The Manumission Of Bilal ibn Rabah

Companions of the Prophet

Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 57, Number 98

Narrated Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (raa): Whenever Umar lbn Al-Khattab (raa) mentioned Abu Bakr (raa) he would say, “Abu Bakr (raa) is our master and the emancipator of our master.” That is to say, Bilaal (raa).

By enduring all sorts of atrocities and humiliations in the path of love for Allah (swt) and His Prophet (saws), Bilal (raa) set an example and a beacon of light till the end of this world, for the seekers after Truth and Righteousness. He knew well the consequences of renouncing idol-worship and offering devotion to One God, Allah, yet so deep was the imprint of the righteous life and the unparalleled good morals of the Holy Prophet (raa) upon his heart that no degree of savage oppression and violence could blot it out.

One day Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (The Truthful) (raa) saw the heart touching plight of Bilal (raa) and he came to his rescue. “How long will you oppress this poor fellow?” said Abu Bakr (raa) to Bilals (raa) tormentor, Umaiya Bin Khalaf of the tribe of Banu Jamah.

Umaiya said, “If you feel for him, why don’t you buy him?”

So Abu Bakr (raa) bought Bilal (raa), paying ten Uqia (about 23 grams of Gold). Umaiya then said “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 (raa) answered by saying, “By Allah (Subhanahu wa-ta’ala – swt. Translation: may He be glorified and exalted) if you had refused to sell him except for a hundred ounces, I would have paid it.”

Abu Bakr Siddiq (raa) then declared Bilal (raa) a free man.

It is stated that Abu Bakr (raa) bought Bilal (raa) at the advice of Allahs Messenger (saws). The Prophet (saws) also offered him half of the price in order to mitigate the burden of Abu Bakr, but Abu Bakr As-Siddiq begged pardon from the Prophet (saws) for not accepting this offer and he himself emancipated Bilal (raa).

The Torture Of Bilal ibn Rabah

It is an established fact that Bilal Habashi (raa) had not embraced Islam with any worldly motive or to secure relief from the torments of slave life. On the contrary by accepting Islam as a slave, he had invited upon himself torment of double even treble intensity. He endured all kinds of atrocities with remarkable patience and fortitude and remained true to Islam his entire life.

Al-Mu’minun (the believers) who accepted Islam in the beginning were, except a few, generally weak and helpless. They had no supporters or sympathizers. Bilal (raa), like many of the early believers were subject to endless inhuman acts of torture by the unbelievers. Some Muslims had ropes tied to the legs and were dragged on the stony ground of the desert. Others where stripped and thrown on the burning sand and often on red embers, and some, like Bilal (raa) were tied to the ground in the blazing sun and had heavy stones placed on their bodies.

There was no threat or cruel torture which the unbelievers did not execute on Bilal (raa) in an attempt to divert him from the True Faith and to coerce a statement which suited their purpose. Bilal (raa) displayed unflinching self-control, patience and perseverance. He held firm to his faith and uttered in reply to the torment, “There is none to be worshiped but Allah”.

According to historical records, Bilals (raa) greatest tormentor, Umaiya Bin Khalaf often tied him down and flung a stone and cow hide over him. Umaiya would say “Your gods are Lat and Uzza so testify your faith in them.” Uttering, Ahad, Ahad (Allah is One, Allah is One), the tormentors demanded Bilal (raa) to respect what they said, but he would reply, “No, my tongue is not supposed to utter what you say.”

Continuing to say “Ahad, Ahad” the unbelievers tied a rope round his neck and allowed the street urchins to drag him between the two hills of Mecca. Even, under this severe torment, Bilal (raa) held firm to his faith and repeated “Ahad, Ahad.” Thereupon, the unbelievers gave him a severe beating and again stretching him on the burning sand they placed the heavy stone over his body making breathing difficult for him. Occasionally a heavy person was to jump on the stone, but all the while Bilal (raa) persevered and uttered “Ahad, Ahad.”

This defiance against his slave master, who may have owned his body, proved ultimately that nobody could own ones mind or ones thought.