Abu Bakr: Being Friends with the Prophet

All arrows were pointing towards Medina. A sign had been given, and preparations for the journey had begun. Those who would come on this journey that would change the flow of history and the calendar were taking their places in turn. The pressure in Mecca had increased so much that it was not even possible to open a window and take a breath of air. The one nicknamed "Very sincere" and "Very loyal" was thinking that the time had come for him. As a result of his sincerity and loyalty, he knocked on the door of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and asked permission for the journey. The Prophet postponed the trip saying, "Wait a little. Maybe Allah will give you a companion." They waited until ignorance and darkness agreed to extinguish the light sent to the universe. This time the door knocked on was the door of "very sincere" and "very loyal," and the person knocking was the Prophet. So they were going to set out on the journey together! They were companions on the journey! A prophet! Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was crying from joy...

He had believed as soon as the Prophet had announced his apostleship. They said, "Your friend is saying unbelievable things. He said he went to Jerusalem during the night and ascended to the heavens." Abu Bakr asked, "Is he saying it?" When the reply was "Yes," Abu Bakr said, "If he is saying it, then it's true." He went straight to the Prophet who was describing the Masjid-i Aqsa. When the Prophet completed his words, Abu Bakr exclaimed, "You are telling the truth, Messenger!" And from that day forward Abu Bakr was called "Siddiq" or, in other words, the "very sincere" and "very loyal" one! How could his going to Jerusalem be questioned? Abu Bakr had confirmed his friend on much greater issues. Revelation was coming to him night and day! If he said it, it was true!

Abu Bakr remembered the day he had set out to migrate to Abyssinia. He had met Ibnu'd-Dagne on the road. Unwilling for Mecca to be deprived of a valuable person like Abu Bakr, Ibnu'd-Dagne took Abu Bakr under his protection.  Although he was not a Muslim, he enabled him to return to Mecca. However, the pagans had one condition: worship would be done at home and the Quran would not be read outdoors. For people who listened to it were influenced by it and becoming Muslim. He took heed of this condition at first. But unable to bear it for long, he began to read the Quran in the garden of his house. For this reason, he was warned by Ibnu'd-Dagne. He had to make a choice. Either protection or the Quran. Without hesitating he gave this response: "I am returning my right to your protection. I accept the protection of Allah ad His Prophet!"

Now there was the great journey begun under the protection of Allah and His Prophet. Ignorance was after them. And it promised a fortune to whoever found them. They had witnessed a truth during the three days and three nights they hid in the cave. They were not alone. The Prophet who always spoke the truth said: "La Tahzen! Innallahe Maana!" Then no one could have touched him. Abu Bakr breathed comfortably. He entered the cave first in case something should happen to the Prophet. He closed the holes in the earth with his garment for fear of their being a snake there. His garment was not enough so he spent the night with his heel closing a hole. Protection continued after the cave. A horse-back rider who had followed them after the cave sank in the sand just as he was about to catch them. What a Prophet he was! What a magnificent protector!

At last the moon rose on Medina. Abu Bakr, that generous friend, bought the land for the Prophet's Masjid from orphans with the dirham he was able to bring with him. How he loved to spend on this path! He had also saved Bilal from being crushed under the heated rocks of the pagans in return for five ukiyye of gold. When they said, "If you had given us one ukiyye of gold, we still would have sold him," he replied, "If you had wanted one hundred ukiyye, I still would have bought him." Before the Tabuk War he had gone to the presence of the Prophet with four thousand silver dirham. Prophet Muhammad asked, "What did you leave to your family?" He replied, "Allah and His Messenger!"

For he was able to evaluate the world with its real value; rather than fearing enemy armies, he feared for Muslims from the world that was besieging their egos. "He said, "I saw the world coming towards you. Why was it coming? To surround you! It seems to me that due to having silk curtains and furnishings and atlas pillows and mattresses and wool beds, you will feel pain as if you were lying on thorns." He shouted, "Where are the youth who take pride in their fighting spirit? Where are the kings who built cities and surrounded them with walls?  Where are those who gained victory on the battleground? Time has vanquished them. Now they are in the darkness of their graves. You must hurry! Look to salvation!" For this reason Hz. Omar related this event: "There was a blind old woman in one of Medina's fringe neighborhoods. I wanted to go and help her everyday. But whenever I went, I saw that someone had been there and done her work before me. I was curious as to who this person was who was earning this reward everyday. One day I visited the woman very early. What did I see! It was no other than Abu Bakr making this good deed!"

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The Prophet was climbing the steps of the pulpit on a day in May when the sap of the trees was rising from their roots to their branches. The companions, who preserved every word he said like a jewel in the jewel boxes of their hearts, were waiting with keen attention. Eleven years had passed since the Migration, and the Prophet was making their hearts beat faster as he ascended the pulpit. The excitement was immeasurable, for he brought fresh news from the heavens with every ascension. Not a sound was made in this garden of paradise where mercy had rained for years-not until lightning struck Abu Bakr's heart from the pulpit. It all happened when the Prophet said that the Almighty had allowed one of his servants to choose between the world and what was at His side, and that the servant had chosen what was at Allah's side. First Abu Bakr was shaken by thunder that no one else heard and then tears began to pour from his eyes. Although everyone knew about the Prophet's illness, he had sensed the time of separation first. He understood that that servant was the Prophet. The Prophet asked that he stop sobbing and he ordered all the doors opening to the masjid courtyard to be closed except for Abu Bakr's. Then, indicating that he had never met anyone more beneficial to Islam than Abu Bakr, he said that if he were to take one friend, it would be Abu Bakr.

When the illness grew severe enough to prevent the Prophet from going to the masjid for prayer, he turned over the duty of imam to Abu Bakr. Taking the place of the Prophet... if Muhammad had not wanted it, Abu Bakr could never have accepted such a thing. How heavy his duty was! How much joy he had felt one morning when the Prophet stood beside him for the morning prayer! Thank God, the Prophet had recuperated! Joy again rippled in the garden of paradise. The companions took fresh vigor. Abu Bakr took permission from the Prophet to come to his home. Just when he was about to go several hours later, he got the news: the Prophet had passed away to meet his Lord.

Abu Bakr ran to the home of the last prophet. He uncovered the Prophet's face and kissed him for the last time on his forehead. He cried, "His death is beautiful and pure like his life." Had he not had the burden of responsibility weighing on his shoulders, he would not have left. But there were those waiting in the masjid who were astounded by how the Prophet could die! Abu Bakr had to go and prevent pain from saying the wrong thing. For this reason he had to cleanse the wound and shout the truth: "Whoever worshipped Muhammad, he should know that Muhammad is dead. Whoever worships Allah, He is enduring and eternal!" These words and the verse he read after them soothed the companions' spirits. They shared in the heavy responsibility that was crushing Abu Bakr. Time was flowing and there was much to do. Action had to be taken promptly. Abu Bakr left the council. The friend who the Prophet gave the glad tidings of paradise! And Abu Bakr ascended the pulpit... He began his speech with words that other rulers would fear to say: "Hey people! Although I am not the best among you, I have taken over rule. If I rule well, help me. If I rule poorly, warn and correct me."  Then he continued by describing power: "The weak are powerful in my view; I'll take their rights from others. The powerful are weak in my eyes; I will take others' rights from them!"

Abu Bakr did what he said. In spite of protests, he sent off the army that the Prophet wanted to send to Syria by walking beside the young commander Usame's horse. In reply to those who said, "He's young and the son of a freed slave," he answered, "The Prophet found him suitable!" He opened battle for the rights of the poor against the Bedouins who did not give the poor tax and against the false prophets who appeared after Prophet Muhammad's death. However, he wanted Muslims to stand up for their principles even while fighting. He addressed all commanders in the world via Usame: "Do not make oppression. Do not cut off anyone's limbs. Do not kill children and the elderly. Do not cut and burn trees. On the road you will meet those who retire in monasteries; leave them alone."

Abu Bakr's caliphate lasted 2 years, 3 months, and 10 days. During this short period conflicts were suppressed and conquests were made. Out of fear that something would be lost from the Quran with the death of those who had memorized the Quran, written verses were collected into a volume by a delegation of great companions, revelation scribes in particular. State property was carefully preserved. Abu Bakr did not like praise and when he heard others praise him, he pleaded to his Lord: "My God! You know me better than I do. I know myself better than they do. Make me a beneficial servant like they think I am!" On top of everything else, the caliph did milking! Just like before he became caliph. After he became caliph, he heard one of the neighborhood girls say, "He no longer does milking for us!" Smiling, he replied, "I will milk for you again, my daughter!" And he added: "I ask Allah not to allow my position to separate me from my former state and situation."

At his deathbed they said, "We'll call you a doctor!" "The doctor saw me," he replied. "I'll do as I want!"

Poet and writer Ali Ural continues to write about the Companions of the Prophet that reflect his light and radiance


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