Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, ‘Bilal: A New Breed of Hero’ and would most definitely recommend the movie to others.
In summary, it is an animated cartoon depicting the life of Bilal ibn Rabah (r), the companion of Prophet Mohammad (s) and is inspired by true events more than 1400 years ago.
Bilal was once known as the slave of a man called Umayyah ibn Khalaf, and was the first man to pronounce the athan, Islamic call to prayers since he had the most beautiful voice.
Whilst the movie is about one of Prophet Muhammad’s (s) most trusted companions, the focus is primarily on themes that are just as relevant today as they were back then, racism, oppression, power, injustice, inequality, slavery and so on.
What makes the movie interesting is that there is no specific reference to Islam, infact there is no direct reference to Prophet Muhammad (s) himself, which highlights the fact that the movie is not intended to preach anything, but rather, to reinforce the importance of upholding essential human values such as equality and justice.
Whilst the movie is not exclusively about religion, it undoubtedly prompts one to explore religious themes relevant to that time.
The movie highlights the point that all men are equal and that each person chooses who his ultimate master will be.
Some are shackled to their wealth, some are shackled to power and some are enslaved to the pleasures of this [temporary] world.
The free man is the one whose heart has no attachment to this life and that is the freedom that ultimately frees Bilal.
There is a message of struggle and hardship, but hope at the same time, in that hope will only ever become tangible once mankind recognises the importance of equality, justice and unity.
While the movie had some gaps, and perhaps sped over some critical details, it nevertheless leaves the viewer with an eagerness to further explore the life of Bilal, beyond the movie.
This is especially the case since the audience is left in suspense regarding Bilal making athan throughout the entire movie. The viewer finally gets insight into Bilal’s most notable feature, his voice at the end of the movie when he makes athan from the most significant places in the world, the Ka’aba in Makkah.
I found the movie to be a great opportunity to introduce Bilal as a real historical figure who fought for the same values that many of us may be fighting today.
I would definitely recommend the movie to all, Muslim and people of other faiths and no faith, since it addresses universal values that apply to all, and gives room for the viewer to perhaps do further research and readings on the themes/characters raised in the movie.
As a Muslim viewer, the movie has most definitely inspired me to revisit the seerah (Prophets biography) and re-discover the characters that were mentioned in the movie.