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Abu Bakr

Born: 5730 AD
Died: 6340 AD

573 – Abu Bakr was born in Mecca to the Banu Taim, a sub-clan of the Quraish tribe.

610 – Abu Bakr was a merchant, and highly esteemed as a judge, as an interpreter of dreams, and as one learned in Meccan traditions. He was one of the last people anyone would have expected to convert to the faith preached by his kinsman Muhammad. Yet he was one of the first converts to Islam, and instrumental in converting many of the Quraish and the residents of Mecca.

622 – When Muhammad migrated from Mecca in the migration to Medina of 622, Abu Bakr alone accompanied him. Abu Bakr was also linked to Muhammad by marriage: Abu Bakr’s daughter Aisha married Muhammad soon after the migration to Medina.

624-630 – Abu Bakr participated in all of the battles Muhammad led. These were the Battle of Badr (624 AD), the Battle of Uhud (625 AD), and the Battle of Hunayn (630 AD).

632 – On Saturday, June 6, Abu Bakr was included in the Usama’s dispatchment on the orders of Muhammad, destined to go towards the Byzantian Empire. During the prophet’s last illness, Abu Bakr lead the prayers in Muhammad’s absence. Soon after the prophet’s death (on 8 June 632, 10 AH), a gathering of prominent Ansar and some of the Muhajirun, in Medina, acclaimed Abu Bakr as the new Muslim leader or caliph. Abu Bakr’s assumption of power is an extremely controversial matter, and the source of the first schism in Islam, between Sunni and Shia Islam. Abu Bakr insisted that they had not just submitted to a leader but joined the Muslim religious community, of which he was the new head. Apostasy is a capital offense under traditional interpretations of Islamic law, and Abu Bakr declared war on the rebels. This was the start of the Ridda wars, Arabic for the Wars of Apostasy. The severest struggle was the war with Ibn Habib al-Hanefi, known as "Musailimah the Liar", who claimed to be a prophet and Muhammad’s true successor. The Muslim general Khalid bin Walid finally defeated al-Hanefi at the Battle of Akraba.

634 – Abu Bakr died on August 23, 634 in Medina. Shortly before his death, likely of natural causes (one tradition ascribes it to poison), he urged the Muslim community to accept Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor. The community did so, without serious incident. However, this succession is also a matter of controversy. Shi’a Muslims believe that the leadership should have been assumed by Ali ibn Abi Talib, without any recourse to consultation (shura). Abu Bakr initially served without pay. His followers insisted that he take an official stipend. At his death, his will returned all these payments to the treasury. Abu Bakr was buried and still lies in the Masjid al Nabawi mosque in Medina, alongside Muhammad and Umar ibn al-Khattab.