Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

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Caliph Abu Bakr Siddeeq’s (RA) Inaugural Speech: Text and Lessons

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The whole inaugural speech of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (RA)  fits in a paragraph. But, it was a classical & moving speech. It touched upon several critical elements, including Governance, Justice, relationships between the ruler and citizens, external & domestic affairs. It was an uncomplicated speech.

Abu Bakr Al Siddeeq Street Name

Background

The Prophet(pbuh) had just died and was not even buried yet. Muslims were in a state of shock. They convened in the courtyard of Banu Saa’idah to choose a leader. They didn’t want the state that was built over a period of 10 years to collapse. They chose Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq (May Allah be pleased with him) as the Khaleefa.

The Speech

“O people, I have been appointed over you, though I am not the best among you. If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me. Truthfulness is synonymous with fulfilling the trust, and lying is equivalent to treachery. The weak among you is deemed strong by me, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs, insha Allah. And the strong among you is deemed weak by me, until I take from them what is rightfully (someone else’s), insha Allah. No group of people abandons military/armed struggle in the path of Allah, except that Allah makes them suffer humiliation. And evil / mischief does not become widespread among a people, except that Allah inflicts them with widespread calamity. Obey me so long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. And if I disobey Allah and His Messenger, then I have no right to your obedience. Stand up now to pray, may Allah have mercy on you” [Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (6/305,306)]

Lessons

1. The right of citizens to scrutinize their leader & to hold him accountable

When Abu Bakr (RA) said “If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me“, he affirms the right of citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions. Also, this makes it clear that the era of prophetic infallibility was over. From now on, the leaders are susceptible to make mistakes.

These days, even in the western nations, the freedom of expression against the rulers is at best tolerated. In the Islamic caliphate of Abu Bakr, the citizens are expected (not just allowed) to correct their leaders

2. Truthfulness should be the basis of all dealings between a leader and his people

Truthfulness is synonymous with fulfilling the trust, and lying is tantamount to treachery”. Abu Bakr announced that truthfulness should be the basis of all dealings between a leader and his people. This needs to be the case if the people are to develop a sense of trust in their leader.

3. Establishing the principles of Justice and Equality

Abu Bakr (RA) said, “The weak among you is deemed strong by me, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs, insha Allah. And the strong among you is deemed weak by me, until I take from them what is rightfully (someone else’s), insha Allah”.

The most important foundations of a truly Muslim country are justice and equality for all. Applying justice is not a “nice” thing. Fakhr al-Razee says, “the scholars of this nation unanimously agree that it is obligatory for a ruler to establish justice in his realm” [Tafseer al-Razee (10/141)]

The justice of Abu Bakr (RA) and other early caliphs won the hearts of many people, including enemies, and made them to embrace Islam.

4. Virtue of  military expeditions / armed resistance

Abu Bakr (RA) said, “No group of people abandons military/armed struggle in the path of Allah, except that Allah makes them suffer humiliation“. Though Muslims had controlled the entire Arabian Peninsula at the time of Prophet’s death, there were internal and external enemies who threatened the Muslim nation. The importance of military ability, if not the supremacy, was not lost on Abu Bakr.

5. War against wickedness and shameful acts

Abu Bakr (RA) said, “And wickedness does not become widespread among a people, except that Allah inflicts them with widespread calamity“. He understood that the material well-being of his nation depended upon its spiritual well-being.

Prophet (pbuh) said, “Wickedness does not appear among a people, to the point that they perform wicked deeds openly, except that plagues and diseases become rampant among them – plagues and diseases that did not exist during the lifetimes of their ancestors…” [Ibn Maajah (4019), Saheeh al-Albanee (2/370)]

Also, please see Qur’an 17:16

6. Sources of legislation & a declaration that the leader is not above the law

He said, “Obey me so long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. And if I disobey Allah and His Messenger, then I have no right to your obedience“. This made it clear he is going to follow only the Qur’an and Sunnah, and that obeying the leader is contingent upon the leader following Qur’an and Sunnah

Prophet said, “There is no obedience when it comes to sinning; obedience is restricted to al-Ma’roof (good, noble and acceptable in Islam)…” [Bukharee (7140)]

Also, please see Qur’an 4:105

Primary Source: The Biography of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq by Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabee

Questions to ponder:

1. Though Muslims were shocked and sad at the death of their leader, our Messenger (pbuh), they immediately got together to choose a leader, even before burying the Messenger. What do you think is the reason?

2. ‘Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah’ literally means ‘The beginning and the end’. Who wrote this encyclopedic work?

3. What is the much abused Arabic term for ‘armed resistance / military expeditions’? All the nations need defence / military capabilities. Without that, the countries may be bullied, attacked, etc. The nations of the past have waged battles & wars. Muslims are no exception. Some people get over-worked when the Arabic term is used, while no eyebrows are raised when its English equivalent is used.

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Written by S Ibrahim

Feb 26, 2012 at 11:06 pm

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