In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the film's writer Samir Muqaddin spoke about the project. “Bilal ibn Rabah is the most celebrated African in history, and the only Black man ever associated with a mainstream religious Prophet." He went on to say, "What most people don't know is that oral tradition and manuscripts from libraries and private collections, trace his blood-lines all the way to Mansa Kankan Musa, the African king from West Africa."
During his final years in Damascus, the Griots or Jelis, pick up the story of Bilal’s son Lawalo, who was being trained to teach West Africans the exact same prayer that was performed by Prophet Muhammad.
The Jelis have in their manuscripts stories of Bilal’s grandson, Latal, his great grandson Damul and his great, great grandson Lahilatoul who was the first king or faama of Mali.
Ira Abdul Malik, who headed up the research team, states that “Many new stories were made public because of the recently uncovered manuscripts in Mali. We must have them translated to different languages so that the world can be familiar with the history.
“The common stories of Bilal’s experiences such as his torture in Makka or his call to prayer from atop of the Kaaba are well documented. His meetings with the Prophet 5 times a day in Medinah are not,” says Malik.
“These discussions would have decided the words and the positions of prayer. The Qiblah or direction of prayer, would have been calculated because it was Bilal who drove his spear in the ground to indicate this," Samir said.
Arab and Pakistani historians tell of his trials and tribulations in Makka and Medinah.
"Bilal, From Makka to Timbuktu," will open at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the largest film festival in Africa, FESPACO, before showing in limited release at independent theatres here in America. Islamic countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and others in Southeast Asia are already asking for the film.