Bilal Radi Allahu Anhu (RA) was given the honor of being the first person to call the Athan. So why did he decide to stop giving the Athan a few decades later?
This answer can be found in the friendship and love between him and the Prophet ﷺ.
As one of the companions, Bilal (RA) was very close to the Prophet ﷺ.
When King Najashi sent three spears as a gift to the Prophet ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ gave one to Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), one to Umar (RA) and one to Bilal (RA) to hold always.
Bilal (RA) would ask permission from the Prophet ﷺ before each salah to call the Athan. Because of this, he would see the Prophet ﷺ at least five times a day, which made them even closer. The Prophet ﷺ would say “Yes, comfort us with it, oh Bilal.”
Because of this closeness, the death of the Prophet ﷺ was an especially devastating blow to Bilal (RA). All of the companions were in tears and in great sadness.
After this announcement, the time of salah had come in. Bilal (RA) stood up to give the Athan. For the first time, he wasn’t able to go ask for permission from the Prophet ﷺ.
He began the athan, but midway he started crying. He simply couldn’t recite “Ashaduanna Muhamader Rasulullah,” “I testify that Muhammad ﷺ is the messenger of God.” He began crying and was unable to utter those words. All of the companions started crying too. Bilal (RA) was so heartbroken that he could not bring himself to say those words again.
He then told Abu Bakr (RA), “Ya Abu Bakr, I cannot call out the athan anymore.”
Bilal (RA) tried to call the athan but would break down and cry profusely each time he reached the line mentioning the Prophet ﷺ. Additionally, Bilal (RA) no longer wanted to live in Madinah. It was difficult for him to stay in the city that constantly reminded him of the Prophet ﷺ. Abu Bakr (RA) allowed him to leave, and Bilal (RA) went to As-Sham.
It was once a few years later, during the 15th year of the Hijrah, that Bilal (RA) called the athan upon a special request from Umar (RA). Bilal (RA) agreed. It wasn't long before everyone broke down crying as it brought back memories of the last time Bilal (RA) gave the athan when the Prophet ﷺ was alive.
Bilal (RA)’s love for the Prophet ﷺ is made clear in this story.
Years passed and Bilal (RA) came near the end of his life. On his deathbed, his wife Hind cried “Wa Hazana”, “What a great grief!” To this Bilal (RA) replied in the contrary. “Wa Tarabaaa,” “What a great joy!”
“Tomorrow I will meet with my loved ones–Muhammad ﷺ and his companions,” he said. Bilal (RA) passed away in Damascus and is buried there.
To learn more about Bilal (RA), click here.
Unless we live in a Muslim country or a country that has granted permission for public athans, we most likely do not have the pleasure of hearing the Athan in our homes. Having an Athan clock in homes and offices is a good way to ensure that the athan times are announced regularly; allowing the opportunity to connect to our Lord. And for this reason and many others, the Athan Frame (The Next Generation Athan Clock) is a must-have for any Muslim household.