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New Animated Feature 'Bilal' Inspired By The Story Of Ethiopian Slave Who Became 'Voice Of Islam'

The film 'Bilal' is inspired by Bilal Ibn Rabah, the Ethiopian slave who became Islam's first muezzin. Featuring Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.


Dubai-based animation and special effects studio Barajoun Entertaiment has revealed the teaser trailer for its first feature project, titled Bilal. The animated film is inspired by the true story of Bilal Ibn Rabah, a freed slave of Ethiopian origin who converted to Islam and became a trusted companion of the Prophet Muhammad after his emancipation. Impressed by Bilal's sonorous voice and unwavering faith, Muhammad handpicked him to call Muslims to prayer as Islam's first muezzin. Bilal's descendants are also believed to have established the Mali Empire's Keita Dynasty

Bilal uses Ibn Rabah's origins as inspiration only and does not delve into his storied historical involvement with Islam. The 3D film focuses mainly on what its creators say is his resilience in the face of danger and his role as guardian and protecter of his younger sister after both were abducted as children. In a recent statement released by Barajoun, the film's director Khurram Alavi addressed what audiences could expect from the groundbreaking film. "The story is solely focused on Bilal’s personal journey," he said. "The historic milestones remain the same. Yet we have taken artistic liberties to enhance the storytelling and dramatic value of the story. This means the addition of fictional characters as well as fictional depictions of various sets and props. The film is more ‘symbolic’ than it is ‘realistic’."

British-Nigerian actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost) will be lending his voice to the forthcoming animated epic as the adult version of the titular character. News of Akinnouye-Agbaje's involvement with Bilal came during a press event at the recent Dubai International Film Festival, where the film's screenwriter Ayman Jamal revealed that the project has been in development for the last eight years.

The film is set for release in the fall of 2015. Read the synopsis and watch the trailer for Bilal below. Keep up with future developments via Facebook, Twitter, and IMDB.

“Bilal, a bright eyed carefree boy ignited with fanciful imagination and a dream only a 7 years old can conjure. His voice, a true gift. On a day as similar as any, his dream turns into a nightmare when the village he lives in is ransacked, orphaning him and his younger sister, Ghufaira. Thrown in a world where greed and injustice rule all, Bilal and Ghufaira find themselves bound to the chaotic wills and wants of the most powerful man in the City, Umayya. Dreams of freedom and the warrior he fantasized he would become, are kept deep in Bilal's yearning heart. He will soon learn he must choose his own fate and find the courage to raise his voice. Bilal will challenge everything.“

**Correction: March 4, 2015

An earlier version of this article was titled "New Animated Feature 'Bilal' Tells The Story Of Ethiopian Slave Who Became 'Voice Of Islam.'" According to the film's creators, 'Bilal' uses Ibn Rabah's origins as inspiration only and does not delve into his storied historical involvement with Islam.

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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