One of the great companions who tasted the sweetness of faith was Belal Ibn Al Rabah, may Allah be pleased with him. Ethnically from Ethiopia, Belal was a slave in Makkah, until Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, bought his freedom. Belal, may Allah be pleased with him, is lovingly remembered by Muslims as one of the earliest great African Muslims and the first to be designated the role of calling the believers to prayer, Muezzin.
Sometimes when the companions would sit together, they would stare aghast at the vicious scars on Belal’s back, remnants of the torture he endured at the hands of the slave master Umayyah. “How were you able to endure such torment without recanting your faith?”
Belal, may Allah be pleased with him, would answer: مَزَجْتُ مَرَارَةَ العَذَابِ بِحَلاوَةِ الإِيمَانِ، فَطَغَتْ حَلاوَةُ الإِيمَانِ “The bitterness of torture mixed in me with the sweetness of faith, and the sweetness of faith overcame.”
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “None will taste the sweetness of faith until he loves a person only for the sake of Allah, until he would rather be thrown into the fire than to return to unbelief, and until Allah and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else.” [Sahih Bukhari 5694, Sahih Muslim 43]
Imam An-Nawawi (D. 1277), may Allah have mercy on him, explained what it means to experience this sweetness. He said, “The scholars, may Allah have mercy on them, taught that the sweetness of faith means to savour the worship of Allah and to beautifully endure any hardship in the path of doing that which is pleasing to Allah and His Messenger, preferring that over worldly things. (This sweetness of faith) occurs when a servant loves his Lord, Glorious and Most High, and expresses that love with charitable deeds and avoiding what Allah forbade.” [Sharh An-Nawawi ‘ala Saheeh Muslim]