Be Like Adam's Son: Where Are You, Bilal?

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Come Bilal, and tell people about you! Can we learn how you did what you did? Are you a miracle? What got into you as soon as you believed in Islam? What induced you to make that difficult decision? And you just a slave! I feel the need to delve and dive to know you. To bring your conduct to life is a great revival of the dead. To learn your way is to give up the idols, and to get over terror, and to inspire a feeling of security into hearts. But to do that, we need to transfer Bilal from the domain of legend to the domain of reality and concrete existence. We need to understand how in Bilal was epitomized the way of the prophets. O Bilal, you seem to be a very phantom who is encased in mystery; quite an enigma; for we do not seem to have access to your treasure.

But no, Bilal is within our reach; he is not impossible. We only need to understand him. The blacks need to learn from this black man, and those who yearn to be free need to learn from this slave (when he was a slave), and the most brilliant economists need to learn from this economist what is gain and what is loss; for Bilal teaches us how to train a human and completely transform him/her with the minimum of waste. But do people understand the power in you? Did Bilal happen by coincidence like the first fire that happened in nature? And if something happens naturally like the first fire or the natural electricity, can we not produce it deliberately and according to plan? This will help us take Bilal's experience to be not a miraculous event, but something that may come to be reproduced. Humankind has discovered the secret of fire, and has kindled it at will. And so can they acquire and train others to acquire traits deliberately and follow well-known steps once they learn how to develop those traits. And when we succeed with some we succeed with many, for mental good health is contracted, not the same as with physical good health.

When some individuals stand for truth, falsehood has no way of withstanding them; it is God's will that once truth advances, falsehood retreats, "And say: 'Truth has now arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is by its nature bound to perish.'" (17:81) It is unfortunate that some people would think that falsehood is ordained to vanquish truth. And it makes a world of difference to believe that truth will be victorious or that falsehood will be victorious. We have to be, as believers, optimistic rather than pessimistic, for the Qur'an tells us, "truly no one despairs of Allah's soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith;" (12:87), and "And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord, but such as go astray?" (15:56)

The world is designed so that it advances towards what is better. And it is not enough to announce that you believe in this, unless you see its truth in history. People whose vision will not extend beyond the short range of the present moment will be pessimistic; while those who view history in its totality will see the creativity and development. So look well into history; peer well, and see how the world gets broader and more extensive. Such reflection gives hope, and not hope that is engendered of fancy, but of reality; creation is not a one-time act, but a continuous process. For those who are hopeful, what is closed will open; and for those who are hopeless, what is open will appear closed.

To go ahead on the basis of knowing the laws of the history, one progresses serenely, but surely and deliberately; but to move without knowing history, one acts impulsively and precipitately. Indeed, all my effort is an attempt to make Islamic work proceed knowingly, to have vision and insight while proceeding. What I am contending is that to move in this way will cost less, and will produce more. But it will not be an easy option at the beginning. My mentors have been Muhammad Iqbal and Malik Bennabi.

Is it madness what I am announcing? No matter; let me be charged with what many prophets were charged, for many prophets were charged with madness. But they proved to offer mercy, not destruction. They also proved to save effort and time, and to raise the value for cost ratio. And the whole universe is based on the law of mercy; the more we expand our knowledge, the more merciful we become. God Himself is the Merciful and Compassionate; and His Mercy has priority over wrath.

So why should we see torture in the world, and not mercy? Why not follow the way of the prophets and see the possibility of mercy rather than suffering? Do not you see that the animals' life is basically characterized by mercy? Do not you see the mothers? And when the prophets were sent by the Lord, they were sent to spread mercy, and to lift the burdens and fetters. They sought a society in which all are winners and no one is a loser.