When Ali came to know of the death of Abu Bakr, he rushed to his house, and standing outside the house wherein lay the dead body of Abu Bakr, delivered an oration, which is a masterpiece of oratory, and is a beautiful summing up of the character and personality of Abu Bakr.
Master of many virtues.
Ali said: “Mercy of God on you, O Abu Bakr. You were an affectionate companion and friend of the Prophet of Allah, a source of joy to him, and one who knew his secrets and enjoyed the privilege of being consulted by him. You were the first person to embrace Islam: you had the purest faith, and your belief in Islam was unshakable. Of all, you feared Allah most, and you were the source of the greatest advantage to His faith.
You had been with the Prophet more than any one else, and your love for Islam was superior to others. A blessing to the companions you were the best of associates. Master of many virtues, excelling others in accomplishments and superior to all in position, you resembled the Holy Prophet more than any other person in the uprightness of character and conduct and in kindness and excellence. Your rank was noble, your position sublime, and you enjoyed the greatest confidence of the Prophet. May God reward you with goodness on behalf of Islam and the Prophet.”
Ali added: “For the Prophet of Allah you were like his very sight and hearing. You corroborated the truth of his message at a time when everybody belied him, and so you were called As-Siddiq (the veracious) by Allah in His revelations. He says,
“The one who came with the Truth, and the one who corroborated the Truth. The one who came with the Truth was Muhammad (peace be on him) and one who corroborated the Truth was Abu Bakr. You supported him when others had deserted him, and you remained firm in helping him in misfortunes when others had withdrawn their support. In the days of hardship you were his best companion.
You were “the second of the two”, and his companion in the Cave. You were the person on whom God conferred tranquillity of mind. You were the only companion of the Prophet in his migration to Madina, and you were his Caliph among his followers and in the religion of Allah. You discharged the functions of the Khilafat in a most excellent manner at a moment when people had taken to apostasy, and you exhibited such firmness in enforcing the commands of Allah as had never been exhibited by the Khalifa of any other Prophet.”
Firmness of Abu Bakr.
Talking about the firmness of Abu Bakr, Ali said: “You rose to the occasion when your colleagues showed lassitude, and you became bold when they were weak. You retained your adherence to the ways of the Prophet when others deviated from them.
You were his true Caliph with no dispute or difference, although this gave offence to hypocrites and umbrage to the infidels, brought grief to those who were jealous and made the rebels wrathful. You stuck to the commands of Allah when others showed cowardice. You remained firm when others went astray. You passed through the Divine light while they remained behind. Afterwards they followed you and attained their goal.”
Dignity of Abu Bakr.
About the dignity of Abu Bakr, Ali said: “You had the lowest voice but the highest distinction. Your conversation was most exemplary and your reasoning most just; your silence was longest in duration, and your speech was most eloquent. Bravest among men, and well-informed about matters, your action was dignified.”
Father to the believers. Ali referred to Abu Bakr as the ‘Father of the Believers’, in the following terms: “I swear by Allah, you were the leader of the believers. You came towards the Faith when others were away from it. You followed them when they turned towards it.
Indeed you acted like a kind father to the believers till your filial affection made them your children. You bore the heavy burden which they could not and you professed to do what they had omitted. You preserved what they had ruined, and you taught them what they knew not. You took the risk when they were helpless and you remained firm when they were impatient.”
Abu Bakr’s equation between the believers and the infidels.
Referring, to Abu Bakr’s equation between the believers and the infidels, Ali said: “You redressed the grievances of those who asked for justice; hence they turned to you for guidance and were therefore successful and got through you what they had never dreamt of. For infidels you were a source of terrible punishment and a burning fire, and for the believers kindness, affection and protection.”
Righteousness, truth and benevolence of Abu Bakr.
Highlighting the virtue, of righteousness, truth and benevolence of Abu Bakr, Ali said: “You flew in the atmosphere of piety, attained its noble reward and won in superiority. Your argument was never weak, and your judgment was never faulty. You were never guilty of cowardice, and your heart was never crooked or misdirected.
You were like a rock which stands firm in the face of hard blows and dashing winds. You were, as the Prophet of Allah has said, the most generous of men in friendship and in giving money. Again, as he says, you were weak in body, but strong in enforcing the commands of God. You were humble in your manners, but dignified in the estimation of God, great in the eyes of men and commanding respect with them.
None could even as much as wink at you, nor could anyone taunt at you. You were not in a position to excite temptation and you were not partial to anybody. The weak and the humble were strong with you as you secured their rights; and the strong were weak and humble with you, as you made them surrender the rights of others. In this matter those who were far from you were all equal. Those who obeyed and feared Allah most were nearest to you.
Your dignity lay in righteousness, truth, and benevolence; your word was imperative and definite, your command mild and cautious, and your judgment wise and firm. Thus you extirpated evil and made the way for the Truth clear; difficulties were solved, and fires of evil and discord extinguished.”
Abu Bakr’s high position in doing good.
Speaking of Abu Bakr’s high position in doing good, Ali said : “You brought moderation to faith; strength to belief, firmness to Islam and the Muslims, and triumph to the command of Allah. Although it became a source of grief to infidels, yet I say it on oath that you made a great advance in this and placed in great difficulty those who came after you. Evidently you attained a high position in doing good.”
Mourning on the death of Abu Bakr.
Mourning the death of Abu Bakr, Ali said: “You are above lamentation; mourning for you is great in Heaven.
Your death has broken the backbone of the people and we recite the verse ‘From God you came and to God you have returned’. However we submit to what has been ordained by Allah and are ready to obey His commands. By Allah, never shall the Muslims suffer, after the death of the Prophet, a calamity greater than your death.”
Concluding his oration Ali said: “You were a source of honor, protection and support to the Faith and for the believers you were like a group of men, a stronghold and a place of refuge; while, for the hypocrites you were all strictness and terror. May Allah, in reward for these, take you near to your Prophet, and may He not deprive us of the fruits of your efforts and may He not mislead us after you. We recite once again ‘From God you came, and to God you have returned’.”