[ From the book “Companions of the Prophet” compiled by Mohamed & Albani ]
Edited for easy viewing by Blitz, http://www.roudhah.net/
2. WITNESS TO TRUTH
During the times of Abu Bakr, slavery was a deep rooted institution, and was a conspicuous feature of Makkah. Most of the Quraish were slave owners and thus in the society of Makkah there was a considerable sprinkling of slaves. These slaves were the victims of exploitation, and were treated in an inhuman way by their masters. Many of the slaves were attracted by Islam, for in its teachings lay a charter of freedom for the distressed humanity. Islam preached the cult of equality. It stipulated that all persons were the slaves of God, and no person could be the slave of another person. When many slaves accepted Islam, the slave owners of Makkah felt much concerned, and considered such conversions as a threat to their economic interests.
Persecution of the slaves
Of all the persons who became Muslims, the slaves were the most vulnerable. These men of the Quraish who were converted to Islam continued to enjoy the protection of their respective tribes. The slaves enjoyed no such protection. In order to arrest the progress of Islam among the slaves, the Quraish accordingly resorted to a campaign of persecution and torture against the slaves who professed to be Muslims.
Bilal, an Abyssinian who later became the ‘Muadhdhin‘ of Islam was a slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf. Bilal accepted Islam and thereupon his master subjected him to great torture. Umayyah would make Bilal lie down on the burning sand, and would place a huge block of stone on his chest. Umayyah would then ask Bilal to give up Islam, or he would be tortured to death. Umayyah would sometimes tie a rope round the neck of Bilal, and had him dragged in the streets. Sometimes Bilal was made to put on steel armor, and stand in the hot sun for hours. In spite of these tortures and threats, Bilal remained firm and steadfast in his faith in Islam. The condition of Bilal excited the pity of Abu Bakr. He purchased him from his master and set him free.
Abu Fakih was a slave of Safwan bin Umayyah. Abu Fakih accepted Islam, and when Safwan came to know that Abu Fakih had become a Muslim, he subjected him to great torture. He would bind him with a rope, and drag him on the burning sand. Abu Fakih was asked to worship the idols, but he said that he would worship Allah alone. His master put a very heavy stone on his chest which brought out his tongue. In spite of these persecutions, the faith of Abu Fakih in Islam did not waver. When Abu Bakr came to know of the pitiable condition of Abu Fakih, he purchased him from his master and set him free.
Lubaynah was a slave girl of Umar. She accepted Islam, and Umar who had not accepted Islam by that time would beat her mercilessly until he was tired. He would then say:
“I have only stopped beating you, because I am tired.”
She would say:
“May God treat you in the same way.”
He asked her to renounce Islam, but she stuck to her faith. When Abu Bakr came to know of her sad state, he paid for her, and set her free.
Al Nahdiah and her daughter who became Muslims were the slaves of a lady of Bani Abdul Dar. Their mistress subjected them to great torture when she came to know that they had accepted Islam. Abu Bakr remonstrated with the lady at the treatment she meted out to her slaves. The mistress said:
“You have corrupted them; you may free them if you are so sympathetic to them.”
Abu Bakr paid the price asked for, and liberated the women.
Umm Ubays and Zinnira
Abu Bakr also liberated two women slaves, Umm Ubays and Zinnira. Abu Jahl beat Zinnira on her conversion to Islam to such an extent that she lost her eye sight. When she lost her eye sight the Quraish said that she had lost her sight because of the curse of Al Lat and Al Uzzah. She was asked to recant, but she remained steadfast in her faith in Islam. She prayed to God, and miraculously her eye sight was restored. Abu Bakr paid for these women and set them free.
Slaves liberated by Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr purchased the freedom of eight slaves – four men and four women. The men were Bilal, Abu Fakih, Ammar, and Abu Fuhayra. The women were: Lubaynah, Nabdiya, Umm Ubays, and Zinnira.
Abu Bakr’s father’s reaction to the liberation of slaves
Most of the slaves liberated by Abu Bakr were either women or old and frail men. The father of Abu Bakr said to him:
“Son, I hear you are freeing old and weak persons; why don’t you free healthy and strong persons who could be a source of strength to you?”
Abu Bakr replied that he was freeing the slaves for the sake of God, and not for his own sake.
The Holy Prophet of Islam was all praise for Abu Bakr for his generosity in purchasing the freedom of slaves who were tortured on the ground that they had accepted Islam.
The conduct of Abu Bakr was approved by God in the following verses of the Holy Quran:
“He who gives in charity and fears Allah And in all sincerity testifies to the Truth; We shall indeed make smooth for him the path of Bliss” – [ Quran:: 92: 5-7 ]
“Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification; And have in their minds no favor from any one For which a reward is expected in return, But only the desire to seek the Countenance, Of their Lord, Most High; And soon they shall attain complete satisfaction.” – [ Quran:: 92: 8-21 ]
The first public address about Islam. For three years the Muslims kept a secret of their faith, and prayed in secret. Abu Bakr always urged on the Holy Prophet that as Islam was the Truth, it should be declared publicly. The Holy Prophet assured Abu Bakr that Islam would be proclaimed publicly when Allah so commanded.
Some time in 613 C.E. the Holy Prophet received the Divine Command to make an open declaration of faith. At the first public meeting held to call the people to God, the first public address in the history of Islam, inviting the people to offer allegiance to the Holy Prophet was delivered by Abu Bakr. The Quraish were exasperated at this daring of the Muslims. In a fit of fury the Quraish young men rushed at Abu Bakr, and beat him mercilessly till he lost consciousness.
Conversion of the mother of Abu Bakr to Islam
Abu Bakr was carried to his home. When he regained consciousness, he did not care for his own wounds: he wanted to know how was the Holy Prophet. When Abu Bakr felt some relief, he insisted that he should be taken to the Holy Prophet. His mother agreed to take him to the Holy Prophet. When the Holy Prophet saw Abu Bakr coming to inquire about him when his own wounds had not healed. he was much impressed with the loyalty and faith of Abu Bakr. The Holy Prophet blessed Abu Bakr and kissed him on the forehead. Overwhelmed with emotion, the mother of Abu Bakr declared the article of faith and became a Muslim.
The Holy Prophet in the Ka’aba
One day the Holy Prophet went to the Ka’aba and circumambulated it. As he passed in front of the ‘Black Stone‘, and kissed it, some of the Quraish assembled there used foul language against him. The Holy Prophet kept quiet and took another round of the Ka’aba. As he came to the ‘Black Stone’ for the second time, the Quraish abused him again. The Holy Prophet did not mind them, and went moving around the Kaaba. As he completed the third round the Quraish abused him once again. This time he turned his face to them, and said:
“Listen to me O Quraish; I bring you slaughter.”
This overawed the Quraish and they dispersed.
The following day the Quraish assembled in the Kaaba, and vowed vengeance against the Holy Prophet. After some time, the Holy Prophet also came to the Ka’aba. The Quraish surrounded him and said:
“Are you the one who has abused our gods?”
The Holy Prophet said that it was so. Thereupon the Quraish fell upon the Holy Prophet, and gave him a severe beating. When Abu Bakr came to know of this he rushed to the spot. He interposed himself between the Holy Prophet and the Quraish weeping and saying:
“Would you kill a man for saying that Allah is his Lord.”
Thereupon the Quraish fell on Abu Bakr, and beat him. The beating was so severe that blood flowed from the head of Abu Bakr and clotted his hair. He did not mind his own injuries, and even on the sick bed, he expressed his anxiety about the safety and welfare of the Holy Prophet.
Uqba b Abi Mohit
Once when the Holy Prophet was saying prayers in the Ka’aba, Uqba b Abi Mohit, a Quraish young man threw his sheet round the neck of the Holy Prophet, and twisted it with a view to strangling him. Abu Bakr who hovered close by fell on Uqba and rescued the Holy Prophet.
When the Holy Prophet invited the people to Islam, his uncle Abu Lahab and his wife Umm Jamil became hostile to him. Umm Jamil would carry thorns and place them in the way of the Holy Prophet. About Abu Lahab and his wife, the Holy Prophet received the following revelation from God:
“Abu Lahab and his hands God blast his wealth and gains useless at the last. He shall roast in flames held fast. With his wife, the bearer of the wood aghast, On her neck a rope of palm fiber cast.”
One day Umm Jamil came to the Ka’aba where Abu Bakr and the Holy Prophet were praying. She failed to see the Holy Prophet, and addressing Abu Bakr she said:
“I hear that Muhammad is satirizing me. If I find him I will smash him. We reject the reprobate. His words we repudiate; His religion, we loathe and hate.”
When Abu Bakr remonstrated with her, she abused him.
Persecutions of other Muslims
The persecutions of the Quraish were not confined to the Holy Prophet or Abu Bakr. Almost every Muslim convert became a victim of the persecutions of the Quraish.
When Usman b Affan who later became the third Caliph of Islam, was converted to Islam, he was bound and beaten by his uncle Hakam b Al’Aas.
When Zubair b Awam accepted Islam his uncle wrapped him in a mat, and passed smoke through his nose.
When ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud recited the Quran in the Ka’aba, he was mercilessly beaten by the Quraish.
Umm Shareek a lady who accepted Islam was made to stand under the hot sun for three days, and was not allowed to drink water.
Khabbab when converted to Islam was forced by the Quraish to lie on live cinders.
Ammar when converted to Islam was thrown on burning sand and severely beaten till he lost consciousness. His mother Sumaiyya was stabbed to death by Abu Jahl. His father Yasir was tortured to death.
Suhaib was beaten so mercilessly that he lost his mental balance.
Reaction of Abu Bakr
Abu Bakr felt distressed at the persecution of the Muslims. He did all he could to alleviate the sufferings of the Muslims. Abu Bakr suffered along with other Muslims. He had a flourishing business, but as a result of his acceptance of Islam his business suffered a good deal. At the time of his conversion to Islam he had 40,000 dirhams with him. He spent a great part of this money for the relief of the Muslims in distress. Abu Bakr did not mind these sufferings, and the more he suffered the deeper became his faith in Islam.
Migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia. As more and more persons in Makkah became Muslims, the Quraish lost their nerve, and intensified their persecutions against the Muslims. Seeing the afflictions on his companions, the Holy Prophet advised them to migrate to Abyssinia, the ruler whereof was known for his tolerance. When the first batch of the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, Abu Bakr decided to stay in Makkah to be by the side of the Holy Prophet.
Boycott against the Banu Hashim
Some time in 617 C.E., the Quraish enforced a boycott against the Banu Hashim, and the Holy Prophet and whole of Banu Hashim, except Abu Lahab and his family, were shut up in a pass away from Makkah. All social relations with the Banu Hashim were cut off and their state was that of a sort of imprisonment.
Three groups of the Muslims
At this stage the Muslims came to be divided in three groups. One group comprised of the emigrants to Abyssinia. The other group comprised of the Banu Hashim who were ex-communicated. The rest of the Muslims formed the third group. They were not ex-communicated. but there was no relaxation in their persecution by the unbelievers.
Abu Bakr’s migration
Abu Bakr belonged to the third group. He felt sad at the ex-communication of the Banu Hashim. As Abu Bakr looked around him he felt much distressed. With a heavy heart, Abu Bakr left Makkah one day with the intention to migrate to Abyssinia. He took the road to Yemen from where he was to sail for Abyssinia. When he had proceeded some five stages from Makkah, he met Ad-Dughna at Barka al Ghamaad. Ad-Dughna was an old friend of Abu Bakr. He was the chief of the Qarah tribe, a section of the Quraish. The Qarah tribe was in alliance with the Bani Zuhra.
Ad-Dughnas’s offer of protection
Ad-Dughna inquired of Abu Bakr as to where he was going, and he told him that he was going to seek refuge in Abyssinia as the Quraish of Makkah would allow him no peace. Ad-Dughna who had a high opinion about Abu Bakr said:
“O Abu Bakr, we cannot suffer you to go from Makkah. You are an asset to the city. You are always keen to fulfill the needs of others. You are so good and noble. I take you under my protection, and you should come back with me to Makkah. Rest assured no harm will come to you.”
Back in Makkah
Back in Makkah, Ad-Dughna declared that Abu Bakr was under his protection and that no one should molest him in any way. Abu Bakr built a small mosque by the side of his house. This was indeed the first mosque built in the history of Islam.
In this mosque Abu Bakr would pray and recite the Holy Quran. Abu Bakr was tender hearted and he was so overwhelmed with the depth of the Word of God that while reciting the verses he would burst into sobs and tears. He had a sweet melodious voice, and his recitation from the Holy Quran had a melody which appealed to the heart. Women and young men of the Quraish watched him pray and recite verses from the Holy Quran with particular interest, and they felt that if a man of the status and standing of Abu Bakr could be so overwhelmed with these words, these must be the Word of God and should have a ring of truth about them.
Withdrawal of the protection of Ad-Dughna
The Quraish felt nervous. They apprehended that if Abu Bakr continued his prayers in the open, he might attract some persons to him. Some of the leading Quraish went to Ad-Dughna and said:
“Have you given him this protection so that he may publicly injure our feelings? He recites the Quran in a sweet voice, and we fear that he may seduce our women and youth to his faith. You should advise him to pray indoors.”
Ad-Dughna saw Abu Bakr and advised him that the most expedient course for him was to pray indoors and not to annoy the Quraish. To Abu Bakr there could be no expediency in the matter of faith. He said to Ad-Dughna:
“You are advising me as I am under your protection. What if I renounce your protection?”
“In that case I will have nothing to say” answered Ad-Dughna.
Thereupon Abu Bakr said:
“Under these circumstances I renounce your protection. The protection of Allah is enough for me.”
Ad-Dughna returned crest-fallen, and he told the Quraish that as Abu Bakr was no longer under his protection, they could deal with him direct in any way they liked.
Deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija
In 619 C.E. Abu Talib and Khadija died. Among the Muslims the year 619 C.E. came to be known as ‘The Year of Sorrow‘.
Abu Talib had been more than a father to the Holy Prophet. In spite of the strong pressure of the Quraish he had protected the Holy Prophet.
Khadija had been for the Holy Prophet more than a wife. She had placed all her wealth, which was considerable, at his disposal. She had given him love. She was the first person to be converted to Islam, and had been a pillar of strength for the Holy Prophet as well as the Muslims.
The passing away of Abu Talib and Khadija created a great vacuum in the life of the Holy Prophet, and he felt very lonely and disconsolate. In this hour of bereavement Abu Bakr tried to console the Holy Prophet, and he spent most of his time in his company. It was the endeavor of Abu Bakr that he should as far as possible fill the vacuum created by the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija.
Holy Prophet’s marriage with Sauda
At the instance of Khawla binti Hakim the Holy Prophet married Sauda binti Zama’a. Sauda was an elderly lady and was among the early converts to Islam. She was a good housewife, and looked very well after the house and the children of the Holy Prophet.
Proposal for engagement to Ayesha
Khawla binti Hakim suggested to the Holy Prophet that he should marry some young lady as well who could keep him company. Whom could he marry, inquired the Holy Prophet. Khawla suggested that Ayesha the daughter of Abu Bakr would be a good choice. The Holy Prophet left it to Khawla to pursue the matter with Abu Bakr. Khawla approached Abu Bakr, and his wife Umm Ruman and made the proposal for the engagement of Ayesha to the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr felt honored at the proposal, but his difficulty was that Ayesha was already engaged to Jubayr son of Mut’im, and it was against Abu Bakr’s code of conduct to break his pledge. When this difficulty was brought to the notice of the Holy Prophet, he said that God would Himself provide a way out of the difficulty.
Abu Bakr called at the house of A1Mut’im. Al-Mut’im was still a disbeliever, and Mu’tim’s wife said to Abu Bakr:
“O son of Abu Qahafa, suppose we married our son to your daughter, you would turn him into an infidel, and convert him to your religion“.
Abu Bakr made no reply, but turning to Mut’im said,
“What does she mean? ”
Mut’im said indifferently:
“She is saying what you have heard.”
Abu Bakr said:
“This means that you repudiate the engagement.”
“So let it be,” said Al-Mut’im.
Ayesha’s engagement to the Holy Prophet
At the repudiation of the engagement by Al-Mut’im, Abu Bakr felt happy, and returned home relieved of a great burden. God had Himself provided a way out of the difficulty. Abu Bakr hastened with the good news to Khawla, and asked her to invite the Holy Prophet to his house. The Holy Prophet responded to the call, and formally asked for the hand of Ayesha. Abu Bakr was overwhelmed with joy and emotion and said:
“O Prophet of God, all that I have is yours.”
At a simple ceremony Ayesha was engaged to the Holy Prophet. It was, however, decided that the actual marriage ceremony would be held later.
Age of Ayesha
In most of the accounts that have come down to us, it is stated that at the time of her engagement to the Holy Prophet, Ayesha was a girl of six or seven years only. This appears to be an understatement. We have it on record that when Abu Bakr became a Muslim his children included Abdur Rahman, Abdullah, Asma, and Ayesha. Abu Bakr became a Muslim in 610 A.D. and Ayesha must be at least eleven or twelve years of age at the time of her engagement, and not six or seven years.
Abu Bakr’s relationship with the Holy Prophet
After the engagement of Ayesha to the Holy Prophet, the new relationship further strengthened the bond, between the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr was now not merely a follower or a disciple; he was the Holy Prophet’s father-in-law as well. That added to his stature, and Abu Bakr felt elated at the honor.
One night in 620 C.E., after the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija when the Holy Prophet felt sad and disconsolate, and things for Islam appeared to be dark, the Holy Prophet was uplifted to the Heavens, and there he was assured of the destiny of Islam. After this experience of ascension the Holy Prophet declared that the previous night he had been carried from Makkah to Masjid al Aqsa at Jerusalem, and from there he had ascended to the heavens.
Reaction of the people
When the non-believing Quraish heard of this visitation to the heavens, they regarded it as an absurdity, and ridiculed the Holy Prophet for his declaration. They contended that a caravan took a month to reach Jerusalem, and another month to come back, and thus it was impossible for any one to go to Jerusalem and return in one night. They further held that it was fantastic that a man should ascend the heavens.
Reaction of Abu Bakr
There were some Muslims as well who wavered in their belief in the truth about the ascension of the Holy Prophet to the heavens. Some persons went to Abu Bakr, and told him of the news of the journey of the Holy Prophet to Jerusalem and ascension to the heavens. When some persons expressed doubts about the veracity of the ascension, Abu Bakr silenced them with the remarks:
“There are many things beyond one’s comprehension, and if Muhammad (peace be on him) says that he went to Jerusalem and ascended the heavens, it must be true for he never tells a lie, and being a prophet he commands resources that are not available to others.”
Witness to truth
On hearing the news, Abu Bakr hastened to the mosque where the Holy Prophet was describing his nocturnal journey to the people who had assembled there. After hearing the account, Abu Bakr stood up and said:
“All this is true. Your description is faithful and correct. I believe in every word of what you have said, for you say nothing but the truth. I testify that you are the Messenger of God, and God has placed invisible forces at your disposal. As such there is nothing improbable in your ascension to the heavens.”
Siddiq – the Veracious.
The Holy Prophet felt happy at what Abu Bakr had said. Addressing Abu Bakr, the Holy Prophet said:
“Verily, Abu Bakr you are the Siddiq. You have a penetrating vision and you can discern the truth which an ordinary person finds difficult to understand. Surely many things can be done under the command of Allah which ordinary human intellect may not be able to grasp.”
That is how Abu Bakr got the honorific title of ‘Siddiq’- the Veracious (Witness to Truth), which henceforward became a part and parcel of his name.
Four years after the proclamation of the mission of the Holy Prophet, war broke out between the Persians and the Byzantines. The sympathies of the Quraish of Makkah was with the Persians who were polytheists. The Muslims on the other hand had their sympathies for the Byzantines who were Christians and believed in one God. In the war the Persians overran the Byzantine territories. Syria and Jerusalem fell to Persians in 614 C.E. The Persians next marched to Egypt and annexed it 616 C.E The Byzantines were defeated, and lost a good deal of territory. The Quraish of Makkah rejoiced at the victory of Persia. They took such victory to signify that their gods were superior to the God of the Christians arid the Muslims.
It was at this stage that the Surah Ar-Rum was revealed. It provided:
“Alif, Lam Mim. The Greeks (Byzantines) have been defeated in a neighboring land; But after their defeat, they will gain a victory within a few years Allah’s is the command before and after. On the day that the Greeks win a victory, The believers will rejoice. Allah gives victory to whom He wills, He is the Mighty One, the Merciful. That is Allah’s promise. His promise can never be untrue; yet most men do not know it.”
Reaction of the Quraish
When the Holy Prophet informed his companions of the revelation, they felt very happy. When the revelation was made, the Byzantines lay low, and prima facie appeared difficult that the Byzantines would defeat the Persians and regain their territories. Even among the Muslims there were some persons who felt skeptic. Abu Bakr’s faith know no wavering. He felt confident that the prophesy would be fulfilled. When the unbelievers came to know of this revelation they ridiculed it. They said:
“By Lat and Uzza, the Byzantines can never defeat the Persians.”
Abu Bakr had an altercation with some of the Quraish. He said:
“How can the revelation of God be false?”
Ubaiy b Khalf a Quraish leader said to Abu Bakr:
“If you are sure, let us have a wager. That will show where the truth lies.”
Abu Bakr said:
The revealed verses did not specify any time limit about the fulfillment of the prophesy. Abu Bakr consulted the Holy Prophet as to the time limit and he said that God willing the prophesy would be fulfilled within nine years. Abu Bakr accordingly entered into a wager agreement with Ubaiy b. Khalf. According to the agreement it was stipulated that the party which lost the wager would pay one hundred camels to the other party. The time limit for the fulfillment of the prophesy was fixed at nine years. It was further laid down that the agreement would be binding on the heirs of the parties.
Fulfillment of the prophesy.
Within a few years the Byzantines were strong enough to launch an attack against Persia. In the battle of Issus in 622 C.E. the Persians suffered the first defeat. Other battles were fought during 623-25 in which the Byzantines had the upper hand. The decisive battle was fought on the banks of the Tigris near the city of Mosul in 627 C.E. when Persia surrendered and asked for terms. As a result of this reverse there was a revolt against the Persian king Khosroes II who was killed by his own son Sherwayh. Sherwayh made peace with the Byzantines by abandoning all the conquests that Persia had made earlier. Thus the promise of God as made in Surah Ar-Rum was literally fulfilled. By this time Ubaiy was dead, but his heirs honored the agreement and gave a hundred camels to Abu Bakr!
They also accepted Islam, for the fulfillment of the prophesy was a proof positive of the truth of Islam. Abu Bakr gave away all the hundred camels as Sadaqa.