Bilal Ibn Rabah
(part 1 0f 2)
Beloved Companions Series by Amr Khaled
Bilal becomes a Muslim
Bilal (Radeeya Allah Anho) embraced Islam in the first year of Muhammad prophecy at the age of 30. There was an age difference of ten years between him and the Prophet (P.B.U.H) , as the Prophet received the message of Islam at the age of forty. Bilal was one of the first people in Makkah to embrace Islam.
Bilal had something valuable; he was the third person who became a Muslim in Makkah. This is a very important point, because he was a slave to a very cruel, disbelieving man from Quraish; Umaya Ibn Khalaf. This man lived and died a disbeliever, and Bilal wished to declare his religion openly although he was forbidden to do so. Even though he had to hide his beliefs from his cruel master, his declaration of faith was accepted. Bear in mind, that during the period of severe suffering in Makkah, no one openly declared their faith in Islam except seven people. Firstly the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), secondly Abu Bakr (R.A.) and the third person was Bilal Ibn Rabah (R.A.). Because he loved his religion so much, he couldnt hide it, and so forsook his life for the sake of Allah.
Bilal stood in the middle of Makkah and testified, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”. He was among the Companions who were greatly harmed by the disbelievers because of his faith in Islam.
Umaya Ibn Khalaf used to take him to the desert and wait until the temperature reached forty or fifty degrees. He ordered his servants to undress Bilal, then cover him in an iron material, and place a heavy stone on his chest, which was so heavy that ten men couldn’t lift. They would leave him like that for hours.
They would then return to him, and by then Bilal would literally be melting. They would demand Bilal to reject his faith in Allah and Muhammad (P.B.U.H.); but Bilal endless response would be: “Only one, only one” (meaning only One God). He stayed in this situation for endless days and months.
However, Bilal remained patient until Abu Bakr went to Umaya Ibn Khalaf and told him, “Why dont you have mercy on this poor man?” Umaya replied, “You give mercy to him“. Abu Bakr said, “Yes, I will buy him. How much will you sell him for?”
A slave at that time was worth Deenars of silver. Since Bilal was in poor health and was beaten excessively, he was worth only one silver Deenar. The spiteful Umaya Ibn Khalaf said, “I will sell him for nine silver Deenars.” Abu Bakr replied, “And I will buy him for that price.” Umaya laughed and said, “You know Abu Bakr, if you had argued the price with me, I would have sold Bilal to you for one Deenar”. So Abu Bakr replied, “Umaya, if you had demanded one hundred Deenars, I would still have bought him!”
The Migration to Madinah
Bilal stayed with the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) until the migration to Madinah (Al Hijrah), where they left Makkah to Madinah.
Something strange occurred in Madinah. The Prophet’s Mosque had been built, but people found it difficult to know the prayer times. How would they know when it is the time for prayer? One of the Muslims suggested ringing a bell, to signal that it is time for prayer. This idea was rejected, since the Christians use a bell to call members to church. Another Muslim suggested that they could raise a flag and walk with it to signal it was time to pray. But this idea was also rejected.
A companion called Abdullah Ibn Zayd (R.A.) came and said, “O Allah’s Prophet! This night I dreamt I saw a man selling bells, so I asked him if I could buy one. He replied, why do you need it? I said, so that people would know it was time to pray. The man replied, I can tell you something better than that. I asked him what it was. He said: to call for the prayer.”
While Abdullah Ibn Zayd told them of his dream, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab said, “I swear Allah’s messenger I saw exactly what he saw too!” Upon this, the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said, “Thanks be to Allah for this blessed vision. Tell Bilal to call for the prayer. He has a more beautiful voice than yours.”
So the call for the prayer heared, and Bilal became the first caller for the prayers in Islam, and the first caller for the prayer for the Prophet (P.B.U.H.).
Battles and the Return to Makkah
Bilal stayed with the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and never missed a single battle with him. When he was going to the battle of Badr to face the disbelievers, imagine who was among them? Umaya Ibn Khalaf! Bilal had come face to face with him! What would you do to the one who had tortured you? When Bilal saw him he said, “Umaya Ibn Khalaf, the head of the disbelievers, I wont survive if he survives.” During the battle, Umaya Ibn Khalaf was killed.
When the Muslims returned to Makkah, the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) returned the favour to Bilal. The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) said, “Bilal, climb on the Kabah back and call out for the prayer“. It doesnt end there. The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) asked, “Where is the Kabah key?” There were 10,000 people standing in front of the Kabah and the space inside the Ka‘bah would not allow more than one person to pray next to the Prophet (P.B.U.H.). Who will enter with Allah’s Prophet?! Surely Abu Bakr or Omar or Othman? No, its a pious and loyal day, “Where’s Bilal, come Bilal, pray with me inside the Kabah”. No one had prayed in the Kabah with the Prophet (P.B.U.H.), except one person, Bilal Ibn Rabah. From then on, when Omar met Bilal he used to say, “Bilal, Abu Bakr is your master, and you are our master.” ‘Omar used to say this to Bilal! Look at what he learnt from the Prophet (P.B.U.H.).
Once the Prophet asked Bilal, “Bilal, tell me the best deed you have done, as I heard your footsteps in Paradise.”
“I swear the most I’ve done is that whenever my ablution was nullified, I would perform ablution immediately, and I would always pray two Raka‘s after ablution.” Bilal replied. “That’s it Bilal!” The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) exclaimed.