Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) became a crystal mirror to reflect the Prophet’s heart. Thus, he was the prime example of unconditional surrender to the Prophet’s spirituality. Due to such great surrender, everything that belonged to the Prophetﷺ had deep significance for him, and so he became the first resource for Companions who sought to discern the true meaning of the words and acts of the Prophetﷺ. He truly understood the ultimate meaning of the messages of the Prophetﷺ.
The verse, “This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion…” (Ma’ida 5:3) was revealed during what proved to be the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Prophetﷺ. Everybody but Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) was happy. They all thought the verse was announcing the perfect state of the religion of Islam. Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) alone discerned that the verse meant that Allah would soon take the Prophetﷺ from them. (1)
During his last illness the Prophetﷺ could no longer lead the prayers, for he was too weak to stand. He therefore chose Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) to lead the prayers. One day he felt better and returned to the mosque. After giving advice to various Companions, he remarked, “Allah offered one of His servants a choice between this world and what He has with Himself, and that servant chose what Allah has with Himself.”
Upon hearing these words, Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) felt downcast, and wept bitterly. With his wise and tender heart, he realized that this was a farewell speech. Since he was the prime confidant of the secrets of the Prophetﷺ, he noticed what others were unable to understand. He began to cry out like a wailing reed, “O Prophet, you are dearer to me than my mother and father! We sacrifice our fathers, mothers, lives, properties, and children for you!” (2)
No one in the congregation was aware that the Prophetﷺ was in the mood to leave this world. No one understood why Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) was crying. They asked each other, “Why should this old man cry when the Prophetﷺ merely spoke of a person who preferred to go to Allah?”(3) They did not realize that the servant who preferred to go to Allah when given the chance of staying in the world was the Prophet himself. They were unable to sense what Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) sensed.
The Prophetﷺ kept talking, both to console Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) and to tell the Companions to appreciate Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه). “We have returned all favors done us at the same level or a higher one except for the favors Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) has done us!.. He has done so many favors for me that Allah Himself will return his favors on the Day of Judgment. Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) is among those most dedicated to me in companionship and property. If I were to take an intimate friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه). But what binds us is the brotherhood of Islam.”
Then the Prophetﷺ talked about his forthcoming death: “Let no door leading to Prophet’s mosque remain open except for Abu Bakr’s, as I see a glorious sign over his door…” (4)
So, all doors were closed at that sorrowful time except for Abu Bakr’s. These words of the Prophetﷺ meant that the door of special closeness to the Messenger of Allah can be opened only by unconditional loyalty, dedication, commitment, devotion, friendship, and love.
(1) Elmalılı, III, 1569.
(2) Ahmad, III, 91.
(3) Bukhari, Salah, 80.
(4) Bukhari, al-Ashab al-Nabi 3, al-Manaqib al-Ansar 45, Salah 80; Muslim, al- Fada’il al-ashab al-nabi 2; Tirmidhi, al-Manaqib 15; Ibn al-Sa`d: II 227.