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Ahad! Ahad!

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    Posted: 25 April 2006 at 10:02am

As Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu


Here’s another story I would like to share with you from our History.


We respond to the Adhan five times a day. We all know who the FIRST Muezzin of Islam was. How many of us know about his unshakable faith while he was a slave being tortured in the heat of the Arabian desert and it's burning sands by his masters and others who hated Islam. He underwent torture that many of us today may never endure! “Ahad! Ahad!” was his response that echoed through the desert.

Come let’s read together the Seerah of this great personality. It is the lives of these great personalities of Islam, which should serve as a model for us and our children.

Bilal ibn Rabah

(Radhi Allahu Anhu)


Generally only that person is regarded as noble and great who is highly educated, who enjoys distinction of race and color, who is the richest in goods and property, holds the highest office, or possesses some authority, that is, he has the power to command the weak according to his own will, and can deal with his opponents severely.


But, in Islam, education, wealth, family, race color, office and authority are not the proof of nobility and greatness. Islam was that the greatest and the noblest person is he who is the most pious. By piety we mean that a person should be afraid of disobeying Allah, should keep away the favour of Allah, and should do what is good. This claim of Islam is not merely theoretical, it is also very practical. Islam presented a society in which the great was he who was a model of piety in words and in deeds. There were persons who could neither read nor write, nor were they superior in race of clan, nor were they wealthy of hold any high office; they did not even possess any official authority, but they were pious. Because of their piety they were elevated to very high positions in Islam.


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) is a glorious example of the above mentioned criterion for respect, honour and elevation to high positions in Islamic society. For those who have full faith in Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) and who want to build an Islamic society to introduce the whole world to true Islam, the life of Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) contains several lessons. Also, there is light for those people who are concerned with the welfare of humanity, even to a small degree.


Bilal was jet black in complexion. He was a Negro by birth. He has no wealth, no office and no authority. He was only slave. A slave did not have any position in the society. He could be sold like vegetables. An animal could run away and thus save his life; but a slave could not even dare to run away; he was sure to be caught again and sent back to his master. Or he could be sold again and he had to do any work which his master ordered him to do.


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was passing his life as a slave when the streets of Makkah echoed with the message of Tawhid (belief in one God). The Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) gave His call to liberate humanity from all sorts of slavery. He exhorted:

“Slavery is to Allah only. He has created us; He has favored us with food to eat; He has provided us with all the necessaries of life. Hence our real Master is Allah. All that conforms with the will of Allah is right.


If our desires are subject to Allah’s commandments, they are worth implementation otherwise not. If our family customs and traditions are governed by the Will of Allah, they are agreeable otherwise they are worthless. If the orders of a human being to his fellow human beings to his fellow human beings are in conformity with the dictates of Allah, they are worth submission, otherwise not.”


This sermon of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) was so clear, simple and natural that everybody, young and old, understood it fully well. The black and the white, poor and rich, supporters and non-believers, the slave and the master all understood it clearly. But who dare adopt it as creed? The persons who had the spark of humanity in them, heard the call of the oneness of God, their hearts were inspire of faith of Islam and they cried out:


“Muhammad speaks the truth, and whatever he says is the message of Allah.”


But those persons who were proud of themselves; who had the mentality of capitalists, whose hands were stained with the power of authority over their people, could not tolerate this voice. They realized that in case a new society was created, they could no longer retain the privilege of ruling over the others. They tried with all the means at their command-wealth, family pressure, power and authority- to crush that voice. If anybody came forward to listen to that voice he was threatened, beaten, imprisoned, kept hungry, or persuaded to keep himself away from the call of truth. The father dissuaded his son, the brother restrained his brother, the uncle forbade his nephew, the master coerced his slave, the infidels stopped the believing persons from listening to what the Holy Prophet said. Ordinary, a father could be sympathetic towards his son; a brother could sympathies his brother; and uncle could be kind to his nephew, but a master could not be sympathetic to his slave. His only consideration was that his slave did not dare disobey him. Hence the slaves were specially the target of horrifying tortures and torment.


Bilal was the slave of the most cruel person of Makkah, Umaayya bin Khalaf. The call for belief in one Allah and the teaching of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) had such a deep effect on him that he could not restrain himself for even a moment and he at once cried out:


(Ash hado An La Illal-lahowa-Ash hado Anna Muhammad-dar Rassol ullah)




 I bear witness to the fact that there is no God except Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) is the Prophet of Allah.


How could Umaayya bin Khalaf tolerate that his slave bow to one God. Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) had to pay heavily for it. Umaayya bin Khalaf inflicted so much torment and torture upon him that its details make us shudder even today. He would lay Bilal on the burning sand of the Arabian Desert, or put him on a hot bed of burning coal. He would tie cord round his neck and would hand over the end of it to ruffians of the city to drag him all around. Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) utter the words ‘Ahad! Ahad!’’, even in that unbearable torture to the utter disgust of his master, who now laid him down on burning sand, face downwards, and put a heavy stone upon his back. At about noon when Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) fainted, the master said, “Bilal! It is still time that you leave the God of Muhammad! ”.


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) unmindful of the torments, still utter the words ‘Ahad! Ahad! ’’, his master invented some heinous torments. He would sometimes pack him in a cow’s shin; sometime he would put on his person an iron armour and would lay him down in sever heat of the sun, and not satisfied even with that he would beat him severely and force him to admit that Laat and Uzza were his Gods.


But the devotee of Allah could say nothing but ‘Ahad! Ahad! ’’ (Allah is one). The injuries inflicted upon his person could even melt the stones; and even the non-believers of Makkah felt sympathy for him and said, “Bilal! If you only repeat the words we say, we will press your master to stop torturing you”. But Bilal said, “My tongue is unable to repeat those words”. As a result the sympathizers left him alone; but neither was Umaayya tried of tormenting Bilal, not Bilal of suffering the torments.


When Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) bore the burnt of the tortures and torments with courage and perseverance and proved his mental, Allah, the Almighty took him out of the great ordeal. Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was a very kind hearted person of Makkah. Though wealthy, he did not posses the mentality of a capitalist. He had already embraced Islam. He was passing by when he heard the call, ‘Ahad! Ahad! ’’. He saw the painful condition to Bilal and was grieved; and purchased him from his master, after paying a heavy price and set him free. When the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) came to know about it, he said.


“O! Abu Bakr! Let me share in this sacred deal.”


Abu Bakr said, “O Prophet of Allah, I have already set him free.”


But freedom from slavery did not save Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) from tortures and torments. In his individual capacity he was free from the brutalities of Umaayya bin Khalaf; but as a member of the community of Islam he was still the target of the persecutors of Makkah. How ever he got rid of all sorts of torments and tortures when the Muslims were order to migrate to Medina and the devotees of Islam, left their houses, there belongings and their place of birth, for the sake of Allah, and migrated to in Madinah.


In Madinah, the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) tied Bilal and Abu Ravaiha Abdullah in bonds of brotherhood. They were so deeply attached to each other. During the Caliphate of Umar Farooq (Radhi Allahu Anhu) when Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was proceeding on an expedition to Syria some one asked him, ‘Who will receive your stipend in your absence.’


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, “Abu Ravaiha will do it. The ties of brotherhood established between us by the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) will never break.”


 In Madinah, the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) constructed the his Masjid. Bilal was entrusted with the duty of announcing the Adhan five times a day. And, thus, the tongue which had refused to move for uttering words of respect to the idols came into action now. Allah had been bountiful in giving Bilal a voice very loud and melodious. Persons, intoxicated with the love of Islam, were enchanted on hearing it. Men left their business, women came out of their houses, and children stopped playing, to gather in the masjid, and then all of them, young or old, stood shoulder to shoulder to bow before Allah.


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was not only a Muadhdhin for the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam), he was also his confidant. He was always with the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) to every place and walked a few paces ahead of him with a spear in his hand. When the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) entered the Ka’bah after the conquest of the city, Bilal had the honour of accompanying him. Bilal looked to the management of the Prophet’s (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) household affairs. He was with him in all the military campaigns. He killed the greatest enemy of Islam Umaayya bin Khalaf, in the battle of Badr. He followed the footsteps of the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) throughout his life. In course of time he was elevated to a position of great esteem in the society and the high and respectable families wished him to marry in their families.


Thus he married in the families of Ban Zahra and Abu Darda (Radhi Allahu Anhu). The Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) himself performed his Nikah ceremony with the daughter of Abu Bukair. All of them were proud of their relationship with Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) who was a Negro by birth and color, a slave by position and a poor man by worldly standards.


Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) felt great pleasure in full submission to Allah and devoting himself to the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam). The Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) also had a great regard for him. He would not refuse him any favour. Once during journey night fell. Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu)  liked that place. He said, “It is, if the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) allows us to encamp here.” The Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “I am afraid a sound sleep may not let you get up in the small hours of the night.”


Bilal had full confidence in himself for getting up any time in the night.


He took the responsibility of awakening all the fellow travelers. As a precautionary measure he made up his mind to keep himself awake the whole night; and engaged himself in prayers. But suddenly he feel asleep. He awoke when the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) awakened him.


The Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “Well Bilal! What about your duty? ”


He said, “O Prophet of Allah! I was never negligent before.’


The Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “No doubts, Allah takes possession of your souls whenever He wills, and returns them to you according to His will. Get up now, and call for prayers, so that people may come for prayers!”


This shows the position of Bilal in the life of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam). Now something about his relationship with the Caliphs after the demise of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam):


The first Caliph Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) never kept Bilal away from himself. One day Bilal said to him, “I have heard the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam)” say that the best work for a good Muslim is to go for Jihad in the way of Allah. So I wish that I should engage myself in this work till the end of my life, I request that I may be allowed to go on some expedition”


Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, “O Bilal! In the name of Allah and my right over you, do you leave me alone in this old age? When Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) heard these affectionate words he did not insist”.


During the reign of Umar Farooq (Radhi Allahu Anhu), Bilal again sought permission for Jihad. He also wanted to stop Bilal but did not succeed in persuading him to stay in Madinah. So Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) joined the expedition to Syria. Umar (Radhi Allahu Anhu) used to say, “Abu Bakr (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was our leader, and he has set our leader Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu) free.


Once the second caliph, Umar Farooq (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was sitting with some friends. In the course of their talk they decided that every one present should express his choicest desire. So one of them said, “I wish Allah may bestow upon me gold worth the mountain of Uhud in weight, so that I may spend in the name of Allah to seek His pleasure.” another person said, “My desire is that Allah may favour me with a number of slave girls, so that I may set them free to seek His pleasure”. Some other person dies for martyrdom to win an abode in the Eternal Gardens; another person wished to go on Jihad, and still another person dies to perform a faultless Hajj. But, when it was the turn of Umar Farooq (Radhi Allahu Anhu), he said, “May Allah fill this house with saints like Bilal, Salman Farsi, Khubaib and Suhaib (Radhi Allahu Anhuma) and I may sit amongst them.” This shows what esteem Bilal enjoyed in Umar’s (Radhi Allahu Anhu) eyes.


All of Bilal’s counsels which he offered to the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) or to the First Caliph, or the Second Caliph, were accepted. On the occasion of the conquest of Syria, the whole army officers or troops were served the same food. On the recommendation of Bilal (Radhi Allahu Anhu). He spoke for the marriage of a poor devotee of Islam to a member of a very high social family in Al-Madinah, and the request was accepted. He was never tried of spreading the teaching of Islam. He used to say, “I am only a negro, who was till lately an ordinary slave. Oh my people! Put faith in Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam), then take part in Jihad and then perform a fault less Hajj”.


Before the death, he saw the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) in his dream, saying, “O Bilal! How long this uninteresting life! Has not the time come that we meet again?” when he got up, he was in highly excited state of mind. He was living permanently at that time in a town, Kholan, in Syria. He left the town and came to Madinah. He saw the relations of companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) and returned home. He died in Damascus and was buried there. May Allah shower his choicest blessings upon him for his piety and nobility of character? And, may Allah bless all those who love and follow the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) as did the devoted companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam).

Let’s remember Bilal, the Muezzin of the Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam) the next time we hear the Adhan.

Wa Alaikum Salam 


“Verily your Lord is quick in punishment; yet He is indeed Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful (Surah Al-An’am 6:165)
"Indeed, we belong to Allah and to Him is our return" (Surah Baqarah 2: 155)
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