IMAGINE for a minute that you are in the Makkah of pagan times, over 1400 years ago. The Ka’ba is full of idols, revered by people to such a degree that they are willing to kill anyone who dares to question their authority, or suggest that their help can neither bring benefit nor harm. Only one man in the history of Makkah has had the ‘temerity’ to do so: He claims that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and that he is His Messenger and receives revelation from the Heavens above.

One morning, Abu Jahl, a pagan leader and sworn enemy of the Messenger of Allah, spots him sitting in the shade of the Ka’ba, deep in thought. ‘’So, what’s the latest news from heaven?’’ he inquires sarcastically.

To his astonishment, the Prophet (peace be upon him) – fresh from a miraculous journey where he was taken from Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Inviolable Mosque) in Makkah to Masjid Al-Aqsa (The Farthest Mosque) in Jerusalem in the space of a night – starts narrating an account of the wondrous signs he was shown in the Heavens and Earth.

Abu Jahl listens incredulously for a while, and thinks this is his chance to prove what the pagans have been claiming all along: that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is mentally unsound (Allah’s refuge is sought). He asks the Prophet: “Will you repeat what you just told me to others?” When the Prophet agrees, a huge crowd gathers around him, jeering and shaking their heads in disbelief at such an impossible claim.

Within minutes, word gets around and all of Makkah reverberates with the story of the Messenger’s claim of going to Jerusalem, ascending to Heaven and returning within a night. When the story reaches Abdullah Bin Abi Quhafah, his first reaction is to think that the pagans have concocted another lie against the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, when the person who brought him the news insisted that the Prophet himself has said this, he said: “If he has said this, then it must be true.”

When people expressed surprise that he would believe such an ‘outrageous’ story, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said: ‘What is so surprising? I believe him when he says something even more incredible – that he receives revelations from Allah. Is this something more wonderful than that?”

Saying this, he hurried to Masjid Al-Haram, where the Prophet (peace upon him) was answering questions and describing the caravan he saw on his way and the mosque at Jerusalem where he had prayed.

The descriptions were a clear proof for the pagans that what the Prophet (peace be upon him) was saying was indeed true. When he finished his account, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said quietly and with full conviction: “I believe you, O Messenger of Allah. You always speak the truth.”

From this point on, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called Abu Bakr ‘As-Siddeeq’ – one who testifies to the truth – and it came to be his most cherished appellation.

The Prophet’s ‘Night Journey’ (Al-Isra’ w’al M’iraj) was a turning point in the life of the believers, in that it separated the wheat from the chaff: while the true believers were consolidated in their faith, some others left the fold of Islam refusing to believe in the Unseen as narrated by the Prophet.

Interestingly, Belief in the Truth that the Prophet (peace be upon him) came with, continues to be a good indicator of one’s faith even today. How many “modernists” have assumed positions as the mouthpieces of “moderate Islam”, who refute the narrations of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and argue over affairs of life and aspects of the Unseen, in an effort to cut and prune Islamic beliefs to fit in with their own perceptions of right and wrong? How many are those who are misguided by their specious arguments!

It is little wonder that Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, was appointed the Prophet’s Successor (Khalifah) by the consensus of the Muslims after the Prophet’s demise.
Allah Says: “And We made from them leaders, giving guidance by Our Command, while they had Sabr (patient perseverance) and had Yaqeen (certainty) in Our Signs.” (Qur’an, 32:24)

It is strange that today, we jockey for positions of leadership and prominence in our communities and do not hesitate to speak on behalf of others without trying to develop either of these two qualities.