The Life of Sayyid al-Mu’azzineen (Leader of the Mu’azzins) Hazrat Bilal رضي الله عنه

Sayyid al-Mu’azzineen (Leader of the Mu’azzins), Imam al-Aashiqeen, The faithful companion and Mu’azzin of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , Hadrat Sayyiduna Bilal al-Habashi رضي الله عنه is a famous Sahabi who accepted Islam in its early days in Makkah al-Mukarramah. When he accepted Islam, the non-believers placed great  difficulties upon him which he bore with great patience in his youth. His father’s name was Rabah and his mother’s name was Hamamah.

His birth place is Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and this is why he is known as Habshi (the old name for Abyssinia is Habsh). Born in the late 6th century, the preferred view is that Bilal رضي الله عنه was 43 years old at the time of Hijra but it has been suggested by some that he could have been as old as 53.

He was either a slave of a woman in Makkah who had made Umayyah bin Khalaf her agent in the matters of Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه

or Umayya Ibn Khalaf himself when he accepted Islam. The Kaafirs of Makkah persecuted him severely. When Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه came to know about the pain and anguish which he underwent at the hands of the Kuffaar, he bought him and set him free. One of the many released slaves by Hazrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, Bilal رضي الله عنه was known for his beautiful voice and was given the honor by the Holy Prophet Muhammad صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  of being the first Mu’azzin (The one who gives the call to prayer) of Islam. He remained constantly in the company of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم . He was always at the service of the needs of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم . Muhaddith Hakim and Hafidh Abu Nu’aym also regarded him as one of the Ashaab of al-Suffah.

After he had accepted Islam, he participated with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  in the battle of Badr and in all other battles. He called the Adhaan and he was the Mu’azzin of Masjid al-Nabawi as long as he remained with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم . His greatness and excellence is mentioned in numerous books of Ahadith.

One day at the time of Fajr, Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  asked Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه, ‘O Bilaal, Show me the action that you have done after accepting Islam, which is above all other actions, because I have heard your footsteps in Jannah’. Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه explains that I have not done any action which is more than the others. But it is true, that during the day or night, whenever I made Wudhu, I made it my duty to read some Nafl Salaah, and  from amongst the Salaah I read, I verily read Tahiyyatul Wudhu (Salaat after Wudhu)” when beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  heard this, he said that it was because of this action that he had attained such status.

Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه used to mention

Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه is our leader who freed our leader Hadrat Bilaal Radi Allahu  طائلة.
In ‘Hilyat al-Awliyaa’, beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  mentions that he is Sayyid al-Mu’azzineen (leader of the Mu’azzins).

ENDURANCE OF DIFFICULTY ON THE ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه was harassed and beaten the day long and during the night. He was tied in chains and lashed. On the next day, he was again made to lie on the hot desert sands which cause even greater injuries to the body of Bilaal رضي الله عنه, who was loved by Allah  طائلة.

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه used to be beaten by many people. When one would get tired, another would take his place. Sometimes it was Abu Jhal’s turn and sometimes Umayyah bin Khalaf and others. Each of them would beat him until they got tired but no mercy was spared for the slave whom they so brutally injured and whose status in Jannah was to surpass that of many Arabs.

In the sweltering heat under the Arabian skies, Hadrat Bilal’s love for Allah shone brighter than the sun itself. So strong was it that he could not conceal it despite the punishment and torture afflicted on him by his cruel master.

There were times when a large boulder would be placed upon his chest as he lay on the scorching sand, his ribs being crushed under the weight. Yet the words ‘Ahad! Ahad! (There is only one Allah!)’ were constantly repeated by Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه

, so strong was his faith and love.

His Jewish master would insult him and threaten him to denounce Islam, beat him, whip him and humiliate him on the streets of Makkah, but nothing was able to shake Hadrat Bilal’s رضي الله عنه heart.

FREEDOM

One day, it so happened that Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه was passing that way and saw Sayyidina Hadrat Bilal crying out, “Ahad! Ahad!”, despite the immense torture he was being subjected to. As he watched, Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique’s رضي الله عنه heart became agitated upon seeing Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه

under such persecution, and tears filled his eyes.

He then called Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه towards himself and advised him to utter Allah’s name in solitude and not to utter it in the presence of his persecutor, or he would be subjected to further persecution and torture. Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه replied, “O Honored One! You are the Siddique of Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , and therefore I accept your advice and will act accordingly.”

The following day, Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه happened to pass that way, and again he witnessed the same sight.

Hadrat Bilal was once more uttering the cry of “Ahad! Ahad!” while the Jew was torturing him to such an extent that again his body became soaked in blood. Seeing this, Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique’s رضي الله عنه heart was filled with pain and he advised Hadrat Bilal, “Brother, why do you utter ‘Ahad’ in the presence of this persecutor? Utter it silently and secretly within yourself”.

Hadrat Mawlana Rumi رضي الله عنه says:

“When Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه advised him towards silence and secrecy, Bilal رضي الله عنه

repented again, but when love overwhelmed, he swallowed the repentance. It is the message of the troubled heart. Without You there can be neither peace nor comfort.”

Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه, on numerous occasions, gave Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه the same advice but on every occasion when he passed that way, he saw the same scene – the Jew persecuting Bilal who was all the time crying, “Ahad! Ahad!”

Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه finally went to Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  and related the story to him. When Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  heard the story, he was filled with sorrow and tears flowed from his blessed eyes. He asked, “O Siddique! What is the solution to this problem? How can we save Bilal from this calamity?”

Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه replied: “Ya Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , I shall buy Bilal. Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  agreed and said, “Let my share also be therein”.

Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه then approached the Jew while he was again torturing Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه. Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه

said to him, “Why are you beating this friend of Allah?” How long will you carry out this practice on this poor person?” Umayyah bin Khalaf retorted that, ‘since you have instigated him (by teaching Islam to him) so you free him.” Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه answered, “Yes, I will free him. I have a black slave who is even stronger than him and who is in your religion. Will you accept this slave in exchange for him?” Umayyah bin Khalaf accepted the offer. Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه exchanged the slaves and thus bought Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه and freed him before migration. It is also narrated that Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique رضي الله عنه paid the ransom and freed Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه. Besides Bilal رضي الله عنه he bought other slaves who were being beaten and harassed for accepting Islam and freed them also.

After this, Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , out of love and joy, embraced Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه and held him to his heart.

Hadrat Mawlana Rumi رضي الله عنه says:

“Beloved Mustafa صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ embraced Bilal and held him against his chest. The ecstasy Bilal felt! Who can ever imagine that?”

CONQUEST OF MAKKAH

When the Muslims finally conquered the city of Makkah, its people fled to their houses in fear and bolted the doors and windows. They feared that the Muslims would avenge themselves for the wrong done to them years ago.

The Muslims advanced towards the Holy Kabah and then Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه assured the people that they were safe. He announced out loud, “All those who lay down arms are safe. All those in the house of Abu Sufyan are safe. All those behind closed doors are safe.”

PARTICIPATION IN THE BATTLE OF BADR AND THE KILLING OF UMAYYA BIN KHALAF

A year after beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  and his beloved Sahaaba Radi Allahu Anhum Ajma’een migrated from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah, the battle of Badr took place. Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه also participated in this battle with the other Sahaaba Radi Allahu Anhum Ajma’een. The leaders of the Mushrikeen of Makkah (who were the enemies of Islam and the Muslims who forced the Muslims out of Makkah, who also oppressed Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه) were killed in this battle. Specially, Abu Jahl and Umayyah bin Khalaf who severely punished Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه were both killed in this battle.

THE BEGINNING OF ADHAAN AND THE APPOINTMENT OF HADRAT BILAAL رضي الله عنه AS MU’AZZIN

In the second year after Hijrah, the announcing of the time of Salaat began and Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه was appointed Mu’azzin and always remained the Mu’azzin of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  both in his presence and also during travel.

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه stayed with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  In Madinah Munawwarah, he was the Mu’azzin and even while travelling, he went with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , and at the time of Salaah he used to give Adhaan. Very seldom beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  went somewhere and someone other than Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه called the

Adhaan. Whenever beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  went to Masjid al-Qubaa, then Bilaal رضي الله عنه would give the Adhaan and when hearing him, the people living around the area knew that beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  was in the area.

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه used to give the Fajr Adhaan from the roof of the house of a lady from the tribe of Banu Najjaar. Her home was joined to the Masjid. From the time of Sehri he used to sit on the roof waiting for the time of Fajr. When it was time to commence the Adhaan then he should stretch his limbs, and make the following Du’a after which he gave the Adhaan.

‘Oh Allah I praise you, and I desire that You become aid to the Quraysh to establish Your Deen’

The woman from whose roof he gave the Adhaan said that there was not a day that he did not mention this Du’a. [Sunan Abi Dawud, Vol. 2, Page 198, Hadith 519]

TREASURER OF BELOVED PROPHET صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه was the Muazzin of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  and his treasurer. If anyone came to beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  with any necessity then he used to ask Hadrat Bilaal to carry out this task who would then make sure to get the necessary item and fulfill the need on behalf of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم

Hadrat Bilal mentioned it to Abdullah Al-Hawzaani that if some Muslims came who did not have anything to wear, then Rasoolullah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  should order me to take a loan and purchase a cloth to clothe the needy. [Hilyatul Awliyaa]

Whilst doing this once Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه accumulated a heap of dates. Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  asked Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه what is this? Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه answered I have accumulated this for you and your visitors. Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  said, ‘Oh Bilaal رضي الله عنه, spend it and do not fear it becoming less’ [Hilyatul Awliyaa]

COMPANIONSHIP WITH BELOVED PROPHET صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه was always present in the company of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم . Hadrat Jaabir رضي الله عنه mentions that at the time of Eid, he was present with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم . Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  started the Salaah without the Adhaan and

Iqaamat and thereafter gave the Khutbah. Bilaal رضي الله عنه stood up and stood side by side with beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  while beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  stood up resting on him and after praising Allah, beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  delivered a lecture and reminded the people about the commands of Allah and encouraged the people to be obedient to Allah

Ta’aala. Thereafter, he took Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه with him and addressed the women and ordered them to fear Allah and advised them and reminded them about the commands of Allah.

At one time Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه presented himself in the company of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  It was morning and beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  was having meals. Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  told Bilaal رضي الله عنه to join him. Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه mentioned to beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  that he was fasting. Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  remarked, ‘We are eating our sustenance and the sustenance of Bilaal رضي الله عنه is preserved in Jannah.” Then he told Bilaal رضي الله عنه that the bones of a fasting person make Tasbeeh and the Angels request his forgiveness when something is eaten near him.” [Mishkat

al-Masabih]

HEARTBREAK & IMMENSE GRIEF

After the passing away of Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه was overcome with immense grief. This death had completely shattered his heart and in this state, he decided that he could no longer stay in Madinah Sharif. He then gathered his belongings and left for Syria. He had just left the border of Madinah Sharif, when sleep overcame him. He found a tree to sleep under and took some rest there. In his sleep, Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  appeared in his dream and said, “Bilal, why did you leave me?” Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه immediately woke up and, without hesitation, made the journey back to Madinah Sharif.

When the people of Madinah saw Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه returning through the city gates, they were overwhelmed with joy. Word spread through the streets that Bilal, the Holy Prophet’s Muazzin had returned. As Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه made his way to the Holy Prophet’s Masjid, requests for him to do the Azan were ringing in his ears. People followed him through the streets, pleading for him to deliver the call to prayer once more. The blessed city had been deprived of his beautiful Azan for too long, and the people craved to hear it one last time.

However, since the passing away of Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , Hadrat Bilal’s رضي الله عنه  grief had been so immense that he resolved that he would never do the Azan again, and so he refused the pleas of the people. As he advanced towards the blessed Masjid, he saw the two beloved grandsons of Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , Hadrat Hassan and Hussain. They too requested for him to do the Azan, and when he looked upon their blessed young faces, his love for them overwhelmed his heart. He knew he could never refuse them anything, and they were, after all, the grandsons of the one whose love had penetrated his heart through and through.

Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه then stood up on the Mimbar, assumed his position as the Muazzin and started to read the Azan. His voice, beautiful as it was, rang through the streets of Madinah Sharif, his pain and heartbreak evident in the painful tune. He read to his heart’s content, and in such a manner that there was not a person in the blessed city whose eyes were not wet with tears.

When Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه reached “Ash-hadu anna Muhammadur Rasulallah”, he broke down and could not continue. His pain and the pain of Madinah’s people was unbearable. Memories of the beautiful days when Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  sat amongst them penetrated their hearts with hurt and agony. The emptiness of their lives and their souls without Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  had devastated them and left them broken inside. Even the strongest amongst them who were usually able to suppress the pain could not hold back any longer.

MIGRATION TO SYRIA

Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه then came in the presence of Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه and said, ‘Oh Khalifah of Rasoolullah, without doubt I have heard from beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  that the best action of a Mu’min is Jihaad in the path of Allah and I have intended now to spend my life in Jihaad till I die.” Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه said, ‘Oh Bilaal! I swear by Allah and my right which is deserving to honored (it is for this reason) that during my lifespan you spend it in Madinah al-Munawwara and give Adhaan. Because I have become old and my time is near (death).” Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه then remained in Madinah Munawwarah. [Asad al-Ghabbah]

After Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه, Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه became Khalifah, then Bilaal رضي الله عنه came to him and said the same thing again. Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه gave the same answer which Hadrat Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه had given, but Bilaal رضي الله عنه respectfully refused to stay any longer. Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه granted permission to him. Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه became a Mujaahid forever and went to Syria. During the Khilaafat of Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه when he went to Syria, then Hadrat Bilaal رضي الله عنه gave Adhaan in his presence. The narrator says that on this day, Hadrat Umar رضي الله عنه thinking of the days of beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  cried to such an extent which we never saw before.

PASSING AWAY OF THE PROPHET’S MU’AZZIN

The great devotee and Muazzin of Rasulallah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم , the courageous and beloved Abyssinian by the name of Hadrat Bilal رضي الله عنه passed away in the 20th year after Hijrah in the middle of reading Adhan in Damascus, Syria between the years 638 and 642 (AD) at the age of 60 or 63 and there he is buried near ‘Bab as-Sagheer’. When beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَم  proclaimed Prophethood, he was 30 years old. He spent the remaining 33 years of his life in the assistance of this Deen, persecuted severely for admitting his Islam and despite this, he continued to announce boldly, ‘Ahad, the One Allah!’. He participated in the battles and endured both hunger and pain. He was not only a Mu’azzin, but was granted the status of being the leader of the Mu’azzins.