Abu Bakr As-Siddiq

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Ten Blessed Companions
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq
Umar bin Al-Khattab
Uthman bin Affaan
Ali Ibn Abi Talib
Abdur-Rahman bin Awf
Saad ibn Abi Waqqas
Said ibn Zayd
Abu Ubaydah bin Al-Jarrah
Talhah ibn Ubaydullah
Zubair bin Al-Awam

Abū Bakr(c. 57323rd August 634 (19th Jumada al-Thanni 13)[1]) was the first Muslim ruler after the Prophet Muhammad (632634). While Sunnis regard him as his rightful successor (caliph), chosen by the people, indeed, the first of four righteous Caliphs (Rashidun), the Shi'a insist that he violated Muhammad's direct orders and orchestrated a Coup d'état. International scholarly consensus lists him as the first Muslim Caliph[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9].


Full name

Abū Bakr (ابو بكر) was his kunya. His full name was ‘Abdu’llah ibn Uthman, or 'Abdu'llah, son of Uthman'. His father, Uthman, bore the kunya Abu Quhafah. Thus, Abu Bakr was also known as Abdu'llah ibn Abi Quhafah.


573 CE (51 BH) – 610 CE (12 BH): Early life

Abu Bakr was born in Mecca to the Banu Taim, a sub-clan of the Quraish tribe. According to early Muslim historians, he was a merchant, and highly esteemed as a judge, as an interpreter of dreams, and as one learned in Meccan traditions. He was one of the last people anyone would have expected to convert to the faith preached by his kinsman Muhammad. Yet he was one of the first converts to Islam, and instrumental in converting many of the Quraish and the residents of Mecca.

Originally called Abdu'l-Ka'bah ("servant of the Kaaba"), on his conversion he assumed the name of Abdu'llah ("servant of God"). However, he is usually styled Abu Bakr (from the Arabic word bakr, meaning a young camel) due to his interest in raising camels.

610 CE (12 BH) – 632 CE (10 AH): Muhammad's era

Assuming Abu Bakr was born in 573 CE (51 BH), he was 37 years old when the 40 year old Muhammad proclaimed prophethood.

First man to adopt Islam?

Muslim scholars agree that the first woman to adopt Islam was Khadijah, Muhammad's first wife. However, there is some disagreement over the identity of the first male to convert. Sunnis as well as Shi'as agree that Ali ibn Abi Talib was the first male convert, however he was still a child according to the Sunnis. That would make Ali ibn Abi Talib as the first general male convert, and Abu Bakr the first adult male convert.


Abu Bakr, as one of the early converts, endured to the full the persecution of the Meccans who still followed the traditional religion. This persecution fell hardest upon the slaves who had converted to Islam. Their owners could torment them at will, whereas the free Muslims were often protected by their kinsfolk. Abu Bakr is said to have impoverished himself buying the freedom of several Muslim slaves, including:

When Muhammad migrated from Mecca in the migration to Medina of 622 CE (0 AH), Abu Bakr alone accompanied him.

Abu Bakr was also linked to Muhammad by marriage: Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha married Muhammad soon after the migration to Medina.


Abu Bakr participated in all of the battles Muhammad led. These were the Battle of Badr (624 CE (2 AH)), the Battle of Uhud (625 CE (3 AH)), and the Battle of Hunayn (630 CE (8 AH)).

632 CE (10 AH): Death of Muhammad

On Saturday, June 6, Abu Bakr was included in the Usama's dispatchment on the orders of Muhammad, destined to go towards the Byzantian Empire.

During the prophet's last illness, Abu Bakr led the prayers in Muhammad's absence.

Assuming Abu Bakr was born in 573 CE (51 BH), he was 59 years old when the 63 year old Muhammad died.

632 CE (10 AH) – 634 CE (12 AH): His era

Succession to Muhammad

Soon after the prophet's death (on 12th Rabbi al-Awwal 11 (10th June 632)), a gathering of prominent Ansar and some of the Muhajirun, in Medina, acclaimed Abu Bakr as the new Muslim leader or caliph. What happened at this meeting, called Saqifah, is much disputed.

Abu Bakr's assumption of power is an extremely controversial matter, and the source of the first schism in Islam, between Sunni and Shia Islam.

632 CE (10 AH) – 633 CE (11 AH): The Ridda wars

Main article: Ridda wars

Troubles emerged soon after Abu Bakr's succession, threatening the unity and stability of the new community and state. Various Arab tribes of locations of Hejaz and Nejd rebelled against the caliph and the new system. Some withheld the zakat, the alms tax, though they did not otherwise challenge the religion of Muhammad. Others apostasised outright and returned to their pre-Islamic religion and traditions, classified by Muslims as idolatry. The tribes claimed that they had submitted to Muhammad and that with Muhammad's death, their allegiance was ended [citation needed].

Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader but joined the Muslim religious community, of which he was the new head. Apostasy is a capital offense under traditional interpretations of Islamic law, and Abu Bakr declared war on the rebels. This was the start of the Ridda wars, Arabic for the Wars of Apostasy. The severest struggle was the war with Ibn Habib al-Hanefi, known as "Musailimah the Liar", who claimed to be a prophet and Muhammad's true successor. The Muslim general Khalid bin Walid finally defeated al-Hanefi at the Battle of Akraba.

Expeditions to the north

After suppressing internal dissension and completely subduing Arabia, Abu Bakr directed his generals towards the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. Khalid bin Walid conquered Iraq in a single campaign, and a successful expedition into Syria also took place. Fred Donner, in his book The Early Islamic Conquests, argues that Abu Bakr's "foreign" expeditions were merely an extension of the Ridda Wars, in that he sent his troops against Arab tribes living on the borders of the Fertile Crescent. Given that the steppes and deserts over which Arabic-speaking tribes roamed extended without break from southern Syria down to Yemen, any polity that controlled only the southern part of the steppe was inherently insecure.

The Qur'an

Some traditions about the origin of the Qur'an say that Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving it in written form. It is said that after the hard-won victory over Musailimah, Umar ibn al-Khattab (the later Caliph Umar), saw that many of the Muslims who had memorized the Qur'an from the lips of Muhammad had died in battle. Abu Bakr asked Umar to oversee the collection of the revelations. The record, when completed, was deposited with Hafsa bint Umar, daughter of Umar, and one of the wives of Muhammad. Later it became the basis of Uthman ibn Affan's definitive text of the Qur'an. However, other historians give Uthman the principal credit for collecting and preserving the Qur'an. Shi'as strongly refute the idea that Abu Bakr or Umar were instrumental in the collection or preservation of the Qur'an, rather that they refused to accept Ali's Qur'an. [10]

634: Death

Abu Bakr died on 23rd August 634 (19th Jumada al-Thanni 13) in Medina. Shortly before his death, likely of natural causes (one tradition ascribes it to poison), he urged the Muslim community to accept Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. The community did so, without serious incident. However, this succession is also a matter of controversy. Shi'a Muslims believe that the leadership should have been assumed by Ali ibn Abi Talib, without any recourse to consultation (shura).

Abu Bakr initially served without pay. His followers insisted that he take an official stipend. At his death, his will returned all these payments to the treasury.[11]

Assuming Abu Bakr was born in 573 CE (51 BH), he was 61 years old when he died.

Abu Bakr was buried and still lies in the Masjid al Nabawi mosque in Medina, alongside Muhammad and Umar ibn al-Khattab.


Asma bint Umais became his widow with two children: Umm Kulthum binte Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Her daughter A'isha also survived him.

Abu Bakr's assumption of power is an extremely controversial matter, and the source of the first schism in Islam, between Sunni and Shia Islam. Shi'a believe that Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was his designated successor, while Sunnis believe that Muhammad deliberately declined to designate a successor. They argue that Muhammad endorsed the traditional Arabian method of shura or consultation, as the way for the community to choose leaders. Designating one's successor was the sign of kingship, or mulk, which the independence-minded tribesmen disliked. Whatever the truth of the matter, Ali gave his formal bay'ah, or submission, to Abu Bakr and to Abu Bakr's two successors. (The Sunni depict this bay'ah as enthusiastic, and Ali as a supporter of Abu Bakr and Umar; the Shi'a argue that Ali's support was only pro forma, and that he effectively withdrew from public life in protest). The Sunni/Shi'a schism did not erupt into open warfare until much later. Many volumes have been written on the affair of the succession. A detailed treatment can be found at Succession to Muhammad.

Sunni view

Sunni Muslims also honor him as Al-Siddiq ("the truthful"). The family name Siddiqui (alternative spellings, Siddiqi, Siddique, etc.) is used by families to signify descent (purported or otherwise) from Abu Bakr.

Sunnis view him as a trusted lieutenant, placed high in Muhammad's councils. Sunnis also view that Abu Bakr lead the prayer during Muhammad's last illness on his instructions, and that many took this as an indication that Abu Bakr would succeed Muhammad.

In a Sunni hadith mentioned in Sahih Al-Bukhari, Ibn Abbas is attributed the following ref>[1]</ref>:

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq
The Prophet came out during his illness from which he died, his head bound with a cloth. He sat on the minbar, thanked Allah, praised Him and 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 a bosom friend, I would take Abu Bakr as my bosom friend. But, the friendship of Islam is better. Block off every door in this Masjid except the door of Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq

Sunni view that Abu Bakr's had superior faith and was among the ten promised paradise, and also view the event were he and Muhammad were in the cave as one of his merits. They view that Muhammad Approved of Abu Bakr leading the prayer and that there are several Hadiths of Abu Bakr's succession.

Shia view

Shi'as believe that Abu Bakr, far from being a devout cool Muslim and wise and humble man, was a schemer who seized the Islamic state for himself, displacing the proper heir, Ali. They believe that Abu Bakr and Umar persecuted Ali, his family, and his followers, and in so doing, caused the death of Ali's wife and Muhammad's daughter, Fatima Zahra, and her unborn child, Al Muhsin.

See also


  1. http://www.anwary-islam.com/companion/abu_bakr_siddiq.htm
  2. The Rightly-Guided Caliphs The University of Southern California
  3. The Islamic World to 1600, The University of Calgary
  4. The Caliphate, Washington State University
  5. Abu Bakr, Princeton University
  6. Abu Bakr, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2006
  7. Abu Bakr, The Encyclopædia Britannica
  8. Religion & Ethics - Islam, BBC
  9. Through a Glass Darkly: On the Misunderstanding of Islam and America and 9/11, University of Pennsylvania
  10. http://al-islam.org/encyclopedia/chapter8/4.html
  11. (Age of Faith, Durant, p. 187)


  • Fred Donner. The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton University Press, 1981.
  • W. Montgomery Watt. Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford University Press, 1953.

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