Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq

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  • Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq

  • The wars of apostasy
    Abu Bakr becomes caliph:
    When the Prophet died in 11 A.H. (632 A.D.) many people, among whom was `Omar bin al-Khattab, refused to believe he had died. But Abu-Bakr, steadfast as usual, addressed the bewildered1multitude and convinced them that Muhammad was no more than an apostle like other apostles who had died before him, and that there was no reason why they should not acknowledge his death.
    This crisis2 was followed by another one more serious and alarming. While the Prophet' household was arranging for his funeral, the Ansar (his Madina helpers) were holding a meeting in their quarter to elect a caliph to succeed him. The caliph-elect was Sa'd bin `Obadah, one of the two tribal chiefs in Madina, who was ill and was carried to the meeting place on a stretcher3. When 'Omar bin al-Khattab heard of what was happening in the Banu Sa'idah quarter he called for Abu Bakr, who was in `Aishah's house helping to arrange for the funeral4. Accompanied by Abu `Obaydah, who was called by the Prophet "custodian of the state," they set out for the meeting. After much debate, in which both sides - the Madinans and the Maccans - expressed their opinions elaborately,5 Abu Bakr was unanirnously 6accepted caliph. Soon there was a public meeting in the Grand Mosque, and people from far and near flocked 7there to swear their Oath8 of allegiance.
    Two people refused to give their allegiance. One was Sa'd bin 'Obadah, the Madinan caliph elect. He became very angry, abstained from praying when the prayers were led by Abu Bakr, and during the pilgrimage would practise the religious rites only by himself. The other one was Ali bin Abi Talib, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, who believed he was more entitled to the caliphate than Abu Bakr. Though Sa'd's refusal to give his allegiance lasted until the end of his life, Ali's did not last long, as he swore allegiance to Abu Bakr six months later when his wife, Fatmah, died.
    Causes of the wars of apostasy:

    There were four main causes for these wars:
    First, because of the dispute about the caliphate between the Maccan emigrants and the Prophet's Madinan helpers, various tribes favoured separatism 9. "Why should the caliph be from Macca or Madina and not from among ourselves?" they asked.
    Second, the Zakat which they used to send to Madina was collected by the Prophet! As the Prophet had died there was no reason for them to send it there.

    Bsides, the Prophet had often agreed to local alms distribution; so why should they send their contributions10away?

    Third, as the wars indicated, the uncivilized Bedouins had not been genuinely 11converted to Islam; they had adopted it because they admired a man who could challenge the two greatest empires of their time. As soon as he died his magic died too and they turned away from Islam.

    Fourth, the influence of the Romans from the north and the Persians and Abyssinians from the east and the south encouraged the distant tribes to adopt their own religions and beliefs.

    Osamah's punitive expedition:

    Before his death the Prophet had equipped a powerful army to raid the southern borders of the Roman Empire. After his death, with a revolt on their hands, the Muslims wanted to cancel this expedition. But Abu Bakr firmly opposed the idea, saying: "I will never cancel12anything initiated by the Prophet." The curious thing about this army was that it was made up of most of the old companions of the Prophet, but its leader, Osamah bin Zayd, was a teenager. During the lifetime of the Prophet, his old companions objected but they were given a heated sermon in which both Osamah and his father were praised as competent leaders. In fact, Osamah was chosen for this operation because his father, Zayd bin Harithah, was killed in a former campaign inside the Roman borders, and he was now going to retaliate13

    Abu Bakr, refusing to change a leader appointed by the Prophet, walked by the side of the mounted 14leader in an endeavour15to raise his morale and to give his soldiers more confidence in him. He then said good-bye to the army, not forgetting to ask Osamah's permission to leave him `Omar bin Al-Khattab, who was his chief consultant. His ten commandments to the campaigners are still taught to school children throughout the Muslim World. "Never be dishonest or betray your friends, or take anything stealthily16 for yourselves. Do not mutilate your captives, or kill children, women or old men. Never burn or cut down palm trees or fruitful trees. Never kill sheep or cows or camels unless you need them for your meals. You will see monks and nuns living in monasteries, do not cause them any harm17.If you are ever invited to a meal, do not forget to utter God's name while you are eating. But as for those with the hair on the crown of their heads cut short and all around left long, do not hesitate to strike them with your swords."
    Osamah had been ordered by the Prophet to attack the infidel tribes living in the southern districts of Palestine. He carried out the order to the letter, gained lots of booty18and returned to Madina about two months later. He was praised for bravery and competence by his men. The aims of the campaign, which was considered by many as a prelude19to the conquest of Syria, were fully achieved.
    1. The Yemeni impostor, Al-Aswad AI-'Ansi:
    Though this impostor appeared in the days of the Prophet, it is most likely that he died when Abu Bakr was Caliph. He persuaded his countrymen to follow him by urging 20them to rid their laud of both the Persians and the Arabs of Hejaz. First he occupied Nejran, then San'a', the capital, where he killed the Persian ruler and married his wife, Azad. Thus all Yemen came under his control, and Mu'ath, the Muslim Emir, fled to Madina. All this took place in the lifetime of the Prophet. Later, AI-Aswad started plotting against his ministers Fayruz, Dazawayh and Qays. These assistants, aided by his wife, managed to enter his bedroom at night and kill him. Thus, the first false prophet was put to death.
    2. The apostates close to Madina:
    As soon as Osamah's army set out northwards21 the apostates in the neighbourhood 22of Madina started being a nuisance23. First, they sent delegates to Abu Bakr suggesting the abolition24 of Zakat. The caliph's counsellors advised him to agree to this request. But their advice was rejected as Abu Bakr refused to abolish anything the Prophet had prescribed. Knowing well that Madina was devoid of soldiers, the Bedroom apostates gathered 25together and attacked the capital. But the wary caliph had taken sufficient precautions. The attack was repulsed and the Muslims, following up their victory, pursued26 the insurgents to their camps. A battle ensued 27at midnight in which the rebels used inflated 28skins to frighten their opponents' camels. The camels were scared and the Muslims retreated to Madina. Yet Abu Bakr did not despair. He rearranged 29his men, and attacked his enemies at dawn. They were surprised by the unexpected raid, took to their heels and joined the Asad tribe further northwards. Their land was confiscated30by the state, and when later they asked to have it back, their request was declined.
    After the total defeat of the `Abs and Thubyan tribes in Thul-Qassah, as the mentioned battle was called, Abu Bakr's personal leadership of the army came to an end. Everyone entreated him to make his headquarters31 in Madina, and to organise his armies from there to subjugate32 the apostates. After Osamah's army had rested, Abu Bakr divided his troops into eleven brigades, which set forth determined to quell every sort of opposition. Before leaving, they were instructed not to attack any rebels before giving them warning 33. First, they had to be called to the prayers; then they should agree to pay the Zakat. If the rebels took no notice, they could be attacked and punished by death, plunder or confiscation. A message to this effect was circulated among all tribes and in all directions throughout Arabia.
    3. Tulayhah, the impostor of Banu Asad:
    The tribe of Banu Asadwanted a prophet of its own, and Tulayhah was the one they chose. He got rid34of the Zakat, decreased the number of prayers, and saidthat Gabriel was revealing a holy book to him. He was believed by many, and before long the remnants of 'Abs and Thubyan joined him and swore allegiance to him. The Tayyi' and Qays tribes followed suit, and the two scouts of Khalid bin AI-Waleed, the prominent35Muslim leader, who was sent by Abu Bakr to subdue the dissidents36 , were brutally killed. Seeing the sudden demoralization of his men, Khalid promptly took up quarters with the Banu Tayyi' who, thanks to their magnanimous37 chief, 'Adiyy bin Hatim, re-embraced Islam and supplied the Muslims with adequate reinforcements38
    It was not long before the two armies met at Buzakhah. Tayyi' confronted Qays, and Khalid confronted Banu Asad. Tulayhah did not take part in the battle, but kept hidden inside a tent, prophesying. `Oyaynah, his Qaysi ally, who was fighting at the head of 700 troops, came in from time to time to enquire about Gabriel's revelation. Discovering that the imposter was uttering 39nonsense, he called for his men and left the battlefied 40for good. Tulayhah, being left alone, jumped onto his horse and, with his wife Nuwar behind him, fled 41to Syria. Later he re-embraced Islam, went on the pilgrimage, and even participated in the conquest of Iraq.
    4. Umm-Ziml and Banu Fazarah:
    While Khalid bin Al-Waleed was taking prisoners at Buzakhah, avenging42 the betrayed43 scouts and martyrs, and sending captives of high rank to AbuBakr, among whom was `Oyaynah, the Qaysi chief something momentous was happening at the Fazarah camps. The scattered44 remnants45 gathered round a daring woman called Umm-Ziml, whose mother had been killed in the days of the Prophet during a punitive campaign, and who therefore wanted to retaliate. She was `Oyaynah's cousin, and Khalid hastened46 to attack her. During the battle she was mounted on a camel and fought bravely. Her men fought heroically as well. Khalid found the best way to get rid of her was to offer a hundred camels to the person who would kill her mount. No fewer than a hundred men were killed around her, and when at last she fell, her men dispersed and the fighting came to an end.
    5. Sajah, the impostress of Banu Taghlib:

    Sajah was the only female false prophet in Arabia. She was originally from Tameem, but was married in Taghlib, further to the north, where the people were all Christians. It is most likely that she was urged to rebel by her Christian people or by the bordering Persians, who disliked seeing their neighbours become so powerful47.

    sajah's appearance among the Banu Tameem was sudden and dramatic. She was surrounded by insurgents from various tribes, and soon agreed with Malik bin Nuwayrah, the Tameemi chief, to unite their forces against those who remained Muslim. In the war which they waged neither side could gain the upper hand, and Sajah decided to attack Madina. On her way westwards she met a Muslim battalion and was violently repulsed. Having been twice unsuccessful, she set out eastwards determined to subdue Musaylimah, the great impostor of Banu Haneefah. However, when she opened negotiations with him, she became so attracted to him that they got married. After spending three days in his room, she returned to her camp, but without a dowry. There, she was so taunted48 that she returned to Musaylimah, who had his gates shut in her face. She sent delegates and her dowry was fixed at the reduction of two daily prayers those of the early morning and the late evening. She was also given half the products of Banu Haneefah, though she could receive only a quarter. This was owing to the loud trumpets of Khalid bin Al-Waleed, which were heard in the distance announcing the arrival of the Muslims.

    6. Malik bin Nuwayrah and Banu Tameem:

    After Khalid bin AI-Waleed had put an end to Umm Ziml's insurrection, he turned his attention to Bitah, the quarters of Malik bin Nuwayrah and his tribe Tameem. Malik, having already united with sajah against his Muslim tribesmen, was exceedingly perplexed 49, declared he was Muslim again and advised his men to disperse and stay at home. Nevertheless Khalid soon had Malik brought before him and a detailed inquiry 50was made into the charges brought against him. Full information about this inquiry is not available, and the different accounts lack authenticity.

    Yet it is certain that Malik was put to the sword, and that Khalid married his beautiful wife, Layla, on the spot - an abominable deed thoroughly detested by every Bedouin according to the customs of Arabia. It was both illegal and scandalous,51 and Abu Qatadah, a Madinan helper of the Prophet, withdrew52 from the campaign, went back to Madina and petitioned53 the caliph, who summoned 54Khalid for questioning. On entering the Grand Mosque in his rusty55 armour with arrows stuck in his turban, Khalid was noticed by `Omar bin Al-Khattab, who went up to him, pulled out the arrows and broke them into pieces. He said threateningly56: "You have killed a Muslim in cold blood and taken his wife for yours!By God! You will be stoned!"

    Nevertheless, when Khalid met the Caliph, he managed to defend himself and was excused, though he did not escape being criticized for his disgraceful 57marriage with Layla. On leaving, he did not miss the chance to gloat 58when he said good-bye to'Omar. In fact, Abu Bakr badly needed Khalid's fighting skills59 in Yamamah, where the impostor, Musaylimah, had already defeated two successive leaders dispatched 60for his subjugation.

    7. Musaylimah, the impostor of Banu Haneefah:

    The first leader sent to Musaylimah was'lkrimah bin Abu Jahl. Thoughstrict orders were given to him by Abu Bakr not to engage the impostor till reinforcements arrived, he was so anxious to get the better of him that he immediately started fighting, and was defeated. The second leader was Shurahbeel, who was also repulsed.

    Musaylimah had an army 40,000 strong, well- trained and ready to defend him to the last man. It is said that he had little personality, and is described by historians as frail, short of stature and pug-nosed.61 In the year of delegations, when the chiefs of Banu Haneefah presented themselves before the Prophet to acknowledge his prophethood and pay the Zakat, Musaylimah was not among the chiefs, but was left behind to take care of the camels. His present was sent to him only when the Prophet was reminde of him.
    Musaylimah never wanted to be a prophet. Ironically enough, he was urged to claim62 he was, by a preacher called Nahar Al-Rajjal, who was sent by Prophet Muhammad to teach his tribe the rudiments63 of Islam, after taking a course in religion in Madina. Being a clever opportunist64, Nahar Al-Rajjal chose Musaylimah as a means of achieving his aims. Urged on by Nahar Al-Rajjal, Musaylimah claimed that Gabriel had started revealing to supply the details and teachings to him. He relied on Nahar AI-Rajjal; in this way Nahar could enjoy all the pleasures and luxuries65 he liked.

    It would be a waste of time to dwell for long on Musaylimah's words and prophecies, as they are largely nonsensical67. Besides, history has retained only a few examples of them. Yet, when the battle of `Aqraba flared68 up there was his eloquent 69son, Shurahbeel, to encourage the troops. He remindedthem of Khalid's cruelty and warned them that unless they fought bravely their women would be taken prisoners. With their hearts set on victory, their first assault70was a success and Khalid was driven out of his tent. Entering the tent, they found Layla, Khalid's wife, and Mujja'ah, one of their chiefs whom Khalid had taken prisoner on his way to `Aqraba and who had been kept in fetters71 ever since. Layla had charge of him, and they rushed to kill her but they were stopped by Mujja'ah who asked them to spare72 her life because she had treated him well.

    However, when Khalid saw that his men were fighting half-heartedly, he ordered every tribe to fight separately. This fired the warriors' enthusiasm and some sort of rivalry 73took place. Before long the apostates were defeated and no less them 7000 of them were k, among whom was Nahar Al-Rajjal.

    Seeing the massacre74, Musaylimah called to his men to take shelter in his own garden, which was heavily fortified75 . Bara' bin Malik, a valiant 76warrior, climbed over the wall and jumped down beside the gate. He managed to fling77it open before being killed. The Muslims rushed inside and 7000 more of the apostates were killed. Wahshi, once a slave, who had killed Hamzah, the Prophet's uncle, in the battle of Ohod and who had become a true Muslim afterwards, noticed Musaylimah just in front of him. He brandished78 his spear and thrust79 it into him. Another fighter struck him with his sword, and the wicked impostor was finished off. Mujja'ah recognized him among the dead. Khalid then sent his cavalry80 to
    pursue the retreating infidels, of whom 7000 more were put to the sword. Then Mujja'ah negotiated a peace treaty 81between Khalid and the people inside the castles. He was a cunning 82 mediator83 . By dressing the women in men's armour and showing them at the walls, he managed to reach a satisfactory settlement84.Only a quarter of the women taken prisoners were not released, but all the spoils85 were retained. Khalid was keen86 for the state to own a large orchard87 in very village and he also wanted his Yamamah expedition to end happily; his second wish he fulfilled 88 by marrying Mujja'ah's daughter. When Abu Bakr was informed of this news he sent him an exceedingly angry message which read: "For shame to get married again, when the blood of 1200 martyrs has not yet dried!"

    8. The apostates of Bahrain:

    In ancient times Bahrain was made up of all the land that lies on the Arabian Gulf between `Iraq and'Oman. After the death of the Prophet the tribe of'Abdul-Qays remained Muslim, while the other Bahraini tribes became non-Muslim. When Abu Bakr's leader, Al-Ala' bin AI-Hadhrami, was on his way to subdue the rebellion, the disbelievers, under the leadership of Hutam, were besieging the Muslims, who were led by Jarud, in a fortified place called Juwathah. Al-Ala' one night stopped for rest in the desert, and his camels were scared 89and ran away. His men became desperate90 as they had neither food nor water. Yet, in the morning, after praying earnestly, they miraculously found water near by and their camels came back to them! Al-'Ala' did not waste time. Soon he arrived at Juwathah, but all his efforts to raise the siege failed. After a month the chance came when the Muslims heard an unusual noise at midnight and realized that their enemies were very drunk. Those who managed to escape from them took refuge on a nearby island called Dareen; Al-'Ala' crossed the shallow91 Gulf water by using donkeys, horses and camels. The disbelievers were literally annihilated92 and the booty collected was tremendous. Among the tribesmen who helped Al-Ala' in his campaign93 was Al-Muthanna bin Harithah Al-Shaybani, a significant leader whom we shall meet again when we deal with the conquest of `Iraq.

    9. Laqeet, the impostor of 'Oman:

    When the 'Omanis rejected Islam, Jayfar, their ruler, took refuge in the mountains. Meanwhile, Abu Bakr sent two leaders, Huthayfah and 'Arfajah, to subdue `Oman and Mahrah. Later he sent'Ikrimah, the same leader whom Musaylimah had defeated, to help them. The four of them joined forces at Daba in a decisive battle against Laqeet, who was nicknamed 94 "the crowned." At first, it seemed as if Laqeet was going to win the battle, but help came to the Muslims from Bahrain at the critical moment. 10,000 rebels were killed, and much booty was taken by the victors.

    10. The apostates of Mahrah:

    The leader who restored Islam to Mahrah was `Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl. On entering the country he met two armies preparing for battle. He persuaded the weaker to embrace Islam and when they agreed Ikrima fought with them against the other army. Soon the battle was decided in favour of the Muslims and lots of booty was sent to Madina.

    11. Apostasy in Yemen after the death of AI-Aswad Al-Ansi:

    There were three causes for the continued disturbances95 in Yemen after the murder of Al Aswad Al-Ansi. Firstly, the existence of a lot of factions and the weakness of the central government. Secondly, the disagreement between the Arab and the Persian inhabitants. Thirdly, the hatred between the Arabs of Yemen and the Arabs of Hejaz.

    After Al-Ansi, Fayruz was appointed ruler by Abu Bakr owing to his staunch loyalty to Islam. But Qays bin Abd-Yaghuth, a prominent Arab chief, was trying to expel 96all of Persian descent from his country. He invited their chiefs to a feast97 and Dathawayh, who arrived early, was assassinated. Fayruz, suspecting a plot, had a narrow escape from death. Then Qays prepared to deport the Persian families by land and sea. Nevertheless, Fayruz managed to come back at the head of an army supplied by the Muslim tribes and ousted Qays from San'a', the seat of government. Later, Qays joined up with a great Yemeni warrior, Amr bin Ma'di Karib, against Fayruz. By this time Abu Bakr's two leaders, Muhajir from the north and 'Ikrimah from the east, were marching hastily towards Yemen. Foreseeing the consequences, `Amr captured Qays and delivered him to Muhajir, who put them both in fetters and sent them to Abu Bakr. Heaping reproaches upon them, the caliph set them free but not before they promised to repent and be good Muslims. With these two chieftains98 brought low, Yemen could henceforth enjoy peace.

    12. Apostasy in Hadhramawt:

    The most significant apostate in Hadhramawt was Ash'ath bin Qays. The ruler, Ziyad, once took female prisoners from among the apostates, and while they were passing by Ash'ath's home the women shouted for help. He attacked the ruler, set the women free and took refuge in the Najeer stronghold.

    It was not long before the stronghold was besieged from three sides by three Muslim leaders, Muhajir, Ikrimah and Ziyad, who blocked the arrival of provisions to Ash'ath by the three roads which led to the castle. Finding escape impossible, the besieged people cut short the hair on the front of their head, which was a sign of determination to fight till death, and then dashed 99desperately at the Muslims. Discovering that his opponents were invincible, Ash'ath resorted to treachery100He negotiated with 'Ikrimah to surrender the castle on condition that nine of his near relatives should be spared. Muhajir asked for a list of the names, and Ash'ath made a fatal error when he forgot to put his own name on the list. The castle surrendered and the nine people were spared. Every man in the castle was killed, and 1000 women were taken prisoners.

    As Ash'ath's name was not on the list, Muhajir wanted to puthim to the sword. But 'Ikrimah intervened, and he was sent to Madina as a prisoner of war. All along the road he was denounced by everyone and called bad names. On promising that he would repent and be a good Muslim he was set free and given his fiancee, Abu Bakr's ownsister, Umm Farwah. Later, when Abu Bakr was lying on his death bed he regretted that he had not put him to death. However, Ash'ath got married, stayed in Madina, and during the conquest of Syria and `Iraq fought bravely and recovered his former prestige.

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