Two Excellent Companions

Abu Bakr, the Truthful, and Umar ibn al Khattab, the Separator (between good and evil), were the most beloved companions of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. They were both excellent in character, the best examples for us after the Prophet. Both of them were present with the Prophet throughout his struggles and were the foremost in helping Allah’s Messenger and doing good deeds.

It is not surprising that they dearly loved one another, but despite that, their personalities were dissimilar. Abu Bakr was kind, considerate, easy-going, forgiving and he allowed more freedom of judgment to his officers. (He never fired a single one of his governors, but transferred them from one province to another.(Sallaabee 749))

Strict and Uncompromising . . . Cautious and Sensitive

At the same time, he was also strict and uncompromising when it came to implementing the deen of Islam throughout his territory of control. Umar was extremely cautious and sensitive of not doing wrong to any individual under his leadership, and he was very kind and loving towards every Muslim under his rule.

On the other hand he kept his officers more strictly under his direct supervision and allowed them less freedom of judgment. He was swift and unwavering in his judgments, punishing wrongdoers heavily. This difference in personality was one of the factors that became manifest in the differences of focus in the rules of Abu Bakr and Umar.

Another factor which differentiates the rules of the two Righteous Caliphs is the fact that they were each faced with different problems and responsibilities. When Abu Bakr became the Caliph, it was the time of the greatest sorrow for this ummah. Every companion was devastated by the death of the Prophet; the whole city was crying.

Abu Bakr was the one who took control of the turbulent situation and subsequent consequences. He sent out the the expedition of Usamah ibn Zayd to fight the Romans, which was the order of the prophet, despite urgings of many of the companions of halting it; (Najeebabadi 277) and at the same time controlled the turbulent political situation in Arabia.

He fought those who turned apostates right after the death of the Prophet, and those who refused to pay zakat, and also those false prophets who were misguiding people taking advantage of the Prophet’s death.(Suyuti 59)

To take control when the ummah was falling apart and bringing it not only back to its former territory and bringing peace and systemization was a colossal task, and Abu Bakr accomplished it with the strength of his truthfulness, uprightness and firmness in implementing the judgments of Allah and His messenger.

Also during his caliphate many of the Huffaz of the Qur’an were being martyred in the various battles, especially in the battle of Yamamah. It became necessary to compile the Qur’an in one book to ensure its preservation. It was Umar who gave the idea to Abu Bakr, who implemented it during his Caliphate. (Sallaabee 756-57)

During the various battles against apostates and false Prophets, Abu Bakr trained and created a seasoned army of brave Muslims who were not afraid to fight with forces manifolds larger than their numbers. Then he started launching forces towards Iraq and Sham. (Sallaabee 758)

Different Challenges

Umar on the other hand faced different challenges. He was left in control of a territory which was more than ever under the malevolent attacks of two of the world’s greatest and most powerful empires at the time: the Persian Empire and the Roman Empire, each with enormous wealth and a huge number of seasoned military forces, weapons and mounts that the Arabs had never faced before.

He continued expanding the territory under the rule of Islam, and thus faced with the new problem of maintaining peace and justice in such a large and ever-expanding ummah, with people of different cultures coming together. He conquered Persia, Iraq, Jazirah, Khurasan, Baluchistan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia in just a decade.(Najeebabadi 368) He was also faced with natural disasters: a great draught and famine in Hijaz for which he performed the rain prayer (Suyuti 135), and a widespread plague in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. (Najeebabadi 367)

Together, these two successors of the Messenger of Allah in their different ways spread the light of Islam far and wide, nurtured and flourished the Islamic way of life, and set amazing examples for the next generations to follow.

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