The Beauty of the Righteous & Ranks of the Elite
Hilyat-ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat al-Asfiya
By Imam Abu Na'im al-Asfahani (948-1038 C.E.)
Trans. by Shaykh Muhammad Al-Akili
© 1996-2016 Pearl Publishing House

BILÃL BIN RABÃH

Also among the blessed companions was we must cite the name of Bilãl bin Rabãh, the devout and oft-forgiving sire, who was free from abstractness or illusion about this world. Born to a woman in bondage called Rabãh, Bilãl became free from slavery at the hand of Abu Bakr al-Siddïq, God be pleased with him, the truthful and benevolent, the trustworthy and blessed bosom friend of Godís messenger h, upon whom be peace.
Bilãl had an exceptional noble character. He taught the believers who suffered at the hands of the pagans great lessons in faith and piety through his endurance and steadfastness. In fact, throughout his life, and even to this day, Bilãl always remains a school of piety and a great source of inspiration and spirituality for all Muslims, Bilãl was a pioneer among the early believers, and he was a tender-hearted loving man of Allah, and he placed his entire trust in Almighty Allah, depended solely on Him for all his needs, and finally, he was most trusted by Godís messenger h, upon whom be peace.
315- Abu Bakr al-Talhi narrated that Omar bin al-Khattãb, God be pleased with him, said: "Abu Bakr is our sire, and he freed our second sire from bondage."1
316- Zaid bin al-Arqam narrated that Godís messenger h said: "Bilãl is a most blessed man, and he is the sire of the callers to prayers."
317- Hishãm bin ëUrwa, the son of al-Zubair, narrated that Waraqa bin Nawfal once passed by Bilãl during his bondage while he was being tortured. When Waraqa saw the bitter torture dispensed to Bilãl, he became alarmed, and he went to Umayya bin Khalaf, Bilãlís master then, and addressed him, saying: "I swear by Almighty Allah, should he die because of your torture, I will make his case a reason for my relentless wrath upon you all."
318- Hishãm bin ëUrwa continued: "One day, Abu Bakr al-Siddïq, God be pleased with him, passed by Umayya bin Khalaf and his ring as they were torturing Bilãl to force him to renege his faith. With every blow he received, Bilãl, gasped for air as he cried loud from his harrowing pain: "Ahadun Ahad! Ahadun Ahad!" (There is only one God, and only He is Allah!) When Abu Bakr saw that, he addressed Umayya bin Khalaf, saying: "Why wouldnít you try to be smarter and guard yourself against the wrath of Almighty Allah? For how long will you keep subjecting this poor man to such unbearable torture, donít you fear God Almighty?" Umayya replied angrily: "You are the cause that turned this salve rotten, and now, redeem him if you can afford it!"1 Abu Bakr replied: "I will. Listen, I have a slave who is stronger and wieldier than he, and he follows your religion as well. If you want, I will trade him for this man." Umayya instantly answered: "I accept."
Hence, Abu Bakr traded his salve for Bilãl, and he freed Bilãl from bondage. It is also narrated that prior to his migration from Mecca to Medina, Abu Bakr also bought additional six slaves who had secretly embraced Islam, and he freed them from bondage, and Bilãl was their seventh.
319- Muhammad Bin Ishãq narrated that Bilãl was born to a slave woman belonging to the Arab Tribe of Bani Jamh, a woman prisoner (Arb. mawãli) they captured during a tribal feud, and they turned her into a slave. Her name was Rabãh, and she begot a son whom she named Bilãl, and a highborn from among the Meccans named Umayya bin Khalaf, bought Bilãl.
In Mecca, Bilãl knew Godís messenger h, upon whom be peace, and he became Muslim from the early days of hearing about the divine message, and his Islam proved to be true and sincere. Bilãl had a pure heart and noble qualities, he readily accepted Godís message, proclaiming the divine Oneness, and he wholeheartedly followed the guidance of His messenger h upon whom be peace. When Umayya learned that his slave had embraced Islam, he became outraged, and he inflicted upon him all kinds of torture, including, exposing him unclothed to the heat of the midday desert sun, and then placing a giant sun-heated rock on his chest. Other slaves would carry out Bilãlís torture to force him to renege his faith. Bilãl would be gasping for air, as he cried loud from his agonizing pain: "Ahadun Ahad! Ahadun Ahad!" (There is only one God, and only He is God!). Every day, Umayya, in his exasperation, would personally administer the castigation of his slave, and seeing Bilãl suffering in agony under the giant sun-heated rock, Umayya would scourge him, saying: "You will keep suffering until either you die, or you refute what Muhammad brought and return to worship our idols Lãt and Uzzah!"
Despite his ordeal and harrowing pain, Bilãl, who had testified that lordship belongs solely to God Almighty, would keep on crying loud: "Ahadun Ahad! Ahadun Ahad!" (There is only one God, and only He is Allah!)

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