Islamic Studies Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq
by
Zeki Saritoprak
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 July 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0221

Introduction

Abu Bakr (b. 573–d. 634) was born in Mecca. His father was Uthman, also known as Abu Quhafah, and his mother, Salma, was known as Umm al-Khayr (“mother of goodness”). Three years younger than Muhammad, Abu Bakr was the closest friend of the Prophet of Islam. Like the Prophet, he never worshipped idols, even before Islam; he followed the religion of Abraham, known in Arabia as Hanif. He was an honorable and wealthy businessman, yet he avoided vices common to pre-Islamic Arabian society. After his conversion, he spent his wealth in the service of Islam by giving alms, freeing slaves, and supporting the work of Muhammad, fully parting with his riches when he was elected caliph. He and his wife, Zaynab, had six children: Aisha, Abdullah, Asma, Abd Al-Rahman, Umm Kulthum, and Muhammad. Well known and respected even before Islam, Abu Bakr was amoung the first Muslims and companions of the Prophet. The Prophet bestowed the title al-Siddiq (“the righteous one”) on him for his affimation of the Mi’raj, the Prophet’s night journey and ascension to heaven. In praising him, the Prophet said, “Whomever I invited to Islam at first hesitated except Abu Bakr” (al-Tirmidhi, Al-Jami al-Sahih, al-Manaqib [Cairo: Maktabat Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, 1975], p. 18). Being very persuasive, Abu Bakr convinced several other people to convert to Islam after his own conversion, including Uthman bin Affan, the third caliph. Abu Bakir is considered the Prophet’s companion during the migration. It is known that when Meccan pagans surrounded the cave in which the Prophet was resting prior to his migration, Abu Bakr was afraid that the pagans would capture and torture them. The Prophet said to him, “Don’t be afraid, God is with us” (Qur’an 9:40). When the Prophet died in 632 CE, Abu Bakr had a crucial role in calming the Muslim community. Quoting a verse from the Qur’an (3:144), he reminded the community that Muhammad was a messenger of God and that, like all God’s messengers, he would pass away. Although Abu Bakr nominated others for the caliphate, the community of the companions of the Prophet asked him to be the caliph, and he reluctantly accepted. After the election he gave the famous speech “I am elected not because I am the best of you. . . If I do my job thoroughly, follow me and help me. If I deviate from the right path to corruption, bring me back to the right path.” He died in Medina and is buried next to the Prophet.

General Overviews

As the closest companion of the Prophet and the first caliph, Abu Bakr is referenced in most publications on early Islam. There have been significant strides made in the interpretation of early Islam by Western-trained scholars that are reflected in the titles that follow. This listing is far from comprehensive, but it represents a cross-section of works that have more than a passing reference to Abu Bakr. Madelung 1997 is one of the first Western reassessments of early Islam that includes useful analysis of primary and secondary sources on Abu Bakr. Ayoub 2003 is an important work detailing the early history of Islam. El-Hibri 2010 is a similarly scholarly look at early Islam. Written by a well respected scholar, Donner 2010 is presented as a popular work yet provides a novel account of the origins of Islam. Similarly, Renard 2009 is a chapter in an edited volume of various hagiographies of Muslim figures that offers translation and commentary on Abu Bakr from a variety of Islamic sources. Aqqad 1960 is slightly different from the Western-oriented studies in this section. This work is one in the “geniuses” authored by Aqqad, a famous 20th-century Egyptian scholar; other books in the series are Abqarīiyat Muhammad, Abqarīyat al-Masīh, and Abqarīyat Khalīd. The book is usefully compared with Haykal 1988 (cited under Academic Biographies) and other Academic Biographies.

  • Aqqad, Abbas Mahmud. Abqarīyat al-Siddīq. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kitab al-`Arabi, 1960.

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    Reflects an important intellectual crossroads in Islamic thought between earlier traditional and religiously oriented scholarship and modern academic discourse. There is also a 1968 Turkish translation by Ali Ozek titled Hazreti Ebu Bekir’in Sahsiyeti ve Dehasi (Istanbul: Fatih Yayınevi).

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  • Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Crisis of Muslim History: Religion and Politics in Early Islam. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003.

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    A shorter yet scholarly history of politics in early Islam dealing with each of the first four caliphs.

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  • Donner, Fred M. Muhammad and the Believers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2010.

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    In this well-written and acessible book providing a useful overview of early Islam, Donner takes a revisionist position, arguing for the importance of religion qua religion in the growth of early Islam. Although not ideal for specialists, Donner’s bibliographical essays are more than helpful for others.

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  • El-Hibri, Tayeb. Parable and Politics in Early Islamic History: The Rashidun Caliphs. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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    Another revisionist account of early Islamic politics containing a highly detailed and informative account of Abu Bakr’s overall role in early Islam

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  • Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    This book treats the era the four Rightly Guided Caliphs and gives an account of Abu Bakr that includes many primary and secondary sources.

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  • Renard, John. “Abu Bakr in Tradition and Early Hagiography.” In Tales of God’s Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation. Edited by John Renard, 15–29. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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    A useful introduction to writings on Abu Bakr, Renard offers translations and contextualization of accounts of Abu Bakr by the writers Abu Nasr al-Sarraj, Abu Nu’aym al-Asbahani (also transliterated as al-Asfahani), and Hujwiri as well as from the Hadith. Renard also provides useful contextualization for each source.

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The Qur’an and the Hadith

According to commentators, Qur’anic verses 9:40 and 92:17–21 are references to Abu Bakr. There are also numerous hadith that refer to Abu Bakr. Although Abu Bakr was a close friend of the Prophet of Islam, he did not narrate many sayings of the Prophet. Muslim commentators have questioned why Abu Bakr and the other caliphs related few of the Prophet’s sayings, and they reason that this is because of the caliphs’ busy schedules, even during the life of the Prophet. Ahmad 1982–1983 is a good reference on the Qur’anic verses and sayings of the Prophet that are believed to be about Abu Bakr. Al-Suyuti 1981–1982 is a source that includes some of the most significant sayings of the Prophet, as told by Abu Bakr. See also Abu Bakr’s Poetry and Other Writings.

  • Ahmad, Salem. Al-Ayat wa al-Ahadith al-Warida fi Sha’ni Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. MA diss., Umm al-Qura University, 1982–1983.

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    This long master’s thesis, prepared at the Umm al-Qura University, Department of Shari’a, discusses Qur’anic verses and Hadith narrations about Abu Bakr.

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  • al-Suyuti, Jalal al-Din Abu Rahman bin Abi Bakr. Musnad Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Edited by Abdullah bin Muhammad bin al-Siddiq al-Ghumari. Mecca, Saudi Arabia: Maktabat al-Nahdah al-Hadithah, 1981–1982.

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    Al-Suyuti (b. 1445–d. 1505) was a prolific writer and one of the most important medieval Islamic theolgians. This book includes approximately fifty of the most important hadith narrated by Abu Bakr, which al-Suyuti included in his Tarikh al-Khulafa (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Nubilis, 2005).

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Early Islamic Sources

The titles that follow are some of the earliest extant sources we have for early Islam and, as such, have become centrally important to later religious and scholarly discourse on Abu Bakr and early Islam in general. Although these authors may be considered historians, their works are not written like modern historical scholarship; they are generally collections of earlier writers’ works that, in many cases, have been lost to us. Each of these authors is considered a heavyweight of early and medieval Islamic religious and historical thought, and there are multiple and various Arabic editions of all of their texts as well as editions in other Islamic languages. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani 1991–1992 is considered one of the most complete works on the companions of the Prophet. Al-Tabari 1992 and al-Tabari 1993 are two volumes of the complete, scholarly translation of al-Tabari’s Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk and are useful in that are they among the only easily accessible full translations of early material dealing at any length with Abu Bakr or his caliphate. Al-Suyuti 1970 is an older translation of a significant medieval theological work, and though not as scholarly as the al-Tabari translations, it is still useful for non-Arabic readers. Al-Baladhuri 1994 is one of several more recent Arabic compilations from Ansab al-Ashraf dealing with Abu Bakr. This volume is useful because al-Baladhuri’s account is compared with other Islamic historical sources. Ibn Sa’d 2013 is a volume from Ibn Sa’d’s al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, one of the earliest histories of Islam. Al-Mas’udi 1948 is a slightly later history but is still among the most influential Islamic historical sources.

  • al-Baladhuri, Ahmad bin Yahya. Al-Shaykhan Abu Bakr al-Siddiq wa Umar bin al-Khattab wa Wilduhuma. Edited by Ihsan Sidqi al-Amd. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Mu’taman, 1994.

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    This is a section of the monumental Ansab al-Ashraf by the early Islamic historian al-Baladhuri (d. c. 892). Although he was a prolific writer, this is one of the few extant texts we have from al-Baladhuri.

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  • Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Ahmad bin Ali. Al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba. Edited by Ali Muhammad al-Bijawi. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jil, 1991–1992.

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    Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (b. 1372–d. 1449) was a leading medieval scholar and Hadith commentator who wrote numerous important works on Hadith, the Qur’an, and jurisprudence. Al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba is considered among the most comprehensive texts on the companions of the Prophet. The section on Abu Bakr provides narrations from Aisha about her father.

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  • Ibn Sa’d, Muhammad bin Sa’d bin Mani Abu Abdillah al-Zuhari. Kitab at-Tabaqat al-Kabir. Vol. 3, The Companions of Badr. Translated by Aisha Bewley. London: Ta-Ha, 2013.

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    This is one of the volumes of the translation of the al-Tabaqat al-Kabir by Ibn Sa’d (b. c. 784–d. 844/845). Information on Abu Bakr includes his conversion to Islam, his migration with the Prophet, the significance of his leading of the prayer while the Prophet was sick, his characteristics, and his farewell.

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  • al-Mas’udi, Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Husain bin Ali. Muruj al-Dhahab wa Ma’adin al-Jawhar. Edited by Muhammad Muhyi al-Din Abd al-Hamid. Cairo, Egypt: Matba’at al-Sa’ada, 1948.

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    Al-Mas’udi (b. c. 893–d. 956) was an important Islamic historian and “sociologist.” Muruj al-Dhahab has lengthy sections on the calipate and lineage of Abu Bakr as well as the events that happened during his time. There is a partial English translation that does not contain information on Abu Bakr and a complete French translation.

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  • al-Suyuti, Jalal al-Din. History of the Caliphs. Translated by H. S. Jarrett. Amsterdam: Oriental, 1970.

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    Reprint of the 1881 edition (Calcutta: Asiatic Society); English translation of Tarikh al-Khulafa, originally published in 1857 (Calcutta: Lees). The book speaks of Abu Bakr and his personality and calls him and the other caliphs the Mines of Gold. The book offers hadith narrated by Abu Bakr.

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  • al-Tabari, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir. The Challenge to the Empires. Translated and edited by Khalid Yahya Blankinship. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

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    This is Volume 11 in the English translation of the famous Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk (History of the prophets and kings) by al-Tabari (b. c. 839–d. 923). The first half is dedicated to the caliphate of Abu Bakr. The text largely concerns the military campains in Iraq and Syria. The book also deals with the death of Abu Bakr.

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  • al-Tabari, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir. The Conquest of Arabia: The Riddah Wars. Translated and edited by Fred M. Donner. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

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    This volume of the translation of al-Tabari’s Tarikh focuses on the election of Abu Bakr to the caliphate and the Ridda Wars. There is much more material on the wars than on the caliphate per se.

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Academic Biographies

A good number of late-20th- and early-21st-century Islamic scholars have written biographies of Abu Bakr. Ahmed 2005 is valuable not only as an English source, but also for its discussion of his children, particularly Aisha, the wife of the Prophet. Aziz 1978 is highly analytical and presents an important contrast to the more narrative-driven biographies. Al-Hadithi and al-Janabi 1989 is scholarly yet highly narrative and includes elements of hagiography. Hasan 1976 has references to Western scholarship on Abu Bakr. Haykal 1988, written by one of the most important early-20th-century Egyptian writers, is one of the most well-known modern books on the life of Abu Bakr. Given the author’s literary genius, it is not surprising that Haykal 1988 is itself a piece of literature. Haylamaz 2011 is a translation from Turkish of a work that focusses on Abu Bakr’s loyalty to the Prophet. Hussein 1969 is a literary piece on Abu Bakr and his achievements. Safwat 1972 is unique in mentioning Abu Bakr’s letters to different personalities.

  • Ahmed, M. Mukarram. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. 22, Hadrat Abu Bakr: The First Caliph. New Delhi: Anmol, 2005.

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    This book provides comprehensive information on Abu Bakr, his life, and his caliphate as well as Aisha and twelve other companions of the Prophet. The book cites among Abu Bakr’s achievments economic and military organization and the project of the compilation of the Holy Qur’an. Includes a detailed bibliography.

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  • Aziz, Abdul. Abu Bakr: The Caliph. Karachi, Pakistan: Ghazanfar Academy, 1978.

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    Among the best sources on Abu Bakr written by a Muslim scholar in English, this is an excellent analytical biography focusing on Abu Bakr’s role in the creation of the Islamic state, both politically and militarily. Notably, the Pakistani justice and legal scholar Hamoodur Rahman wrote a forward for the book.

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  • al-Hadithi, Nizar, and Khalid Jasim al-Janabi. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Baghdad, Iraq: Dar al-Shu’un al-Thaqafiyah al-Ammah, 1989.

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    This book covers Abu Bakr’s caliphate, his role in the compilation of the Qur’an and in military expeditions in his era, and financial issues.

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  • Hasan, Masudul. Sidiq-i-Akbar Hazrat Abu Bakr. Lahore, Pakistan: Ferozsons, 1976.

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    Written by a very broadly published author in Islam, this book ranks as one of the more significant for most any study of the caliph. Usefully, the book includes a section on Abu Bakr as seen by Western writers and a section with Abu Bakr’s sayings.

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  • Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. Abu Bakr. Lahore, Pakistan: Maktabat Meri, 1988.

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    English translation of Abū Bakr al-Siddīq, originally published in 1942 (Cairo, Egypt: Matbaʻat Misr). This is one of the most important books on the life of Abu Bakr, presenting information on Abu Bakr’s realtions with the Prophet, his expeditions, his government, and the final moments of his life.

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  • Haylamaz, Reşit. Abu Bakr: The Pinnacle of Truthfulness. Leading Companions of the Prophet. Clifton, NJ: Tughra, 2011.

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    English translation of Sadâkatın Zirve Ismi Hz. Ebû Bekir, originally published in 2005 (Istanbul: Rehber Yayınları). The text has hagiographical information and frequently refers to original sources.

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  • Hussein, Taha. Al-Shaykhan. Cairo, Egypt: Dar al-Ma’arif, 1969.

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    This work is about both Abu Bakr and the caliph Umar. The book elaborates on the life of Abu Bakr, his stance on apostacy, and some events of his time. Although written in a literary style, the book does offer analysis of certain occurrences under the rule of Abu Bakr.

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  • Safwat, Ahmad Zeki. Jamharat Rasail al-Arab. Beirut, Lebanon: Al-Maktabat al-Ilmiyya, 1972.

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    The first volume of this work dedicates a good portion to the life of Abu Bakr. The work contains discussions of Abu Bakr’s messages and letters to different personalities.

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Popular Biographies

There are numerous popular biographies of Abu Bakr. Most are religious in nature, and they are often fairly formulaic, at times amounting to hagiography. That said, these works can be important sources, especially in considering the religious significance of Abu Bakr and in examining connections between history and modern expressions of Islam. Not all the biographies here are “fan fiction,” and in fact Rida 1988 (originally published in 1934) is an interesting bridge between the more hagiographic biographies and the academic ones. Instead of relying on religious authority alone, Rida employs a more modern, scholarly approach, insisting on historical validity and including material drawn from Westen sources. In contrast, Ahmad 1976 is a simplistic book written to expose Muslim youth to the life of Abu Bakr. Abiva 1998 is aimed at a general Muslim readership in the English-speaking world; as such, it is acessible and interesting for students of Islam in the West. Akinci 1966 is more novelistic and is targeted at a general Turkish readership. Halim 1979, though addressing a general audience, is comprehensive. Jung 1959 focuses on the merits of Abu Bakr and can be considered hagiography. Shalabi 1986 is geared toward a general Arabic readership, whereas, similarly directed, al-Tantawi 1986 relates the life of Abu Bakr to the life of the Prophet.

  • Abiva, Huseyin. From the Lives of the Khulafa ar-Rashidun. Chicago: Iqra International Educational Foundation, 1998.

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    This book is a basic popular biography of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali.

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  • Ahmad, Fazl. Abu Bakr: The First Caliph of Islam. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1976.

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    Written by a political scientist and educator, this short book was produced as a guide for Muslim youth. Some of the events covered by the book are Abu Bakr’s early life, his contribution to the freeing of slaves, his election, and his first speech as caliph.

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  • Akinci, Ahmet Cemil. Hazreti Ebűbekr. Istanbul: Üçdal Neșriyat, 1966.

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    A well-written narrative biography of Abu Bakr.

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  • Halim, I. “Abu Bakr prior to His Election as the First Khalifa in Islam.” Islamic Culture 53.3 (1979): 149–161.

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    One of the most comprehensive pieces on the subject of Abu Bakr’s election, based on early sources. Includes bibliographical references (pp. 417–434).

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  • Jung, Bahadur Yar. Hadrat Abu Bakr: The First Caliph of Islam. 3d ed. Translated by Syed Moinul Haq. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf. 1959.

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    Originally published in 1947 (Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf). The book contains a good section on Abu Bakr’s early life, goes on to deal with him as caliph, and, finally, discusses his merits. The book was written as a guide for Muslims or “people of faith.”

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  • Rida, Muhammad. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Edited by Sulaiman Salim al-Bawwad. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Nahdah, 1988.

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    Originally published in 1934. Given its annotations, this is a useful edition. It is both biographical and hagiographical and has sections looking at his election, speeches, and military campaigns and the formation of and challenges to the central government.

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  • Shalabi, Mahmud. Hayat Abi Bakr. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jil, 1986.

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    This is considered a well-written biography of Abu Bakr for a general Arabic readership.

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  • al-Tantawi, Ali. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Rev. ed. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Manar, 1986.

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    This book provides information on the life of Abu Bakr and related segments of the life of the Prophet.

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The Merits of Abu Bakr

There are many books written about Abu Bakr emphasizing his virtues, his piety, his just rule, and his sense of accountability before God. These are similar to some of the Popular Biographies of Abu Bakr but often include more figures. For example, Abduh 1987 discusses Abu Bakr and his merits as an exemplary person, whereas Ashur 1998 explores more specific aspects of Abu Bakr’s personality. Al-Baghdadi 1994 focuses on his charitable nature. Likewise, al-Suyuti 1990 elaborates on Abu Bakr’s superiority and how that lead to his being elected the first caliph. Al-Tabari 1996 cites Abu Bakr as among those who were given the good news of paradise by the Prophet and especially stresses his leadership. Shalabi 1963 presents Abu Bakr and his policies as precursors to modern socialist governance.

  • Abduh, Ghalib Ahmad Isa. Sirat al-Sahabi Sayyidina Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jil, 1987.

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    Considers Abu Bakr as a companion of the Prophet whose merits qualify him as an exemplary Muslim.

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  • Ashur, Qasim. Fara’id al-Kalam lil-Khulafa al-Kiram. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar Tuwayq, 1998.

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    This book looks at Abu Bakr’s life, wisdom, sermons, correspondence with his governors and appointees, and advice.

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  • al-Baghdadi, Mahmud Ali. Atiq al-Utaqa al-Imam Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Nadwa al-Jadida, 1994.

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    Examines the life of Abu Bakr and his benevolent personality through his freeing of slaves and his charitable givings. The book takes its name from a title given to him by the Prophet when Abu Bakr freed Bilal, an African slave in Mecca who was persecuted because of his conversion to Islam.

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  • Shalabi, Mahmud. Ishtirakiyat Abi Bakr. Cairo, Egypt: Maktabat al-Qahira al-Haditha, 1963.

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    Written during the socialist era in Egypt, under Abdel Nasser, this text stretches Islamic concepts of peace and justice to argue that the reign of Abu Bakr was socialistic.

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  • al-Suyuti, Jalal al-Din. Al-Rawd al-Aniq fi Fadl al-Siddiq. Edited by Amir Ahmad Haydar. Beirut, Lebanon: Muassasat Nader, 1990.

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    This work on the merits of Abu Bakr as the first caliph of Islam examines his superiority and his just rule.

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  • al-Tabari, Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir. Kitab al-Riyad al-Nadirah fi Manaqib al-Asharah. Edited by Isa bin Abdillah bin Muhammad bin Mani’ al-Himyari. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, 1996.

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    This is a well-annoted critical edition of al-Tabari’s work on the ten companions who were given the good news of a paradise during their lifetime. The book has good references on the first four caliphs, including Abu Bakr.

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Shi‘ite Perspectives

Although the majority of sources available on Abu Bakr present him from a Sunni point of view, there is a Shi‘ite literature on Abu Bakr, as the large volume of works that can be classified as Sunni Responses to Shi‘ite Viewpoints attests. It was the election of Abu Bakr to be the first caliph that brought about the divisions within Islam that are best represented in the early 21st century in the schism between Sunni and Shi‘ite Islam. A significant number of works have been written addressing the schism. As one might expect, the literature largely relates to the question of who should have been the first caliph, with Shi‘ite works arguing against the claims of Sunni theolgians that Abu Bakr was the correct or best choice to be the successor to the Prophet. Al-Hilli 1997 is an excellent example of this literature and provides many of the canonical Shi‘ite arguments against Abu Bakr. Afsaruddin 2002 is a highly valuable academic work offering medieval discourse on Abu Bakr from both Shi‘ite and Sunni pespectives and exploring how ideas of leadership developed in both communities. As it compares Sunni and Shi‘ite understandings of legitimacy, this text could also be considered under Sunni Responses to Shi‘ite Viewpoints.

  • Afsaruddin, Asma. Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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    Highly academic, as its origins as a doctoral dissertation suggest, but this book is an important English-language account of a Shi‘ite perspective on Abu Bakr. The primary Shi‘ite source for the book is Ibn Tawus, the teacher of al-Hilli.

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  • al-Hilli, Jamal ad-Din Hasan bin Yusuf bin ‘Ali bin Mutahhar. Sharh Minhaj al-Karama fi Ma`rifat al-Imama. Edited by Sayyid `Ali Husayni al-Milani. Qum, Azerbaijan: Mu`assasah-i intisharat-i Hejrat, 1997.

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    Al-Hilli (b. 1250–d. 1325) was a prominent Shi‘ite theologian who is often called the sage of Hilla. As a Shi‘ite theologian, he supports the idea that Ali was more deserving of the caliphate in the beginning. Among the evidence cited is praise the Prophet gave Ali and the miracles of Ali, including “the return of the sun for him, peace be upon him, twice” (p. 82).

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Sunni Responses to Shi‘ite Viewpoints

As noted in Shi‘ite Perspectives, the election of Abu Bakr to succeed the Prophet was the event that precipitated the Sunni/Shi‘ite schism within Islam. The works included here are generally Sunni attempts to respond to the successional claims put forth in Shi‘ite sources and theology.

Classical Works

As the eminence of the authors cited in this section attests, the refutation of Shi‘ite claims regarding Abu Bakr was an important topic in the development of Sunni theology. Al-Ash’ari was the founder of one of the two main Sunni theological traditions, and, as such, al-Ash’ari 1967 is critical for understaning later Sunni viewpoints on Abu Bakr. It is also the only English translation available of any of these works. Al-Asbahani 1998 is an edition of Al-Asbahani’s monumental Ma’rifat al-Sahaba, which served as a model for a number of later authors, including Ibn al-Athir and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani. Ibn Hanbal 1983 is another very early work, on the merits of the companions. Ibn Taymiya 1962 is a direct, chapter-by-chapter response to the points raised in al-Hilli 1997 (cited under Shi‘ite Perspectives). Of especial importance is the author’s response to al-Hilli’s evidence that Ali was the right choice for the first caliphate. In fact, the editor, Muhammad Rashad Salim, includes this chapter from al-Hilli in the text (Vol. 1, pp. 197–202). Salim also provides an excellent introduction that helps contextualize both Ibn Taymiya and al-Hilli. Al-Jahiz 1955, though a classical source, is a unique, more narrative approach to the subject of Abu Bakr’s appropriateness as the first caliph. Al-Ishari 1993 is more obscure but does present a straightforward, Hadith-based argument against Shi‘ite points of view. Ibn Hibban 1997 is by a prominent early theologian who also authored an important Hadith collection.

  • al-Asbahani, Abu Nu’aym Ahmad bin Abdillah. Ma’rifat al-Sahaba. Edited by Adil bin Yusuf al-Azazi. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Watan, 1998.

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    Al-Asbahani (b. 940–d. 1038) was an aesthete and scholar. This multivolume work on the companions of the Prophet dedicates a large section to Abu Bakr as one of the ten people who were given the good news of paradise in their lifetime. The work also speaks of Abu Bakr’s physical description and characteristics.

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  • al-Ash’ari, Abu al-Hasan bin Ismael. Al-Ibanah’an Usul ad-Diyanah (The Elucidation of Islam’s Foundation). Translated by Walter Conrad Klein. New York: Kraus, 1967.

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    Al-Ashari (b. c. 873–d. c. 935), one of the most important Islamic theologians, devotes a section of this book to the leadership of Abu Bakr by bringing evidence from the Qur’an to indicate that Abu Bakr was the best of the community to be elected. In response to Shi‘ite concerns, he says, “We have also seen that Ali and Abbas [the uncle of the Prophet] obeyed him and acknowledged his imamate” (p. 134).

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  • Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad Abu Abdillah al-Shaybani. Fada’il al-Sahaba. Vol. 1. Edited by Wasiyullah Muhammad Abbas. Beirut, Lebanon: Mu’assasat al-Risala, 1983.

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    Ibn Hanbal (b. 780–d. 855) was an important early Islamic jurist. This text discusses Abu Bakr’s conversion, his various merits, his financial support for the message of the Prophet, his leading of prayer at the order of the Prophet, and that he was given the good news by the Prophet that he would be among the people of paradise.

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  • Ibn Hibban, Muhammad Al-Busti. Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya wa Akhbar Al-Khulafaʼ. 2 vols. Edited by al-Hafiz ʻAziz Big. Beirut, Lebanon: Muʼassasat al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyya, 1997.

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    Written by the prominent early scholar Ibn Hibban (d. 965), this work has a large section on Abu Bakr, including his election as the caliph (Vol. 2, pp. 419–450).

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  • Ibn Taymiya, Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn Abd al-Alim. Minhaj al-Sunna al-Nabawiyya fi Naqd Kalam al-Shi‘at al-Qadariyya. 2 vols. Edited by Muhammad Rashad Salim. Beirut, Lebanon: Maktabat Khiyat, 1962.

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    This is the response by the famous Summi theologian Ibn Taymiya (b. 1263–d. 1328) to al-Hilli 1997 (cited under Shi‘ite Perspectives). A special section offers Sunni evidence that Abu Bakr was the proper choice for the first caliph, including sayings of the prophet (Vol. 1, pp. 340–365).

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  • al-Ishari, Abu Talib Muhammad bin Ali al-Harbi. Fada’il Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Tanta, Egypt: Dar al-Sahaba li al-Turath, 1993.

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    This book presents thirty-three Hadith on the merits of Abu Bakr, including the one in which the Prophet says, “Abu Bakr is the first to enter Paradise from amongst my community” (p. 21).

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  • al-Jahiz, Abu ʻUthman ʻAmr bin Bahr. al-ʻUthmaniyyah. Edited by ʻAbd al-Salam Muhammad Harun. Egypt: Dar al-Kitab al-ʻArabi, 1955.

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    Al-Jahiz (b. c. 776–d. 868/869) wrote more than two hundred books on a wide variety of topics. In al-‘Uthmaniyyah, al-Jahiz considers himself a judge making a judgment between the Sunnis and the Shi‘ites. He decides that Abu Bakr deserved to be the first caliph. Al-Jahiz does speak of the merits of Ali frequently, however, and looks at the people who supported both sides.

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20th Century Works

Some of the titles in this genre can border on formulaic (Mas’ud 1985), yet it is still an important Sunni literary genre, and the variations that do exist in the genre are informative regarding late-20th- and early-21st-century Islamic intellectual and popular culture. Of particular interest are works such as al-Samurai 1979 and Sha’at 1990, which are intended more for Shi‘ites and less for the broader Sunni population. Sharqawi 1988 is fairly biographical and is one of the last works by Sharqawi, who was most famous for his first novel, Al-Ard (The land). Al-Shaykh 1990 is a somewhat more academic text and is better reasoned than many in the genre.

  • Mas’ud, Jamal Abd al-Hadi Muhammad. Akhta’ Yajib an Tusahhah fi al-Tarikh: Istikhlaf Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar Tiba, 1985.

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    This book specifically examines the election of Abu Bakr as caliph and seeks to respond to the Shi‘ite claim that it was not just.

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  • al-Samurai, Yunus Ibrahim. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq bi Qalam Ali bin Abi Talib. Baghdad, Iraq: Matba’at al-Umma, 1979.

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    This pocket book is a compilation of Ali’s statements on the merits of Abu Bakr indicating that Ali consented to the caliphate of Abu Bakr.

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  • Sha’at, Ahmad Kamal. Al-Siddiq Bayna al-Sunnah wa al-Shi’a. Cairo, Egypt: Matabi’ al-Azhar al-Tijariyya, 1990.

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    Written after the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this book responds to the Shi‘ite claims regarding Abu Bakr. The book describes the role of Abu Bakr in the battles of Badr and Uhud and contains a section on people who spoke positively about him.

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  • Sharqawi, Abd al-Rahman. Al-Siddiq Awwal al-Khulafaa. Cairo, Egypt: Maktabat Gharib, 1988.

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    Sharqawi (b. 1920–d. 1987) was a famous Egyptian writer. This work broadly discusses the reasons that Abu Bakr deserved to be the first caliph, including Ali’s support for Abu Bakr; his caliphate; and three important principles of Islamic ruling—consultation, justice, and freedom—and how Abu Bakr applied them.

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  • al-Shaykh, Nasir bin Ali Aai’d Hasan. Aqidah Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamaa fi al-Sahaba al-Kiram. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Maktabat al-Rushd, 1990.

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    An important source dealing with theology and the creed of Sunni Muslims as it regards Abu Bakr and his leadership. The text also offers some Shi‘ite interpretations and responds to them.

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Leadership of Abu Bakr

The death of the Prophet of Islam was a watershed moment for the Islamic community. In such a difficult time, there was a need for strong leadership to hold the community together and respond adequately to various crises. Many authors have elaborated on how Abu Bakr answered the challenges that threatened the unity of the new Islamic community. Many of the works in this section are biographical in nature. Ahmad 1996 examines the success of Abu Bakr in holding down apostasy. Hammur 1989 looks at Abu Bakr’s struggle against those who rejected paying zakat. Mohy-ud-Din 1961, the follow-up to the author’s biography of the Prophet, is a biographical sketch presented as a guide for modern adminstrators and office holders. Al-Muallamy 1992 argues that the leadership of Abu Bakr was a reflection of the leadership of the Prophet. Mustafa 1974 focuses on the contribution of Abu Bakr to uniting the Islamic community and preventing possible religious and ethnic conflicts. Qal’aji 1983 is an exploration of the legal practices of Abu Bakr and their later importance. Shaltut 1998 concentrates on early the crises, religious and political, and Abu Bakr’s successful handling of them. In this regard, Abu Bakr has often been cited as an exemplar for modern-day Muslim admistrators.

  • Ahmad, Mahdi Rizqullah. Al-Thabitun Ala al-Islam Ayyam Fitna al-Ridda fi Ahd al-Khalifa Abi Bakr al-Siddiq wa Dawrihim fi Ikhmadiha. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar Tiba, 1996.

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    This book examines the revolts of apostasy in the era of the caliphate of Abu Bakr and how he was able to “put out the fire” of apostasy.

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  • Basalama, Husain Abdullah. Khilafat Abi Bakr al-Saddiq. Jeddah, Saudi, Arabia: Tihama, 1983.

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    This biography of Abu Bakr places special emphasis on his caliphate.

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  • Hammur, al-Sayyid Ahmad Ibrahim. Qadiyat man` al-Zakat bi Manatiq al-Madina wa Muqawamat al-Siddiq mani’iha fi Fajr Khilafatih. Cairo, Egypt: Matba’at al-Husayn al-Islamiyya, 1989.

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    Covers the difficulties that arose in the time of Abu Bakr’s caliphate, especially the problem of the rejection of paying zakat.

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  • Mohy-ud-Din, Atta. Abu Bakr and His Times. Karachi, Pakistan: Ferozsons, 1961.

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    This book aims to present “Hazrat Abu-Bakr as the Head of World Islamic State” and was written as a guide for legislaors and adminstrators. The work draws on both historical Islamic sources and then current Western Orientalist writings.

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  • al-Muallamy, Yahya Abdullah. Khasais al-Qiyada al-Najiha fi Siyar al-Qadat al-Uzma. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Dar al-Muallamy, 1992.

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    The book is about of the qualities of successful leadership and asserts that the Prophet of Islam and Abu Bakr were the most successful leaders.

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  • Mustafa, Abd al-Salam Qasim. “Siyasat Abi Bakr al-Siddiq wa Atharuha fi Da’m al-Wahdat al-Islamiyya.” PhD diss., Al-Azhar University, 1974.

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    This doctoral thesis focuses on the policy that Abu Bakr practiced in order to unite the Islamic community and prevent possible tribal, ethnic, and religious conflicts.

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  • Qal’aji, Muhammad Rawwas. Mawsu’at fiqh Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Damascus, Syria: Dar al-Fikr, 1983.

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    Explores legal practices of Abu Bakr that became instrumental in the development of Islamic law. A good source on Abu Bakr’s views on certain issues in Islamic law.

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  • Shaltut, Muhammad Abd al-Wahid. Manhaj Abi Bakr al-Siddiq fi Idara al-Azimmat. Cairo, Egypt: Dar Nur al-Islam li al-Nashr, 1998.

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    This book discusses how Abu Bakr handled crises, particularly apostasy and revolt.

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Financial Matters

The spread of the religion of Islam brought not only social challenges, but also financial ones. Islam was establishing a new community as well as a new state bureaucracy, and so there was need for financial discipline, based on the main Islamic principle of justice. This was a burden to be carried on the shoulders of the first caliph. Many authors have discussed the economic policies instated by Abu Bakr. Mash’ur 2004 is the best of the more recent examples of these studies, especially given its thoroughness and highly detailed bibliography. Muhammad 1990 is more academic and policy oriented. It helpfully compares Abu Bakr’s financial systems with modern ones.

  • Mash’ur, Firas Muhammad. Al-Nafaqat al-Aaliya fi ‘Ahd Abi Bakr al-Siddiq wa ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. Irbid, Jordan: Mu’assasat Hamada li al-Dirasat al-Jami‘iyya wa al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi‘, 2004.

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    Using significant original sources, gives detailed information on finances under Abu Bakr and Umar. Includes the salary of the caliph, his food and dress, spending on the delegations, gifts given to the caliphs, and other expenditures

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  • Muhammad, Qutb Ibrahim. Al-Siyasa al-Maliya li Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Cairo, Egypt: Al-Hay’a al-Misriyya al-Amma li al-Kitab, 1990.

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    An academic look at financial policy in the era of Abu Bakr. The book examines Abu Bakr’s role in establishing a well-managed financial system for the early Islmaic state. The book also compares the fiscal policies of Abu Bakr with those of modern economies.

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Military Campaigns

Particularly in Western sources, the military dimensions of Abu Bakr’s caliphate have been emphasized (see General Overviews). Islam was spreading rapidly, with the Medina state becoming a rival to the two superpowers, the Byzantine Empire and the Sassanid Empire. Abu Bakr’s military policy was to respond directly to the threat posed by these two giants. Donner 1981 is still a valuable military history of the early Islamic state, and the first portion of the book deals with Abu Bakr and his role in the various military campaigns of the time. Al-Durra 1964 is similar, but it has a greater focus on Abu Bakr’s role in the conflicts. Shayma 2009 discusses the Islamic conquests of greater Syria in the time of Abu Bakr and Umar, with those in the era of Abu Bakr receiving special attention.

  • Donner, Fred M. The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

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    This crucial study of early Islam devotes a section to Abu Bakr and the Ridda Wars.

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  • al-Durra, Mahmud. Tarikh al-’Arab al-’Askari. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1964.

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    This book recounts the history of military campaigns in the time of the Prophet and the first two caliphs. Therefore, much of the book deals with the military dimension of Abu Bakr’s caliphate.

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  • Shayma, Ibtisam Mustafa. Athar Futuh al-Sham fi Ahd al-Khalifatayn Abi Bakr wa Umar. Damascus, Syria: Dar Mu’assasat Palestine li al-Thaqafa, 2009.

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    A useful study of the history of conquests in the era of Abu Bakr, especially those of greater Syria.

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Abu Bakr’s Poetry and Other Writings

Abu Bakr is known not only for his piety and leadership, but also for his eloquence in both poetry and prose. Several authors have done research on his poetry, and a number of books that compile his poems under the classical title for anthologies of poems, diwan, have been published since the late 20th century. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq 1993 is the best scholarly compilation of Abu Bakr’s poetry, especially given its fine annotations. In addition to his poetry, Abu Bakr composed many sermons, which, just as his poems are great examples of Arabic verse, so, too, are his sermons great examples ofArabic prose. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq 1994 is a good and complete edition of the sermons.

  • Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Diwan Abi Bakr al-Siddiq. Edited by Muhammad Shafiq al-Baitar. Damascus, Syria: Dar Shira’, 1993.

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    This well-annotated book contains the poems of Abu Bakr. There are poems on his sadness after the death of the Prophet, his companionship when the Prophet was resting in the cave before his migration, and the Prophet’s night journey as well as some confessing of his imperfection before God and asking for forgiveness.

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  • Abu Bakr al-Siddiq. Khutab Abi Bakr al-Siddiq wa Rasailuhu wa Wasayahu wa Musnaduhu wa Fatawahu. Edited by Muhammad Ahmad `Ashur and Jamal `Abd al-Mun`im al-Kumi. Cairo, Egypt: al-Dar al-Dhahaiyya, 1994.

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    The book starts with some biographical sources on Abu Bakr and includes his sermons, such as the one he gave after the death of the Prophet. The book also gives Abu Bakr’s fatwas on cleanliness, prayer, the deceased, charity, fasting, and jihad. Much of the book is dedicated to the sayings of the Prophet, as narrated by Abu Bakr. The text narrates 159 hadith in total.

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