Who was the first person to accept Islām?

Of the free men, the first person to accept Islām was Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu. The first woman to bring faith in the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ was Sayyidatunā Khadījah RadiyAllahu ‘Anha. The first child was Sayyidunā ʿAlī RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu; the first from slaves was Sayyidunā Bilāl RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu; and Sayyidunā Zayd ibn Ḥārithah RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu was the first from the freed slaves. Sayyidunā ʿUthmān al-Ghanī RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu, Sayyidunā Saʿd ibn Abī Waqqās RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu, Sayyidunā Ṭalḥah RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu, Sayyidunā Zubayr RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu and Sayyidunā ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu then accepted Islām. After this, more and more people began accepting Islām gradually.

Open Propagation of Islām & the Islām of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu

Initially, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ invited people to Islām discreetly. Then the āyah فَاصدَع بِمَا تُؤمَر was revealed, in which there is the command of Allāh ﷻ: “O Beloved, that with which you have been commanded, inform it publicly.” Thus, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ began preaching Islām and denouncing idol-worship openly. When the kuffār heard the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ denouncing idols, they became arch enemies of the Muslims and began persecuting them.

Sayyidunā Bilāl RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu was the slave of one of the leaders of the Quraysh Umayyah ibn Khalf. Umayyah would torture Sayyidunā Bilāl — he would tie stones on him and lay him on the burning sand in the scorching heat of noon, and he would say, “Leave the belief of Tawḥīd (oneness) and affirm the divinity of lāt and ʿuzzā.” He would fall unconscious from the unbearable pain, however, when he regained consciousness, he would proclaim, “Aḥad! Aḥad!” meaning “I believe in only Allāh ﷻ, the One who has no partner.”

When Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu saw the difficulties Sayyidunā Bilāl had to endure because of accepting Islām, he bought Sayyidunā Bilāl from Umayyah in exchange for one slave and a considerable amount of money. He freed Sayyidunā Bilāl on the condition that he remain in the service of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ. Sayyidunā Bilāl said to him, “I will remain in the service of the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ whether you keep this condition or you do not keep it.” Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu freed many other slaves and maids, and he spent unimaginable wealth for the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ. The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “No one’s wealth has given benefit to me as much as the amount of benefit the wealth of Abū Bakr has given me.”

From this incident, Allāh ﷻ sent down Sūrat al-Layl in which there is great praise of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu. Allāh ﷻ describes Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq as اَتقَى meaning “the most pious”. Similar to how Allāh ﷻ promised His Messenger ﷺ of pleasing him ﷺ in Sūrat al-Ḍuḥā (93: 5): وَلَسَوفَ يُعطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرضَى meaning “And indeed your Lord will soon give you so much that you will become pleased.” [Kanz al-Īmān], Allāh ﷻ, through the Messenger ﷺ, promised Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu, وَلَسَوفَ يَرضَى, “Allāh will soon be pleased.”

Excellence of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu

The ʿUlamā’ have proven the pre-eminence of Sayyidunā Abū Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu from Sūrat al-Layl (92: 17-18), that Allāh ﷻ states he is اَتقَى (the most pious):

وَسَيُجَنَّبُهَا الاَتقَى الَّذِي يُؤتِي مَالَه يَتَزَكَّى

And he who is the most pious will be kept extremely far from it [Hell]. He who gives his money, that he be purified. [Kanz al-Iman]

In this āyah, اَتقَى means Sayyidunā Abū Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu.

And Allāh ﷻ states in Sūrah Ḥujurāt (49: 13):

اِنَّ اَكرَمَكُم عِندَ اللهِ اَتقٰكُم

Indeed the most honourable of you to Allāh is he who is the most pious of you [Kanz al-Iman]

By taking these two verses together, one can deduce that the greatest and most honourable of the Ummah to Allāh ﷻ is Sayyidunā Abū Bakr Al-Ṣiddīq RadiyAllahu ‘Anhu.

Muftī ʿInāyat Aḥmad Kākorawī Raḥmatullāhi ʿAlayh