What is the reality of Bilal, son of Rabah? Was he one of the befrienders of Ahlul-Bayt (may peace be upon them)? We haven’t heard that he participated with the Imams in their battles against the disbelievers?
Abdullah al-Imami al-Ihsa’i
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful.
May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and damn their enemies.
It might be difficult to confirm that he was a sincere Shi’a with high regards, such as Salman, Miqdad and Ammar; because by observing the summary of his life, he was not like that. However, we still have narrations that praise him, among which is the following that is narrated by Imam al-Sadiq (may peace be upon him), who said:
Bilal was a righteous servant, meanwhile Suhayb was a servant of evil who used to weep over Omar.
Bihar al-Anwar, by Al-Majlisi, volume 22, page 142, on the authority of Al-Kashi
Based on this narration and its likes, it is permitted to regard him as a befriender of Ahlul-Bayt (may peace be upon them), in the meaning defined by the Infallible Imams (may Allah’s blessings be upon them). This seems to be the most apparent. Some claim that he did not pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr (may Allah curse him) and that he went to Syria as an act of opposition to the people of Saqifah. However, this claim is not very probable to be true – by considering that it is not based on reliable historical reports, in addition to that this is not a widely accepted opinion amongst our scholars – and hence we can not confirm this issue nor rely upon it.
As for why he did not participate in Jihad along with the Commander of the Faithful (may Allah’s blessings be upon him), it is because he died before the Commander (may peace be upon him) went to perform Jihad.
The Office of Sheikh al-Habib