11 Lesser Discussed Aspects of Bilal bin Rabah

The most known companion of the Prophet (SAWS) who was black is Bilal bin Rabah (RA). He is known to have suffered severe torture in Makkah, to be the first caller to prayer and to have participated in the major campaigns such as Badr, Uhud and Khandaq.

Some other and perhaps lesser known aspects about Bilal are the following:

1) Bilal was born in Hijaz, not Abyssinia.

2) His father Rabah was an enslaved Arab, not Abyssinia though he is frequently referred to as Bilal Al-Habashi/The Abyssinian. His mother Hamamah was an enslaved Abyssinian.

3) The Prophet (SAWS) gave him the title “Master of the Callers to Prayer.”

4) He was the treasurer of Ummah’s wealth. He distributed funds to the poor, orphans, widows and wayfayers.

5) The Prophet (SAWS) arranged his marriage to an Arab woman from Bani Bukayr.

6) He entered the Ka’bah with the Prophet (SAWS) on the day of the Conquest of Makkah and helped cleanse it of the false idol deities.

7) He is the only companion to have had the honor of calling to prayer on top of the Kab’ah per the command of the Prophet (SAWS).

8) The Prophet (SAWS) said, “The best of the blacks are three: Bilal, Luqman and Mihja’.” A weaker narration states that he (SAWS) said, “The best of the blacks are four: Luqman, Annajashi, Bilal and Mihja’.”

9) He did not call to prayer during the government of Abu Bakr after the death of the Prophet (SAWS). Upon Abu Bakr telling him to call to prayer after Bilal stated that he wanted to leave Al-Madinah, Bilal told him, “If you freed me for yourself, then I will do what you wish. But if you freed me for Allah, then let me be.” He then left Al-Madinah for Syria.

10) The Prophet (SAWS) visited him in a dream and asked him as to why he had not come to visit him. Bilal then set off for Al-Madinah. When getting to his (SAWS) grave and beginning to weep, Al-Hasan (SA) and Al-Husayn (SA) asked him to call to prayer. Upon Bilal calling to prayer, the People of Al-Madinah wept profusely as they remembered the days of the Prophet (SAWS) walking among them. It’s narrated of this day that the People of Al-Madinah wept the most since the day that the Prophet (SAWS) passed away.

11) Oral traditions state that Bilal’s ancestors went to West Africa and that his descendants were in the royal Keita family of the Malian empire.

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