Teaching Our Legacy: Black male Companions of the Prophet (PBUH)

This is a series designed to act as a resource for Individuals, organisations, parents and faith leaders to educate themselves and others on pious Black Muslim figures through history. The aims is to provide resources to better represent Black Muslims and undo ignorance in its many forms. Black male companions: Bilal ibn Rabbah, Ubadah bin- as samit, Usama bin Zayd, Julaybib, Ammar bin Yasir, Muhja


Bilal ibn Rabbah

Bilal’s kunyah was Abu Abdullah. The description of Bilal’s appearance is that he was very dark in complexion, tall and thin with an aquiline nose and a lot of hair[1]. Bilal ibn Rabah is known for being the first mua’adhdhin of Islam and the Abyssinian Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Bilal was previously the slave of Abu Bakr and was later freed by him. He was known for his strong faith and devotion to the Islamic religion.

Bilal was one of the first Muslims to declare his faith and follow the Prophet (peace be upon him). As a result Bilal was persecuted by the Quraysh. Umayyah ibn Khalaf would wait until the hottest part of the day to torture Bilal. He would place a large rock over his chest and encourage him to denounce his religion. While enduring this Bilal would say “One God! One God!”[2] It was Abu Bakr who witnessed this and freed Bilal to protect him from ill treatment.

On one occasion, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said “What an excellent person Bilal is! He is the leader of the leader of the mu’adhdhins and no one will follow him except a mu’adhdhin. And the mu’adhdhins will have the longest necks on the Day of Rising.”[3]

Habeeb Akande writes a narration of Ibn Ishaq in his book Illuminating the darkness:

“Abduallah ibn Zayd ibn Tha’labah heard a voice in a dream, and came to the Prophet (peace be upon Him) saying “A phantom visited me in the night. There passed by me a man wearing two green garments carrying a clapper in his hand, and I asked him to sell it to me. When he asked me what I wanted it for I told him that it was to summon the people to prayer, whereupon he offered to show me a better way: it was to say thrice ‘God is great! I bear witness that there is no God but God, I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Come to prayer. Come to prayer. Come to success. Come to success. God is great. God is great. There is no God but God.’ When the Prophet was told of this he said that it was a true vision if God had so willed it, and that he should go with Bilal and communicate it to him so that he might call to prayer, for he had a sweeter and more penetrating voice. When Bilal acted as the mu’adhdhin ‘Umar heard him in his house and came to the Prophet dragging his cloak on the ground and saying that he had seen precisely the same vision. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said ‘God be praised for that!’”[4]

Bilal performed the adhan after the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away and everyone in the mosque wept. Bilal died in Damascus at age sixty years old.


Ubadah bin as-Samit

He was one of the first Muslims to accept Islam among the people of Madinah being one of the first twelve people to accept Islam. Ubadah was described as being tall and very dark.[5] Ubadah participated in the Battle of Badr, Uhud, Khandaq and other campaigns. He also held the position of being one of the scribes who wrote down the Qur’an.[6] After moving to Jerusalem, Ubadah died and was buried at Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa.


Usama bin Zayd

Usamah’s mother was Umm Ayman who was the wet nurse to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was the Son of Zayd, the son of Harith, the son of Sharahil, the son of Abdul Uzza.[7] His father used to be the adopted son of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and had his name mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. Usama ibn Zayd at only 11 years old tried to take part in the battle of Uhud. Usama also participated in the Battle of the Trench and was of the few people who stayed close to the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the Battle of Hunain when most people had abandoned him.[8] At the age of seventeen, Usama was made a general and commanded an army of ansar and Muhajirin to avenge the martyrdom of his father Zayd at the battle of Mutah.[9]



Julaybib was one of the Ansar and accepted Islam in al-Madinah. Because his lineage was unknown among the Arabs he was outcasted by them.[10] He was described as Black (aswad) according to a narration by Abu Barzah. The people used to ridicule Julaybib and would not befriend him as he had no tribal or familial connections. The Prophet went on behalf of Julaybib to find him a wife. After being rejected by one of the Ansar and his wife because of who Julaybib was the daughter overheard and came down to see what was happening. The daughter said “how can we turn down a proposal coming from the Messenger of Allah”. It is mentioned that the Prophet then performed the marriage between Julaybib and the woman. Julaybib was later martyred in a battle. It is narrated that the Prophet personally dug his grave without washing him, signifying Julaybib’s status as a martyr[11].


Ammar bin Yasir

Ammar was a companion of the Prophet and is described as being tall, black in skin colour and having kinky hair[12]. Because of regular torture alongside his family for being amongst the early Muslims to accept Islam, Ammar once unwillingly recanted Islam. The Prophet wiped away Ammar’s tears after Ammar told him this and recited 16:106 “Whoever disbelieves in Allah after belief except who is forced and whose heart is still content with faith…”[13]

Ammar is of the companions who made the two migrations – to Abyssinia and to Madinah.He also held the status of being amongst those who participated in both Badr and Uhud. Ammar was martyred in the Battle of Siffin- being killed by a man from the army of Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan[14].



Muhja was the first Muslim to be martyred in the battle of Badr, killed by a stray arrow. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about him “The chief of the martyrs is Muhja’ and he is the first of this Ummah who will be called to the door of the Garden”[15]. The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said “The leaders of the Blacks are four: Luqman the Abyssinian, the Negus, Bilal and Muhja’”[16]


Other honourable mentions:

Mugith, Ju’al, Yassar al-Aswad, Ayman al-Habashi, Anjashah, Dhu Mukhbar, Khalid ibn al-Hawari al-Habashi, Dhu Muhdam, Asim al-Habashi, Nabil al-Habashi, Abu Laqit al-Habashi, Rabah, Shuqran, Salim mawla of Abu Hudayfah, The eight Abyssinians who migrated with Ja’far bin Abi Talib: Abrahah, Idris, Ashraf, Ayman, Bahir, Tammam, Tamim, Nafi’.



[1] Akande, Habeeb Illuminating the darkness, Blacks and North Africans in Islam 2012

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] Walid, Dawud. Mubarak, Ahmed. Centering Black Narrative: Black Muslim Nobles Among the Early Pious Muslims, Itrah Press, 2016

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] ibid

[10] ibid

[11] ibid

[12] ibid

[13] ibid

[14] ibid

[15] Akande, Habeeb Illuminating the darkness, Blacks and North Africans in Islam 2012

[16] ibid


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