The Ultimate Love of Bilal ibn Robah RA

Bilal Ibn Rabah RA , the first Muazzin of Islam, was one of the most trusted and loyal companion of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).He was a true model of the morals and customs of Islam. He cherished unbounded love for the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and was deeply devoted to Islam. He was a staunch foe of the infidels and idolaters but this involved no personal feelings. He held the infidels in deep contempt because they were the enemies of Islam and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). 

He is, generally, known as "BILAL HABASHI", but actually his features were not identical with those of the. Habashi or Zangi, His complexion was black but his hair was not curly, it was thick. Actually, his complexion was dark-brown. His body was tall and slim and his chest prominent. His cheeks were thin but his nose was not snub. Thus, as the historians opine, he was not a pure Abyssinian. His father was an Arab and his mother was an Abyssinian. His fathers name was Rabah and his mother was called Hamama,

 It is likely that Hamama was a slave girl from Mecca or Sarat, Sarat is a town between Yemen and Abyssinia, Some of the historians claim that he was born at Mecca, but the majority of the historians opine that Bilal was born in Sarat, And the latter view seem to be acceptable for there could be a mixed race in Sarat.

 There is also a difference of opinion about his date of birth. According to some of the historians he was born 53 years before Hijra but according la some others, he was born about 43 year before Hijra, and this latter view seems to be preferable. Bilal Bin Rabah RA was brought up at Mecca, in a well known Quraishi tribe called Abu Jamah. 

During the Days of Ignorance, the members of this tribe were thought as experts in palmistry-reading the lines of hands. They also drew out lots with the help of arrows. This tribe had a constant dispute with Banu Abd Manaf because, when there was a conflict between Banu Abd Manaf and Banu Abd Dar, it had sided with the latter, The other Muazzins of the Prophet (S.A.W.) - Abu Mahzura and Amr bin Umm Kulsum -were also brought up in the tribe Abu Jamah.

It is difficult to state whether it was a mere chance or it was due to melody and harmony of voice. It is not known with authenticity as to who amongst the tribe of Banu Jamah was the master of Bilal and his father. Some have written that he was the slave of a noble woman of that tribe, while others claim that a widow related to Abu Jahl was his mistress. Again, some others have writer that he was the slave of Umaiya bin Khalaf. Bilal RA had a natural hatred against the customs and practices prevailing in the Days of Ignorance.

The people in those days were devoid of good morals, kindness and of other human values, deceit had become their second nature. Allah SWT had endowed Bilal with righteous nature and he remained true to it in his whole life. It is, therefore, held that he readily responded to the call of Allahs Messenger SAW when he came out with the Message of Oneness or Unity of Allah. It is an established fact that Bilal RA had not embraced Islam with any worldly motive or securing relief from the torments of slave life On the contrary by accepting Islam, he had invited upon himself torment of double even treble intensity.
He had only one purpose in view and that was to win the favor of Allah SWT. Allah SWT had illuminated his heart with the light of faith. Hence he endured all kinds of atrocities with remarkable patience and fortitude. It was in accord with his nature to accept the Truth unreservedly. As soon as he heard the clarion call for the acceptance of faith in One Allah and the equality of all human beings issued by the noblest personality of the most respectable family, Banu Hashim, he at once made an affirmative response. His heart was as clean as mirror, it was filled with the sentiments of affection, sincerity, obedience and devotion.

The thought crossed his mind like a flash of lightning that the person who wanted to liquidate class differences in order to put the master and slave equal, was a man who belongs to the noblest class in Mecca. Yet he was a staunch champion of the equality of all human being, could not be but the Truthful Messenger and the Prophet of the Creator.
The grave of Bilal RA at Bab Al Saghir, Syria
He must have thought that it was impossible for a person, who enjoyed exceeding popularity in the whole of Mecca and commanded deep respect from the rank and file of Mecca, to risk to the loss of his popularity and reputation unless this person was the Messenger of the Lord who makes no discrimination between the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the Arab and the non-Arab. Those who accepted Islam in the beginning were, except few, generally weak and helpless.

They had no supporters or sympathizers. So the infidels inflicted endless in human tortures on them. Tying ropes to the legs of the Muslims, they dried them on the stony ground of the desert. They stripped the poor Muslims need and throwing them on the burning sand and often on red embers, placed heavy stones on their bodies. They forced them to stand in the blazing sun. Bilal too was tortured like that.

They wanted him to make statement which suited the infidels purpose But he displayed unflinching self-control, patience and perseverance. They employed all sorts of cruelties to divert Bilal from the True Faith but could not succeed. There was no form of threat which was not held nut to him, and there was no form of torture which the infidels did not execute on him, but Bilal RA on the face of all this, held firm to his faith.

In reply to all of their coercion and tortures he said, "There is none to be worshipped but Allah." Bilals master Umaiya Bin Khalaf was his greatest tormentor. In spite of all these tortures Bilal would utter, Ahad, Ahad (Allah is One, Allah is One), When the tormentors demanded of him to respect what they said, Bilal would reply, "No, my tongue is not supposed to utter what you say."

According to historical records, Bilal's master often tied him and threw him down and flung a stone and cow hide over him and said, "Your gods are Lat and Uzza so testify your faith in them." But he continued to say "Ahad, Ahad." The infidels tied a rope round his neck and allowed the street urchins to drag him to and from between the two hills of Mecca.

Even, under this severe torment, Bilal's tongue repeated only one word "Ahad, Ahad." Thereupon, the infidels gave him a severe heating and stretched him on the burning sand. A heavy stone was placed over his body, still he uttered nothing save the word "Ahad, Ahad." One day Abu Bakr Siddiq RA saw the heart touching plight of Bilal RA and he came to his rescue. "How long will you oppress this poor fellow?" said Abu Bakr to Bilal's master and bought him paying men Uqia (about 23 grams of Gold) to his master. Abu Bakar Siddiq then declared Bilal RA a free man.

By enduring all sorts of atrocities and humiliations in the path of love for Allah SWT and His Prophet SAW, Bilal RA set an example and a beacon light till the end of this world, for the seekers after Truth and Righteousness. He knew well the consequences of renouncing idol-worship and offering devotion to One God Allah, yet so deep was the imprint of the righteous life and the unparalleled good morals of the Holy Prophet SAW upon his heart that no degree of savage oppression and violence could blot it out.

Some historian state that when the price for Bilal was being paid, Bilal's master increased the price from 7 Uqias to 9 Uqias and Abu Bakr RA said to him, "Even if you raise the price to 1000 Uqias, I will definitely buy him."

It is stated that Abu Bakar Siddiq RA bought Bilal at the advice of Allahs Messenger SAW and the Prophet SAW also offered him half of the price in order to mitigate the burden of Abu Bakar Siddiq RA. But Abu Bakar Siddiq RA begged pardon from the Prophet SAW for not accepting this offer and he himself emancipated Bilal. He then appointed Bilal RA as his own store-keeper.
Later on Bilal was made to serve to the Messenger of Allah SAW. When the Holy Prophet SAW granted permission to his companions to migrate, Bilal, along with the other companions of the Holy Prophet SAW, migrated to Medina. In Medina Bilal lived in the same house with Abu Bakr Siddiq RA and Aamir bin-Fahria RA.

On the of the victorious entry into Makkah, Bilal RA ascended the Kaabah calling the Azan,
In Medina when the Holy Prophet SAW established the bond of brotherhood between the Muhajireen (Migrants) and Ansar (Helpers), Bilal RA and Abu Ruwaiha RA were brothers unto each other. This clarifies that Abu Ruwaiha RA was not the blood brother of Bilal RA. As in Mecca, so in Medina, Bilal RA could not endure separation from the Holy Prophet SAW.He always accompanied the Holy Prophet SAW in all the Holy wars that look place during the Holy Prophet SAW lifetime. He also remained with the Prophet SAW in the course of all journeys he undertook. It was for this reason that he was appointed the first Muslim of the Holy Prophet SAW. Bilal RA continued to the post of Muazzin of the Prophet's Masjid till the Holy Prophet SAW left this world for his heavenly abode.

He was preferred over all the Mauzzins during the Prophets lifetime, the cause of this preference being his precedence in embracing Islam, his rich and melodious voice and his excellent utterance. When he recited the call of prayer and wished to inform the Prophet SAW that the time for leading prayer had come, he would stand by the door of the Prophets room and would shout "Hasten to the prayer, Hasten to well-being. O Messenger of Allah, prayer."

Hearing his these words the Prophet would come for leading the prayers. Bilal RA would say Iqama before the prayers commenced. While going to Salat-el-Eid or Salat-Istisqa (prayer for rain), Bilal RA used to walk ahead of the Prophet SAW holding a spear and would pitch it on the ground one or two yards away from the place where the Prophet SAW wished to lead the congregation of the prayer.

The spear was one of those three, sent by the King of Abyssinia in homage to the Prophet SAW. The Prophet SAW, gifted one of the three spears to Umar RA and kept the third one with himself, Thus Bilal RA had the honor of keeping the Prophet's SAW spear throughout his lifetime. Traditions relate that Bilals marriage had been arranged by the Holy Prophet SAW himself, It is stated that the sons of Abul Bukair one day came to the Holy Prophet SAW and said, "0 Messenger of Allah, find a match for our sister. "The Holy Prophet SAW observe, "Why do you not marry her to Bilal, hearing this they went back, but after a few days they came again and repeated the same request, and the Holy Prophet SAW gave the same reply.

Thus after a few days they came third time with the same request. This time also the Prophet SAW giving the same reply added, "Bilal is an inmate of Paradise; you should marry your sister to him." So, having heard the Prophets advice, they married their sister to Bilal. Bilal RA took more wives after this marriage. According to Qatadah he had married a lady of the tribe of Banu Zuhra.

It is also recorded that one of his wives was Hin-ul-Khulania who belonged to Yemen. Bilal RA has no issue from any of his. Once Bilal RA related to his wife a Tradition of the Holy Prophet SAW but his wife expressed some doubts about the authenticity of his report. Bilal RA in a mood of anger went to the Prophet SAW and recounted his dispute with his wife.

The Holy Prophet SAW went with him to his house and observed to his wife, "You should take Bilal's words for any Tradition of mine, and do not give him cause for anger."

Bilal RA had given up announcing Azan after the demise of the Holy Prophet SAW . He cherished such deep love for the Prophet SAW that he could not bear the thought of announcing the call after his demise. In fact he used to announce especially for his Master, the Prophet SAW, in response to which the Prophet SAW would arrive for prayer. During his stay in Medina and Syria, after the demise of the HoIy Prophet SAW, people made entreaties to him on several occasions to call the Azan, but he always declined, except once when Umar RA had visited Damascus and had requested Bilal RA to call the Azan. He complied with the request of the Caliph, and this was his last Call that, he delivered in his lifetime. As soon as the news got around that Bilal RA would deliver the Azan for the Dawn prayer, a great excitement was observed among the people.

Everyone rushed towards the mosque with great fondness and in frenzied state of mind. As soon as Bilal RA voice resounded in the air, it produced a great excitement among the people . They recalled to their imagination the times when the Holy Prophet SAW was alive and Bilal RA used to recite the Azan . It is recorded in history that the whole congregation in the mosque burst into tears Umar RA and the bravest of the warriors Islam, who were present there, could not check themselves so all wept.

Some scholars are of the opinion that the present rhythmical form of recital of the Azan in the Muslim world, is the same as was originated by Bilal RA. One thing, however ,must be clarified in this connection. The Holy Prophet SAW had not appointed Bilal as the Muazzin for his masterly rhythm or melody of the rules but it was his exceeding piety, devotion to worship and regular attendance in the mosque that the choice of the Holy Prophet SAW fell on him for the performance of this important duty.

It is reported in the Traditions that the Holy Prophet saw paid close attention to the education and training of Bilal RA. Once the Holy Prophet SAW said, "O Bilal, The best deed that a believer can perform is to struggle for the cause of Allah. The Prophet SAW also taught him concerning humility " 0 Bilal always live in humility and with contentment and die with those who feel contented."

The Prophet SAW,off and on gave him instructions concerning distribution of the surplus wealth with him i.e. the Prophet SAW. He would say, "Bilal, a quantity of wealth has accumulated with me I do not wish to keep it, so take it and give it away to the needy so that my heart may he alleviated from its burden " ,

Actually the Messenger of Allah SAW intended to teach Bilal by example how a man should cultivate the virtue of contentment in life and abstain from wealth. Bilal RA observed with great attention all the instructions and precedent of the Holy Prophet SAW and proved to he a true follower and a devotee of the Prophet SAW till the end of his life.

He was in constant attendance on the Holy Prophet SAW day and night, because he derived delight from the sight, love and kindness. He performed the duties of an attendant upon the Holy Prophet in all circumstances, during journeys and stay in camp, in war and peace, but was never treated like a servant by the Prophet SAW, Bilal RA expressed deep devotion for his master and leader, He could not bear even the slightest discomfort of the Prophet SAW and was alive ready to respond to his masters call. Throughout the battles he kept running between the Prophet's camp and the battlefield, bearing communications , orders and instructions from the Prophet SAW .to the troops when the Prophet SAW made a victorious entry into the city of Mecca and the Prophet SAW entered Holy Kaba, there were three men. accompanying him and one of them was Bilal RA, the other two were Usman-bin-Talha RA , the key-bearer of Kaba and Usman bin Zaid RA. Bilal RA performed the duty of reciting the call to prayer. He recited the Azan for a few days only after the demise of the Prophet SAW and then requested Abu Bakr Siddiq RA the Caliph to release him of the duty of calling Azan, and grant him leave to go to Syria with the Mujahideen (soldiers). It is stated that when in the absence of the Holy Prophet SAW he pronounced the name of the Prophet SAW while calling the Azan ,he could not bear the absence of his master and burst into uncontrollable tears .

His audience too, stricken with grief, broke down. He felt oppressed in Medina without the Prophet SAW, so in spite of being sixty years of age, he resolved to forsake his peaceful life in Medina and devote rest of his days to holy war in far-away lands.

He then participated in a number of battles. He then went to his small piece of land in the suburbs of Damascus, which he cultivated and lived on its produce. It is not known how long Bilal RA remained in the company of Abu Bakr RA. After the reign of the first Caliph, Bilal RA was assigned some state duties.

It is recorded in history that when the second Caliph Umar Bin Khattab RA called upon Khalid-ibn Al Walid - the Sword of Allah- to explain in connection with some of his alleged irregularities and errors, it was Bilal RA who took off Khalid's turban from his head and tied his hands with it in open assembly and did not untie him until Khalid RA had furnished a satisfactory explanation of all the charges made against him.

After this he offered his sincere apology to Khalid RA. There is another episode that reveals the high esteem in which Bilal RA was held by Umar RA. It is stated that one day Abu Shufian-bin-Harb, Suhail- bin-Amr and some other prominent Arab Chiefs came to the Caliph for an interview.

By chance Bilal RA and Sahib (an ex-slave) also arrived to meet the Caliph, When Umar RA learnt of their arrival he called in Bilal RA and Sahib RA at once and the Arab Chiefs, who had come earlier, stood waiting outside. Abu Sufian could not restrain himself turning to his companions he remarked, "It was our fate to endure this disgrace. The slaves are admitted to audience while we the nobles of Arabia stay at the door,"

Hearing this remark Suhail Bin Amr retorted, "But who is to be blamed for this? The Messenger of Allah SAW invited us all with one voice but we refuted his call and offered severe resistance to him On the other hand these slaves came forward "and made a positive response.

It is their right now to get preference over us in this world and the next. We have no cause for complaint,"

During the Caliphate of Umar RA, when the registers of salaries and allowances were being prepared, the Caliph dispatched a letter to Bilal RA - who was with the army in Syria - asking him to intimate with whom his name should be entered. "Enter my name with Abu Ruwaiha RA whom I shall never abandon on account of the fraternal bond established by the Holy Prophet SAW between him and me," replied Bilal RA.

Except the episodes mentioned above, history furnishes no further record of his life after the demise of the Holy Prophet SAW. It is recorded that he had joined the Muslim Army in the Holy War in Syria. But he had completely dissociated himself from the public life in the closing phase of his life.

As we have stated above, he acquired a piece of land in the outskirts of Damascus and passed his days in peace and isolation, After this nothing was heard about him but he was seen in public when he called Azan for the Caliph Umar RA on the request of the eminent companions of the Prophet SAW.

It was the year 20 of Hijra when Bilal RA expired in Damascus. He was seventy when he died. He died of epidemic like plague. It is stated that he was of the same age as was Abu Bakr Siddiq RA. On his deathbed he was very glad at the prospect of meeting his master, the Prophet SAW and his companions who had already gone to the next world.

When his wife cried out by his bedside and began to weep bitterly, he comforted her saying: "Do not cry. Why do you weep! l am looking forward to see my master, the Prophet SAW and other companions after such a long reparation. If Allah SWT wills I shall meet them all tomorrow."

And he really expired the day after, "Innalillah-e-Wa Inna Ilai-he-Rajiun." He was buried in Damascus, near Bab-as-Sagheer. His tomb is even today the favorite resort of crowds of visitors, People, high and low, come to offer prayers (Fateha) at his grave. Among the people Bilal's credibility was high that they would rather disbelieve their own eyes. Than cast doubts on Bilal's report of any Tradition of the Holy Prophet SAW, because he paid the greatest regard to truth in all matters concerning the action or precepts of the Holy Prophet SAW, as well as in the affairs of others.

When Abu Ruwaiha RA his brother-in-Islam, wanted to contract marriage with a lady of a respectable tribe, he requested Bilal RA to intercede on his behalf. Bilal RA went with him and told in clear terms to the guardians of the bride, "I am Bilal-bin-Robah and this is my brother Abu Ruwaiha, who wants to establish matrimonial relation with you.

So, I must point out that he is a very hot-tempered a man. It is up to you to give your daughter in marriage to him or refuse." Hearing this clear-cut testimony of Bilal the parents of the ady accepted the proposal of Abu Ruwaiha RA, for they could not disregard Bilal's recommendation. Seeing the various aspects of Bilal's life we come to the clear conclusion that the most prominent feature of his life was his complete honesty and integrity.

It was on this account that the Holy Prophet SAW had entrusted to Bilal RA the management of the Baitul Mal (State Treasury). He was also in charge of the house hold of the Prophet SAW. He remained close at hand even at the time of the Prophets departure for heavenly home and was included among the selected few who performed the funeral rites of the Prophet SAW. It was Bilal RA who sprinkled water from a skin-bag over the sepulchre of the Holy Prophet, and thus, gained the rare privilege of administering the last funeral rites.

Bilal, because of his sincerity, was an extremist by nature. He loved intensely and hated intensely. He loved intensely Allah SWT and His Prophet SAW and was deeply devoted to Islam, but he was, at the same time, a staunch foe of the infidels and polytheists, and he never tried to hide his feelings and contempt for them. Bilal RA left no legacy in the form of material wealth or offsprings, but he left a spiritual memorial which is unique in the world, that is Azan. The call to prayer has been recited continuously in the world, for the last fourteen hundred years of Islam, and as the people hear the call it recalls to mind the memory of the First Muazzin of Islam, Bilal bin Robah RA.