Once, Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas (r.a.) asked the Beloved of Allah (s.a.w), “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, “A'isha,” Sayyidina Amr bin al-Aas asked, “Amongst men?” He replied, “Her father, Abu Bakr.” [Bukhari]
What makes Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq the beloved of the Prophet? He was indeed the first amongst men to embrace the message of Islam, he was the Prophet's closest companion and was chosen to Hijrah together to Medina, he was made the Imam when the Prophet was ill and he was also selflessly generous with his wealth in the cause of Islam. He was always present for the Prophet and was the quickest to come to his defense, and to affirm and believe everything which came from him.
In the final phases of the Prophet's life, he said: “There is no one among the people who has been more generous to me with his life and his property than Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhaafa, and if I was to take an intimate friend, I would take Abu Bakr as my intimate friend. But, the friendship of Islam is better. Block off every door in this Masjid except the door of Abu Bakr.” [Bukhari]
While many remember him as the first Caliph of Islam, I prefer to remember this great man, first and foremost, as the passionate, dedicated and loyal best friend of the Beloved (s.a.w) - virtues which are difficult to find in these times. He said: “There was not a Prophet except that he had two ministers (wazeeraan) from the people of heaven and two from the people of earth. As for my ministers from the people of heaven they are Jibril and Mikail, and from the people of earth they are Abu Bakr and Umar.” [at-Tirmidhi]
However, what truly humbles me the most is contained in the following hadith about the person of Abu Bakr at his most fundamental. Once the Prophet (s.a.w.) asked the congregation right after the Fajr prayers: “Who began this day fasting?” Abu Bakr said: “I did.” The Prophet said: “Who participated in a funeral procession today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did”. The Prophet said: “Who fed a needy person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did”. He said: “Who visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I did”. Then the Prophet said: “These things cannot all meet in a single person but that he will enter Paradise.” [Muslim]
MasyaAllah! These questions were asked of him right after the morning Fajr prayers! What have we done today since our own Fajr prayers?
I have always maintained that Islam is not a difficult religion - but the difficulty is caused by our own selves and the choice of how we wish to understand the faith. Islam is a religion of Hope. It was introduced at a place and time where civility and morality of what it takes to be human was at rock-bottom - but Islam re-instills confidence and optimism back to the people.
Here, Sayyidina Abu Bakr's example of how he lives his life was truly simple, real, practical and honest - leading to the Prophet's assurance of Paradise. If we wish for that same end, our learning points from this hadith are:
1- Fast regularly: This is an intimate and exclusive servitude between a slave and his Lord. When he overcomes his base desires, he rectifies his deeds and actions. Beauty emanates from his thoughts, his speeches and his actions.
2- Think of death constantly: Attending the jenazah prayers and sending the deceased to his burial place is a stark reminder of the temporality and vulnerability of our existence - making us more sensitive and conscious of our life's decisions.
3- Identify yourself with the underprivileged: Feeding the orphans, the poor or the needy, as an example, is a manifestation of our faith. What is Faith without Actions? In another hadith by Bukhari, the Prophet explicitly states that a person who looks after the poor is like the one who fights in the cause of Allah.
4- Be a beacon of hope: Visiting the sick to alleviate his misery means that we, as Muslims, must be the bearer of peace, joy, hope and everything that is positive, to ourselves and to everyone around us. Smile, being a sunnah, must be our adornment if we see ourselves as hopeful and joyful believers.
Consequently, strive to do good deeds in this blessed month, but now hopefully with a more profound appreciation of what drives you into action. Let us endeavor to be an "Abu Bakr" to ourselves and to our friends - and hope that we will find the Pleasure of Allah (s.w.t.) in the process.
I leave you with this final hadith of Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq [r.a.]: "The Prophet said: "Whoever is among the people of prayer will be called (to Paradise) from the door of prayer. Whoever is among the people of jihad will be called from the door of jihad. Whoever is among the people of sadaqah will be called from the door of sadaqah. Whoever is among the people of fasting is called from the door of fasting and the door of Ar-Rayaan." Abu Bakr then asked "Is anyone called from all of those doors, O Messenger of Allah?" He said: “Yes, and I hope that you will be amongst them, Abu Bakr.” [Bukhari]
Be inspired by the life of Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq [r.a.]. Be as beautiful as the Prophet's beloved, and his love will also be with you. And the love of the Beloved (s.a.w.) will surely suffice you.