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The Islamic World
The Islamic World

Khalifa Abu Bakr - Abu Bakr and Tasawwuf

This was the basic approach of Abu Bakr as well. By hard work and labor he amassed considerable wealth, and then spent it entirely in the way of Allah. Abu Bakr led the life of a poor man, but he was not poor in the sense that he had no money; he was poor only in the sense that he had no desire for money. Poverty in his case was not compulsory it was voluntary. In the case of a person who has no resources, poverty is compulsory. On the other hand, a person who has enough of money but prefers to live like a poor man takes over to poverty in a voluntary way. Abu Bakr's life was a striking example of preferring voluntary poverty to compulsory poverty in the Sufi way.

Apogee of Tasawwuf. According to a well-known anecdote, the Holy Prophet invited contribution from the Muslims for financing the expedition to Tabuk. In response to the invitation Umar brought a considerable portion of his wealth. As he came loaded with the contribution, Umar thought that day he would surpass Abu Bakr in the matter of service to Islam. The Holy Prophet was very happy to receive the contribution from Umar. "Have you left anything for yourself" asked the Holy Prophet, and Umar replied, " I have left one half for myself. Then Abu Bakr came with his contribution, and when the Holy Prophet put him the same question he promptly replied, "I have brought all I had, I have left Allah and His Prophet for myself and my dependents. " This approach marks the apogee of Tasawwuf.

Fear of God. The main plank of Sufism is fear of God. Throughout his life, Abu Bakr was guided by the principle of the fear of God. As the caliph, he enjoined all the functionaries of the State to fear God. It is on record that when offering prayers the fear of God would so overwhelm Abu Bakr that he would look like a stick of dry wood.

Abu Bakr's Prayer. The usual prayer of Abu Bakr was: "O Allah You know me better than I do; And I know myself better than the people, O Allah make me better than what the people think of me, and forgive me for the sins which the people do not know, and do not call me to account for what the people say about me." It is the typical prayer of a Sufi. Equation between man and God. When the Holy Prophet died, and the people would not believe that he was dead, Abu Bakr said: "Whoever worshipped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead, but whoever worships the God of Muhammad, let him know that He lives and dies not." This classic quotation which has passed into history is an embodiment of the highest values of Islam and Sufism. It sets an equation between man and God, and it cannot be put in more meaningful words than what Abu Bakr did. That is the most consummate thought of a Sufi.

Abu Bakr's way of Sufism. According to Data Ganj Bakhsh, Abu Bakr's way of Sufism was the contemplative way as compared to the purgative way of Umar. When Abu Bakr prayed he recited the Holy Quran in a low voice, while Umar recited the Holy Quran in a loud voice. When the Holy Prophet asked Umar the reason for his reciting the Holy Quran in a loud voice he said "I wake the drowsy and drive away the devil." When Abu Bakr was asked to explain why he recited the Holy Quran in a low voice, he said, "He with whom I converse will hear." With Abu Bakr the recitation of the Holy Quran was the means of communion with God and that was the Sufi way.

Father of Tasawwuf. Tasawwuf is the way of truth. Tasawwuf implies that a Sufi should be assiduous in piety. It also means that one should give up all else for God's sake. The keynote of Tasawwuf is selfless devotion. If we study the attributes of Abu Bakr, we are struck by the fact that all the attributes that go to make a Sufi were very conspicuous with Abu Bakr. He was "Siddiq" endowed with the vision to perceive that truth. He was most assiduous in piety. He gave away all his wealth for God's sake. He was selfless. When he became the Caliph he stated on oath that he had never coveted the office. Abu Bakr was the symbol of selflessness among the companions of the Holy Prophet. His devotion and dedication to Allah, His Prophet, and lslam were of the highest order, and no other companion of the Holy Prophet excelled him in that respect. No wonder Abu Bakr is the "Father of Tasawwuf".

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