Anecdotes. In the various accounts about Abu Bakr that have come down to us, we come across some anecdotes that illuminate certain aspects of the life of Abu Bakr. We refer to some of these anecdotes in this Chapter.
Reaction to praise. Once, someone highly praised Abu Bakr. After the man who praised him had left, Abu Bakr prayed to God: "O Allah, You know me more than myself, and I know myself more than these people who praise me. Make me better than what they think of me, and forgive those sins of mine of which they have no knowledge, and do not hold me responsible for what they say."
Milking the goats. Before becoming the Caliph, Abu Bakr used to milk the goats of the widows in the neighborhood. When he passed through the street after becoming the Caliph, one of the widows remarked, "Now, he would not milk the goats for us". Addressing the widows, Abu Bakr said, "No, the Khilafat would make no change. I would continue to milk your goats."
The two lions. On an occasion when Abu Bakr was busy with the preparation of plans in connection with the campaigns in Syria and Iraq, a companion presented a case concerning his tribe for the decision of the caliph. That irritated Abu Bakr, and he said: "I am busy considering plans to crush the two lions who are waiting for an opportunity to destroy the Muslims and you are diverting my attention to petty matters."
Revelations of Musailima After the death of the false prophet Musailima, a deputation of Banu Hanifa waited on Abu Bakr. He inquired of them what were the teachings of the false prophet. As a specimen of his teaching they recited the following verse, which was alleged to have been revealed to him: "O frog! Holy are you. You do not prevent the drinker, nor do you make the water dirty. Half the world belongs to us, and half to the Quraish, but the Quraish are a cruel people." On hearing this, Abu Bakr remarked: "God be praised. Is this the divine word? It has no sublimity of divinity. To what depths he had dragged you".
Necklace of his sister. On the occasion of the conquest of Makkah, the necklace of his sister was wrenched from her neck by one of the horsemen. To the people assembled in the mosque, Abu Bakr said, "I call for the necklace of my sister in the name of God." He repeated this three times, and when there was no response he said, "O sister, reckon upon your necklace as a present to God, for by Allah there is little of honesty among men now-a-days."
Veterans of the Badr. On one occasion, Abu Bakr was asked, "O Vicegerent of the Apostle of God, will you not employ in service those who fought at Badr?" Abu Bakr said, "I know their dignity, but I am loath to defile them with the world?"
Doing things himself. Once when Abu Bakr was riding a camel, the reins of the camel dropped from his hands. He came down from the camel to pick up the reins. He was asked why he had not asked other persons to pick up the reins for him. He said, "My Prophet has ordered me to do my things myself, and not beg anything from any human being."
No distinction. Once Abu Bakr was sitting with a number of persons. A person came, and he said, "Peace be to you, O Caliph of the Prophet". Abu Bakr felt irritated and said, "There is no distinction between the Caliph and other Muslims; why have you wished peace to the Caliph alone and not to the other members of the assembly?"
No train of followers. In the second year of his caliphate, Abu Bakr went to Makkah on pilgrimage. On this occasion many persons gathered around him and began to follow in his train. Abu Bakr wanted them to disperse for he did not want to be given any undue importance to himself.
Head of defeated enemy. Once a commander sent to Abu Bakr the head of the defeated enemy. Abu Bakr deprecated the practice as unlslamic. He issued instructions to all concerned that in future the heads of the defeated enemy should not be cut for dispatch to him. He urged that due respect should be shown to the dead, even though they were enemies.
Hunting of game. Once a hunter hunted a raven with large wings. It was presented to Abu Bakr. He turned it over and said, "No game is hunted and no tree is felled, save it has neglected the praise of God".