of Prophet Muhammad and the Arabs at the emergence of Islam
Some people claim that Prophet Muhammad was black,
but it's contrary to the following writings:
described as a "white man" (Sahih Bukhari :
Anas bin Malik (RA) reported that when a person inquired the companions
about the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him- they pointed towards him saying;
al-abyad) reclining on his arm."
described as "white" (Sahih Bukhari : hadith
Narrated Isma`il bin Abi Khalid:
I heard Abii Juhaifa saying, "I saw the Prophet, and Al-Hasan
bin `Ali resembled him." I said to Abu- Juhaifa, "Describe
him for me." He said, "He was
white and his beard was black with some white hair. He
promised to give us 13 young she-camels, but he expired before
we could get them."
described as "white" (Sahih Muslim : hadith
Abû At-Tufail reported:
"I saw the Messenger of Allah and there is no one else (left)
on the face of the earth who saw him apart from me." He (the
narrator) said to him: 'How did you see him?' He said: 'He
was white and elegant, of average height and build.'"
White cheek of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih
Muslim : hadith  119 - 582)
It was narrated from 'Amir bin Sa'd that his father said: "I
used to see the Messenger of Allah saying the Salâm to his
right and his left, until I could see the whiteness
of his cheek."
complexion of Muhammad (Sahih Muslim : hadith 2343 [6081/107])
It was narrated that Abü Juhaifah said: "I saw the Messenger
of Allah with a white complexion
some white hairs. Al-Hasan bin 'Ali resembled him."
was not brown (Sahih Muslim : hadith 2347)
It was narrated that Anas bin Mâlik said:
"The Messenger of Allah was neither very tall nor short,
and he was neither glaringly white nor
brown, and his hair was neither very
curly nor straight. Allah appointed him (as His Messenger) when
he reached the age of forty, and he stayed in Makkah for ten years,
and in Al-Madinah for ten years. Allah caused him to die when
he was sixty years old, and there were no more than twenty white
hairs in his hair and beard."
bilabyadi alamhaqi wa la biladami
thigh of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari : 371)
Narrated 'Abdul 'Aziz: Anas said, "When Allah's Messenger
invaded Khaibar, we offered the Fajr prayer
there (early in the morning) when it was still dark. Allah's Prophet
rode and Abu Talha rode, too, and I was riding behind Abu Talha.
AlIah's Prophet passed through the lane of Khaibar quickly and
my knee was touching the thigh of Allah's Prophet. Then his thigh
was uncovered by the shift of his Izar (waist-sheet), and I saw
the whiteness of the thigh
of Allah's Prophet.
White abdomen of Prophet
Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari : hadith 7236)
Narrated Al-Bara' bin 'Azib: The Prophet was carrying earth with
us on the Day (of the battle)
of Al-Ahzab (the Confederates) and I saw that the dust was covering
the whiteness of his abdomen,
arms of Prophet Muhammad (Sunan Abu Dawud : hadith 3206)
It was reported from Kathir bin Zaid Al-Madani, from Al-Muttalib
who said: "When 'Uthman bin Ma'zun died, his Janazah was
brought out and he was buried. Then the Messenger of Allah told
a man to bring him a rock but he could not carry it, so the Messenger
of Allah stood up and rolled up his sleeves" - Kathir said:
"Al-Muttalib said: 'The one who informed me of that from
the Messenger of Allah said: It is as if I can see the whiteness
of the forearms of the Messenger
of Allah when he rolled up (his sleeves)
armpits of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari : hadith
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet never raised his hands for any invocation except for
that of Istisqa'; and he used to raise them so much that the whiteness
of his armpits became visible.
legs of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim : hadith 1119
- 249 )
'Awn bin Abi Juhaifah narrated that his father said:
I came to the Prophet in Makkah while he was in Al-Abtah, in a
tent of red leather.
Bilâl came out with his (left over) Wudu water, and those
who got some wiped themselves with it.
Then the Prophet came out, wearing a red Hullah (dress). It is
as if I can see the whiteness of
complexion of Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari : hadith 3547)
Narrated Rabi'a bin Abi 'Abdur-Rahman: I heard Anas bin Malik
describing the Prophet saying, "He was of medium height amongst
the people, neither tall nor short; he had a rosy
complexion, neither absolutely white
nor deep brown; his hair was neither completely curly nor quite
the english word "rosy" is a translation of the word
"azhar" (in red, it spells "azhara") and we
are given the following definition for "azhar al-lawn"
by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in his work entitled "Fath al-Bari"
“azhar al-lawn, that is: white
imbued with redness” (abyad
some people claim that Prophet Muhammad was black skinned?
Mainly for two reasons:
1) They are practicing “Linguistic Acrobatics” with
the word “abyad”, which is the main
word in Arabic for “white”, by claiming
that it actually means “black” and “noble”.
For that matter, they are using a quote from Ibn Manzur’s
Arabic Lexicon called Lisan al-Arab.
2) They are using a hadith from Sunan al-Tirmidhi, where Anas
bin Malik described Muhammad with the word “asmar”
(which means “brown”).
Here is why they
claim that “abyad” means “black” and “noble”:
In the Book “God’s Black Prophet” p.74, Dr.
Wesley Muhammad wrote:
Syrian scholar Shams
al-Din al-Dhahabi (d. 1348) affirms:
When Arabs say,
‘so-and-so is white (abyad),’ they mean
a golden brown complexion with a black
embellishment (al-hinti al-lawn bi-hilya suda). Like
the complexion of the people of India, brown and black (asmar
wa adam), i.e. a clear, refined blackness (sawad al-takrur).”
Ibn Manzur affirmed
The Arabs don’t
say a man is white [or: “white man,” rajul abyad]
due to a white complexion.
Rather, whiteness [al-abyad] with them means an external
appearance that is free from blemish [al-zahir al-naqi min
al-uqub]; when they mean a white complexion they say ‘red’
(ahmar)… when the Arabs say, ‘so-and-so
is white (abyad - bayda), they [only] mean a noble
character (al-karam fi l-akhlaq), not skin color. It
is when they say 'so-and-so is red' (ahmar - hamra)
that they mean white skin. And the Arabs attribute white skin
to the slaves.
clearly means "white", and a brief demonstration will
bear witness to that fact.
In the Book “God’s Black Prophet” p.71, Dr.
Wesley Muhammad wrote:
eports (sic) from Anas b. Malik:
The Messenger of Allah (s) was neither tall, such that he would
stand out, nor was he short.
He was not albino white (al-abyad al-amhaq),
Here, the word for "albino"
is "al-amhaq". Since it says that Prophet Muhammad is
not "albino white",
it obviously shows, without a doubt, that "abyad" means
"white". It is not possible that "al-abyad al-amhaq"
mean "albino black", not even "albino brown",
let alone "albino noble". Everybody knows that "albino"
is something very white. And unfortunately for the adepts of "Linguistic
Gymnastics", the description of Prophet Muhammad not being
"albino white" is found in many hadiths. For instance
in Sahih Muslim hadith 2347 :
also found in Sahih Bukhari, hadiths 3547 and 3548.
Here are other examples demonstrating that "abyad"
clearly means "white":
God’s Black Prophet p.71 :
"Ibn Manzur reports
that “al-sumra [is] a degree between white
(al-bayad) and black (al-aswad) and
it is that in the human complexions, camels, etc."
"According to Ibn Athir, al-sumra's 'blackness'
predominates over its 'whiteness'
(al-sumra alladhi yaghlibu sawaduhu 'ala bayadihi).
God’s Black Prophet
David Goldenberg notes, white in pre-modern Arabic was about
“luminosity, not chromaticity.”Arab usage distinguished
between whiteness related to redness or white-skinnedness
(al-bayad al-mushrab bi-humra)
and whiteness related to yellowness
or luminance (al-bayad al-mushrab
God’s Black Prophet
of Allah was luminous of complexion (azhar al-lawn).”
His face shone with resplendence like
that of a full moon and his azhar
and abyad complexion had a luster (nur) resembling
that of a statue made of clear silver.
Here is the use of Sunan al-Tirmidhi, by those who claim that
Muhammad was black skinned:
In the Book “God’s Black Prophet” p.68, Dr.
Wesley Muhammad wrote:
When we examine the
Classical Arabic literature, our expectations of a black-skinned
Muhammad are not disappointed. Imam Abu Isa Muhammad b. Isa al-Tirmidhi
(d. 892) was a black Arab from the famously 'black and beautiful'
Banu Sulaym. He is the author of the Jami al- Tirmidhi
(also called Sunan al- Tirmidhi), one of the
six orthodox collections of Sunni hadith. He is also the author
of the famous al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyah
(“The Noble Qualities of Muhammad”), a collection
of hadith describing the Prophet. Al-Tirmidhi reports in both
collections a report on the authority of the famous Companion
of the prophet, Anas b. Malik:
The Messenger of Allah
was of medium stature, neither tall nor short, [with] a beautiful,
dark brown-complexioned body (hasan al-jism asmar al-lawn).
His hair was neither curly nor completely straight and when
he walked he leant forward.
Note: the word "dark" is nowhere to be seen, "hasan"
means beautiful, "al-jism" means body, "asmar"
means brown and "al-lawn" means complexion.
Dr. Wesley Muhammad himself, in his Book “God’s Black
Prophet” p.70, wrote: "asmar means brown".
First, this hadith,
is qualified as "Gharib" by Imam al-Tirmidhi himself,
right undearneath it says :
He said: There are narrations on this topic from 'Aishah, Al-Bara',
Abu Hurairah, Ibn 'Abbas, Abu Sa'eed, Jabir, Wa'il bin Hujr, and
[Abu 'Eisa said:] The Hadith of Anas is a Hasan Sahih
Gharib Hadith from this
route, as a narration of Humaid.
means "odd", it is mentioned on page 25 (Introduction
to Jami' At-Tirmidhi) where Abu Khaliyl (the translator) wrote,
in the section "About This Book", the following :
In Jami'Al-Usül, Ibn Al-Athir said: "(It) is the best
of the books, having the most benefit, the best organization,
with the least repetition. It contains what others do not contain;
like mention of the different Madhhabs (views), angles of argument,
and clarifying the circumstances of the Hadith being authentic,
weak, Gharib (odd),
as well as disparaging and endorsing remarks (regarding narrators)."
the edition that I am quoting from:
of Jami' At-Tirmidhi, Volume 1, Compiled by:
Imam Hafiz Abu 'Eisa Mohammad Ibn 'Eisa At-Tirmidhi
Translated by: Abu Khaliyl (USA)
Ahadith edited and referenced by: Haifiz Abu Tahir Zubair 'Ali
Final review by: Islamic Research Section Darussalam
© Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007
other hadiths from Jami' At-Tirmidhi describe Prophet Muhammad
with whiteness (not brown):
274, 2826, 3623, 3638.
it is reported that Anas gave descriptions of Prophet Muhammad
as being white on several occasions in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih
Sahih Bukhari : 63, 371, 1031.
Sahih Muslim : 3325,
White face of Prophet Muhammad (Jami`
at-Tirmidhi : hadith 3638) which
is labelled as "daif" (weak)
Narrated Ibrahim bin Muhammad, one of the offspring of 'Ali bin
said: "When 'Ali [may Allah be pleased with him] described
the Prophet (?) he would say: 'He was not extremely tall (Mummaghit),
nor was he extremely short (Mutaraddid), and he was of medium
height in relation to the people. The wave of his hair was not
completely curly (Qatat), nor straight, but it was in between.
He did not have a large head, nor a small head (Mukaltham), his
face was round
and a blended-white
color (Mushrab), his eyes were dark black (Ad'aj), his eye-lashes
were long (Ahdab).
Muhammad sold 2 black
slaves for 1 slave (Sahih Muslim : hadith 1602)
It was narrated that Jâbir said: "A slave came and
swore allegiance to the Prophet, pledging to emigrate,
and he did not realize that he was a slave. Then his master came
looking for him.
The Prophet said: 'Sell him to me,' and he bought him for two
Then after that he did not accept the oath of allegiance of anyone
until he had asked: 'Is he a slave?"