THE MERCHANT KHALIFAH

He was the right hand of the Prophet (PBUH) and an epitome of piety and righteousness. The first of the companions in all good and the one whose name will sound from all the sentinels of paradise (Bukhari),

He is Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (RA). His life was like a single litany and his deeds were like beads of the  same noble string. Abu Bakr was notable for his devotion and immersion in the service of Allah. His real name was Abdullah ibn Uthman Abu Qahafah (of Bani Tamim). Abu Bakr, his pet name (kunya) means the father of virgin or the father of virtue: he was both. He was the father of two noble virgins (Aisha and Asma, RA) and he was peerless in virtue. However, one aspect of his life that gets less mention is that he was equally a shrewd businessman who excelled in his calling.

His piety made it difficult to sieve his economic professionalism from his spiritual devotion; both were well balanced. He first got wind of his religious role while in the field of economic transaction. He had gone on a trade mission to Syria where he recorded good profit when he met a monk who agreed to inteprete a dream he had.

"...If God makes this dream of yours a reality; He will send a prophet from amongst your people. You will be an advisor to him during his life-time and his successor after his death", the monk told him. (lbn Ishaq)

In the period before the commisioning of Muhammad (PBUH) as a prophet, Abu Bakr had been a honourable and respected man whom the Quraish entrusted with the collection of fines and blood-money owed to them.

A duty he discharged with the honesty and integrity of an upright business man. His personal wealth was kept distinct from State fund. The Prophet said:

"Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which he has earned by working with his own hands". (Bukhari)

Such words were reinforcing to Abu Bakr 's business exploit. At the time Abu Bakr became a Muslim, he was a very rich merchant. His wealth amounted to some fourteen thousand dirhams. However, rich as he was, he was the first among

"men whom neither trade nor sale diverts them form the remembrance of Allah. " (Q24:37)

He answered positively to Allah's question

"…shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous chastisement ?..that you Strive (your utmost) in the cause of Allah, with your wealth and your person ... " (Q61:10 -11)

Most of his wealth he used in the freeing of Muslim slaves and the prosecution of the wars the Muslims had to fight Among those he bought their freedom were Bilal ibn Rabah, the first muazzin of Islam, Zahira al-Rumiyya, who was a slave ofUmar ibn al-Khattab before the latter's conversion and many others. Abu Bakr married his trade to his faith. While he sells his merchandise he added the articles of faith for his customers. Once, he influenced five notable people to accept Islam some of whom were his business associates. These were Uthman Ibn Affan (who later became the third caliph), Abdur-Rahman Ibn Auf(another rich merchant), Saad bin Abi Waqqas, Talha ibn Abdullah, Abu Ubayda ibn Jarrah.

Abu Bakr continued in his trade until the Prophet (PBUH) died and the mantle of leadership fell on his shoulder. The next day after his assumption of office, he was on his way to the market with items for sale. The Muslims objected to this. Abubakar then addressed them:

"My people, know that my profession was not incapable of providing sustenance, for my family and I As I will be busy serving the Muslim nation, my family win eat from the National Treasury of Muslims and I win practice the profession of serving the Muslims".

Thus Abu Bakr the trader, became Abu Bakr the leader.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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