Hazrat Bilal was an Abyssinian slave belonging to a Jew called Umayya Bin Khalaf. He embraced Islam in the early days of Islam, when the enemies of Islam did not allow the Muslims any restful moments. They tried every effort day and night to extinguish the Noor of Allah but Allah declared that He would complete that Noor, even though the non-believers were averse to it. .
If Hazrat Bilal had wanted to, he could have kept his conversion to Islam a secret and thus have saved himself from persecution and injury. However, the Love for Allah within him forced him to openly proclaim the Kalima-e-Tawheed and to utter the cry of
"When the Lover saw the dagger of Love in the hands of the Beloved,
Without fear and oblivious of danger he ran towards it.
And when the Lover saw the dagger aimed at him,
He felt it compulsory to offer his head towards the knife.
O truly Beloved, in Your remembrance Love seems good to me
And till Qiyamat I want to continue uttering this cry in madness.
When the self has claimed to be a wild duck,
Then when the storm of calamities descended what complaint could it have?"
This means that the wild duck is not afraid of the storm, but is able to overcome the ebb and flow of the waves of the storm. Similarly, the self of the Lover continues on its way along the route without being adversely affected by the storm of happenings.
Hazrat Bilal uttered the cry of "Ahad! Ahad!" till the anger of the Jew forced him to react with violence and he assaulted Hazrat Bilal q~ in such a manner, that his body became filled with blood and injury. He made him lie down on the hot desert sand, saying to him: "Now do not dare utter the cry of God's oneness!"
Hazrat Bilal replied within himself: "For the sake of Your Love the disbeliever wants to kill me and is shouting at me.
O Beloved, Come hither to the lowest heaven and see the show of Your Lover. What a show it is?"
One day Hazrat Abu Bakr was passing that way and saw the blood soaked Bilal '''crying out: "Ahad! Ahad!". On hearing this uttered cry, Hazrat Abu Bakr stood still and perceived the love for the Divine Being and the ecstasy involved. Seeing Hazrat Bilal being persecuted to this extent, his heart became agitated and tears came to his eyes. He called Hazrat Bilal towards himself and advised him to utter Allah's name in solitude and not to utter it in the presence of his persecutor. Otherwise his persecutor would continue to unjustly persecute and punish him. Hazrat Bilal '''replied: "0 Honoured One, you are the Siddeeq of Rasulullah I accept your advise and will act accordingly. "
The following day, Hazrat Abu Bakr again happened to pass that way. Again he witnessed the same sight. Hazrat Bilal was again uttering the cry of "Ahad! Ahad!" while the Jew was terribly assaulting him until again his body became bloodstained. Seeing this, Hazrat Abu Bakr 'was again filled with agitation and he advised Hazrat Bilal "Brother, why do you utter 'Ahad' in the presence of this persecutor? Utter it silently and secretly within yourself". Hazrat Bilal replied: "I make toubah and in future will not act contrary to your advise."
"0 Foolish One, do not command the nightingale towards silence For when it remembers the garden, its complaints will come on the lips. "
Maulana Rumi (R.A.) says: "When Abu Bakr advised him towards silence and secrecy,
Bilal repented again,
But when love overwhelmed, he swallowed the repentance.
It is the message of the troubled heart.
Without You there can be neither peace nor comfort."
Hazrat Bilal in spite of the numerous calamities of persecutions and pains, could not keep his love for Allah a secret and kept on openly uttering the cry of "Ahad! Ahad!".
"When Love pulls the strings of its bow,
Many are the souls that become sold for a small price.
The body of Bilal was injured and blood-stained before the Jew,
But his soul was enjoying nearness to Allah in Divine Love, enjoying unending Spring."
This is what is called True Love. What a sad state of affairs that today people look at sensual love and call it love. That is not love. The love that comes from metaphorical beauty is not really 'ishq'. It is jisq' (transgression), which is caused by overeating. If a person has to go without food for a few days he will forget his love and ask for bread. But the Divine Love, because it is placed within the essence of man, even if no worldly needs are acquired, no change comes about in the Lover and his Love does not decrease. Love is actually a name for that kind of surrender that Allah, the truly Beloved is the Doer of everything and the servant is he who is pleased and satisfied with all that He does.
It is a fact that Allah loves seeing His servants in distressed. conditions and their weeping and crying in sorrow to Him. At times, in spite of His numerous mercies and gifts, He sometimes delays in accepting their duahs, so that this sighing and crying before Him is not ended after their needs are met and so that they can continue to call on Him: "Ya Allah!' Ya Allah!"
Maulana Rumi (R.A.) says: "Sometimes Allah delays in answering the prayers so that one may continue earnestly to call on Him and crying in humility. While it is done, He is aware thereof and He greatly approves thereof"
Hence, this delay in answering their prayers is for the bondsman a means towards His Mercy and not a sign of His rejection or of His considering the duah as being worthless. For a person to be able to speak secretly to Allah in his communion with Him, is indeed a great honour and a favour for the believer.
A person who has attained the love of Allah, will never be able to attain freedom from it. Now at this stage someone may come forth with an objection. It would appear from this that those who are true lovers of Allah are all the time in a great calamity and distress, instead of experiencing Allah's Mercy. This is the answer to the one who has such a perception. Actually that is how it will-appear from afar. When looking at the outward features, it gives us a bloody appearance.
"From afar love seems like being bloody
So that insincere lovers do not tread this path.
This bloody appearance is a guard
Against insincere and half-baked lovers, not to come this way."
On the other hand, when one is endowed with true love, then the following is his description. He says: "0 Beloved, let it not be the good fortune of your enemy, to be destroyed by your sword,
May the heads of friends remain safe, for you to try your sword on them. "
Imagine a certain lover who was pining for his beloved from whom he had been separated for ten years. He has turned pale, gone weak and sick. Now suddenly this beloved arrives and in an embrace presses him so hard that his ribs feel like breaking and his eyes appears to be popping out of their sockets. Noticing
his discomfort, the beloved says: "If you disapprove of this act of mine, I will discard contact with you and become intimate with someone else". Now, what answer will that lover give? If he is really a lover, he will answer thus:
"May my breath of life go out of me and fall at your feet.
That is the desire of my heart and longing".
Someone else, looking from afar and from the outside, will get the impression that this lover is experiencing great distress. But question the lover himself and he will explain what joy and pleasure he feels. He will look upon those moments as pleasurable moments and will wish that the time spent in them will be long. When that is the effect of sensual worldly love, then one can just imagine how much greater the ecstasy will be experienced when one has love for the true beloved, i.e. Allah.
From the above example, it should be understood that those people who have fallen prey to Divine Love, although outwardly they would appear to be in great distress and calamities, but inwardly they enjoy nearness to Allah and His Communion, which indeed provides them with great pleasure. Outwardly they may be dressed in tattered clothes, suffering hunger and starvation and be pale in the face, but inwardly they experience great peace, comfort and such joy as if it were experienced by . Kings, who would then forget the pleasure of being in possession of a throne or a crown.
Maulana Rumi (R.A.) quotes Allah as saying: "This distressed one, covered in a quilt is My special bondsman, Among thousands one such is born."
The main objective of this life for all creatures is to attain the love of Allah. This is the essential aim of life.
So Hazrat Bilal underwent and endured numerous difficulties and hardships because in his sight the reward for bearing them was great.
"For the sake of the love of my Beloved,
I am in love with suffering pain and sorrow."
Hazrat Abu Bakr on numerous occasions, advised Hazrat Bilal but on every occasion when he passed that way, he saw the same picture - the Jew persecuting Bilal who was all the time uttering: "Ahad! Ahad!". Hazrat Abu Bakrq then went to Rasulullah and related the story to him. When Rasulullah heard the story he was filled with sorrow and tears flowed from his eyes. He asked: "0 Siddeeq! What is the solution to this problem? How can we save Bilal from this calamity?"
Hazrat Abu Bakr replied: "Ya Rasulullah, I shall buy Bilal. Rasulullah said: "All right! Let my share also be therein". Allahu Akbar! What good a fortune for Bilal that Rasulullah himself also took part in purchasing him. In that black body of Hazrat Bilal was an enlightened heart, which was filled with Allah's love. Hazrat Abu Bakr approached the Jew at a time when he was again busy beating Bilal. HazratAbn Bakr questioned: "Why are you beating this friend of Allah?" The Jew replied: "If you have so much sympathy for him, then bring the money and take him away as yours". Hazrat Abu Bakr immediately responded: "Take my white-skinned Jewish slave with the black heart and give me this black skinned slave with the enlightened heart from Abyssinia". Hazrat Abu Bakr took Bilal and went to Rasulullah. He asked: "Ya Rasulullah, what kind of transaction did I make? I gave away a white bodied, black hearted one and brought back a black body with an enlightened heart". Rasulullah replied: "You have made a very good sale, 0 Siddeeq".
Rasulullah embraced Bilal and held him to his heart.
Maulana Rumi (R.A.) says:
"Mustapha embraced Bilal and held him against his chest. The ecstasy Bilal felt! Who can ever imagine that?"