MUBASHIR IQBAL KITABA
Hazrat Bilal (RA) was one of the most famous companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). His (RA) is the story of patience and faith. Hazrat Bilal (RA) was born in slavery as his mother was a slave in the house of Umayyah IbnKhalaf. ( Before the advent of Islam, slave markets were very common in Arab society and culture). As per the Arab customs those days, slaves were considered the property of their masters. They were free to treat and dispose them as they like of their own free will. Hazrat Bilal (RA) was brought by a Quraish chief Umayyah Ibn Khalaf, a believer in idol worship. They duties he entrusted upon Bilal (RA) were to graze his camels during the day and take care of his meals in the evening.
During that time when idol worshipping was the custom and pagan rituals the culture of Arabian Peninsula, Hazrat Bilal (RA) heard the call of Islam and about Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who preached justice and equality for all mankind and exhorted people to shun idolatry and cruelty.
Hazra tBilal (RA) was deeply influenced by the message of Islam (the religion of peace). While grazing his master’s cattle under the scorching sun, he started thinking about things he had never thought of before. He believed that idols of stones could do no harm nor bring any good to people. Hazrat Bilal(RA) then met Abu Bakr (RA) the close companion of Prophet (SAW) and accepted Islam. When Umayyah came to know about Bilals choice of religion, he was enraged. It was unusual and unheard for a slave to do something of his own free will and Umayyah Bin Khalaf was determined to teach Bilal a lesson.
Hazrat Bilal (RA) was severely beaten and tortured by Umayyah but he (RA) remained steadfast and showed no sign of weakening. In order to inflict pain and suffering to Bilal (RA) Umayyah took him to a desert and placed a heavy boulder on his chest so that he would forsake the religion of Islam but instead Hazrat Bilal (RA) keep on saying “Allah is one there is no God but Allah”.
When the news of the torture reached Prophet (SAW), he immediately sent Abu Bakr Siddiqe (RA) to investigate the matter who freed Bilal from Umayyah Ibn Kalaf by paying a handsome amount to him. After the transaction, Abu Bakr declared Bilal (RA) a free man. Afterwards, Hazrat Bilal (RA) became one of the close companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW).
The hardships inflicted by the pagan Arabs on the Prophet (SAW) and upon his companions led them to migrate to the city of Medina where they built a mosque to gather and offer prayers.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) chose Hazrat Bilal (RA) to make the first call for prayers making him the first muezzin of Islam. This decision endorsed the beauty of Islam where a dark skinned non Arab, former slave and a man with a different accent was chosen all over others for this great honor which proves that in Islam, the measure of a person is not with his wealth , nationality or race but with his piety and devotion towards Allah and his Messenger (SAW).
During the life of the Holy Prophet (SAW), Hazrat Bilal (RA) said the Adhan (calling the faithful towards prayers) five times a day. Some of the companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) once expressed their contempt due to his black skin and non Arab background. Allah, the Almighty, immediately sent down the following verses of the Holy Quran, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And, Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things” (Surah 94:13).
There is a famous and authentic tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that our Holy Prophet (SAW) was very much concerned and anxious to find out a way how to call the believers towards prayers. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) wanted something unique. Abdullah Ibn Zaid (RA) informed the Holy Prophet (SAW) about a dream he had. He told this to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that there appeared a man to him in a dream who was wearing two green garments, in whose hand was a bell. I said, “O slave of Allah, will you sell this bell to me”? He replied, what will you do with it? I said, “We will call the people to prayer with it”. He responded, “Shall I not show you something better than that?” I said,”yes”. The man then responded by narrating the Adhan(the Muslim call to prayer)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) listened to the description of the dream and said, “This is a true dream. Get Bilal (RA) and tell him what you have seen, teach him the words so that he can give the call, because he was a beautiful voice”. When Umer Ibn Khattab (RA) heard the call he rushed out by saying, “By the one who sent you truth, O Messenger of Allah, I saw the same dream”.
After the death of Holy Prophet (SAW) Hazrat Bilal (RA) felt it difficult to continue his duties as muezzin as his heart was full of sorrow and he found his life in Medina unbearable without his beloved Prophet (SAW). He visited the Prophet’s mosque in Medina one last time and said his last Adhan. Hazrat Bilal(RA) then went back to Syria where he fell ill and passed away at the age of sixty.
The author is a PhD Research Scholar and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org