The other day, when he came back from the desert, the signs of tiredness were seen in 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 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 and other people talking. Surely, something important has happened which caused Master to shout that way!
The man's name was Bilal. Although he was from Abyssinia land, he lived in Mecca. When he was sold to Master, he was only a small boy. Master 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. Bilal washed his face, took his knapsack, and started to his room. His room was dark, four walls in the basement of the big, aristocratic house. Bilal had not reached his room yet when he heard the shouts of his Master raised again.
The shouts continued. The black man wanted to know what was going on, but he was afraid of getting close enough to the Master's room to hear what Master 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 Omayyad. He recognized the voices as those of the aristocrats of Mecca. The voice of Omayyad, son of Khalaf, who was more nervous than the others, was raised again. He spoke with indignation, "We must not let Mohammad freely disturb the city. He treated our idols with disrespect." He says, 'There is only one God and everybody must worship him.' "Do you know what this means? It means that I, Omayyad, the noble person of Mecca and Bilal, the ignorant black slave must have the same God... Is that possible?" At the same time, another aristocrat interrupted Omayyad's speech and said "Our misfortune is too great because everybody knows him. He is well-known for truthfulness, innocence and trustworthiness."
Omayyad paused a moment and then said, "so we are compelled to say to people Mohammad has become mad." The others admired the thing, which Omayyad 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 had gone to his room. Bilal's room seemed to him darker and smaller than ever. Omayyad'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 is the most innocent and most truthful man in Mecca. 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 (peace be upon him) and his God?
That night Bilal thought much and he found out so many mysteries and could not sleep until late. The following day, Bilal heard that people were talking about the madness of Mohammad (peace be upon him). He 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 God's Messenger's followers. And also every day Bilal heard about them that they were hurt or injured or killed. Bilal 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's father and mother had been martyred on the rack. Bilal knew Ammar. He was one of the innocent and honest youth in Mecca. Bilal also knew Abu Jahl, the Master of Ammar very well. Abu Jahl was one of the aristocrats of Mecca who was famous for cruelty and meanness. But in spite of this, he could not force Ammar to quit God's Messenger and his religion. In spite of this despairing news, one day Bilal, coming back from the desert, reached his decision. Instead of going to Master's house, he went directly to a house where God's Messenger dwelled. Mohammad (peace be upon him) was a tall man, with a face shining with faith. When Bilal saw him, his heart became quiet. He felt that he had found his loss.
Mohammad's words (peace be upon him) were so hope giving for him that he did not want to leave. He concluded a promise with Mohammad, God's prophet (peace be upon him) and converted to Islam. These comings and goings continued, the words of Mohammad (peace be upon him) had changed Bilal. He did not have endurance to see the idols anymore because he had heard the truth from Mohammad (peace be upon him) and now he realized real God. One morning, when Bilal left the house of God's Messenger, he went to kaaba. Nobody was there. He looked at the idols-the golden idols, the small wooden idols and the stone idols. "Oh! You unable idols!" he shouted. "How can you defend yourselves? Woe is 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 gods! 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!"
Bilal left kaaba and returned to his master's house. When Bilal entered the house, he heard the shouts of Omayyad and his friends, but heedless of them, he went to his own room. For him nothing was more pleasurable than to bill and coo his newfound God, the One Who had given him power to curse the idols and spit on the big idol.
But in the room where Omayyad and his friends were sitting the door burst open and a man rushed into the room, went directly to Omayyad and whispered something into his ear. Omayyad's face flushed red with anger. "Are you sure you have seen it exactly?" Omayyad asked the man.
"Yes, I am sure," was his reply.
"Have you seen him with Mohammad?" shouted Omayyad.
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." Omayyad shouted, unable to control his rage. Omayyad's friends were soon aware of the meaning of these words as his shouts continued into the night. Next day Mecca's people saw Omayyad and his friends drag the bound Bilal to the city square. Bilal 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 Bilal.
The sun had reached the middle of the sky creating beads of perspiration on the black, naked body of Bilal. The white of Bilal'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. Omayyad pushed aside the people and with a fiery torch stood over his head. Bilal closed his eyes, which only served to further infuriate Omayyad.
"Bilal," came the shout of Omayyad, "O' you unlucky slave, are you willing to repent, or do I burn your body by the fire?"
Bilal did not answer. He did not open his eyes. Omayyad's anger increased. He brought the torch forward to Bilal's body. The stench of burning flesh permeated gradually to everybody's nostrils. Omayyad was shocked as he heard Bilal's resonant voice split the silence.
"Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness ..."
Omayyad anger flared. "Shut your mouth, you impudent slave!
"Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness ..."
Bilal had learned these words from the prophet (peace be upon him) and Ammar. The shouts of Bilal caused tumult among the people. Omayyad, while giving Bilal lashed, shouted, "I will not let him disobey my order! You must respect our idols!"
But Bilal's voice continued:
"Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness..."
One from among the crowd asked, "What does Absolute Oneness mean?"
A man answered, "He means unique God."
Bilal opened his eyes. He saw Ammar. He smiled. He remembered Ammar's father and mother. He shouted with a loud voice, "Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness..."
Omayyad's anger increased. But no matter how much he tortured Bilal, he heard nothing except "Absolute Oneness."
That day passed. The torture continued for days. But now Bilal went without any fear to the house of honorable Messenger freely and listened to his words. One day Omayyad, with the assistance of Oghbeh, one of the masters and aristocrats of Mecca, fell upon Bilal's unclothed body and pushed him into the hot sands again. Then Omayyad ordered a container to be prepared full of boiling water and sank Bilal into the boiling water. This time he suffered pain more that in the past, but again only the voice of "Absolute Oneness" was raised. It was ordered that a big stone be brought. They tied Bilal's hands and feet and put the stone, which took four men to lift, on his chest. Then some of people told him, "If you want to be free, just show respect to the idols as we do now."
Bilal ridiculed them, "My tongue does not know your words."
Bilal's arms were only "Absolute Oneness ... Absolute Oneness ..."
Whenever Bilal said these words, Omayyad became intensely angry. He tied Bilal's neck with a rope and made children and ignorant people drag him naked on the hot sands of the city. Bilal resisted Omayyad so much, until he was bought and freed finally by Abu Bakr. The days in Mecca came to an end. Bilal and the other followers went to Medina by order of the prophet, who joined them there. Bilal's patience, forbearance, and faith in God and creed to the prophet caused him to be chosen by the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) to call to prayer the people in Medina. When Bilal went to the housetop and said the prayer call, all the Moslems of Medina went to the mosque and prayed with the Messenger of God (peace be upon him). One day, the people of Medina heard the prayer call, while there was much time left to pray. The people ran, confused toward the mosque. Everybody was waiting to know what had happened. When all were gathered, they realized that the enemy had set out of Mecca and were near Medina. By order of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) each person immediately made ready to defend himself. Everyone took up his arms and when the Islam corps was ready, they set out of Medina to the place where the enemy was. The corns of blasphemy approached them, and from the opposite side, the prophet and his followers with the motto of "Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness... God is the greatest" came toward the enemy. Bilal's black face shown in the midst of them.
The fight began
When the corns of blasphemy beard the shouts of "Absolute Oneness... Absolute Oneness...", a fear came upon them. The voices of Ammar and Bilal rang in their ears. Color drained from the face of Omayyad. Bilal looked at every side to find Omayyad in the battlefield. Suddenly they stood face to face. Omayyad had lost himself. Bilal shouted, "I will not be quiet until colored my sword with your dirty blood!" Moments later, when the enemy was defeated, Omayyad's body was among those of the enemy. Bilal's shout was as thunder as he moved away from the body of Omayyad and went to be at the side of the others to kill God's enemies with each stroke of his sword.
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