It has to be mentioned right from the beginning that both Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr Assiddeeq had similar temperaments. Both were kind, lenient, merciful, truthful and honest. Both found comfort in solitude and abstained from drinking alcohol, even before Islam was established. Abu Bakr’s complexion was fair, and he was rather slim. He was tender, wise 10 and solemn and seldom joined in the polytheistic celebrations of his countrymen.
After the Prophet had married Khadeejah, the wealthy, 40-year-old landlady from Mecca, his lodging was very close to that of Abu Bakr. According to `Aishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter and the prophet’s wife after the death of Khadeejah, her father was frequently visited by the Prophet, with whom he developed a strong friendship.
When God’s message was revealed to Muhammad, the first man to believe in him was Abu Bakr. In fact, Abu Bakr had always doubted the validity of idolatry and had very little enthusiasm for worshipping idols. So when he accepted Islam he did his best to attract other people to it. Soon `Othman bin Affan, Abdul-Rahman bin Awf, Talhah bin Obaydillah, Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, Al-Zubayr bin Al-‘Awwam and Abu Obaydah bin AI-Jarrah all flocked to join Muhammad (May God bless him and give him peace). The Prophet once said: ”`Abu Bakr was the only person who accepted Islam immediately, without suspicion.
Abu Bakr’s occupation was drapery. A draper, in order to be successful in his trade, should not go against his customers’ wishes. Nevertheless, he preached the new religion ardently without considering how it might affect his business. When the infidels started torturing their poor Muslim slaves, Abu Bakr intervened. As he was unable to release them by force, he paid their masters money and set them free. Bilal bin Rabah was one of those who were tortured in the sun, by being brutally whipped and covered with heavy rocks while lying on the burning sand in the summer heat. When Islam started, Abu Bakr had 40,000 dirhems but by the time he emigrated to Madina, he had only 5,000 left.
When the Prophet spoke with contempt of the disbelievers’ gods, the infidels got very irritated and attacked him violently when he was on his way to the Ka’ba. Had it not been for Abu Bakr’s intervention, something bad might have happened to him.
As the Qurayshites rejected the Prophet’s message, he started to look for another tribe which would give him refuge. He was accompanied on this search by Abu Bakr. The only shelter which they could find was in Yathreb, or Madina, which was then inhabited by two warring tribes, the Aws and Khazraj. Later, through the Prophet’s good offices, the two tribes became united and were given the name of “Ansar” or “Helpers”.
Abu Bakr was known as “Assiddeeq’ after the incident on the Prophet’s midnight journey to Jerusalem. The Qurayshites, being experienced merchants knew that such a journey if it ever happened, would take two months by camel. When Muhammad told them he had accomplished his round trip to Jerusalem in one night, they scoffed at him and began to doubt his sanity. As for Abu Bakr, when he first heard of it he thought that they were telling
a tale; he then said, “I have always believed his words about heavenly revelation how can I disbelieve him about such a secondary worldly matter?”
Because of the ruthless torturing of the Prophet’s followers, many of them emigrated to Abyssinia. Yet Abu Bakr would not leave. He preferred to stay with the Prophet to support him in his time of need and help the new converts. When many Muslims emigrated to Madina, Abu Bakr asked the Prophet’s permission to follow suit. He was told to wait because the Prophet himself might leave with him. So he got two camels ready and waited anxiously
A few days later, while the Prophet’s house was besieged by a group of swordsmen from all the tribes of Mecca, who had plotted together to kill him, he left his cousin, `Ali bin Abi Talib, in his bed, slipping unnoticed from the house and departed with Abu Bakr in the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Mecca to Madina was full of romance and adventure. As soon as the besieging swordsmen discovered that they were tricked, they went in search of the two men. A public prize of a hundred camels was offered to anyone who might find them. However, it happened that when they hid in a cave named Thawr, a spider spun its web at the opening of the cave, and a pigeon built its nest there. The swordsmen followed their tracks until they reached their hiding place, but, seeing the web and the early hours of the morning. Their journey from Mecca to Madina was full of romance and adventure. As soon as the besieging nest, they went home, telling everyone that further pursuit was fruitless.
Later when the battle of Badr took place between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the latter outnumbered the former by three to one, some sort of canopy was erected for the Prophet at the battle lines. Abu Bakr alone was entrusted with his safety. This shows the very close relationship between the two; and when the Prophet’s mantle fell from his shoulders during his earnest prayer to God, his intimate companion put it courteously back.
In the battle of Ohod, which took place the following year after Badr, the disbelievers won the battle because the archers left their places on the top of the mountain. Only a dozen people stayed with the Prophet on this occasion, one of whom was the staunch believer Abu Bakr.
This loyalty was evident in all the campaigns that the Prophet led, especially those waged against the Jews of Banu Nadir and Banu Qaynoqa’, and against the Jews of Fadak, Tayma’ and Khaybar, not to mention the heroic battle of the Trench. In fact, from the very start of the Islamic era, he was playing the role of vizier advising and supporting the Prophet.
In the year 6 A.H., the Muslims attempted to take Mecca itself, the stronghold of polytheism. When they reached the Hodaybiya Valley, Quraysh sent negotiators to persuade them not to attack the city and agreed to let them in for pilgrimage the following year. The Prophet agreed, but some of his followers refused. They were determined to conquer Mecca immediately. Abu Bakr stood firmly by the side of the Prophet, but it was only when a full Qur’anic chapter entitled “Fath” or “Conquest” was revealed that they were finally convinced.
When Mecca was at last subdued, all the tribes of Arabia were convinced that Muhammad was a true apostle sent to them by God. They stopped resisting and sent delegates to Madina proclaiming their allegiance to him. While he was busy receiving delegates, he let Abu Bakr preside over the 300 pilgrims. This incident proved of vital importance later when a caliph was chosen after the death of the Prophet.
The 10th year of A.H. was called “the valediction year” because the Prophet, with 100,000 followers, including Abu Bakr and all the Prophet’s household, performed his last pilgrimage and from the top of `Arafat mountain gave his everlasting speech in which he summarized the numerous commandments of Islam.
After his return to Madina, the Prophet became ill and could not lead the prayers in the Grand Mosque. He gave instructions to ‘Aishah’ to tell her father to lead the prayers. She pointed out that Abu Bakr’s voice was rather low and the worshippers might not hear his recitation of the Qur’an. She also said that he often wept while praying, and suggested Omar bin al-Khattab as being fitter for the task. The Prophet became extremely angry and gave emphatic orders that Abu Bakr should lead the prayers. This was taken by the Muslims as another sign to choose Abu Bakr to be their caliph after the Prophet’s death.