Allah (SWT) had given permission for the persecuted Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. Weary from all of the dangers, Abu Bakr (RA) decided leaving Makkah was the best plan of action. He arranged his things and packed his animal for the journey. After saying goodbye to his family and the Prophet (SAW), he headed south.
For five days, he trekked through the desert in the early mornings and late afternoons, resting during the heat of the day. As he stopped for his midday nap, Abu Bakr saw a man approaching him from a distance. He recognised him straight away as the chief of the Al Qaarah tribe, Ibn Ad Dughnah. “Where are you going, Abu Bakr?”, he asked.
“My people have forced me to leave, so I will now travel about, freely worshipping my Lord,” Abu Bakr replied.
“Someone of your social standing and character shouldn’t voluntarily leave or be forced to leave; you provide for the needy, you join family ties, support the weak, honour your guests and help others who are in trouble. I will provide you with protection. Return home and worship there,” said Ibn Ad Dughnah.
We should be proud of our beautiful prayer. We should pray with confidence, seeking the pleasure of Allah and keeping in mind that someone may be watching us quietly with curiosity. A curiosity that may lead them to find out more about Islam.
The pair returned to Makkah together, and Ibn Ad Dughnah immediately met with the leaders of Quraysh. It was agreed that Abu Bakr would be allowed to worship Allah (SWT) at home, out of sight of the people of Makkah. The Quraish believed that the sight of Abu Bakr in prayer was negatively influencing the women and children. If he complied with the agreement, the leaders gave their word Abu Bakr would be left alone. For a few days, Abu Bakr went along with their plan, but it did not take him long until he decided to do things his own way. He built a place of prayer in his yard and began to pray there.
In preparation for prayer, Abu Bakr made wudhu and then stood in his new prayer place. “Allahu Akbar,” he said as he put his hands beside his ears and then crossed them over his chest. He paused for a moment, and then began: “Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Raheem. Alhamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alameen…,” All praise is due to Allah. “ArRahmanir raheem…,” Allah is truly The Most Merciful, he thought. He continued his prayer, never leaning to the right or left but with perfect attention as if he was speaking to Allah (SWT) directly.
Some women and children passing by began to investigate his strange movements. As they got closer they became curious, “What is he saying?” They whispered to each other. The crowd grew and gathered around the yard. Unaware, Abu Bakr continued his prayer. They stared at him as they listened to the rhythm of the ayat and pondered their meanings. The peace he experienced seemed to encompass everyone who watched. Tears rolled down Abu Bakr’s face. Moved by his recitation and the awe of the moment, they too had tears in their eyes. When he had completed his prayers, they slowly departed in silence feeling somehow changed.
As soon as they found out that people were watching Abu Bakr pray, the Quraysh leaders called for Ibn Ad Dughnah to lodge their complaint. Ibn Ad Dughnah walked out of his meeting in a huff and went straight to Abu Bakr’s house.
“You know what we agreed upon, so either you follow the terms of our agreement, or you return to me my guarantee of protection. I do not want other Arabs to find out that my guarantee of safety for a man was ignored and violated,” said Ibn Ad Dughnah.
“Then I return to you your guarantee of safety, and I am satisfied and pleased with the protection of Allah, the Possessor of Might and Majesty,” replied Abu Bakr.
Abu Bakr was known to be emotional in his prayer. He was so emotional that when the Prophet (SAW) was dying and he asked his wives to tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayer, they tried to discourage the Prophet (SAW) by saying that Abu Bakr cries too much to be able to lead the prayer.
The beauty of Abu Bakr’s prayer – its sincerity, its emotion – was a threat to the disbelievers of Makkah, and we shouldn’t be surprised by this. We are often told that the best da’wah is to be a good Muslim, to always be on our best behaviour, to always do the right thing. Who isn’t influenced by acts of goodness? The remarkable examples of goodness that can be found among the companions is awe-inspiring. What is a better act of goodness than prayer, the reason for our creation?
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (Adh-Dhariat: 56)
Prayer in Islam was given to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the heavens from Allah (SWT) directly, during the ascension of Isra and Miraj – that is how special this ‘ibadah is. Whenever I see pictures of Makkah at prayer time and the rings of worshippers performing prayer in unison, I can’t help but get this overwhelming feeling of pride that I am a member of this awesome group, and I wonder how anyone can look at our prayer and not believe.
When we are in non-Muslim countries, we may hesitate to pray when we can’t find a masjid. We may feel self-conscious, but we should keep in mind that Abu Bakr lived in a hostile environment and didn’t hesitate to pray in front of non-Muslims. We should be proud of our beautiful prayer. We should pray with confidence, seeking the pleasure of Allah and keeping in mind that someone may be watching us quietly with curiosity. A curiosity that may lead them to find out more about Islam.
Even if some people are put off by our prayer, we should be strong just like Abu Bakr who after Ibn Ad Dughnah left and took back his guarantee, raced to the Ka’bah for prayer. Along the way, a man saw him walking with vigour up the road. He scooped up some dirt, darted behind the wall and readied himself. As Abu Bakr was passing, the man dumped the dirt all over his head and ran.
Abu Bakr shook the dust from his head and clothes. His patience and tolerance were being tested. He remarked “My Lord, how forbearing and clement (merciful) you are.”
He continued on down the road to the Ka‘bah, not allowing a little dirt to get in the way. Instead, he reflected upon Allah (SWT) and His perfect abilities, turning the situation around completely and staying strong in the face of adversity. May Allah (SWT) give us the strength to follow in the steps of these great companions, ameen.
The Biography of Abu Bakr (RA) As-Siddeeq by Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad
Ann (Umameer) Stock reverted to Islam 27 years ago and lives back and forth between Cairo and Jeddah with her Egyptian husband. She wants to help the next generation of Muslims understand more about their faith. You can follow her at http://umameerblog.wordpress.com/Musings of a Muslimah