Abu Bakr: A Man among Men (Part 1)
Abu Bakr was the dearest friend of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to speak about Abu Bakr, remarking on how he was the only person who never hesitated to accept Islam once he heard about it. Other people who embraced Islam in the early days would think for some time and consider, but Abu Bakr declared his faith immediately (Al-Mubarakpuri, 77).
Before he declared his Islam, Abu Bakr was known as a pious man; he had an essentially good character, and only good was expected from him. He and the Prophet were good friends before the Prophet's mission (Nadawi, 33).
Abu Bakr was a wealthy man and was in the habit of using his wealth to benefit others. One of the evil pre-islamic traditions was the practice of burying baby girls alive. This practice was stopped when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came with the message of Islam. This pre-islamic time is commonly known as the era of ignorance because the people lived without the knowledge of the values and principles of Islam. For this reason, the birth of a baby girl was something for a man to be ashamed of. Men thought that sons would bring more honor on them, their families, and their tribes while girls could potentially bring them and their tribes dishonor; therefore, many men buried their daughters alive. Whenever Abu Bakr heard that a baby girl was to be buried alive, he would go and negotiate with the father and he started something that could be called a boarding house in today’s terms, a place where he put these little girls in the care of women who would look after them while he paid for their maintenance. (witness – pioneer.org; nzmuslim.net).
Muslims believe that, every human being is born with an innate nature; an ability to tell the difference between good and evil and the knowledge that there is a creator and a desire to know him. This nature remains strong in some people and weakens over time with others. Abu Bakr remained firm in his human nature, so that even before the advent of Islam and the sure knowledge and system that came with it, he knew that such things as burying baby girls alive were essentially evil. He knew this in a society that largely accepted this practice.
Goodness is attracted to goodness and comprehends it, so it is not surprising that Abu Bakr befriended the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as he perceived his innate piety and, thereafter, never even hesitated to follow the Prophet until his last breath.
The final days of the Muslims before they emigrated to Madinah, witnessed two kinds of extremes: the Muslims' gradual sense of success and the continual torment and persecution at the hands of the Non-Muslims of Quraish. The Prophet and the believers were hopeful that better days would soon come and that the migration to Madinah would soon occur. About one year before the migration, God (Allah) blessed the Prophet (peace be upon him) with something miraculous. This was the event of the Prophet's night journey to jerusalem and then his ascension to the heavens.
The Qur'an tells us about this event:
[By the star when it goes down, your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of his own desire. It is only an inspiration that is inspired. He has been taught this Qur'an by the one mighty in power (Jibreel). (Free from any defect in body and mind), then he (jibreel) rose and became stable. while he was in the highest part of the horizon, then he approached and came closer and was at a distance of two bows length or even nearer (jibreel). So did Allah convey the inspiration to his slave (Muhammad) through (jibreel). The Prophet's heart lied not in seeing what he saw. will you then dispute with him about what he saw? and indeed he (muhammad) saw him (jibreel) at a second descent. Near the lote tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass). Near it is the Paradise of abode. When that covered the lote tree which did cover it! The sight of Muhammad turned not aside nor it transgressed beyond the limit ordained for it. Indeed, Muhammad did see, of the greatest signs, of his lord.] (An-Najm 53:1-18).
The following day, after this miraculous event, the Prophet (peace be upon him) spoke about it. This was a test for the Muslims because, from the earthly point of view, such an event cannot be explained by human reason and so those who were weak in their faith doubted. The true and strong Muslims found nothing unusual in Allah granting his Prophet a miracle as they believed that he is all powerful and created all there is by an act of his will. Needless to say, the Non-Muslims ridiculed and questioned the truth of this event. They went to Abu Bakr to see his response to this event. When Abu Bakr was asked about it, he asked if the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said this happened. When they answered in the affirmative, Abu Bakr simply declared that he did indeed verify it. It was due to his response on this most important day that Abu Bakr earned the title of As-Siddiq which means the verifier of truth (Al-Mubarakpuri, 150-51).
Abu bakr knew that Prophets received Allah’s signs to establish their faith. He knew that they were eligible for this in consequence of divine privilege because of the heavy burdens they had to bear, as Messengers of Allah. Abu Bakr did all he could to help his friend the Prophet (peace be upon him) carry out his mission in the service of Allah.
The night journey, together with other revelations around that time, showed the Muslims the greatness of the Civilization which they were in the process of constructing. A coherent society was soon to be established and the call of Islam was soon to be heard throughout the world. Abu Bakr was a significant part of the call and spread of Islam.
Not long after the night journey, the Muslims prepared to migrate to Madinah. The people of Madinah welcomed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers and eagerly awaited his blessed arrival. One by one, The Muslims left the distress and persecution of Makkah and settled in Madinah (lings, 113-15). Abu Bakr, still in Makkah, wished that he would be the one to travel with the Prophet (peace be upon him), but the Prophet did not answer Abu Bakr until he received guidance from Allah to do so.