Islamic Book PDF Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors

Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light,
Many Colors
Islamic Viewpoint on Racism
Written by:
Dr.Abdurrahman al-Sheha
Translated by:
Abdurrahmaan Murad
Reviewed by:
Abu Suleiman Nadir Mehboub Keval

Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Table of Contents
Foreword …………….…………………………………………3
Introduction ……………………………………………………8
Chapter 1 : Other Systems ……………………………………9
Chapter 2 : Equality in Islam ………………………………14
Chapter 3 : Equality between Humankind …………………19
Chapter 4 : Racist Statements are Unacceptable ………….28
Chapter 5 : Story of Bilal the Abyssinian……………………31
Conclusion ……………………………………………………42
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Bilal, the Abyssinian
Hypocrisy is living well in the West. How else does one
explain the demonization of Islam, a culture of peace, piety and
enlightenment by cynics in the Occident? While many western
societies found escape from tyranny through pitched warfare
and violent revolution, they have been quick to decry the use of
even vaguely similar remedies to liberate oppressed peoples
throughout the world and have, in fact, supported the politics,
policies and methods of criminally repressive regimes to their
own selfish ends. The tragic irony is that Muslims have suffered
exponentially at the hands of westerners, whose marauding 12th
century ancestors found escape from the Dark Ages only
through gifts bestowed upon them by Muslim scholars,
scientists, artisans and theologians. The genius of Muslim
polymaths, from al-Farabi to ibn Sina, al-Kindi to ibn alHaythem, ibn Rushd to al-Ghazzali are precious drops of water
in an ocean of Islamic scientists and philosophers whose ideas
quite literally swept a stagnant, reactionary Europe into its much
cherished Renaissance.
Keystone methods and modes of thought as well as
institutions, libraries, hospitals and universities flourished in
Europe after being introduced by Muslims. Resultantly,
Europeans incurred a cultural debt to Islam they have been loath
to repay, choosing instead to slant, distort or ignore Islamic
influences in their great revival rather than embracing this
fundamental truth: medieval Europe needed Muslims to kick
start their science, art and culture, much as today they may need
Islam to avert their rather advanced moral and spiritual decline.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
One of the hallmarks of western repression is the illusion
that “race,” supposedly expressed as physical characteristics like
skin color, eye shape and hair texture among others, confers
superiority or inferiority on individuals, rendering them ripe for
systematic, generational exploitation, sometimes with the
blessing of religious authorities. Church sanctioned racism
validated the Crusades; religion underwrote Columbus’s brutal
genocide of native populations in the New World and provided
the template for future conquests and the scourge of
imperialism; Christian missionaries, who gave dark peoples
their Bibles in exchange for their lands, were both shock troops
and the spiritual tricksters who prepared native populations to
accept lingering colonialism as salvation; church chapels were
integral to the slave castles that lined the Gulf of Guinea;
segregation and apartheid both enjoyed church support in
America and South Africa; secular Israel defiles Judaic tradition
with deadly intent in the Holy Lands. In western hands, religion
has often been a bludgeon supporting the murderous hypocrisy
of racial supremacy and its destructive global reach.
Despite the Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and
Islam—insistence on the indisputable Oneness of the Creator, of
creation and of humankind, Islam is unique among them in its
historical demonstration of social and ethnic equality from the
time of our Noble Prophet Muhammad (p) to now. While the
ordering of societies along supposedly “racial” lines has sullied
the very heart and soul of western cultures, the timeless message
of Islam, articulated on the tongue and in the life of the Prophet
(p), brought the legislation of equality to the Muslim faithful,
who in turn introduced it, through faith and practice, to the
world. No better example of brotherly love’s transcendence
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
over socio-ethnic differences exists than that of the virtuous
Prophet of Islam’s long and fruitful relationship with an
Abyssinian slave he chose as the first Muslim mu’adth-dthin, or
caller to prayer, Bilal ibn Rabah (r). It is to this storied bond
between the Prophet (p) and a most faithful Believer that our
noted scholar and beloved teacher, Dr. Abdur-Rahman al-Sheha,
turns his attention to illuminate the braided strands of Muslim
law and pristine Islamic practice. The result is a memorable
narrative as bountiful in its assembly of Quranic and Traditional
proofs of Islamic equality and tolerance as it is in establishing
the ascension and triumph of the African Bilal over incipient
Arab racialism and bigotry.
Dr. al-Sheha’s reverent examination of the life of the
virtuous Bilal is buttressed by wholly engaging, scholarly
commentaries on equality in Islam and unity of humankind. His
writing is made more attractive by the power of simplicity as he
deftly makes the liberating point, citing copious evidence from
the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of our Honorable Prophet (p),
that piety, or its lack, confers either honor or dishonor on each
of us. Expanding on this encompassing theme of equality, he
firmly underscores both the necessity and the responsibility of
equality under law (Shari’ah) which both rewards and punishes
in equal measure, sanctifies the blood of the Muslim as well as
his/her property and belongings, grants equal access to Allah’s
bounties and rites of worship. These principles, so firmly rooted
in Islamic culture, are bedrock to the faithful and provide a
tangible framework for the poignant story of Bilal, the model of
faith and forbearance; Bilal, the calm, the resolute; Bilal, the
companion of the Holy Prophet (p); Bilal, the bane of Bani
Jumah and Umayyah ibn Khalaf; Bilal, whom Dr. al-Sheha
reminds us, “honored not only Islam, but all humanity.” And of
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
whom ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (r), when speaking of Abu Bakr,
Sheikh al-Sheha further discloses, would say, “Abu Bakr is our
master and the emancipator of our master.” These sentiments,
among countless others affirming and reaffirming them,
conferring the title of “Master” on a former slave, cast the
notion of equality—in cellular form—within the Muslim
ummah. So that Islam, unlike other world religions, has not
suffered the divisive contradiction of segregated worship, as is
clearly witnessed daily in masajid, or mosques worldwide,
where the ranks of prayerful believers assemble without regard
to “race,” class or caste. Or where the annual hajj, or pilgrimage
to the Muslim holy sites, the largest annual pilgrimage in the
world, is a viable, vital testimony to the strength, the beauty of
Muslim equality, unity and faith.
With this outstanding treatment of the life and social
significance of Bilal ibn Rabah’s position within the Prophet’s
contemporaries, even the most cynical of critics is cowed by
Sheikh al-Sheha’s spirited accounts of the devotion to inclusion
exemplified by Muhammad (p) and his Companions (r) as they
established the first Islamic Republic based solely on the Qur’an
and the Traditions of the Prophet (p), traditions which are firmly
in place today and give lie, in the most basic and fundamental of
ways, to crass charges of Muslims as “terrorists,”
“Europhobic,”“misogynists,” and “tyrants.” On the contrary,
Islamic culture, firmly rooted in equality and brotherhood,
stands in the light of history as a way to Peace, both in this
world, and in the world to come.
Truth is the enemy of hypocrisy. This latest work by Dr.
al-Sheha, in casting light on the exemplary, humble life of Bilal
ibn Rabah (r), honorable friend of the Prophet Muhammad (p),
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
lends itself to the continuing global dialogue to uphold the
dynamic elements of the world’s fastest growing religion, and
breathes life into the idea of piety as an achievable way of life.
Professor Kamal Hassan Ali
Westfield State College
December 30, 2009
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
A society is doomed to failure when it is based on
ignorance and anarchy. This fact becomes more apparent when
people are void of moral conduct and racial tension is high. In a
society like this, the strong will oppress the weak and the rich
will exploit the poor. Under circumstances such as these,
Prophet Muhammad ρ
came forth to mankind with the Message
of Islam2
. It spread rapidly. At first, many rejected it and tried
their best to stop it from spreading. Oppressors knew quite well
that this meant an end to their reigns over the general
population. Islam, the Message of God, frees the soul and mind
from being enslaved to any individual.
One of the key characteristics of the Message of Islam is
that it instructs people to seek education and to cast aside all vile
acts. Racial supremacy -in all of its forms- was extinguished, for
all people stand equal before God Almighty. Superiority,
according to Islam, is not achieved by one’s color, race and
ethnic origin; on the contrary, it is only achieved through piety.
The more one is God-fearing, the more beloved they are to God.

Some translate it as ‘peace be upon him’. This translation is incorrect; the
correct translation is, may Allah exalt his mention, and render him and his
household safe and secure from every derogatory thing.
Islam is a way of life, which is both private and public. It is an inclusive
term meaning: acts of worship, political practice, and a detailed code of
conduct, including hygiene or etiquette matters.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Chapter 1: Other Systems
A Muslim stands firm to fight all forms of oppression,
immoral behavior and ignorance. Racial tensions based on skin
color, race and sex dissipate in Islam. These social maladies
were very common in the pre-Islamic Makkan society, as they
are today in the West.
Before the advent of Islam people worshipped idols made
from stone or wood. It was quite common for a person to
enslave his fellow brother-in-humanity in laborious schemes to
exhaust him financially and physically. The Prophet ρ clarified
that no one was superior to another; all were equal before God.
The Prophet ρ said:
“O people! Indeed your God is one, your father is one,
and there is no superiority to an Arab over a non-Arab
or to a non-Arab over an Arab. A red skinned person
is not superior to a black skinned person, nor is a black
skinned person superior to a red skinned person.”
Brahman India
The scriptures used by the Brahman Indians clearly make
mention of a caste system whereby some people are considered
superior to others. According to them, Brahma created the
Brahmin people from his mouth. He created the Kshatriya from
his arm and the Vaishya from his thigh and the Shudra from his
feet. At the top of this fourfold system is the Brahmin and at the
bottom is the Shudra. According to their scriptures, “One
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
occupation only the lord prescribed to the Shudra: to serve
meekly even these (other) three castes [varnas”.
Ancient Greece and Rome
In Ancient Greece and Rome the nobles believed
themselves to be created from a substance unlike that of the rest
of creation who they called ‘Barbarians’3
. Aristotle spoke of the
Barbarians in a very detrimental manner, saying, “The nature
of a barbarian and a slave is one and the same.”4

He also said: “The lower animals cannot even
apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. Nature
would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and
slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, the other
upright, and although useless for such services, useful for
political life in the arts both of war and peace. And doubtless
if men differed from one another in the mere forms of their
bodies as much as the statues of the Gods do from men, all
would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of
the superior.”5

Jews and Christians
The Jews and Christians -before the advent of Islam- saw
themselves as the chosen family of God. They believed

This term refers to the following meanings, “uncultured”, “uncivilized” or
“speaker of a foreign language”.
Republic for Aristotle volume 1.
Book 1, chapter V of ‘The Politics’.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
themselves to be special. They gave the name ‘ger toshav’
anyone else, whether they were atheists or general nonbelievers. They claimed that they were the only ones who
deserved to be served, so they exploited other nations. Allah
clarifies this in the Quran saying:
“And among the People of the Scripture is he who, if
you entrust him with a great amount [of wealth], he
will return it to you. And among them is he who, if you
entrust him with a [single] silver coin, he will not
return it to you unless you are constantly standing over
him [demanding it]. That is because they say, ‘There is
no blame upon us concerning the unlearned.’7
they speak untruth about Allah while they know
The interpreter Ibn Kathir said: “What lead them to
rejecting the truth was that they claimed, “We have no sin in
our religions from consuming the wealth of the ignorant,
who were the Arabs. God has made it lawful for us.”
Some among the early monotheists belittled all other
nations and viewed them as being of a lesser class. They
asserted that all among humankind were their slaves. Allah
clarifies to us their nature and explains at the same time that all
humankind are equal. He says:
“But the Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the
children of Allah and His beloved.’ Say, ‘Then why

Literally it means a Gentile who is a “resident alien” living under Judaic
The early Jews did not consider it a sin to gain the upper hand over a
gentile or a pagan.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
does He punish you for your sins?’ Rather, you are
human beings from among those He has created. He
forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He
wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the
heavens and the earth and whatever is between them,
and to Him is the [final] destination.” (5:19)
The Arabs
The Arabs held the same belief and viewed themselves as
superior to all other races of people. They crowned themselves
as Arabs and referred to other races as ‘non-Arabs’, and
considered them worthless. The Prophet ρ clarified to them the
mistake of their ways and the fallacy of this belief. He said to
his Companions:
“It is not appropriate for one to say that I (i.e. Prophet
Muhammad) am better than (Prophet Jonah) Younus bin
Mat’ta.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet’s words are like guiding lights both for the
Arabs and for all nations, to show how one is to respect all
others. The Companion, Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with
him, related that the Prophet ρ said:
“I saw in my dream many black sheep gathering
together with white ones.’ He was asked, ‘What is the
interpretation of this dream O Prophet of Allah?’ He
said: ‘Non-Arabs will share in your Deen8
and your

The word translated as religion is ‘Deen’, which in Arabic commonly refers
to a way of life.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
lineage.’ The Companions exclaimed, ‘the non-Arabs!’
The Prophet ρ then said: ‘If Iman (faith) was tied to a
star, it would have been claimed by men from the nonArabs.” (Haakim)
People come from many racial backgrounds and have their
individual moral elements. Every person has unique
characteristics, and perfection belongs to God Almighty alone.
Imperfection is an inherent nature in man, except for the
Prophets and Messengers for they perfectly conveyed the
Message of God to their respective nations. The message of
Islam had a great effect on humankind with the result that they
began to treat one another, in varying degrees, with respect.
Al-Mustourad al-Qurashi τ
said, while I was with Amr
bin al-Aas τ I told him that I heard the Prophet ρ saying: “The
Final Hour will not be established till the Romans are the
greatest people in number.” Amr τ said, “if this is the case, it
is because they (the Romans) are merciful to their kind.
When an affliction befalls them they are the quickest to
regroup. They stand together and fight fiercely. They are
good to orphans, poor, weak, and do not tolerate the
wrongdoing of their rulers.” (Muslim)
The Messenger of Allah ρ was sent to efface the caste
system that was in place in society. He was sent to free
mankind from the servitude they showed to men and to make
them worship God alone.

Pronounced “Ra’dee-Allah’who an’who”, it means: ‘may Allah be pleased
with him.’
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Chapter 2: Equality in Islam
Rulers and their subjects are all equal before Allah.
Regardless of the subtle differences between people, in Islam
every Muslim is a brother to his fellow Muslim. The black and
white, the Arab and non-Arab are all the same. Allah says:
“O mankind, fear your Lord10
, who created you from
one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed
from both of them many men and women. And fear
Allah, through whom you ask one another,11 and the
wombs.12 Indeed Allah is ever,13 over you, an
Observer.” (4:1)
The origin of all humankind is their father, Adam υ. When
the Christians said that Jesus son of Mary was the son of God,
Allah, the Exalted, said:

10 The Arabic word for Lord is ‘Rubb’. It means, the Creator, the Fashioner,
the Provider, the One upon Whom all creatures depend for their means of
subsistence, and the One Who gives life and causes death.
11 i.e., request favors and demand rights.
12 i.e., fear Allah in regard to relations of kinship.
13 When used in conjunction with Allah’s attributes, the word “ever”
(occurring repeatedly throughout this Surah and elsewhere, such as in Surah
al-Ahzab) is quite inadequate in imparting the sense of continuation
expressed by the word “kana” in Arabic, which indicates “always was, is,
and always will be.”
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
“Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah14 is like that of
Adam. He created him from dust; then He said to him, ‘Be,’
and he was.” (3:59)
Allah, the Exalted, also says:
“And of His signs is that He created you from dust;
then, suddenly you are human beings dispersing
[throughout the earth].” (30:20)
All of humankind is from one father and one mother,
Adam and Eve. Based on this, there can be no virtue for one
over the other on account of one’s race. Accordingly, there is
no reason for people to show off and boast or to belittle or scoff
at another, or worse, for anyone to enslave another individual.
The Messenger of Allah ρ said:
“Allah has taken away from the customs of the
Jahiliyah era (pre-Islamic era). One is not to show off
by boasting who their fathers are. All people are from
Adam and Adam was created from soil (earth).”
And further is this regard, Allah, the Exalted, says:
“And mankind was not but one community [united in
religion], but [then] they differed. And if not for a
word15 that proceeded from your Lord, it would have

14 i.e., regarding His creation of him.
15 Allah’s decree to allow time on earth for His creation or not to punish
anyone before evidence has come to him.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
been judged between them [immediately] concerning
that over which they differ.’ (10:19)
As humankind increased in number they spread across the
land and on account of this their languages naturally became
diverse and their cultures formed and they changed in skin color.
Based on these differences, people’s ideologies gradually
changed and at times their belief systems were affected. Allah
sent the Prophets and Messengers to guide humankind back to
the belief in the Oneness of Allah. He, the Exalted, says:
“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger,
[saying], ‘Worship Allah and avoid taghut.’16 And
among them were those whom Allah guided, and
among them were those upon whom error was
[deservedly] decreed. So proceed [i.e., travel] through
the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers.”
Islam does not judge a person by his/her outer appearance.
The Prophet ρ said:
“It may be that a shaggy-haired, dusty person who
people don’t consider as being much is so beloved to
Allah that were he to make an oath by Allah, Allah
would fulfill it for him.” (Haakim)
Since it is known that some may exploit these differences
of the race, color, language, culture to belittle others, the
Prophet ρ said:

16 False objects of worship
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
“Allah created Adam υ from a scoop of soil (earth)
that was taken from all parts of the Earth. The sons of
Adam came forth bearing the marks of that soil from
its various sources; of them are those who are red
skinned, white skinned, black and yellow. Among them
are those who are good natured and evil.” (Ibn Hibban)
All people, regardless of their skin color, language,
country of origin stand equal before Allah. Allah, the Exalted,
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male
and female and made you peoples and tribes that you
may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you
in the sight of Allah is the most righteous17 of you.
Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (49:13)
The Prophet ρ said:
“The lineage that each of you is related through is not
a shame upon anyone. You are all the sons of Adam, no
one is favored upon the other, and the most honorable
of you before Allah is the most religious and those who
do the good works.” (Ahmed)
Allah has made us into nations and tribes, no one is
favored over the other; no race is better than the other. He has

17 Literally, “he who has the most taqwa,” i.e., consciousness and fear of
Allah, piety and righteousness
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
made you like this so that you get to know one another. Allah,
the Exalted, says:
“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam
and carried them on the land and sea and provided for
them of the good things and preferred them over much
of what We have created, with [definite] preference.’”
This honorable status is for all of mankind. It is not
specified for a race over another or for a group over another.
Allah, the Exalted, says:
“And it is He who has made you successors upon the
Earth and has raised some of you above others in
degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what
He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in
penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.”
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Chapter 3: Equality among Humankind
All of humankind have been created to worship Allah
alone and to live on this Earth and to earn their livelihoods
therein. Allah has made people of different social levels so that
they would benefit from others in terms of earning their
livelihoods. Allah, the Exalted, says:
‘It is We who have apportioned among them their
livelihood in the life of this world and have raised some
of them above others in degrees [of rank] that they
may make use of one another for service. But the
mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they
accumulate.’ (43:32)
Based on this, to Muslims, all among humankind are equal
in the following:
a. Protection of common rights regardless of one’s race,
ethnicity or color. Every human is to enjoy freedom as
is outlined in the religion. This form of freedom is
distant from animalistic desires.
When a person opens himself up to all base desires, he
would actually lower his status beneath that of the animals, if
not worse!
b. People are equal in terms of law. There is no
differentiation on account of ethnicity, color or sex.
Allah says: “O you who have believed, it is not
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion.18
And do not make difficulties for them in order to
take [back] part of what you gave them19 unless
they commit a clear immorality [i.e., adultery]. And
live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them –
perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes
therein much good.” (4:58)
The Prophet ρ said: “O people one of the things that
destroyed the previous nations is that when the rich
would steal, they would leave that person alone, but
when a poor stole, they would make sure to get
their full right from him. By Allah, if Fatimah the
daughter of Muhammad stole something, I would
have cut off her hand as well.” (Muslim)
c. People are equal in terms of responsibilities, reward
and punishment.
Allah, the Exalted, says: “So whoever does an atom’s
weight of good will see it. And whoever does an
atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (99:7-8)
d. People are equal in human honor. A person is not to
be harmed on account of their color, sex or belief.
Allah, the Exalted, says: “And do not insult those
they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah
in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made
pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to

18 The deceased man’s heirs have no rights of marriage or otherwise over his
19 At the time of marriage as mahr (dowry).
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
their Lord is their return, and He will inform them
about what they used to do.”(6:108)
e. People are equal in the sanctity of their blood,
properties and belongings.
The Prophet ρ said: “Indeed your blood, wealth, and
honor is inviolable as this day is inviolable, as this
month is inviolable, as this city is inviolable. Let
those who are present inform those who are not.”
f. People are equal in terms of seeking public office.
It has been said: “Whoever uses an individual and
appoints him over a group, and in the group there
are those who are more rightful, he has indeed been
treacherous to Allah, the Messenger ρ and the
believers.” (Haakim)
Adi bin Amira al-Kindi said: ‘I heard the Messenger of
Allah ρ say: “Whoso of you is appointed by us to a
position of authority and he conceals from us a
needle or something smaller than that, it will be
considered as a misappropriation (of the public
funds) and he will required to produce it on the Day
of Requital.”
Adi τ said: “A dark-complexioned man from the Ansar
stood up and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, take back
the duty you have given to me.’ He said: ‘What has
happened to you?’ The man said: ‘I have heard you
say what you have said!’ He ρ said: ‘I say that (even)
now whoso from you is appointed by us to a
position of authority, he should bring everything,
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
be it something big or small, and whatever he is
given (by us) he may take, and what he is not given
he should refrain from taking it.’” (Muslim)
The Prophet ρ considered the loss of trust a sign of the
end of societies, and it is a sign of the closeness of the
Final Hour.
Abu Hurairah τ said: “While the Prophet was sitting
in session teaching people, a Bedouin came to him
said: ‘When will the Final Hour be established?’
The Prophet continued talking to the people and
after he finished, he asked: ‘Where is the one who
asked about the Hour?’ The Bedouin said: ‘I am
here O Messenger of Allah!’ The Prophet, may
Allah praise him, said: ‘When trust is lost, the Final
Hour will be established.’ He asked, ‘How would it
be lost?’ He said: ‘When public matters are put
under the responsibility of people who are not
responsible, wait for the hour to be established!’”
g. People are equal in terms of using what has been
placed at our disposal by the Creator.
Allah, the Exalted, says: “O mankind, eat from
whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and
do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to
you a clear enemy.” (2:168)
h. People are equal in terms of worshipping Allah
alone. Everyone is a slave to Allah regardless of their
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
race, ethnicity, skin color and language. Allah, the
Exalted, says: “O mankind, worship your Lord, who
created you and those before you, that you may
become righteous.” (2:21)
The religion of Islam has come to eradicate all forms of
racism. It is mentioned in the narration of Abu Uqbah, who was
a freed slave from the people of Persia: “I fought with the
Prophet ρ at the battle of Uhud and I struck a polytheist and I
yelled at him, ‘take it from me and I am the Persian boy!’ The
Messenger of Allah ρ turned towards me and said, “You should
say, take it from me and I am from the boy from the Ansar.”
(Abu Dawood)
The Prophet ρ encouraged him to tie his root back to the
Ansar, it was more beloved to him then saying that he was the
‘Persian’. Although the Companion was a Persian the Prophet ρ
was very keen that one’s love and hate and alliance be with the
religion of Islam, far from racial ties.

The Prophet ρ showed great love and affection towards
Bilal who was from Abyssinia and Suhaib the Roman. He even
said about Bilal that he was from the people of Jannah
(Heavenly Abode)20. He gave the glad tidings of Jannah to
Abdullah bin Salam who was a Jewish convert to Islam.
We also see that the Prophet was not irresolute; when
people from his own family did not believe, he distanced
himself from them. Look at his uncle, Abu Lahab, who, when he

20 Bukhari.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
showed open enmity towards Prophet Muhammad, ρ the
following chapter was revealed concerning him:
“May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is
he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he
gained. He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing]
flame, his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood.
Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.”
(Chapter 111)
Abu Lahab was highly revered in his tribe and was among
the most noble of people in terms of lineage.
The Quran also informs us of Luqman, the Wise. He was
from an African background, and had great wisdom. An entire
chapter in the Quran bears his name. In it his virtue and merit
are mentioned. There are other chapters in the Quran that have
been named after Prophets and Messengers, such as Noah and
Abraham, and families, such as the family of Imran, Mary,
Joseph, Jonah and Muhammad, among others. Muslims recite
these chapters in their prayers. This serves to reaffirm that we
are all equal before Allah.
The Prophet ρ spoke of a pious king who lived in
Abyssinia, the Negus. He said about him, “No one is wronged
by him.” When he died, the Prophet ρ performed prayers for
him. Some said, ‘Shall we perform prayers on that Abyssinian?’
At this the words of Allah were revealed:
“Indeed, among the People of the Scripture are those
who believe in Allah and what was revealed to you and
what was revealed to them, [being] humbly submissive
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
to Allah. They do not exchange the verses of Allah for a
small price. Those will have their reward with their
Lord. Indeed, Allah is swift in account.” (3:199)
The Prophet ρ said: “Ask Allah to forgive your
brother,” and he stood with the Companions and prayed for
him and he said ‘Allah Akbar’ four times.” (Bukhari)
The issue of equality in Islam is not just a written matter
that is not applied. Whatever the Prophet ρ preached, he would
apply. Look at Osama b. Zaid, who was dark in complexion.
The Prophet ρ would take him along with al-Hasan and say: “O
Allah love them, for I love them.”21 A’ishah, the wife of the
Prophet ρ said: “It is not befitting for a person to dislike Osama,
for I heard the Messenger of Allah ρ say: ‘Whoever loves Allah
and His Messenger, let them love Osama.’” (Muslim)
The Prophet ρ appointed Osama over the army that was to
attack Rome. Under his command were a number of the
Companions. Some of the companions felt that Osama was
unfit to lead the expedition and they spoke amongst themselves.
When the Prophet ρ heard this he addressed the people saying:
“If you speak ill of him, you would have spoken ill of his
father before him. He is indeed worthy of this position and
he is among the most beloved of people to me.” (Agreed Upon)22
Before the expedition headed out, the Prophet ρ died and
when they were ready to go, Umar came to Abu Bakr, who was
appointed Caliph and conveyed to him some of the concerns he

21 Bukhari
22 This means the narration is both in Bukhari and Muslim.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
had heard. He said to Abu Bakr, “Some Companions think that
someone who is older and more skilled should lead the
expedition.” At this Abu Bakr said: “May your mother lose you,
O Umar! The Prophet ρ appointed him and you want me to
remove him? By Allah, O Umar, if the wild animals would
come upon me to eat me I would still send the army with Osama
as its head.”
The young commander took his troops and Abu Bakr was
walking beside Osama. He felt uncomfortable and said to Abu
Bakr, “O Caliph of the Muslims! Either you ride alongside of
me or I will come down to walk beside you!” Abu Bakr said,
“By Allah, you will not come down, nor will I ride, what is
wrong if I make my feet dusty for the sake of Allah!” He then
took the permission of Osama to let Umar remain behind with
him to take care of the affairs of Madinah.
The Prophet ρ was the most honorable of all people in
terms of lineage, his tribe was the most honorable as well. Yet
the Prophet said to his companions:
“Do not adulate me as the Christians adulated Jesus
son of Mary. I am only the slave of Allah and His
Messenger.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet married Osama to his relative, Zainab
daughter of Jahsh. The Prophet ρ said:
“If someone comes seeking marriage, and you are
content with his manners and religion, then get him
married; if you do not, there will be great evil and
corruption the earth.” (Tirmidthi)
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
He ρ would always ask about his companions. Abu
Hurairah said that there was a black woman who would clean
the Masjid. The Prophet ρ then asked about her and they told
him that she had died. The Prophet ρ said to them, “You should
have informed me!” They belittled the affair of that person
thinking she was not that important. He said: “Show me the
grave!” They showed it to him, and he prayed for her. (Bukhari)
He ρ would give out many gifts. Hakeem b. Hizaam said,
“Muhammad ρ was the most beloved of people to me before the
advent of Islam. When he became a Prophet and left to
Madinah, a garment was found that belonged to Dhi Yazen23
valued at 50 Dirham, so I bought it to give it as a gift to the
Prophet ρ but the Prophet refused to take it from him and he
said: “We do not take gifts from polytheists. If they insist on
giving something, we take it only after paying for it.” (Haakim)
When he came to Madinah I saw him wearing it. He then
gave it to Osama, and Hakeem, upon seeing it with Osama said
to him, “Are you wearing the garment of Dhi Yazen?” He said,
“I am better than Dhi Yazen, and my father and mother and
better than his father and mother!”
It is indeed Islam that made him think with this mindset.
Every Muslim realizes that they are all equal before Allah,
regardless of their color, language and ethnicity.

23 Dhi Yazen was a king before the advent of Islam.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Chapter 4: Racist Statements are Unacceptable
The Prophet ρ used to talk to his companions, joke with
them, and listen to their needs. He would correct any errors he
saw them doing especially when they were racial mistakes. Abu
Hurairah τ said: “Two people swore at each other, and one of
them scoffed at the other by ridiculing his mother. This reached
the Prophet, may Allah praise him, and he called the man and
said: ‘Did you scoff at his mother?’ and he kept repeating it.
The man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, ask Allah to forgive me.’
He said to him: ‘Raise your head and look about, you are not
better than any individual regardless whether he is of a red
or black skin color. No one is better than the other except
through piety.’” (Ibn Rahawaih)
The Prophet ρ would not stand for another to make fun of
anyone else in his presence. Once while his Companions got
together in a sitting and the Prophet ρ had yet not come, Khalid
b. al-Walid, Abdurrahmann b. Auf, Bilal b. Abi Rabah, and Abu
Dharr were among those in attendance. The only dark skinned
companion present was Bilal the Abyssinian. He began speaking
and Bilal corrected him. Abu Dharr, due his anger, exclaimed,
“Even you, O son of a black woman, try to correct me?” Bilal
got up, visibly upset at what was said, and said: “By Allah I will
report you to the Prophet.” He went to him and informed him of
what was said and the Prophet ρ became very angry. Abu Dharr
rushed to meet the Prophet ρ and said “Assalamu Alaika (peace
be upon you), O Prophet of Allah.” Abu Dharr said, “I am not
sure if he responded to my greeting due to his extreme anger.”
Then he said: “O Abu Dharr! Have you ridiculed him on
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
account of his mother? Indeed you are a man in whom there
are traits of the pre-Islamic era!” Abu Dharr wept and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, ask Allah to forgive me.” He left the
Masjid weeping and when he saw Bilal, he put his head on the
ground and said to Bilal, “O Bilal, I will not move from my
position till you put your foot on my head. You are the
honorable and I am the disgraced.” Bilal wept, and kissed the
cheek of Abu Dharr and said: “A face that has prostrated to
Allah is not to be stepped on; rather, it is to be kissed.” (Bukhari)
Bilal was a great man. The Prophet ρ said to him: “O
Bilal, inform me of a deed which you have done and you
believe it to be the greatest in the sight of Allah, for indeed I
heard your footsteps in Heaven!” Bilal said, “The most
beloved deed that I did for the sake of Allah is that whenever I
made wudhu (ablution), I would make whatever prayer I could
after it.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet ρ revered these individuals so much that he
would frequently sit with them. One day while Bilal, Suhaib and
Ammar were sitting with the Prophet ρ an emissary from
Quraish came and upon seeing these Companions with him, they
said: “We want you to give us a time whereby we can sit with
you. We want the Arabs to know our status and honor and the
delegations come to you, but we are embarrassed that people see
us with you while these poor individuals sit with you.” The
Prophet said, “All right,” and he called Ali to write down
something to this effect. But before anything happened, the
command of Allah came down:
“And do not send away those who call upon their Lord
morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
upon you is anything of their account and not upon
them is anything of your account.24 So were you to
send them away, you would [then] be of the
wrongdoers. And thus We have tried some of them
through others that they [i.e., the disbelievers] might
say, ‘Is it these whom Allah has favored among us?’ Is
not Allah most knowing of those who are grateful?
And when those come to you who believe in Our
verses, say, ‘Peace be upon you.’ Your Lord has
decreed upon Himself mercy: that any of you who does
wrong out of ignorance and then repents after that and
corrects himself – indeed, He is Forgiving and
Merciful.”” (6:52)
The Prophet ρ tossed aside the letter he was about to have
written for them and said: “Peace be upon you. Your Lord has
decreed upon Himself mercy.” (Ibn Majah)

24 No one is held accountable for the deeds or intentions of another. That is
left to Allah’s judgment.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Chapter 5: Story of Bilal the Abyssinian
Let us hear the story of Bilal τ who was a mere slave
before his conversion to Islam and after his conversion became a
‘master’ of Islam. He was honored in Islam to be chosen to call
the Adthan (call to prayer).
Whenever Umar τ mentioned Abu Bakr τ he would say,
“Abu Bakr is our master and the emancipator of our
master.” (Bukhari) Umar τ gave the title “Our Master” to Bilal τ
who was very dark in complexion, had a slender build, was very
tall, thick-haired and had a sparse beard, as described by the
narrators. Whenever he was praised he would lower his head,
and weep saying, “Indeed, I am an Abyssinian. Yesterday, I was
only a slave!”
So who is this Abyssinian who was yesterday only a
slave? He was Bilal son of Rabah, the one who gave the call to
prayer. Out of every ten Muslims, from the beginning of Islam
until today and until Allah wills, we will meet seven, at least,
who know Bilal. That is, there are hundreds of millions of
people throughout the centuries and generations who knew
Bilal, remember his name, and know his role just as they know
the two greatest Caliphs in Islam, Abu Bakr τ and Umar τ!
If one was to ask a child in his first years of primary
school about Bilal, he would answer, ‘He was the one who
called the Adthan.’ He was the slave whose master would torture
him with hot burning stones and he would chant, ‘God is One’,
‘God is One.’
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Before Islam, Bilal τ would tend to his master’s sheep and
livestock 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. 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 noble men of
Islam. Indeed, many human beings of distinction, prestige, or
wealth have not obtained even one-tenth of the immortality
which Bilal, the Abyssinian, gained. 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
The people of Makkah thought that a slave like Bilal τ
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 possess! He was an Abyssinian of
African ethnicity. His mother was as well from Abyssinia. Her
name was Hamaama and she was a slave to Umayyah b. Khalaf
al-Jumahi in Makkah.
The news of Prophet Muhammad’s message reached the
ears of Bilal τ. In fact, the Prophet was the buzz of Makkah;
people from every walk of life were talking about him. It so
happened that he was doing some work and his master along
with other noblemen of Quraish were sitting. They were talking
about the Prophet and his Message. His own master, Umayyah
bin Khalaf spoke quite harshly about the Prophet ρ and his
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
words were usually filled with anxiety, rage, and malice! As he
listened in he found out about the characteristics of Islam. He
also heard from them that Muhammad was a nobleman,
trustworthy and very loyal. They said to one another,
“Muhammad was never a liar, magician, or mad, but we have to
describe him this way so that people will abandon his religion.”
Bilal heard them whispering about the reasons which caused
them to challenge and antagonize him. The reasons were as
First was their allegiance to the religion of their fathers;
Second was their fear over the glory of the Quraish which was
bestowed upon them because of their religious status as a center
of idol worship and resort in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula;
Third was the envy of the tribe of Bani Hashim that anyone
from among them would claim to be a prophet or messenger.
After hearing so much about the religion of Islam, Bilal
accepted it and converted to Islam. It did not take long before
the news of his embracing Islam was spread. It was a shock to
the chiefs of Bani Jumah (the tribe who owned Bilal). Umayyah
ibn Khalaf, the owner of Bilal, considered it a great shame and
disgrace but he said mockingly: “It does not matter. The only
one who will accept Islam is this slave!” However, the direct
opposite occurred. Islam spread and the practice of idolatry was
brought to an end.
Bilal, honored not only Islam, but all humanity. He
resisted the harshest forms of torture. Allah made him an
example of the fact that blackness of skin and bondage would
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
not decry the greatness of the soul if it found its faith and
adhered to its Creator. Bilal gave a profound lesson to those
during his time and afterwards as well; freedom and supremacy
of conscience could not be bartered either for gold or
punishment, even if its quantity was enough to fill the earth. He
was stripped naked and laid on hot coals in order to make him
reconsider and denounce his faith, but he refused. He would be
taken out in the heat of the day and his body would be dragged
on top of the burning stones. A huge stone that took several men
to lift would also be placed on his body and chest. This savage
torture was repeated every day until the hearts of some of his
torturers took pity on him. They told him, “If you speak well of
our idols, we will let you free.” The Quraish did not want it to
be said that they were unable to convince or forcefully bring a
slave out of Islam. Even with this, Bilal refused and he began to
repeat his lasting chant: “God is One, God is One!” His torturers
shouted at him, imploring him, “Mention the name of Al-Laat
and Al-‘Uzza.25” But he answered, “God is One, God is One!”
They asked him to simply repeat after them, but he scoffed at
their request saying: “I am unable to properly pronounce what
you want me to say!”
So Bilal remained in his state and was tortured ever more
severely. By sunset they tied a rope around his neck and ordered
their boys to take him around the mountains and streets of
Makkah. Bilal continuously chanted “God is One, God is One!”
When the night fell, they told him, “Tomorrow, you will
speak well of our idols and we will leave you alone. We are
tired of torturing you, and now the task is so cumbersome that it

25 The names of two idols that were worshipped before Isalm.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
seems to us that we are the tortured ones.” Bilal remained
resolute; he shook his head and said, “God is One, God is One!”
Umayyah Ibn Khalaf kicked him and exploded with fury, and
shouted, “How unlucky I am! What a wretched slave you are!
By Al-Laat and Al-‘Uzza, I’ll make you an example for slaves
and masters.” But Bilal answered with the holy greatness and
certainty of a believer, “God is One, God is One!” They were
playing a game with Bilal. One of the Polytheists who was
present played the role of a sympathizer and he said: “Take it
easy, Umayyah. By Al-Laat, he will not be tortured again.
Indeed Bilal is one of us; his mother is our slave girl. He will not
be pleased to talk ill about us or to ridicule us because of his
conversion to Islam.” But Bilal gazed at their lying, cunning
faces and with complete calmness that shook them violently, he
chanted “God is One, God is One!” The next day Bilal was
taken in the open sun and extreme heat. Bilal knew what was to
come and he was patient, brave and knew that if he remained in
this state, a great reward awaited him in the Hereafter.
Abu Bakr as-Siddiq τ went to them while they were
torturing him and shouted at them, “Are you killing a man
because he says, ‘Allah is my God!’” Then he shouted at
Umayyah ibn Khalaf, “Take more than his price and set him
free.” It was as if Umayyah was drowning and had caught a
lifeboat. It was to his liking and he was very much pleased when
he heard Abu Bakr offering the price of his freedom, since they
had lost all hope that he would ever leave Islam. And as they
were merchants, they realized that selling him was more
profitable to them than his death.
They sold him to Abu-Bakr τ and he then emancipated
him immediately, and Bilal took his place among free men.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
When Abu Baker put his arm around Bilal, Umayyah said to
him, “Take him, for by Al-Laat and Al-‘ Uzza if you had refused
to buy him except for one ounce of gold, I would have sold him
to you.” Abu Bakr realized the bitterness of despair and
disappointment hidden in those words. It was appropriate not to
answer, but because they violated the dignity of this man who
had become his brother and his equal, he answered Umayyah
saying, “By Allah, if you had refused to sell him except for a
hundred ounces, I would have paid it.”
After the Hijrah of the Messenger ρ and the Muslims to
Al-Madinah the Messenger enjoined that a call to prayer be
called. Who was to be given this honor to call the prayers? It
was none other than Bilal, who had called out thirteen years
before while he was being tortured, “God is One, God is One!”
He was chosen by the Messenger that day to be the first caller to
prayer in Islam. With his melodious voice, he filled the hearts
with faith and the ears with awe when he called:
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
I bear witness that there is no true god but Allah
I bear witness that there is no true god but Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Come to Prayer
Come to Prayer
Come to Success
Come to Success
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is no true god but Allah
Subsequent to this, the Muslims and the polytheists
engaged in battle. The Battle of Badr was the first battle that
took place between them. The Messenger of Allah ρ made the
slogan of the Muslims during this momentous confrontation:
“God is One, God is One!” In this battle 70 were killed and 70
were taken as prisoners of war. The noblemen of Quraish were
finished off. Umayyah ibn Khalaf, who had been Bilal’s master,
did not want to go out of Makkah to face the Muslims. So he did
not prepare himself. His friend Uqbah ibn Abi Muait was upset
so he made a point of going to see him while he was sitting
amongst his people and he gave him an incense burner and said
to him, “O Abu Ali, use this. You are one of the women.”
Umayyah shouted at him saying, “May Allah make you and
what you came with ugly!” After this he found no way out.
Uqbah ibn Abi Muait had been the greatest supporter of
Umayyah throughout the ordeal of Bilal and other weak
Muslims. And on that day, he himself was the one who urged
him to go to the Battle of Badr where he would die, just as it
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
would be the place where Uqbah would die! It is truly amazing
how Allah executes His command.
Umayyah reached his demise at the hands of none other
than Bilal. When the fighting began between the two sides, and
the Muslims began shouting, “God is One, God is One!” The
heart of Umayyah sunk! These were the same words his slave
used to repeat yesterday under torture and today it rocked the
battlefield from all sides and was the cry of an entire nation of
people! Umayyah thought to himself, had Islam spread so
quickly amongst people! The swords clashed in the battle and
the fighting became severe. As the battle neared its end,
Umayyah ibn Khalaf noticed Abdurrahmann bin Auf, the
Companion of the Messenger of Allah. He sought refuge with
him and asked to be his captive, hoping that this would save his
life. Abdurrahmann accepted and granted him refuge. He took
him and walked with him amidst the battle to the place where
the captives were held. On the way Bilal τ noticed him and
shouted, “The head of Kufr (disbelief), Umayyah ibn Khalaf!
May I not be saved if he is saved!” He lifted his sword to strike
Umayyah, but Abdurrahmann bin Auf shouted at him, “O Bilal,
he is my captive!” Bilal τ thought, “A captive while the war was
still raging? A captive while his sword was still dripping from
the blood of Muslims? This could not be!” Bilal realized that he
would not be able to attack Umayyah himself so he called on his
fellow Muslims, “O Ansaar! The head of Kufr, Umayyah ibn
Khalaf! May I not be saved if he is saved!” A band of Muslims
approached and surrounded Umayyah and his son, who was
fighting with the Quraish. Abdurrahmann bin Auf could not do
anything. He could not even protect his armor, which the crowd
removed. Bilal gazed long at the body of Umayyah, who fell
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
beneath the smashing swords. Then he hastened away from him
shouting, “God is One, God is One!”
I do not think it is our right to examine the virtue of
leniency in the case of Bilal during this occasion. If the meeting
between Bilal and Umayyah had taken place under any other
circumstances, we would have been allowed to ask Bilal to show
mercy and leniency, and a man like him in faith and piety would
not have withheld it. But they met each other on the battlefield,
the swords were blazing and the killed were falling. He saw him
in the arena of battle and fighting. If Umayyah were able to, he
would have killed Bilal. It is unfair for one to say to Bilal under
the circumstances, ‘Why did you not forgive him?’
The days went by and Makkah was conquered. The
Messenger ρ entered it, gratefully saying, “Allah is the
Greatest,” at the head of 10,000 Muslims. He headed for the
Ka’bah immediately. It was filled with many idols, each for one
day of the year. As the Prophet ρ destroyed them, he called out
“The truth has come and falsehood has vanished.” Ever since
that day, there has been no Uzza, no Laat and no Hubal26. Man
bows down only to worship Allah, the most High. The
Messenger ρ entered the Kabah accompanied by Bilal. He had
hardly entered it when he faced a carved idol representing
Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) υ drawing lots. In anger he said,
“May Allah kill them. Our ancestors never drew lots.
Ibrahim was not a Jew or Christian, but he was a true
Muslim and was never a polytheist.” Then he ordered Bilal τ

26 The names of three idols that were worshipped before Islam.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
to ascend to the top of the Kabah to call the Prayer. He called
the Adthan. How magnificent was the time, place, and occasion!
Life in Makkah came to a standstill, and thousands of
Muslims stood motionless, repeating in submissiveness the
words of the Adthan after Bilal while the Polytheists were in
their homes hardly believing what was happening. The Prophet
ρ addressed them saying “Go, you are free!” (Ibn Hisham)
Bilal τ lived with the Messenger of Allah ρ and witnessed
all the Battles with him, calling to Prayer and observing the rites
of this great religion that took him out of darkness to light and
from servitude to freedom. With each passing day, Bilal τ
became more beloved to the Prophet ρ. who described him as
“one of the inhabitants of Paradise.”
But Bilal τ remained just as he was, noble and humble to a
fault, always considering himself “the Abyssinian who only
yesterday was a slave.” One day he was proposing to two girls
for himself and his brother, so he said to their father, “I am Bilal
and this is my brother, we were two slaves from Abyssinia. We
were astray and Allah guided us. We were two slaves and Allah
emancipated us. If you agree on us marrying your daughters, all
praise is to Allah; if you refuse, then Allah is the Greatest.”
Whenever Umar ibn Al-Khattab τ mentioned Abu Bakr τ
he would say, “Abu Bakr is our master and the emancipator
of our master.” (Bukhari) That is to say, Bilal.
The Messenger ρ passed away and Abu Bakr As-Siddiq τ
took the command of the Muslims after him. Bilal τ went to the
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Caliph of the Messenger of Allah ρ and said to him, “O Caliph
of the Messenger of Allah, I heard the Messenger of Allah ρ
saying, “The best deed of a believer is Jihad in the cause of
Allah.” Abu Bakr τ said to him, “So what do you want, Bilal?”
He said: “I want to go in the path of Allah and die in that cause.”
Abu Bakr τ said, “And who will call the Adthan for us?” Bilal τ
said, with his eyes overflowing with tears, “I will not call the
Adthan for anyone after the Messenger of Allah.” Abu Bakr τ
said, “Stay and make the Adthan for us, Bilal.” Bilal τ said, “If
you emancipated me to be for you, I will do what you want, but
if you emancipated me for Allah, leave me to Whom I was
emancipated.” Abu Bakr τ said, “I emancipated you for Allah,
Bilal!” He then let him go on his way. The last time he called
the Adthan was when the Commander of the Faithful, Umar
visted Shaam and the Muslims begged him to ask Bilal to call
the Adthan for them. They wept as they never did before, and
Umar τ most strongly.
Bilal τ died in Syria, fighting in the cause of Allah just as he
had wanted.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Look at the greatness of Islam, and the happiness one
finds in their heart when they embrace it. This happiness
remains in the heart and makes one forget about all the pains
and troubles that they may have been through in their lives. The
joy the Muslims feel upon applying their faith is far greater than
any materialistic joy one can possibly experience in this life. If
you really want to experience this happiness in your life you’ve
got to take that bold step. Witness what Abu Sufyan bin Harb
said: “Heraclius upon receiving a letter from Prophet
Muhammad ρ called for us while we were in Shaam.27 He said:
“Heraclius’ messenger found us somewhere in the Greater
Syria area, so he took me and my companions to Ilya and we
were admitted into Heraclius’ presence. We found him
sitting in his royal court wearing a crown, surrounded by the
senior Byzantine dignitaries. He said to his translator. ‘Ask
them whom amongst them is a close relation to the man who
claims to be a prophet.’”
Abu Sufyan added,
“I replied: ‘I am the nearest relative to him.’ He
asked, ‘What degree of relationship do you have with
him?’ I replied, ‘He is my cousin,’ and there was none
from the tribe of Abd Manaf in the caravan except myself.
Heraclius said, ‘Let him come nearer.’ He then ordered

27 This is a historic region in the Middle East bordering the Mediterranean. It
is generally considered to include the modern states of Syria, Lebanon,
Palestine, and Jordon.
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
that my companions stand behind me near my shoulder
and said to his translator, ‘Tell his companions that I am
going to ask this man about the one who claims to be a
prophet. If he tells a lie, they should contradict him
immediately.’ ”
Abu Sufyan added,
“By Allah! Had it not been for shame that my
companions brand me a liar, I would not have spoken the
truth about him when he asked me. But I considered it
shameful to be called a liar by my companions, so I told the
“He then said to his translator, ‘Ask him what kind
of family he belongs to.’ I replied, ‘He belongs to a noble
family amongst us.’ He said, ‘Has anybody else amongst
you ever claimed the same before him?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He
said, ‘Have you ever blamed him for telling lies before he
claimed what he claimed?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Was
anybody amongst his ancestors a king?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He
said, ‘Do the noble or the poor follow him?’ I replied, ‘It is
the poor who follow him.’ He said, ‘Are they increasing or
decreasing (daily)?’ I replied, ‘They are increasing.’ He
said, ‘Does anybody amongst those who embrace his
religion become displeased and then discard his religion?’
I replied, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Does he break his promises?’ I
replied, ‘No, but we are now at truce with him and we are
afraid that he may betray us.’”
Abu Sufyan added,
“Other than the last sentence, I could not say
anything against him.”
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Heraclius then asked, ‘Have you ever had a war with
him?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘What was the outcome of
your battles with him?’ I replied, ‘Sometimes he was
victorious and sometimes we.’ He said, ‘What does he
order you to do?’ I said, ‘He tells us to worship God alone,
and not to worship others along with Him, and to leave all
that our fore-fathers used to worship. He orders us to
pray, give in charity, be chaste, keep promises and return
what is entrusted to us.’
“When I had said that, Heraclius said to his
translator, ‘Say to him: I asked you about his lineage and
your reply was that he belonged to a noble family. In fact,
all the Messengers came from the noblest lineage of their
nations. Then I questioned you whether anybody else
amongst you had claimed such a thing, and your reply was
in the negative. If the answer had been in the affirmative, I
would have thought that this man was following a claim
that had been said before him. When I asked you whether
he was ever blamed for telling lies, your reply was in the
negative, so I took it for granted that a person who did not
tell a lie to people could never tell a lie about God. Then I
asked you whether any of his ancestors was a king. Your
reply was in the negative, and if it had been in the
affirmative, I would have thought that this man wanted to
take back his ancestral kingdom. When I asked you
whether the rich or the poor people followed him, you
replied that it was the poor who followed him. In fact, such
are the followers of the Messengers. Then I asked you
whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You
replied that they were increasing. In fact, this is the result
of true faith till it is complete [in all respects]. I asked you
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
whether there was anybody who, after embracing his
religion, became displeased and discarded his religion;
your reply was in the negative. In fact, this is the sign of
true faith, for when its pleasure enters and mixes in the
hearts completely; nobody will be displeased with it. I
asked you whether he had ever broken his promise. You
replied in the negative. And such are the Messengers; they
never break their promises. When I asked you whether
you fought with him and he fought with you, you replied
that he did and that sometimes he was victorious and
sometimes you. Indeed, such are the Messengers; they are
put to trials and the final victory is always theirs. Then I
asked you what he ordered you. You replied that he
ordered you to worship God alone and not to worship
others along with Him, to leave all that your fore-fathers
used to worship, to offer prayers, to speak the truth, to be
chaste, to keep promises, and to return what is entrusted to
you. These are really the qualities of a prophet who, I knew
[from the previous Scriptures] would appear, but I did not
know that he would be from amongst you. If what you say
is true, he will very soon occupy the earth under my feet,
and if I knew that I would reach him definitely, I would go
immediately to meet him; and were I with him, then I
would certainly wash his feet.’ ”
Abu Sufyan added,
“Heraclius then asked for the letter of the Messenger
of God and it was read. Its contents were the following:
I begin with the name of God, the most Beneficent,
the most Merciful [This letter is] from Muhammad, the
slave of God, and His Messenger, to Heraclius, the
Bilal the Abyssinian – One Light, Many Colors
Ruler of the Byzantine. Peace be upon the followers of
guidance. I invite you to Islam [i.e. surrender to God]).
Accept Islam and you will be safe; accept Islam and
God will bestow on you a double reward. But if you
reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible
for misguiding the peasants [i.e. your nation].
(O people of the Scriptures! Come to a word
common between you and us, that we worship God, and
that we associate nothing in worship with Him; and that
none of us shall take others as Gods besides God. Then if
they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are they who
have surrendered [unto Him].) (3:64)”
Abu Sufyan added,
“When Heraclius had finished his speech, there was a
great hue and cry caused by the Byzantine dignitaries
surrounding him, and there was so much noise that I did
not understand what they said. So, we were ordered out of
the court.”
“When I went out with my companions and we were
alone, I said to them, ‘Verily, Ibn Abi Kabsha’s (i.e. the
Prophet’s) affair has gained power. This is the King of the
Romans fearing him.’ ”
Abu Sufyan added:
“By God, I became surer and surer that his religion
would be victorious till I ended up accepting Islam.”
(Bukhari #2782)