For me as an Ahmadi Muslim, Black History Month is a time to reflect on the beautiful origins of my faith, Islam.

Among the first Muslim converts was an Abyssian slave named Bilal, who was befriended and then liberated by the holy prophet Muhammad.  Bilal was a very pious and wise companion, and he was blessed with a deep melodious voice.

The Prophet chose him, above all others despite not having an Arabic tongue, to be the first “muizzin” which is the person who recites the “adhan” or call to prayer which is now a tradition in Islam and recited over a billion times a day throughout the world.

Bilal is a symbol of the many beautiful tenets of Islam including emancipation, equality and fraternity. So this month, and every year during Black History Month, we should reflect on the contributions of Bilal and so many countless other Africans who have had a lasting impact on one of the largest practicing faiths in the world today.

Dr. Ahsan M. Khan is the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – Los Angeles East Chapter.