Black Muslims have been pivotal in the spread of Islam, both in past and present days. Yet, the knowledge of the everyday Muslim regarding Black history and Islam rarely stretches beyond Bilal ibn Rabah (a key figure in the early age of Islam). The following individuals, present during Islam’s earliest days, were key to the advancement of the faith:
Sayyidna Julaibib may Allah (SWT) be pleased with him
Sayyidna Julaibib was among the Ansar, those who accepted Islam in Madina. He possessed numerous honorable characteristics such as integrity and sincerity. Sadly, those surrounding Sayyidna Julaibib were solely focused on outward characteristics, unable to appreciate his resounding inner beauty.
Most importantly, however, he was beloved to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), who stated in reference to him, “This man is from me, and I am from him.” Sayyidna Julaibib passed away as a martyr, a blessed seal for a life spent in worship and obedience of Allah (SWT.) May we study this noble companion with reverence as our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.) revered him so.
Ammar bin Yasir may Allah (SWT) be pleased with him
Sayyidna Ammar bin Yasir was born in the city of Makkah, around the same time as our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.). One of the first individuals to accept Islam, he sought knowledge at Dar Al-Arqam firsthand from the Messenger of Allah (SWT.) Sayyidna Ammar courageously journeyed to Abysinnia to seek refuge from religious persecution. He is known particularly for narrating numerous ahadith, which we continue to benefit from to this day. As we contemplate on the ahadith of our Prophet (p.b.u.h.), we should also reflect on their dedicated narrators, such as Sayyidna Ammar. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said regarding him, “Indeed Ammar is full of faith, from head to toe.” Sayyidna Ammar passed away during the Battle of Siffin, a devoted servant of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (p.b.u.h.).
Sumayya bint Khayyat may Allah (SWT) be pleased with her
One of the first women to accept Islam, Sayyida Sumayya was a true trailblazer. She maintained deep faith during a time of intense persecution. She is particularly known for her strength, bravery, and willpower. In an attempt to dissuade her from Islam, the Quraish tortured her incessantly. However, her faith did not waver in the slightest, and she became the first martyr of Islam. Centuries later, Sayyida Sumayya’s firm resolution serves as an example for Muslims.
Umm Ayman may Allah (SWT) be pleased with her
Umm Ayman, or Barakah, was honored to know the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) from birth. She looked after him during the adversities he faced at an early age and beyond. Umm Ayman was the epitome of service.
During the Battle of Badr, she quenched the thirst of soldiers and tended to their wounds. Despite becoming widowed twice and the martyrdom of her son, Umm Ayman never faltered in her commitment to Islam. May we inculcate the resilience of Umm Ayman within ourselves.
Usamah ibn Zayd may Allah (SWT) be pleased with him
Sayyidna Usamah ibn Zayd was the son of Umm Ayman and Zayd ibn Haritha. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was extremely affectionate toward Sayyidna Usama, referring to him as “the beloved, son of the beloved.” From an early age, Sayyidna Usamah wished to partake in the battles of Islam. At age eleven, to the amazement of those around him, he entered the Battle of Uhud with a sword nearly as large as him. As he grew older, Sayyidna Usamah became a capable military leader. He valiantly led the Muslims in battle, remaining calm and collected even during times of turmoil. Sayyidna Usamah should serve as an exemplar for the young people of our time. His story demonstrates that with sincerity, people can make a lasting impact even from a young age.
These companions (sahaba) paved the way for Islam to flourish. Learning their stories is an integral aspect of our faith.
As our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.) stated, “The best of men are my generation, then those who come next to them, then those who come next to them.” (Bukhari)
Let this be the first step in knowing the best of men, who were loved by the best of creation.