Abu Bakr, the First Rightly-Guided Caliph of Islam

Madinah, Saudi Arabia
Madinah. Huda, Islam Expert

Background:

Abu Bakr was one of the Prophet Muhammad's closest friends and advisers. He was a respected merchant whom the Prophet Muhammad nicknamed "As-Siddiq" (the truthful one). When the Prophet Muhammad began to preach Islam, Abu Bakr was one of the first people to embrace its message. Abu Bakr used his wealth to help further the cause of Islam, paying for the freedom of slaves and providing shelter to converts who had been exiled.

He remained a constant Companion of the Prophet throughout his life and trials, and was among the group that accompanied the Prophet Muhammad during the migration to Madinah. Their bond was further strengthened when Muhammad married Abu Bakr's daughter, Aisha.

Selection As Caliph:

During the Prophet Muhammad's final illness, Abu Bakr often led the prayers in his place. When the news of the Prophet's death first broke, the entire community erupted into chaos and denial. Abu Bakr helped calm everyone down with these wise and gentle words of advice: "Listen to me, oh people. Those of you who worshiped Muhammad, know that he is dead like any other mortal. But those of you who worship the God of Muhammad (saws) know that *He* is alive and would live forever."

Several of the elder Companions of the Prophet then held a meeting to choose a successor. After lengthy discussions, Abu Bakr was selected and people came to pledge their support to him.

Abu Bakr humbly responded: "I never wished for this position. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet. When I disobey Him and His Prophet, do not obey me.".

Strengths As Caliph:

As Caliph, Abu Bakr faced many challenges. The recent death of the Prophet Muhammad triggered friction among various Arab tribes, putting existing alliances at risk.

Rebels threatened the authority of the Islamic state, and Abu Bakr was charged with restoring order. The community faced border threats from the Roman and Persian Empires, which he was able to deter. Abu Bakr was known for being rather tender-hearted, and he ruled with mercy and justice. But he also fiercely defended the Muslim community from internal and external threats, and strived to fulfill the orders and mission of his dear friend, the Prophet Muhammad.

End of Rule:

As Abu Bakr neared the end of his rule, he fell severely ill. He called a number of the elder Companions, and discussed with them his successor. They agreed that Umar ib Al-Khattab would make a good choice, and Abu Bakr wrote a testament in which he named Umar as the next Caliph. He ordered his daughter to distribute what remained of his estate to the public treasury. Abu Bakr died in 634 A.D. after only two years as Caliph, and was buried next to the Prophet Muhammad.

Dates:

632 - 634 A.D.