The following audio is from the panel discussion last Saturday at the MSA National Conference at Wayne State University’s campus in Detroit. Sister Namira Islam from MuslimARC and I were the panelists.
Last Friday’s khutbah was given at IAGD in Rochester Hills, MI.
Mamtur Al-Aswad was from the 2nd generation or Tabi’in. He was also referred to as Abu Salam Al-Habashi (the Abyssinian) even though his roots are from the Himyar tribe in Yemen. In earlier generations, sometimes Arabs with light skin would be referred to anyone with darker skin as Habashi as Abu Salam was described. Perhaps Abu Salam contained maternal Habashi roots given that Yemen had been occupied by Abyssinians for years prior to the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
Abu Salam was a student of learned companions of the Prophet (SAWS) including ‘Ubada bin As-Samit (RA), who was also black. He resided in Bilad Ash-Sham (Greater Syria) and relayed ahadith that he learned.
During the khilafah of Bani Umayyah under Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan, Muslims began to return back to tribal attachments in a strong way in which non-Arabs were seen as needing to be attached to an Arab tribe. In Tadhhib Al-Kamal by Al-Mizzi, it is stated that Mu’awiyah confronted the grandson of Abu Salam in Damascus, who was black in appearance, asking him who was his grandfather. He replied that it was Mamtur meaning Abu Salam. Mu’awiyah then asked him to who he was attached as if he was not an Arab. He then got angry with Mu’awiyah because he was an Arab.
One of the early companions who sacrificed for the sake of Allah (SWT) was Hamamah Al-Habashiyyah (RA).
Hamamah was born in Abyssinia as a free person but was later enslaved by a man from Quraysh. While enslaved, she was able to marry Rabah, who was an Arab.
It is narrated that Abu ‘Umar stated in Al-Isbah by ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani that Hamamah was torture because of her belief in Allah (SWT), thus is a testimony that she was recognized as being Muslim. She was freed from slavery by Abu Bakr.
Abu Ali Al-Ghassani stated that this woman of honor was the mother of Bilal the Prayer Caller (RA), who the Prophet (SAWS) gave the title Master of the Prayer Callers (Sayyid Al-Mu’adhdhinin).