Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr (l. 573-634 CE, r. 632-634 CE) was an early convert of Islam; he was a close friend and confidant of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and became the first caliph of the Islamic empire – a successor to Muhammad's temporal position but not a prophet himself, as according to Islamic sources, that had ended with Muhammad (l. 570-632 CE). He helped his friend Muhammad through thick and thin in his mission and stayed by his side until the end of his days. After the death of the Prophet, he became the first of the four caliphs of the Rashidun Caliphate – as it is called by Sunni Muslims. In his brief reign of two years, he reunited the Arabian Peninsula and started conquests in Syria and Iraq, which were later carried on successfully by his successors until 656 CE when the first Islamic civil war, the First Fitna (656-661 CE) erupted and expansion was temporarily halted. It was also during Abu Bakr's reign that the revelations dictated by Muhammad were compiled in the form of the Islamic holy scripture: the Quran.

Early Life

Abu Bakr Abdullah ibn Uthman was the son of Uthman Abu Quhafa (l. 538-635 CE) of the Banu Taym clan of the Quraysh tribe; he was born in Mecca in 573 CE. His real name was Abdullah, meaning servant of Allah (God); Abu Bakr was a nickname given to him due to his love for camels, it means “father of a camel's calf”, but the latter name caught on and he is mostly referred to by it. He belonged to a rich merchant family, and was well educated; he had a sharp memory and a fondness for poetry, which was one of the quintessential traits of Arabian gentlemen.

Conversion to Islam & Companionship of the Prophet

Abu Bakr's utmost and sincere support for the Prophet earned him the nickname of Siddique (trustworthy).

When Muhammad started preaching Islam in 610 CE, Abu Bakr, who was a close friend of his, became the first male convert (the earliest convert was Khadija, the Prophet's wife), although some historians suggest that he was not the first one but one of the earliest ones. Nevertheless, he was one of the most supportive allies of Muhammad, not only did he help the Prophet financially but he also persuaded many of his friends and colleagues (his family as well) to accept the new faith. Abu Bakr's utmost and sincere support for the Prophet earned him the nickname of Siddique (trustworthy).

However, even Abu Bakr's wealth and reputation could not save Muhammad and his small group of followers from Meccan atrocities, and Abu Bakr himself was not immune to them either. Nevertheless, he did not inch back from the new faith, in fact, he is said to have paid for the freedom of several slaves who had accepted Islam, such as an Ethiopian named Bilal. The death of the Prophet's influential uncle Abu Talib in 619 CE left the tiny band of Muslims more vulnerable than ever. At this pivotal moment (622 CE), invitations came from Yathrib (future Medina) for the Prophet and his companions to come over; the Prophet was offered kingship of the city. The Muslims were only too happy to oblige, they migrated in batches to the city, but Abu Bakr stayed behind with his friend (whom the Meccans had now resolved to kill), and the duo left Mecca together with the Meccans in hot pursuit. They took refuge in a cave of a mountain named Jabal Thaur (Mount Bull), where they were able to evade the Meccans, who then gave up and retreated.

Once in Medina, Abu Bakr continued to support Muhammad and became one of his advisors in matters of the state. He also participated in major battles with the Meccans such as Badr (624 CE) and Uhud (625 CE). Abu Bakr also tied his daughter Aisha (l. c. 613-678 CE) to the Prophet in wedlock to cement his affiliation with him, as was the norm back then, and hence became his father-in-law. He also led the congregational prayers in the Masjid an-Nabwi (Mosque of the Prophet) during the last days of the Prophet, when the latter was ill.

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After the Death of the Prophet

When Prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE, the Muslim community was in a state of shock. Some even refused to believe that he was gone. Had it not been for his careful warnings, people might have venerated him as a divine figure, but he had made it quite clear that he too was a human and bound by laws of nature. Still, people had a hard time coping with the fact that they will not be guided by divine revelation (as Muhammad had claimed that he received them from God, and no one else could). Abu Bakr rallied the community, he is said to have addressed them, according to Syed Ameer Ali in A Short History of the Saracens, by saying:

Mussulmans (Muslims), if you adored Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead; if it is God that you adore, know that He liveth, He never dies. Forget not this verse of the Koran (Quran), 'Muhammad is only a man charged with a mission; before him there have been men who received the heavenly mission and died;' – nor this verse. 'Thou too, Muhammad, shalt die as others have died before thee.' (20)

Another problem, a more practical one, was that Muhammad had made no clear indication as to who should succeed him nor did he even hint what type of government should prevail after his death. Of the many followers of Abu Bakr, one notable man from the Banu Adi clan was Umar ibn al-Khattab (l. 584-644 CE). Umar too was an early convert and perhaps one of the most daring people in the whole community, he had a reputation for being strict and steadfast. With Umar's support, Abu Bakr became the successor to Muhammad's realm; he adopted the title Khalifa'tul Rasul (the vicegerent of the Prophet) – shortened to Khalifa (Caliph), hence the basis of Islamic Caliphates was laid down by him. His claim was not uncontested; although different versions of events are quoted by various historians, the gist is the same: many held the view that only Ali ibn abi-Talib (l. 601-661 CE), a son-in-law of the Prophet, and also a blood relative, held the right to inherit his realm. Ali's own involvement in pushing forward this claim is highly debated, though; but what is clear that his supporters, who came to be known as Shia Muslims or Shia't Ali(party of Ali) saw Abu Bakr as a usurper, and regardless of his achievements, they deny the authenticity of his claim as a caliph.

First Caliph of Islam

Abu Bakr's first action as caliph was to dispatch an expeditionary force into Syria to avenge the defeat of the Battle of Mu'tah (629 CE), as had been planned by the Prophet (this force was not very successful though, later forays achieved much more). This meant to show not only that the Muslims had not forgotten their fallen comrades but also to declare that the Caliphate would continue what Muhammad had started.

Many imposter prophets appeared in various tribes; the most notable one had started his activities in the last years of Muhammad: Musaylimah.

But another issue arose in the deserts to the east of Medina: the Bedouin tribes that had accepted Islam less due to spiritual motivation and more for political reasons now renounced their support for the new faith. They claimed that their covenant ended with the death of Muhammad, they even refused to offer zakat (alms to be paid in Islam) to Medina. To make matters worse, many imposter prophets appeared in various tribes; the most notable one, Musaylimah (d. Dec 632 CE, referred to as the Arch Liar by Muslims), had started his activities in the last years of Muhammad, and as Muhammad predicted many would follow his example. Abu Bakr could not let the Arabs fragment away from his master's realm, let alone allow them to mold and twist his faith into different versions.

Just as at the time of Muhammad, Medina stood as the bastion of Islam (supported by Mecca this time though) against the hordes of rebellious Arabs. Had Abu Bakr lacked leadership skills, he might not have stood up for the enormous undertaking, but as he was about to show, he was more than competent for his position. After he secured Medina from incursions from these apostates, he declared jihad (holy war – contextually) against the traitors.

Ridda Wars

He summoned all able-bodied men of the faith under the banner of Islam. He used the momentary disunity amongst the various rebellious tribes to subjugate them one by one. These wars were later stylized as the Ridda Wars or the Wars of Apostasy (632-633 CE). By the end of the first year of his reign, Abu Bakr had reunited the whole of the Arabian Peninsula and, though the use of the sword was not spared on the battlefield, he made no attempt to punish his enemies after they had surrendered.

Musaylimah was killed in the Battle of Yamama (Dec 632 CE) by an army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid (l. 585-642 CE), who despite many controversies against him was the ablest and most loyal general that Abu Bakr had, which provided him full immunity from the Caliph against many who wished to see him dead (most notably Umar). Though outnumbered vastly on the eve of the aforementioned decisive battle, Khalid showed his worth as a commander, he had not lost a single battle before and had no intention of losing that day. He was all too familiar with the fickle-minded nature of desert fighters and how much importance they laid on people rather than their cause, so when Musaylimah fell fighting, his supporters were immediately routed.

Invasion of Iraq & Syria

Abu Bakr, following in the footsteps of Muhammad, decided to direct the nascent energies of Arabian warriors to the neighboring lands of Syria (under the Byzantines) and Iraq (under the Sassanian Empire). The two superpowers had not only exhausted their resources with their constant warfare but resentment amongst the populace had also reached unprecedented levels, and so when the Muslim armies appeared on their frontiers, the loyalists of empires scurried for their lives while the Monophysites and Nestorians of the Byzantine Empire and the non-Zoroastrian Arabs in Iraq willingly accepted their new lords. Khalid was sent to Iraq (633 CE), where he was joined by a powerful Arab lord who helped him take the Iraqi city of Hira.

Though successful and well-disciplined on the battlefield, Khalid disobeyed his caliph's clear orders by rather brutally executing Sassanian prisoners of war. In the meanwhile, in Syria, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641 CE), a warrior-spirited sovereign, prepared for an effective counterattack. Since he could not lead his army himself owing to his ailment, he put his brother Theodore in charge. Sensing correctly an impending counter-offensive and being familiar with Byzantine warfare, Abu Bakr took no risk and ordered Khalid to leave Iraq and move to Syria – for only his military skills could match that of his foes.

Khalid moved across the trackless and waterless desert to Syria with all but a few handpicked men and some camels to use as water reservoirs; a devastating example of coordinated Arab mobility. After raiding Syrian territories, he rallied the Muslim armies in the area and faced the Byzantines in the Battle of Ajnadayn (634 CE), which was a decisive Rashidun victory and further strengthened their position in the region. However, in the absence of Khalid, the Sassanians had dealt a severe blow to the Arab troops in Iraq, knocking them off their gains.

Abu Bakr's greatest strength was perhaps his cool-minded and resolute nature, instead of being driven by emotion, as most Arabs were, he preferred to adopt a more rational approach to matters, as evidenced by his support for Khalid. Although the general was not a paragon of virtue, Abu Bakr realized before most others that he was an irreplaceable asset.

Compilation of the Quran

Abu Bakr ordered that all of the written revelations be gathered alongside those companions of the Prophet who had remembered the Quran by heart.

Abu Bakr also safeguarded the revelations dictated by Prophet Muhammad in the form of the Quran; an undertaking he was reluctant to commit to since the Prophet had not done so himself. Umar, however, pointed out the number of companions of the Prophet who had died at Yamama, and foreseeing a time when none remained to remember the Quran by heart, he warned Abu Bakr of the possibility that the revelations (which had been written in isolated forms) be subjected to change – which Abu Bakr could never let happen. Hence he was forced to comply with Umar's request and ultimately preserved the revelations dictated by Muhammad for over two billion of his followers to read today.

Abu Bakr ordered that all of the written revelations be gathered alongside those companions of the Prophet who had remembered the Quran by heart. Then he gave the duty to a trusted scribe of the Prophet, a man named Zaid ibn Thabit (l. 610-660 CE) to compile it in the same sequence as had been instructed by the Prophet; since the revelations were not revealed in order but Muhammad had informed his followers of the exact sequence. Extreme care was taken that not even a single word of the Holy Scripture was changed (even if the gist remained the same), as in the eyes of the Muslims that would have been a great sin. After his death, the copy was given to Hafsa (l. 605-665 CE), a daughter of Umar and a widow of the Prophet, for safekeeping.

Death & Legacy

Abu Bakr did not live long enough to hear the tidings of the success at Ajnadayn and the minor setback in Iraq, for he died of natural causes in 634 CE. Before departing this world, he nominated Umar ibn al-Khattab, his strongest and most able supporter as his successor, who would reinforce Muslim troops in Iraq and order further expansion in Syria. Umar would carry on the same parameters of leadership, which would allow him to further expand the dominions of Islam.

Whether Abu Bakr was a usurper or whether his claim was legitimate, he did achieve a great deal. Not only did he prevent the fragmentation of Muhammad's empire, which would have meant the extinction of Islam altogether, he ordered successful campaigns to Iraq and Syria, committed the Quran to writing, and he was also the first of the many to come to be called the Caliphs of Islam.

Successor to the Holy Prophet - Election of Abu Bakr as the Caliph.

Crisis in the affairs of the Muslims. The death of the Holy Prophet led to an immediate crisis in the affairs of the Muslims over the question as to who was to be the leader of the Muslims after the Holy Prophet.

While the dead body of the Holy Prophet of Islam was being prepared for burial the Ansar of Madina assembled at their meeting place 'Saqeefa Bani Sa'dah' to discuss the question of succession to the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet was the last of the prophets, and there was to be no prophet after him. He was also the leader of the Muslims, and it was therefore necessary that after him there should be some one who should be the head of the Muslim community.

The Ansars. At the meeting of the Ansars at Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah', Sa'd bin Ubadah, a leader of the Ansars made a passionate plea that the successor to the Holy Prophet for managing the temporal affairs of the Muslims should be chosen from the Ansars. He argued that as they were the people who had protected Islam and offered a home for the Holy Prophet and his companions when they were persecuted by their own people, the Ansars had right to the leadership of the Muslims. It was through the efforts of the Ansars that Islam had grown and spread their city was capital of the Muslim state, and it was but meet that an Ansar should be the head of the State after the Holy Prophet. When Sa'd concluded his speech, he was applauded by the Ansars. The arguments advanced by him appealed to them, and it appeared that they were poised to choose him as their leader in succession to the Holy Prophet.

Reaction of the emigrants. When the meeting was being held at Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah it was reported to the emigrants assembled in the Prophet's mosque that the Ansars had assembled to choose a successor to the Holy Prophet. It was a critical situation. The burial of the Holy Prophet was a matter that needed priority, but the question of choosing a successor to the Holy Prophet was a question of life and death for the Muslim community, and if any wrong decision was taken at that stage, the future of Islam itself was likely to be jeopardized. Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah accordingly decided among themselves to proceed to Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah' to negotiate the matter with the Ansars before it was too late.

Abu Bakr's appeal to the Ansar. When Abu Bakr, Umar and Abu Ubaidah reached Saqeefa Bani Sa'idah the Ansars were on the verge of electing Sa'id bin Ubadah, the Ansar leader, as the successor to the Holy Prophet. Abu Bakr took the stage and brought home to the people assembled, the gravity of the problem. He pointed out that the matter did not concern the citizens of Madina alone it was a matter of concern for all the Arabs who had become Muslims. All the Arab tribes were not likely to accept the leadership of the Ansars, particularly when there were differences among the two principal tribes of the Ansars themselves. Abu Bakr pointed out that under the circumstances the Quraish who were the custodians of the Kaaba could alone provide the leadership for the Muslim community. Addressing his appeal to the Ansar he said: "O Ansar, none can deny the superiority of your position in religion or the greatness of your eminence in Islam. You were chosen by Allah as the helpers of His religion and His Apostle. To you the Prophet was sent on his emigration from Makkah and from you come the majority of his companions and his wives. Indeed in position you are next only to the earliest companions. Therefore it would be fair if we take the Amirat and you accept the ministry. You should not be obstinate in your stand. We assure you that we will do nothing without consulting you."

The Debate. After the address of Abu Bakr, Habab bin Mandhar an Ansar leader rose to say that the Amirat was the right of the Ansars and they could not forego their right. He added that the utmost concession that they could make in favor of the emigrants was that they could have two Amirs, one from the Ansars and the other from the emigrants,

Umar said that Islam stood for unity-one God, one Prophet, and one Quran. It followed as a necessary corollary that the Muslim community should have one Amir. lf the proposal of having two Amirs was once accepted, other people would later lay claim to the election of an Amir from them. Such multiple Amirat would lead to the disintegration of the Islamic polity. Umar emphasized that in the interest of the solidarity of Islam they could not have more than one Amir, and it was imperative that such Amir should be from the Quraish, the tribe of the Holy Prophet.

There was some exchange of hot words between Habab and Umar. Then Abu Ubaida appealed to the Ansars saying: "O Ansars you were the first to help Islam: do not now be the first to take steps towards the disintegration of Islam."

That appeared to have some effect on the Ansars, and they seemed to hesitate to press their demand. Thereupon Abu Bakr took the stage again and said: "God is our witness that we are not pressing the claim of the Quraish because of any selfish interest. The proposal is based solely on the interest and solidarity of Islam. To give you a proof positive of our sincerity I declare before you that I do not covet the office. Here are Umar and Abu Ubaida. You may choose any one out of these two." That softened the attitude of the Ansars. Zaid bin Thabit an eminent Ansar leader rose to say: "In fact the Holy Prophet was among the Quraish. There is considerable force in the proposal that after him his successor should also be selected from among the Quraish. God chose the 'Ansars' as helpers, and it is but meet that they should continue to play thc role of helpers." Supporting him another Ansar leader Bashir bin Sa'd said: "O Ansars, if we have secured a position of superiority in holy wars against the polytheists and gained precedence in the matter of religion it was with the object of pleasing our Allah and obeying the Holy Prophet. It is not proper for us to make this a ground for self-aggrandizement. We should leave our reward to Allah. We must realize that the Holy Prophet came from the Quraish, and that the Quraish have the strongest claim for his succession. We should not quarrel with the Quraish on this issue."

That turned the tables, and the Ansars now appeared to be inclined to choose the leader from among the Quraish. Taking advantage of this situation, Abu Bakr repeated his proposal that they might choose any one out of Umar, or Abu Ubaida.

Election of Abu Bakr. At the offer of Abu Bakr, Umar rose quickly to say: "O Abu Bakr, how can I or Abu Ubaida be preferred to you? You are undoubtedly the most excellent of the Muslims. You were the 'Second of the Two' in the Cave. You were appointed as 'Amir-ul-Haj'. During his illness the Holy Prophet appointed you as the Imam to lead the prayers. Of all the companions you were the closest and the dearest to the Holy Prophet. As such you are dear to us. Stretch your hand so that we may offer our allegiance to you."

Aisha: Scholar and Wife of the Prophet of Islam

She was most devout. Most beautiful. And she was wed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the latter part of his lifetime.

The story of Aisha bint Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with her) is one of divinity, fortitude, knowledge and love. She contributed more than 2,000 hadith (sayings of the Prophet) to mankind- and is one of the most extraordinary figures in Islamic history.

The Prophet's first wife, Khadija, supported him in the beginning of his Prophet hood in Mecca and through his most difficult days up until her death. Aisha supported the Prophet after his migration to Medina, through various battles and divine revelations up until his death.

Contextualizing the societal constructs of the Prophet's time is critical when discussing Aisha. Her story is one that is used and abused to discredit the Prophet - at the hand of challengers insisting she was a child bride.

What is the real story of Aisha?

Some incredible facts about Aisha, may God be pleased with her:

Her Existence Was Divine
"Marry her, since she is your wife," Angel Gabriel revealed during the time the Prophet's mosque was established in Medina and civilization was thriving.

The marriage of Aisha to the Prophet was divinely decreed. It was quite literally "a match made in heaven."

Muhammad saw Aisha in a dream. Her father, companion to the Prophet, Abu Bakr, was delighted about the marriage. As an esteemed "Mother of the Believers," he treated her with great honor. Muhammad had other wives (previously divorced or widowed) which was customary since women did not hold rights in pre-Islamic times. Women were treated like property marriage was about survival. Aisha was his only pure wife who never married before or after him.

She Helped Establish a Woman's Right to Choose Her Husband
Pre-Islamic times were referred to as the Era of Jahiliyya or the Age of Ignorance. It was common practice for women to have no say in who they could marry, forced by their fathers and societal predilections. Women turned to Aisha for issues in their lives as well as marital advice. When a girl came to Aisha unhappy that her father was forcing an arranged marriage upon her, Aisha brought the matter to the Prophet who for the first time- established that a woman's choice in marriage was hers to make. Though arranged marriages exist still today in many cultures of various faiths with both good and bad outcomes, it is this period in time that forced marriage became prohibited in Islam.

Her Life Experiences Resulted in Quranic Decrees Favoring Women
Aisha combats slander in her death as she did in life. During an army caravan journey back to Medina from a campaign hailed Banu Mustaliq, Aisha was unwittingly left behind as she was off searching for her sister's lost necklace. Rescued by a male army member, rumors soon spread that she was adulterous. Aisha reportedly fainted from grief upon realizing the magnitude of slander against her. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received divine revelation- today known as surah an-Nur, that not only confirmed Aisha's purity, it admonished those that took part in the slander. It also established that in Islam, one could not be accused of adultery unless there are four witnesses to the effect:

"Why did they not produce four witnesses (in support of the accusation?) Now that they have not produced witnesses, it is indeed they who are the liars in God's sight. (an-Nur 24:13)

The way Mary and Joseph were slandered in the time of Jesus, so was Aisha. Her travail resulted in the Qu'ranic protection of false accusations against women from God Himself.

She Braved the Front Line in Battles
Befitting the title of the Mother of the Believers, Aisha was courageous, braving the front line of the battlefield alongside her husband without a second thought. She famously took part in the Battles of Uhud, al-Khandaq, Banu Qurayza, Banu Mustaliq, Hudaybiya and the Meccan conquest.

She cared for the wounded and brought water to the armies. Aisha is attributed to the Qur'anic revelations of surah an-Nisa involving tayammum or the use of sand or dirt in the absence of water to perform wudu (ritual ablution before prayer.)

She Ran Circles Around Scholars of Her Time
Aisha was the anti-sheep! She was feisty, questioning everything- believing nothing- unless it was proven to her beyond a shadow of a doubt. Her keen intuition allowed her to astutely understand the motivation that lie behind what people said and did.
Aisha prayed with the Messenger himself, learning Islam from his most intimate and personal moments. She was in attendance at his famous last sermon. Graced with eidetic memory, she was a wealth of knowledge issuing justice so squarely- it didn't matter who it was for or against. She even issued fatwas (rulings on dubious matters)

Poetic and superbly eloquent, scholars clamored to attend Aisha's lectures. She was a teacher like no other teacher - with a God given gift for speaking.

A True Love Story

There was never hesitation from Aisha to become the wife of the Prophet of Islam. She loved him so much she wanted him all to herself. It was a personal struggle for her to relinquish him to his other wives (who he was fair in dividing his time for) and to the people. Aisha shared tender moments with her husband and they lovingly teased each other. She even harbored some jealousy of her husband's love for his first wife, Khadija, with good reason. Khadija was his ultimate love because of how she was the only person he could rely on during his darkest days. His love for Aisha, however, was so deep- it made him truly happy. The Prophet died on Aisha's bosom. Upon his death, Aisha mourned intensely for her loss- never marrying again.

She Witnessed thousands of Miracles and Saw The Angel Gabriel
Aisha was the only wife to witness the Messenger receiving revelation. She twice saw the Angel Gabriel in human form and received salaams (greetings of peace) directly from him.

She Was Not a Child Bride
Though the controversy of Aisha's age at her engagement, marriage and marital consummation will always persist, historical back-tracking of her age at death as well as key historical events that took place in her life most likely makes her age at engagement 14 or 15- while her age at marriage was most likely 17 or 18. For marriage customs dating back 1,400 years- she was actually getting "up there" in age!

Aisha the Champion
Aisha spent her entire life as a champion for Islam. She lived a highly spiritual life knowing she was an example to mankind with the quest to reunite with her husband in the afterlife. Her days were spent in charity and fast, living modestly while spreading knowledge at every turn. People of all walks of life turned to her for advice all throughout her lifetime. Aisha remains a shining example in Islamic history, a gift to mankind.

Much credit for the information I learned for this article goes to the book, Aisha The Wife, the Companion, the Scholar by: Resit Haylamaz. This is not an official endorsement or paid book review of any kind.

Sunnis and Shiites

When Muhammad died, there was debate over who should replace him as leader. This led to a schism in Islam, and two major sects emerged: the Sunnis and the Shiites.

Sunnis make up nearly 90 percent of Muslims worldwide. They accept that the first four caliphs were the true successors to Muhammad.

Shiite Muslims believe that only the caliph Ali and his descendants are the real successors to Muhammad. They deny the legitimacy of the first three caliphs. Today, Shiite Muslims have a considerable presence in Iran, Iraq and Syria.

A Brief History of Islam (part 4 of 5): The Caliphate of Abu Bakr and Umar


Description: The Caliphate, or succession, of Abu Bakr and Umar, two of the most prominent of the companions of the Prophet, the spread of Islam and Islamic foreign policy in regards to the inhabitants of subjugated lands.

  • By Ismail Nawwab, Peter Speers, and Paul Hoye (edited by
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With the death of Muhammad, the Muslim community was faced with the problem of succession. Who would be its leader? There were four persons obviously marked for leadership: Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, who had not only accompanied Muhammad to Medina ten years before, but had been appointed to take the place of the Prophet as leader of public prayer during Muhammad’s last illness Umar ibn al-Khattab, an able and trusted Companion of the Prophet Uthman ibn ‘Affan, a respected early convert and ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. Their piousness and ability to govern the affairs of the Islamic nation was uniformly par excellence. At a meeting held to decide the new leadership, Umar grasped Abu Bakr’s hand and gave his allegiance to him, the traditional sign of recognition of a new leader. By dusk, everyone concurred, and Abu Bakr had been recognized as the khaleefah of Muhammad. Khaleefah - anglicized as caliph - is a word meaning “successor”, but also suggesting what his historical role would be: to govern according to the Quran and the practice of the Prophet.

Abu Bakr’s caliphate was short, but important. An exemplary leader, he lived simply, assiduously fulfilled his religious obligations, and was accessible and sympathetic to his people. But he also stood firm when some tribes, who had only nominally accepted Islam, renounced it in the wake of the Prophet’s death. In what was a major accomplishment, Abu Bakr swiftly disciplined them. Later, he consolidated the support of the tribes within the Arabian Peninsula and subsequently funneled their energies against the powerful empires of the East: the Sassanians in Persia and the Byzantines in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. In short, he demonstrated the viability of the Muslim state.

The second caliph, Umar - appointed by Abu Bakr - continued to demonstrate that viability. Adopting the title Ameer al-Mumineen, or Commander of the Believers, Umar extended Islam’s temporal rule over Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Persia in what, from a purely military standpoint, were astonishing victories. Within four years after the death of the Prophet, the Muslim state had extended its sway over all of Syria and had, at a famous battle fought during a sandstorm near the River Yarmuk, blunted the power of the Byzantines - whose ruler, Heraclius, had shortly before refused the call to accept Islam.

Even more astonishingly, the Muslim state administered the conquered territories with a tolerance almost unheard of in that age. At Damascus, for example, the Muslim leader, Khalid ibn al-Walid, signed a treaty which read as follows:

This is what Khalid ibn al-Walid would grant to the inhabitants of Damascus if he enters therein: he promises to give them security for their lives, property and churches. Their city wall shall not be demolished neither shall any Muslim be quartered in their houses. Thereunto we give them the pact of God and the protection of His Prophet, the caliphs and the believers. So long as they pay the poll tax, nothing but good shall befall them.

This tolerance was typical of Islam. A year after Yarmook, Umar, in the military camp of al-Jabiyah on the Golan Heights, received word that the Byzantines were ready to surrender Jerusalem. Consequently, he rode there to accept the surrender in person. According to one account, he entered the city alone and clad in a simple cloak, astounding a populace accustomed to the sumptuous garb and court ceremonials of the Byzantines and Persians. He astounded them still further when he set their fears at rest by negotiating a generous treaty in which he told them: “In the name of God . you have complete security for your churches, which shall not be occupied by the Muslims or destroyed.”

This policy was to prove successful everywhere. In Syria, for example, many Christians who had been involved in bitter theological disputes with Byzantine authorities - and persecuted for it - welcomed the coming of Islam as an end to tyranny. And in Egypt, which Amr ibn al-As took from the Byzantines after a daring march across the Sinai Peninsula, the Coptic Christians not only welcomed the Arabs, but enthusiastically assisted them.

This pattern was repeated throughout the Byzantine Empire. Conflict among Greek Orthodox, Syrian Monophysites, Copts, and Nestorian Christians contributed to the failure of the Byzantines - always regarded as intruders - to develop popular support, while the tolerance which Muslims showed toward Christians and Jews removed the primary cause for opposing them.

Umar adopted this attitude in administrative matters as well. Although he assigned Muslim governors to the new provinces, existing Byzantine and Persian administrations were retained wherever possible. For fifty years, in fact, Greek remained the chancery language of Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, while Pahlavi, the chancery language of the Sassanians, continued to be used in Mesopotamia and Persia.

Umar, who served as caliph for ten years, ended his rule with a significant victory over the Persian Empire. The struggle with the Sassanid realm had opened in 636 at al-Qadisiyah, near Ctesiphon in Iraq, where Muslim cavalry had successfully coped with elephants used by the Persians as a kind of primitive tank. Now with the Battle of Nihavand, called the “Conquest of Conquests,” Umar sealed the fate of Persia henceforth it was to be one of the most important provinces in the Muslim Empire.

His caliphate was a high point in early Islamic history. He was noted for his justice, social ideals, administration, and statesmanship. His innovations left an all enduring imprint on social welfare, taxation, and the financial and administrative fabric of the growing empire.

Abu Bakr’s mention in the Hadith of the prophet (s)

The following are some of the hadith of the prophet (s) where he (s) praised Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq.

  • Amr ibn al-’As, (RAA), narrated that he asked the Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, ‘Aisha.’ I asked, “Among the men?” He said, ‘Her father.’“ [Agreed upon]
  • Abu Said al-Khudri, (RAA), narrated that the prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, said, “There is no one who has done more favor to me with his life and property than Abu Bakr ibn Abu Quhafa. If I were to take a Khalil (very close friend), I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr as one but the Islamic brotherhood is superior. Close all the small doors in this mosque except for that of Abu Bakr.” [Agreed upon]
  • Abu Hurairah, (RAA), narrated that the Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), said, “Whoever gives two kinds (of things or property) in charity for Allah’s Cause, will be called from the gates of Paradise and will be addressed, ‘O slaves of Allah! Here is prosperity.’ So, whoever was amongst the people who used to offer prayers, will be called from the gate of the prayer and whoever was amongst the people who used to participate in Jihad, will be called from the gate of Jihad and whoever was amongst those who used to observe fasts, will be called from the gate of Ar-Raiyan whoever was amongst those who used to give in charity, will be called from the gate of charity.” Abu Bakr said, “Let my parents be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah! No distress or need will befall him who will be called from those gates. Will there be any one who will be called from all these gates?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, and I hope you will be one of them.” [Agreed upon]
  • Anas (RAA) said, “The Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), ascended the mountain of Uhud and he was accompanied by Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthman. The mountain shook beneath them. The Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) , hit it with his foot and said, “O Uhud! Be firm, for on you there is none but a Prophet, a Siddîq and two martyrs”. [Reported by al-Bukhari 3686] (see Uthman Ibn Affan and Banu Umayyah)
  • Jubair ibn Mutim narrated that a woman came to the Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), who instructed her to return to him again. She said, “What if I came and did not find you?” as if she wanted to ask, “If I found you dead?” The Prophet said, “If you should not find me, go to Abu Bakr.” [Agreed upon]
  • Abu Mûsa al-Ash’ari (RAA) said, “The Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), became very sick so he said, “Tell Abu Bakr to lead the people in prayer.’“ [Agreed upon]
  • Ali, (RAA), said, “The best people after the Messenger of Allah are Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. Loving me and hating Abu Bakr and ‘Umar do not gather in the heart of a believer.” [Reported by at-Tabarani in Al-Awsat (the Middle)]. Ibn Al-Qayyim, therefore, said, “It is sufficient for us to abide by the words of Ali (RAA). We have accepted for our world what the Prophet, (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has accepted for our religion. (The Benefits by Ibn al-Qayyim, pp. 111-112)”

  • Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, has said, “Who has observed fast among you today?” Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, replied, “It is I.” He (the Prophet) said, “Who among you followed a funeral today?” Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, replied, “It is I.” He (again) said, “Who among you visited an ill person today?” Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “It is I.” Upon this the Messenger of Allah, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, said, “Anyone in whom these good deeds are combined will certainly enter paradise.“ [Reported by Muslim 1028]

Biography of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA)-The Best companion of Prophet (SAW)

Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was born in a highly respected family of Banu Tamim of the tribe of Quraish in Makah in 573 A.D. He (RA) was the son of Uthman commonly known as Abu Quhafa Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) lived his life as a Merchant in Makah. Abu Bakr (RA) was first of the men who accepted Islam when Prophet (SAW) started preaching Islam. He (RA) was also known as the closest and best companion of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from his youth. He was indeed the first adult male to accept Islam.

Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was almost two years younger than Prophet (SAW). He (RA) was quite different from the rest, and was more or less similar in his behavior with that of the Prophet (PBUH) of Allah, having qualities of truthfulness and honesty. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was kind-hearted and used to help in resolving problems of others. Regarding his compassionate behavior towards others, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is narrated by Anas ibn Malik (RA) to have said: “The most merciful of my Ummah towards my Ummah is Abu Bakr.” (Tirmidhi)

He (RA) had adopted the profession of trade and was well known for his integrity in dealings, due to which people used to keep their belongings with him as trusts. He earned a considerable amount of wealth through this commerce which was made possible with the help of his great character. It is said that Abu Bakr (RA) gave more material support to Muhammad (SAW) than anyone else.

Some of the most significant instances from Abu Bakr (RA) life, which shows his great position in the history of Islam, are discussed below:

  • First Adult to Accept Islam: Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) used to live close to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) even before accepting Islam. When Prophet (SAW) told Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) about His Prophethood and First Revelation of Allah SWT, he (RA) gladly embraced Islam. Due to the close companionship of both, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) knew about His great personality that He (SAW) could never think about lying. He (RA) did not stop thinking about it and became Muslim.
  • Earn the Title of As Siddiq: The incidents of Journey of Prophet (SAW) of Isra (Moving from Kaaba in Makah to Bait-al Maqdas in Jerusalem) and Miraj (Visiting the seven Heavens and Paradise) no one believed him. But Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) did believe on our beloved Prophet (SAW), He (RA) also mentioned to those who came to him asking about these incidents that he truly believed on what Messenger (SAW) said about these events. Another incident was one He (RA) submitted to Islam with such determination that once the Holy Prophet (SAW) himself remarked, “I called people to Islam, everybody thought over it, at least for a while, but this was not the case with Abu Bakr, the moment I put Islam before him, he accepted it without any hesitation.” He was titled As-Siddiq by the Prophet because his faith was too strong to be shaken by anything.
  • Earliest Person to Invite Others to Embrace Islam: As soon as He (RA) entered in Islam, he started actively participating in the cause of calling others towards it. In this way, he became the very first individual after the Holy Prophet (SAW) to preach Islam. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) also used his social influence to bring many people to Islam. He presented Islam in such a way that impelled many of his close friends to embrace Islam. First, he went to ‘Uthman, Talha, Zubair and Said, who accepted his message and embraced Islam. Then, he encouraged other prominent figures of Qureysh including ‘Uthman bin Maz’un, Abu’Ubaidah, Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf, who also responded positively.
  • First Caliph in the History of Islam: Hazrat Abu Bakr (R.A) was ever the closest friend of the Holy Prophet (SAW) throughout His Islamic caravan. After the death of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW), all the companions of Prophet (PBUH) were in a state of great grief. Nobody knew that who would lead them. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was rated so highly among the believers that He was given authority to lead the Muslims after passing of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Although at first, there was some confusion over whether Chief should be from Ansaar or Muhajireen, but eventually Abu Bakr (RA) was given the power to have this great honor as no one was as close to the Messenger (PBUH) of Allah as he was.
  • Being Imam of Mosque in Absence of Prophet (SAW): The Prophet (SAW) led the prayers himself ever since he arrived in Madinah. During his last illness, the Prophet (SAW) could no longer lead the prayers, he was too weak to go to the mosque, and he, therefore, had to choose someone to fill such high position after him. Abu Bakr (RA) was also the one who was honored to be chosen by the Prophet (SAW) for such a task. In Hadith, it is mentioned that: “Tell Abu Bakr from my side to offer Salat to people (Muslims). [In absence of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)]” (Bukhari and Muslim). Hadith clearly indicates the great position of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) in the eyes of Prophet (SAW) that He made him the Imam of Muslims to lead the Salah.
  • He (RA) started compilation of Quran for the first time: Due to increased number of Muslims, and passing away of those who remembered the Holy Quran During his Khilaafat (reign), Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA), by the advice of Hazrat Umar (RA) accumulated Holy Quran in one single form to preserve it for the future generations. So that the future generation of Muslims could read Holy Quran in the right way.

Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was the man of great faith, truthfulness, and integrity and did true service of Islam. He spent his entire life always tried to be a better Muslim. Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) died at the age of 63, exactly the age the Holy Prophet (PBHU) died at. He is buried very next to the Apostle (PBUH) of Allah.

Early life

Abu Bakr's full name was Abd Allah ibn 'Uthman ibn Aamir ibn Amr ibn Ka'ab ibn Sa'ad ibn Taym (from whom the at-Taymi al-Quraishi) ibn Murrah ibn Ka'ab ibn Lu'ai ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr al-Quraishi. Ε] Ζ]

In Arabic, the name Abd Allah means "slave of Allah". One of his early titles, preceding his conversion to Islam, was atiqe, "the saved one". Muhammad later reaffirmed this title when he said that Abu Bakr is the "atiqe" (the one saved from hell fire by God). Η] He was called Al-Siddiq (the truthful) ΐ] by Muhammad after he believed him in the event of Isra and Mi'raj when other people didn't, and Ali confirmed that title several times. ⎖]

There is a dispute over his name being Abdullah. Ibn Hajar in Al-Isaabah, and many other narrations, narrates from Qasim Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abi Bakr, "I asked Ayesha the name of Abu Bakr. She said Abdullah. I said people are saying Ateeq. She said Abu Quhafa had three children, one was Ateeq, second Mu’taq and third, Otaiq. All three names are similar and derived from the same root."

He was mentioned in the Quran as the "second of the two who lay in the cave" in reference to the event of hijra, where with Muhammad he hid in the cave in Jabal Thawr from the Meccan search party that was sent after them, thus being one of few who were given direct mention in the Quran. ⎗]

Imam Jafar al Sadiq famously narrated how the title Siddiq was given to Abu Bakr from Muhammad. ⎘] ⎙] Jafar was a direct descendant of Abu Bakr from his maternal side, as well as being a descendant of Ali from his father's side. Jafar al-Sadiq was also the successor of the Naqshbandi Sufi order believed to be originating from Abu Bakr himself. ⎚] ⎛] ⎜] ⎝] ⎞] Imam Muhammad al Baqir, the father of Imam Jafar Sadiq, also called Abu Bakr with the title Siddiq. ⎟]

Much of the available knowledge about Muhammad comes through Abu Bakr's daughter, Aisha. After the death of Abu Bakr, her brother Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was raised by Ali. After Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr was killed by the Umayyads, Aisha raised and taught her nephew Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. Aisha also taught another nephew Urwah ibn Zubayr. He then taught his son Hisham ibn Urwah, who was the main teacher of Malik ibn Anas] whose views many Sunni follow.

Qasim's mother was of ‘Ali's family and his daughter Farwah bint al-Qasim, who married Muhammad al-Baqir, was the mother of Jafar al-Sadiq. Therefore al-Qasim was the grandson of the first caliph Abu Bakr and the grandfather of Ja'far al-Sadiq.

Another of Abu Bakr's grandsons, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr, was very close to Husayn bin Ali. After Hussein ibn Ali was betrayed by the people of Kufa and killed by the Yazid I Army of the, Umayyads ruler, ⎠] Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr confronted Yazid and expelled him from Iraq, southern Arabia and the greater part of Syria, and parts of Egypt. Following a lengthy campaign, on his last hour Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr asked his mother Asma' bint Abu Bakr, the daughter of the first caliph, for advice. Asma' bint Abu Bakr replied to her son: ⎡] "You know better in your own self, that if you are upon the truth and you are calling towards the truth go forth, for people more honourable than you have been killed and if you are not upon the truth, then what an evil son you are and you have destroyed yourself and those who are with you. If you say, that if you are upon the truth and you will be killed at the hands of others, then you will not truly be free". Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr left and was later also killed and the army now under the control of the Umayyads.

Abu Bakr - History

Source : / 16 Jan 2013

Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) real name was Abdullah, and he was given the title of &ldquoAs Siddique&rdquo or &rdquoTestifier to the Truth.&rdquo His father, &lsquoUthman, was known as Abu Quhafah and his mother, Salma, was known as Ummul Khair. He was two and a half years younger than Sayyiduna Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam).

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) the First Among Men to Enter Islam

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was always a very close Companion of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) , he knew him better than any other man. He (may Allah be pleased with him) knew how honest and upright the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was. Such knowledge of the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) made Abu Bakr be the first man to follow the Message of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam. He (may Allah be pleased with him) was indeed the first adult male to accept Islam.

The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) told Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) what had happened at Mount Hira&rsquo, he told him that Allah subhanahu wa ta&rsquoala has revealed to him and made him His Messenger. When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) heard this from the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam, he did not stop to think, he at once became a Muslim. He submitted to Islam with such determination that once the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) himself remarked: &ldquoI called people to Islam, everybody thought over it, at least for a while, but this was not the case with Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), the moment I put Islam before him, he accepted it without any hesitation&rdquo. He was titled As-Siddiq by the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) because his faith was too strong to be shaken by anything.

In fact, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was more than a great believer, as soon as he became a Muslim, he immediately began to preach Islam to others. Among those who accepted Abu Bakr&rsquos invitation to Islam were Uthman, Zubair, Talha, Abdul Rahman bin Auf, Saadi bin Waqqas and others who later became the pillars of Islam.

Abu Bakr&rsquos love of the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam was so great that he was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of protecting and comforting the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) saw. Such love and sacrifice were demonstrated when one day the Holy Prophet(sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was saying his prayers in the Ka&rsquoba, while some of the chiefs of Mecca were sitting in the court yard of the Ka&rsquoba. Seeing the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) praying, &lsquoUqbah bin Abi Mu&rsquoeet took a long piece of cloths and put it around the Prophet&rsquos neck and twisted it hard in an attempt to strangle the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam to death. At that moment Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) happened to pass by from a distance, he saw &lsquoUqbah trying to strangle the Prophet(sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) to death. Immediately Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) ran to the help of the Prophet(sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), he pushed &lsquoUqbah aside and took the cloth from around the Prophet&rsquos neck. Thereupon the enemies of Islâm came down upon Abu Bakr and beat him unnerafully, although Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) with faith like a rock did not care for his own suffering, he was glad that he was able to save the Prophet of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), even at the risk of his own life.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) with the wealth he had, also had a major role in freeing some of the Muslim slaves, who were barbarically tortured by their heartless Mushrik masters to give up the Faith and return to their masters&rsquo beliefs. The heartless monsters tried all kinds of torture: they made them lie all naked on the burning desert sand, putting big stones on their chest, as well as other kinds of torture. Here Abu Bakr&rsquos wealth came to the rescue, as he bought the poor helpless slaves from their inhuman masters and set them free, Bilal Al-Habashi, the slave of Umayya bin Khalaf, was among those who were set free by Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). Bilal became afterwards the Mu&rsquoazzin at the Prophet&rsquos mosque.

Migration to Madinah

Islam was growing rapidly in Mecca, the enemies of Islam were getting frustrated by this rapid growth. The Chiefs of Mecca found that it is necessary for them to get rid of the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam before Islam can cause a real threat to them, so they planned to kill the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). Allah Subhanahu wa Ta&rsquoala revealed to his Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) the intentions of the non-believers and ordered him to migrate to Madinah. So the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) quickly went to Abu Bakr&rsquos house who was among the few that were left in Mecca with the majority of Muslims having already migrated to Madinah.

The Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) informed Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) that he was commanded to migrate to Madinah that night and that he has chosen him to have the honor of joining him on his migration. Abu Bakr&rsquos heart was full of joy : &ldquoI have been looking forward to this day for months&rdquo he exclaimed.

The Meccans were so eager to find the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) they were searching for him like mad hounds. Once they came to the mouth of the cave, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) grew pale with fright, he feared not for himself, but for the life of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) . However, the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam remained calm and said to Abu Bakr &ldquodo not fear, certainly Allah is with us&rdquo. Such words quickly calmed down Abu Bakr and brought back tranquility to his heart.

Participation in Battles

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), being the closest of Companions to the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam, took part in all the battles that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) had fought.

At Uhud and Hunain, some members of the Muslim army showed signs of weakness, however, Abu Bakr&rsquos faith never wavered, he always stood like a rock by the side of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam).

Abu Bakr&rsquos faith and determination to raise the banner of Islam were so great that at Badr, one of his sons, who had not yet embraced Islam was fighting among the enemies, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was so eager to find his son in the battle that he was searching for him amongst the enemies in order to slay him.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) loved his faith more than anything else. At the Battle of Badr, his son, Abdur Rahman, was fighting on the side of the Kuffar. After accepting Islam, Abdur Rahman said to his father, &ldquoO Father, at Badr, you were twice under my sword, but my love for you held my hand back.&rdquo To this, Abu Bakr replied, &ldquoSon, if I had you only once under my sword, you would have been no more.&rdquo He was so uncompromising in his faith.

Abu Bakr&rsquos great love of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) was demonstrated when peace talks at Hudaibiya were held. During the negotiations, the spokesman of Quraish was touching the beard of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) every now and then. Abu Bakr&rsquos love for the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) was so great that he could bear no more, he took out his sword and looked angrily at the man saying, &ldquo&hellipif that hand touches the beard of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) again, it will not be allowed to go back&rdquo.

Tabuk was the last expedition of the Holy Prophet(sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam). He was keen to make it a great success, he therefore asked people to help the expedition with whatever they could. This brought the best out of Abu Bakr who beat all records as he took all his money and household articles and heaped them at the Prophet&rsquos feet.

&ldquoHave you left anything for your children?&rdquo asked the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam). Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) then responded with great faith &ldquoAllah and his Messenger are enough for them&rdquo. Companions standing around were stunned they realized that whatever they do they could not out do Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) in the field of service to Islam.

The Successor of the Prophet

The first Hajj under Islam was in the ninth year of Hijra. The Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam was too busy at Madinah to lead the Hajj, so he sent Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) as his agent, he was to lead the Hajj in place of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam).

The Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam led the prayers himself ever since he arrived to Madinah. During his last illness, the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) could no longer lead the prayers, he (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) was too weak to go to the mosque, he (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) therefore had to choose someone to fill such high position after him. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was also the one who was honored to be chosen by the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) for such a task.

Thus in the lifetime of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam), Abu Bakr came to fill the highest position under Islam (leading prayers). While one day Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was away Umar was appointed by the Companions to lead the prayers in his absence. Realizing the change of voice, the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) said: &ldquoThis is not Abu Bakr&rsquos voice, no one but he should lead prayers, he is the fittest person for this position&rdquo.

When the news of the Prophet&rsquos death came out, many Muslims were confused and stunned. Umar himself was so overcome with emotions that he drew his sword and declared: &ldquoIf anyone says that the Messenger of Allah is dead, I will cut off his head&rdquo.

Muslims stayed in such state until Abu Bakr arrived and gave his famous address: &ldquoO People! If anyone among you worshiped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worshiped Allah, let them know that He lives and will never die. Let all of us recall the words of the Qur&rsquoan. It says: &ldquoMuhammad is only a Messenger of Allah, there have been Messengers before him. What then, will you turn back from Islam if he dies or is killed?&rdquo Suddenly Abu Bakr&rsquos words started to sink in, and in no time confusion was gone.

Having shrugged off the shocking news of the Prophet&rsquos death, Muslims realized that they need someone to fill the position of leadership amongst them.

The two main groups amongst Muslims were Muhajirun (refugees from Mecca), and Ansar (the people of Madinah). The Ansar gathered at the Thaqifa Bani Saida their meeting place. Saad bin Abada the Ansar leader suggested that the Caliph should be from amongst them. Although many refused saying that the Muhajirun in right have a better claim to Khilafah. When the news reached Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), he quickly went to their gathering, fearing that confusion might spread once again, and said : &ldquoBoth Muhajirun and Ansar have done great service to Islam. But the former were the first to accept Islam, they were always very close to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) . So, O Ansar, let the Caliph be from amongst them&rdquo. After a short discussion, the Ansar agreed that they should choose the Caliph from amongst the Muhajirun, being from the tribe of Quraish and being the first to accept Islam.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) then asked people to choose between Umar bin Al-Khattab and Abu Ubaida Ibn A-Jarrah. Hearing this, both men jumped to their feet and exclaimed: &ldquoO Siddiq, how can that be? How can anyone else fill this position as long as you are among us? You are the top man amongst he Muhajirun. You were the Companion of the Prophet sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam in the Thawr cave. You led prayers in his place, during his last illness. Prayer is the foremost thing in Islam. With all these qualifications you are the fittest person to be the successor of the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) . Hold out your hand that we may pledge loyalty to you&rdquo.

But Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) did not stretch out his hand. Umar saw that the delay might lead to the reopening of the disagreements so he himself took Abu Bakr&rsquos hand out and pledged loyalty to him. Others followed by example, and Abu Bakr became the first Caliph by general consent of the Muslims.

After his election as the Caliph, Abu Bakr addressed the Muslims with these words:

&ldquoO People! I have been chosen by you as your leader, although I am no better than any of you. If I do any wrong, set me right. Listen, truth is honesty and untruth is dishonesty. The weak among you are the powerful in my eyes, as long as I do not give them their dues. The powerful among you are weak in my eyes, as long as I do not take away from them what is due to others".

&ldquoListen carefully, if people give up striving for the Cause of Almighty Allah, He will send down disgrace upon them. If people become evil-doers, Almighty Allah will send down calamities upon them".

&ldquoObey me as long as I obey Allah and His Rasul (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). If I disobey Allah and His Rasul (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), you are free to disobey me.&rdquo

Ali radiallaahu &lsquoanhu along with some of his relatives delayed their pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr for six months after a difference of opinion with the Caliph due to the right of inheritance of the Prophet&rsquos land. Although both men respected each other, and Ali soon after the death of his wife Fatimah gave the pledge of loyalty to Abu Bakr.

Such was the quality of the humble and generous Companion who believed the Prophet in everything to the extent that he was called As-Siddiq, by the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam). His great personality and service to Islam and Muslims earned him the love and respect of all Muslims, so that he was chosen as the first Caliph after the death of the Prophet (sallallaahu &lsquoalayhi wa sallam) by all Muslims.

The History Briefing on the Assassination of ISIS Founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: How Historians Have Discussed Recent News

Lila Someshwar is an intern with the History News Network.

Last Sunday, October 27th, President Trump announced in a televised news conference that ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US special operations mission. The news came amidst turmoil in the Middle East after Trump pulled US troops out of Northern Syria and Turkey quickly invaded Syria last month. To understand this complex situation, historians contextualized Baghdadi&rsquos death, the history of ISIS, and the history of militant and terrorist leadership more broadly. By looking to the past, we can gain a better comprehension of the effect Baghdadi&rsquos death will likely have.

Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University, authored an op-ed for Newsweek titled &ldquoBaghdadi&rsquos Death Does Not Matter.&rdquo Abrahms uses the "rules" for militant leaders developed in his book Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Military History to argue that Baghdadi was an ineffective leader. Abrahms studied hundreds of militant groups throughout world history and created three rules that he says smart militant leaders follow: understand that not all forms of violence are equal for furthering political goals, prevent rank-and-file members from harming civilians, and avoid blame for terrorist attacks by low-level members. In his opinion piece, Abrahms reviews Baghdadi&rsquos actions as the leader of ISIS and concludes that Baghdadi failed to follow these rules and was thus an inept leader. Particularly, he finds that Baghdadi failed to realize the value of limiting his followers&rsquo violence against civilians&mdashsomething that most skilled militant leaders understand. Breaking these rules, Abrahms argues, was a detriment to ISIS, driving away both other militant groups and the local population. Abrahms points out that more fighters have been leaving ISIS than joining it. Further, Baghdadi&rsquos excessively violent approach has motivated the largest anti-terrorism coalition in history. Baghdadi&rsquos approach has made ISIS a highly prioritized target, all while driving away potential allies and recruits. This is why Abrahms predicts Baghdadi's death will not be a great loss to ISIS, as Abrahms believes Baghdadi&rsquos approach did more harm than good to the organization. Abrahms&rsquo particular focus on the strategies of militant leaders makes his input on Baghdadi&rsquos leadership, and the vacuum the terrorist leader will leave, especially valuable.

Greg Barton, a professor of Global Islamic Politics at the Alfred Deakin Institute, makes a more optimistic but still measured prediction of the impact of Baghdadi&rsquos death in an article for the Conversation. Barton examines the history of ISIS, noting that from its beginning it has been a hybrid movement of religious fundamentalists and experienced Baathist military figures. Baghdadi, Barton notes, was a strong leader because of his role as a religious figure and his background as an Islamic scholar earned him credibility as the leader of a new caliphate. So Baghdadi may be hard to replace, says Barton, but there are other powerful influences at work within ISIS. Barton connects the rise of ISIS with the de-Baathification project that occurred after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many Sunni military leaders were ousted from the Iraqi government in a short time, which proved to be a great opportunity for ISIS recruitment. Many key figures in the organization are ex-officers in the Iraqi military and intelligence agencies. Though the loss of Baghdadi is a significant blow to ISIS, the hidden core of ISIS leadership still remains intact. Barton predicts that Baghdadi&rsquos death has no chance of being the end of ISIS, but it could provide an opportunity to slow its resurgence. Professor Barton believes the key to optimizing the damage to ISIS is cutting down emerging leaders as they rise to prominence. And this, he believes, is largely contingent on whether President Trump sticks to his decision to pull US troops out of Syria. Professor Barton&rsquos contribution is particularly important as he looks to the genesis of ISIS as an organization to determine the impact the death of its founder may have going forward.

Max Boot, a military historian and best-selling author, explores the limits of &lsquodecapitation&rsquo strategies&mdashthe killing of a terrorist movement&rsquos leader&mdashin an opinion piece for the Washington Post. Boot explains that the death of a group&rsquos leader is most detrimental when the group has weak organization and depends largely on a cult of personality. Otherwise, terrorist groups have shown to be entirely capable of bouncing back from the death of a leader. Boot gives several examples from the recent history of failed decapitation strategies. For example, Israeli Defense Forces killed Hezbollah&rsquos general secretary Abbas al-Musawi in 1992, but Hezbollah is stronger now than ever before under his successor. Boot fears that, with ISIS already bolstering itself for a comeback in Iraq and Syria, Trump&rsquos recent decision to pull American troops out of Syria will give a perfect opportunity for a resurgence of ISIS. To Boot, the removal of US troops, and the instability this could bring to the region is a far more important factor in the fight against ISIS than the death of al-Baghdadi.

Rebecca Frankel, who authored War Dogs: Tales of Canine History, Heroism, and Love, examined the headline from a very different angle in a Retropolis article written by Washington Post reporter Alex Horton. A Belgian Malinois dog named Conan helped special forces operatives in their pursuit of Baghdadi. The president hailed the pup as a hero and announced Conan will visit the White House. Frankel details the long history of war dogs, present in some capacity since at least the Civil War. The use of dogs in war has become more extensive since then, now a vital resource in locating bombs, and in aiding special operations, like Conan. In fact, a dog named Cairo helped Navy Seals to take down Osama bin Laden. The subject of war dogs is not entirely cheerful, however, as Frankel notes there are issues with maltreatment of dogs in service, as well as issues for retired dogs such as PTSD and difficulty in finding good homes for military dogs.

In the fight against ISIS, the military and political situation is complex and ever-changing. Historians disagree about how much damage Baghdadi's death will do to ISIS, but it is clear that the fight against ISIS is on-going and crucial to restoring stability to the region.


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre. [20] He had various names and epithets, including Abu Du'a [6] ( أبو دعاء ʾabū duʿāʾ), [21] Al-Shabah (the phantom or ghost), [22] Amir al-Mu'minin, Caliph (sometimes followed by Abu Bakr, al-Baghdadi, or Ibrahim), [23] and Sheikh Baghdadi. [24] Other aliases used by al-Badri include Dr. Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. [25]

In 2014, the Telegraph reported that his birthname was Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri. [26] In 2018, Reuters reported that his real name was Ibrahim al-Samarrai. [27]

The word duaa signifies supplications, invocations, or prayers. [28] In regions formerly under ISIL control, various non-Islamic honorifics that recognize his rank were used as a formal address recognizing him as a noble and a head of state that might precede or follow his name. [29]

The kunya [30] Abū, corresponds to the English, father of. [31] Having at sometime taken the name Abu Bakr, al-Baghdadi is thought to have adopted the name of the first caliph, Abu Bakr. During the times when Muhammad [32] might have suffered from illnesses, Abu Bakr was the replacement for leading prayer, according to the Sunni tradition [33] of Islam. [34]

His surname literally means "The one from Baghdad" and denotes that he was from Baghdad city or Baghdad governorate in Iraq. [35]

Early life

Al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born near Samarra, Iraq, on 28 July 1971 [1] [36] [37] as the third of four sons in the family. [38] Al-Badri al-Samarrai was apparently born as a member of the tribal group known as Al-Bu Badri tribe. This tribe includes a number of sub-tribes, including the Radhawiyyah, Husseiniyyah, Adnaniyyah, and Quraysh. [22] Al-Baghdadi later claimed that he was descended from the Quraysh tribe and therefore from Muhammad, although there was no evidence to back up his claim. [38]

According to a short semi-authorized biography written by Abid Humam al-Athari, his grandfather, Haj Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, apparently lived until the age of 94 and witnessed the US occupation of Iraq. [38] His father, Sheikh Awwad, was active in the religious life of the community. [9] Awwad taught the teenaged Baghdadi and got his own start as a teacher, leading children in a neighbourhood chanting the Quran. [9] Both his father and grandfather were said to be farmers. [38] His mother, whose name is not known, was described as a religious loving person and was notable in the al-Badri tribe. [39] One of Baghdadi's uncles served in Saddam Hussein's security services, and one of his brothers became an officer in the Iraqi Army. [9] He has another brother, who probably died either during the Iran–Iraq War or the Gulf War while serving in the Iraqi military. [9] [39] Baghdadi was described as extremely conservative and religious even in his youth. [10]


Official education records from Samarra High School revealed that al-Baghdadi had to retake his high school certificate in 1991 and scored 481 out of 600 possible points. [39] A few months later, he was deemed unfit for military service by the Iraqi military due to his nearsightedness. [39] His high-school grades were not good enough for him to study his preferred subject (law, educational science and languages) at the University of Baghdad. [39] Instead, it is believed that he attended the Islamic University of Baghdad, now known as Iraqi University, where he studied Islamic law and, later, the Quran. [40]

In 2014, American and Iraqi intelligence analysts said that al-Baghdadi has a doctorate for Islamic studies in Quranic studies from Saddam University in Baghdad. [41] [42] According to a biography that circulated on extremist Internet forums in July 2013, he obtained a BA, MA, and PhD in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad. [36] [43] [44] Another report says that he earned a doctorate in education from the University of Baghdad. [45]

Will McCants says that he "successfully" defended his Ph.D. thesis in 2007, "despite the weight of his new responsibilities" as a militant, his work consisting in editing a medieval manuscript, Rub al-murid fi sharh al-'iqd al-farid fi numzum al-tawjid by Muhammad al-Samarqandi (who died in 1378 in Baghdad), an Arabic poem on the recitation of the Qur'an (or tajwid), for which he was awarded a grade of "very good." [46]


In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, contemporaries of al-Baghdadi describes him in his youth as being shy, unimpressive, a religious scholar, and a man who eschewed violence. For more than a decade, until 2004, he lived in a room attached to a small local mosque in Tobchi, a poor neighbourhood on the western fringes of Baghdad, inhabited by both Shia and Sunni Muslims. [26]

Ahmed al-Dabash, the leader of the Islamic Army of Iraq and a contemporary of al-Baghdadi who fought against the allied invasion in 2003, gave a description of al-Baghdadi that matched that of the Tobchi residents:

I was with Baghdadi at the Islamic University. We studied the same course, but he wasn't a friend. He was quiet and retiring. He spent time alone . I used to know all the leaders (of the insurgency) personally. Zarqawi (the former leader of al-Qaeda) was closer than a brother to me . But I didn't know Baghdadi. He was insignificant. He used to lead prayer in a mosque near my area. No one really noticed him. [26]

"They [the US and Iraqi Governments] know physically who this guy is, but his backstory is just myth," said Patrick Skinner of the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm. "He's managed this secret persona extremely well, and it's enhanced his group's prestige," said Patrick Johnston of the RAND Corporation, adding, "Young people are really attracted to that." [47] Being mostly unrecognized, even in his own organization, Baghdadi was known to be nicknamed at some time about 2015, as "the invisible sheikh." [7]

Some believe that al-Baghdadi became an Islamic revolutionary during the rule of Saddam Hussein, but other reports suggest he was radicalized by joining the Muslim Brotherhood as a youth, [48] followed by his later internment with Al Qaeda commanders at the US Camp Bucca. [49] He may have been a mosque cleric around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003. [49]

While Brotherhood stood for mainstream political activism, Baghdadi was influenced by the radical treatises of the Egyptian Islamist scholar Sayyid Qutb. [50] After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, al-Baghdadi helped found the militant group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah (JJASJ), in which he served as head of the sharia committee. [44]

US internment

Al-Baghdadi was arrested by US Forces-Iraq on 2 or 4 February 2004 near Fallujah while visiting the home of his old student friend, Nessayif Numan Nessayif, also on the American wanted list at the time [a] [9] and studied together with al-Baghdadi at the Islamic University. [51] He was detained at the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca detention centers under his name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry [41] as a "civilian internee." His detainee card gives his profession as "administrative work (secretary)." [52] The US Department of Defense said al-Baghdadi was imprisoned at Compound 6, which was a medium security Sunni compound. [53] On 8 December 2004, [9] he was released as a prisoner deemed "low level" [41] after being recommended for release by the Combined Review and Release Board. [44] [54] [55] [56]

A number of newspapers and news channels have instead stated that al-Baghdadi was interned from 2005 to 2009. These reports originate from an interview with the former commander of Camp Bucca, Colonel Kenneth King, [57] and are not substantiated by Department of Defense records. [58] [59] [60] Al-Baghdadi was imprisoned at Camp Bucca along with other future leaders of ISIL. [61]

As leader of the Islamic State of Iraq

Al-Baghdadi and his group Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah joined the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) in 2006, in which he served as a member of the MSC's sharia committee. [44] Following the renaming of the MSC as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006, al-Baghdadi became the general supervisor of the ISI's sharia committee and a member of the group's senior consultative council. [44] [62]

Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), was the Iraqi division of al-Qaeda. Al-Baghdadi was announced as leader of ISI on 16 May 2010, following the death of his predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. [63]

As leader of ISI, al-Baghdadi was responsible for masterminding large-scale operations such as the 28 August 2011 suicide bombing at the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad, which killed prominent Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawi. [64] Between March and April 2011, ISI claimed 23 attacks south of Baghdad, all allegedly carried out under al-Baghdadi's command. [64]

From 2011, a reward of US$10 million was offered for Baghdadi by the U.S. State Department, increasing to $25 million in 2017, [65] for information or intelligence on his whereabouts to enable capture, dead or alive. [66] [67]

Following the death of the founder and head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, on 2 May 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, al-Baghdadi released a statement praising bin Laden and threatening violent retaliation for his death. [64] On 5 May 2011, al-Baghdadi claimed responsibility for an attack in Hilla, 100 kilometres (62 mi) south of Baghdad, that killed 24 policemen and wounded 72 others. [64] [68]

On 15 August 2011, a wave of ISI suicide attacks beginning in Mosul resulted in 70 deaths. [64] Shortly thereafter, in retaliation for bin Laden's death, ISI pledged on its website to carry out 100 attacks across Iraq featuring various methods of attack, including raids, suicide attacks, roadside bombs and small arms attacks in all cities and rural areas across the country. [64]

On 22 December 2011, a series of coordinated car bombings and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks struck over a dozen neighborhoods across Baghdad, killing at least 63 people and wounding 180. The assault came just days after the US completed its troop withdrawal from Iraq. [69] On 26 December, ISI released a statement on jihadist internet forums claiming credit for the operation, stating that the targets of the Baghdad attack were "accurately surveyed and explored" and that the "operations were distributed between targeting security headquarters, military patrols and gatherings of the filthy ones of the al-Dajjal Army (the "Army of the Anti-Christ" in Arabic)," referring to the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. [69]

On 2 December 2012, Iraqi officials claimed that they had captured al-Baghdadi in Baghdad, following a two-month tracking operation. Officials claimed that they had also seized a list containing the names and locations of other al-Qaeda operatives. [70] [71] However, this claim was rejected by ISI. [72] In an interview with Al Jazeera on 7 December 2012, Iraq's Acting Interior Minister said that the arrested man was not al-Baghdadi, but rather a sectional commander in charge of an area stretching from the northern outskirts of Baghdad to Taji. [73]

Expansion into Syria and break with al-Qaeda

Al-Baghdadi remained leader of the ISI until its formal expansion into Syria in 2013 when, in a statement on 8 April 2013, he announced the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – alternatively translated from Arabic as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). [74]

When announcing the formation of ISIL, al-Baghdadi stated that the Syrian Civil War jihadist faction, Jabhat al-Nusra – also known as al-Nusra Front – had been an extension of the ISI in Syria and was now to be merged with ISIL. [74] [75] The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, disputed this merging of the two groups and appealed to al-Qaeda emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, who issued a statement that ISIL should be abolished and that al-Baghdadi should confine his group's activities to Iraq. [76] Al-Baghdadi, however, dismissed al-Zawahiri's ruling and took control of a reported 80% of Jabhat al-Nusra's foreign fighters. [77] In January 2014, ISIL expelled Jabhat al-Nusra from the Syrian city of Raqqa, and in the same month clashes between the two in Syria's Deir ez-Zor Governorate killed hundreds of fighters and displaced tens of thousands of civilians. [78] In February 2014, al-Qaeda disavowed any relations with ISIL. [79]

According to several Western sources, al-Baghdadi and ISIL have received private financing from citizens in Saudi Arabia and Qatar and enlisted fighters through recruitment drives in Saudi Arabia in particular. [80] [81] [82] [83]

Declaration of a caliphate

On 29 June 2014, ISIL announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate. Al-Baghdadi was named its caliph, to be known as "Caliph Ibrahim," and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was renamed the Islamic State (IS). [84] [85]

The declaration of a caliphate was heavily criticized by Middle Eastern governments, other jihadist groups, [86] and Sunni Muslim theologians and historians. Qatar-based TV broadcaster and theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi stated: "[The] declaration issued by the Islamic State is void under sharia and has dangerous consequences for the Sunnis in Iraq and for the revolt in Syria," adding that the title of caliph can "only be given by the entire Muslim nation," not by a single group. [87]

As a caliph, al-Baghdadi was required to hold to each dictate of the sunnah, whose precedence is set and recorded in the sahih hadiths. According to tradition, if a caliph fails to meet any of these obligations at any period, he is required by the law to abdicate his position and the community has to appoint a new caliph, theoretically selected from throughout the caliphdom as being the most religiously and spiritually pious individual among them. [88] Due to the widespread rejection of his caliphhood, al-Baghdadi's status as caliph has been compared to that of other caliphs whose caliphship has been questioned. [89]

In an audio-taped message, al-Baghdadi announced that ISIL would march on "Rome" – generally interpreted to mean the West – in its quest to establish an Islamic State from the Middle East across Europe. He said that he would conquer both Rome and Spain in this endeavor [90] [91] and urged Muslims across the world to immigrate to the new Islamic State. [90]

On 8 July 2014, ISIL launched its online magazine Dabiq. The title appeared to have been selected for its eschatological connections with the Islamic version of the End times, or Malahim. [92]

According to a report in October 2014, after suffering serious injuries, al-Baghdadi fled ISIL's capital city Raqqa due to the intense bombing campaign launched by Coalition forces, and sought refuge in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the largest city under ISIL control at the time. [93]

On 5 November 2014, al-Baghdadi sent a message to al-Qaeda Emir Ayman al-Zawahiri requesting him to swear allegiance to him as caliph, in return for a position in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The source of this information was a senior Taliban intelligence officer. Al-Zawahiri did not reply, and instead reassured the Taliban of his loyalty to Mullah Omar. [94]

On 7 November 2014, there were unconfirmed reports of al-Baghdadi's death after an airstrike in Mosul, [95] while other reports said that he was only wounded. [96] [97]

On 20 January 2015, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that al-Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in Al-Qa'im, an Iraqi border town held by ISIL at that time, and as a result withdrew to Syria. [98]

On 8 February 2015, after Jordan had conducted 56 airstrikes which reportedly killed 7,000 ISIL militants from 5–7 February, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was said to have fled from Raqqa to Mosul out of fear for his life. [99] [100] However, after a Peshmerga source informed the US-led Coalition that al-Baghdadi was in Mosul, Coalition warplanes continuously bombed the locations where ISIL leaders were known to meet for 2 hours. [100]

Sex slavery

Baghdadi was a serial rapist, [15] having maintained "a number of personal sex slaves." [16]

On 14 August 2015, it was reported that he allegedly claimed, as his "wife," American hostage Kayla Mueller and raped her repeatedly. [101] Mueller was later alleged by an ISIL media account to have been killed in an airstrike by anti-ISIL forces in February 2015. [102] However, a former sex slave has claimed that Mueller was murdered by ISIL. [103]

Sectarianism and theocracy

Through his forename, al-Baghdadi was rumored to have been styling himself after the first caliph, Abu Bakr, who led the "Rightly Guided" or Rashidun. According to Sunni tradition, Abu Bakr replaced Muhammad as prayer leader when he was suffering from illnesses. [33] Another feature of the original Rashidun was what some historians dub as the first Sunni–Shia discord during the Battle of Siffin. Some publishers have drawn a correlation between those ancient events and modern Salafizing and caliphizing [104] aims under al-Baghdadi's rule. [105] [106]

Due to the relatively stationary nature of ISIL control, the elevation of religious clergy who engage in theocratization, [107] and the group's scripture-themed legal system, some analysts declared al-Baghdadi a theocrat and ISIL a theocracy. [108] Other indications of the decline of secularism were the destruction of secular institutions and its replacement with strict sharia law, and the gradual caliphization and Sunnification of regions under the group's control. [109] In July 2015, al-Baghdadi was described by a reporter as exhibiting a kinder and gentler side after he banned videos showing slaughter and execution. [110]

First recorded public appearance of 4 July 2014

A video, made during the first Friday prayer service of Ramadan, shows al-Baghdadi speaking on a pulpit in the Arabic language to a congregation at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, northern Iraq. In the video, al-Baghdadi declares himself caliph of the Islamic State and calls on Muslims worldwide to support him. [111] A representative of the Iraqi government denied that the video was of al-Baghdadi, calling it a "farce." [87] However, both the BBC and the Associated Press quoted unnamed Iraqi officials as saying that the man in the video was believed to be al-Baghdadi. [112] [113] [114]

13 November 2014

ISIL released an audio-taped message, claiming it to be in the voice of al-Baghdadi. In the 17-minute recording, released via social media, al-Baghdadi says that ISIL fighters would never cease fighting "even if only one soldier remains." Al-Baghdadi urges supporters of the Islamic State to "erupt volcanoes of jihad" across the world. He calls for attacks to be mounted in Saudi Arabia, describing Saudi leaders as "the head of the snake," and also says that the US-led military campaign in Syria and Iraq was failing. He declares that ISIL would keep marching forward and would "break the borders" of Jordan and Lebanon as well as "free Palestine." [115]

14 May 2015

ISIL released an audio message which it claimed was from al-Baghdadi. In the recording, al-Baghdadi urges Muslims to immigrate to the Islamic State and join the fight in Iraq and Syria. He also condemns the Saudi involvement in Yemen, and claims that the conflict will lead to the end of the Saudi royal family's rule. He further claims that Islam was never a religion of peace but instead is "the religion of fighting." [116]

26 December 2015

An audio message that was approximately 23 minutes long was released. Al-Baghdadi warns Western nations to not interfere further in their matters and threatens the future establishment of ISIL in Israel. He also celebrates the defeat of "crusaders" and "Jews" in Iraq and Afghanistan. [117]

2 November 2016

An audio message was released. In it, al-Baghdadi discusses the need for ISIL to defend their forces within Mosul and encourages ISIL forces to persecute Shia Muslims and the Alawites. He also states plans to begin fighting in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and further away, and argues in favour of using martyrdom in Libya to spread support. [118] [119]

28 September 2017

A 46-minute audio recording was released through the ISIL-owned media organization Al Furqan in which al-Baghdadi accuses the United States of wilting in the face of Russia and lacking "the will to fight." [120] [121] Al-Baghdadi refers to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and the United States and the recapture of Mosul by US backed Iraqi forces over two months earlier, likely to dispel rumours of his death. [122]

Throughout, al-Baghdadi calls for further attacks in the West and, more specifically, for attacks on Western media, saying: "Oh soldiers of Islam in every location, increase blow after blow, and make the media centers of the infidels, from where they wage their intellectual wars, among the targets." [122]

23 August 2018

An audio message is released, almost a year after his previous communication. Al-Baghdadi calls on his followers to "persevere" despite heavy losses in Iraq and Syria and calls for more attacks around the world. He also comments on recent events, suggesting that the audio message was recorded recently. Many experts believed that it was him as the voice resembled that heard in his other audio messages. [123]

29 April 2019

On 29 April 2019, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was shown in an 18-minute long video released by an Islamic State media group, his first public appearance in almost five years. In the video, al-Baghdadi is shown with an assault rifle mentioning recent events such as the loss of the last ISIL territory in Baghuz Fawqani, the Sri Lanka Easter bombings and the overthrow of Sudanese and Algerian presidents Omar al-Bashir and Abdelaziz Bouteflika, suggesting that the video was filmed around a week before being released. [124] [125]

16 September 2019

On 16 September 2019 al-Baghdadi released an audio message calling for his followers to free detained ISIS members and their families held in camps in Iraq and Syria. [126] It was recorded and distributed by Al Furqan Establishment for Media Production. [127]

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was designated by the United States Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. [6] The US Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program identified Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a senior leader of the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and as having been "responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Middle East, including the brutal murder of numerous civilian hostages from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States." [6] Authorities within the United States had also accused al-Baghdadi of kidnapping, enslaving, and repeatedly raping an American, Kayla Mueller, who ISIL later alleged was killed in a Jordanian airstrike but is believed to have been executed by ISIL. [102]

Suspected location

Al-Baghdadi was the top target in the war against ISIL. US Intelligence believed that he was based in Raqqa and that he kept a low profile, hiding among the civilian population. Until summer 2017, ISIL was believed to be headquartered in a series of buildings in Raqqa, but the proximity of civilians made targeting the headquarters off-limits under US rules of engagement. [128] Photos of a possible public appearance in a Fallujah mosque surfaced in February 2016. [129]

Haider al-Abadi was reported (Ensor, 7 February 2017) to have stated he knew of the location of al-Baghdadi. Colonel John Dorrian, of the Combined Joint Task Force, stated he was aware of al-Baghdadi having chosen to sleep in a suicide vest, in the event he should find himself facing capture. [130]

In 2018, Iraqi intelligence officials and a number of experts believed that al-Baghdadi was hiding in ISIL's then-de facto capital of Hajin, in ISIL's Middle Euphrates Valley Pocket in Syria. Even though no direct evidence has yet been found that al-Baghdadi himself was present in the city, experts noted that the remaining ISIL leadership was concentrated in Hajin, and that ISIL was persistently launching a strenuous defense. [131] Hajin was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 14 December 2018, but al-Baghdadi's whereabouts were still unknown. [132]

On 1 February 2019, the chief of the Intelligence Office of Iraq's Interior Ministry, Abu Ali Al-Basri, stated that al-Baghdadi never stayed in one place at a time as he continued to sneak back-and-forth across the Iraq-Syria border. "We have information that he moved from Syria and entered Iraq through Anbar and then Salaheddine," Al-Basri said. [133] Additionally, Fadhel Abu Rageef, a Baghdad-based political and security analyst, told Fox News that Baghdadi maneuvered without convoys or any attention-drawing security figures, and was instead only flanked by a couple of trusted loyalists – and neither he nor his associates had mobile phones or detectable devices. "We think Baghdadi is in the Syrian desert at large, wearing modern clothes, no mobiles, a simple car, and just a driver. Anyone around him is dressed in modern clothes," Rageef said. [134]

According to an Associated Press interview with a Yazidi slave of his, he had tried to escape to Idlib in late 2017 along with a wife and his security guards, but returned midway due to fear of an attempt on his life. According to her, he later first stayed Hajin for a week before travelling to Dashisha where she stayed for four months at the home of his father-in-law Abu Abdullah al-Zubaie. She stated that he would only move around in night while disguised along with five of his guards, stating she last met him in spring 2018 before a new master took her away. [135]

Baghdadi's brother-in-law Mohamad Ali Sajit on an interview with Al Arabiya described him as a "nervous wreck" during the last months of his life, suspecting ISIL governors of betrayal. He stated that he met Baghdadi for the first time in Hajin in late 2017 and the final time in the desert located along Iraq-Syria border. Per him, Baghdadi only traveled with five to seven confidantes which included: Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, his security head Abu Sabah, al-Zubaie who was killed in March 2019 and ISIL's former wali of Iraq called Tayseer, alias Abu al-Hakim. Sajit stated that while in hiding, he always kept a suicide vest with him and also ordered others to do the same, sometimes disguised himself as a shepherd and only al-Muhajir used a mobile phone. Once, they hid Baghdadi in a pit to save him from a possible raid along the Iraq-Syria border. Baghdadi's diabetes had worsened due to constantly trying to evade capture per Sajit and he didn't fast during Ramadan, nor let his associates fast. [135]

Early reports of death, bodily harm, and arrest

According to media reports, al-Baghdadi was wounded on 18 March 2015 during a coalition airstrike on the al-Baaj District, in the Nineveh Governorate, near the Syrian border. His wounds were apparently so serious that the top ISIL leaders had a meeting to discuss who would replace him if he died. According to reports, by 22 April al-Baghdadi had not yet recovered enough from his injuries to resume daily control of ISIL. [136] The US Department of Defense said that al-Baghdadi had not been the target of the airstrikes, and "we have no reason to believe it was Baghdadi." [137] On 22 April 2015, Iraqi government sources reported that Abu Ala al-Afri, the self-proclaimed caliph's deputy and a former Iraqi physics teacher, had been installed as the stand-in leader while Baghdadi recuperated from his injuries. [138]

  • April 2015: The Guardian reported that al-Baghdadi was recovering from the severe injuries which he had received during the airstrike on 18 March 2015, in a part of Mosul. It was also reported that a spinal injury which had left him paralyzed meant that he might never be able to fully resume direct command of ISIL. [139] By 13 May, ISIL fighters had warned they would retaliate for al-Baghdadi's injury, which the Iraqi Defense Ministry believed would be carried out through attacks in Europe. [citation needed]
  • 20 July 2015: The New York Times wrote that rumors that al-Baghdadi had been killed or injured earlier in the year had been "dispelled." [140]
  • 11 October 2015: the Iraqi air force claimed to have bombed al-Baghdadi's convoy in the western Anbar province close to the Syrian border while he was heading to Al-Karābilah to attend an ISIL meeting, the location of which was also said to be bombed. His fate was not immediately confirmed. [141] There was some subsequent speculation that he may not have been present in the convoy at all. [142]
  • 9 June 2016: Iraqi State TV claimed that al-Baghdadi had been wounded in a US airstrike in Northern Iraq. Coalition spokesmen said they could not confirm the reports. [143]
  • 14 June 2016: several Middle Eastern media outlets claimed that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a US airstrike in Raqqa on 12 June. Coalition spokesmen said they could not confirm the reports. [144][145]The Independent however, later stated that these reports of Baghdadi's death were based on a digitally altered image claiming to be a media statement from ISIL. [146]
  • 3 October 2016: Various media outlets claimed that al-Baghdadi and 3 senior ISIL leaders were poisoned by an assassin but still alive. [147]
  • 18 April 2017: some media reported that al-Baghdadi was arrested in Syria. Citing the European Department for Security and Information (DESI), several media outlets reported that al-Baghdadi was apprehended by Syrian and Russian joint forces. [148][149][150] However, the RussianForeign Ministry told Rudaw they did not have knowledge of the news and were not aware of his arrest. [151]
  • 11 June 2017: Syrian state TV claimed al-Baghdadi had been killed in the artillery strike that was backed by the US. [152]
  • 16 June 2017: Russian media reported that al-Baghdadi might have been killed in a Russian air strike near Raqqa, Syria, on 28 May [153][154] along with 30 mid-level ISIL leaders and 300 other fighters. The Russian claims to have killed 330 ISIL fighters including Baghdadi did not match reports from Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently and Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which found 17 or 18 civilian deaths and possibly 10 ISIL fighter deaths from an airstrike against buses south of Raqqa on 28 May. [155] The United States cast doubt on the claim, noting a lack of independent evidence. [156][157]
  • 23 June 2017: Russian politician Viktor Ozerov stated that al-Baghdadi's death was almost "100% certain." [158] Iran later claimed to confirm Russia's claim that Al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike. [159]
  • 29 June 2017: The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the Iranian government's official media, published an article quoting a representative for Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Quds Force, stating that al-Baghdadi was "definitely dead." IRNA removed this quotation in an updated version of this article. [160]
  • 11 July 2017: Iraqi news agency Al Sumaria stated on its website that ISIL had circulated a brief statement in Tal Afar that Baghdadi was dead. [161] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed it had "confirmed information" of his death. [162] The US Department of Defense stated it was trying to confirm the new reports of his death. [163] The Kurdish counter-terrorism official Lahur Talabany told Reuters he was "99 percent" sure Baghdadi was alive and hiding in Raqqa. [164] The search was reported to still be ongoing by The Guardian in January 2018. [165]
  • 28 July 2017: Drone expert and former intelligence soldier Brett Velicovich, described multiple covert missions [166] in which his special operations team led the hunt for al-Baghdadi immediately after they killed his predecessor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi in April 2011. One of those missions described an opportunity to capture al-Baghdadi when he was discovered via drone meeting ISIL associates in downtown Baghdad⁠—⁠a mission that was ultimately delayed due to State Department rules of engagement at the time. [167][168] Velicovich was further questioned by Fox News about the reports of al-Baghdadi's death after a Russian government claim of having killed him in Syria, during which Velicovich stated that he did not believe the claims and if he was dead the US Government would have announced it. [169]
  • 23 August 2018: Al-Furqan, an ISIL media outlet, released an audio statement "Glad Tidings to the Steadfast" on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice). The statement was made by Baghdadi, ending the speculation about his purported death. [170]
  • 29 April 2019: A video emerged of Baghdadi on ISIS's media network Al Furqan praising the perpetrators of the 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings. [171]

On 26 October 2019, US Joint Special Operations Command's (JSOC) 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D) (commonly known as Delta Force), along with soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) conducted a raid through air space controlled by Russia and Turkey into the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria on the border with Turkey to capture al-Baghdadi. [172] [173] US President Donald Trump and his officials stated that while being hunted by American military canines and after being cornered in a tunnel, al-Baghdadi died by self-detonating a suicide vest, killing three young children, reportedly his own, as well. [174] [175] The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, later revised the number of children killed to two. [176] The raid was launched based on a CIA Special Activities Division's intelligence effort that located the leader of ISIS. [177] [17] This operation was conducted during the withdrawal of US forces from northeast Syria. [178] [179]

President Trump announced on 27 October 2019 that American forces used helicopters, jets and drones through airspace controlled by Russia and Turkey. [180] He said that "Russia treated us great. Iraq was excellent. We really had great cooperation" and Turkey had been informed of the operation prior to its commencement. [175] He also thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and the Syrian Kurdish forces for their support. [175] According to multiple sources, the video footage presented to President Trump in the situation room did not contain audio. [181] [182]

The Turkish Defence Ministry confirmed on 27 October that Turkish and US military authorities exchanged and coordinated information ahead of an attack in Syria's Idlib. [183] [184] Fahrettin Altun, a senior aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also stated, among other things, that "Turkey was proud to help the United States, our NATO ally, bring a notorious terrorist to justice" and that Turkey "will continue to work closely with the United States and others to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations." [185] Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to say if the United States had told Russia about the raid in advance but said that its result if confirmed, represented a serious contribution by the United States to combat terrorism. [186] Russia previously said they may have killed him in an airstrike on 4 apartment buildings in Raqqa city on 28 May 2017 but were at that time still seeking confirmation. [187] [188] DNA profiling was done immediately, confirming his identity. [175]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, said during a Pentagon briefing that "the disposal of his [al-Baghdadi's] remains has been done and is complete and was handled appropriately," initially adding that Washington had no plans to release images of his death, but later revealed footage of the raid during a briefing on 30 October. [189] [190] Baghdadi was buried at sea and afforded Islamic rites, according to three anonymous U.S. officials [191] [192] [193] [194] and General Frank McKenzie. [195]

ISIL's propaganda arm confirmed his death via Telegram on 31 October and announced Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as the new leader of the group. [19] [196]


In September 2019, a statement attributed to ISIL's propaganda arm, the Amaq news agency, claimed that Abdullah Qardash was named as al-Baghdadi's successor. [197] [198] Analysts dismissed this statement as a fabrication, and relatives were reported as saying that Qardash died in 2017. [199] Rita Katz, a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of SITE Intelligence, noted that the alleged statement used a different font when compared to other statements and it was never distributed on Amaq or ISIL channels. [200] Two other individuals, the Saudi Abu Saleh al-Juzrawi and the Tunisian Abu Othman al-Tunsi, were also named as possible candidates to succeed al-Baghdadi, [199] [201] who were close to Baghdadi and are believed to have been present in his last video appearance. [202]

On 29 October 2019, Trump stated on social media that al-Baghdadi's "number one replacement" had been killed by American forces, adding: "Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!" [203] While Trump did not specify a name, a U.S. official later confirmed that Trump was referring to ISIL spokesman and senior leader Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir, [204] who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria two days earlier. [205] On 31 October, an IS outlet on Telegram named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as Baghdadi's successor. [206]


Asma Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi and Israa Rajab Mahal Al-Qaisi

Reuters, quoting tribal sources in Iraq, reported Baghdadi had three wives, two Iraqis and one Syrian. [207] The Iraqi Interior Ministry said that al-Baghdadi had two wives, Asma Fawzi Mohammed al-Dulaimi (sometimes referred to as "Al-Qubaysi" or "al-Kubaysi" [208] ) and Israa Rajab Mahal Al-Qaisi. [209] However, in 2016 Fox News reported, based on local media, that Saja al-Dulaimi was al-Baghdadi's most powerful wife. [210]

On 27 October 2019, when it was said al-Baghdadi died, it was reported that two of Baghdadi's wives were also killed, wearing suicide vests that had not detonated. [211] [212] This was confirmed by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. [213]

In November 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that they had captured Asma. A Turkish official stated that she had already been captured on 2 June 2018 in the province of Hatay, along with 10 others. [214]

Diane Kruger

In April 2015, multiple media reports emerged claiming that Baghdadi had married a German teenager on 31 March 2015. [215] On 28 February 2016, Iraqi media reported that she had left ISIL and had fled Iraq along with two other women. Her name was identified as Diane Kruger. [216]

According to reports in the Iraqi media, Diane Kruger was married to him during October 2015 somewhere within Nineveh Governorate. [217]

Sujidah al-Dulaimi

According to several sources, Sujidah (sometimes referred to as "Saja" [218] ) al-Dulaimi was the wife of al-Baghdadi. [219] It was reported the couple had allegedly met and fallen in love online. [219] Sujidah al-Dulaimi was arrested in Syria in late 2013 or early 2014, and was released from a Syrian jail in March 2014 as part of a prisoner swap involving 150 women, in exchange for 13 nuns taken captive by al-Qaeda-linked militants. Also released in March were her two sons and her younger brother. [220] The Iraqi Interior Ministry has said, "There is no wife named Saja al-Dulaimi." [210]

Al-Dulaimi's family allegedly all adhere to ISIL's ideology. Her father, Ibrahim Dulaimi, an ISIL emir in Syria, was reportedly killed in September 2013 during an operation against the Syrian Army in Deir Attiyeh. Her sister, Duaa, was allegedly behind a suicide attack that targeted a Kurdish gathering in Erbil. [221] The Iraq Interior Ministry has said that her brother is facing execution in Iraq for a series of bombings in southern Iraq. [218] [222] The Iraq government, however, said that al-Dulaimi is the daughter of an active member of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. [223]

In late November 2014, al-Dulaimi was arrested and held for questioning by Lebanese authorities, along with two sons and a young daughter. They were traveling on false documents. [207] The children were held in a care center while al-Dulaimi was interrogated. [223]

The capture was a joint intelligence operation by Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, with the US assisting the last. Al-Dulaimi's potential intelligence value is unknown. An unnamed intelligence source told The New York Times that during the Iraq war, when the Americans captured a wife of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, "We got little out of her, and when we sent her back, Zarqawi killed her." [218] As of December 2014 [update] , al-Baghdadi's family members were seen by the Lebanese authorities as potential bargaining chips in prisoner exchanges. [224]

In the clearest explanation yet of al-Dulaimi's connection to al-Baghdadi, Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk told Lebanon's MTV channel that "Dulaimi is not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wife currently. She has been married three times: first to a man from the former Iraqi regime, with whom she had two sons." [223] Other sources identify her first husband as Fallah Ismail Jassem, a member of the Rashideen Army, who was killed in a battle with the Iraqi Army in 2010. [220] [225] [226] Machnouk continued, "Six years ago she married Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for three months, and she had a daughter with him. Now, she is married to a Palestinian and she is pregnant with his child." The Minister added, "We conducted DNA tests on her and the daughter, which showed she was the mother of the girl, and that the girl is [Baghdadi's] daughter, based on DNA from Baghdadi from Iraq." [223] [227]

Al-Monitor reported a Lebanese security source as saying that al-Dulaimi had been under scrutiny since early 2014. He said that Jabhat al-Nusra "had insisted back in March on including her in the swap that ended the kidnapping of the Maaloula nuns. The negotiators said on their behalf that she was very important, and they were ready to cancel the whole deal for her sake." He added, "It was later revealed by Abu Malik al-Talli, one of al-Nusra's leaders, that she was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's wife." [228]

On 9 December 2014, al-Dulaimi and her current Palestinian husband, Kamal Khalaf, were formally arrested after the Lebanese Military Court issued warrants and filed charges for belonging to a terrorist group, holding contacts with terrorist organizations, and planning to carry out terrorist acts. [229] In December 2015, the Lebanese government exchanged al-Dulaimi and her daughter for Lebanese soldiers being held by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front in a prisoner swap deal. [230] Her brother is reported to be a Nusra member according to a Lebanese security source. [231]

Dulaimi in an interview conducted by Expressen in 2016, described him as a family man, but said he rarely talked with her. He stated that she had a co-wife while they were married. Dulaimi claimed that she ran away after becoming pregnant because she was not happy with him, stating the last time they talked was in 2009 and the two had divorced. [231] She now resides in Lebanon. [232]


On 4 November 2019, Turkey announced that they captured al-Baghdadi's older sister, Rasmiya Awad, near the town of Azaz. [233] Her identity however, has not been verified as of yet. [234] [235]

Baghdadi's brother Jumah acted as a courier for him according to anonymous Iraqi intelligence agents in an interview with The National, delivering messages to and fro between ISIL militants in Turkey and his brother. A Western intelligence agent stated that they hadn't apprehended him yet deliberately, so he could lead them to Baghdadi. [236] According to Iraqi officials in interview with The Guardian, the wives of Juma and another brother Ahmad have been smuggled out to Turkey through Idlib province. [237]

According to an investigation by news outlet Al-Monitor based on an interview with Abu Ahmad, who claimed to have known al-Baghdadi since the 1990s, al-Baghdadi's brothers are named Shamsi, Jomaa, and Ahmad. [238] Jomaa is reported to be the closest to him and is also said to have been his bodyguard. Shamsi and al-Baghdadi were reported to have a dispute over Baghdadi's decision to join the insurgency in Iraq. [39] The former is reported to under the custody of Iraqi authorities and suffering from severe health issues. [238] Personal information on Ahmad is scarce other than his money problems. [39]


According to a reporter for The Guardian, al-Baghdadi married in Iraq around the year 2000 after finishing his doctorate. The son of this marriage was 11 years old in 2014. [26]

A girl named Hagar born in 2008, who was detained in Lebanon in 2014 with her mother Saja al-Dulaimi, is allegedly al-Baghdadi's daughter. [218] [223] [239]

Al-Baghdadi's son Hudhayfah al-Badri was killed in action in 2018 during the Syrian Civil War while taking part in an Inghimasi-style attack on the Syrian Army and Russian forces in Homs Governorate. [240]

During the Barisha raid, three of Baghdadi's children died with him in a dead-end tunnel after he detonated his vest, according to President Donald Trump. [241] General Frank McKenzie however later said only two children had died. [242]

Extended family

After Saja al-Dulaimi's arrest in 2014, a connection was made to her sister, Duaa Amid Ibrahim (aged 24 in 2016), who was arrested with a suicide vest entering Erbil in about 2011. [243] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's sister-in-law remains in a Kurdish jail. [210]

The Head of the Khalidiya Council in Al Anbar Governorate reported in February 2016: "Today, Iraqi Air Force conducted an airstrike on the so-called ISIL sharia court in Albu Bali area in Khalidiya Island east of Ramadi. The strike resulted in the death of Abu Ahmed al-Samarrai, the nephew of the ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, along with eight of his companions, as well as Adel al-Bilawi, the Military Commander of Albu Bali area." [244]

Muhammad Ali Sajit or Muhammad Ali Sajid al-Zobaie:

Reported as brother-in-law of Baghdadi, being the husband of a daughter of Baghdadi's father-in-law Abu Abdullah al-Zubaie. He claims to have acted as a courier for the ISIL leader, delivering messages to the group's commanders in Iraq. Caught in June 2019 by Iraqi forces. [135] [245]

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