr refused saying, "You shall not come down and I shall not ride. What harm does it bring me that I should dust my feet in the cause of Allah for an hour of the day." Indeed, Usama reached this position because he had role models like Abu Bakr.

Muslims understood the seriousness of the role models their children had. Amr ibn Utbah rahimahullah advised his son's teacher, "Let the first correction you do to my son be the correction of yourself. Verily, their eyes are locked into yours. Good to them is what you do, even if it is bad. And bad to them is what you do not do, even if it is good."

Many parents have understood this issue of finding the correct role models for their children. Here is an example that we conclude with: In a kindergarten classroom, a non-Muslim teacher sat with the students and asked each one what they want to be when they grow up. One said, "I want to be a policeman." The other announced, "I want to be a fireman." Then a Muslim boy in the crowd spoke up, "I want to be a Sahaabee!" A what?

When parent teacher conferences came up, the teacher asked the parents about this Sahaabee that their son wanted to be when he grew up. They said, "Whenever we have the chance we read stories of the Prophet's companions to him. They have become his role models. And when he becomes older he wants to be just like the Sahaabaa."

Isn't that what we want for our kids too?

Abu Bakr (radhi-Allahu anh) was one of the first few people to accept Islam at the invitation of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam). He was a very kind-hearted, generous and noble person. His character was such that the people of the town of Makkah all respected him and appreciated his good nature. It was perhaps due to this good nature that led Abu Bakrby the mercy

and blessing of Allah, of courseto become one of the first believers of the message of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam), and to spend the rest of his life in service to Islam.

Abu Bakr helped Islam in its early days by preaching the message to his friends and associates, as a result, many people embraced Islam on his invitation. He also helped the progression of Islam by purchasing and freeing many Muslim slaves that were tortured by their Non-Muslim masters for believing in Islam. He served his religion by accompanying the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) on the dangerous journey of hijrah (migration) to Madinah. This was done at a time when the disbelievers of Makkah had announced a price on both of their heads. Either of themthe Prophet (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) or Abu Bakrcould easily have been killed in this journey, if not for Allahs protection. [If you have a book of Seerah, you should read a detailed account of this migration to understand just how extremely dangerous this journey was, and how Abu Bakr served the Holy Prophet (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) in this journey.]

Once in the city of Madinah, Abu Bakr continued to serve Islam by providing the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) with sound advice, by spending his wealth in Allahs cause, and by accompanying the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam) on many dangerous battles. The battle of Badr was the very first major battle in which he stood guard right alongside the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam).

After the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam), Abu Bakr continued to serve the Muslim Ummah as their Khaleefah, or the leader. It was he who started the spread of the Islamic empire to the farthest corners of the world, while also maintaining the superiority of Islam. He fought against the many rebellions from within, such as the tribes that refused to pay the obligatory Zakaah, the false prophets and the apostates (people who left Islam after declaring faith). Moreover, he had the Holy Quran compiled for the first time into an official copy, under the supervision of Zaid ibn Thaabit (radhi-Allahu anh) in order to prevent it from being changed and lost like the other previously changed holy books. And after a life full of faithfulness, generosity, service and leadership, Allah recalled Abu Bakrs soul to His boundless mercy. Abu Bakr had the honor of being buried right next to the blessed grave of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sall-Allahu alayhi wa-sallam). May Allah be pleased with him and reward him for all his good works, aameen.

It was 9 A.H., 630 CE when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was planning the Tabuk expedition. Tabuk is an oasis town, northwestern Saudi Arabia. The expedition was an answer to the Byzantine threats to attack Muslims in the Northern border of Arabia.

People brought to the Prophet whatever they could find by way of money and resources to help him with the campaign. And then came forward one of the richest and the noblest among the Companions and offered his beloved leader (peace be upon him) all the wealth and property he possessed.

The Prophet asked the man, "What did you leave for your family?" Without hesitation, the Companion calmly replied, "God and His Prophet are enough for them." (Ibn Kathir, 264)

The man Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.The birth name of Abu Bakr was Abdul Ka`bah (servant of the Ka`bah). When he converted to Islam in 610 CE, he was named Abdullah (servant of Allah) by Prophet Muhammad. Abu Bakr was the first among men to accept Islam and the foremost in fidelity to the Prophet.

Abu Bakr was two years younger than the Prophet. He was of a noble family and was known for being most upright and sincere in his dealings. His gentleness, generosity, and gracefulness won him the respect of all.

When the Prophet told him of the revelation and his God-given mission, Abu Bakr did not pose to think twice; right then, he embraced Islam and declared his loyalty to the Prophet, without a fear of any consequences.

Thereafter, nothing could deter him from the path of Islam, and no one was closer to the Messenger of God. Till the end of his life, Abu Bakr was strong in his faith in God and unfaltering in his commitment to the way of the Prophet.

Islam as taught by the Prophet is the total and absolute surrender to the will of God, and Abu Bakr was its best model after the Prophet. As an ordinary man and later as the ruler of Arabia after the Prophet, Abu Bakr was the very embodiment of honesty and selflessness.

Soon after becoming a Muslim, Abu Bakr was spreading the word about Islam, and many of his sincere friends followed his example and took the Shahadah, witnessing that there is only one true God and that Muhammad is His messenger.

Among them were eminent persons who later became the stalwarts of Islam; examples include `Uthman ibn `Affan, Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, and Abu `Ubaydah ibn Al-Jarrah.

Rich, But No Love For Money

Abu Bakr was a rich man who kept his money-chest open to serve the cause of Islam. He was the first in human history who bought slaves only to set them free. Friend to the poor and the weak, he had no love for money, position, or power.

There is a story of a poor, blind, old woman living in the outskirts of Madinah. Every morning, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, another great Companion, used to go to her house to see if she needed anything. But he always found that someone else had come before him and given her all that she needed.

`Umar wanted to find out who this person was, so one morning he went there earlier than he usually did to find that the man who visited the old lady every morning was Abu Bakr.

The Mosque of the Prophet in Madinah (Al-Masjid An-Nabawi) was built on a land bought with Abu Bakr's money.

The Prophet himself was happy to acknowledge that while he could repay debts to others, he had not been able to repay Abu Bakr.

And at the time of the Hijrah, Prophet's journey from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet chose Abu Bakr to be his sole companion.

The Qur'an relates the unforgettable occasion when the Prophet was in the Cave of Thawr with Abu Bakr, on their way to Madinah.

[If you will not aid him, God certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely God is with us. So God sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with hosts that you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved.] (At-Tawbah 9:40)

And among the followers of the Prophet, it was Abu Bakr alone who had no questions at all about AlIsraa` and Al-Mi`raj the Prophet's miraculous Night Journey and Ascension and the Prophet called him As-Siddiq (the truthful one).

The Death of the Prophet

Even in really difficult times, Abu Bake proved himself to quite unique. The death of the Prophet was a terrible shock for the believers; many found it hard to imagine that they had to live on without the Prophet among them.

Huge crowds flocked to the mosque at Madinah; confusion and disbelief reigned everywhere. Even `Umar would not accept that the Prophet died and drew his sword to kill any one who said that the Prophet was dead.

Then Abu Bakr, with remarkable self-possession and extraordinary leadership, addressed the distraught people with these words,

O people, if any one among you worshipped Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worship God, let them know that He lives and will never die.Let all of us recall the words of the Qur'an:

[Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messenger who passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on their heels, not the least harm will they do to God. But God (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude.] (Aal `Imran 3:144)

These words of Abu Bakr struck like thunder, and people awoke to the reality of the Prophet's death (AlBukhari). Undoubtedly this was one of those events that proved the mettle of the soon-to-be caliph of Islam.

A Reluctant Leader

After the death of the Prophet, the first problem facing the Muslim community was to choose a new leader, a problem that required an immediate solution. Because, any delay in this matter would have caused disorder undermining the very fabric of the Ummah (the Muslim Community) the Prophet had been building up.

Soon, signs of division appeared between the Muhajirun (the immigrants to Madinah) and the Ansar (the helpers from Madinah). After much deliberation and debate, the Ansar accepted that the Muhajirun had a better claim for the position as the holy Prophet himself was a Muhajir. Then Abu Bakr took the lead and suggested that either `Umar or Abu `Ubaydah should become the caliph.

But both of them as well as the people had no doubt that no one deserved that position more than Abu Bakr; reluctantly, he accepted their request. After taking the oath of loyalty given by the Muslim community, Abu Bakr addressed the Muslim crowds,

O people, I have been elected your leader, although I am not better than any one of you. If I do any good, give me your support. If I go wrong, set me right. Listen, truth is honesty and untruth is dishonesty. The weak among you are powerful in my eyes as long as I do not get them their due, God willing. The powerful among you are weak in my eyes as long as I do not take away from them what is

due to others, God willing. Listen, you must obey me as long as I obey God and His Messenger. If I disobey God and His Messenger, you are free to disobey me. (Ibn Kathir, 305)

Soon after taking charge, Abu Bakr had a tough time holding together the contentious tribes that had come into Islam. There were persons who wished to return to their old habits of drinking and gambling, and some did not want to pay the obligatory charity (zakah).

A more serious threat was the phenomenon of "false prophets." The Caliph had to confront the apostates who refused to pay zakah and punish claimants to prophethood.

Advisers suggested a careful and well-considered plan of handling the situation. But Abu Bakr would not listen, for he could not see the rights of the poor being usurped by those who refused to pay Zakah which goes directly to the poor. He promptly used force and wiped out the menace.

In 634 CE after an illness of two weeks, Abu Bakr, the first among Al-Khulafaa' Al-Rashidoun (Arabic for "the Rightly Guided Caliphs") passed away. He was 63 years old at the time. He was buried by the side of the holy Prophet.

Before his death Abu Bakr asked his family to sell his land and to pay back in the publick treasury all the money that he got as a salary. He had availed a salary of 6,000 dirhams a year. A plot of land belonging to him was sold after his death to repay all this money to the public treasury.

Abu Bakr never misused his position to favor his children or relatives; he always chose other capable people for public offices; before he died, he chose as his successor a man he believed to be the most competent for the job: `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. But he did not force his choice upon the people; he made it official only when the people had agreed to it.

The Prophet is reported to have asked his Companions one day who of them on that day attended a funeral, paid alms, visited a sick person, visited a graveyard (so as to understand that death is inevitable), and kept a fast. Abu Bakr alone answered in the affirmative to all these questions. The Prophet said that if all the virtues were counted, they would amount to 360. And the Prophet observed that Abu Bakr possessed all of them.