“You will die and they will die, and Muhammad (SAW) is but a Messenger; of a surety, all Messengers before him have passed away. If then, he die or be slain, will you turn back on your heels? Whosoever worships Muhammad (SAW), let him then know that Muhammad (SAW) indeed is dead; but whoso worshipped Allah (SWT), let him know that Allah (SWT) lives and does not die.”
These were the words that Abu Bakr (RAA) uttered to the Muslims upon the death of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) . In his words, it is witnessed the loss that the Islamic community experienced with the death of the last Prophet of Islam. A new anxiety arose as to whether Islam could continue on without the leadership of the Prophet (SAW) .
The Prophet (SAW) had previously mentioned, “My Companions are like the stars, whom you may follow, will get the right path.” With this, the Companions, specifically Abu Bakr (RAA) and Umar (RAA) , went on to continue upholding Islam and strengthening the believers’ faith, and spreading the true word to the rest of the world, slowly building the foundation of what would soon become the Islamic empire.
Abu Bakr (RAA) was chosen to be the first caliph of the Muslims. While some may take this as a chance to exercise and manipulate power and strength, Abu Bakr (RAA) asked the people to keep him in line.
“I have been given the authority over you, and I am not the best of you. If I do well, help me; and if I do wrong, set me right. Sincere regard for truth is loyalty and disregard for truth is treachery. Obey me so long as I obey God and His Messenger… But if I disobey God and His Messenger, you owe me no obedience.”
However, his leadership could not be less wrought with problems. As soon as the Arabian tribes heard of the death of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) , the Islamic peace brought on by the alliance during the Prophet’s (SAW) time broke down and several tribes revolted under the resistance led by rival fake ‘prophets’. This began the period of hurub al-ridda, or the Wars of Apostasy. Most of Abu Bakr’s (RAA) energy as the first Caliph was focused on suppressing the rebellions and re-establishing Islamic peace. Once the rebellions were quelled, Abu Bakr (RAA) began a war of conquest that set in motion a historical trajectory that would lead to one of the largest empires in history. Abu Bakr (RAA) started with Iraq. However, soon he too died only two years after succeeding the Prophet’s (SAW) leadership.
The companion who succeeded Abu Bakr (RAA) was Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RAA) , who was gifted both militarily and politically – two qualities that were important to be one of the strong leaders of Islam. Umar (RAA) continued the war of conquests begun by Abu Bakr (RA). Umar also began to build a political structure that held together the growing Islamic empire, largely continuing on in the Prophet’s (SAW) footsteps of religious tolerance. In the words of Umar (RAA) , “Truly, the Word, that same Word which directed the Prophet, is with us still. Take it, therefore, for your guide and you shall never go astray.” This further strengthened the believers’ faith in Islam; that Islam did not die with the Prophet (SAW) as long as his followers are still following the Prophet’s (SAW) teachings.
The actions of Abu Bakr (RAA) and Umar (RAA) reflect their faith, love and devotion to the Prophet (SAW) and his teachings and the importance of continuing his practices even after his departure. This proved to the believers’ that Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) teachings as a Messenger of Allah (SWT) were enduring and true. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Allah (SWT) will always be in our hearts if we continue to remember and practice what we as Muslims have been instructed.