Bilal, may Allah be please with him was from the greatest of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. He is also reported to have been very black in complexion and although it isn’t entirely clear whether he was actually a mixture of two racial bloodlines, he is commonly known as Bilal the Abyssinian.
Due to him being commonly known as an Abyssinian, which is in a place that we now call Africa ( a new European term ) and because he was very black in complexion, he has become a house hold name amongst the ‘Afro-Americans, West Indians and people of what we call the African continent today and their descendants wherever they are in the world.
Many have made a special places in their hearts for Bilal may Allah be pleased with him, due to how they see what may seem to be apparent parallels between the slavery of West Africans and the slavery of Bilal may Allah have mercy upon him. and his life in general. This false parallel along with the false narration of him being called ”son of a black woman” has actually created further damage and created a concoction of ideas and a subliminal narrative; ”The Prophet sullahu alayhi wa salaam came and saved black people from oppression slavery”, and other related fallacies.
What’s your name?
The narrative is so profound that when someone from the ‘Afro-Americans, West Indians and people of what we call the African continent today embraces Islam, they either name themselves Bilal or make sure that they name someone in their family Bilal. Of course there is nothing wrong with naming yourself or child Bilal and in fact it’s honorary to do so as Bilal may Allah be pleased with him was one of the greatest companions of the Prophet Mohammed sullahu alayhi wa Salaam, but the fact of the matter is that they aren’t naming themselves Bilal because he was a great righteous companion but they name him for the simple fact that they see themselves as ”a Bilal” .The main reason for this due to how they have been wrongly taught that Bilal may Allah be pleased with him was one of the ONLY very few black companions, Arabs were not black and that he was discriminated because he was black in complexion which is in total contradiction to how the majority of the scholars of old understood things! His complexion was similar to the complexion of many of the other Arabs such as Umar bin Al Khataab, Ali ibn Abu Taalib and others may Allah be pleased with them, and major scholars of the past had no problem saying or believing this. And even when they don’t name themselves Bilal, they still see themselves as ”a Bilal”.
What makes things even more subtly and complexly damaging is that most people who are not’Afro-Americans, West Indians and people of what we call the African continent and their descendants in general, see them ( Afro-Americans, West Indians and people of what we call the African continent and their descendants) as being ”Bilals”. Many can testify to the fact that when they embraced Islam and were in the process of choosing a name, one of the first suggestions that they were given was ”Bilal”. You even find that when a male who is either ”Afro-American, West Indian and people of what we call the African continent and their descendants embraces Islam and his name is not known or if for some reason it is forgotten , he is nicknamed ”Bilal”.
What do many others mean when they call you Bilal?
Most would not like to admit this or may not have realised what the subliminal meaning can be behind being called Bilal in the examples that I have mentioned. The message that is actually being given is that, you are NOT a leader unless you’re in the army, you’re only good for fighting, you’re good for calling the the call to prayer but not necessarily good for leading the prayer, you’ve obviously got slave ancestry, your lineage isn’t noble ( a common answer used in the Gulf when refusing a marriage proposal), you may be physically strong but you are miskeen ( weak and desperate ) and the list goes on. The irony of all of this is that Bilal may Allah be pleased with him came from a people who were MORE POWERFUL THAN THE ARABS.
Abyssinia is in what we call Africa and is not Africa as a whole
Abyssinia is only a very small part of Africa and has many different tribes in it. If anything, Bilal may Allah be pleased with him, only represents Abyssinian people and the tribes there rather than the entire Africa which has hundreds of other tribes that are totally unrelated to Abyssinia and have their own customs, cultures and languages. They even have different physical features. The only thing that they have in common with other ‘Africans’ today is that their skin complexions are similar to each other; Abyadh, Asmar, Adam and Shadeed Al Udmah which is similar to how the majority of Arabs were!
Abyssinia a rich and powerful kingdom
If we accept that Bilal may Allah be pleased with him was truly Abyssinian then we have to look at his tribes men and their kingdom. What we see is that there are no real parallels between ‘Afro-Americans, West Indians and other tribes people from what we call the African continent and Bilal as he was just ONE person who came from a powerful kingdom that the Arabs had NO POWER and NO AUTHORITY over. If it were not for the mercy of Allah, the Arabs of Mecca would’ve been destroyed and enslaved by the Abyssinians under the leadership of Abraha in the same year that the Prophet Mohammed may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, was born. The Arabs of Mecca were scared to death of the Abyssinians, so scared that they didn’t even want to fight and ran for the mountains instead.
Tafseer Ibn Katheer
`Abdul Al Muttalib replied, “By Allah! We don’t want to fight him, nor do we have the power to do so. This is the Sacred House of Allah, and the house of His intimate friend, Ibrahim, and if He wants to prevent him (Abrahah) from it, it is His House and His Sacred Place . And if He lets him come near to it, by Allah, We have no defence against from him.” So Hanaatah said to him him, “Come with me to him (Abrahah).” So `Abdul Al Muttalib went with him. When Abrahah saw him, he was impressed, because `Abdul Al Muttalib was a handsome man and beautiful to look at. So Abrahah go down from his seat and sat with him on a carpet . Then he asked his translator to say to him, “What do you need” `Abdul AlMuttalib replied to the translator, “I want the king to return my camels which he has taken from me which are two hundred in number.” Abrahah then told his translator to tell him, “I was impressed by you when I first saw you, but now I withdraw from you after you have spoken to me. You are asking me about two hundred camels which I have taken from you and you leave the matter of a house which is (the foundation of) religion and the religion of your fathers, which I have come to destroy and you do not speak to me about it” `Abdul Al Muttalib said to him, “Verily, I am the lord of the camels. As for the House, it has its Lord Who will defend it.” Abrahah said, “I cannot be prevented (from destroying it).” `Abdul Al Muttalib answered, “Then do so.” It is said that a number of the chiefs of the Arabs accompanied `Abdul Al Muttalib and offered Abrahah a third of the wealth of the tribe of Tihamah if he would withdraw from the House, but he refused and returned `Abdul Al Muttalib’s camels to him. `Abdul Al Muttalib then returned to his people and ordered them to leave Makkah and seek shelter at the top of the mountains, fearful of the excesses which might be committed by the army against them. Then he took hold of the metal ring of the door of the Ka`bah, and along with a number of Quraysh, he called upon Allah to give them victory over Abrahah and his army. `Abdul Al Muttalib said, while hanging on to the ring of the Ka`bah’s door, “There is no matter more important to any man right now than the defense of his livestock and property. So, O my Lord! Defend Your property. Their cross and their cunning will not be victorious over your cunning by the time morning comes.” According to Ibn Ishaq, then `Abdul Al Muttalib let go of the metal ring of the door of the Ka`bah, and they left Makkah and ascended to the mountains tops.
فقال له عبد المطلب : والله ما نريد حربه ، وما لنا بذلك من طاقة ، هذا بيت الله الحرام ، وبيت خليله إبراهيم فإن يمنعه منه فهو بيته وحرمه ، وإن يخلي بينه وبينه ، فوالله ما عندنا دفع عنه . فقال له حناطة : فاذهب معي إليه . فذهب معه ، فلما رآه أبرهة أجله ، وكان عبد المطلب رجلا جميلا حسن المنظر ، ونزل أبرهة عن سريره ، وجلس معه على البساط ، وقال لترجمانه : قل له : حاجتك ؟ فقال للترجمان : إن حاجتي أن يرد علي الملك مائتي بعير أصابها لي . فقال أبرهة لترجمانه : قل له : لقد كنت أعجبتني حين رأيتك ، ثم قد زهدت فيك حين كلمتني ، أتكلمني في مائتي بعير أصبتها لك ، وتترك بيتا هو دينك ودين آبائك قد جئت لهدمه ، لا تكلمني فيه ؟! فقال له عبد المطلب : إني أنا رب الإبل ، وإن للبيت ربا سيمنعه . قال : ما كان ليمتنع مني ! قال : أنت وذاك .
ويقال : إنه ذهب مع عبد المطلب جماعة من أشراف العرب فعرضوا على أبرهة ثلث أموال تهامة على أن يرجع عن البيت ، فأبى عليهم ، ورد أبرهة على عبد المطلب إبله ، ورجع عبد المطلب إلى قريش فأمرهم بالخروج من مكة والتحصن في رءوس الجبال ، تخوفا عليهم من معرة الجيش . ثم قام عبد المطلب فأخذ بحلقة باب الكعبة ، وقام معه نفر من قريش يدعون الله ويستنصرونه على أبرهة وجنده ، وقال عبد المطلب وهو آخذ بحلقة باب الكعبة :
لاهم إن المرء يمنع رحله فامنع حلالك لا يغلبن صليبهم ومحالهم غدوا محالك
قال ابن إسحاق : ثم أرسل عبد المطلب حلقة الباب ، ثم خرجوا إلى رءوس الجبال
“They were green birds that came out of the sea and they had heads like the heads of predatory animals.” It was reported from `Ubayd bin `Umayr that he commented:”They were black sea birds that had stones in their beaks and claws.” And the chains of narration are all authentic. It is reported from `Ubayd bin `Umayr that he said, “When Allah wanted to destroy the People of the Elephant, he sent birds upon them that came from the sea. Each of the birds was carrying three small stones — two stones with its feet and one stone in its beak. They came until they aligned in rows over their (the people of the elephant) heads. Then they screamed out aloud and threw what was in their claws and beaks. No stone fell upon the head of any man except that it came out of his behind, and it did not fall on any part of his body except that it came out from the another side. Then Allah sent a severe wind that hit the stones and increased them in force and therefore, destroying all of them.”
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَـبِ الْفِيلِ – أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِى تَضْلِيلٍ – وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْراً أَبَابِيلَ – تَرْمِيهِم بِحِجَارَةٍ مِّن سِجِّيلٍ – فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَّأْكُولِ
بِسَنَدٍ صَحِيح عَنْ عِكْرِمَة أَنَّهَا كَانَتْ طَيْرًا خُضْرًا خَرَجَتْ مِنْ الْبَحْر ، لَهَا رُءُوس كَرُءُوسِ السِّبَاع .
وحدثنا ابن بشار ، حدثنا ابن مهدي ، عن سفيان ، عن الأعمش ، عن أبي سفيان عن عبيد بن عمير : ( طيرا أبابيل ) قال : هي طير سود بحرية ، في منقارها وأظافيرها الحجارة .وهذه أسانيد صحيحة
وقال ابن أبي حاتم : حدثنا أبو زرعة ، حدثنا عبد الله بن محمد بن أبي شيبة ، حدثنا أبو معاوية ، عن الأعمش ، عن أبي سفيان ، عن عبيد بن عمير ، قال : لما أراد الله أن يهلك أصحاب الفيل ، بعث عليهم طيرا أنشئت من البحر ، أمثال الخطاطيف . كل طير منها تحمل ثلاثة أحجار مجزعة : حجرين في رجليه وحجرا في منقاره . قال : فجاءت حتى صفت على رءوسهم ، ثم صاحت وألقت ما في أرجلها ومناقيرها ، فما يقع حجر على رأس رجل إلا خرج من دبره ، ولا يقع على شيء من جسده إلا وخرج من الجانب الآخر . وبعث الله ريحا شديدة فضربت الحجارة فزادتها شدة فأهلكوا جميعا
NOTE: Allah destroyed them all, which means that they all died so the Arabs couldn’t have enslaved any of them!
Even after the Prophet Mohammed sullahu alayhi wa salaam was born, the Arabs were still no match for the Abyssinians hence why the Prophet Mohammed sullahu alayhi wa salaam instructed his early followers to go to Abyssinia as he knew that they would be SAFE.
Ibn Shihaab said on the authority of Ibn Abi Bakr ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Harith ibn Hisham on the authorityof Umm Salamah, the husband of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When we came down to the land of Abyssinia we were surrounded by the best neighbour of Najaashi. We had safety in practising our religion and we worshipped Allah the most high we do not suffer any injustice nor do we hear anything we hate.”
حدثني ابن شهاب عن أبي بكر بن عبد الرحمن بن الحارث بن هشام ، [ ص: 431 ] عن أم سلمة زوج النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قالت : لما نزلنا أرض الحبشة جاورنا بها خير جار النجاشي ، أمنا على ديننا ، وعبدنا الله تعالى لا نؤذى ولا نسمع شيئا نكرهه .
”Allah gave the news about the reward of those who migrated for His sake, seeking His pleasure, those who left their homeland behind, brothers and friends, hoping for the recompense of Allah and his reward. It is likely to have been revealed in regards to those who migrated to Ethiopia, those whose persecution at the hands of their own people in Makkah was so extreme that they left and went to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) so that they would be able to worship their Lord. Among the most notable of these migrants were `Uthman bin `Affan and his wife Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah , Ja’far bin Abi Taalib, the cousin of the Messenger , and Abu Salamah bin `Abdul-Asad, among a group of almost eighty sincere men and women, may Allah be pleased with them.”
وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا فِي اللَّهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا ظُلِمُوا لَنُبَوِّئَنَّهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً ۖ وَلَأَجْرُ الْآخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ (41)
خبر تعالى عن جزائه للمهاجرين في سبيله ابتغاء مرضاته ، الذين فارقوا الدار والإخوان والخلان رجاء ثواب الله وجزائه .
ويحتمل أن يكون سبب نزول هذه الآية الكريمة في مهاجرة الحبشة الذين اشتد أذى قومهم لهم بمكة ، حتى خرجوا من بين أظهرهم إلى بلاد الحبشة ، ليتمكنوا من عبادة ربهم ، ومن أشرافهم : عثمان بن عفان ، ومعه زوجته رقية بنت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ، وجعفر بن أبي طالب ، ابن عم الرسول وأبو سلمة بن عبد الأسد في جماعة قريب من ثمانين ، ما بين رجل وامرأة ، صديق وصديقة ، رضي الله عنهم
Why are you not named after someone whose people’s lives and history parallels with yours?
Prophet Moses may Allah’s blessings be upon him was a Prophet from the Children of Israel that most know was a ”black man”. His description is known and not disputable.
In Musnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal , Chapter 50 page 488
The Messenger of Allah may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said,” And the description of Moses may peace be upon him : ” And I saw Moses intensely black skinned” Authenticated by the Muhaddith may Allah have mercy upon him . Sheikh Arnoot.
مسند أحمد بن حنبل ج 50 ص 488
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم في وصفه لموسى عليه السلام: “و رأيت موسى أسحم آدم”. رواه أحمد وغيره وصححه الأرناؤوط
Abu al-Fadl Iyad ibn Amr ibn Musa ibn Iyad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdillah ibn Musa ibn Iyad al-Yahsubi al-Sabti Qaady Abu Fadl I’yaad Ibn Musa Ibn I’yaad said in his book Mashariq al-Anwar ala Sahih al-Athar:
In some of the explanations of the narrations and in some books, Ashaam means intensely black
(Seen Haa Meem) The saying if it comes (the baby) and it is Asham meaning intensely black. Harbi said it is that which is the colour of the crow.
للقاضي أبوالفضل عياض بن موسى بن عياض اليحصب يالسبتي المالكي في كتابه مشارق الأنوار على صحاح الآثار ج٢ص٤١٠
في شروحات بعض الأحاديث وبعض الكتب بأن أسحم : بمعنى شديد السواد
س ح م ) قوله إن جاءت به أسحم أي أسود شديد السواد قال الحربي هو الذي لونه كلون
Both the knowledgeable and the ignorant know this yet it seems so difficult for most from the ‘Afro-Americans, West Indians and other tribes people from what we call the African continent to relate themselves to Moses and the Children of Israel even though the parallels are far greater between them.
Musa alayhi as Salaam and the tyrant Pharoah
Musa alyhi as Salaam came to save his people, who would have looked like him, from the tyrant Phoarah.
Bilal may Allah be pleased with him had no such challenge or instruction as his people were not being oppressed as they were a very powerful nation in his time and before his time.
The Children of Israel as a people were enslaved for around 400 years and so did the Transatlantic slave trade. West Africans and Central Africans and their descendants are still discriminated against wherever they go throughout the world. Pockets of these people who were taken into captivity can be found in just about every continent, and even though some were already in other countries or went their out of their own free wills, there is no denying that very many of them were taken there without choice.
The way the Children of Israel were treated is very much comparable to the way that these groups were treated too.
Not only were the Children of Israel enslaved as a race, but they were also suppressed and forced to believe in gods other than the true All Mighty Creator of the Heavens of the Earth and all that exists.
Bilal may Allah be pleased with him was ONE man who was once a slave whilst his people were FREE and powerful.
Why are the Children of Israel subjected to punishments?
In short, the Children of Israel will always be subjected to punishments from Allah for denying him, not being righteousness which are all parts of the covenant unless they stick to it!
O children of Israel! Remember My bounties upon you that I bestowed, and stick to your covenant with Me, I will fulfil my covenant with you; and be mindful and fearing of me alone
يا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُواْ نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِي أُوفِ بِعَهْدِكُمْ وَإِيَّايَ فَارْهَبُونِ
(٤١) وَآمِنُواْ بِمَا أَنزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلاَ تَكُونُواْ أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ وَلاَ تَشْتَرُواْ بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلاً وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ
What sorts of punishments will they always be subjected punishments from Allah for denying him, not being righteousness and breaking his covenant with them?
Even though slavery seems to have ended, the ill treatment still continues in various forms.
In Suratul Araf verse 167 in which Allah the most high relates to the Prophet Mohammed may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him an event in which Allah the most high made a promise to the Children of Israel, in relation to the COVENANT that they have and what would happen if they break it:
“And remind ( The Children of Israel) when your Lord promised that He would ( CONTINUOUSLY ) send against them until the Day of Resurrection those who would inflict them with terrible punishments. Verily your Lord is swift in prosecution and Verify He is Forgiving, Merciful.”
” وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكَ لَيَبْعَثَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَنْ يَسُومُهُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَسَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ ۖ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ”
In Surat Al Israa verse 8 Allah mentions how he reminded Bani Israel that if the return to disobedience, that He would return to punishment in this life and also punish them in the next, as explained by the scholars.
وإن عدتم عدنا وجعلنا جهنم للكافرين حصيرا
If you return, We shall return : meaning, if you return to causing mischief, Allah will return to inflicting upon them what they have earned in punishment IN THIS WORLD.
وَإِنْ عُدتُّمْ عُدْنَا أي : متى عدتم إلى الإفساد عدنا إلى الإدالة عليكم في الدنيا مع ما ندخره لكم في الآخرة من العذاب والنكال ؛ ولهذا قال [ تعالى ] ( حصيرا ) أي : مستقرا ومحصرا وسجنا لا محيد لهم ع
If you are going to make comparisons, you need to understand the history in order to make comparisons properly.
If want to make the comparison or if you see a person from West or Central Africa or from their descendants and you forget his name, it would be much more suitable to call him Moses, Jesus or Abdullah Ibn Salaam.
Why wouldn’t you ?
Are these people not deserving of this title because of the nobility connected to these names?
If ibn Hazm may Allah have mercy upon him, were here today, I am sure he’d have no difficulty spotting the parallels. Read More