Birthday: October 27, 573
Died At Age: 60
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Also Known As: Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah
Born in: Mecca
Famous as: Companion of Muhammad
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Saudi Arabian Men
Spouse/Ex-: Asma bint Umais (?–634 AD), Habibah bint Kharijah ibn Zayd ibn Abi Zuhayr (?–634 AD), Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza, Umm Ruman (?–628 AD)
father: Uthman Abu Quhafa
mother: Salma Umm-ul-Khair
siblings: Fadra, Qareeba & Umme-e-Aamer
children: Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr, Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, Asma bint Abi Bakr, Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, Umm Khultum bint Abi Bakr
Died on: August 23, 634
Who was Abu Bakr?
Abu Bakr, the 1st Caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate, was one of the main companions of Prophet Muhammad and also his father-in-law through his daughter Aisha. Abu was born in Mecca, Arabia, to Uthman Abu Quhafa and Salma Umm al-Khair. Also regarded as the fourth person who officially converted to Islam, Abu Bakr accompanied Muhammad during several battles, such as the Battle of Uhud and Battle of Badr. However, Abu’s role in those Islamic wars has been debated by historians for many years. Historically, it has been confirmed that he was present during several key events in Muhammad’s life, such as the ‘Farewell Pilgrimage’ and the event of ‘Ghadir Khumm.’ Following Muhammad’s death, Abu Bakr assumed power and started ruling the Rashidun Caliphate. Abu then indulged in the Ridda Wars, for which he increased his army’s strength. The war was against non-Muslims outside the Holy city of Medina and against those who had quit Islam after the death of Muhammad, or even before that. Following the conclusion of the Ridda Wars, Abu Bakr invaded Persia and Syria, but died before the wars culminated. Known as the first Khalifa of Muslims, Abu Bakr died at the age of 60 in Medina.
Childhood & Early Life
Abu Bakr was born Abū Bakr aṣ-Ṣiddīq ‘Abdallāh bin Abī Quḥāfah, in Mecca, in 573 CE, to parents Uthman Abu Quhafa and Salma bint Sakhar. His mother was also known as “Salma Umm-ul-Khair.” Abu was born into a rich family belonging to the Banu Taym clan of the Quraysh tribe. There have been disputes about his birth name, and many historians claim his birth name was “Abdullah.”
Abu Bakr spent his childhood like any other nomadic Arab kid. His family had a large flock of camels, and Abu spent most of his time playing with the camels and goats that his family owned. As a child, he was called “Abu Bakr,” which means “the father of the camel’s calf.” This nickname stayed with him till his death.
At the age of 10, Abu made a trip to Syria along with his family. They were part of a merchant’s caravan, as his father was a cloth trader. Muhammad was 12 years old at that time. By the time he was 18 years old, Abu took over the family business and began dealing in cloths and fabrics.
Over the next few years, Abu made several business trips to a number of nearby countries, such as Syria and Yemen. He had a knack for doing business. He accumulated a lot of wealth within a short span of time. He also became his tribe’s chief at a time when his father was still alive.
Like other rich children from his tribe, Abu Bakr was literate and knew about his tribe’s history, genealogy, and politics. He also developed a love for poetry in his 20s and participated in several poetry events.
A childhood story about Abu reveals why he was against the concept of idol worshipping. He was once on a visit to Kaaba with his father. Incidentally, his father had asked him to pray before a few idols. Abu had prayed and had then asked for food from the idols, as he was hungry. The idols had not moved. He had then hurled a stone at an idol and had said that the gods should have known how to save themselves. The idols had remained unmoved. After this incident, Abu had never worshipped an idol again. Before he converted to Islam, he had remained a “hanif,” or “revert,” and he had also made sure never to pray to an idol again.
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Acceptance of Islam
Upon returning from one of his business trips at Yemen, he found out that Muhammad had proclaimed himself as the “Messenger of God,” adopting the name “Prophet Muhammad.” Abu also heard about Islam, the new religion that Muhammad had been preaching.
Abu liked Islam and its ideas about many things, such as its policy of not worshipping idols. Abu got converted to Islam soon after. Apart from Muhammad, Muhammad’s cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib and Muhammad’s wife Khadijah were among the first people who embraced Islam. They accepted Muhammad as the “Prophet.” Abu became the fourth and the first free man to embrace Islam.
Abu asked his family to convert to Islam, and when one of his wives, Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza, disagreed, he separated from her. Abu also distanced himself from one of his sons, Abdu’l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr, when he did not accept Islam as his religion.
Abu then went on a determined spree to convince his family, friends, and business partners to convert to Islam. He believed the religion was the best way to live. Following his advice, many more people embraced Islam. This led Abu to get into Muhammad’s good books.
Abu was a fairly compassionate man but somehow became partial later. As slavery was very common in Mecca, he freed many slaves who had turned into Muslims. Most of the slaves he freed became Muhammad’s companions, and many of them were old and frail. When his father asked him why he did not purchase the slaves who would be of use to him in terms of physical strength, Abu replied by saying that he had not freed them for his selfish interests but had gifted them their freedom for the sake of Allah.
Some people from Quraysh, his own tribe, were not in support of their people adopting Islam. Thus, Abu got beaten up several times by his own tribesmen. However, this did not break his spirit. He continued to convince people to embrace the new religion. Following one of the attacks on him, his mother accepted Islam as her religion.
Migration to Medina & Battles
Muhammad continued to practice the religion in secret, but in 613, following a word from God himself, Muhammad asked all his followers to embrace Islam openly. This later became a cause of concern. However, the popularity of Islam spread further. Soon, Medina became a popular center for the recent converts.
In 622 CE, the Muslims from Medina requested all Muslims from Mecca to come and gather there. They told them that they would be safer in Medina. Muhammad was accompanied by Abu, and they traveled together, taking a different route, as they were scared that members of the Quraysh clan might attack them. Muhammad was attacked while on his way but was safeguarded.
In Medina, Abu continued with his cloth business. After accumulating sufficient wealth, he helped in the construction of a mosque there. In 623, Muhammad married Abu’s daughter, Aisha, in an extremely simple ceremony, which further strengthened the relations between the two men.
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The Quraysh of Mecca did not intend to leave Muhammad and Abu Bakr alone, and in 624, during the first battle with the Quraysh tribe, Muhammad led the charge of his army. Known as the Battle of Badr, the war saw Abu as one of the guards of Muhammad’s tent.
Over the next few years, Muslims fought several battles, and in 630, Muslims finally rushed to conquer Mecca. Before the final battle, Abu’s father joined hands with him and converted to Islam.
In 632, Muhammad passed away and Abu began his reign over the Rashidun Caliphate. Following this, he came to be known as the first “Khalifa.” Soon after he assumed the position, he crushed the Arab Rebellion in what came to be known as the Ridda Wars. During the last few months of his reign, he sent forces to conquer Mesopotamia and Syria, ruled by the Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Empire, respectively.
This move turned out to be a major game changer when it came to the spread of Islam. This also led to the creation of one of the largest empires in history and for many decades to come. On the advice of some close friends, he gave away his cloth business and started taking a salary from the treasury.
During the final years of his life, Abu sent forces to conquer Palestine and Damascus. His army succeeded in conquering the regions. However he died before the wars in Syria and Persia ended.
Death & Legacy
Abu Bakr fell sick with fever in August 634 and never quite recovered from it. He requested Muhammad’s cousin Ali to perform his “ghusl.” Ali had also performed the same ritual for Muhammad. Three pieces of cloth were used for Muhammad’s shroud. Abu had insisted on the use of the same number of cloth pieces for his shroud.
During his lifetime, Abu had married four times and had fathered six children: three sons and three daughters.
He named Umar ibn Al-Khattab as his successor. Umar later turned out to be one of the most successful and powerful caliphs in Islamic history.
Abu Bakr stayed with Muhammad during all the important events of the latter’s life and was honored by Muhammad several times. Many Islamic scholars still believe that Abu was perhaps the most valuable man in Islam after the prophet.