Abu Bakr (Abdullah ibn Abi Qahafa) was a senior companion and the father-in-law of Muhammad (saw). He ruled over the Rashidun Caliphate from 632-634 CE when he became the first Muslim Caliph following Muhammad’s death.
As Caliph, Abu Bakr succeeded to the political and administrative functions previously exercised by the Prophet, since the religious function and authority of prophethood ended with Muhammad’s death. He was called Al-Siddiq (The Truthful)and was known by that title among later generations of Muslims. Abu Bakr was the Prophet Mohammed’s closest companion and adviser, and first convert to Islam. His prominence in the community was enhanced by Mohammed’s marriage to his daughter A’ishah and also when Abu Bakr was the prophet’s companion on the journey to Medina in 622.
After Mohammed died (632), an assembly of Moslems in Mecca elected Abu Bakr as the first ‘khalifat rasul Allah’ (successor of the Prophet of God), or caliph.
Under him the collection of Mohammed’s revelations was recorded in the Koran. Abu Bakr suppressed tribal uprisings and brought central Arabia under Muslim control.
It is said that Abu Bakr received spiritual teachings from the prophet (saw), many of which have been brought to modern times through the teachings of tasawwuf. His name is in the Silsila of many Sufi Orders.
On 23 August 634, Abu Bakr fell sick and did not recover due to his old age. There are two accounts about the sickness of Abu Bakr. One account states that 8 August 634 was a cold day and when Abu Bakr took a bath, he caught a chill. Another account indicates that, about a year before, along with some other companions, Harith bin Kaladah and Attab bin Usaid, he had eaten some poisoned food which did not affect him for a year.
Abu Bakr developed high fever and was confined to bed. His illness was prolonged and when his condition worsened he felt that his end was near. Realizing his death was near, he sent for Ali and requested him to perform his ghusl since Ali had also done it for the Prophet Muhammad.
Abu Bakr felt that he should nominate his successor so that the issue should not be a cause of dissension among the Muslims after his death, though there was already controversy over Ali not having been appointed.
He appointed Umar as his successor after discussing with some companions. Some of them favored the nomination and others disliked it, due to the tough nature of Umar.
Abu Bakr next asked Aisha as to how many pieces of cloth were used for Muhammad’s shroud. Aisha said that three pieces had been used. Abu Bakr thereupon desired the same number for his own shroud. On Monday 23 August 634 Abu Bakr died. The funeral prayer was led by Umar. He was buried the same night by the side of Muhammad’s grave in Aisha’s house near Al-Masjid al-Nabawi. The Saudi expansion of the masjid has brought Abu Bakr’s gravesite inside that structure.