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Abu Bakr Biography

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Abu Bakr As Siddiq (alternative spellings, Abubakar, Abi Bakr, Abu Bakar) (c. 573 August 23, 634) ruled as the first of the Muslim caliphs (632 634). Originally called Abd-el-Ka'ba ("servant of the temple"), he received the name Abu Bakr (from the Arabic word bakr, meaning a young camel) due to his interest in raising camels.

Abu Bakr was born at Mecca, a Quraishi of the Banu Taim clan. He gained great wealth from his own commercial activities, and became highly esteemed as a judge, and as an interpreter of dreams and as a depositary of the traditions of his race. His early accession to Islam as one of the nascent faith's early adult male converts (the first was Ali ibn Abi Talib) was of great importance. On his conversion he assumed the name of Abd-Allah (servant of God). His own thorough belief in Muhammad and in his doctrines earned him the title El Siddiq ("the truthful"), and he had correspondingly great success in gaining converts. In his personal relationship to the prophet he showed the deepest veneration and most unswerving devotion. When Muhammad fled from Mecca in the hijra of 622, Abu Bakr alone accompanied him and shared both his hardships and his triumphs, remaining constantly with him until the day of his death.

Ties between Abu Bakr and Muhammad were further strengthened by the marriage of Abu Bakr's daughter Aisha to Muhammad soon after the migration to Medina.

According to the Sunni version of events, during his last illness the prophet designated Abu Bakr to lead prayers in Muhammad's absence: many took this gesture as an indication that Abu Bakr would succeed Muhammad. Thus, upon the death of Muhammad (8 June 632), Abu Bakr became the first caliph, by the acclamation of the people present at the meeting of Saqifah.

The Shia sect dispute this account, saying that Muhammad had appointed his son-in-law 'Ali his successor. Abu Bakr and Uthman intrigued to take the caliphate away from Ali. This controversy still divides the followers of the prophet into the rival factions of Sunni and Shia.

Abu Bakr had scarcely assumed his new position (632), under the title Khalifet-Rasul-Allah ("successor of the prophet of God"), when he had to suppress the revolt of some tribes in Hejaz and Nejd, of which the former rejected Islam and the latter refused to pay tribute. He encountered formidable opposition from different quarters, but in every case he proved successful. The severest struggle was the war with Ibn Habib al-Hanefi, who claimed to be a prophet and Muhammad's true successor. Al-Hanefi was mockingly called Musailima by the Muslims who followed Abu Bakr. Khalid bin Walid finally defeated al-Hanefi at the Battle of Akraba.

Abu Bakr exhibited as much zeal for the spread of the new faith as did its founder. After suppressing the internal disorders and completely subduing Arabia, he directed his generals to foreign conquest. Khalid bin Walid conquered Iraq and Persia in a single campaign, and a successful expedition into Syria also took place.

Some traditions about the origin of the Qur'an say that Abu Bakr was instrumental in preserving Muhammad's revelations in written form. It is said that after the hard-won victory over al-Hanefi, Umar ibn al-Khattab (the later Caliph Umar), saw that many of the Muslims who had memorized the Qur'an from the lips of the prophet had died in battle. Umar asked Abu Bakr to oversee the collection of the revelations. The record, when completed, was deposited with Hafsa bint Umar, daughter of Umar, and one of the wives of Muhammad. Later it became the basis of Uthman ibn Affan's definitive text of the Qur'an. Other historians simply say that Uthman collected the Qur'an.

Abu Bakr died on August 23, 634 in Medina. Shortly before his death (which one tradition ascribes to poison, another to natural causes) he indicated that Umar was to be his successor.

Abu Bakr lies buried in the Masjid al Nabawi mosque in Medina, alongside Muhammad and Umar ibn al-Khattab.

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