Companions of the Prophet (PBUH): Bilal Ibn Rabah

companions of the prophet pbuh bilal ibn rabah
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Publié le 15 août 2022, par Samir | 12 h 29 min
Temps de lecture : 6 minutes

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:

« Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah [i.e., they have gone out for Jihad (holy fighting), and showed not their backs to the disbelievers]; of them, some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred); and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed (i.e., they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allah) in the least. » [33:23]

Companions of the Prophet (PBUH): Bilal Ibn Rabah

When we talk about the Muezzin (caller to prayer) of Islam, there is always one name that immediately comes to our mind. In the series of blogs on the ‘Companions of the Prophet,’ Bilal Ibn Rabah is the one we will discuss today. We will learn about the life of this man who inspired millions with his unshakeable faith, integrity, and love for Allah and His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (SAWW).

Bilal Habashi

Bilal was an enslaved Black person, almost certainly the son of enslaved people, and is believed to have been from Abyssinia (now known as Ethiopia). Born into servitude, he probably never expected life to offer him more than hard work, pain, and struggle. However, Bilal walked the earth at a very influential time. He was enslaved in the city of Mecca when an unlettered man began to call the people to worship One God. This man was Muhammad, the Messenger of God. May God praise him, and his message was for all of humanity.

An Enslaved Son

He is generally known as « Bilal Habashi, » but his features were not identical to the Habashi or Zangi. Bilal (RA) was a delightful, very handsome man with a strong appearance. He had a dark complexion and brown eyes. Bilal (RA) had a  light beard and maintained a youthful appearance all his life.

Bilal’s father, Rabah, was an Arab, while his mother, Hamama, was an Abyssinian. Hamama was likely a slave girl from Mecca or Sarat, a town between Yemen and Abyssinia. Some historians claim that Bilal (RA) was born at Mecca, but most believe that he was born in Sarat.

People used to mock him by saying, « O son of a black woman, » even though she was a princess and his father was a black Arab.

Bilal’s life before Islam

Before the advent of Islam, the world was immersed in the darkness of injustice, ignorance, and proper guidance. Slave markets were a norm in the Arabian Peninsula, and Mecca, a commercial city, was a prominent market for the slave trade. The people of Mecca used to enslave individuals hailing from Abyssinia. Bilal Habashi was one of them who became an enslaved person of Umayya bin Khalaf, a Qureshite chief. He spent a miserable life and endured torture from his master and other people.

Bilal’s quick acceptance of Islam

The message of Islam was attractive to him because both of his parents were enslaved. He witnessed his mother being beaten. He understood that the way to rise is to have special abilities. His intelligence and strength raised his status among other enslaved people. He embraced Islam upon hearing about it immediately. He heard about it as Ummaya; his master complained about Prophet Mohammad (SAWW).

The message resonated with him immediately because of its focus on justice and the message of Tawheed. If you acknowledge the oneness of God, it puts all of humanity on a singular plane. He repeatedly said, « Ahad, Ahad – [One, One]. » Throughout his life, Bilal (RA) worked so hard to support and spread Islam’s message that he eventually gained a prominent position in Islamic history and became one of the inspiring personalities.

Disregarded Idols

After embracing Islam, Bilal went to the Kaaba, where he saw the silent and dumb idols. He looked straight at them, talked to them, and touched them. They were cold, senseless, and even powerless. He asked himself how he could worship such stones or ask them to bring him good and help him. He thought it was very stupid of him to believe in and worship those powerless stones made by humans. For the first time, he saw them as nothing more than dwarfs.

Beloved Companion of Prophet Muhammad (SAWW)

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) loved Bilal (RA) dearly and held him in great honor, so much so that he was titled « our master who our master freed. » He lived a life of purity, dignity, and righteousness. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) made him the first treasurer for Muslims and kept him as his confidant.

Bilal (RA) also dedicated his life to the service of Islam and stayed close to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on every occasion. He never stepped back from his duty of delivering a call to prayer and took part in many battles and journeys with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The First Muezzin – Caller to Prayer

When the discussion around the appointment of the first muezzin started, Abdullah ibn Zayd (RA) and Umar ibn Khattab (RA) both had the same dream. However, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) handed that duty to Bilal (RA) not because he wanted to prove racial equality. Instead, he felt that Bilal (RA) was more deserving of this role as he had already declared the oneness of Allah even at times when he was brutally tortured.

Bilal (RA) invited all the people from Medina and became the first Muezzin ever since. Upon listening to the adhan, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, « whoever says these words with certainty will enter Paradise. »

A remarkable moment for Bilal

The Battle of Badr was a remarkable moment for Bilal (RA), as another achievement was in store for him. According to an excerpt from ‘The Golden Series of the Prophet’s Companions – Bilal ibn Rabah’:

« As soon as the Prophet (PBUH) entered Makkah, he asked Bilal to go to ‘Uthman bin Talha to bring the key of the Kaaba. Bilal brought the key and entered with the Prophet (PBUH) inside the Kaaba. There he saw Hubal with its broken hand. He took an ax and hit the dumb idol. The head of the idol fell to end the time of ignorance and idolatry. All the idols in the vicinity of the Kaaba were destroyed. »

« The worship of the One true Allah gained victory over the worship of false and dumb idols. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood with Bilal (RA) and addressed the congregation, filled with fear and astonishment. They thought for a while that the Prophet (PBUH) would take revenge on all those who caused him and his followers misery during their struggle in Makkah. However, the Prophet (PBUH), who had been known to them for his kindness and humbleness, instead addressed them in very gentle words: ‘Go, you are free! You are all sons of Adam, equal in rights and duties.’ These kind words made all the chiefs of the Quraish embrace Islam. They knew that the Prophet (PBUH) was a man of honesty and truthfulness. »

Bilal – a dignified Muslim

Bilal (RA) stayed so close to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that his death left deep grief in his heart. However, he did not step back from his mission and wished to fight for Allah’s cause. Bilal (RA) was so distressed upon the passing of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that he stopped reciting the call to prayer and would often cry.

Historians believe that Bilal died in Syria between 638 and 642BCE. It is written in Imam al-Suyuti’s book ‘Tarikh al-Khulafa,’ « He (Bilal) died in Damascus when he was just over sixty years old. » Others believe that he passed away in Medina.

Bilal lived an exemplary life and showed utmost dedication, passion, and dignity throughout his life. May Allah shower His countless blessings on this pious companion of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), whose life is an excellent example of righteousness, endurance, and an unshakeable faith for all generations to come.

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