The Beloved Messenger of Allah said: “There is no one among the people who has been more generous to me with his life and his property than Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhaafa, and if I was to take an intimate friend, I would take Abu Bakr as my intimate friend.” [Bukhari]
We live in a day and age where love for the Prophet has sadly become a disputed agenda and the Muslim Ummah is witnessing the rise of an absurd concept; that we may “love the Prophet too much”. However, just one glance at the life of Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq eliminates all doubt about the significance of loving the Messenger of Allah. It is the pinnacle of faith.
Indeed the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.” [Bukhari]
Belief in the Message of al-Amin (the Trustworthy)
The Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, was known as al-Amin by the people of Makkah, which translates as the trustworthy one. His character was adored by all, for he was kind at heart and most truthful in speech.
When the Beloved Prophet began to spread the Message of Islam, he began by secretly telling those closest to him. Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq was his closest friend, and about him it is reported that he never hesitated to embrace Islam upon the invitation of the Messenger of Allah. It was due to the purity of his heart, even before the Message of Islam, that he was able to readily accept the truth with such firm conviction. It is also proof of the utmost faith, trust and loyalty he treasured for his dear friend and teacher, the Beloved Messenger of Allah.
Being one of the first to embrace Islam, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq enjoys the elevated status which Allah has granted to the first of the Muslims: “And the first forerunners [in the faith] among the Muhajireen and the Ansar and those who followed them with good conduct – Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. That is the great attainment.” [Qur’an 9:100]
As-Siddiq: the Truthful, the Firm in Faith
His faith in the Messenger of Allah was unwavering; his heart believing every word the Beloved Messenger spoke, without a shadow of a doubt. It was due to this love for the Truth that he earned the title of as-Siddiq (the truthful).
He earned this title on the morning following the Mi’raj (Prophetic Ascension to the Heavens); the unbelievers went to him, making a mockery of the Beloved Messenger’s report of his journey of Mi’raj. They questioned how he could travel such a distance, and to the Heavens too, in such a short length of time. Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq asked one question before making his judgment: “Did the Messenger say that?” When this was confirmed that the Messenger of Allah had indeed said those words, he vowed with heart and soul that this was the truth. This is the essence of yaqeen (certainty).
Sayyida Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said about her father, “The idolaters came to Abu Bakr and said, ‘What do you think of your Companion? He claims that he was taken this night to Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem).’ He replied, ‘Did he say that?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘He has definitely told the truth. I believe and affirm him in matters more remote than that: the news from heaven in the early part of the morning and in the evening.’ For that reason he was called as-Siddiq.” [Imam Suyuti’s Tarikh al-Khulafa]
The title of as-Siddiq was reportedly confirmed by Angel Jibra’il, who himself testified to Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s strength in faith and loyalty: Sayyidina Abu Hurairah reports, “When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, returned on the night in which he was made to travel (to Jerusalem), and he was at Dhu Tuwa, he said, ‘Jibra’il, my people will not believe me,’ He (Jibra’il) said, Abu Bakr will believe you, and he is as-Siddiq.’” [Imam Suyuti’s Tarikh al-Khulafa]
For the Moth, the Lamp Suffices
When the Beloved Messenger of Allah decided to lead the expedition of Tabuk, the Companions were given the honourable opportunity to donate their wealth in the Way of Allah.
At the time, Sayyidina Umar bin al-Khattab was considerably rich and he felt pleased at this new possibility of excelling the virtue of Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq. He went home, and returned to the Beloved Prophet with exactly half of his wealth which was a significant contribution. The Beloved Prophet was extremely pleased.
At that point, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq returned to the Beloved Prophet carrying his own small and humble contribution. When the Beloved Prophet enquired as to how much he had left for his family, the reply of as-Siddiq echoed with modest sincerity: “I have left Allah and His Messenger for my family.” The Beloved Prophet beamed with delight at this, his radiant face now even more resplendent with the light of his smile. At this, Sayyidina Umar admitted that he could not outdo the virtues of the man titled as-Siddiq. [Narrated in Sunan Abu Dawud]
Allama Iqbal, the great poet and Sufi Shaykh, wrote a verse in honour of this incident:
“For the moth the lamp, and for the nightingale the flower,
For Siddiq, God and His Messenger alone suffice.”
Cave Thawr: The Truth & The Truthful
“The truth (sidq) and the testifier of truth (as-Siddiq)
Both remained in the cave unseen.”
– Imam Sharfuddeen Busayri’s Qasida Burdah
When the unbelievers drove the Messenger of Allah out of Makkah with the intention of killing him, he fled the city with his most trustworthy companion and friend, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq. They sought refuge in Cave Thawr for three days, where begins one of the most famous incidents in Islamic history. This incident also sheds further light on the degree of love within the heart of Sayyidina Abu Bakr, for the Messenger of Allah.
When they reached the entrance of Cave Thawr, Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq insisted on removing all danger from inside the cave before allowing the Beloved Prophet to enter. He said, “By the One Who has sent you with the Truth, please do not enter the cave until I have surveyed it to ensure it is safe; if there is any danger, let it harm me first.”
Saying this, he tore apart his own clothing and blocked all the snake holes, making the cave secure for the Messenger of Allah. Eventually, he ran out of clothing whilst there remained one last hole to fill. This hole was occupied by many dangerous snakes yet Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq, without fear, blocked this hole with his own foot. He would not, under any circumstance, compromise the safety of the Beloved Messenger.
The Beloved Messenger then entered the cave, and took rest on the lap of his friend, as-Siddiq. As-Siddiq was repeatedly stung with venom, the snakes in the hole releasing their venom into his foot with each deadly bite. Despite this, Sayyidina Abu Bakr refused to move his foot; instead, he endured the pain without even a cry of anguish, lest the Beloved Messenger be disturbed in his rest. Naturally his eyes began to fill with tears as the poison took effect, so that a tear fell upon the cheek of the Beloved Messenger who rose from his sleep, concerned. Hearing about the incident, the Beloved Messenger applied his blessed saliva to the venomous wound and thus, Sayyidina Abu Bakr was healed. [This incident was reported in Allama Alusi’s Ruhul Ma’ani]
Cave Thawr: Selfless Devotion
“Heart and love have become friends,
Like Ahmad and Abu Bakr became friends in the cave.
These two friends’ names were different,
But their spirits was one.”
– Mawlana Rumi
During the time spent in Cave Thawr, Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s utmost concern was for the safety of the Messenger of Allah. He feared not for his own welfare, but that some harm might befall the one whom he loved the most, even more than his own being.
Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq himself reported, “I saw the feet of the polytheists very close to us as we were in the cave. I said, ‘Allah’s Messenger, if one amongst them were to see at his feet he would have surely seen us.’ Thereupon he said, ‘Abu Bakr, what can befall two who have Allah as the third One with them.'” [Muslim]
So significant was this event, that Allah mentions it in the Holy Qur’an, “…Allah did indeed help him, when the Unbelievers drove him out: he had no more than one companion; they two were in the cave, and he said to his companion, ‘Have no fear, for Allah is with us’: then Allah sent down His peace upon him, and strengthened him with forces which you saw not..” [Qur’an 9:40]
This selfless love reminds one of the Hadith in which the Beloved Messenger said to Sayyidina Umar, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, you will not have complete faith till I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then Sayyidina Umar replied, “However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” Then the Beloved Messenger said, “Now, O Umar, you are a believer.” [Bukhari]
During the stay at Cave Thawr, it is reported that Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s wife would cook and Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s daughter, Lady Asma, would sneak away to the cave to give them the provisions. Thus, as-Siddiq supported the Messenger of Allah with literally everything he had; his family, his wealth, and indeed his own life.
Every Muslim true to his religion follows in the example of As-Siddiq; indeed, love for Allah and His Messenger is our salvation.
Light Enters Madinah al-Munawwarah
After three days in Cave Thawr, Sayyidina Abu Bakr and the Messenger of Allah proceeded to Madinah. As they walked, it is reported that Sayyidina Abu Bakr walked in different directions; sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, ahead or behind the Beloved Messenger. Upon enquiry, he explained, “Beloved of Allah, when I walk behind, I fear lest the enemy attack you from the front so I move there. And when I walk to your right, I fear lest the enemy attack you from the left so I move there.”
Eventually they reached the city of Madinah. Here, the people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Beloved Messenger, so now a huge welcome greeted them as the children of the blessed city beat their drums, singing in good cheer and happiness. It is reported that the people first thought that Sayyidina Abu Bakr was the Messenger of Allah, until he stood up to shield the Beloved Messenger from the sun using his mantle. Only then did they realise that he was as-Siddiq.
Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq’s strong resemblance to the radiance of the Messenger of Allah is evidence of a true devotee; he followed him so deeply that resemblance to his beloved became a natural occurrence.
Khwaja Amir Khusro wrote, regarding this level of love: “I have become you, and you have become I. The inner self became the body, and you became its life. The two of us are one; and none can say that you and I are different.”
Coolness of the Eyes
Once, the Beloved Messenger of Allah entered the Masjid and sat down near a pillar. Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddiq was seated beside him. At this point, Sayyidina Bilal, the master of mu’azzins, stood up and began to deliver the Adhaan.
When he said, “Ash-hadu anna Muhammadur RasulAllah”, Sayyidina Abu Bakr placed both of his thumbnails upon to his eyes saying, “Qurratu ‘aini bika Ya RasulAllah” (meaning, ‘You are the coolness of my eyes, O Messenger of Allah.’)
When Sayyidina Bilal completed the Adhaan, the Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “O Abu Bakr! Whosoever does like you have done, Almighty Allah will forgive all his sins.” [Narrated in Shaykh Ismail Haqqi’s Tafseer Ruhul Bayaan]
This incident is a beautiful display of Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s pure devotion for the Beloved Messenger of Allah. At just the mention of the Beloved Prophet’s Name, his heart submitted with total love and respect causing him to speak with such praise.
The Beloved Messenger of Allah said about him, to the other Companions, “Abu Bakr does not precede you in anything in the way of prayer or fasting but in a secret (sirr) rooted deep in his heart.” [Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal’s Manaqib as-Sahaba] This could refer to marifah, or Knowledge of Allah, that He blesses His righteous servants with; it could also refer to the love and respect which as-Siddiq held in his heart for the Beloved of Allah.
Indeed, Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, so Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an 3:31]
The Truthful Heart Knows
In the final phase of his life, the Beloved Messenger of Allah addressed the people saying, “Allah has given option to a slave to choose this world or what is with Him. The slave has chosen what is with Allah.”
At this, Sayyidina Abu Bakr wept profusely and the other Companions were astonished at his weeping. Later, they all learnt that Allah’s Messenger himself was the slave given such a choice, and that Sayyidina Abu Bakr wept because he had known it immediately.
After that announcement, Allah’s Messenger added, “There is no one among the people who has been more generous to me with his life and his property than Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhaafa, and if I was to take an intimate friend, I would take Abu Bakr as my intimate friend. But, the friendship of Islam is better. Block off every door in this Masjid except the door of Abu Bakr.” [Bukhari]
Departure of the Beloved
When the Beloved Messenger passed away, he ensured that as-Siddiq followed as his successor. In his final illness, he issued the command, “Tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer.” Sayyidina Abu Bakr’s daughter, and wife of the Beloved Messenger, Sayyida Aisha replied, “He is a soft-hearted man and would not be able to lead the prayer in your place.” The Messenger of Allah repeated his command, so that in the end Sayyidina Abu Bakr lead the prayer, giving him status as the Imam during the Beloved Messenger’s lifetime. [Bukhari]
When the Beloved Messenger entered the Masjid during his final illness, Sayyidina Abu Bakr was leading the prayer. Upon seeing the Beloved Messenger from the corner of his eye, he withdrew from his position as the Imam.
The Beloved Messenger insisted for him to continue, but he was unable to do so. So the Messenger of Allah went ahead and led the prayer, and upon completion, he asked, “O Abu Bakr! What prevented you from staying when I ordered you to do so?” Sayyidina Abu Bakr replied, “How can Ibn Abi Quhafa (Abu Bakr) dare to lead the prayer in the presence of Allah’s Messenger?” [Bukhari]
Observe the humility of as-Siddiq! At that point, nothing could contend with his love and modesty in the presence of the Beloved Messenger of Allah. His emotion when he saw the Beloved at his side – the Beloved who was now finally able to join the Companions as they bowed to Allah Most High. This rush of sentiment, respect and adoration in as-Siddiq caused him to pull back, ashamed at the prospect of leading the Muslims while the Master himself was present.
Strength During Immense Grief
When the Beloved Messenger of Allah passed away, the Companions became overwhelmed with immense pain at the departure of the Master. Sayyidina Umar could not, at that point, bear the thought that the Messenger of Allah had indeed passed away.
Sayyidina Abu Bakr returned to Madinah from a journey, and went directly to the Masjid al-Nabawi where the Beloved Messenger lay to rest. He uncovered the blessed face, kissed the Beloved Messenger’s forehead and tears flowed from his eyes. None can imagine the depth of grief as-Siddiq, or any of the other Companions, felt during this painful moment.
However, such was the love of as-Siddiq; he knew that the Beloved Messenger would have wished for calm, for control during this time of sadness. Having seen the state of the Companions outside the Masjid, he knew someone had to uphold them in their vulnerable condition. Putting aside his own pain for the sake of the Beloved, he gathered all his inner strength and spoke the words of Truth so vital in those moments:
“Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels [to unbelief]? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm Allah at all; but Allah will reward the grateful.” [Qur’an 3:144] [Report narrated in Bukhari]
It was this which stirred realisation in the hearts of the grieved Companions, thus as-Siddiq restored faith in their sorrowful hearts. In this difficult and devastating hour, he put the importance of the Message above his own emotional anguish and without hesitation, took responsibility to honour and safeguard the Truth of the Prophetic Message.
Beloved of the Beloved
Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas narrates that he asked the Messenger of Allah, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, “Aisha,” Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas asked, “Amongst men?” He replied, “Her father (Abu Bakr).” [Bukhari]
The love and strong bond between Allah’s Messenger and Sayyidina Abu Bakr was mutual; they were friends of the closest degree. Yet as-Siddiq, humble and sincere, kept himself at a modest level in the presence of the Messenger; as a slave does at the noble feet of his Master. He would, without any hesitation, sacrifice his dearest possessions in the Way of Allah and His Beloved – and this too, from the depths of his heart.
It was this level of complete faith, trust, devotion and respect, which raised him to such an elevated status. He was the strongest pillar of support for the Beloved Messenger throughout his life, and he was the steadfast affirmer of the Message with every stage of its progress.
In History of the World, H. G. Wells writes, “Throughout their life together, it was Muhammad who said the thing, but it was Abu Bakr who believed.”
During his fatal illness, in his last moments, his focus and thought was completely absorbed in remembrance of the Beloved Messenger of Allah. He asked his daughter Sayyida Aisha, “How many garments was the Prophet shrouded with?” She replied, “In three Sahuliya pieces of white cotton cloth, and there was neither a shirt nor a turban among them.” He further asked her, “On which day did the Prophet die?” She replied, “He died on Monday.” He asked, “What is today?” She replied, “Today is Monday.” Then he said, “I hope I shall die sometime between this morning and tonight.” [Bukhari]
May Allah’s eternal peace and blessings of the highest degree be upon our Master Muhammad, upon his Family and his Companions.