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Bilal al-Habashi

By: Hujjatul-Islam Ali Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani
Tehran's Friday Prayer Sermon 3: June 1, 1984

Bilal Al-Habashi truly has a brilliant history. When he became a Muslim, he was severely tortured and told to give up the religion communicated by the Prophet Muhammad (S) (i.e. Islam) because Bilal was not from a specific tribe and had no support and refuge. They did this to create fear and instill terror into the hearts of others who had newly become Muslims. One of these types of torture was that the dignitaries of Makkah used to lay him on the hot and burning lands of desert around Makkah. They used to place large hot stones on his chest, and greatly heated iron wires on his body. Instead of screaming of pain caused by the severity of the tortures, this strong man cried out, "Ahad, Ahad (One, One)"calling to Oneness of Allah. Making use of the personality which Allah has vested in the nature of all human beings, Bilal, a black man from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), reached such a status and rank that the Prophet (S) of Islam made him the official mu'adhdhin of the country.
After the demise of the Prophet (S), when Bilal did not accept to become the mu'adhdhin for the first Khalifah (Caliph), a great political blow was dealt to the First Caliph himself. This speaks of the personality of a black individual which had elevated to such a high status.
This is Islam, and its criterion is taqwa (God-fearing, obedience to Allah, and piety) as it is emphasized in the Qur'an which says:
"O mankind! Surely We have created you of a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may know one another; surely the most honourable of you with Allah is the most pious, God fearing and obedient to Allah among you ..." (49: 13)
Taqwa is the axis around which every value revolves, and on which superiority and honourability depend. When the dignitaries of Makkah protested to the Prophet (S) saying, "You have favoured this black man, Bilal with his bad voice, more than any of us, then how could we gather around you?" The Holy Prophet (S) said:
"I have not favoured him. Rather Allah has favoured him, for he has embarked on Jihad while you have not."
This is the glory of Islam and honour of Muslims. But we will not allow the false proclaimers of human rights, who have committed so many crimes, and who, beside their White House, shout the slogan that "the good Red Indian is the dead one", and who faint in the court while trying a white man on charge of beating a black one, to become the standard-bearers of human rights and to send the message for the observance of human rights to the Islamic Republic of Iran and to other Islamic countries.

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