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Poem: In Honor of Bilal

The first call to prayer was said 1400 years ago 

The first call to prayer was said by Bilal 

Once enslaved, now a free

Black man 

This is his story 

You were born into slavery 

To a master who worshiped idols  

One day you heard of a man 

Who taught that every human was equal in God’s eyes  

His God did not see slave and master 

But rather faithful and faithless


You looked to the stone idol you had paid for all your life 

The statue and your master were the same 

When the stone found out that you had converted to Islam 

They lay you on hot coals 

Chained you to the desert 

Lay burning stones on your chest  

Dragged you into the streets  

Kicked you 

Whipped you 

Beat you  

The stone wanted you to repent 

But All you kept repeating was Ahad (Allah is one)


You were freed by Prophet Muhammed (SAW) himself 

As a free man, you built your own home 

You treated everyone with the dignity and respect that you had never received  

You were Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) closest companion  

When Prophet Muhammed (SAW) took to Mecca, you were fighting by his side 

You broke the idols inside and cleaned the Kaaba of stone 

When it was time for the morning prayer 

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked you to make the first call to prayer 

So you climbed onto the Kaaba 

And called people to prayer


Your voice echoed through Mecca  

Some judged you for having a lisp  

Some judged you for your past 

But God would not let the sun rise until you said the call to prayer  

It was your voice reminding everyone of who provides for them  

It is your voice that still echoes in Mecca today 


What an honor it is for generation after generation of the call to prayer being said after you 

Ringing in every mosque, five times a day, every day, every year 

The shadow of your voice carrying each Imam’s voice within it  

The tradition you began of reminding us now is the time to pray 

Now is the time to submit 

Now is the time to be faithful  

Now is the time for all of us to humble ourselves  

Gather together 

Face Mecca  

We are all equal in God’s eyes 


Your story; remembered and honored by 1.7 billion people  

But erased from our history textbooks by pale stone hands 

The stones couldn’t take knowing just how powerful you were  

Your story was silenced by jealous stone people 

They were ashamed of their own history 

They were afraid to even mention your name 

They knew your story would start a revolution  

So they tried to keep you on the sidelines 

In the margins of books 

In the footnotes  


But Bilal dismantled each stone brick by brick  

It’s no wonder your name is a ghost inside of our textbooks  

After all, stones don’t like talking about being crushed 


This is your story; 

A boy was born in the desert 

He became a man when he found water 

There has been water in the desert ever since  

His name is Bilal  

His voice still echoes in my ears today.