Hz. Bilal ibn Rabah (RA), was a slave because he was the son of two prisoners in Mecca, and the child of a prisoner was considered a slave at the time. His parents, on the other hand, were royalty in their native land. He was a prince who had become lost in the Arabian deserts, where the wild inhabitants of Jahiliyya treated him with the ferocity of ignorance. But when the news of Islam arrived, Hz. Bilal’s heart was set on fire, and while he was unable to attend the Holy Prophet’s sohbet, he was moved to tears (AS). The light of faith that surrounds Bilal’s heart, became an endless source of courage for him, so much so that, despite being a slave, he did not hesitate to openly announce his religion despite the suffering, pressure, and persecution imposed by his master and the other disbelievers.
Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi (KS) is explaining the history, saying, “Hz. Bilal gave up his body to the punishment of thorns and the whips of his master who said, “Why do you remember Ahmad, Ahmad? You wicked slave, you disbelieve in my religion?” And while he was being beaten in the sun with thorns, Hz. Bilal called out with nobility, “Ahad, Ahad!” Finally the cries of Ahad reached the ears of Siddiq al-Akbar, who was passing through the neighborhood. His eyes filled with tears and his heart was troubled, because from that Ahad he smelled the perfume of a Loving Friend of Allah. (He told Hz. Bilal to keep his Islam secret), but the next day he passed the neighborhood again and heard the beatings and heard Ahad, Ahad. Hz. Bilal (said he could not keep his Love for Allah and His Prophet a secret). He said, “If my body becomes full of holes from the torture of thorns, then my spirit and my body are a rosegarden of happiness. My body is exposed to the whipping of my master, but my spirit is in love and flying in the Love of the Wadud. The perfume of my Beloved approaches my soul the Ittar of my Yaar is coming to me.” (This is why) when the Holy Prophet (AS) came back from the Miraj, he said to Bilal, “How dear you are to me, how dear you are!” (Masnavi).
Hz. Bilal who was freed by Hz. Abu Bakr, became the muazzin of Islam, the first one who called ezan. Hz. Abu Hurayra (RA) said, “We were with Rasulallah (AS) when Hz. Bilal stood to call ezan. Holy Prophet (AS), he then fell silent. The Prophet (AS) said, “Whoever says like this, with Yaqin, he will enter Paradise.” (Nasai) However, so many people were against Hz. Bilal. There were people who did not like Hz. Bilal calling ezan. They said that when he said Ashhadhu an-la ilaha il-Allah, he said it with a seen instead of a sheen, that he mispronounced the words. Imam Ahmad Faruq al-Sirhindi al-Rabbani (KS) says about this incident, “Rasulallah (AS) said, “The seen of Bilal, is sheen to Allah.” Therefore, Bilal’s “wrong way” is better than a normal person’s “correct way.”” (Maktubat). It was him who called ezan on top of the Kaaba on the Day of Conquest in order to infuriate the disbelievers.
After the Holy Prophet’s passing, Hz. Bilal could not stay in Madinah out of sadness. So he moved to Damascus. One night, he had a dream that Rasulallah (AS) came to his dream and said, ‘Ya Bilal, you do not visit us anymore?’ And Hz. Bilal ran back to Madinah. He ran. And when he entered Masjid el-Nebevi, Hz. Hasan and Hz. Huseyin were there, and they said, ‘Ya Bilal, please call the Ezan.’ And he knew his heart could not take it, but because they were the beloved grandsons of Rasulallah and they were insisting, he called. And during the time of Rasulallah (AS), when he was not veiled from this world, Hz Bilal he used to point to the Prophet when he would say Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasulallah. And when he reached this part of the Ezan, and his Beloved was not there, his soul could not handle that pain, and he lost his consciousness. And all the people of Madinah, when they heard that Hz. Bilal was calling the Ezan, they all came out of their houses, they were rushing out, and they were thinking that Prophet had come back.
Sultan el-Evliya Sheykh Mevlana Muhammad Nazim Adil el-Hakkani (KS) is describing the last moments of Sayyidina Bilal (RA), saying:
“Sayyidina Bilal- Allah bless him- he was on his deathbed lying and he was so happy and enjoyful, it is difficult to bring a description for his enjoyment and his pleasure! They were asking:
“O Bilal, O Companion of the Seal of Prophets! We are looking that every moment you are approaching to death. What is that- you are so happy!”
“Ohhh”, he was saying, “my friends, how you are saying this and I am today with you, tomorrow I am going to be with My Habib, my beloved one, and his Companions! Today (I am) with you, tomorrow (I will be) with the Friend of Allah, (with the) friends of Allah. I am going to reach to them in Heavens.”
The life of Hz. Bilal (RA) is full of lessons in servanthood and sincerity. His example shows that the Holy Prophet (AS) came to break all of the chains of ignorance and tribalism that were surrounding the Arabs of that time. May we follow the Way of Hz. Bilal and be freed from the slavery of our egos and the ignorance of this world.