10 A.H. After passing the month of Muharram, he fell ill at the beginning of Safar 11 A.H. At that time, news was received that the Romans to the north west of Arabia were preparing to attack the Muslim capital of Madina. The Prophet (S) reacted to this dangerous situation by ordering the mobilisation of a huge Muslim army under the command of Usama bin Zayd. He specifically ordered all the Muhajir who had migrated with him to Madina to participate in the battle, except for Imam Ali (A). To arouse the morale of the Muslims the Prophet (S) tied the banner for Usama with his own hands and then instructed him, "Fight in the name of Allah and in His path. Fight the enemy early in the morning, and cover the distance to that place so quickly that you reach them before they are aware of your march."
Usama fixed his camp at Jarf, 3 miles outside Madina, so that the Muslim soldiers could gather there ready for the expedition. Usama was a young man of 20 years and the son of Zayd, who was a freed slave.
The people of Madina protested that they did not want to follow such a young commander. When the Prophet (S) heard of the reluctance of the Muslims, he warned them that whoever kept back from Usama's army in spite of his clear orders, would earn the Curse of Allah. Even then, the companions of the Prophet (S) did not proceed, using his illness as an excuse to remain in Madina. As time passed, the condition of the Prophet (S) grew worse and ultimately the expedition of Usama never materialised.
The expedition to Syria under Usama shows that the Prophet (S) had two things in mind. Firstly, he wanted to teach the people that age was not important in the distribution of responsibility and power, and the criteria for leadership were personality and ability.
This valuable lesson was ignored in the following months by Abu Bakr and Umar, who denied the rights of Imam Ali (A) on the grounds that he was too young to lead the people.
The second interesting point is the insistence of the Prophet (S) that Imam Ali (A) remain behind while other prominent Muslims should accompany Usama. This was to keep the biggest hypocrites out of Madina so that Imam Ali (A) could take over his appointment as Caliph without interference.
However, the hypocrites were aware of the plan of the Prophet (S) and used his weak condition as an excuse to disobey him. They wanted to make certain that they were in Madina at the time of his death so that the could plot to steal the Caliphate from Imam Ali (A).
History shows that Abu Bakr, Umar and others managed to do exactly as they planned. The Prophet (S) fell seriously ill while he was living in the house of his wife Maimoona. It was decided that he would stay at the house of his wife Ayesha where everyone could come to meet him. The Prophet (S) was well aware of the plan by the people to deny the right of Imam Ali (A). When his fever took a turn for the worse, he knew that he did not have much time left. He requested the companions around him to bring some paper and a pen so that he could dictate a will for the guidance of the people.
Umar, who at once realised that his plans would not succeed if the Prophet (S) left a written document, protested by saying that the Prophet (S) was out of his mind due to the fever and did not know what he was saying. He stated that the Holy Qur'an was enough for them and that there was no need for a will. Other companions disagreed and there was a loud commotion as they argued. As the voices grew louder, the Prophet (S) felt disturbed and indicated that all of them should leave. It is important for us to realise that this one action of the accursed Umar caused an eternal division between the Muslims and he is responsible for the thousands of deaths that have resulted from conflicts between the Shia and the Sunnis over the centuries.
As the life of the Prophet (S) slipped away, his dear family were around him all the time. Lady Fatima (A) could not bear the thought of the loss of her beloved father and tears fell continuously from her eyes. The Prophet (S) gently asked her not to weep and then whispered something in her ear that made her stop crying and smile. When she was asked about it later by Ayesha, Lady Fatima (A) said that her father had told her not to worry because she would be the first after him to leave the world and join him.
The Prophet (S) said his farewell to his companions and kept on reminding them to follow the Holy Qur'an, and not to abandon the Ahlul Bayt, who would guide them on the right path of virtue and truth. He then called his grandsons and hugged them warmly. With tears in his eyes, he kissed Imam Hasan (A) on the mouth and Imam Husain (A) on the neck.
When asked about this he said that one of his grandsons would be given poison to drink while the other would have his neck cut.
As the condition of the Prophet (S) worsened, the whole of Madina was immersed in grief, sorrowful at the thought of losing the beloved Prophet of Allah, who had taught them everything about the true path to salvation.
History Chapter 2
THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF THE PROPHET (S)
During the last moments of his life, the Prophet (S) opened his eyes and asked for his brother to be called. Ayesha called her father Abu Bakr, but when the Prophet (S) saw him he placed his head back on his pillow and repeated that his brother should be called for. Hafsa, another wife of the Prophet (S) called her father Umar, but the same thing happened. Ayesha then sent for Imam Ali (A) saying that the Prophet (S) would see no one else. When Imam Ali (A) arrived, the Prophet (S) raised his cloak and took him under its cover. He then placed his head on the chest of Imam Ali (A) and talked to him for a long time.
In the last moments of his life a knock was heard on the door. Lady Fatima (A) told the caller to come later, because her father was very ill. However, the caller was insistent and kept on knocking. Lady Fatima (A) told him again to come later. When the third knock came, tears welled up in Lady Fatima's (A) eyes, but her father said to her, "O Fatima, let him in. For it is none other than the Angel of Death. It is only in respect of your presence that he is asking for permission to enter, otherwise he waits for nobody when he comes to take away the soul."
Soon afterwards the signs of death began to appear on his face. The last sentence he spoke was, "No. With the Divine Companion". It appears that at the time of his last breath the angel Jibraeel (A) gave him the option to recover from his illness and remain in this world or to allow the Angel of Death to remove his soul so that he may proceed with him (the Divine Companion) to the next world. The Prophet (S) uttered this sentence and passed away on Monday 28th Safar 11 A.H. He was 63 years old.
As the sound of mourning rose from the house of the Prophet (S) the people outside knew that he had breathed his last. Soon afterwards the news of his death spread throughout Madina, plunging everyone into sorrow. Imam Ali (A) bathed the sacred body of the Prophet (S) and shrouded him.
The Prophet (S) had directed that his body should be bathed by one who was nearest to him, and such a person could be none else than Imam Ali (A).
The first person to offer the funeral prayers for the Prophet (S) was Imam Ali (A).
Thereafter the companions came in groups and offered prayers, and this practice continued till noon on Tuesday. It was then decided to bury the Prophet (S) in the same house where he had passed away.
It was a most tragic event. The great personality who had changed the future of humanity with his efforts and sacrifice was no more.
The Prophet (S) had made a great contribution to the welfare of humanity at large. He had spread the message of Allah, practising the religion himself and then asking others to follow him.
He had established the rights of people when everywhere their rights were being violated; he had spread justice when tyranny was the norm; he introduced equality at a time when discrimination was so common; and he gave freedom to the people when they were suppressed by injustice. He had faithfully carried out the great mission entrusted to him by Allah.
The Prophet (S) had always told the people, "I have only been sent to perfect your Akhlaq (moral character.)" In appreciation of the character of the Prophet (S) himself, the Holy Qur'an testifies:
(O Our Prophet,) Verily for you there is a great unending reward. And most certainly you have outstanding Akhlaq.
May Allah send His blessings on the Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (S) and his Progeny.
History Chapter 3
THE EVENTS OF SAQIFA While Imam Ali (A) was busy attending to the burial of the Holy Prophet (S), the Muhajireen of Makka and the Ansar of Madina had lost no time in contesting the matter of the Caliphate. They had gathered at a place called Saqifa bani Sa'ada and each group was putting forward its merits and claiming the Caliphate.
One can only wonder at their actions, because only two months ago the Holy Prophet (S) had openly declared that Imam Ali (A) would be his successor. In their greed, these so-called Muslims even forgot that their beloved Holy Prophet (S) lay as yet unburied.
The Muhajireen claimed that they had a greater right to the Caliphate because they had been Muslims for longer and had supported the Holy Prophet (S) in Makka when he had very few friends. They also claimed to be his kin and said that they had migrated from their homes in Makka in very difficult circumstances, leaving behind all their wealth and property.
The Ansar insisted that they had a greater right to the Caliphate because they had given the Holy Prophet (S) shelter in Madina when he could live in Makka no longer. They had also protected him in his time of need and had fought at his side in battles against powerful enemies. They recalled how for 13 years he had preached amongst the Makkans and only a handful had become Muslims. They argued that it was the Ansar who had given Islam strength and consolidation.
When Hazrat Umar bin Khattab and Hazrat Hazrat Abu Bakr bin abi Qahafa reached Saqifa, the arguments had almost been settled in favour of the Ansar, who had chosen Sa'd bin Ubadah to lead the Muslims. Hazrat Umar did not find this acceptable at all as he had already planned to bring in a man from the Muhajireen. He urged Hazrat Hazrat Abu Bakr to make a speech and turn the situation. Hazrat Abu Bakr rose and said that the Arabs would not accept any Caliph who was not from the tribe of Quraish, which was the tribe of the Holy Prophet (S). He also praised the merits of the Ansar to keep them quiet. The Ansar were not fooled by the clever words of Hazrat Abu Bakr and while there was some silence, Hazrat Abu Bakr received help from an unexpected quarter.
The two main tribes of the Ansar were the Aws and Khazraj. The old enmity between them had been settled long ago by the Holy Prophet (S), but now it came out into the open.
To stop the selection of Sa'd bin Ubadah who was the chief of the Khazraj, Bashir bin Sa'd from the tribe of Aws suddenly went forward and gave his allegiance to Hazrat Abu Bakr. He was followed by three other men from Aws. Suddenly, the tables had turned and now the Muhajireen had the upper hand.
Despite protests from the tribe of Khazraj and a few followers of Imam Ali (A), Hazrat Hazrat Abu Bakr was elected as the first Caliph. How strange was their behaviour! While Hazrat Abu Bakr and Hazrat Umar sold their religion for their greed, the people of Aws sold their religion for fear that the Khazraj might come to power. The rest of the people followed like sheep, too weak or uncaring to protest. The few who did raise their voices to defend the unrecognised rights of Imam Ali (A) were ignored and outnumbered.
The members of Bani Hashim and some loyal Muslims were too occupied with the passing away of the Holy Prophet (S) to give any thought to worldly affairs. By the time they learnt of the happenings at Saqifa, it was too late to do anything.
When Imam Ali came to exercise his right to the Caliphate as per the orders of the Holy Prophet (S) at Ghadeer Khum, his claim was rejected and he was forced to return to his house. Later, Hazrat Abu Bakr sent Hazrat Umar to Bibi Fatimah's (A) house, where Imam Ali (A) and some friends had gathered. Hazrat Umar had instructions to bring Imam Ali (A) to Hazrat Abu Bakr to pay the oath of allegiance to him. When Imam Ali (A) refused to do this, Hazrat Umar threatened to burn down the house. Imam Ali (A) then came out with Abbas and Zubayr. From the open door was heard the sound of Bibi Fatimah (A) weeping.
She was saying,
"O Father, how soon after your death are troubles pouring on our head at the hands of the son of Khattab and the son of Abu Qahafa. How soon they have ignored your words of Ghadeer Khum and your saying that Ali was to you as Haroon was to Musa."
However Hazrat Umar was bent on humiliating Imam Ali (A). He insisted that Imam Ali (A) be led to the mosque tied with a rope so that he could not escape.
The Muslims now saw an amazing sight. The Lion of Allah , the man who was the champion of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq, Khayber and Hunayn, was being led by the cowardly Hazrat Umar, who had run away from the battle of Uhad when the Holy Prophet (S) was injured.
It was a measure of the patience of Imam Ali (A) that he did not use force in the interests of Islam. He knew that nothing could be gained by fighting, and a civil war would destroy the Muslims.
When Imam Ali (A) was brought in front of Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Umar insisted that if he did not give the oath of allegiance, he should be killed. Imam Ali (A) replied,
"Will you kill a man who is a servant of the Lord and a brother of the Apostle of the Lord?" Hazrat Umar then turned to Hazrat Abu Bakr who had remained silent till then, asking him to decide Imam Ali's (A) fate. However, Hazrat Abu Bakr said that so long as Bibi Fatimah (A) was alive, he would not force her husband to give allegiance to him.
After that Imam Ali (A) was released and he went directly to the grave of the Holy Prophet (S) where he stood, reflecting on how the attitude of the people had changed now that his brother had left this world.
History Chapter 4
THE FIRST CALIPH On the day after the people had given him their allegiance at Saqifa, Hazrat Abu Bakr came to the mosque of the Holy Prophet (S) and seated himself on the pulpit. A large gathering was present to swear the general allegiance. Hazrat Umar stood nearby, ready to prevent any trouble from the friends and followers of Imam Ali (A).
Hazrat Abu Bakr then made his first address to the people, during which he said,
"I have been placed in this authority, although I do not like it. By Allah, I would have been pleased if any of you had taken it in my place. If you expect me to act like the Apostle of God, then I can not do it. He was honoured and preserved from error by the Lord, while I am an ordinary man, no better than any of you. When you see me steadfast then obey me, and when you see that I turn aside from the right path then set me aright. I have a devil that seizes me sometimes, and when you see me enraged then avoid me because at that time I will not listen to anything."
What an incredible speech by the new leader of the Muslims! In one go he admitted that he was not the right man for the task and warned that he would probably make mistakes. He knew fully well that his knowledge in religious matters was only average, so he covered any future problems by mentioning his "devil". It was not a speech to inspire any confidence and it is a wonder that he got away with such miserable and apologetic words.
Hazrat Umar and Hazrat Abu Bakr were so busy in securing the Caliphate that neither was present at the funeral of the Holy Prophet (S). Although Hazrat Abu Bakr was now the Caliph, it was not a universally popular choice. The members of Bani Hashim and certain pious Muslims like Zubayr, Miqdaad, Salman, Abu Zar, Ammar, Baraa’a bin ‘Aazib, Khalid bin Sa'id, Abu Ayyub Ansari, Khuzayma bin Thabit and others refused to acknowledge him, believing that the position belonged to Imam Ali (A).
Imam Ali (A) was naturally grieved at the course of events, but he patiently endured this injustice for the sake of Islam. He turned his attention to collecting the Holy Qur'an and compiling it in order of its revelation.
At the time of his election Hazrat Abu Bakr was 60 years of age. He was the son of Abu Qahafa. His original names were Abd al-Ka`ba and Atiq. He was one of the earliest converts to Islam, and when he became a Muslim at the age of 38, he was renamed Abdallah. After the marriage of his daughter Ayesha to the Holy Prophet (S), he was called Hazrat Abu Bakr in reference to his daughter.
Hazrat Abu Bakr used to trade in cloth and was also a genealogist i.e. he knew the family trees of the Arabs, especially the Quraish. After his election, Hazrat Umar saw him going to the market to open his shop and said,
"Are you going to trade although you have been given the rule over the Muslims?"
Hazrat Abu Bakr asked,
"How shall I feed my family?"
Hazrat Umar then took him to Abu Ubaida, the treasurer of the Bait al-Maal (public treasury), who gave him a yearly allowance of 6000 dirhams, which was more than enough for his household expenses.
One of the first things Hazrat Abu Bakr did as a Caliph was to contest Bibi Fatimah's (A) ownership to the land of Fadak, an action that she never forgave him for. According to her will, he and Hazrat Umar were not allowed to attend her funeral.
As Hazrat Abu Bakr was not recognised as a legitimate heir to the Holy Prophet (S), the various tribes around Arabia stopped paying their taxes to the Muslim state. Hazrat Abu Bakr decided to stop the voices of dissatisfaction with a show of strength, so he mobilised the Muslim army under various commanders and sent them to reclaim the distant provinces.
On reaching their destination the commanders were instructed to give the Adhaan to test the faith of the local people. If they responded, they were to be asked to repent and submit to the Caliph, if they resisted they were to be attacked and their women and children made prisoners. With these instructions, the various commanders left Madina.
The man who commanded the largest division was a brilliant general named Khalid bin Waleed. He was the same man who had caused the defeat of the Muslims at Uhad. Despite his later conversion to Islam, he was a cruel soldier and had no faith at all. He had been sent against Tulaiha, a man claiming to be a new prophet, in the north east. After Tulaiha ran away and the tribes of Bani Hawaazan surrendered, his task was over and his men advised him to return to Madina.
However, Khalid wanted to continue fighting and he led his men southwards to the tribe of Bani Yarub. The chief of this tribe was Malik bin Nuwaira, a noble man who was famous for his generosity, horsemanship and poetry. He also had for his wife a beautiful woman named Laila. When Malik heard that Khalid was approaching at the head of 4,500 men, he realised that it was useless to fight. When the Adhaan was given, he responded to the call with all his men.
Khalid however, would not have any of it and brutally killed Malik and married his widow the same night, despite the time limit fixed by the Holy Prophet (S) for marrying a widow. Although Khalid was later charged by the evidence of his own men, who were shocked by his inhuman conduct, Hazrat Abu Bakr pardoned him.
The Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr is filled with incidents where he proved himself to be weak, a poor judge and inadequate in matters of religion. He finally died in 13 A.H. after ruling for 2 years and 3 months.