Abu Bakr wasn’t poor like Abu Dharr or Abu Hurayrah, but he was better than them. He wasn’t perpetually tortured like Khabab and Bilal, or Sumayyah and Yasir, but he was better than them. He wasn’t severely injured in battle like Talha or Abu Ubaydah or Khalid, but he was better than them. He wasn’t martyred like Hamza or Umar or Uthman or Ali, but he was better than them!
So what was the secret that made Abu Bakr better than everyone?
Bakr ibn Abdullah Al-Muzani said, “Abu Bakr didn’t precede them due to offering a lot of prayer and fasting, but because of something that settled in his heart.”
It’s the actions of the heart you see. That’s what made his faith outweigh the faith of the entire ummah.
We learn that faith (iman) is actions of the heart combined with statement of the tongue and actions of the limbs, but we ignored the actions of the heart even though that is its essence and core.
Every act of worship has an essence and a physical manifestation.
So the manifestation of the prayer is the standing and bowing and prostration, but its essence is the khushu’ (the humility, awe, reverence, concentration) of Allah.
The manifestation of fasting is to withhold from everything that breaks the fast from sunrise to sunset but it’s essence is taqwa (consciousness) of Allah.
The manifestation of hajj is the tawaf and sa’ee and standing on Arafat and..and..and..but it’s essence is honoring the symbols of Allah.
The manifestation of du’a is the raising of hands and praise and request but it’s essence is the brokenness and need of Allah.
The manifestation of Dhikr is saying Allahu Akbar and AlHamdulillah, and La illaha ila Allah etc, but it’s essence is the remembrance, reverence and love of Allah.
For on the day of Judgment it is the hearts that will be exposed, and only those who come with a serene heart, and a heart that is repentant who will be saved on that day.
Let us then remember to monitor our hearts as severely as we monitor our actions and remember that in this world we traverse distances with our feet, but in the hereafter distances are only traversed by our hearts.