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Being the Breath of the Prophet

The Arabian Peninsula was choking in a suffocating smoke. The fire had become enflamed in three or four blind corners of this desert geography which had found life with the Prophet's breath; the dense smoke spread over every oasis, valley and town of the peninsula. While, on the one hand, the Arabian people, who had fermented with the touch of the Prophet and had locked together with a tight clasp, were trying to bind their wounds in the absence of the Prophet, on the other hand, the peninsula was burning with the rasp voices and shouts of false prophets rising from the peninsula's surface.

The eyes of the believers whose hearts were aching were on the new caliph, Abu Bakr, friend of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). However, Abu Bakr was in a different kind of turmoil. The responsibility of completing a half-finished task took priority over everything else. The army under the command of Usame, which the Prophet had prepared to send to the Syrian region a short time before his illness, had not left due to the Prophet's death. After the passing of the Prophet, the fact of Usame's being very young and inexperienced was being emphasized; heavy pressure was being put on the Caliph to the effect that it would not be appropriate for him to be busy with sending Usame's army to Syria while the anger which was caused by apostasy and false prophets was present. Abu Bakr's stand against all this was clear: this task begun by the Prophet would definitely be completed.

Usame's army was sent off with these words which would go down in history: "Do not betray our cause. Do not abandon mercy even in battle. Do not kill children, the elderly or women; do not make oppression. Do not cut or harm date trees and other fruit trees, sheep, goats and other animals except for the purpose of eating them or their fruit. If you encounter people worshiping in churches, leave them to their worship. If food or drink are offered to you, do not eat or drink without saying ‘Basmallah."

Usame returned from this campaign which resulted in very damaging results for Islam with a great deal of booty, and completing what the Prophet had begun turned into the new caliph's first accomplishment.

Only after gaining the approval of the Prophet was Abu Bakr able to turn his attention to issues threatening the peninsula. It was necessary to find urgent resolutions to the issue of those making claims to prophethood in various places on the peninsula and those asking for exemption from some of Islam's laws. Even though there was no dispute regarding war against the false prophets, there were different opinions regarding what kind of stand to take against groups showing resistance to paying the alms tax.

Abu Bakr drew the bottom line: Religion had been completed. The laws given priority by religion were a whole. In this respect, it was not possible to think of separating prayer from the alms tax. Abu Bakr, who in Ali's words resembled a mountain unmoved by storms and the most violent whirlwinds, and Umar, who said it would not be right to wage war against those who said "There is no god but God," did not consider the offer of those who suggested that the poor tax not be collected that year. Aimed at creating divisiveness in religion, these approaches made war inevitable. The Caliph immediately went into action and, heading a 100 member cavalry unit, he marched against Harija ibn Hisn al-Fazari and his followers who were preparing to attack Medina and confiscated the poor tax of the tribe. Gaining the support of Medina and surrounding tribes against the fire that had encircled the peninsula, the Caliph insisted on leading the army which was to set out. Umar and Ali were able to contain him with difficulty through their advice that the Caliph should not leave Medina, the city of the Prophet, where he lived with the title of deputy to the Prophet.

A person was brought to the head of the army who would make great successes in putting out the fire of apostasy that was spreading wave upon wave. This great commander who would virtually roar on the battle fields was no other than Halid ibn Walid. After the battles of Tulayha, Sajah, and Musaylamatu'l-Qazzab where the masks of the false prophet pretenders fell one-by-one, first the peninsula's Yemen and Hadramut branches met peace under the command of Muhajar ibn Abu Umayya; then Bahrain and Oman were subdued.

With Abu Bakr's determined approach, Halid ibn Walid began to be successful in turning a prophetic breath into a strong wind, which began to blow in the Qisra lands where this time Islam would rapidly spread. Important settlements on the Basra gulf joined Islamic territory one after another. After these fronts opened in this rich geographical area, Muslims advanced to Syrian regions that were under the oppression of Byzantine rule. While units coming together under the command of, first, Amr ibn al-As and, then, Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah made conquests in the Palestine region, forces coming to the area with Halid ibn Walid consolidated the situation and opened Palestinian doors  to Muslims. Victories against Persia and Byzantine, who were quite superior to the Muslims in regard to numbers and technical capability, went down in history, and world history's most permanent and rapid conquests were realized.

After the fire of apostasy was put out in the short period of a year and the successes against the two great powers of the time, the Sassanid and Byzantine empires, Abu Bakr turned to another area. He gathered the Prophet's inheritance to mankind, the sacred Quran, into book form. The martyrdom of a number of those who had committed the Quran to memory during the battles fought against false prophets speeded up this process. Under the supervision of a delegation comprised of famous Quran memorizers and clerks who wrote down revelation, the verses of the Quran were gathered in one book, taking into consideration the order in which the Prophet last read them.

Abu Bakr became the founder of the Islamic state's first treasury with the "baytulmal" that he established close to his house six months after he was chosen as caliph. This institution where war booty from conquered lands and revenue from non-Muslim subjects was gathered was formed with a universal understanding of justice. Objecting to Umar who said that these revenues should be distributed according to priority of entering Islam, Abu Bakr, saying that the reward for entering Islam early should remain until the hereafter, put forth the principle that worldly goods should be distributed equally to the subjects by the head of state. While presenting by this means a certain wealth and prosperity to the Bedouin who lived under the harsh conditions of the desert, the Caliph entered his Lord's presence in his old clothing. Willing that the remainder of his salary be returned to the treasury upon his death, Abu Bakr had only one request: to be neighbor to the beloved Prophet in his grave. Inspired by the Prophet, the breath he blew onto the Arabian Peninsula now cooled him in his grave.

 

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