The Conversion of Abu Bakr
abu bakr ibn abu quhafah al taymi was a very close friend to muhammad. he trusted muhammad, whom he knew to be worthy of this trust, and whose truthfulness was, as far as abu bakr was concerned, beyond doubt. outside muhammad's own household, abu bakr was the first man to be called to the worship of god alone and to the repudiation of idols. he was the first outsider to whom muhammad confided the vision he had seen and the revelations he had heard. abu bakr did not hesitate to respond favorably to the call of muhammad and to believe therein. but what soul would hesitate to leave idol worship for the worship of god alone if it were open at all to the voice of truth? what soul would prefer the worship of stones to the worship of god if it were endowed with any kind of nobility and transcendent awareness? what soul would resist self-purification, giving of one's bounty and doing good to the orphan, if it had any degree of innate purity and goodness? abu bakr broadcast his conversion and new faith in god and in his prophet among his companions. he was "a good man and a noble character, friendly to his people, and amiable and gentle. he enjoyed the noblest lineage in quraysh and was the most knowledgeable of its clans and geneologies and its past and present history. better than any other member of the tribe, he knew its strengths and weaknesses. by profession he was a trader, well known and honest. his people loved him and respected him for his knowledge, his honesty and his entertaining conversation [unfortunately, in this as in many other cases, haykal has quoted the author and placed his words between quotation marks but has not indicated the source. -tr.]. abu bakr began to call unto islam those of his people whom he trusted, and a number of them were converted. `uthman ibn `affan, `abd al rahman ibn `awf, talhah ibn `ubayd allah, sa'd ibn abu waqqas, and al zubayr .ibn al `awwam were the first to respond favorably to his cause. thereafter abu `ubaydah ibn al jarrah was converted as well as a number of other makkans. whenever a man converted to islam, he would seek the prophet and declare his islam to him and receive from him his instruction. fearful of arousing the enmity and antagonism of quraysh for their departure from idol worship, the new muslims used to hide the fact of their conversion. they would go to the outskirts of makkah in order to hold their prayers. for three years while islam continued to spread among the makkans, the muslims continued to hide. in the meantime, the qur'an was continually being revealed to muhammad and this fortified the muslims in their faith and confirmed them in it.
the personal example of muhammad was the best support for the spread of his cause. he was merciful and charitable, humble yet manly, sweet of word yet just, giving to each his due yet full of compassion and sympathy for the weak, the orphan, the deprived, and the oppressed. in his night watch and prayer, in his chanting the qur'an revealed to him, in his constant scrutinizing of the heavens and of the earth, he looked for the meaning of their existence and that of everything they contain; in his permanent orientation toward god alone, in his search for the meaning of existence and quintessence of life, deep within his own soul, he provided such an example for his followers that they became ever more convinced of their faith and ever more anxious to adhere to its precepts. the new muslims did so notwithstanding the fact that they were repudiating the religion and practice of their ancestors as well as exposing themselves to injury by those who believed otherwise. many noblemen and tradesmen from makkah believed in muhammad, but all were already known for their purity, honesty, kindness, and mercy. in addition, muslim ranks included many converts from the weak, deprived, and oppressed classes of makkah, the cause of god and his prophet spread as men and women entered the faith wave after wave.