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"Salams" Black Muslims in the History of Islam

Hafsa Mubarik

It is Black History Month in the United States and it is important to understand that Islam is a religion of harmony and equality. People belonging from different ethnicities and races are always welcomed. Islam has stressed a great importance on the equal treatment of human beings. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W)  stated in his farewell sermon,

“O people. Your Lord is one and your father is one. (Adam) An Arab has no superiority over non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over Arab, also white has no superiority over black nor does black have any superiority over white, except by piety and righteousness. All humans are from Adam and Adam is from dust.” 

It doesn't matter if you speak a different language or belong to a different ethnic background. We all are equals in front of Allah. 

In today's world we often witness injustice and inequality prevailing in our society. Many people get mistreated because of their backgrounds and sometimes their rights have been denied. This prejudice and unfairness leads people to protest against it. Many movements have come forward which demand equal rights for all human beings. However Islam has laid this principle of non-discrimination since its ascent. And to take forward this cause Salams is curating historical facts of Black Muslims to raise awareness about their contribution to our community, and their right of equality. Salams hopes to help inform the worldthat Islam has always promoted equality among people and always will. It's a great initiative because "Salams promote unity in Islam" & "Salams Brings Muslims together". 

To understand Black history, and its relevance in Islam, we should look at some major Black Muslim figures in our Islam history. These famous Black Muslims were beloved by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself: Bilal Ibn Rabah, Umme Ayman, Amr Ibn Yassir, and Mihja (Radi Allahu `anhum). They all had a tremendous impact on our Muslim community as we stand for equality and character.

Muhammad Ali making dua

Bilal ibn  Rabah:

He is also known as Bilal habshi. He was one of the most loyal and faithful companions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W). He was a black and served as a servant to his Arab masters. When he embraced Islam his master tortured him endlessly under the blazing sun to revert him from it. However his determination stood firm in the face of these harsh trials and became an important part of Muslim community. 

His father's name was Rabah and mother's name was Hamamah. He was born in Abyssinia whose old name was Habsh  and it is from there he derived habshi in his name. He suffered a lot of anguish and pain  because of his Arab masters who wanted him to leave Islam. Witnessing this tribulation, Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A) bought him and set him free. 

He then participated in many battles alongside the Prophet (S.A.W.W). He called the Adhan for the first time in a mosque, in the prophet's era and remained the Muazzin of Masjid ul Nabawi till the Prophet's demise. A hadith of Muhammad (S.A.W.W) reports that he said, "The 'seen' of Bilal is 'sheen' in the hearing of Allah," meaning God does not look at the external but appreciates the purity of heart.

Umm Ayman:

She was the nursemaid of the Prophet (S.A.W.W). She was also an Abyssinian and a servant of Prophet Muhammad's father. After the death of Amina, the Prophet's mother, she looked after the Prophet (S.A.W.W) with utmost care and became her primary caregiver. She then later emancipated at the time of Prophet's marriage to Khadija bint e khuwaylid. 

She was one of the early prominent figures who adhered to Islam. She was also among the ones who did migration from Makkah to Madina on the prophet's instruction. Umm e Ayman married Ubayd bin Zayed who was also from a black lineage. Together they had a son who was named Ayman. After Ubayd's martyrdom she remarried on the wish of the Prophet (S.A.W.W) to Zayd bin Harith who was raised like a son by the Prophet. Throughout her life she remained close to the household of the Prophet (S.A.W.W). And at the time of the passing of the Holy Prophet she grieved alongside Ahl al bayt.

Ammar bin Yassir:

He was among the early adherers of Islam. He had a tall stature and black skin color. Due to embracing Islam, he was inflicted with harsh torture from the kuffar on regular basis. Once he unwillingly recanted Islam after an episode of being severely tortured. He later came to Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) with tears rolling down from his eyes admitting he unwillingly recanted from Islam but didn't actually mean it. The Holy Prophet wiped his tears and stated: "Whoever disbelieves in Allah after belief except who is forced and whose heart is still content with faith”.

After this incident, he migrated to Absynnia to find protection under a Christian king. And then later migrated to Madinah and hence made two migrations for the sake of Allah. He participated hugely in the efforts to protect the Muslim community. He later achieved martyrdom at the Battle of Siffin by being killed by a man from the army of Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan. 


He is also referred to as one of the best of Black Muslims. He was also among the early embracers of Islam. His lineage traces back to Yemen. He was enslaved in Hijaz and suffered alot and was later emancipated by Umar bin al khattab(R.A). 

He was often being made fun of because he used to still keep in touch with his poor followers who were formerly enslaved. Allah Subhan Wa Tala told the Prophet (S.A.W.W) in verse 52 of surah 6: “Do not repel those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening seeking His face.” According to Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) in Zad Al-Masir fi ‘ilm At-Tafsir by ibn Al-Jawzi, those people that Allah SWT  was referring to were Bilal, Suhayb, Khabbab, ‘Ammar, Mihja’, Salman, ‘Amir bin Quhayrah and Salim, who was freed by Abu Hudhayfah.

Mihja was the first one to get martyred in the battle of Badar. It is narrated by Al-Hakim that the Prophet (S.A.W.W) said:

"The Best of black Muslims are three: Bilal, Luqman(whose mentioned in Quran) and Mihja"

There are many more prominent black figures in Islam who helped to spread the Islam and upheld it with dignity. Islam has always been a religion of equality and condemns any discrimination among the people on the basis of their color and creed. Islam strives for a society where all these racial prejudices would be diminished and equality will prevail.

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