Abu Bakr as Siddiq - an outstanding compagnon

It is narrated by Abu Ad-Darda, that once a quarrel happened between Abu Bakr and Umar, which Abu Bakr understood to be wrong and asked Umar for forgiveness, but Umar didn’t fulfil his request as he was in a state of anger. Later on, Umar understood that he did wrong by refusing to forgive Abu Bakr, and came to the Prophet ﷺ where Abu Bakr was sitting.


Abu Bakr noticed that the Prophet ﷺ became very angry, so he explained that it was he who was wrong in the quarrel and not the Umar, but the Prophet ﷺ has said: “Allah sent me to you (people), but you said, ‘You are telling a lie,’ while Abu Bakr said, ‘He has told the truth,’ and consoled me with himself and his money.” Then he said twice, “Won’t you then give up harming my companion?” [1].


This narration is the most explicit proof for the high stance of Abu Bakr with the Prophet ﷺ. He loved Abu Bakr so much that even the inability to forgive him directly was something blameworthy. Also, he ﷺ called Abu Bakr as “my companion”, which expresses extreme and special closeness between him and the Prophet ﷺ. Indeed, he was the most beloved companion and friend. And, as scholars of Islam have said, he is the best of humans after the prophets that ever walked on the Earth.


But what made him such an extraordinary person? Why does he have such an honourable title as As-Siddiq (The Truthful)? In this article, we will discuss his trait, which made him stand above the rest of his companions. A trait which in today’s world is as needed as never before.



Why is Abu Bakr known as As-Siddiq?


Abu Bakr was the first caliph of Islam
Credit: Petermaleh

Probably all Muslims had heard the story of the Night Journey, also known as Isra and Miraj when the Prophet ﷺ travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem and ascended into Heavens where he talked directly to Allah, all in one night!


When he ﷺ came back to Mecca, and the polytheists knew about it, he was mocked by them. Meanwhile, some believers have started to doubt his truthfulness, and others completely rejected him, as in their eyes, such an amazing story couldn’t be true.


At this moment of mockery, embarrassment, and confusion, people went to Abu Bakr and asked him does he believe in that. Amazingly, the concern Abu Bakr had was not how to rationalize such an amazing and unbelievable event. He didn’t try to explain how it may have happened. Rather, he asked, did the Prophet ﷺ said that? After affirmative answer, he said that whatever he ﷺ says must be the truth.


People got amazed at his answer and asked him repeatedly, “Do you believe he went by night to the sacred house and returned before morning?”. He told them that he believes in something bigger, the fact that he ﷺ is receiving the information from the heaven! After this event, Abu Bakr became known as As-Siddiq, The Truthful, as he was the one who explicitly and openly admitted the truth of the Prophet ﷺ when so many had doubted him. [2]


The hadith which was mentioned first, when the Prophet ﷺ repudiated Umar for not forgiving Abu Bakr directly, is mentioning the same story: “you (people) said, ‘You are telling a lie,’ while Abu Bakr said, ‘He has said the truth’”.


It shows us the extraordinary intellect of Abu Bakr, who was able to rationalize seemingly irrational truth. When a piece of unbelievable news came to him, news that was apparently impossible to be true, he saw that, in fact, they are very rational and very possible. If the Prophet is receiving messages from Allah, who is All-Powerful and All-Capable, then for Him to make Isra and Miraj happen in one night must be very easy. Thus it is completely rational to believe in such news.


Because of his intellectual ability, he not only became known as As-Siddiq but was remembered by the Prophet ﷺ as “the companion”, who confirmed his truthfulness while others rejected it. However, it was not the only case that demonstrates to us the intellect of Abu Bakr. His biography has other similar instances, revealing that this type of thinking was not an exception but a part of his noble life.


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Abu Bakr at the treaty of Hudaybiyyah



The treaty of Hudaybiyyah, which was signed between Muslims and the polytheists of Mecca, had numerous clauses that seemed humiliating for Muslims and did not treat both sides of the treaty equally. Many companions were not able to understand why such a treaty should be signed and the rationality of the demeaning agreement. However, Abu Bakr once again stood to the truth and accepted the command of the Prophet ﷺ without any questioning.


After the treaty was signed, Umar came to Abu Bakr and asked him, “Is he not the Messenger of Allah?” Abu Bakr answered, “Yes.” Umar said, “Are we not Muslims?” Abu Bakr responded, “Yes.” Umar asked again, “And are they not polytheists?” Abu Bakr said, “Yes (they are polytheists).” Umar said, “Then why are we accepting to be humiliated in our religion?”.


It would appear as a rational response from a rational man to ask such a question. However, it was clear for Abu Bakr, that in fact, search for a rational explanation to the agreement which was made by the Prophet ﷺ, who is receiving a revelation from All-Knowing Allah, is irrational. Thus, he told Umar to “Adhere to the Prophet’s command, for I bear witness that he is indeed the Messenger of Allah and that the truth is what he commands. And he will never act contrary to Allah’s command, and Allah will not neglect him.” [3]


Subhan Allah, even at the time, when Islam was becoming strong, and a lot of companions have reached the highest level of iman (belief) but yet were incapable of rationalizing the actions done by the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr was convinced that the Prophet’s choice was right, and was able to convince others.



Principles of logic in Abu Bakr’s thought



If A is impossible, and B claims to perform A, then B must be untruthful for his claim. Thus, if travelling from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night is impossible, and the Prophet ﷺ claims to perform this task, then it would follow up that the Prophet ﷺ is untruthful.


This type of reasoning seems valid and right from first sight. Thus the polytheists of Mecca were able to mock him ﷺ, and believers have started to doubt, or even reject him. However, for Abu Bakr, it was clear that such reasoning is false and invalid. Why? Because if something is impossible for some or even for all people, then it doesn’t mean that it is impossible in general, under any conditions.


Thus, if there is sufficient proof that B is in special conditions and is supported by a special power, which doesn’t support anyone else, then B’s impossible for others becomes possible. It is similar to a man lifting a 200 kg bench press. It would be impossible for a normal man or woman. Thus if B claimed to perform it, it would mean that B is untruthful. However, we knew that some people could train their bodies, which create special conditions and power for them, and consequentially they can lift 200 kg bench-press.


It was clear for Abu Bakr that the matter in question was not if it is possible to perform Isra and Miraj in one night, but it is if the special conditions of the Prophet ﷺ are fulfilled. If he is a real prophet, then Isra and Miraj are possible, but if he is not a real prophet, then it is impossible. Thus, the claim of performing the miracle is not relevant to the question of truthfulness at all, and to say that “oh he claims to perform impossible, and thus he is untruthful” is fallacious and invalid reasoning.


Similarly, we can examine the instance of Hudaybiyyah. If A is illogical, and B has performed A, B made an illogical decision and needs to be corrected. If Hudaybiyyah treaty is illogical, and the Prophet ﷺ has signed it, then he ﷺ has performed an illogical action and needs to be corrected or not followed in this instance.


A lot of Muslims that day have followed this type of reasoning, which seems valid. However, it missed the point that what is illogical for one person may make sense for others who have more knowledge. For example, it may seem illogical for a surgeon to cut open a patient’s stomach who is already ill still, as the surgeon knows that only after that cut can heal the illness. His action is logical and rational, even if it doesn’t appear like that to others.


Abu Bakr saw this to be the case, and instead, he reasoned, that if A is illogical, but B has performed it. B has more knowledge and is supported by Allah, who is All-Knowing, then A must be logical and rational, and we must follow B in his decision. This type of reasoning is the correct one, while the first one is fallacious and invalid.



Application of these principles in history and today



During the era of the Abbasids in the 9th century, an intellectual fight has happened between Mu’tazila (also known as Rationalists) and Traditionalist schools of thought. The first one suggested the precedence of Aql (reasoning or intellect) over Naql (scripture), while the second one said that Naql has precedence over Aql, as the human’s Aql is always deficient.


However, if we take the example of Abu Bakr’s reasoning, it becomes clear that the Aql of Rationalists is not valid but fallacious, while it was the Traditionalists who have followed the sound and valid Aql. Thus the real Rationalists are the Traditionalists.


Abu Bakr was not blindly following the Prophet ﷺ. He saw in him all of the signs of prophethood and truthfulness. Thus, to accept his ﷺ commands and sayings as they were, was the only rational way, as a real prophet can’t tell a lie. On the other hand, to doubt that a real prophet, who has the help of Allah, is incapable to do more than ordinary people is to think irrationally and illogically.


Today we can find a lot of so-called Muslim scholars who are trying to make Islam “more rational” and to reinterpret the miracles of the Prophet ﷺ metaphorically. They may say that the Isra and Miraj happened in a dream, or that it was the soul of the Prophet ﷺ who has travelled. However, they only make it more irrational, as they claim that there was a prophet, who was supported by Allah, the All-Powerful, but couldn’t do more than an ordinary man!


Also, there may be some of the commands that the Prophet ﷺ gave, which may seem as illogical for us, and thus those “rational Muslims” would reject it very fast. However, if we believe that the Prophet ﷺ was a real prophet, then we also must believe that he had support from Allah, the All-Knowing, and thus, whatever he ﷺ commanded, must be logical and rational, even if it doesn’t appear like that for us.


We may conclude that to follow the Naql is to use Aql correctly. To be Traditionalist is to be a real Rationalist, just as Abu Bakr was. Abu Bakr’s reasoning made him the best of companions and the best of humans after the prophets.


He was the one who applied valid reasoning when others have fallen into fallacies and wrong arguments. He is remembered as As-Siddiq, for no other cause than his extraordinary intellect, which allowed him to accept the truth at the time when others have rejected it.


Indeed, it proves the high stance of valid reasoning in Islam, raising Abu Bakr to the greatest human beings. We can see that Islam came not to abolish free-thinking and not to restrict intellectual capabilities but to guide them in the right direction. Unfortunately, so many Muslims are not capable of understanding it and fall prey to the wrong reasoning. Then, fortunately, such people like Abu Bakr As-Siddiq light a torch of guidance and show us the way of truth.


This article about the importance of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq is now completed. If you want to know more about Islam, discover our Islamic courses program: Islamic courses online.


If you want to know more about Abu Bakr, discover ou article: Caliph Abu Bakr As-Siddiq & Umar ibn al Khattab  

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[1] Sahih al-Bukhari 3661.

[2] محمود شاكر شاكر الحرستاني أبو أسامة، التاريخ الإسلامي، (المكتب الإسلامي: ط8، 1421ه/2000م)، ج2، ص121.

[3] Ali Muhammad As-Sallaaby and Faisal Shafeeq, The Biography Of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, 1st ed. (Darussalam, 2021), p.130.

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