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BILAAL IBN RABAAH
Sneering at Horror!
Whenever Umar lbn Al khattaab mentioned Abu Bakr he would say, "Abu Bakr is our master and
the emancipator of our master." That is to say, Bilaal.
Indeed, the man to whom `Umar would give the agnomen "Our Master" must be a great and
fortunate man. However, this man - who was very dark in complexion, slender, very tall, thick- haired
and with a sparse beard, as described by the narrators - would hardly hear words of praise and
commendation directed at him and bestowed bountifully upon him without bending his head, lowering
his eyelids and saying with tears flowing down his two cheeks, "Indeed, I am an Abyssinian. Yesterday, I
was only a slave!"
So who is this Abyssinian who was yesterday only a slave? He is Bilaal Ibn Rabaah the announcer of
the time of Muslim prayer and the troublemaker to the idols. He was one of the miracles of faith and
truthfulness, one of Islam's great miracles. For out of every ten Muslims, from the beginning of Islam
until today and until Allah wills, we will meet seven, at least, who know Bilaal. That is, there are
hundreds of millions of people throughout the centuries and generations who know Bilaal, remember his
name, and know his role just as they know the two greatest Caliphs in Islam, Abu Bakr and `Umar!
Even if you ask a child who is still in his first years of primary school in Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia,
or China, in the two Americas, Europe, or Russia, in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, or Sudan, in Tunis,
Algeria, or Morocco, in the depth of Africa and in the mountains of Asia, in every place on the earth
where Muslims reside, you can ask any Muslim child, "Who is Bilaal, child?" He will answer you, "He
was the muezzin of the Messenger (PBUH) and he was the slave whose master used to torture him with
hot burning stones to make him apostatize. But instead he said, "One, One."
Whenever you consider this enduring fame that Islam bestowed upon Bilaal, you should know that
before Islam this Bilaal was no more than a slave who tended herds of camels for his master for a
handful of dates. Had it not been for Islam, it would have been his fate to remain a slave, wandering
among the crowd until death brought an end to his life and caused him to perish in the profoundest
depths of forgetfulness.
However, his faith proved to be true, and the magnificence of the religion which he believed in gave
him, during his lifetime and in history, an elevated place among the great and holy men of Islam. Indeed,
many human beings of distinction, prestige, or wealth have not obtained even one-tenth of the
immortality which Bilaal the Abyssinian slave gained. Indeed, many historical figures were not conferred
even a portion of the fame which has been bestowed upon Bilaal.
Indeed, the black color of his complexion, his modest lineage, and his contemptible position among
people as a slave did not deprive him, when he chose to embrace Islam, of occupying the high place
which his truthfulness, certainty, purity, and self-sacrifice qualified him for. For him, all this would not
have been on the scale of estimation and honor except as an astonishing occurrence when greatness is
found where it could not possibly be.
People thought that a slave like Bilaal - who descended from strange roots, who had neither kinfolk
nor power, who did not possess any control over his life but was himself a possession of his master who
had bought him with his money, who came and went amid the sheep, camels, and other livestock of his
master - they thought that such a human creature would neither have power over anything, nor become
anything. But he went beyond all expectations and possessed great faith that no one like him could