Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu / May God be pleased with him) or Bilal Ibn Rabah and he sometimes also known as "Bilal al-Habashi" or "Bilal the Ethiopian", the first Muezzin of Islam, originally was a black slave from Ethiopia. Hazrat Bilal (ra) was one of the most trusted and loyal companion (Sahabi E Rasool) of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) after converted to Islam.
Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) is very lovingly remembered by Muslims around the world as one of the earliest great African Muslim. He was born in a village in a mountainous place in Western Arabia. Bilal's father was called Rebah and his mother was known as Hamamah. They had come to Arabia as slaves from Ethiopia. The father and mother were slaves of Umayyah ibn Khalaf ibn Safwan, a rich man from the tribe of Quraish. Bilal was therefore born in slavery and served as a housekeeper.
Among the slaves from Africa, Hazrat Bilal (ra) was the first to accept Islam. He had a strong faith in Allah (SWT) and a great love for our Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). He had a pure character. Soon after converting to Islam he earned high respect of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) liked Hazrat Bilal's sweet voice and made him the first Muazzin of Islam - The Caller to the Prayers.
Note: Muezzin or Muazzin is a chosen person at the mosque who leads the call (Adhan) to Friday service and the five daily prayers (Salat).
Following is the moral story of Islam's First Muezzin, Hazrat Bilal's conversion to Islam
The other day, when he came back from the desert, the signs of tiredness were seen on his face. The black man put his knapsack down and wiped the beads of perspiration from his forehead. The air was filled with dust churned up by the baaing sheep running towards the fold. The black man said to himself, "Now, perhaps I can take a rest for a while."
Since morning he had grazed the sheep under the hot sunshine of the Arabian desert and in the afternoon had decided to rest a few minutes, but he could not. The heat of the desert sand and sun would not permit sleep.
He placed the sheep in the fold and went to the water well. Just as he was about to wash his face with the cool water, he heard loud shouts, shouts of his Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf ibn Safwan (Was a leading member of the Quraish and head of the of Bani Jumah) and other people talking. Surely, something important has happened which caused Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf to shout that way!
Although Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) was from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), but he lived in Makkah. When Bilal Ibn Rabah was sold to Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf, he was only a small boy. Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf always reminded him, "I am your owner, and you are my slave, you must obey me because your god has been made from wood and mine is from gold. This is the god's will." The shouting, cursing voice always made unpleasant noise in his ears.
Hazrat Bilal (ra) washed his face, took his knapsack and started towards his room. His room was dark, four walls in the basement of the big, aristocratic house. Bilal al-Habashi had not reached his room yet when he heard the shouts of his Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf raised again.
The shouts continued. Hazrat Bilal (ra) wanted to know what was going on, but he was afraid of getting close enough to the Master's room to hear what Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf was saying and why he was so angry. Yet, he was irresistibly drawn toward the room. Quietly, he stood at the door. Carefully, he listened to the talk, which continued, with only occasional shouts from his Master Umayyah ibn Khalaf. He recognized the voices as those of the aristocrats of Makkah. The voice of Umayyah ibn Khalaf, who was more nervous than the others, was raised again.
Umayyah ibn Khalaf spoke with indignation, "We must not let Mohammad freely disturb the city. Mohammad treated our idols with disrespect." Mohammad says, "There is only one God and everybody must worship him." "Do you know what this means? It means that I, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, the noble person of Makkah and Bilal al-Habashi, the ignorant black slave must have the same god ... Is that possible?"
At the same time, another aristocrat interrupted Umayyah ibn Khalaf's speech and said, "Our misfortune is too great because everybody knows him. Mohammad is well-known for truthfulness, innocence and trustworthiness."
Umayyah ibn Khalaf paused a moment and then said, "so we are compelled to say to people Mohammad has become mad (Majnoon)."
The others admired the thing, which Umayyah ibn Khalaf suggested. All Masters accepted this suggestion and the meeting ended. They all got up to go to their homes, but before they came out of the room, Bilal al-Habashi had gone to his room.
Bilal Ibn Rabah's room seemed to him darker and smaller than ever. Umayyah ibn Khalaf's words did not bring tranquility to him for a moment. He thought of the prophet of God and ... "Do people believe the aristocrat's words?" he asked himself. No ... No ... They would never accept that. Mohammad (peace be upon him) is the most innocent, trustworthy and most truthful man in Makkah. Everybody knows him. When he says there is only one God and these idols are not god, he certainly tells the truth. But why were only the aristocrats and Masters afraid of Mohammad's religion and his God?
That night Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) thought much and he found out so many mysteries and could not sleep until late.
The following day, Bilal the Ethiopian heard that people were talking about the madness of Mohammad (peace be upon him). Bilal the Ethiopian dared to speak several times to give the people understanding of who had scattered falsehood among them, but nobody believed him.
The days passed one after another. Every day there was news that another one added to Messenger of God, Mohammad's followers. And also every day Bilal the Ethiopian heard about them that they were hurt or injured or killed.
Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) became heavy hearted. He was not able to do anything about it and sadness turned to anger. Many times he told himself, "I will revenge these cruelties." Then it was reported that Ammar ibn Yasir's father (Yasir ibn Amir) and mother (Sumayyah bint Khabbab) had been martyred on the rock at the hands of Abu Jahl. (Note: The first martyr in Islam was the old woman Sumayyah bint Khabbab.)
Bilal al-Habashi knew Ammar ibn Yasir. He was one of the innocent and honest youth in Makkah. Bilal al-Habashi also knew Abu Jahl, the Master of Ammar ibn Yasir very well. Abu Jahl was one of the aristocrats of Makkah who was famous for cruelty and meanness. But in spite of this, he could not force Ammar ibn Yasir to quit Messenger of God, Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his religion.
In spite of this despairing news, one day Bilal al-Habashi, coming back from the desert, reached his decision. Instead of going to Master's house, he went directly to a house where Messenger of God, Mohammad (peace be upon him) dwelled. Messenger of God, Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was a tall man, with a face shining with faith. When Bilal al-Habashi saw him, his heart became quiet. He felt that he had found his loss.
Holy Prophet Muhammad's (saw) words were so hope giving for Bilal al-Habashi that he did not want to leave. He decided to become Muslim at the hands of Messenger of God, Mohammad (peace be upon him) and declared his submission to Islam.
These secret meetings under the cover of darkness in the night continued, the words of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) had changed Bilalal-Habashi completely. He did not have endurance to see the idols anymore because he had heard the truth from Messenger of God, Mohammad (peace be upon him) and now he realized real God.
One morning, when Bilal al-Habashi left the house of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), he went to Holy Kaaba and when nobody was around. He looked at the idols kept inside Holy Kaaba - the golden idols, the small wooden idols and the stone idols (Lat, Manat and Al-Uzza).
"Oh! You unable idols!" he shouted. "How can you defend yourselves? Woe is to me that I worshipped these idols and fell crying at their feet."
Later he moved forward and spat at the face of one big idol and shouted, "oh, you unable god! You do not deserve worship! You become extinct some day. You do not deserve for me to spend my time with you in this manner!"
Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) left Holy Kaaba and returned to his master's house. When Bilal Ibn Rabah entered the house, he heard the shouts of Umayyah ibn Khalaf and his friends, but heedless of them, he went to his own room. For him nothing was more pleasurable than to cherish, the One Who had given him the power to curse the idols and spit on the big idol.
But in the room where Umayyah ibn Khalaf and his friends were sitting the door burst open and a man rushed into the room, went directly to Umayyah ibn Khalaf and whispered something into his ear. Umayyah ibn Khalaf's face flushed red with anger.
"Are you sure you have seen it exactly?" Umayyah ibn Khalaf asked the man.
"Yes, I am sure," was his reply.
"Have you seen him with Mohammad?" shouted Umayyah ibn Khalaf.
In a weak voice with head bowed, the man answered "yes, my master." Then pausing some moments, "And it is worse than that. I saw him spit on the big idol."
"His mouth will soon be a place for the snakes." Umayyah ibn Khalaf shouted, unable to control his rage.
Umayyah ibn Khalaf's friends were soon aware of the meaning of these words as his shouts continued into the night. Next day Makkah's people saw Umayyah ibn Khalaf and his friends drag the bound Bilal Ibn Rabah to the city square.
Bilal Ibn Rabah remained quiet with shining black eyes looking to the sky. All the people - young and old - followed them, anxious to know what destiny was waiting for Hazrat Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu).
The sun had reached the middle of the sky creating beads of perspiration on the black, naked body of Bilal Ibn Rabah. The white of Bilal Ibn Rabah's eyes had become red from the heat. He looked around at the people who stared wide - eyed back at him. He fell on the hot sands. Umayyah ibn Khalaf pushed aside the people and with a fiery torch stood over his head. Bilal Ibn Rabah closed his eyes, which only served to further infuriate Umayyah ibn Khalaf.
"Bilal," came the shout of Umayyah ibn Khalaf, "O' you unlucky slave, are you willing to repent, or do I burn your body by the fire?"
Bilal al-Habashi did not answer. He did not open his eyes. Umayyah ibn Khalaf's anger increased. He brought the torch forward to Bilal's body.
The stench of burning flesh permeated gradually to everybody's nostrils. Umayyah ibn Khalaf was shocked as he heard Bilal's resonant voice split the silence.
"Absolute Oneness ... Absolute Oneness ... Ahad ... Ahad ..." Torture of Hazrat Bilal (ra)