The History of the Middle East

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What were the achievements of caliph Abū Bakr, the first caliph of Islam?  

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Abū Bakr, who was to become the first caliph of Islam, was a close friend of the Prophet Muhammad and one of his earliest converts. One proof of the closeness of their friendship was that the Prophet Muhammad took his daughter Aisha bint Abu Bakr as a second or third wife (sources disagree about the precise timing); Aisha herself became a distinguished scholar, narrating 2210 hadith.

Abū Bakr accompanied Muhammad to Medina in 622, acted as an adviser to Muhammad for many years, and led a pilgrimage to Mecca in 631. In 632, after much debate, he was acclaimed the  khalīfat rasūl Allāh (successor or caliph to the prophet of God.) As he died in 634, his caliphate lasted only two years. The Muslims who supported Abū Bakr and successive caliphs evolved into what are now followers of Sunni Islam; those who opposed him and supported the claims of Ali ibn Abi Talib became what are now the Shiite Muslims. 

Abū Bakr's main achievement during this period was to unify the Islamic world under the central authority of Medina in the “wars of apostasy”, a series of civil wars against other Muslims intended to unify Islam and suppress dissent. His success in these wars led to a strong central government in the Arabian peninsula and the beginning of the expansion of Islam into Syria and Iraq. He also work to collect and preserve the sayings of the Prophet in writing, into a form that became the Koran.

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Abu Bakr was the first caliph and shared an ancestor on the paternal side with the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The caliph was also the father in law to the Prophet who had married his daughter Aisha. After the passing of the Prophet, the established Muslim community was under threat, with different groups wishing to break away. Individuals within powerful families appointed themselves leaders and sought to establish their authority, however, it was known that the likely successors were either Abu Bakr according to the Sunnis or Ali according to the Shia. Given Ali’s young age and the need to unify the Muslim community, Abu Bakr was installed as the Caliph.

Some of his achievements include:

  • Crushing the rebellion that threatened the Muslim religious community as posed by shifting tribal allegiances after the passing of the Prophet
  • It was during his leadership that the Qur’an was preserved in text format
  • He initiated the expansion of the Rashidun Empire by destroying both the Persian and Byzantine Empires through one of his strongest military leaders Khalid
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As you say, the caliph Abu Bakr was the first caliph of Islam.  He was a personal friend of the Prophet and one of the first men to become a Muslim.

After he became caliph, Abu Bakr helped to spread Islam.  This is his main achievement.  Under his rule, Islam spread out over the entire central part of the Arabian Peninsula.  He also spread the faith outside the peninsula by invading Iraq.

Abu Bakr is also given credit for being the man who made sure that the sayings of the Prophet were written down.  These sayings are what are now the Koran.

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