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Bilal and his story of triumph

 

 

Anyone looking for evidence of social equality and racial equity in Islam should look no further than the wonderful and inspiring story of the life of Bilal Ibn Rabah a black slave believed to be from Habasha (Present day Ethiopia) who rose to prominent status as a beloved sahabih of the Holy prophet (S.A.W) and became the  first “Muezzin” (caller to prayer) chosen by the prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) himself.

 

Born into slavery in Mecca, Bilal had no other option but to become a slave himself and served under his master Umayyah ibn Khalaf. He was so hardworking and trustworthy that he was trusted with the keys to the idols of Arabia before his conversion to Islam. 

The tall and dark man as he was described converted into Islam when it was relatively unpopular, he was captivated at the early stage by the beautiful message of the Holy prophet (S.A.W) and immediately denounced idol worship. This news did not sit well with his master Umayyah who subjected him to all sorts of torture. He tied him and dragged him all around the Mecca thinking she could break his allegiance to his new faith, he kept saying “Ahad Ahad”(God is absolute). Not satisfied with dragging him around the Mecca he decided to up his game and ordered that he be stretched in the hot desert sand so the sun could hit him, she asked for a very heavy stone to be placed on this chest but he still did not break. As Almighty Allah would have it word got to the Prophet (S.A.W) about the torture who then sent Abu Bakr to negotiate with Umayyah. He bought Bilal from him and freed him from the bounds of slavery.

As to how he came about been the first “Muezzin” (caller to prayer), after the muslims had migrated from Makkah to Medina, Salah and Zakat was institutionalized and bells were rung whenever it was time for salat.  One day Abdallah ibn Zayd came to the messenger "O Messenger of Allah, I had a dream last night. A man wearing two green garments came to me holding a bell, so I offered to buy it. When he asked me what I wanted it for, I told him that it was to summon people to salah, whereupon he offered to show me a better way. It was to say four times, 'Allahu Akbar', then to say twice, 'ash-shadu alla ilaha illa Allah', then twice, 'ash-hadu anna Muhammad ur-rasulullah', then twice, 'hayyah 'alas-salah', then twice, 'hayyah 'alal-falah', then 'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, laa ilaha illa Allah.' The prophet (S.A.W) said to him indeed that is the true vision from Allah, he said go to Bilal and teach him for he has a beautiful and melodious voice and that was how he started to call the adhan.

Bilal came face to face to his former boss Umayyah during the battle of Badr.. The Quraish have been heavily defeated and a lot of the prisoners were taken one of which was Umayya. When Bilal saw him he was overwhelmed with emotions and cried out saying “May I not live if he lives”.  He could not attack him because he was the prisoner of Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf but upon hearing the words he uttered one of the sahabahs took a sword and killed Umayyah.

Bilal was never the same after the death of the holy Prophet (S.A.W), he moved away from Medina. He asked the Khalifah Abu Bakr to allow him go to ash- sham for jihad. He called the adhan only twice for the rest of his life , first was when Umar visited  ash –sham and the last was when he visited the prophets tomb. 

 

He died in Alleppo  but his memory  remains fresh in the minds of Muslims all over the world.  The voice of Bilal who first called the adhan that we have come to know very well.