Children’s Own Page [Hazrat Abu Bakr’s (rta) love and respect for this father, Abu Quhafa]
by Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Khan
The Light (Pakistan), 1st August 1925 Issue (Vol. 4, No. 15, pp. 5–6)
Dear Boys [and Girls],
It is the second year after the Holy Prophet’s [Muhammad’s] death. Abu Bakr, the Truthful, is the Commander of the Faithful. He has succeeded in crushing the insurrections of the unruly Arabs who were misled to believe that all authority and government had been interred [buried] with the Prophet’s body. The whole of Arabia has begun to feel the grip of the strongman at the helm of affairs, and peace and quiet is the order of the day once more. Even trans-frontier governments have a secret misgiving that they can no longer transgress with impunity upon the despicable Arabs’ lands as heretofore they were wont to do.
The news that the Commander of the Faithful will take a journey this year to the holy shrine — the Kabah — for the performance of the pilgrimage gets currency, and on aerial wings reaches the city of Mecca [Makkah] long before the pilgrims arrive or set out. It causes a stir all round. Beautiful stories and wonderful anecdotes of the resolution and bravery, and simplicity and magnanimity of the kingly brother and kinsman who is ruling vast dominions from the distant palm city of Medina are carried from door to door and recited and repeated with unmixed pleasure and pride. They look forward expectantly to the day when they would be able to feast their eyes on the face of their illustrious kinsman before whom the armies of the Kaisers and Chosroes quail.
It is the eve of the pilgrimage. Old Abu Kahafa [Abu Quhafa] sits coiled up by his ancestral hearth. The news has reached him also. He is very, very old indeed, but the prospect of his son’s return has quickened his blood and his imagination goes spinning along. He is perhaps ruminating over his big son’s career even now. All the events of the son’s early life mixed with those of his own are flashing before his mind with lightning speed. The ups and downs of the son’s life are being clearly indexed by the contortions of his sightless and wrinkled face in quick succession. He thinks of his birth, infancy, boyhood and youth. The thought of his sicknesses and failures saddens him. His happiness and successes brighten him. Then there is a serenity which is an indication of the period when his son took to business and became a prosperous and respectable merchant and citizen of Mecca. This is followed by a protracted wistfulness. He is probably going through the trials and tribulations which his son underwent with his friend and leader Muhammad (pbuh).
But stay! The revered old face has assumed a strange pale and painful look. Yea! It is calm again. His son and the Prophet [Muhammad] are out of danger. They have fled. The Quraish have failed, and that forever. Then there is a blank. News of the infant commonwealth of Medina filters slowly through so many leagues and hostile sources. Recollections of it are dim and hazy. Casualties on both sides in the battles of Badr and Uhad are too painful to recall. One great event however! Muhammad, the refugee, enters the city with his ten thousand angels. His large-heartedness is unequalled and unprecedented. It brings a revolution of thought. The whole city adopts his faith. Foes of yesterday turn friends and the brother embraces his brother once again with filial love and redoubled affection. Such a day was never known.
Alas! The Prophet is dead.
The next messenger brings the tidings of Abu Bakr’s election to the Caliphate. The news is, however, muffled in the war drums of the Arabs. The old man’s jaw is relaxed through sheer anxiety and suspense which follows. He is fighting his son’s battles over again. His vision pictures his son before his mind, challenging his opponents in dozens together. He clearly sees him in single combat breasting one, kicking the other, shouldering the third, and felling them all to the ground one after the other, till humiliated and humbled they beg for peace and acknowledge their allegiance to the commonwealth. Yes, his son has licked every one of his foes and has walked out victorious — a much greater man. He is the Commander of the Faithful. He in the King of the Arabs. His armies are invincible. He must have a galaxy of commanders, statesmen and men of letters around him with the pomp of the neighbouring great monarchs of whom the old man has heard.
Thus the fancy and imagination of old Abu Kahafa was urging him on and on in which he himself shrank smaller and smaller and his son’s personality rose taller and taller till he became dizzy to think of it anymore. He was wondering how his son who was a great king now would meet him. Whether he would come home or would call him to his levee [a formal reception of visitors or guests (as at a royal court)]. These and similar thoughts were taking him over hot iron and he was beginning to move uneasily when there came the sound of
from the outer door as if someone is seating a camel. The next moment it was whispered in the old man’s ear that his big son had come to him. The abruptness of the meeting staggered him and before he was himself again his son was on his shoulder. The man of a century caught the man of his sixties in close embrace. Their silvery beards mixed in happy unison and many were the tears which were shed. The son complained,
“Father, they have placed on my shoulders the heavy burden of the Caliphate under which I am sinking. Pray, pray for me,”
and the patriarch soothed and comforted him, totally forgetting that his son was a great monarch and the greatest statesman of the day.
What a meeting, dear boys! What a father, and what a son!
Editor [Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Khan]