Abu Bakr Assideeq: His piety and wisdom in his succession

In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Dear brothers: The subject today’s lecture is the noble companion: Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him.

The Caliphate Khutba (sermon):

When the noble companion Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, became the Caliph of Muslims, he delivered a speech known by some historians as ‘the caliphate sermon’. Actually, if we pay attention to the words of this sermon, we will find that it encompassed marvelous and brilliant principles.
The first word he said was:

O people, I took over the rule over you but I’m not any better than you.

He did not distinguish himself from other Muslims:

He considered himself one of the Muslims, and did not distinguish himself from them (although he was their Caliph), he understood that this Caliphate is not a kind of honor but a mandate; which means that the Caliph is not better than any Muslim, but he is the man who shoulders the heaviest burden amongst them. He started from this point, and that is how the real believer behaves. When the Prophet PBUH was asked about his supreme morals he said:

My Lord disciplined me and He perfected my conduct

[Reported by Al-Qurtubi]

Dear brothers: Man’s position might get higher, because of his wealth, strength, honorable lineage, handsomeness, knowledge, intelligence, or wealth, but does this have an impact on his character? Our master Abu-Bakr As-Siddiq was one of those very few people whose characters never changed even after being the most prominent figures in community, and they did not consider themselves above others. Thus, his sermon shows that a common man, a man of low status, or low social position, could be modest as he has nothing to make him arrogant! However, the real good manners are shown when man’s position gets higher, but he remains modest, and feeling the need to Allah the Almighty. The Question to be asked here is: Does he stay firm on worshipping Allah, or does the new position have a bad impact on his morals, and make him cruel and arrogant?

O people, I took over the rule over you while I’m not any better than you

This is the first point; the believer always considers himself one of the people, which makes them love him, stay with him, and like his company. However, if he distinguishes himself from them and imagines that he is better than them they will leave him.

The positive role of people is giving support and advice:

People also have their positive role, which is giving support and advice to the ruler.
Our Master Abu-Bakr said:

If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me

Giving support and advice develops Muslim community:

It is a great word that should be applied by Muslims within their Community. For example, when one of your brothers in faith achieves excellence in something, would you antagonize him, envy him, or wish that he gets deprived from this Grace? If you do that, then this is a kind of hypocrisy (it means that you are not a real believer). Instead of that, you should support him if he is right, or you should advise him if he is wrong, and there is no any third position. So, you should either support your friend, your teacher or any other one if he is on the right way, or you should advise him if he has made a mistake, slept or got misled, and in both cases you should not hate him. Hence, you are either a supporter or an adviser to your brothers in faith. By this, the Muslim community grows, and becomes stronger and more cohesive.

Envy and public disclosure are hypocrites’ characteristics:

What happens now is not like that; when people have lack faith they expose others’ faults publically instead of giving advice, and they envy others instead of supporting them. These two acts are the characteristics of hypocrites. The Muslim is either a supporter or an adviser to his brothers, but exposing faults publically and envy are not among the characteristics of the believers. Abu Bakr said:

If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me

Giving advice is a duty:

Anyone who holds a position should tell others that giving advice and support is a trust and a duty. In Muslim Community, people either give advice or support to each other.

If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me

On the other hand, in the community of hypocrites, people envy others when they do something good, or publicly expose their faults when they commit mistakes, but the principle in the Muslim community is:

If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me” and “I’m not any better than you” I am one among you but I have the heaviest burden.

In Muslim community, power supports the right:

Then our master Abu-Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, talked about some fundamental principles to affirm that they are the principles he adopted.
He said:

The weak among you shall be strong for me until they get their due right

In the society of the jungle, the powerful wins, but in the Muslim society, the one who has the right wins. In the society of the jungle, the powerful has the strength, but in the Muslim society, the strength is with the one who has a due right.
Thus, first of all, Abu-Bakr, may Allah be pleased with, defined his position, he assigned missions (to support and advise him) to his people, then he clarified that Muslim community is governed by fixed principles, which were lied down by the Prophet PBUH.

People are equal whether slaves or free:

Jabalah Ibn Al-Ayham, the ruler of the Gassanies was circumambulating the Ka’bah, and a Bedouin from the tribe of Fazarah was beside him. The Bedouin unintentionally trod on a part of the Jabalah’s garment, which caused it to fall off his shoulder. He turned to the Bedouin, and gave him a sharp blow which smashed his nose. Then, that Bedouin came to the Caliph; Omar bin AlKhattab, may Allah be pleased with him, to complain about Jabalah, the ruler of the Gassanies
Omar asked: ‘Is it true what this wounded Bedouin claimed?”
Jabalah answered arrogantly, haughtily and with an air of superiority: ‘yes, I do not deny anything I do, I disciplined him, and I retained my right with my own hand’
-”you should please that Bedouin, or I will order to smash your nose in retaliation for what you did with your hand”
-”How can this be when he is a commoner and I am a king?”
- “We have got rid of the Jahilliyah (times of ignorance) whims and haughtiness, and established a new building (ethic principles) in which all people are equal, noble men and slaves.”
- “I was wrong when I thought that you will maintain my dignity, I will apostatize (return back to Christianity) if you force me to face retaliation”
-” Then, you will be executed. In our Muslim community, the noble men are equal to slaves in humanity”

What distinguishes people in Muslims communities:

By Allah, this Khutba could be interpreted in many volumes, although it is consisted of a few words which could be delivered in five minutes, but Abu Bakr gave everything its due right.

I took over the rule over you while I’m not any better than you

The Prophet PBUH said:

“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab except by piety.”
“It may be that a disheveled servant will be pushed out of doors, but if he were to swear an oath by Allah, Allah would certainly fulfill it for him.”

Allah the Almighty says:

(Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa)

[Al-Hujurat, 49:13]

When master Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), who was at the top of his society, who was a descendant of the noblest tribes of Quraish, who was rich, and had an honorable lineage, saw that Bilaal, who was a slave, was tortured by his master (because he embraced Islam), he criticized Umaiah for doing that, so Umaiah said to him that he could buy Bilal if he wanted. Abu Bakr accepted and asked him about the price, after he bought him, Umaiah said (mockingly): “if you had paid one dirham for him, I would have given him to you!” then master Abu Bakr replied: “If you had asked for a hundred thousand dirhams as a price for him, I would have paid them to you”. He took Bilal from his master, put Bilal’s hand under his arm, and said: He is really my brother (in faith). We should know that all people in Muslim community are as equal as the teeth of the comb. According to the teachings of Islam in the Noble Qur’an and the Noble Sunnah:

An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab except by piety.

How people are distinguished in non-Muslim society:

People in non-Muslim community are distinguished according to their wealth, knowledge, power, position, appearance, and intelligence. None of these elements of discrimination have value in Muslim community, Allah the Almighty says:

(Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa)

He laid down the principle of obedience and disobedience

He said that if he followed the orders of Allah, they should obey him, otherwise, they should not. This Khutba is called now: ‘the throne speech’ that is a speech through which the ruler illustrates the principles of dealing with his people.
Our master Abu Bakr said:

O people, I took over the rule over you while I’m not any better than you. If I behave well, help me; if not, guide me. Obey me as long as I am obedient to Allah; otherwise, you won’t need to obey me. The weak shall be strong for me until they get what is due to them, and the strong shall be weak for me until they have yielded to the rights of others. Obey me as long as I follow the orders of Allah and His Messenger, if not, you don’t not have to obey me, perform your Salah, may Allah have mercy upon you

It was no more than a twenty second khutba, but I am not exaggerating if I say that it could be interpreted in many volumes, because each word in it refers to a principle.

The impacts of this Khutba on our life:

If you have a manager in an office, for example, and you have only three employees, if you think that you have power over them, that you are superior to them, that they are under your control, and that they should humble themselves before you, then you are ignorant and racist. You are rather one of them, you should not distinguish yourself, you should know that Allah has power over all of you, and that He is watching you, He will call you to account, and He will treat you the way you treated them; “the reward of goodness never goes away, the sin is never neglected, Allah the Judge never dies, do whatever you want, and know that you will be treated the way you treat others”
If one of your brothers, friends or relatives has achieved an excellence, would you hate or envy him? If you do so you are then ignorant, racist and hypocrite. Instead, if he is on the right you should support him, and if not, you should advise and guide him. You should make this a principle in your life, so when treating with your brothers, your friends, those who are older than you, and those who are younger than you, you either give support or advice, while the hypocrite is on the contrary; he envies others or exposes their faults.
So, accustom yourself to stick to the right, and when Allah the Almighty sees that you give help to your brothers in faith, and never feel yourself superior to them, He will love you, he will support you and grant you success. On the other hand, if Allah the Almighty sees that His servants envy and hate each others, He will never support them.
Your love for your brothers in faith, supporting them, and advising them sincerely in secret are signs of your faith, but when you expose their faults publically, envy them and wish that they would be deprived of their grace, you are a hypocrite while you are not aware of that.
I like to insist on this; I find some believers who envy others and expose their faults, while the believer, as I mentioned earlier, should either give support or advice to his brothers in faith.
For example, if you heard that one of your brothers had committed a big mistake, you should go to him to ask him about that, if it was right, you should advise him not to do that because it is against the Islamic teachings, and if not, you should be happy.
Although, Abu-Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, was a ruler, he asked people to account with him if he committed mistakes, and to support him if he was right. He did not distinguish himself among them, he asked them to supervise him, if he disobeyed Allah then they owed no obedience to him. What a great thing we miss nowadays.

I have never wanted to be granted authority:

Once, this noble companion said:

By Allah, I have never wanted to be a ruler, and I have never asked Allah to grant me authority, neither in secret nor in public.

And the Prophet PBUH said:

He who asks for authority should never be granted it

In some democratic countries, the candidate may pay a hundred million dollars to win, while the one who asks for authority should not be given it, according to the Noble Hadith.

The first story: not willing to be a ruler:

Once, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, came to visit him, seeing him crying, he held him as if he was a lifeboat, Abu Bakr said:

O Omar, I have never wished to be a ruler, I do not want it, I was obliged to it

But Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

where can you escape! by Allah, we will never depose you and will never let you resign, you are the most merciful one, the most knowledgeable one, and you are the best one among us

Dear brothers, I hope that you are convinced with these accurate words; when a believer gets closer to Allah, he will find the real happiness, which is an invaluable happiness, because Allah is the Greatest, so it seems that Abu-Bakr was pleased by the knowledge of Allah, and by getting closer to Him, which made him consider Caliphate valueless.

Giving up authority:

Once, a man came to Abu-Bakr to ask for something he needed, but Abu-Bakr wanted to ask Omar, may Allah be pleased with him, for his opinion, as he was a judge at that time, so he asked the man to ask Omar, but when he asked him, Omar completely refused the matter. The man got angry, so he went back to Abu-Bakr and said: who is the real Caliph, you or him? He made a decision and completely refused the matter while you only wanted his advice.
Abu Bakr said:

He can be the Caliph if he wants, we are all the same.

His loyalty to the Right:

It was transmitted in the books of the biography of the Prophet PBUH that the daughter of the Prophet PBUH, Fatima, may Allah be pleased with her, and his uncle Al-Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, came to master Abu-Bakr, asking for their right in a small piece of land, which the Prophet PBUH got from booty, and he used to give some of its product to Fatima and his household, and used to divide the rest between his poor companions, which means he did not have anything from the booty for himself.
When the Prophet PBUH died, Fatima and Al-Abas came to Abu-Bakr asking for this land, he said for them:

I heard the Prophet PBUH saying:

We, Prophets, do not leave an inheritance, what I leave excluding the provision for my wives and my servants, should be spent in charity

[Agreed upon]

I will not abandon a course which I saw the Messenger of Allah practicing, but will continue according to it, if I abandon it, I may go astray.

By the way, there in no one on earth was more beloved to him than the Messenger of Allah PBUH, and Fatima is his daughter, a part of him, and she came to him to ask for this land, but he heard from the Messenger of Allah PBUH, that the Prophets do not leave inheritance, and what they leave should be spent in charity, so to whom should his primary loyalty be, to people or to the right? Because his primary loyalty was to the right, then the right was what he heard from the Prophet that Prophets do not leave inheritance. However, in order to make her reassured and convinced, he convened some of the senior companions; Omar Ibn Al-Khatab, Talha, Az-Zubair, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, and ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Auf, may Allah be pleased with them all, and said:

I ask you by Allah, by the One by Whose command the heaven and the earth stand, do not you know that Prophet PBUH said:

We, Prophets, do not leave inheritance, what I leave excluding the provision for my wives and my servants, should be spent in charity

[Agreed upon]

He thought that perhaps she had not heard it from her father, therefore she came and asked for her right, but he heard it from the Messenger of Allah PBUH. So in order to convince her and in order to relieve her, he asked those noble companions in front of her.
All of them confirmed that they had heard it from the Prophet, Then. she said:

You know that the Messenger of Allah PBUH gave it to me as an endowment, so it is for me, out of the right of endowment, not that of inheritance

Abu Bakr said:

Yes, I know that, but I saw him dividing it among the poor, the needy and the wayfarer after giving you what is sufficient for you, thus, he wanted it to be a permanent right to the poor, which means that it is an endowment to the poor and needy because he used to give you some of your need, then he used to give the rest to the poor.

Then, Fatima, may Allah be pleased with her, said:

Let us possess it and we will do what the Messenger of Allah used to do when it was in his possession

In other words, we will give the poor the same portion they used to take from its production.
Abu Bakr said:

I do not think it is appropriate, I am the Leader of the believers after their Messenger, so I am worthier to put it in the hands of the poor as the Prophet PBUH used to do.

This story shows that loyalty is to Allah alone, to the right which was established by the Prophet PBUH, and to the Islamic Shari’a (law), and that the Prophet PBUH is a legislator, whatever he said is legislation. This, despite of the fact that Abu-BAkr As-Siddik, may Allah be pleased with him, was in the highest degree of love for the Prophet PBUH, nevertheless, his loyalty remained to Allah the Almighty.

No administrative surpassing:

The Caliph of Muslims, master Al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, sent Usama bin Zaid, who was seventeen years old, as an army leader, and among the army soldiers were Omar, Othman, Ali, and other senior and most prominent companions. They were soldiers under the command of Usama bin Zaid. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, wanted Omar to stay with him in Al-Madinah because he was his first adviser, He could have ordered Omar to stay with him.
Actually, if he had done so, this would have been a kind of surpassing to the authority of Osama Ibn Zaid, because Omar was at that time a soldier under the command of Osama, if he had ordered Omar to stay with him without the permission of Osama, he would have violated, weakened and diminished Osama’s authority, while he should afford to Osama the insurances which enable him to fulfill his duty, one of which is to maintain his dignity and authority. So, This noble Caliph, approached the army leader, Osama, when he was seeing him off, and whispered to him:

would you mind to let Omar Ibn al-Khattab stay with me in Al-Maidnah because this would bring good and benefit to me

What an eloquent lesson (that we should apply in our life)! If you are in a higher position than a hospital director, and you want a doctor from his hospital, you should not directly ask that doctor to come to you, rather you should ask the permission of the hospital director. Also, if you are an Education Director, you should not ask a teacher of a secondary school to come to you without the permission of the headmaster of that school. So, you should stick to the administrative sequence, like this noble Caliph who asked the permission of a young army leader to let Omar stay with him.
The biographers said that Abu Bakr did not do so out of courtesy nor modesty, but as a duty, because if Osama had refused, the Caliph would have been obliged to accept this rejection.

full-time compensation:

This is another story: At the first day of Al-Seddiq’s caliphate, he put a large amount of clothes on his shoulders and went to the market to sell them. Omar and Abu Obeida, may Allah be pleased with them, asked them where he was going, hearing that he was going to the market, they were astonished and said: why you will do that while you are the leader of Muslims. He answered:

How could I then earn my living and feed my children?

Omar said:

let’s go to set for you a salary from Bayt al-Mal (the treasury).

They went to the mosque where they called for other companions of the Messenger of Allah, to consult them about setting a salary to the Caliph as compensation for full-time devotion, because he was the Caliph who took care of the Muslims’ affairs, and it wasn’t not reasonable to sell clothes in the market in order to earn his living! Believe me, it is not a fiction, it really happened.

Refusing to eat from money gained by cheating:

Once, a servant brought him some food. After he had eaten it, the servant told him he used to be soothsayer before Islam; and he didn’t really know what would happen, but he deceived a man, who met him just and gave him that food.’ Hearing that, Abu Bakr put his finger into his throat, and vomited all that was in his stomach, it was said to him: May Allah have mercy on you, all that for only one bite! He said:

By Allah, if it would not got out except with my soul, I would have done that.

Now, there is an important matter, was it an Islamic ruling or a personal attitude? Actually, it was a personal attitude, i.e., if a person ate food, then he knew there was a suspicion about that food (it could be illicit), what should he do, is he obliged to go to the hospital to make stomach wash? No, of course not, it is a personal attitude of Al-Seddiq out of his piety, it is not an Islamic ruling.

Returning the salary after owing booty:

After gaining some booty from Islamic conquests, he returned all the money he had taken as a compensation for full-time devotion, and he said to his daughter:

Count all the money I got since I became the leader of believers and turn it back to bait Al-Mal.

These were some of that attitudes of that noble companion who was really clever, brave, and who really knew how to handle matters. Omar used to say about him:

May Allah Have mercy upon Abu-Bakr, he made it too hard to the Caliphs who would come after him to be like him

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds

Translation : Rana Saraqbi
Auditing : Maha Sulieman




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