Did Medina Mistook The Prophet For Abu Bakr? - Our Prophet 5 - Road To Medina
So the Prophet stays in Quba, in that village for about 10 to 15 days. He stays in that village. Imam 'Ali 'alayhi as-salam, has now arrived with Lady Fatimah 'alayha as-salam, his [Prophet's] daughter; with his mother Fatimah bint Asad and with the cousin of the Prophet, Fatimah bint Zubayr ibn Abdul Muttalib. When they arrive and the mosque is...the construction of the mosque starts, the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, decides to enter the city of Madinah itself.
Now you can just imagine the excitement in the city of Madinah after all these years. Finally, Rasul Allah, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi, the Messenger of God, is coming to our city. There was so much joy in the streets. People were anxiously waiting. It has been about three years that the people of Madinah are now quite familiar with the Qur'an, with the teachings of Islam. They had already pledged allegiance in Makkah to the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi.
Some companions of the Prophet had already settled in Madinah, teaching people the Qur'an. So they were anxiously waiting. People had already started to establish Islamic rituals, praying to Allah, reciting the Holy Qur'an. The people of Madinah had already taken the step to get rid of the idols before the arrival of the Prophet. They had destroyed the idols and even burned them to demonstrate their 'tawhid' and belief in the one God.
So the people of Madinah were now really ready for tawhid [monotheism]. They had rejected idolatry and worshipping idols. And they are now anxiously waiting for the Prophet. Now the Prophet departs Quba, which is about 2 to 3 miles away from the center of Madinah, and he is going north to enter the city itself.
Now some sources, like Bukhari, Musnad Ahmad, Sirah Halabiyyah, they describe to us something that we find problematic when the Prophet was entering Madinah. They say that Abu Bakr was with the Prophet, and they were entering together. In fact, one source states they were riding on the same camel, both of them on one camel, entering the city of Madinah. Now the way that they describe it, is questionable. Why?
Here is what they say. Their claim is that when the Prophet was entering Madinah, no one really recognized the Prophet and everyone recognized Abu Bakr. Oh, we recognize him, this is Abu Bakr. Where is the Prophet? In fact, some of them thought he was the Prophet because, you know, he had that glorious, I do not know, appearance. He had that shaybah, as they say. His beard had kind of become white. And their sources describe Abu Bakr as being a Shaykh.
Now Shaykh in linguistically, what does shaykh mean? In the Arabic language? An elderly man, right? Someone who is like over 50, 60 in Arabic, we call him shaykh. And the Prophet is being described in these sources as 'ghulam' [young man]. So when the Prophet enters Madinah, there was a ghulam [young man] who is the Prophet and a shaykh who is Abu Bakr. Now ghulam in the Arabic language is used to refer to what kind of age group? Not necessarily kids, no, young man. Exactly. You would describe a young man by saying ghulam, meaning twenties, thirties. Even we could use it for forties, fine, but not 50's and 60's.
That is how they entered the city of Madinah. And Abu Bakr, who was getting all this attention until finally Abu Bakr does something. People are like, Ah, he is not the Prophet, that other guy with him is the Prophet. He is sitting next to the Prophet. The sun is now directly above the Prophet. Abu Bakr comes and he shades the Prophet. He puts something to protect the Prophet from the sun. Then they realize, okay, that must be the Prophet, because Abu Bakr is serving that man, so he must be the Prophet. Now this is the account that we get from some of these sources.
How do you feel about these accounts? Even without even examining, like the chain of narration, let us just logically examine them. Why do not they make sense?
[If they recognize Abu Bakr, you do not mistake him for someone else]. First of all, they recognize him, you do not mistake him for someone else. But this could be their argument that Abu Bakr, maybe they did not know exactly who he is, but at least like his face was familiar to them. The Prophet was not a familiar face to them. That could be their argument.
[They know that they have not seen the Prophet before so that disqualifies the one they have seen]. That is one argument. Another argument.
[The Prophet was still in Makkah the people of Madinah would come meet him and see him]. Exactly. That is a very valid point. The Prophet was known, his face was known to many people. Remember, the Prophet would actually meet tribes in Makkah when he wanted to introduce them to Islam.
In fact, many people from Madinah had already pledged allegiance to the Prophet. That is why he came to Madinah. They had recognized his face. Now they will come and say, yeah, but Abu Bakr, he would travel sometimes to Syria. He would pass through Madinah.
Same with the Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi. His mother is from Madinah. He has got uncles and aunts there. On his trips to Syria, as we saw before, when he would go on those business trips, he would pass through the city of Madinah. So how is it possible that they recognize the face of Abu Bakr? Bas, haram, the face of the Prophet, the greatest light God puts in any face, they do not recognize it? That is number one.
Num,ber two, these sources indicate Abu Bakr looked like a shaykh, and the Prophet like a young man. Who was older the Prophet or Abu Bakr? Who was older? The Prophet salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi. He was two years older than Abu Bakr. Because Abu Bakr was born 573 A.D. The Prophet salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi two years after 'am al-Feel [The Year of the Elephant]. Two years and a half after the incident of the elephant. The Prophet was born 'am al-Feel 570 A.D.. So the Prophet was actually two years older than Abu Bakr.
But these sources are claiming Abu Bakr looked like an elderly man and the Prophet was a young man. What is this? The Prophet, the day he entered Madinah, he was 53. You do not use the word ghulam in Arabic to refer to a 53 year old man. Ghulam is a 20 year old man, maximum 30 years old, not a 50 year old man.
So that in itself tells us these narrations are problematic. They are doubtful. Maybe they were forged to give importance to Abu Bakr, that he was the one who, he had that age factor. Because they used this in 'Saqifah', by the way, when they wanted to choose him as select him, they are like, well, he is one of the eldest of the companions let us choose him. So they are trying to give that impression even during the Prophet's life, that he looks like very wise and old. But these are doubtful claims. So that is not something that we can accept.
Number three, we examined before, there are historical sources that state when the Prophet reached Quba with Abu Bakr after leaving the cave. What did Abu Bakr do that same night? He left Quba and he went to Madinah. He was not willing to stay in Quba and in fact, he was frustrated. Why is the Prophet waiting? When the Prophet said I will not enter Madinah until 'Ali ibn Abi Talib comes. So if we take that historical account then Abu Bakr was not even with the Prophet when he entered Madinah, he was already in Madinah.
So now we have conflicting reports that in itself creates a contradiction which makes us doubt these reports. Unless they could argue the following point. They could present the following counterargument.
They could say. Yes, Abu Bakr went to Madinah but then when the Prophet decided to enter Madinah, he came to Quba because Quba is not that far from Madinah. In an hour, you could walk 2, 3 miles is not a lot. In half an hour, if you walk fast, you can get there. He came to Quba and then he entered Madinah. They could use that as a counterargument. But in any case, our sources indicate Abu Bakr was already in Madinah.
Number four, those sources which claim that they were both riding on one camel. Why? What is the justification for that? Because, as we saw in the incident of the cave, each one had a camel. The Imam 'alayhi as-salam, Imam 'Ali, prepared those two camels. Or as we examined, he paid for it. Abu Bakr said I have prepared them. The Prophet told Imam 'Ali pay the amount. So Abu Bakr had his own camel. The Prophet had his own camel. Why are they sitting on one camel? That is not explained. You know, we need an explanation for that.
In any case, we find these reports dubious, how the Prophet salla Allahu 'alayhi wa alihi entered the city of Madinah?