if that stone placed upon your chest,
an act of barbarity,
to stifle your tongue,
from mentioning The One, The One,
to suffocate your breath,
didn’t in fact give you lungs,
didn’t in fact expand your breast.
No stone, nor mountain,
would in future find more peace,
and tremble with love and awe,
than by hearing your voice,
And have your breath between them soar.
God made that stone and every stone, subservient to your Ruh,
your zephyr that passes between your teeth,
from the well within,
far too deep,
for the materialist minds,
for the societal sheep,
to do anything but misunderstand,
but a thousand years and a thousand more,
still makes every believer weep.
Bilal Ibn Rabah, was the first African to become a Muslim.
He suffered tremendously for his pronouncement of faith.
At a time where the Meccan dignitaries were oppressing anyone, be they of nobility or a layman, the punishment endured by Bilal was nothing short of an extension and proof of the putridness that lay within them, the barbarity and hostility they had towards anyone who professed to believe in One God.
Bilal’s would go on to become one of the most infamous rebellion stories.
A slave to wealthy Meccans, upon hearing the call to believe in one God, the equality of men and women before God that Islam espoused, Bilal defied his owners and would not whip Ammar bin Yassir when asked to make an example out of him. So instead, his owner and the rest of Mecca decided to make an example out of Bilal.
They whipped and punished him, dragged him around town with rope around his neck, even dipped him in boiling water, and still, Bilal could only echo ‘Ahadun, Ahad’, – The One, The One. Two syllables that would enrage the Meccans who wanted him to denounce one God and instead worship and acknowledge their many gods.
Umayyah ibn Khalaf, became enraged, being the owner of Bilal, he set about from the start to orchestrate all the punishment. Finally he had a stone brought forward which took four men to lift and placed it upon Bilals chest. Defiantly, Bilal would not succumb, ‘Ahadun, Ahad’, The One, The One.
It was at this time Abu Bakr, paid for Bilals freedom, when Ummayy had realised he could no longer have any use for him, he thought, being the materialist oppressor he was, that the money is better than a ‘useless’ slave.
Bilal was bought off and set free by Abu Bakr.
Upon hearing his story, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) became extremely fond of Bilal.
Bilal would go on to be the official Mu’adhen (caller) to prayer. The Prophet Muhammad preferred him over anyone else because of his sincerity and piercing voice.
So here we have a man, thought of as nothing, a former slave who was persecuted and tortured by the Meccans, now calling the prayer for all Muslims.
His call, which he saw in a dream, has become the only call to be recited by all Muslims around the world 1430 years later.
Bilal lived out his life alongside the Prophet Muhammad and the companions until the day came when the Prophet (peace be upon him), passed from this world.
Bilal was making the call to prayer and upon reaching the part mentioning the Prophet, broke down inconsolably. He finally finished the call but couldn’t bare to be around the place where the Prophet’s scent still lingered, and joined the convoy of Muslims heading to Damascus and settled there.
One night, he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him), in his dreams who asked him ‘Oh Bilal, why is it that you don’t visit me?’ Upon waking, Bilal immediately packed his belongings and set for Madinah.
Upon arriving, he was greeted by Al Hassan and Al Hussayn (God be well pleased with them), the noble grand children of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Bilal had a deep fondness for them, because they were so dear to the Prophet. So when they requested he make adhan for prayer, he could not refuse their wish.
Upon initiating the call, suddenly Madinah and all its inhabitants fell into shock. For a moment, they reminisced, they were all taken and thought that the Prophet Muhammad had returned and began crying and coming out into the streets, rushing to the central prayer mosque. Upon arriving the joy was apparent on everyone’s faces, it wasn’t the Prophet, but it was his beloved companion and preferred caller to prayer, Bilal. This was the last time Bilal would call the prayer in Madinah.
Bilal would eventually return to Damascus where he passed away.
His story reminds us today that no matter the persecution, God always has a plan far grander than any punishment oppressors can dish out.
From the chains of slavery, Bilal became the echo on every Muslims lips, five times a day at the minimum, reminding them of God, calling them to prayer, calling them to success, calling them to establishment and rectitude of their affairs, reminding them to reconcile, admit error, improve ones affairs and repent from evil or wrong doing. To ask for forgiveness, and to beg pardon. To have thanks and gratitude for fortune and misfortune, knowing well, whatever lay in stall for them, is of the wisdom and knowledge of their maker.
*Ruh – Soul
*Reeh – Subtle breeze or zephyr