Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Bilal(ra) The Beautiful ( Episodes from his life)

Posted on: February 28, 2009

Bilal(ra) Before The Rise of Islam;

Bilal (ra) was an abyssinian , with both his parents having been slaves, he had been born into slavery.

Although he was a slave he had become a very prized posession of his master. Known for being trustworthy, and endowed with beautiful Ikhlaq and Wisdom,Bilal (ra) was put in charge of trade. He would be sent with trade caravans across Arabia, to do business on behalf of his slave master Umayahh ibn Khalaf leader of the Makkan clan of Jumah.

He became popular among, the traders and merchants of Makkah, on trading missions they would seek out his advice on business matters. His Handsome features, and his sense of dignity and self esteem made him stand out. They said ” If we did not know he was, a slave we would have assumed that this son of a black woman was a prince.”

He was blessed with the strong attributes, of kindness and Compassion for others, on trade journeys he would, entertain his fellow travelers with his melodious voice, and recite poetry in such a way that the hearts of those who were listening, would be moved they would be reduced to tears. They would say: “O Bilal the heavens themselves are touched by your voice.” Little did they know how true that was.

Bilal (ra) on the journey would help prepare food for his fellow travelers, but he would not eat until everyone else even fellow slaves had eaten to their full.

It was on one of these journeys that he first met, Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra). He and Bilal (ra)were blessed with many similar characteristics, they immediately became friends. Abu Bakr (ra) had no prejudices in his heart, rich or poor, slave or nobleman, Abu Bakr (ra) treated everyone with equal respect and honor.

The Noblemen of the Quraysh would tease him and say “If we did not know better , we would have assumed you and this slave the son of a black woman are brothers.” Abu Bakr (ra) would respond. ” He may be a slave but I swear that Bilal (ra) is a King amongst Men.”

During one such Journey Bilal(ra) saw Abu Bakr (ra) heading towards a Monastery, Bilal (ra) joined him, Abu Bakr (ra) wanted to get the interpretation of a dream he had.In the dream he had seen the SUN and the MOON falling into his lap, he had picked them up and placed inside his cloak.He related his dream to the Monk.

The Christian Monk told Abu Bakr (ra) “If what you say is true then the Greatest Prophet of God will emerge from amongst your people. You will be his closest companion, and his succesor after his departure from this world.”

“Prophet from god”. asked Abu bakr (ra) in bewilderment. “yes but not just a Prophet but the leader of them all he will guide people to the worship of Allah, alone.God will send him as a guiding light, he will be the final and the greatest of all Prophets.”

Hearing all this Bilal (ra)was baffled he asked ” Will Hubal send him or Al Lat or Al Uza or any of the of the other gods of the Kabbah.”

The Monk said, ” No, he will be sent by god, the creator of the heavens and the earth,who has no partner, and will commission him to to command people to worship him alone, and to treat their kindred well and he shall destroy the Idols.”

Bilal (ra) murmured:
” Destroy the Idols?”.

The monk retorted:
” Yes he will destroy all of them.”

Although Abu Bakr (ra) had never really believed in the Idols, Bilal(ra) was quite perturbed. He had been raised as was the custom to worship the gods of his, Slave Master, and he did so with great loyalty.

After reflecting for several months, he finally decided that these gods had no real value, Why for example did the great god Hubal need people to fix his arm for him why could he not fix it himself, he asked .He continued on this vain until the day arrived when he was informed of the arrival of the Prophet (saw).

Bilal'(ra) acceptance of Islam:

Bilal (ra) had spent weeks if not months pondering over the uselessness of worshiping Idols and wondering what the reality was concerning, the existence of all creation.

One Night as he was a sleep he heard someone whispering his name ” Bilal, Bilal(ra)”, As he woke he looked around to see who was calling out his name, he suddenly realised, that it was Abu Bakr (ra) calling out his name.

What could bring Abu Bakr (ra) to the slave Quarters, he thought at this time of the night, it must be something serious.

” O Bilal (ra) I have great news Abu Bakr (ra)uttered excitedly as he climbed into Bilals (ra) room. ” The Prophet of Allah (saw) has arrived.”

“The Prophet of Allah who is he?” asked Bilal.(ra)

“He Is Muhammad the Son of Abdullah (saw), he is calling to the worship of one true god, he has come to complete the mission of his forefather Ibrahim (as).”

“Are you sure he is the one”. enquired Bilal(ra).

” O Bilal(ra) I swear by the One who has created me that their is no one in the heavens or the earth who is comparable to him, the Beauty of his character is beyond compare, every aspect of his very being exudes virtue, He is the most truthful , most compassionate, most just of all of Allahs creation. Never has a word of untruth been uttered from his lips. I have pledged my allegiance to him
I ask you o dear Bilal to pledge yours. O Bilal(ra) he states that no man is superior to another, except through righteousness and faith.”

Bilal (ra) thought and hesitated for a while. ” O Bilal(ra) what stops you from bearing witness that their is no god but Allah, And Muhammad is his Messenger (saw).”

Bilal(ra) thought for a while and decided that their could be none worthy of worship except one god, and what could be more truthful than a man who says that everyone is equal in the eyes of god it is only a mans belief and righteousness that makes him superior to another.

So he uttered the words of shahada, Abu Bakr(ra) being overjoyed embraced him kissed him on the forehead, bade him farewell and said. ” Tomorrow I will take you to the prophet of Allah (saw) so you can pledge your allegiance, to him.”

That night Bilal(ra) felt liberated he was now a servant of Allah and equal to all men.

The days of torture and difficulty would soon arrive.

The Parents Of Bilal(ra)

When one of the Superpower’s of the time Abraha the abyssinian launched a war against Makkah with the intention of destroying the house of Allah the Kabah. He arrived with his cavalry of Elephants and encamped on the outskirts of Makkah, as was the custom women would go along in battles to help give moral support to the army, to prepare meals for the soldiers and to look after the wounded. Often the commanders would arrive with their entire cavalcade of servants and slaves to show of their wordily wealth and prestige.

It so happens that Hamamah the niece of Abraha (the daughter of his sister) was amongst one of the convoys in Abrahas army. As the army of Abraha was encamped in the desert, to escape the stifling heat of the desert she went with a small group, to one of the mountains to relax and take part in hunting.

The clan of Banu Khat’am launched a surprise attack on the small group and Hamamah was taken captive along with others. The Banu Khat’am kept all the gold and jewellery that was with the party for themselves. Hamamah along with others was presented as a gift to the Banu Jumah Clan.

All hopes that Hamamah may have had of being rescued were dashed when the Supreme power of Allah with a flock of birds destroyed , the Wordily Super power of Abraha and his army of Elephants . Proving to the muslims to come that you may be as weak as a bird and the enemy may be as powerful as an elephant, but fear not for indeed Allah is all Powerful, the Almighty the best of Guardians and the best of Protectors.

Amongst the slaves of the Banu Jumah was a man called Reba, he was renowned for his trustworthiness , high sense of morality , and integrity.Due to his fine and noble qualities, the Banu Jumah had put him in charge of there property, he was very popular amongst all the Banu Jumah clan. Due to his noble character Reba was seen as a guardian by the other slaves.

Hamamah was herself extremely beautiful of refined and noble character and lineage, she was imbued with the qualities of modesty and chastity.

The elders of the Banu Jumah Clan arranged the marriage of Reba and Hamamah. With the hope that the children of these two noble slaves would also be a great treasure for the Banu Jumah Clan and its descendants.

One has to marvel at the ways of Allah The Almighty ,prepared the arrival of the Prophet (saw) by ensuring that his companions would have the best upbringing even if they were enslaved, thats why when we look at each and every Sahaba we discover a treasure from the treasures of humanity.Allah had prepared Bilal (ra) for the service of Islam by ensuring both his parents were of noble character. Indeed these noble characteristics were present in Bilal (ra) even in the days of jahiliyah. He was raised by his parents to be Trustworthy, compassionate and kind towards others to maintain his dignity and integrity in
all situations.

Abraha had arrived in Makkah to destroy the Kabah, but his very own niece was to give birth to Bilal (ra) who would one day stand on top of the Kabah and recite the Azaan. Who would be a Beloved of Allah and his Messenger (saw) and a great servant of Islam.

Thus are the Superpowers and tyrants of the world like Abraha humiliated.

The Secret is exposed.

For a while Bilal (ra) was in a state of bliss, he would go along secretly under the cover of darkness in the night with Abu Bakr (ra)and sit in the company of the Beloved of Allah, (Saw).

Finally the fateful day arrived the Chieftains were holding a meeting to discuss how to combat the growing menace of Islam. Those Presiding over the meeting were Abu Jahl and Umayah ibn Khalaf the slave master of Bilal (ra), He said “Umayah put your own house in order for your very own slave Bilal (ra) has embraced Islam.” “Are you sure about what you are saying” asked Umayah. “yes” said his Informer “For I have seen him going to meet Muhammad (saw)”.

Umayah stormed of in a fit of rage in the direction of his house, To find Bilal (ra). When he arrived outside Bilals (ra) room , he heard Bilal(ra) reciting something in his melodious voice, it was different to anything he had heard, before. “This Must be the Quran of Muhammad (saw) that has bewitched this slave.” He burst into Bilals(ra) room.” Bilal”(ra) he shouted Bilal realised his secret must have been exposed when saw the anger on the tyrrants face.

“Yes” what is it said Bilal (ra). in composed and calm manner he knew what was to come but he felt no fear he was free he was the Slave of Allah the one and only.

“what were you reading?”

“The speech of Allah”, answered Bilal (ra).

” The speech of god since when were gods able to speak?,” said Umayah

” God revealed his book and wisdom to his servant.”replied Bilal (ra).

” Stop this nonsense”. Shouted Umayah.

“By my lord it is the truth,the lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between.”

“Oh you traitor you deny our gods, after all that I provided for you,” desist from this nonsense or I will visit a punishment upon you that no man has ever experienced.”

“Do as you please but I will never turn my back on the truth you may own my body but my soul is free I am free to worship Allah the one and only he is my true master.” replied Bilal (ra).

Umayah ordered for Bilal to be put in chains and shackles and started beating him. Desist from this wretched foolishness you son of a blackwoman. He beat him severely. He kept asking him to return to the Worship of the Idols.

“Have you returned to your senses, so tell me who is your lord.”the Tyrannt asked.

“Ahad” (the one) Umayah kept beating Bilal (ra) until he grew tired. Were has this slave got this energy from to endure such a beating him he said to himself.

” Have you not had enough ask me for mercy in the names of al lat and al uza and all the other gods of the Kabah.” said the Tyrrant.

“Ahad, Ahad, my Lord Is the One and only I seek refuge with him but no one else.” said Bilal through his swollen lips his face bruised and bleeding .Having grown physically tired of dishing out the beating.He decided on a new plan he would have this Slave beaten and dragged through the streets of makkkah until he relented.

” Ahad” Ahad”

We were taught but we have forgotten, It is through the sacrifices of our Beloved Prophet (saw) and sahabah that we are muslim today. It is through our beloved Bilals (ra) cries of “Ahad” “Ahad” that we are blessed today. It is through their sacrifices that we recite the Quran today. so every time we hear the Qari recite, Surah Ikhlas, let us remember Bilals cries of “Ahad, Ahad” his body bruised and bleeding the pain is intense they say ” who is your lord Bilal” he says “Ahad, Ahad” everytime we hear the Azaan let us remember the first Muadhin and his cries Of “Ahad, Ahad”.

Imagine the Pain and the tears that were shed by our Prophet (Saw) when the angels informed him they are torturing your Beloved Bilal (ra). Yet fear not he remains strong and Chants “Ahad, “Ahad”. Imagine How the heart of Abu Bakr (ra) Bled when he Witnessed Bilal(ra) being Tortured. Yet in that desert sand he kept chanting “Ahad” Ahad” The friend of Abu Bakr(ra), the Beloved of our Prophet (saw),Is mercilessly tortured , the heavens themselves are moved, the Angels are in despair yet this story has no impact upon us.

Bilal(ra) chants “Ahad,” Ahad” in the desert of Makkah and the sound echoes in the heavens, the Angels ask who is this saint this friend of Allah whose voice we hear. he chants “Ahad” Ahad” and his voice reaches the heaven.

The Angels are bewildered how did his voice reach heaven, they are informed Bilal (ra) is bleeding in pain, and our Beloved Prophet (saw) is shedding tears in anguish. Let Bilals(ra) Chants of “Ahad” “Ahad”, resonate in the Heavens until the day of Reckoning.

What answer will we give when we are asked “O muslims what gratitude did you express to your lord Al Ahad.

So my friends let us reflect on Bilals (ra) cries of “Ahad””Ahad”.

Sabr In face Of Adversity.

Having failed to break the will of Bilal (ra) by inflicting a severe beating.Umayah the tyrant, fell to even greater depths of depravity.Bilal(ra) already bleeding, and bruised from the torture that was inflicted on him by Umayah, was dragged out of the house the street urchins were called, and told “Drag and beat this slave, through the streets until he is brought back to his senses, and returns to the worship of the Idols”.

Bilal (ra) with his hands and feet in shackles was dragged from street, to street.This despicable act became a carnival with people joining the procession, umayah inviting, each passer by to come and inflict a beating on Bilal. ” Have you come to your senses Oh you son of a black woman, what do you have to say For yourself.”

Even in the face of this severe torture, Bilal maintained remarkable composure.

“Ahad Ahad”, he replied. “Who is your lord Oh you ignorant slave”, they asked. “Ahad, Ahad my lord is the lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is In between, he is the One and the Only their is none that can compare to him”.

“Oh you foolish slave, we swear that your punishment will only get worse, beg us for mercy in the name of the idols of the Kabah, if you wish to save yourself, stop saying God is One, accept our Idols.”

By this time the crowd had turned into a frenzied mob, people lined the streets, they were all taking turns to hit Bilal, (ra) even the Children were being invited to shout curses and spit at Bilal (ra), Bilal being dragged on the ground was now bleeding from every part of his body, his body swollen and bruised. he responded, ” Ahad, Ahad My lord is one, By Allah if I could think of a word that would offend you people more, I would have said it.”

The mob grew more and more frustrated, the more Bilal (ra) resisted the more they increased in their depravity and torture, the drops of Bilals (ra) blood, were to be found all over the streets of Makkah. They could torture him as much as they wanted, but he would never turn his back on the truth. During all this torture he refused to utter a single cry in pain he repeated the words “Ahad,Ahad” over and over again. Even in the face of torture he was completely absorbed in contemplation and zikr of Allah.

This torture had continued from morning, to evening, the mob returned to their homes defeated and debased, they were exhausted from inflicting the torture but Bilal(ra) had remained strong. he felt liberated, His body was in pain but his heart was at peace, the words “Ahad, Ahad”, remained on his tongue throughout.

This scenario was repeated over many days, and every day the torturers, would return home defeated, they had never seen any man show such resilience in the face of such torture.

The Torture Continues.

Umayah being left humiliated, by the courage and fortitude of Bilal (ra), Consulted with his cohorts as to how to proceed, they advised him to increase the torture, they told him to “Put Bilal (ra) in a coat of Iron,( note a coat of iron was a form of body protection, worn in Battle) in the heat of the desert, for if this torture does not make him repent, it will definitely kill him, and you will be rid of him.”

So they took Bilal (ra) and placed his already battered and bruised in a coat of armour, they dragged him onto the hot desert sand, in full glare of the sun and its heat. They themselves sat in the shade and watched, Bilal(ra) continued with his chant of “Ahad, Ahad”. once the heat grew intense Bilals (ra) already wounded body undeneath the coat of Iron started to Burn, the pain was intense.

So they said” lets go and see if this son of a black woman has know repented. They said repent and beg for mercy for mercy in the name of al lat, and al uza, and all the other gods of the kabah, and your pain will end we shall release you of this torture.”

He replied “Oh enemys of God do as you please, my lips shall continue chanting the name of my beloved Al Ahad Al Ahad until my final breath.” They said to each other “lets wait and see for soon it will be midday the heat will be at its most intense surely that will break his resistance.”

So they sat down in the shade and waited once more, They saw that his voice was now barely audible, they saw his lips were moving and whispering something. They said to each other “lets go and see he might be begging for mercy surely his resistance has now been broken.”

They went up to Bilal (ra) whose body was scalded by the heat his flesh burning. His face was swollen his lips and mouth were bruised and dry. To see what he was whispering, through his half open eyes he looked at them, and increased the volume of his voice “Ahad,Ahad, Ahad,” . They said “surely this is useless”, one of the tyrants noticed a large boulder he said ” Lets place the Boulder on him, for if he still does not come to his senses it will at least kill him and we shall be rid of him for good.”

So they placed the boulder upon him, and said “what do you have to say for yourself now Bilal (ra)”. With his chest now being crushed and gasping for breath he continued his contemplation of his lord “Ahad,Ahad”, he responded.

By now Abu Bakr as Siddiq (ra), having been informed about what was happening to Bilal had rushed to the seen. ” Do you people feel no shame, for how can you inflict such torture on this poor man.” Umayah responded “He is my slave I can do with him as I please.” Abu Bakr (ra) offered to pay for Bilals (ra), release, Umayah realising that it would be finacially more prudent to sell Bilal (ra) set a very high price, Abu Bakr (ra) agreed to pay the ransom,. Umayah took his money and along with the other tyrants left.

Abu Bakr (ra) removed the shackles and Iron coat from Bilals(ra) body, as he held Bilal(ra) in his arms and removed the sand from his face Bilal(ra) spoke and said ” Abu Bakr,(ra) If you have paid my ransom so that I can be your slave then do with me as you please, however if you have done it for the sake of Allah, then let me free to worship my lord as I please.”

Abu Bakr (ra) with tears streaming down his face replied ” O Bilal (ra) Your words of “Ahad Ahad” resonate in the heavens, the Beloved of Allah(saw) sheds tears on your behalf, O You on whose courage the Angels are amazed, how could Abu Bakr( ra) even think such a thing as enslaving you, for you are now free to do as you please.”

Many other people in slavery were purchased and freed by Abu Bakr (ra) one day his father who was not yet a Muslim said to him ” My son I see your wealth is being spent in liberating weak and powerless slaves, Why do you not instead spend your wealth in winning over the Men of Power and influence.” Abu Bakr replied ” my father you are concerned with winning the pleasure of men and gaining prestige among them , I am only concerned with earning pleasure of Allah”.

Sayyid ul Muazzin.

Five times a day across the Muslim World, the sound of the Azaan is heard its sound resonates in the Bazaars of Lahore, the Coffee shops of Cairo , the Boardwalks Of Casablanca, the villages of Somalia and The Palm groves and deserts Of Arabia. Calling the faithful to prayer. If you happen to be in a major city ,Subhanallah the voice of the Muazzins is conveyed at the same time from the minarets of all the mosques and from every direction, penetrating the hearts of the believers.

During the time of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam) the muslims were considering on how to call all the faithful to prayer. The community had grown significantly. Many muslims lived on the outskirts of the city far away from the Masjid.

One morning Abdullah ibn Zayd (ra) came running excitedly to The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) . he said he had been shown a method of calling the muslims to prayer in a dream. ” I saw a man in my dream dressed in green clothes carrying a bell, I asked him to sell it to me, he said “what do you need it for”. I said, to call the muslims to prayer.He said I will show you a better way.”

Abdullah (ra) recited the words of the Azaan to The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam), The Prophet of Allah( Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) told him to go and teach those words to Bilal (ra), to recite. Thus Bilal (ra) was given the honour Of being the first Muazzin of Islam, The muazzin Of The Prophet Of Allah (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassalam). He was chosen not only for his powerful and melodious voice, the ulema have stated because he had already born testimony to the Shahadah in the face of torture. Who better to recite the words of Azaan then the One whose chants of “Ahad Ahad”, had resonated in the Heavens and left the angels themselves awestruck. Upon hearing the Azaan Umar (ra) rushed to the masjid for he had seen the same dream, The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam said ” O Umar revelation has preceded you..” The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) had himself received the same revelation.

Thus Bilal (ra) would call the Azaan , and he would then go to and wait outside the door of The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) for him( Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) to come and lead the Prayers.

Upon the conquest Of Makkah, as Hazarat Ali al Murataza (ra) destroyed the Idols within the Kabbah, Bilal (ra) climbed on top of the Kabbah and recited the Azaan “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”…….. . The Mushrikeen of Makkah watched in bewilderment the slave who they had once tortured mercilessly stood gloriously on top of the Kabbah whilst they, the Nobles of the Quraysh watched in humiliation.

After the departure of The Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) from this world Bilal (ra) went to recite the azaan, when he came to recite the name of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) , overcome with grief he broke down in tears. The rest of the Muslims also broke down in tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. Bilal (ra) managed to complete the Azaan with great difficulty. After that day he decided to no longer recite the Azaan the grief was just too much for him. He would no longer be able to stand outside the door of The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and call out “Prayer O Messenger Of Allah” (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam). Thus he remained exclusively the Muazzin of The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam), he only recited the azaan on two further occasions.

His heart grew restless after the departure of The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) he was filled with grief. He eventually after joining the Muslim army settled in Damascus. He recited the Azaan once after the conquest of Jerusalem upon the request of Umar al Farooq (ra).

One day as he was sleeping at his home in Damascus he saw The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) in a dream. The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) asked ” why is it that you don’t come to visit me.” As soon as Bilal (ra) woke he set out for the city of Medina.

Upon his arrival in Medina the Grandsons of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam), Imam Hassan (ra) and Imam Hussain (ra) came to visit him. Bilal (ra) had deep love and affection for them and was overjoyed when he met them. Upon the request of the grandsons of the Beloved of Allah (Sallallahu alaiyhi Wassallam) he recited the Azaan for the final time.

The People of Medina were surprised to hear his voice. They were reminded of The Prophet (Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), when in those days Bilal (ra) used to recite the Azaan five times a day. Upon hearing his voice All the people both men and women came out of their houses in tears, and the sound of their grief reverberated across the city of Medina.

After a few days Bilal (ra) returned to Damascus where he eventually passed away. It is stated that whilst he was on his death bed his wife seeing that he was about to depart from this world Shouted “Oh how how overwhelming is my disastrous grief” Bilal (ra) smiled and joyfully stated “No how great is My pleasure for I am about to be reunited with my Beloved (Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and his companions.” After saying these words he departed this world. His tomb is in Damacus and is visited by Millions every year.

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2 Responses to "Bilal(ra) The Beautiful ( Episodes from his life)"

Great post. Subhan Allah.

May Allah bless you, bro/sis!

How awesome a slave of (ALLAH)! I ask ALLAH to give us corage like that of BILAL(RA) jazakumulahukyran

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