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Color 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:

Muhammad described as a white man (Sahih Bukhari)
Muhammad described as white (Sahih Bukhari)
Muhammad described as white (Sahih Muslim)
White cheek of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim)
White complexion of Muhammad (Sahih Muslim)
Muhammad was not brown (Sahih Muslim)
White thigh of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari)
White abdomen of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari)
White arms of Prophet Muhammad (Sunan Abu Dawud)
White armpits of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari)
White legs of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim)
Rosy complexion of Muhammad
Why some people claim that Prophet Muhammad was black skinned?
Other hadiths (not all necessarily sahih)
White face of Prophet Muhammad (Jami` at-Tirmidhi)
(Extra) Muhammad sold 2 black slaves for 1 slave (Sahih Muslim)

 

Muhammad described as a "white man" (Sahih Bukhari : hadith 63)
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;


"This white man (rajul al-abyad) reclining on his arm."

 

Muhammad described as "white" (Sahih Bukhari : hadith 3544)
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."

kana abyada

Muhammad described as "white" (Sahih Muslim : hadith 2340 [6072])
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.'"

kana abyada


White cheek of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim : hadith [1315] 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."


bayada
khadahi


White 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 and
some white hairs. Al-Hasan bin 'Ali resembled him."


abyada


Muhammad 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."


layssa bilabyadi alamhaqi wa la biladami



White 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.

bayadi fakhidhi nabiyi allahi



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,


bayada
batdhihi

 

White 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)


bayadi dhiraayi




White armpits of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Bukhari : hadith 1031)
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.


bayadu ibtayhi



 

White legs of Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim : hadith 1119 - 249 [503])
'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 his shins.


bayadi
saqayhi



Rosy 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 lank.


azhar al-lawn

Note that 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 musharrab bi-humrah)


Why 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 same:
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.

 

But "abyad" 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:

Al-Tirmidhi ralso 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 :

It is 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 p.75-76 :

"Further, as 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 bi-sufra).

God’s Black Prophet p.77 :

“The Messenger 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 Umm Hani'.
[Abu 'Eisa said:] The Hadith of Anas is a Hasan Sahih Gharib Hadith from this route, as a narration of Humaid.


"Gharib" 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)."

Here is the edition that I am quoting from:

English Translation 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 Za'i
Final review by: Islamic Research Section Darussalam
© Maktaba Dar-us-Salam, 2007

 

Secondly, other hadiths from Jami' At-Tirmidhi describe Prophet Muhammad with whiteness (not brown):
274, 2826, 3623, 3638.

Thirdly, it is reported that Anas gave descriptions of Prophet Muhammad as being white on several occasions in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim :
Sahih Bukhari : 63, 371, 1031.

Sahih Muslim : 3325, 4437.

 

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 Abi Talib:
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).

alwajhi tadwiyirun abyadu mushrabun



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 black slaves.
Then after that he did not accept the oath of allegiance of anyone until he had asked: 'Is he a slave?"


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