Bilal (r.a.) – The Muezzin
Who is there who may be unaware of Hazrat Bilal’s intense love for and losing himself into the Apostle’s contemplation. Prior to Islam and during the incipience of Islam, his life passed in slavery, amid extreme woes, afflictions and troubles. After manumission, (release from slavery) he remained in the company of the Holy Prophet during residence and in journeys, and used to be his muezzin (one who gives call for prayers) and treasurer.
After the Holy Prophet’s demise he dedicated his entire life to the execution of a prophetic statement. Of the former two services the one of the treasurer’s ceased with the Holy Prophet’s death and the second, of muezzin’s became unendurable for him due to his utmost and excessive love for his noble master.
Accordingly, it is reported that when the Holy Prophet passed away and the obsequies had not yet been performed, Hazrat Bilal continued to give the prayer-call as usual. Whenever he uttered the sentence “I testify that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger” in the azan, the people present in the mosque used to burst into tears. After the burial when Hazrat Abu Bakr asked him to give the prayer-call, Hazrat Bilal said, “If you had manumitted me for this that I may live with you, then it is indeed a way thereof; and if you had manumitted me for the sake of Allah, then leave me to that Allah for Whom you had freed me.” Hazrat Abu Bakr said, ”I freed you for the sake of Allah”. Hazrat Bilal said, “Now, after the Holy Prophet I will not give the prayer-call for anyone”. After this there are one or two more incidents of Hairat Bilal’s calling out the azan which will be related shortly.
The Last Service
In short, after Hazrat Abu Bakr passed away, Hazrat Bilal went for jihad from the holy city Madina to Syria.
So when, on the occasion of the conquest of the Bayt al-Muqaddas, the Commander of the Faithful Hazrat Umar , at the Christians’ request, went there to conclude the treaty of peace – the event of which is also very wonderful and strange but for fear of prolixity and because it is irrelevant to the topic is not being mentioned here – he mounted a horse at Jabia, where he had collected all the governors and officers of the surrounding places, to go to Bayt al-Muqaddas. But the horse under him developed a limp because all its hoofs had fallen off. Noticing this Hazrat Umar dismounted. The people presented a fine horse of Turkish origin. This horse was pert and nimble. When Hazrat Umar mounted it, it began to prance at which he said: “You wretch! Where have you learnt this gait of pride”? Saying this he got down and walked on foot. When Bayt al-Muqqaddas came near, Hazrat Abu Obaidah and other army generals came to welcome him.
Looking at Harrat Umar’s dress and paraphernalia of ordinary kind, the Muslims were feeling embarrassed as to what would the Christians say in their hearts. So the people presented a Turkish horse and a fine dress. At this Hazrat Umar remarked, “The honour Allah hath bestowed on us is the honour of Islam and it is sufficient for us”.
In short, he entered the Bayt al-Muqaddas in such condition. He entered the mosque first of all and approaching the Prophet Dawood’s mihrab (arch) he recited the verse of Dawood’s prostration from the Sura-e Saud and performed a prostration; and then he stayed here for several days.
Hazrat Bilal’s Asceticism
One day Hazrat Bilal came here to Hazrat Umar’s presence and complained against the military people, saying: “0 Commander of the Faithful! Our officers eat flesh of fowls and bread of the finest wheat flour, whereas the common Muslims do not have even ordinary food”.
Hazrat Umar looked towards the officers. They said: “In this country every thing is cheap. For as much price as one gets bread and dates in Hejaz, for the same price fine flour and flesh of fowls are available here”.
Hazrat Bilal’s Prayer-Call In The Aqsa Mosque
During the same period, one day Harrat Umar , at the time of prayer, asked Hazrat Bilal to give the prayer-call. Hazrat Bilal said: “I had resolved that after the Holy Prophet I will not give the prayer-call for anyone. But today, and only today, I will carry out your order”
So he began to recite again. When he reached the words “Ash’hado anna Muhammadur Rasulullah“, all the Companions were reminded of the auspicious prophetic era. All of them burst into tears. Abu Obaidah and Ma’az bin Jabal wept so much that they became restless and Harrat Umar began to sob. This mood lasted for quite some time.
Hazrat Bilal then came to reside in Damascus. During this stay at Damascus he once dreamed of the Holy Prophet , the Holy Prophet said, ‘Bilal! What is this oppression? You never come to us.’ When he woke up he went to the holy city of Madina. There Hazrat Hasan and Hazrat Husain, the grandchildren of the prophet requested him to shout the prayer-call.
There was no chance of refusing their request. He began to recite the prayer-call. When the sound of the prayer-call of the prophetic era reached people’s ears, a loud lamentation arose in Madina. Crying women stirred out of their houses. After a few days’ stay there, Hazrat Bilal returned to Syria and then lived there permanently and continued taking part in jihad.
When the time of his death approached, his wife, saying, “Alas! Alas!’ began to lament. At this he said, “What a pleasurable thing it is that tomorrow I will be meeting Muhammad and his Companions”.
Around A.H. 20 he passed away and was buried in Damascus (Syria).
Source: Ita’at-Ur-Rasul (Obedience to the Messenger (Peace be upon him)
by Sheikh Yusuf Motala