The caliphate of Abu Bakr -I

  • Publish date:21/08/2006
  • Section:Highlights
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Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, became the Caliph on June 8, 632 CE and he died on August 23, 634 CE. The period of his Caliphate covers two years, two months and fifteen days only. Judged by the usual standards, this period was too short to make an impact on history. However, the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, did not merely make an impact on history; it changed the very course of history. The suppression of apostasy, the unification of Arabia, and the conquests of greater parts of Iraq and Syria within the space of two years are the extraordinary marvels that took place during his Caliphate. The speed, magnitude, extent and permanence of these campaigns excite our wonder and evoke our admiration. For these achievements, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, holds a unique position in the history of the world in general and the history of Islam in particular.

Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, came to power in the midst of a critical situation. The crises that he was called upon to encounter, were multi-dimensional – being psychological, religious, political and international. The Islamic State apparently stood at the brink of a precipice, and any wrong step on the part of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him,  at that stage, could have led to chaos. Abu Bakr not only averted possible disintegration, but also made Islam a world force, which could successfully contend against the giant empires of Byzantium and Persia.

The historic role of Abu Bakr comprises the following achievements: 

·       The war of apostasy

·       The compilation of the glorious Quran

·       The conquest of Iraq

·       The conquest of Syria

The War of Apostasy

There were four main causes for this war:

First, because of the dispute regarding the Caliphate between the Makkan emigrants (Muhaajireen) and the Prophet's supporters in Al-Madeenah (Ansaar), various tribes favored separatism. "Why should the Caliph be from Makkah or Al-Madeenah and not from among us?" they asked.

Second, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) (may Allah exalt his mention) collected the Zakat, which the various tribes used to send to Al-Madeenah. As the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), had died, they claimed that there was no reason for them to send it there. Besides, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), had often agreed to local alms distribution; so why should they send their contributions away?

Third, as the wars indicated, some of the uncivilized Bedouins had not genuinely converted to Islam; they had adopted it because they admired a man who could challenge the two greatest empires of their time. As soon as he,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ), died, his effect on them faded away and they turned away from Islam.

Fourth, the influence of the Romans from the north and the Persians and Abyssinians from the east and the south, encouraged the distant tribes to adopt their own religions and beliefs.

Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, faced the crises with strong determination that knew no wavering. He summoned all his combat forces to Thil-Qassah (the name of a place), where he arranged them into eleven different armies, each headed by an appointed commander. The number and commander of each army were well chosen for the exact commission of each particular army, and the enemy to be confronted.

The first army was commanded by Khaalid bin Al-Waleed, may Allah be pleased with him, to meet and subdue Tulayhah bin Khuwaylid of Bani Assad; then to march to Maalik bin Nuwayrah of Bani Tameem; both situated east of Al-Madeenah at Al-Bitah, and Al-Bazakhah. Bani Assad and Bani Tameem were the nearest of the renegade tribes to Al-Madeenah. The second army was commanded by 'Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl, may Allah be pleased with him, and was commissioned to fight Mussaylamah of Bani Haneefah at Al-Yamaamah. The third army was commanded by Sharahbeel bin Hasnah, may Allah be pleased with him, with orders to assist the second army under 'Ikrimah in the battle against Bani Haneefah. When victorious, Sharahbeel and his army should move north to assist 'Amr bin Al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, against Bani Quda’aha. The fourth army was commanded by Al- Muhaajir bin Ummayah Al-Makhzoomi, may Allah be pleased with him, to fight Al-Aswad Al-Ansi and his followers in Yemen, and after that to march to Kindah and Hadhramawt in the south to fight Al-Ash’aath bin Qays and his tribes of apostates. The fifth army was commanded by Suwayd bin Maqrin Al-Awsi, may Allah be pleased with him, to fight the reversionary groups in Tuhaamah on the East coast of the Red Sea neighboring Yemen. The sixth army was commanded by Al-Ale’s bin Al-Haddaam, may Allah be pleased with him, to subdue the renegade tribes in Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. The seventh army was commanded by Huthayfah bin Muhsin Al-Ghatfaani, may Allah be pleased with him, to fight Thi Al-Taj Laquit bin Maalik Al-Azdi, the impostor in Oman. The eighth army was commanded by Arfajah bin Harthah, may Allah be pleased with him, who was to march to Mahrah on the south coast of the Peninsula between Oman and Hadhramawt.

The remaining three armies were commissioned to march north. The first under the command of 'Amr bin Al-'Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, was ordered to confront Bani Qudaah. The second commanded by Ma’an bin Haajiz Al-Salmi, may Allah be pleased with him, to fight Bani Saalim and their followers from Bani Hawaazen. The third was commanded by Khaalid bin Sa'eed bin Al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, to safeguard the northern frontiers with Syria. The apostasy campaigns began in August 632 CE and by February 633 CE, the apostate tribes were totally suppressed; Arabia stood unified, and all people in Arabia joined the fold of Islam. That was a remarkable achievement, which changed the course of history. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, was adamant, intent in purpose, wise in action, and uncompromising regarding the terms of Allah.

Compilation of the Glorious Quran

A large number of Muslims were killed in the war of apostasy, among whom were many of those known for memorizing the Quran. ’Umar bin al Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him,  whose brother Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, was among the dead, thought deeply of what might happen if more such people were killed in further confrontations. He reached the conclusion that if the Quran was to be preserved, it ought to be compiled into one volume. At that time, it was scattered among the companions of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) with each preserving a part of it. Methods of preservation differed -- some had it written on parchment; others on palm branches stripped of leaves; a third group on shoulder bones of animals; and a fourth on stone tablets; a large number had also learnt it by heart. If many of those who had memorized it were killed, then a part of the Holy Book might disappear. So ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, went to the Caliph, who was then sitting in the mosque of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). He discussed his idea with him, but Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, rejected it because it had not been approved by the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). A lengthy debate followed, after which Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, was convinced that ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was right.

He called for Zayd bin Thaabit, may Allah be pleased with him, a youth of perfect character, and commissioned him to compile the Quran into one volume. At first Zayd objected for the same reason, which had made Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, protest. Then he agreed, but felt that the commission was an extremely difficult task. He had to collect every verse and every chapter from those who owned them, and then classify them in the order, which was prescribed by the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ).

 After Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, accomplished the task and had organized the Quran into one book, he submitted the precious collection to Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, who kept it in his possession until the end of his life. During ‘Umar's Caliphate it was placed in the custody of his daughter, Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, the Prophet's wife. Finally, in the days of ‘Uthmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, when different readers began to recite it differently, the Caliph had several copies of it made, and distributed them to the various countries, which comprised the Islamic world. The modern edition of the Quran is the ‘Uthmaan copy, which is considered the standard to which every other copy should conform.

The compilation of the Quran during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, is regarded by many people as his most significant achievement -- even more significant than the war of apostasy and the conquests of 'Iraq and Syria. `Ali bin Abi Taalib, may Allah have pleased with him, used to say: "May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr! He is worthy of being superbly rewarded, because he was unique in compiling the Quran."

To Be Concluded

Sources:

The History of Islam, by: Akbar Shah Najeebadi

Al-Azhar magazine Vol. 60 part 9

The Muslim Conquest of Syria, by: David Nicole

Abu Bakr As-siddeeq, by Muhammad Rajih Jad'an

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