Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq

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  • Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq

  • The end

    Abu Bakr died in the year 13A.H. (634A.D.) after suffering from fever for 15 days during which he gave instructions that ''Omar bin al-Khattab should lead the prayers. There is a story which accuses the Jews of putting poison in his food, but it lacks authenticity. When he died, he was years old and his caliphate had lasted for only two years and three months. During his illness he refused to consult a doctor; and when he was asked to do so, he said that he had consulted God, and that he was in His hands. All the time he was thinking of Islam and its future stability. After much meditation he decided to confer the caliphate on ''Omar bin al-Khattab. He consulted many of the well-known companions of the Prophet. Most of them approved of the choice, though they pointed out that ''Omar bin al Khattab was rather rough. Some of them, among whom was Talhah bin `Obaydillah, objected to his appointment. Abu Bakr got angry and accused them of wanting to become caliphs themselves. He called `Qthman and put in writing his desire to choose ''Omar as his successor. While he was dictating, he fainted 1 but 'Othman completed the will on his own. When Abu Bakr recovered he was pleased with 'Othman's initiative and approved the will. Then he let it be read to the congregation, who accepted it and swore allegiance to `Omar in the Grand Mosque. He watched what was going on from inside his house, being helped by his wife, Asma bint 'Omays.

    Then he called `Omar and advised him on how to lead his people, ending with these words: "If you follow my advice, nothing unknown will be more acceptable to you than death; but if you reject it, nothing unknown will be more frightening than death." Before he died, Abu Bakr gave back everything he had taken from the public treasury during his caliphate. It is said that he did not bequeath 2any money at all. He left only a servant, a camel and a garment. His orders were that after his death the garment should be delivered to his successor. On seeing it ''Omar wept and said: "Abu Bakr has made the task of his successor very difficult."

    Before his death he asked how the Prophet was dressed when he was laid in his coffin3 . Being informed that he was dressed in three garments, Abu Bakr asked that his two old garments be used. A third new one was also bought. He disliked extravagance4, and stressed that the living were more important than the dead. His last words were: "0 God! Let me die as a Muslim; and let me join the company of the righteous!"

    His wife, Asma', and his son, Abdul Rahman, bathed him, and he was buried in `Aishah's rooms, just beside the Prophet. First, `Omar led the burial prayer in the mosque, then he, ''Othman, Talhah and Abdul Rahman supervised the burial. His head was laid just near the Prophet's shoulders.

    The inhabitants of Madina were deeply affected by Abu Bakr's death; they were stunned5 by it just as they were when the Prophet died. 'Ali bin Abi Talib hastened to his house, weeping, and said: "May God have mercy upon you! You were the first to accept Islam; the staunchest in belief; the closest helper of the Prophet; the firmest defender of Islam, and the closest in conduct to the Prophet. May God recompense you on behalf of Islam, the Prophet and the Muslims! You believed the Prophet when everybody disbelieved him; you were generous with him when everybody else was mean, you stood by his side when others let him down; and God has called you in His book The Truthful. You were a bulwark for Islam, and a thunderbolt for the disbelievers. You were never a coward 6, but were as steadfast as a mountain. As the Prophet said, you were weak in body but strong in faith. You were humble in soul but great in God's eyes. You were venerable7 in the world and revered among the believers. You were unprejudiced; the weak were strong before you till you redeemed them from oppression; and the strong were weak before you until they abstained from oppression. May God not deprive us of your blessing; nor may He let us go astray after you have departed from this life."

    Thus came to an end the life of the man who could accomplish in a few years what others could not do in decades; the man who stood up bravely to an internal revolution, and valiantly opposed the two greatest empires of his time; the man who was simple in his outward appearance but great in his inward attitude; the man whose spirit was as magnificent as that of angels; the man who first compiled the Qur'an, for which he deserves from all its readers, sympathetic prayers and hearty blessings.

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