Amid great events, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was ordered to take charge of the Pilgrimage to Makkah in the ninth year after Hijrah. The eighth year after Hijrah witnessed the Conquest of Makkah, the battle of Hunain, the battle of At-Ta’if and many other great incidents. Also, prior to the performance of that Hajj journey, the ninth year after Hijrah witnessed the conversion of the tribe of Thaqif to Islam and the flowing of some Arab delegations to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) proclaiming their conversion to Islam. Following this Pilgrimage of Abu Bakr, the tenth year after Hijrah witnessed an increase of the number of delegations coming to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) such as Arz, `Abdul-Qais, Cindah, Banu Hanifah, etc. This year also witnessed the Farewell Pilgrimage.
Amid these great events, the Pilgrimage of As-Siddiq along with the Muslims had an important legislative position in Islam since during this pilgrimage, the Divine Revelation has come with decisive rulings concerning some matters that will continue as long as Islam remains.
Abu Bakr, Amir of the Pilgrims
In the ninth year after Hijrah, following the Prophet’s return from the battle of Tabuk, he (the Prophet) appointed Abu Bakr to lead three hundred Muslims so as to instruct them rituals of Hajj. Abu Bakr set off to Makkah with those accompanying him; he then proclaimed in people the Prophet’s advice that polytheists are no longer allowed to perform Hajj after this year and no naked person is allowed to perform the Tawaf around the Ka`bah.
The Divine Revelation descended upon the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) with some important verses from Surat At-Tawbah. He dispatched Ali Ibn Abu Talib to Abu Bakr so that he (Ali) may proclaim them (i.e. the Qur’anic verses) on the pilgrims in the season of Hajj.
Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Hamid Ibn Abdur Rahman that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “On the Day of Nahr (10th of Dhul-Hijjah, in the year prior to the Farewell Pilgrimage of the Prophet when Abu Bakr was the leader of the pilgrims in that Hajj) Abu Bakr sent me along with other announcers to Mina to make a public announcement, ‘No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year and no naked person is allowed to perform the Tawaf around the Kabah.’ Then Allah’s Messenger sent Ali to read out Surat Bara’ah (At-Tawbah) to the people; so he made the announcement along with us on the Day of Nahr in Mina, ‘No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year and no naked person is allowed to perform the Tawaf around the Kabah.’”
Books of Sirah (the Prophetic Biography) relate that when Ali set off to meet Abu Bakr, he rode the she-camel of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). On seeing him, Abu Bakr asked, “Have you come as a commander or a messenger?” Ali replied, “Indeed as a messenger.” And he informed Abu Bakr of his mission. So they went on together to Makkah. On the Day of Nahr `Ali rode and recited on people what has been sent down of Surat Bara’ah.
Books of Sunnah relate that when Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) chose `Ali for the mission of reciting Surat Bara’ah on the pilgrims, he said, “No one shall transmit this from me but a man from among my own household.” (Reported by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi). The reason of this was that the Arabs were accustomed to the tradition that no one can undo a knot but the one who did it or a man of the people of his household. That was why he sent his cousin and son-in-law.
The announcers proclaimed the Prophet’s message on people as did `Ali Ibn Abu Talib who was to recite the revealed verses of Surat Bara’ah on the pilgrims in their large gatherings while performing the rituals of Hajj. The gist of his pronouncement was as follows:
1- No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year. This what had been proclaimed by the announcers and that which was included in Surat Bara’ah in Almighty Allah’s saying, [O ye who believe, truly the pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque…] (At-Tawbah 9:28).
Prior to that, Quraish used not to prevent anyone from coming to perform Hajj to the Ka`bah since their economic interests were virtually associated with the Sacred House.
2- No naked person is allowed to perform the Tawaf around the Ka`bah. Because in the Pre-Islamic period of Ignorance, it was a condition that the pilgrim (a man or a woman) who wants to perform Hajj to Makkah to be dressed in the usual garments worn by the Quraishites. Otherwise, he/her should perform Hajj while totally naked. Islam prohibited that bad habit.
3- Giving four months’ respite to those idolaters who had not signed a treaty with the Muslims to come and go in the Arabian Peninsula as they desire, but after that Allah and His Messenger would be free from any obligation towards them. As regards those idolaters who had a special treaty with the Prophet and had kept it faithfully, the treaty was to be held as valid until its term ran out. This meaning was the focus of the mission of `Ali Ibn Abu Talib that he came to proclaim through reciting Surat Bara’ah.
Islam gave respite to the same idolaters who were stubborn in their disbelief, fought against the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) killed people of his household and at the same time they remained on their disbelief despite the victory of the Muslims and the widespread of Islam throughout the Arabian Peninsula . The Muslims had not taken them by surprise. Rather, they gave them a respite so as to make a choice, either to convert to Islam voluntarily or to evacuate their domiciles and depart the Arabian Peninsula that completely converted to Islam after their deep-rooted enmity.
A Divine Arrangement
The question arises now is: Why had not the Prophet himself led the Pilgrimage in the ninth year after Hijrah?
Events developed as follows: Abu Bakr led the Pilgrimage in the ninth year with a few number of Muslims, then, in the following year the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) performed Hajj with more than one hundred thousand Muslims. This was a natural procession of the events because of the following:
1- Prior to the Farewell Pilgrimage, the conditions of the Muslims had not stabilized completely since there were still nearby tribes that remained on their disbelief such as Hawazin, Thaqif, Tai’ and the Romans threatened the borders of the Muslim territories from the north. Then, delegations came to proclaim their conversion to Islam before the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and some battles took place during the eighth and the ninth years after Hijrah that solved this problem. Afterwards, the situation improved in favor of the Muslims and became completely suitable for them to perform a whole pilgrimage with their Prophet without fear (of any enemy).
2- The pilgrimage of Abu Bakr played two important roles in preparing for the Farewell Pilgrimage. First, reciting Surat Bara’ah on the Arab delegations coming from all around the Arabian Peninsula had declared clearly the stance of Muslims towards the remaining Arab idolaters. This pushed them to reconsider the matter and make their decision. And, there was no better gathering than that of Hajj to proclaim through which such a pronouncement.
Second, it put an end to the previous acts that were associated with Hajj during the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance and thus the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) became only busied with clarifying the rituals of Hajj in their pure images that were transmitted from him and followed by the believers at every age.