Social values of Islam.
Islam revolutionized social life in Arabia. The Holy Prophet set the pattern for Islamic society, and it was the endeavor of Abu Bakr to follow in the footsteps of the Master, and promote the social values of Islam. Abu Bakr was the embodiment of all the social values for which Islam stood, Islam stood for piety, and by all accounts, Abu Bakr led a pious life. He led the prayers in the mosque. All the Muslims in Madina gathered for prayer in the mosque five times a day. On Fridays there were special congregations.
Abu Bakr addressed such congregations and delivered eloquent addresses. Abu Bakr took steps to ensure that there was no lapse in the matter of the observance of the injunctions of Islam. When his son Abdullah lost in the love of his wife Atika failed to fulfil his religious obligations, Abu Bakr asked him to divorce his wife. When some tribes suggested that they would offer prayers, but would not pay Zakat, Abu Bakr declared that if they withheld even a moiety of what was payable in Zakat he would fight against them. As a result of this strictness on the part of Abu Bakr, the society came to be fully impregnated with the values of Islam.
Abu Bakr took pains to build an egalitarian society in which there was no distinction between the high and the low. He said, “None should look down upon any Muslim for in the eyes of Allah even an inferior Muslim is great”.
It was suggested to him that the spoils of war should be distributed according to the status of the people. He did not accept the suggestion, and insisted on equal distribution regardless of the rank or status of the people. It was the endeavor of Abu Bakr that all those who were destitute were provided maintenance at state expense.
A story is told of a blind woman who lived in a suburb of Madina who had no one to support her. Abu Bakr visited her every day and looked after her needs. Wherever there was any person in distress, Abu Bakr was always there to relieve the distress. As a result of this policy of Abu Bakr, a society emerged which was free from social distress.
Abu Bakr was very particular that due justice should be done to all the members of the community without fear or favor according to the injunctions of Islam.
At the time of the assumption of office as Caliph he declared: “The weak among you shall be strong with me till God willing his rights have been vindicated and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him”. Abu Bakr strictly followed this policy and administered evenhanded justice. As a result of this policy, a society came to be established in Madina, which was practically litigation free.
Abu Bakr took pains to ensure that the people led simple lives free from ostentation. Abu Bakr himself set the pattern for simple living. He slept on the floor. His meals were abstemious. He attended to his jobs himself. He lived in an ordinary house. There were no guards to attend to him.
According to Gibbon, “The pride of his simplicity insulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth”. It is related that one of the wives of Abu Bakr once wished for a sweet dish. The Caliph said that he had no money for such luxury. She said, “Then permit me to save something daily, and then have a sweet dish when sufficient amount has been collected”. He gave the permission, and in a few days she saved some amount.
Abu Bakr deposited this amount in the public treasury, and got his daily allowance reduced by such amount as had been saved by his wife. When some members of the ruling family of Yemen arrived in Madina they wore rich attire. When they saw that the Caliph wore simple coarse clothes they felt ashamed and discarded their finery. All the companions of Abu Bakr followed his example, and vied with one another in simple and unostentatious living. In this way the social life in Madina came to be marked by simple living devoid of all show and ostentation.
Society of action.
The pre-Islamic society was tribal in concept and complexion; the new Islamic society was universal in character. There was thus a broadening of social horizons. The society impregnated with Islamic values came to be characterized by social refinement, social decorum, social justice, and social health.
That led to social solidarity and happiness. The people living in such social environments came to feel that they had a destiny to fulfil. That motivated them to play their part in the fulfillment of their destiny. The society thus came to have a creative outlook and the Arabian Desert heretofore known for the ignorance and backwardness of its people became the nursery of heroes. The static society thus came to be transformed into a society of action.
The moral values of Islam provided the guidelines for the social life. The people became accustomed to a disciplined life in which there was no place for any frivolity. Care was taken to ensure that in business matters there were no unfair deals. Great emphasis was laid on above board transactions.
In Islam there was no place for fraud or deception. Islam called a spade a spade. The society over which Abu Bakr presided was accordingly an elevated and purified society conspicuous for its high social and moral values.
In the new society women played a creative role. They rocked the cradles in which heroes were bred. Women wrote poetry. Some women like Ayesha were eminent scholars. Women fought in battles, e.g. Umm ‘Amara, Khaula, and Jawariya. The age produced beautiful women like ‘Atika, Umm Hakim, Laila the wife of Khalid and princess Kirama.