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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bilal Ibn Rabah (RA): a type in all people

When studying this companion, we should first see that the life of Bilal speaks directly to the condition of the African American people. This is why Imam Mohammed would call us (African-Americans) "Bilalians".

Now, lets look at what else Bilal represents.
Bukhari 2.250; Bilal's footsteps heard in paradise before the Prophet
Abu Harariah reported the Prophet pbuh said, "At the time of the Fajr prayer the Prophet asked Bilal, "Tell me of the best deed you did after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise." Bilal replied, "I did not do anything worth mentioning except that whenever I performed ablution during the day or night, I prayed after that ablution as much as was written for me."
Commentary, Imam Mohammed: "I'm not as sure of that hadith being a valid hadith and that it came from the Prophet's pbuh mouth just like that, I'm not that sure of it. But if it did, which I have to allow that perhaps it did, what it is saying is that the soul in its innocence precedes the soul communicating or speaking or expressing that innocence.

The spirit goes ahead of the voice and Bilal there is representing that type in all people and the Muslim scholars they know that I have been sitting with them myself and they wanted me to feel comfortable I guess knowing that they love black people and they have no problem with black people. So they were innocent most of them, loving Muslims, they said to me, "You know we all are Bilal." And I understood that to meant that we all have the same nature. Bilal is not an African in the higher understanding of him, he is a type that is in white, black and in all people. He represents the human soul in its innocence that has been denied an opportunity to have its enlightenment. G-d created the human soul for its enlightenment in Arabic it say, "Fujurah and Taqwaaha" not only for its piety or for its righteousness but also for its enlightenment. "

Me: So, what if Bilal represents the human soul in its innocence and the Prophet Muhammad represents the progression of that human soul!!!

Now, let's look at this concept. Here is an African slave who was freed an became Muslim, and given the honor of calling all other Muslims to the worship of Allah (Muethin)...doesn't that sound mighty familiar to the story of the African-American people? And here is Imam Mohammed's community calling Muslims from around the world to the worship of Allah with the commentary, tafsir, and leadership of Imam W. D. Mohammed.

Let's look further in scripture...
Numbers 22.21-31; Baal's donkey said why have you hit me these three times
Numbers 22:21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. [27-28] And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. [28] And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
[31] Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
Commentary, Imam Mohammed: But understand Bilal is also in the Bible. Baal riding the donkey is the soul deprived of enlightenment, that is the donkey. And the soul deprived of its enlightenment can never help the situation of the donkey, but abuse the donkey. And it said why have you struck me these three time? The donkey speaks with a man's voice in the Bible. So we mentioned three parts of the human life didn't we?

And about the soul being one part of it, but here is the soul speaking that used to be ignorant, but now something has happened to make the soul become a thinker and talk with man's voice. And what happened? It said there was an angel of light with a flaming sword standing in the way and the donkey saw it and the rider did not. So the donkey stopped and would not go any-further and when the rider wanted to force it to move, he said why have you struck me these three times? I'm not obeying you any more I want some answers.

That represents an individual, the donkey is an individual, the same individual, the donkey is one part of the individual. The rider is another part of the individual, now let me tell you African American people you are the donkey most of you, as a people you are the donkey. And you got Baal riding you and you haven't seen the flaming sword yet, so you're not speaking with a man's voice. So what am I saying with that?

Though this represents what happens in the soul of an individual, it also represents what happens in the community of people where the type forms and the rider becomes not the soul of an individual either but the rider becomes the soul of the of people collectively. And the one representing that soul may be the ruling order and sometimes it is the ignorant people who have to bulk, just stop and go no further with them and speak out with a man's voice and asks them, "Why have you struck me these three times? Why have you with your wisdom and knowledge of the nature of the human soul exploited the waters of my soul and afflicted me in my body, my mind and my spirit three times?"

Me: I think when Imam Mohammed says that Bilal is in scripture he is referring to two things: 1. the African American people are symbolic of the donkey in scripture (in this particular story). 2. the soul in its innocence is represented also by this donkey in scripture. This is why Bilal can be seen as both a symbol of African-Americans and of the soul in its innocence. And remember, " Bilal is not an African in the higher understanding of him, he is a type that is in white, black and in all people. He represents the human soul in its innocence that has been denied an opportunity to have its enlightenment."

But, I think I would be remissed if I did not touch on the Qur'anic aspect of this story too. Imam Muhammad al-Baqir said: "Though it relates to Balaam (Baal), Allah intends to set an example for those who receive true guidance from Allah, yet prefer to act according to their own desires in order to lay hands on the worldly gains." InshAllah, I'll just provide the ayah and a link for futher reference.
"Relate to them the story of the man to whom We sent Our signs, but he passed them by: so Satan followed him up, and he went astray. If it had been Our will, We should have elevated him with Our signs; but he inclined to the earth, and followed his own vain desires. His similitude is that of a dog: if you attack him, he lolls out his tongue, or if you leave him alone, he (still) lolls out his tongue. That is the similitude of those who reject Our signs; So relate the story; perchance they may reflect." Holy Qur'an 7:175-176

For more on the story of Bal`am bin Ba`ura, himself, you can find some Tafsir of Ibn Kathir here.

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