The story of Bilal

A story form Prophet Muhammad SAWS's time

A slave severely tortured, but Prophet Muhammad SAWS was willing to pay double of what the owner had asked to free him. Bilal was finally free. Muslims love Bilal for his love for the Prophet SAWS and because how much Prophet SAWS loved Bilal. An amazing story. Diversity is celebrated in Islam. Prophet left us examples.

During the days of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) Bilal was an African slave, whose master was a tyrant. Bilal was a true monotheist and his love for God made his master even more angry, he used to torture Bilal every day, he would beat Bilal for a long period of time then put a huge boulder on his chest and leave him in the scorching desert sun for the entire day because of his belief in oneness of God. They would ask him do you believe in so and so God during torture, but the only word that would come out of his mouth was “Ahad” “Ahad” “One” “One. So, they would beat him even more. Various different turture methods were used on him. But Bilal was strong in his belief.

At that time in 7th-century Mekkah, a slave was allowed to buy himself out for an outrageously high price from his owner, if announced by the owner. Bilal was working hard to save money. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) heard his story. One day Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) received a big amount of money, he sent for to buy Bilal. Bilal’s master increased the price to double when he heard that it was Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), who wanted to buy Bilal. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) confirmed and said, he would have paid much more for him. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) immediately freed Bilal, Bilal was overwhelmed and humbled! He could not believe it! He chose to stay with Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) not as a slave but as a free man - as his companion.

Bilal had an extremely beautiful voice, and Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) loved him for his love for God, his piety and sincerity. Years later when Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and the Muslims of Mekkah immigrated to Medina and when it was being decided about how to call people to prayer, a call to prayer was decided. For example, the Christians ring bells in the Churches, the Jewish people does the horn, so, for the Muslims it would be the call to prayer or the “Adzan” most of the time this Arabic word is written in English as "Adhan" and pronounced as "Azaan." And for this, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) chose Bilal. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) sent Bilal to the top of the Mosque to give the “Call to Prayer”, “The Adhan.” And that was the very beginning of the “Call to Prayer” initiated by Bilal.

Bilal was overwhelmed and surprised again, that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) chose him over all the other Arabs, even when he was a black man in that society, he gave his best and when he gave the Adhan people from every direction heard the call and came for prayer. His voice was the most beautiful. Of course, some prejudice arose amongst some of the Arabs, they felt superior, Prophet Muhammad warned them and told them that that is against Islam and that they still had “Jahelia” or Ignorance in them, they immediately mended their ways and apologized to Bilal in a way that it was noted. Fast forwarding again for several years, years later, when Mekkah was conquered, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) sent Bilal again to give the “Call to Prayer!” What an honor it was for Bilal!

Later in Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)’s final Pilgrimage in his final sermon he established that no man is superior than another man and no Arab is superior over a non-Arab, it is the people's piety that is before God.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)’s final sermon is amazing. Maybe I will write a blog about that, God willing. Sometimes I wonder if Prophet did not teach us these things, maybe people would have given more importance to the people of Arabia just because they are from the place of the Prophet. But Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) taught us that all human beings are created equal, it is our actions that elevates us. That is good to know because you will notice we grow an affection for the places where our beloved Prophets were from. For example, Muslims love Mekkah, Christians love Jerusalem, well, Muslims and Jewish people love Jerusalem also of course but many Christian people may not know that Muslims also love Jerusalem very dearly. So, for certain people to think they are superior than the others just because of their complexion, it is, sort of, an old time thinking from the dark ages. Now people know that it is not true, well most people do, but Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)'s valuable teachings form 1400 years ago give us a glimpse of how modern he was and what Islam teaches. Islam can appear weird to you from outside, but if you take a closer look at this religion it is really a beautiful religion. Although many Muslims still show prejudice and ignorance, and many Islamic countries utterly fail at treating their women right, despite Prophet (SAWS)’s teachings, but that is not what Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) taught.

Here is the meaning of the Adhan:

Call to Prayer - Adhan:

1. Allahu Akbar - God is Great (said four times)

2. Ashhadu al-la ilaha illal-lah - I bear witness that there is no god except the One God. (It is said two times)

3. Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah - I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God. (It is said two times)

4. Hayya 'ala-s-Salah - Hurry to the prayer (Rise up for prayer) (said two times)

5. Hayya 'ala-l-Falah - Hurry to success (Rise up for Salvation) (said two times)

6. For the pre-dawn (fajr) prayers this part is added - As salatu Khayrum Minan-nawm - Prayer is better than sleep (said two times)

7. Allahu Akbar - God is Great [said two times]

8. La ilaha illa Allah - There is no god except the One God.

The reason for the repetitions is, the caller would turn his head to his left and to his right and say the same line again during the call so that people from every direction can hear the call. So, this is the meaning of the Adhan and what an amazing turn of luck for Bilal it was after so many years of suffering!

When Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) passed away, and he was still not buried yet, Bilal gave the last call to prayer when the prayer time came and when he said the words, I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God, you can imagine how everyone felt. Extreme sadness surrounded them. After that Bilal could not bear to give the call to prayer. Everything reminded him of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), he moved from Medina to Syria and lived there for the rest of his life. He once visited Medina after many years and after many requests he agreed to give the call to prayer, but as he began the call to prayer, about half-way through when he turned his head and, normally, he used to see Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) sitting there, he fainted. His love for Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was immense. He could not finish the call. He went back to Syria.

The story of Bilal is just one small example of what a great person Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was, how he treated people – not just freeing a slave and making it the end of story, but to continue to treat him like an equal human being, as his friend, as his companion for every step of his remaining life! It is indeed a great example for all of us. Prophets are Prophets for a reason they were just overwhelmingly amazing people. And that is why we love them so much and follow them.

A song about Bilal’s story was beautifully sung by an American Muslim band called the Native Deen. Please find the link below. A very nice song. Native Deen sings about Islamic concepts, issues and stories.

The song by Native Deen about Bilal:

Thanks for reading.


Acknowledgement: The meaning of the call to prayer: You can search in YouTube for beautiful Adhans and listen to them.