Exposing Wesley Muhammad on Prophet Muhammad’s Complexion: Refutation of NoI’s Racist Theology

Exposing Wesley Muhammad on Prophet Muhammad’s Complexion: Refutation of NoI’s Racist Theology


Mohamad Mostafa Nassar

Twitter:@NassarMohamadMR

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعينbyWaqar Akbar Cheema & Gabriel Keresztes Abdul Rahman Al-Romaani

Wesley Muhammad PhD of Nation of Islam (NOI) has made his career following the steps of Wallace Fard Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad claiming that the black man is divine by nature and that it is the body that contains Allah’s radiance. 

A deep explanation of their theology is not needed here, however one can do some research and can find much of NOI material, especially Wesley’s articles, where he outlines the theology of the group NOI.  Such theology has made scholars of Islam deem the group as outside the fold of ISLAM.  

The racist approach that Wesley has taken to his academics cannot be fully understood but speculated as a reactionary one: blacks have been oppressed around the world for centuries and it’s only reasonable and fair that they should make it known to the world. 

However in doing so, there have been many groups that have formed causing the same damage that whites have done in the past.  Instead of trying to solve racism, racism was only painted with a different color.  Such is the case of NOI who is not only a Black Nationalist Movement but a religion, a theology built on color. 

A reaction to Christianity’s white Jesus gave NOI’s black god, black man divine, back prophets, black nation and chosen people.  This has not only affected the relationship between NOI and whites, blacks and other (be them Christians or others), but also the dynamics between orthodox Muslim communities.  With a convincing resume and academic studies, Wesley and others like him have managed to attract some of the mainstream Muslims (especially blacks) to follow their way.  

In this article we will deal specifically with one issue which ties all, and that is the color of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).  To a normal Muslim this might not be an issue, and one can go on their whole life without even thinking of such a topic being an issue. Islam’s foundation and practice is based on ideologies and principles not on persons. 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is not venerated or worshiped (except by deviant-ignorant), nor is his color important to the ideology or practice of Islam.  It is true that scholars have written books and composed poetry on the physical characteristics of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), but never has such an issue become a theological one. 

The Shamail of the Prophet by Al-Tirmidhi and other works have been recorded and described the physical attributes of prophet Muhammad.  Such were done out of love for him, out of scholarship but not out of racism and intention to propagate a theology that is based on color and to give superiority to a color skin over the other (something that Wesley does whether explicitly or implicitly).  

Wesley objected to such a statement quoting a Muslim scholar, Ahmad bin Abi Sulayman- a companion of the great Maliki jurist, Sahnun), who said “Anyone who says that the Prophet was black (aswad) should be killed“ (al-Shifa). 

We respond by saying that you will always find someone who will give death fatwas, for many unreasonable reasons. Osama bin Laden’s famous fatwa to “kill Americans wherever you find them” is only one such example. 

Second, when we go and analyze the circumstantial evidence around the text of Ahmand b. Abi Sulayman we see that Muhammad al-Zarqani in Sharah Al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyya says that the statement was made not because of looking down upon black complexion but because it goes against the facts known through mutawatir reports.

And according to the Maliki school of thought anyone who denies any characteristic of the Prophet (pbuh) should be killed even if it is known that degrading or disparaging was not intended.  Wesley’s scholarship failed to mention that or was not interested in researching a bit more about it. 

The color of prophet Muhammad (pbuh) might be important only as a fact, and would he have been white or black or Chinese for that matter it should not add or take away from a Muslim’s faith in Allah.  

We decided to take Wesley’s article and show the rest of the world, especially his followers, what happens when someone puts on the specs of racism and will see everything in one color.  Wesley tries to prove in his article that Prophet Muhammad was a black man.  To go further one needs to understand that black here does not mean colored or brown as an Arab might be but black as AFRICAN BLACK, just like Wesley and most of the followers of NOI. 

This is important because it ties in to the whole theology of NOI and their movement of racism.  Of course in the attempt to gain converts and superiority over humanity, people such as Wesley have claimed that most if not all of the prophets were black. 

It is important that we start with a verse from the Quran to put everyone at ease and to show that Allah has created human beings in different colors and that such makes no difference to Him:

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is the most God fearing (righteous). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran, Hujarat v. 13)

Refuting Wesley’s article

It is very important for the reader to pay close attention to the following refutation and see the academic twists that Wesley tries to make be it out of ignorance (which is hard to believe as he claims to know Arabic)  or on purpose. 

We will refute his claims by analyzing the meaning of the words in reference to skin color, analyzing the Arabic of the narrations in question, quoting narrations which give the full picture of the issue in question, and showing how Wesley has selectively quoted and misquoted texts in order to propagate his racist ideology.

Mr. Wesley Muhammad in his article tries hard to ‘prove’ that Prophet Muhammad may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was black in complexion. The racism within him prompts him to come up with such ‘interesting research’. Let us analyze the issue and see where his theory stands in the light of evidence.  We will also analyze his intellectual honesty.

Meanings of the keywords used to describe the complexion

With regards to the meanings and connotation of the words used to describe the complexion we must remember that in any language it’s the usage of the words that matters more than their dictionary meanings. To facilitate things for non Arabic readers, the dictionary meanings of the keywords around which the discussion revolves are given, as it will help understand their usage better. All the meanings are from Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon.

Meaning of Adam/Udma;

آدم  Of the colour termed أُدمة (Book I, p.37)

أُدمة… and in human beings, a tawny colour; or darkness of complexion; syn. سُمرة or an intermixture, or a tinge, of blackness or intense سُمرة (Book I, p.36)

Meaning of Asmar/Sumra:

أسمر  [Tawny, or brownish; dusky; dark-complexioned or dark-coloured;] of the colour termed سُمرة (Book I, p.1426)

سُمرة  [A tawny, or brownish, colour, of various shades, like the various hues of wheat; duskiness; darkness of complexion or colour;] certain colour, well known, between white and black, …  (Book I, p.1425)

Meaning of Ahmar/Humrah:

حُمرة [Redness;] a well-known colour; (Msb, K;) the colour of that which is termed أحمر …. But when relating to complexion, whiteness; (Book I, p.640)

Meaning of Azhar/Zuhrah:

أزهر Shining; giving light; bright. (S.,K) …. White; (S.,K;) and beautiful: (K.:) or of a bright white colour: (TA:) or of any shining colour: (AH.n,R:) (Book I, p.1262)

زُهرة Whiteness; (Yaakoon,S,K;) and beauty: (K:) whiteness, or fairness, characteristic of good birth: (S:) or bright whiteness: (TA:) or any shining colour. (AHn,R) (Book I, p.1262)

How the Arabs use the words?

As Mr. Wesley said, Imam al-Dhahbi has described as to how the Arabs use these words.

Here are the actual words of al-Dhahbi (d. 748 A.H.) and their rightful translation:

إِنَّ العَرَبَ إِذَا قَالَتْ: فُلاَنٌ أَبْيَضُ، فَإِنَّهُمْ يُرِيْدُوْنَ الحِنْطِيَّ اللَّوْنِ بِحِلْيَةٍ سَوْدَاءَ، فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي لَوْنِ أَهْلِ الهِنْدِ، قَالُوا: أَسْمَرُ، وَآدَمُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي سَوَادِ التِّكْرُوْرِ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ وَكَذَا كُلُّ مَنْ غَلَبَ عَلَيْهِ السَّوَادُ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ أَوْ شَدِيْدُ الأُدْمَةِ

“When Arabs say; So and so is ‘abyad’, they mean a wheatish complexion with slight darkness (hintiy al-lawn bi-hilyatin sawda). And if it is the complexion the People of India they say, ‘asmar’ and ‘adam’. And if it is of Toucouleur Negroes (sawad al-Takrur) they say ‘aswad’ and likewise everyone whose complexion is overwhelmingly black; they call, ‘aswad’ or ‘shadid-ul-udmah’.” (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubula 1/39 & 3/448, Darul Hadith, Cairo 2006)

In the second instance where these words appear, al-Dhahbi continues:

فَمَعْنَى ذَلِكَ: أَنَّ بَنِي آدَمَ لا ينفكون، عن أحد الأمرين. وكل لَوْنٍ بِهَذَا الاعْتِبَارِ يَدُوْرُ بَيْنَ السَّوَادِ وَالبَيَاضِ الَّذِي هُوَ الحُمْرَةُ.

“So this means, mankind cannot escape either of these two things (fairness and darkness of complexion). And every complexion is a shade between blackness and, whiteness which (in this context) is redness.” .” (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubula 3/448)

Word about the trickery of Mr. Wesley on this quotation follows towards the end of the article.

Meaning of ‘Abyad’ when used for people:

Mr. Wesley also tends to argue that Arabs use ‘abyad’ not to mean whiteness of complexion but the purity of one’s character.  It might be used to mean purity of one’s character but to say that it is not used to mean whiteness of complexion is a mistake.

This is evident from the very page of the classical work Lisan al-‘Arab from which Wesley quoted, but he failed to be honest enough to present the whole thing. Moreover, this can be said of some usage only, there are instances when the statements categorically relate ‘abyad’ to color/complexion. 

We shall see the details of Lisan al-‘Arab quote towards the end. And the examples forcing the understanding of ‘abyad’ relating to colour/complexion will fall within our scope of discussion.

Principle of ‘addad

Coming to the idea of ‘addad’ (a word understood to imply the opposite of its first meaning) which Wesley brings forward, this might be the case in some rare instances. But if it’s with regard to colors in some contexts it does not mean ‘addad’ applies always. To suggest this is insanity. And again we shall see some usages that just do not allow any such sense of the word.

Complexion of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Here in a quote narrations from different Companions about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace be upon him.

Abu Bakr (RA)

On being questioned about the appearance of Holy Prophet (pbuh) by a monk, Abu Bakr (RA) said:

أبيض اللون، مشرب بحمرة

“White in complexion (abyad al-lawn), imbued with redness.” (Kanzul Ummal, Hadith 18524 cf. al-Zawzni, Abdul Razzaq)

Same is mentioned in al-Ins al-Jalil bi-Tarikh al-Quds wal Khalil of Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad al-‘Alimi (d. 928 A.H.)

Now here the fact that ‘abyad’ is attached with the word ‘lawn’ (lit. colour) kills the idea that it is all about character.

‘Umar (RA):

Ibn ‘Asaakir (d. 571 A.H.) quotes;

Bashir al-‘Abdi says, people came to ‘Umar bin al-Khattab and asked him about the appearance of the Holy Prophet –peace be upon him. He said:

كان نبي الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم) أبيض اللون مشربا حمرة

“The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was of white complexion (abyad al-lawn) imbued with redness (mushraban humrah).” (Tarikh Damishq 3/264 No. 653, Dar al-Fikr, Beirut 1995)

‘Aisha (RA):

Ibn Asaakir also gives the following narration:

عن عائشة قالت أهدي للنبي (صلى الله عليه وسلم) شملة  سوداء فلبسها وقال كيف ترينها علي يا عائشة قلت ما أحسنها عليك يا رسول الله يشوب سوادها بياضك وبياضك سوادها

Narrated ‘Aisha: A black turban (shimlatu sawda) was gifted to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), he put it on and asked, ‘How do you see on me O ‘Aisha?” I said, “How beautiful it looks on you O the Messenger of Allah! Its blackness (sawaduha) suits on your whiteness (bayadak) and your whiteness (bayadak) on its blackness (sawaduha). (Tarikh Damishq 3/310-311 No. 705)

Now this leaves nothing ambiguous. Here blackness (sawad) of turban is brought in contrast to whiteness/fairness (bayad) of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), so it cannot be anything of the kind of addad or any other sense of ‘bayad’.

Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (RA):

In Tabqatul Kubra, also sometimes referred to as, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, we read:

عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ: كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلّى الله عليه وسلم أَبْيَضَ مُشْرَبًا بِحُمْرَةٍ 

Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: “The Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was of white complexion imbued with redness (abyad mushraban bi-humrah).” (Tabqat al-Kubra 1/419, Dar al-Sader Beirut 1968)

Abu Huraira (RA):

Similar Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that some Bedouins came and inquired about the Holy Prophet –peace be upon him, the Companions guided him. Saying this Abu Huraira (RA) describes how the Prophet appeared, saying:

وكان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أبيض مشربا بحمرة

“The Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was of white complexion imbued with redness (abyad mushraban bi-humrah).” (Kanzul Ummal 18533)

‘Ali (RA):

Another very close companion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ‘Ali (RA) described the complexion of the Holy Prophet in the following words:

كَانَ أَبْيَضَ مشرَّباً بَيَاضُهُ حُمْرَةً، وَكَانَ أَسْوَدَ الْحَدَقَةِ

“He had white complexion, his whiteness being imbued with redness (abyad musharraban bayaduhu humrah) and his iris was black (awsad).” (Dalail al-Nubuwwah lil-Baihaqi 1/212-213 Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya Beirut 1405 A.H.)

Reports to this effect from ‘Ali (RA) are found in many works of Hadith.

Abu Tufail (RA):

According to Sahih Muslim, when Jurairi asked the last to die Companion, about the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- he said:

كَانَ أَبْيَضَ مَلِيحًا 

“He was beautifully white (abyada malihan).”  (Sahih Muslim 2340 Darul Ahya al-Turath, Beirut)

Abu Umamah (RA):

Ibn Sa’d in his Tabaqat al-Kubra narrates from Abu Umamah that he described about the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, as:

رَجُلًا أَبْيَضَ تَعْلُوهُ حُمْرَةٌ

“A man of white complexion with red tinge in it (abyad ta’luhu humrah).” (Tabaqat al-Kubra 1/413)

Anas (RA):

There are numerous narrations from the Anas (RA) about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Rab’ia bin Abdul Rahman narrates from Anas (RA)  who while describing the appearance of the Holy Prophet said:

وَلَا بِالْأَبْيَضِ الْأَمْهَقِ، وَلَا بِالْآدَمِ

“And he was neither white as lime (abyad al-amhaq) , nor brown (adam).” (Shama’il Tirmidhi, Hadith 1)

Same is narrated in Tabawat al-Kubra of Ibn Sa’d etc.

This narration has important points pertinent to our discussion. The very fact that the narration says ‘abyad al-amhaq’ i.e. ‘white as lime’ belies the assertion that ‘abyad’ does not mean ‘whiteness’ when used for complexion. 

Also the wording asks one to laugh at Wesley’s idea of taking ‘abyad’ to mean the opposite for it is unfathomable to find some sane person saying, ‘black as lime.’

Also it proves the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- was far from being dark for in that case there was no need to say it was not lime white – a sharp contrast to blackness.

In fact his complexion was white but not extremely white. The detail of it is explained in another narration from Anas (RA).

Humayd said, he heard Anas (RA) saying:

وَكَانَ أَبْيَضَ بَيَاضُهُ إِلَى السُّمْرَةِ

“And he was white (abyad), his whiteness leaning to be tan (bayaduhu ilas-sumrah).” (Dala’il al-Nubuwah 1/204)

This Hadith shows his complexion was not even pure ‘asmar’ (tan) but rather something between pure white and pure tan. Surely describing complexion is not very easy!

In another narration from Anas (RA) we learn,

Thabit narrated from Anas (RA) describing the complexion of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, as:

كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَزْهَرَ اللَّوْنِ

“The Messenger of Allah –peace be upon him- was had bright white complexion (azhar al-lawn).” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2330)

Hafiz Ibn Hajr (d. 852 A.H.) explained ‘azhar al-lawn’ saying;

أَزْهَرَ اللَّوْنِ أَيْ أَبْيَضُ مُشَرَّبٌ بِحُمْرَةٍ

“azhar al-lawn’, that is: white imbued with redness (abyad musharrab bi-humrah)” (Fath al-Bari 6/569 Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut 1379 A.H.)

Narration from Anas (RA) quoted by Wesley

Now we come to the narration from Anas (Ra) quoted by Wesley.

Humayd narrated from Anas (ra) that he said:

أَسْمَرَ اللَّوْنِ

“Tan in color (asmar al-lawn).” (Jami’ Tirmidhi, Hadith 1754)

About this narration, consider the following point made by Ali bin Sultan al-Qari (d. 1014):

وَقَالَ الْعِرَاقِيُّ: هَذِهِ اللَّفْظَةُ انْفَرَدَ بِهَا حُمَيْدٌ عَنْ أَنَسٍ وَرَوَاهُ غَيْرُهُ مِنَ الرُّوَاةِ عَنْهُ بِلَفْظِ أَزْهَرَ اللَّوْنِ، ثُمَّ نَظَرْنَا إِلَى مَنْ رَوَى صِفَةَ لَوْنِهِ صلّى الله عليه وسلم غَيْرَ أَنَسٍ فَكُلُّهُمْ وَصَفُوهُ بِالْبَيَاضِ دُونَ السُّمْرَةِ وَهُمْ خَمْسَةَ عَشَرَ صَحَابِيًّا

And al-Iraqi said, “These words are the solitary report of Anas through Humayd and reports of others from him (Anas) come with the word ‘azhar al-lawn’. Further we see reports from (Companions) other than Anas, all of them describe it with whiteness and not tawny complexion and they are fifteen companions explain his complexion like this –peace and blessings be upon him.” (Jama’ al-Wasa’il fi Sharah al-Shama’il 1/14)

Prophet Muhammad’s –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- complexion was not purely tan, it was white tending to be tan or white imbued with redness, not white as lime, neither dark nor purely tan.

This narration is rather odd and for the fact that it goes against all the narrations from other companions and even other reports from Anas (RA). It is reported through a single narrator i.e. Humayd and even his narrations do not consistently say the same. As mentioned above in one narration Humayd himself reports from Anas (RA) that he said:

“And he was white (abyad), his whiteness leaning to be tan (bayaduhu ilas-sumrah).” (Dala’il al-Nubuwah 1/204)

This is the scholarly way of handling an odd narration. Mark the difference- scholars do not agree with one narration based on an objective science comparing different narrations on the subject and then deciding on the merit whereas Wesley merely gives in to his subjective whims and desires and:

1- Fails to share all the various narrations from different Companions on the subject.

2- Twists hadiths with multiple tricks, like alluding to the idea of ‘addad’ or taking ‘abyad’ not to refer to complexion. Above details show he cannot consistently use either of these and usage of the word ‘abyad’ is itself enough to reject his ideas.

3- Rejects the hadiths which he is unable to twist without giving any proof for what he stands for.

Narration about the blackness of foot

Wesley plays foul and clever when he mentions that Tabaqat al-Kubra has pages dedicated to the description of physical appearance of the Holy Prophet –peace be upon him- but then fails to quote the most relevant of them.

He dubs the most explicit narrations about the complexion of the Messenger of Allah –peace be upon him- as later invention of Persians without citing any proof. And what more, he quotes a narration to find some support for his theological beliefs. The narration as quoted by him goes as:

“The Messenger of Allah (s) stretched his left foot, such that the blackness of its exposed part (zahiruha aswad) was visible.” (Kitab al-Tabaqat al-kabir, I/i,127)

To expose the trick, let me just quote the same narration from Sunan Abu Dawud where it is narrated with the same chain of narrators but with a little detail. It goes as:

كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا جَلَسَ فِي الصَّلَاةِ، افْتَرَشَ رِجْلَهُ الْيُسْرَى حَتَّى اسْوَدَّ ظَهْرُ قَدَمِهِ

“When the Prophet, peace be upon him, sat during prayers (salaah), he stretched his left foot, such that blackness of foot was exposed.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 962, Makteba l-‘Asriyyah, Beirut)

Clearly this is about the left foot only and that too related to prayers (salaah) and we know when a person regularly offers prayers, on his left foot blackness appears due to frequent contact with the ground (Abu ‘Abdul Rahman al-‘Azimabadi in ‘Awn al-Ma’bud 3/170) And surely this it must had been even more for we know back then they used rough prayer mats or prayed on ground.

It is appropriate at this time to show a narration that puts Wesley in check on his black foot narration attempt.  We are not using this narration to prove our point necessarily, as most people know that the armpits of a human being are usually lighter than the rest of his skin. 

We are just giving an example of how unscholarly Wesley can get and how he picks and chooses and can only see black out of all the ahadeeth that talk about the description of the prophet.  It is important to note here that Bukhari (the most authentic book of ahadith) records it in the chapter entitled “Characteristics of the Prophet” hadith nr. 3372 narrated by Anas:

أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان لا يرفع يديه في شيء من دعائه إلا في الاستسقاء فإنه كان يرفع يديه حتى يرى بياض إبطيه

Allah’s Apostle did not use to raise his hands in his invocations except in the Istisqa (i.e. invoking Allah for the rain) in which he used to raise his hands so high that one could see the whiteness of his armpits (bayad ibtayh).

Mark the last words

“Whiteness of his armpits”

Exposing more lies

Besides his play with the ideas about meaning of ‘abyad’ and failing to quote most relevant narrations and stretching narrations out of context and things like that, here are some glaring examples of Wesley’s intellectual dishonesty:

What did Imam al-Dhahbi actually say?

Mr. Wesley wrote:

According to the important Syrian hadith scholar and historian of Islam, Shāms al-Dīn Abū `Abd Allāh al-Dhahabī (d. 1348), in his Siyar a’lām al-nubalā’ [II:168]:

“When Arabs say, ‘so-and-so is white (abyad),’ they mean a golden brown complexion with a black appearance (al-hintī al-lawn bi-hilya sudā’). Like the complexion of the people of India, brown and black (asmar wa ādam), i.e. a clear, refined blackness (sawad al-takrūr).”

Here he gives the impression that words ‘asmar wa adam’ and ‘sawd al-takrur’ etc. were also about Arabs. Before commenting on this, let us see what al-Dhahbi actually wrote:

إِنَّ العَرَبَ إِذَا قَالَتْ: فُلاَنٌ أَبْيَضُ، فَإِنَّهُمْ يُرِيْدُوْنَ الحِنْطِيَّ اللَّوْنِ بِحِلْيَةٍ سَوْدَاءَ، فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي لَوْنِ أَهْلِ الهِنْدِ، قَالُوا: أَسْمَرُ، وَآدَمُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي سَوَادِ التِّكْرُوْرِ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ وَكَذَا كُلُّ مَنْ غَلَبَ عَلَيْهِ السَّوَادُ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ أَوْ شَدِيْدُ الأُدْمَةِ

“When Arabs say; So and so is ‘abyad’, they mean a wheatish complexion with slight darkness (hintiy al-lawn bi-hilyatin sawda). And if it is the complexion the People of India they say, ‘asmar’ and ‘adam’. And if it is of Toucouleur Negroes (sawad al-Takrur) they say ‘aswad’ and likewise everyone whose complexion is overwhelmingly black; they call, ‘aswad’ or ‘shadid-ul-udmah’.” (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubula 1/39 & 3/448, Darul Hadith, Cairo 2006)

So evidently Imam al-Dhahbi has mentioned three different types of complexion. Wheatish, tan and finally overwhelmingly black, and he makes tan a reference to people of India and black a reference to people of certain African tribes.

Mr. Wesley clearly lies and makes all of it look as if about the meaning of ‘abyad.’ Though Imam al-Dhahbi does mean that ‘abyad’ does not mean something like pure white but the flow of his statement maintains ‘abyad’ is whiter than tan, which in turn is tends to be whiter than black.

The quote from Lisan al-Arab

Mr. Wesley writes:

Ibn Manzur [Lisan al-arab IV: 209, 210] notes:

“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 – bayad), 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.”

“Red (al-hamra’) refers to non-Arabs due to their fair complexion which predominates among them. And the Arabs used to say about the non-Arabs with whom white skin was characteristic, such as the Romans, Persians, and their neighbors: ‘They are red-skinned (al-hamra’)…” al-hamra’ means the Persians and Romans…And the Arabs attribute white skin to the slaves.”

This is misleading.

The statement which Mr. Wesley translated as:

“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)

It is actually what the author of Lisan al-‘Arab quotes from Shamir. And after this statement the author, Ibn Manzur, quotes Ibn Athir. Ibn Athir’s statement is hidden behind the three dots given by Mr. Wesley.

Mr. Wesley put it as:

… when they mean a white complexion they say ‘red’ (ahmar)… when the Arabs say, ‘so-and-so is white (abyad – bayad), they [only] mean a noble character (al-karam fi l-akhlaq), not skin color.

The dots highlighted above hide much important text behind them. Ibn Manzur writes:

قَالَ ابْنُ الأَثير: وَفِي هَذَا الْقَوْلِ نَظَرٌ فإِنهم قَدِ اسْتَعْمَلُوا الأَبيض فِي أَلوان النَّاسِ وَغَيْرِهِمْ؛

Ibn Athir said: In this statement (of Shamir) is a problem for they do use ‘abyad’ for complexions of the people and other things.” (Lisan al-‘Arab 4/209 Dar al-Sadir, Beirut 1414 A.H.)

He then gives examples of such usages. This is about the usage of the word in general. Otherwise we have seen above in certain usages it will be insane to say that ‘abyad’ is not about complexion.

Alleged depictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

It is appropriate at this time to show another cheap attempt of Dr. Wesley to gain credibility to his arguments by showing a very famous picture that he claims is a picture of a white Muhammad, which is a result of distorted depictions that took place after non black converts to Islam began distorting not only Islam but the true figure of prophet Muhammad.  

We have compared the picture (to the left) he uses  with a picture of Imam Ali (to the right) and have found some amazing similarities.  What is also shocking is that Wesley uses this picture in many of his presentations and articles as if this picture is the consensus of Muslim scholars and the Muslim nation.  He does the same by showing pictures of actors from the famous movie (The Message) by Mustapha Akkad, as if this movie weighs any scholarly evidence. 

Of course this is another cheap attempt to shock his audience.  People should also keep in mind that depictions of Prophet Muhammad are not allowed, be it in the Sunni tradition or the Shia tradition.  It is also important to highlight the baseless accusation that Dr. Wesley makes to converts of Islam who are non Arab or white.

This shows the scholarship that he has and practices. As the companions of the prophet spread to different lands, conquering different countries where the inhabitants were white or light skinned, the Arabs of Makkah or Madinah never lost their lineage or heritage so that one can say that such a blatant corruption could happen. 

One needs not to go to a great extent to prove this.  The simplest  way to do this is to go back to the tradition of the Arabian peninsula tribes, the city and Bedouin of Arabia, and know their lineage and their descent.  Their odes and poems, their literature and lineages are all preserved from the youngest to the oldest. 

When one visits Mekka or Madinah one can sit with people from the Quraish, people of Banu Shaibah who are the key holders of the Kabbah from the time of prophet Muhammad and other tribes.  One can see the difference in their skin color.  

Some are darker, some are light, and some are in between.  The population dynamics of tribes and the gene pool allow for variation in skin color and such Prophet Muhammad –may Allah’s blessings be upon him- happened to be lighter in color, and when we say that we don’t mean white like a  European white (like myself, Gabriel, in the picture to the left), but white like an Arab white, somewhere between light and brown. 

In the presented picture you can see myself a white European (left), an Arab (Arabized African)  from Sudan (center) and an Arab (Arabized Asian) from Al Marri tribe which is a Bolochi tribe from Asia (right).   This is not a google picture taken out of context this is a real picture three different colored skinned Muslims, brothers in faith.  What you are required to focus on is the Arab to the picture on to the right which is a boy from the Al-Ameri tribe, a tribe from Yemen. 

Notice the color of his skin in contrast to the Sudanese and European Muslim. This picture says a thousand words in the context of this article, especially when reading the narrations about prophet Muhammad being not too brown nor lime-white. 

Allegation against Imam al-Shafi’i:

Finally we want to leave our readers with a short piece of the kind of theology and ideology the associates of Dr. Wesley propagate.  This is a short entry recorded on the Black Arabia blog, a site where Dr. Wesley posts much of his work.  The short entry is entitled “Imam Shafi and that Early Black Islam”. 

روى أحد تلامذة الشافعي أنه إشترى له طيبا بدينار ، فسأله الشافعي : ممن إشتريت ..؟؟ ، فقال : من الرجل العطار الأشقر الأزرق .. فقال الشافعي : أشقر وأزرق ..؟؟ ، إذهب ورد العطر ، ماجاءني خير قط من أشقر 

“One of Al-Shafa’i’s students related that he bought some scents for Al-Shafa’i for a dinar. Al-Shafa’i asked him (the student) who he bought the scents from. The man replied, ‘From that blue-eyed, very fair-complexioned (أشقر) perfumer.’ Al-Shafa’i said, ‘Blue-eyed, very fair-complexioned (أشقر)?! Take it back! Nothing good has ever come to me from a very fair complexioned (أشقر) person!'”

Now certainly this is misleading. And the way it is quoted clearly shows it was just picked from a random online Arabic discussion forum.

Let us quote it with due reference to a classical work.

قال الربيع : اشتريت للشافعي طيبا بدينار ، فقال : ممن اشتريت ؟ قلت : من ذاك الأشقر الأزرق . قال : أشقر أزرق ! رده ، رده ، ما جاءني خير قط من أشقر

أبو حاتم : حدثنا حرملة ، حدثنا الشافعي ، يقول : احذر الأعور ، والأعرج ، والأحول ، والأشقر ، والكوسج ، وكل ناقص الخلق ، فإنه صاحب التواء ، ومعاملته عسرة .

Al-Rabi’ said: “I bought scent for al-Shafi’i for a Dinar. He asked, ‘From whom you bought the scent?’ I said: ‘From so-and-so blue-eyed albino!.’ he said; “’Blue-eyed albino! Return it, return it! I haven’t experienced any good from an albino.’

Abu Hatim said, Harmalah narrated to us, al-Shafi’i said, ‘Beware of the one-eyed, the lame, the squint, the albino, and everyone with a deformity (especially those born with it). These are people of deficiencies and its a trouble dealing with them.’ (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubala 10/40-41)

Following narration from the same section of the same book from which the quote under discussion comes helps understand the thing better.

قال الشافعي : خرجت إلى اليمن في طلب كتب الفراسة حتى كتبتها وجمعتها

Al-Shafi’i said: “I traveled to Yemen and kept seeking the books on Physiognomy till I wrote and collected them.” (Siyar ‘Alam al-Nubala 10/41)

Physiognomy is all about assessment of people’s character or personality from their outer appearance.

What our great Imam said was not even intended to disparage those people but to be on the guard against the troubles that can come up in dealing with them. he had learnt this from his study of physiognomy.

Now this makes the thing clear. His comment was not about a people with a particular complexion but about those suffering from albinism and other deformities. Its shameful to use it to imply racism. Truly disgusting!

Conclusion

As we can see from above Wesley has gone to great lengths to distort many of the meanings of terms, while quoting Islamic texts and making a case for his perverse theology.  Such is the case of most people these days who attack Islam and want to destroy Islam. There are those who quote Quran, Sunnah, commentaries and other authentic sources yet to prove that Prophet Muhammad  –may Allah’s blessings be upon him- was a racist slave owner.  It is mind boggling to see such insincerity from two different spectrums dealing with the same texts.  

Indeed if the problem of racism is to be solved in the world, people have to start looking at pure Islam with an objective view and open mind, and take the following advice of Prophet Muhammad  –may Allah’s blessings be upon him-that he gave to the world before departing it:

“O People! Your God is one and your forefather (Adam) is one. An Arab is not better than a non-Arab and a non-Arab is not better than an Arab, and a red (i.e. white) person is not better than a black person and a black person is not better than a red person, except in piety.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 22978)


* The links to Wesley’s articles (from BlackArabia.blogspot.com) were last accessed on November 5, 2011 8:50 a.m. GMT

Indeed Allah knows the best!

Source Let me turn the Tables