Refuting Wesley and Tariq on Complexion of the Prophet
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين
by Waqar Akbar Cheema & Gabriel Keresztes Abdul Rahman Al-Romaani
This is a response to the falsehood being spread by Wesley Muhammad of the Nation of Islam cult, and Tariq Berry, a self styled amateur ‘scholar’. Please use the table of contents below for easy navigation in this rather long response.
Wesley Muhammad and Tariq Berry have an obsession for life to make every revered person appear black. To achieve this end, they do not feel any hesitation in distorting the truth and picking up things from here and there to present to the world some unique and ‘profound’ research.
Wesley happens to be a more interesting but sad case. It is very sad that today anyone with a PhD can boast themselves and try to put others down based on their CV as if a piece of paper has anything to do with skill and ability of research, debate and exposition of fundamental truths. Such is the case of Wesley PhD who in his shallow attempt to respond to our initial paper exposing the racist theology of NoI, has attacked the two of us based on what he could find about us on the internet.
Much like his qualifications and papers that has written in the past, the farthest Wesley will get is being a University of Michigan Orientalist, who tries to fool Muslim kids into believing that God is a black man, prophet Muhammad was a black man, and for that matter most of prophets and everyone that is of any importance was and is black.
As we have seen in his papers, Wesley shoots many arrows but none of them hits the target. His PhD takes him as far as quoting the experiences of someone who has traveled and spoke to Sudanese villagers about the color of those who will enter paradise, as if such weighs any proof in our discussion. If that was not enough he has gone to quote some scholars who have divided the geographical zones and colors of skins that pertain to such, as if that gives any proof for the point that we are debating.
But again such things are not proof, and the Quranic verses and Hadith narrations that we have quoted many times, and will once again document, practically kill such weak ‘scholarship’ disguised as PhD research. He has jumped up and down, but has never really touched the issue that we are discussing: Was Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) a black man (black as African, black as Wesley)?
Same is true with Tariq Berry, whose seems to push people hard to buy his book, tantalizing, as he seems to suggest, just some of the information he has on the subject.
These guys, Wesley Muhammad and Tariq Berry, seem to forget that we are talking about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- and that we have the minutest details about him preserved in the Hadith narrations. Therefore, any research on the topic should focus on this primary evidence rather than quoting secondary, many times, irrelevant things. All these people seem to miss this simple plain fact, or is it something akin to a Freudian slip?
Both Wesley and Tariq refer to just one Hadith narration- the narration that we have already shown, is recognized as rather odd by the scholars of Hadith. Is the evidence that goes against their vicissitudes not worthy of consideration?
Earlier we did respond to one of Wesley’s deceitful articles. Wesley has attempted a refutation of our exposition of his lies. And Tariq has joined him to contend with us.
This paper not only aims at rebutting Wesley and Tariq’s responses to our initial refutation, but we have also made an effort at taking to task other arguments put forward by these two self acclaimed ‘scholars’.
Readers will notice that unlike these good-for-nothing scholars all the evidence we bring to table is directly related to the subject at hand. We shall take a special look at the complexion of the family and relations of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- after establishing the worth of such kind of evidence.
Our paper is based on clear, simple ahadith, which in context, in the light of the Arabic language, the situations which leave no doubt about meaning, and in the light of Qualified explanations, leave no doubt about the issue. Prophet Muhammad was not a black man.
And this is what we shall uphold based objectively on evidence and not because we would have any issue if he would have been as other prophets and their companions who we love are described as black.
One of us happens to be a European and other hails from South Asia and we are both sure that neither of us resembles the Holy Prophet in complexion, and certainly this does not matter.
Following are the main arguments of Wesley and Tariq.
1- When Arabs, at least of the past, said so and so is “Abyad” they did not mean complexion, rather this is how they referred to one’s character.
2- In the usage of the native Arabs “abyad” did not mean “white” or “fair” complexion, rather it referred to a shade of blackness.
3- Arabs have an idea of “addad” i.e. a word actually signifies the opposite of its first meaning. This is especially true for colors and the same is must be applied to narrations that describe the Prophet as “abyad” i.e. white. This is, to our knowledge, is the argument of Wesley alone.
4- Some of the family members and relations of the Holy Prophet like ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and certain people from his progeny were dark in complexion, it can, therefore, be suggested that the Holy Prophet was also dark complexioned.
While we shall show the absurdness of all these contentions below, the first three arguments and especially the way Wesley uses them is quite good a testimony to what these people are up to. Let us ask Wesley to explain if by his “addad” theory “the opposite of ‘abyad’” is black, how can then “abyad” itself signify dark complexion?
Unlike Wesley and Tariq, this subject is not our ultimate obsession of life, therefore we have made an effort to response to all their relevant assertions on the topic. We have also repeated things we earlier wrote as we intend to present this particular paper as a comprehensive rebuttal to their falsehood. Hope it enlightens many.
As the fundamental evidence in this discussion is only the Hadith narrations, we need consider as to how the Companions of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- have described his complexion.
Most of the narrations from the Companions describe the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- as white imbued with redness.
These narrations come from at least eight (8) companions.
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.”
Now here the fact that ‘abyad’ is attached with the word ‘lawn’ (lit. colour) kills the idea that it is all about character.
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).”
Again here the usage is such that laughs at the suggestion to take “abyad” not to be about the complexion.
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).”
Similarly Abu Hurayrah (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).”
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).”
Reports to this effect from ‘Ali (RA) are found in many works of Hadith.
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).” 
Hafiz Ibn Kathir, on the authority of Abu Na’im al-Isfahani, quotes a narration in which Ibn Mas’ud (RA) also describes the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- using the words;
أَبْيَضُ تَعْلُوهُ حُمْرَةٌ
“White (abyad) with redness in it (ta’luhu humrah).”
Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi (d. 942 A.H.) quoting from Ibn Abi Khuthaymah and Abu Na’im gives us a narration from Ibn ‘Abbas that describes the Prophet’s complexion as;
أحمر إلى البياض
“Red leaning towards whiteness”
Evidently this is just another way to put what is described in narrations from other companions.
1- These reports cannot be twisted by arguing that here “abyad” is not about complexion but about the character for how is the “bayad” of character mixed with “humrah”? Plus, the narrations from Abu Bakr and ‘Umar –may Allah be pleased with them both- categorically use the words “abyad al-lawn” i.e. “whiteness of complexion.”
2- Mr. Wesley has already shown his true colors by rejecting these narrations. He wrote: “There are a few reports, however, generated no doubt by non-Arab converts to Islam like the Persians, which describe the Prophet as white-skinned, abyad al-lawn mushrab humra (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-tabaqat al-kabir, I/i,120, 121,122, 124, 129 (Ar.); Baladhuri,Ansab, I: 391 § 836; 394 § 848).”
While we shall all wait for the evidence that these reports were “generated” by “non-Arab converts to Islam like the Persians” I wonder if he Mr. Wesley was in his senses when he called them “a few”. The fact, however, remains this is the most oft-repeated description of the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- in Hadith narrations.
Mr. Wesley further wrote about these narrations, “I have shown the secondary nature of these reports. This description is absent from al-Bukhari and many of the early Classical texts. It becomes popular only in the later, medieval period when non-Arabs dominated the intellectual life of the Muslims.”
This is stupidity at its best. Just after putting the reference to Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabqat al-Kabir and Baladhuri’s Ansab [al-Ashraf] he says these reports became popular in “later, medieval period”. While anyone with some knowledge of history knows al-Baladhuri died in the year 279 A.H. while Ibn Sa’d lived from 168 A.H. to 230 A.H. and the period of al-Bukhari is 194-256 A.H.
And interestingly in his hap-hazard confused and rather cunning endeavor to seek evidence he uses the same [Imam] al-Bukhari as a bench mark against “Persian generated” reports whom he elsewhere dubs as “famed Persian traditionalist.”
Mr. Wesley must be a cause of great embarrassment to all the PhDs in the world.
There are some reports that describe his complexion solely as “abyad” i.e. white.
According to 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;
هَذَا الرَّجُلُ الأَبْيَضُ المُتَّكِئُ
“This white man (rajul al-abyad) reclining on his arm.”
Similarly Abu Tufayl (RA) reports;
“He was white (abyad)”
The same is reported from ‘Aisha (RA) as well;
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).”
This narration once again mocks the application of “addad” idea which Wesley again and again shamelessly refers to without justifying or explaining the usage in all the texts under consideration.
In one narration Abu Hurayra (RA) described him as;
“Very white (shadid al-bayad)”
The same was also reported from Bara’ bin al-‘Azib.
These narrations do not contradict the narrations that say his complexion was white imbued with redness. Ibn Hajr al-Haithmi addresses this point saying;
لإمكان حمل شدة على الأمر النسبى فلا ينافى كونه مشربا بها
“For the possibility of taking the (mention of) extreme [whiteness as] a relative thing, it does not contradict that it was imbued [with redness].”
This is especially true as we have earlier seen Abu Huraira –the narrator here- describing his complexion as “white imbued with redness” (abyad mushraban bi-humrah).
Another proof for the solitary mention of “abyad” in relative terms is the narration from ‘Abu Tufayl –may Allah be pleased with him- who reports the following about the Prophet;
فَمَا أَنْسَى شِدَّةَ بَيَاضِ وَجْهِهِ وَشِدَّةَ سَوَادِ شَعْرِهِ
“I shall not forget his very white (shiddah bayad) face and his very black (shiddah sawad) hair.”
It plainly establishes that reports describing the Prophet’s complexion as “fair/white” or “very fair/white” are only descriptions in terms of relative contrast to blackness (sawad), and they do not go against the overwhelming evidence of his whiteness being imbued with redness.
2.3. Narrations with description using the words asmar/sumrah
Further there are narrations that use the word “asmar” and “sumrah” describing the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Humayd said, he heard Anas (RA) saying:
وَكَانَ أَبْيَضَ بَيَاضُهُ إِلَى السُّمْرَةِ
“And he was white (abyad), his whiteness (bayad) leaning to be ’sumrah’.”
And as per yet another narration
Humayd reports from Anas (ra) that he said:
“’Asmar’ in color”
This last narration from Jami’ Tirmidhi is the only one that Wesley and Berry regularly quote, as if it is the only important narration on the subject. Against their behavior read the following comment by the scholars of Hadith on this particular narration.
Ali bin Sultan al-Qari (d. 1014 A.H.) writes:
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 (bayad) and not ‘asmar’ complexion and they are fifteen companions who explain his complexion like this –peace and blessings be upon him.”
Scholars of Hadith recognize this report as an odd one, and yet these people who have the obsession of dissipating their “truth” incessantly quote this and almost exclusively this one alone. This behavior itself says it all!
Not only Anas (RA) is unique in narrating this among all the companions, in fact not all narrations from Anas (RA) describe the Prophet’s –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- complexion as “asmar” or “leaning towards ‘asmar’” (See the narration from Sahih Bukhari above). And from Anas (RA), none but Humayd narrates this.
In fact even Humayd does not always quote from Anas (RA) describing it as purely “asmar” as clear from the narration of Dala’il al-Nubuwwah given above. This adds much to the oddity of this narration. No reasonable person will bask on this narration alone, especially taking it on the face value.
However, we shall see in a while that even these narrations actually go in line with the most oft-repeated description of the Prophet’s –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- complexion in Hadith narrations.
Now let us turn towards the meanings of the word “abyad”. Above we have translated it as white which is the simple plain meaning of the word in the Arabic language.
Wesley using the argument of Tariq Berry argues that in relation to the complexion “abyad” does not mean “abyad” rather it refers to a shade of blackness.
Before looking into usage of the word in hadith, let’s look into the relation between “bayad” and “sawad.”
Ahmad Ibn Faris al-Qazwayni (d. 395 A.H.) taking about “sawad” writes;
السِّينُ وَالْوَاوُ وَالدَّالُ أَصْلٌ وَاحِدٌ، وَهُوَ خِلَافُ الْبَيَاضِ فِي اللَّوْنِ، ثُمَّ يُحْمَلُ عَلَيْهِ وَيُشْتَقُّ مِنْهُ. فَالسَّوَادُ فِي اللَّوْنِ مَعْرُوفٌ
Al-Seen, wal-Waw, wal-Daal, form the gerund. And it is opposite to “bayad” in color. Then words are based on it and derived from it. And “sawad” in colors in well known.
While we all agree “sawad” means “pure blackness”, so the above proves “bayad” does simply mean “pure whiteness.”
Now let’s see if the Hadith narrations about the complexion of the Messenger of Allah –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- support either of the contentions i.e. if “abyad” simply means white or it is a shade of blackness as Berry and Wesley contend.
The key in understanding this is the Hadith narrated by Anas –may Allah be pleased with him. He reports about the Messenger of Allah –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
وَلَيْسَ بِالْأَبْيَضِ الْأَمْهَقِ وَلَا بِالْآدَمِ
“And he was neither white as lime (abyad al-amhaq) , nor brown (adam).”
it proves the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- was far from being black in any shade for in that case there was no need to say it was not lime white – a sharp contrast to blackness.
It proves “abyad” used for the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- means simply white as in common use for had it been a shade of blackness there was no need of denying its being white as lime which looks ugly.
Infact “abyad al-amhaq” refers to pale white which is devoid of a reddish tinge.
Abu ‘Ubaid Qasim bin Salam (d. 228 A.H.) writes;
فالأمهق الشَّديد الْبيَاض الَّذِي لَا يخالط بياضه شَيْء من الْحمرَة وَلَيْسَ بنير وَلَكِن كلون الجّص أَو نَحوه
“’Amhaq’ is extreme whiteness (bayad) in which there is no mixture of redness (humrah), not is it radiant, but it is rather like the color of plaster/gypsum (al-jiss) or similar.”
Ibn Battal (d. 449 A.H.) in his commentary to Sahih Bukhari writes;
أن المهق من البياض هو الذى لا يخالطه شىء من الحمرة
“’amhaq’ of ‘abayad’ is that in which there is no mixing of redness (humrah),”
Ibn Abdul Barr (d. 463 A.H.) explains “amhaq al-abyad” saying;
الَّذِي بَيَاضُهُ لَا إِشْرَاقَ فِيهِ كَأَنَّهُ الْبَرَصُ لَا يُخَالِطُهُ شَيْءٌ مِنَ الْحُمْرَةِ
“[It is] that whiteness (bayad) in which there is no radiance like leprosy that is not mixed with anything of redness (humrah)”
So “bayad” if devoid of redness (humrah) is like leprosy. Is leprosy related to anything but simple plain pure whiteness?
Similarly al- Tha’alabi wrote:
إذا كَانَ الرَّجُل أبْيَض لا يُخَالِطُهُ شَيء مِنَ الحُمْرَةِ وَلَيْسَ بنَيِّرٍ ولكنَّهُ كَلَوْنِ الجِصّ فَهُوَ اَمْهَقُ
“When a man is “abyad” (in complexion) without anything of redness (humrah) and it is not radiant but is of the color of plaster/gypsum (al-jiss) then it is “amhaq”. 
Quite clear! When a person is white (abyad) without any mixture of redness or radiance in it then his complexion is like the color of plaster/gypsum, termed as “amhaq.” A shade of blackness does not become “amhaq” (i.e. like gypsum/plaster) if devoid of redness.
Remember these scholars were all discussing the Hadith on the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Those who maintain the rather funny idea of “abyad” being a shade of dark complexion need to explain away this Hadith without forgetting the above elucidations by the scholars.
A narration from Anas- may Allah be pleased with him- describes the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- using the word “azhar”.
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).”
Abu ‘Ubayd Qasim bin Salam (d. 228 A.H.) explains the meaning of “azhar” in the following way;
الْأَزْهَر: الْأَبْيَض النيرِّ الْبيَاض الَّذِي لَا يخالط بياضه حمرَة
“Al-Azhar: Radiant white, whiteness (bayad), such that no redness mixes with it.”
Abu Mansur al-Tha’labi (d. 429 A.H.) writes;
إذا كَانَ الرَّجُل أبْيَض لا يُخَالِطُهُ شَيء مِنَ الحُمْرَةِ وَلَيْسَ بنَيِّرٍ ولكنَّهُ كَلَوْنِ الجِصّ فَهُوَ اَمْهَقُ. فإنْ كَانَ أبْيَضَ بَيَاضاً مَحْمُوداً يُخَالِطُهُ أَدْنَى صُفْرَةٍ كَلَوْنِ القَمَرِ والدُرِّ فَهُوَ أزْهَرُ وفي حديث أَنس في صِفَةِ النبيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: “كان أزْهَرَ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ أمْهَقَ”
“When a man is “abyad” (in complexion) without anything of redness (humrah) and it is not radiant but is of the color of plaster/gypsum (al-jiss) then it is “amhaq”. And if it is white (abyad), its whiteness (bayad) being pleasing with yellowish tinge (or radiance) in it like the color of moon and the gems then it is “azhar”. The narration of Anas in the description of the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- (states): He was “azhar” and not “amhaq”.
Categorically maintains that even the “abyad” of complexion is sheer whiteness, which may be ugly looking like plaster or pleasing depending if it is mixed with redness (humrah) making it radiant, or not.
This is why 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)”
As regards the statement of our Imam, Abu Hanifa that “azhar” can relate to any complexion, it is true but while we are talking of a particular individual we need to keep other descriptions of him in mind. And our readers will observe unlike Wesley and Tariq, we stick to scholarly comments about the very person of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
As regards the meaning of “asmar”/”sumrah”, Ibn Mandhur (d. 711 A.H.) gives us the following definition;
َهُوَ لَوْنٌ يَضْرِبُ إِلى سَوَادٍ خَفِيٍّ
“It is the color that inclines towards hidden blackness (sawad khafiy).”
This hits the bull’s eye and kills the idea of “asmar” referring to someone truly black. “Asmar” is very very slightly dark as if its blackness is hidden.
In the same way al-Tha’alabi (d. 429 A.H.) writes;
إذا عَلاَهُ أَدْنَى سَوَادٍ فَهُوَ أسْمَرُ
“When his/her complexion is mixed with slight blackness (adna sawad), he/she is ‘asmar’.”
So this clearly shows, “asmar” is a very slight shade of blackness, as if its blackness is hidden.
Lest anyone say that in Maqayis al-Lugha the word “asmar” has been defined as;
السِّينُ وَالْمِيمُ وَالرَّاءُ أَصْلٌ وَاحِدٌ يَدُلُّ عَلَى خِلَافِ الْبَيَاضِ فِي اللَّوْنِ. مِنْ ذَلِكَ السُّمْرَةُ مِنَ الْأَلْوَانِ
We find that here “sumrah” is explained involving the words we saw were used for “sawad” i.e. خِلَافِ الْبَيَاضِ which we earlier translated as, “opposite to white.” Tariq, Wesley or the likes of them may try to use it to their purpose. We shall, therefore, explain it here.
The above statement properly translated goes as;
“Al-seen, wal-meem, wal-Raa, forms the gerund. It adduces to other than white (khilaf al-bayad) in color. And from it come the “sumrah” in colors.”
One can clearly see that here the relation of the root of “asmar” with “bayad” is established using the word يَدُلُّ عَلَى خِلَافِ الْبَيَاضِ where emphasis is on يَدُلُّ عَلَى which means “to point to” or “adduce to” i.e. in an indirect way; whereas, as we earlier saw, the relation of “sawad” and “bayad” is established directly saying وَهُوَ خِلَافُ الْبَيَاضِ “and it is ….”
This explains as to why we translated the phrase as “opposite to white” earlier and now we translate it as “other than white.” “Bayad” is directly opposite to “sawad” and “sumrah” is a slightly dark shade, which is different than “bayad.”
But Arabs used the words “sumrah” and “asmar” to signify “whiteness imbued with redness” as well. Carefully read the following;
Hafiz Ibn Hajr (d. 852 A.H.) discussing various narrations writes;
وَتَبَيَّنَ مِنْ مَجْمُوعِ الرِّوَايَاتِ أَنَّ الْمُرَادَ بِالسُّمْرَةِ الْحُمْرَةُ الَّتِي تُخَالِطُ الْبَيَاضَ وَأَنَّ الْمُرَادَ بِالْبَيَاضِ الْمُثْبَتِ مَا يُخَالِطُهُ الْحُمْرَةُ وَالْمَنْفِيُّ مَا لَا يُخَالِطُهُ وَهُوَ الَّذِي تَكْرَهُ الْعَرَبُ لَوْنَهُ وَتُسَمِّيهِ أَمْهَقَ
And it is evident from all the narrations taken collectively that “sumrah” means redness (humrah) mixed with whiteness (bayad). And the pleasing look of whiteness (bayad) is that in which redness (humrah) is mixed and the displeasing look is that in which it is not mixed. It is the color the Arabs dislike and call “amhaq”.
This evidently maintains that “abyad” is such a color which if devoid of redness becomes “amhaq” i.e. like plaster/gypsum or leprosy. This shows it is but pure white and if the same is mixed with redness it is also termed as “sumrah” (or “asmar”). Therefore in the narrations about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- “asmar” and “sumrah” do not signify a shade of blackness but whiteness imbued with redness.
Hafiz Ibn Hajr has based his assertion on the meaning of “asmar” on the study of Hadith narrations itself.
Hafiz Nuruddin ‘Ali bin Ibrahim al-Halabi (d. 1044 A.H.) in Insan al-‘Uyun commonly known as Sirat al-Halbiyya writes;
لأن العرب قد تطلق على ومن كان كذلك أي بياضه إلى حمرة أسمر
“For whoever is like that, i.e. whose whiteness (bayad) leans to be red (humrah) Arabs call him ‘asmar’”
Long before them Abu Suleman al-Khattabi (d. 388 A.H.) wrote the following in his discussion on various narrations on the issue;
وفيه وجه آخر وهو أنه مُشرَبُ الحُمرة والحُمرةُ إذا أُشْبِعَت حَكَت سُمْرَة ويدُلّ عَلَى هذا المعنى قَولُ الواصِفِ له لم يكن بالأبيض الأمهق
“And on this matter there is another narration i.e. his complexion was imbued with redness. And when there is much redness (humrah) it is termed as ‘sumrah’ and this meaning is indicated to by his descriptor’s words that he was not white as lime (abyad al-amhaq).”
Here al-Khattabi perfectly summarizes what we are trying to make people understand.
The fact that it is Anas himself who gives the narration of Prophet’s not being “abyad al-amhaq” and “asmar” up holds the above. It is so, because had “asmar” meant a shade of blackness there was no need to testify against “abyad al-amhaq” thing, as already explained in detail.
There is further strong evidence that Wesley runs from, and rather gives it a completely different color. It is the fact that scholars recognized that calling Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- black was simply not acceptable because it went against the huge well established evidence.
Those who have been reading Wesley must have read his rant about alleged anti-black racism among early scholars. He often quotes Ahmad bin Abi Suleman’s (d. 287 A.H.) statement from Al-Shifa of Qadi Iyad.
مَنْ قَالَ: إِنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ أَسْوَدَ، يُقْتَلُ
“One who says the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was back should be killed.”
‘Ali bin Sultan Muhammad al-Qari (d. 1014 A.H.) explains this statement saying;
بل كان أبيض كأنما صيغ من فضة رواه الترمذي في الشمائل عن أبي هريرة رضي الله تعالى عنه وفي رواية مسلم والترمذي عن أبي الطفيل كان أبيض مليحا وفي رواية البيهقي في الدلائل عن علي رضي الله تعالى عنه كان أبيض مشربا بالحمرة … والحاصل أن بياض لونه ثابت في الأخبار الصحيحة والآثار الصريحة مختلفة في المبنى متواترة في المعنى فمن قال في حقه إنه كان أسود يكفر حيث وصفه بغير نعته الموجب لنفيه وتكذيبه لكن قد يعذر قائله إذا كان جاهلا بوصفه عليه الصلاة والسلام لا سيما إذا كان من العوام إلا إذا أراد به تنقصه واستهانته عليه الصلاة والسلام وهذا يختلف باختلاف العرف بين الأنام إذ السواد مرغوب بين الحبشة والهنود كما أن البياض مطلوب عند العرب والاعجام
“Because ‘he (the Prophet) was white (abyad) as if fashioned from silver’ –Narrated Tirmidhi in Shama’il from Abu Huraira- and as per the narration of Muslim and Tirmidhi from Abu Tufail, he was, ‘Beautifully White (abyad malihan)’ and according to Baihaqi’s narration in Dala’il from ‘Ali (RA) he was, ‘Of white complexion (bayad) imbued with redness (mushrab bil-humrah)’ …
And the crux is whiteness (bayad) of his complexion is proved with authentic reports and categorical narrations that are different in wording but consistent and continuous (mutawatir) in meaning. Therefore anyone who says he was black becomes a disbeliever (kafir) when he describes him with other than what is expedient for his act of denying and belying the true description.
But a person is excused if he does not know the description of the Prophet –on him be the peace and blessings- especially if he is from the common folk except when the motive is to show disrespect and disparage him. And this varies with the difference in custom among the nations as blackness (sawad) is preferred among the Abyssinians and the Indians like fairness (bayad) is liked by the Arabs and the Europeans (‘Ajam).”
This is a detailed explanation of the ruling. It not only kills Wesley’s allegation of racist tendencies on the great scholars of Islam but also establishes that to the classical scholars based on solid academic evidence it was heretic to assert that Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was black (aswad) and not fair-skinned i.e. white (abyad).
The same was explained by Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-Haithmi (d. 974 A.H.)
Al-Zarqani (d. 1122 A.H) has also very important elucidation to it likewise. He writes;
من غيِّر صفته، كما لو قال قصيرًا أو أسودًا يقتل
“One who changed his characteristic, as if he said, [the Prophet was] short or black, he will be killed.”
Similarly al-Nawawi (d. 676 A.H.) wrote:
لَوْ قَالَ: كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَسْوَدَ، أَوْ تُوُفِّيَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَلْتَحِيَ، أَوْ قَالَ: لَيْسَ هُوَ بِقُرَشِيٍّ، فَهُوَ كُفْرٌ ; لِأَنَّ وَصْفَهُ بِغَيْرِ صِفَتِهِ نَفْيٌ لَهُ وَتَكْذِيبٌ بِهِ
“If a person said, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was black or that he died before his victory, or if he said that he was not from the Quraysh, then the person is a disbeliever (kafir) , for he has described him with other than his characteristic, denying and belying it.”
Quite clear, leaves nothing to explain!
There are two very important points here;
The reason for pronouncing one a disbeliever and declaring him subject to capital punishment like apostates is denial of what has been reported in mutawatir narrations.
This is very important to understand. In Islam what matters is not the “trivial” or “grand” nature of a thing as per some people’s thinking but the stature of the proof on which it rests. To the scholars of Islam it has always been, in the light of continuous (mutawatir) reports, that Prophet’s –may Allah bless him- complexion was not black but was rather white. Therefore anyone who contends for the opposite is actually denying mutawatir reports. And denial of such an enormous evidence amounts to outright disbelief.
This can be easily understood when we see Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (d. 321 A.H.) in his well known treatise on the beliefs of the people of sunnah writes, “We agree with wiping over leather socks (in ablution).” And al-Karkhi (340 A.H.) states “I fear disbelief (kufr) on the part of the one who does not agree with wiping on the leather socks.”
The point to note here is, apparently wiping on the leather socks is a trivial issue, but as it is proved through mutawatir narrations, therefore scholars put it in their works on Aqidah (beliefs) and equated its rejection with disbelief.
In the same way, the characteristics of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- are proved through mutawatir narrations, so if anyone denies it he turns a disbeliever and due to his apostasy he is subject to capital punishment.
I hope Mr. Wesley understands the simple plain basis for such a verdict. I would bid Mr. Wesley to understand some basics of Islam when he likes to argue about Islamic texts. This is a fundamental requirement in the field of comparative religions, so a person following the creed of NoI must have some know how about Islam before he wishes to argue with Muslims.
Another very important thing to note here is the fact that Ahmad bin Abi Suleman al-Qayrwani was an early scholar. As Al-Zarqani mentions, he died in the year 287 A.H. This is a very significant point and kills the lie of Wesley that idea of Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- being white in complexion was a medieval concoction.
Rejecting the loads of narrations directly about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- Wesley and Tariq try to seek evidence with narrations about the complexion of other individuals. In the first place, every reasonable person knows it makes absolutely no sense to reject the simple direct evidence and to seek for so-to-say the “secondary evidence.” In fact we will see this “secondary evidence” is actually no evidence at all.
Before discussing the case of various individuals let us turn to hadith, a divine source, to find out if complexion of a son must be same as that of his father?
There is a very interesting Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and other collections that put to sword the whole rant of Wesley and Tariq on this.
The wording in Sahih Muslim is;
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ أَعْرَابِيًّا أَتَى رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، إِنَّ امْرَأَتِي وَلَدَتْ غُلَامًا أَسْوَدَ، وَإِنِّي أَنْكَرْتُهُ، فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ إِبِلٍ؟» قَالَ: نَعَمْ، قَالَ: «مَا أَلْوَانُهَا؟» قَالَ: حُمْرٌ، قَالَ: «فَهَلْ فِيهَا مِنْ أَوْرَقَ؟» قَالَ: نَعَمْ، قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «فَأَنَّى هُوَ؟» قَالَ: لَعَلَّهُ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ يَكُونُ نَزَعَهُ عِرْقٌ لَهُ، فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «وَهَذَا لَعَلَّهُ يَكُونُ نَزَعَهُ عِرْقٌ لَهُ» ،
Abu Hurayrah reported: A desert Arab came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: My wife has given birth to a dark-complexioned child and I have disowned him. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Have you any camels? He said: Yes. He said: What is their colour? He said? They are red. He said: Is there anyone dusky among them?
He said: Yes. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: How has it come about? He said: Messenger of Allah, it is perhaps due to the strain to which it has reverted, whereupon the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: It (the birth) of the black child may be due to the strain to which he (the child) might have reverted.
The same is reported by Ibn ‘Umar –may Allah be pleased with him- in Sunan Ibn Majah and there the narration adds that the man even said;
وَإِنَّا أَهْلُ بَيْتٍ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِينَا أَسْوَدُ قَطُّ
“And in our family there is no one black at all.”
This is categorical evidence that to a couple neither of whom is black and who have no black person in their entire family, a black child may be born. If this can happen between a child and his parents, why can this not happen between cousins or persons generations apart?
Both Wesley and Tariq refer to the description of ‘Ali (RA) given in Tarikh al-Khulafa of al-Suyuti and Ansab al-Ashraf of al-Baladhuri i.e.
آدم شديد الأدمة
“Adam Shadid al-Udma”, translated as; “very tawny complexioned” by Major S.H. Jarret 
Firstly, as already shown the complexion of ‘Ali (RA) cannot prove anything about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- as he was only his cousin. This is especially important as we read in Sahih Bukhari;
عَنْ عُقْبَةَ بْنِ الحَارِثِ، قَالَ: رَأَيْتُ أَبَا بَكْرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، وَحَمَلَ الحَسَنَ وَهُوَ يَقُولُ: «بِأَبِي شَبِيهٌ بِالنَّبِيِّ، لَيْسَ شَبِيهٌ بِعَلِيٍّ» وَعَلِيٌّ يَضْحَكُ
It is related that ‘Uqba ibn al-Harith said, “I saw Abu Bakr carrying al-Hasan on his shoulder, saying, ‘By my father, he resembles the the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and does not resemble ‘Ali,’ and ‘Ali was laughing.”
i.e. Hassan resembled the Prophet, and not ‘Ali, means ‘Ali did not resemble the Prophet –may Allah bless them all.
We will see the description of Hassan bin ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, shortly.
Although narrations assert ‘Ali (RA) was relatively dark however a closer look clarifies he was not “shadid al-udma” in complexion. In fact not even purely “adam” but his complexion was “asmar”- “close to being ‘adam’”.
Al-Baladhuri (d. 279 A.H.) himself in Ansab al-Ashraf and before him Ibn Sa’d (d. 230 A.H.) in Kitab al-Tabqat al-Kabir give us an interesting narration;
Sa’id al-Dhabay said regarding ‘Ali (RA):
وَإِنَّ شِئْتَ قُلْتَ إِذَا نَظَرْتَ إِلَيْهِ: هُوَ آدَمُ، وَإِنِ تَبَيَّنْتَهُ مِنْ قَرِيبٍ قُلْتَ: أَنْ يَكُونَ أَسْمَرَ أَدْنَى مِنْ أَنَّ يَكُونَ آدَمَ
“And when you look at him you may say, “he is ‘adam’.” And if you clearly look at close, you may say, “ he is ‘asmar’ close to being ‘adam.’””
The narration structure is quite clear to maintain the difference between “adam” and “close to being ‘adam.’”
Anyways, we have already shown, his complexion does not help Wesley and Tariq in twisting the simple plain fact given in loads of Hadith narrations. And how can this description of ‘Ali (RA) be taken as suggestive of the Prophet’s complexion when in sharp contrast to this “adam”/”udmah”, description of ‘Ali (RA) the very first narration of the most well known work on the Prophet’s physical characteristics clearly tells us;
“And he was not ‘adam’.”
Wesley and Tariq are requested not to try fooling the people with their senseless verbosity!
Next we dwell on the complexion of al-Fadl Ibn al-‘Abbas (d. 95 A.H.), a poet and the great grandson of Abu Lahab, the uncle of the Holy Prophet (saaw). In one of his own poetic verses he speaks of his dark complexion, which is recorded by Ibn Mandhur (d. 711 A.H.) in Lisan al-‘Arab (4/245). Tariq Berry and Wesley Muhammad do not fail to quote this, and they will obviously refer to what Ibn Mandhur quotes from Ibn Barri (d. 582 A.H.). However the argument of Tariq and Wesley was answered long before these scholars.
Abu Al-Faraj ‘Ali bin Hussain al-Isfahani (d. 356 A.H.) has recorded the following about Fadl bin al-‘Abbas:
إنما أتاه السواد من قبل أمه : جدته ، وكانت حبشية
“Rather blackness reached him through his mother’s side. His grandmother was Abyssinian.”
If Wesley and Tariq have a bit of honesty and objectivity left in them, they should cease to allude to complexion of Fadl bin Abbas after reading this categorical evidence.
And further Ibn ‘Asakir (d. 571 A.H.) gives us precise information on this, as he records;
ومن ولد عتبة بن أبي لهب الفضل بن العباس الشاعر وأمه آمنة بنت العباس بن عبد المطلب وهي لأم ولد سوداء
“And from the children of Utbah bin Abi Lahab was al-Fadl bin al-‘Abbas the poet and his mother was Aminah bint al-‘Abbas bin Abd al-Mutlib and she was (daughter) of a black umm-walad“
“Umm-walad” refers to a slave-woman who bears her master a child.
Having clarified this, let’s have a look at the trick of Wesley on this. Though he first asserts that Abu Lahab is “particularly important” in this discussion but instead of giving his description, contends: “Abu Lahab’s importance for us here rather lies with his great grandson”. We have shown the reason for blackness of his great grandson’s complexion, but what about his own?
According to Musnad Ahmad, Rab’ia bin ‘Ibad al-Daylami, described Abu Lahab as;
أحول ذا غديرتين أبيض الناس وأجملهم
“Luminous, with two braids; most fair-complexioned (abyad al-nas) and handsome of the people.”
Now we get a clear picture, this grandson of the Prophet’s uncle was black owing his blackness to his maternal grandmother while his great grandfather, the Prophet’s uncle was actually very fair-skinned. Moreover, it tells us why not Abu Lahab but his great grandson became important to Wesley.
Although there is no need to turn to the complexion of Holy Prophet’s –may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- relations when we have so many narrations about his very own person, but just to show the cunningness of Mr. Wesley “the PhD” and his cohort Tariq, let’s have a look at the complexion of a namesake of the Fadl bin al-‘Abbas the poet i.e. al-Fadl bin ‘Abbas bin ‘Abd al-Mutallib (d. 18 A.H.), the cousin of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless them both. He has been described the following way;
وَكَانَ رَجُلًا حَسَنَ الشَّعْرِ أَبْيَضَ وَسِيمًا
“He was a man having beautiful hair, white (abyad) and handsome.”
The above makes it quite clear that both Wesley and Tariq and just resorting to pathetic tricks to fool people into their “concocted truth”.
Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (d. 145 A.H.) was a noble descendant of the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- who had a row with the rulers of his time and was subsequently martyred.
About him al-Tabari (d. 310 A.H.) records the following in his work on history;
كان محمد آدم شديد الأدمة، أدلم جسيما عظيما، وكان يلقب القاري من أدمته، حتى كان أبو جعفر يدعوه محمما
Wesley and Tariq both refer to this and Wesley translates it the following way in his article written using the “feedback” and “material contribution” of Tariq Berry;
“Muhammad (Al-Nafs al-Zakiyya) was black, exceedingly black, jet black (adam shadid al-udma adlam) and huge. He was nicknamed “Tar Face” (al-qari) because of his black complexion (udmatihi), such that Abu Jaffar used to call him “Charcoal Face” (al-muhammam).”
Even withstanding his claim of “pure paternity, undiluted with non-Arab blood” it does not prove that Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was also of the same complexion. The evidence is manifolds;
Authenticity of this report
But before turning to the manifolds evidence, let us say a word about the authenticity of this report.
This quote about Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyya is a solitary report of al-Tabari. And scholars have mentioned the weakness of it.
In Sahih Tarikh al-Tabari, research work of Muhammad bin Tahir al-Barzinji, Subhi Hassan Hallaq and others, under the heading of “Events of 144 A.H.” the rebellion of Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Hassan (Al-Nafs Al-Zakaiyya) is mentioned but no narration including the above is given. And they have mentioned that none of the narrations about him quoted by al-Tabari is authentic. And even the weakness of various narrators involved with these narrations is given.
Instead various narrations about Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyya including the one under question, is included in Da’if wa Maskut Anh Tarikh al-Tabari (9/883)
If one says that same is mentioned in other works like Tajarib al-Umam ofIbn Miskawayh (d. 421 A.H.) and Al-Kamil fil Tarikh of Ibn Athir (d. 630 A.H.), then he ought to know that both of them quoted it from al-Tabari’s work, therefore it does not help.
It is known that Ibn Miskawayh heavily relied on al-Tabari’s work.
And Ibn Athir himself in introduction (muqaddimah) to his work says that he has collected reports from various works on history and then writes, “So I started [gathering of historical records] with the huge work on history written by Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tabari”
Neither of these has chain of narrations for their reports and both have heavily relied on al-Tabari leaving little doubt that their source is the very one we have already analyzed.
Lest, Wesley or Tariq, play the gimmick of alluding to the stature of al-Tabari, undoubtedly a great scholar, to assert that whatever he has quoted ought to be accepted, let us bid the readers to read al-Tabari’s foreword (muqadddima) to his work.
The narration hardly proves anything about Holy Prophet’s complexion
Now we come to the evidence that even if accepted this narration of al-Tabari hardly says anything about the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
1- The account that he was nicknamed “al-Qari” i.e. “Tar Faced” itself proves his complexion was manifestly different from his people. Names are generally called for unique features.
2- Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya was a great grandson of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib –may Allah be pleased with him- and even if he was exactly like his great grand father, it does not relate to the complexion of the Holy Prophet as we have already seen ‘Ali (RA) did not resemble the Holy Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
3- A narration in Tabaqat al-Kubra of Ibn Sa’d describes him as;
كَانَ رَجُلا آدَمُ أَثَّرَ الْجُدَرِيُّ فِي وَجْهِهِ
“He was a brown colored (adam) man with the affects of smallpox on his face.”
This narration is telling us that there were the scars of smallpox that made him look darker than he originally was. Assuming the narration of al-Tabari as true, this report helps us understand why he looked “jet black”. His own description i.e. “adam” was like that of ‘Ali (RA) who was “close to being ‘adam’”. cf. al-Baladhuri.
4- Even if we accept that Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyya was originally “jet black” it still does not say anything about Holy Prophet’s complexion in face of multiple narrations that describe him in a very different way. All these narrations describe Naf al-Zakiyya’s complexion as “adam” /”udmah” etc. and we know from a Sahih Hadith that Holy Prophet was not “adam”. This fact is enough to deflate this argument.
And we have seen the hadith from Sahih Muslim and Sunan Ibn Majah showing a black child of pure descent can take birth in a family in which there is no black person. This may be due to some of the great grand parents. And it is known that people of the Quraysh used to marry “habshiyat” (i.e. Abyssinian/black women). Ibn Jawzi (d. 597 A.H.) has named more than 30 men from Quraysh who were born to “habshiyat” – clear evidence that it was not unusual for the people of Quraysh to marry Abyssinian women.
This provides an apt explanation for black complexion of some of the people of Quraysh. We have already seen a perfect example in the case of Fadl bin Abbas, the poet. We shall see more in the following lines.
Another holy man whose complexion Wesley refers to is, Ja’far al-Sadiq (d. 148 A.H.), the well known and reputed scholar from the family of ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with them both.
It is indeed true that just like ‘Ali –may Allah be pleased with him- his complexion has been described as ’Adam’ in Ibn Sabbagh’s (d. 855 A.H.) work on the Shiite Imams . But we need to remember that it does not prove anything about the complexion of the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him, just as we have shown above.
Isn’t it funny of Wesley and Tariq to refer to a person whose complexion is described as “adam” to contend about the complexion of Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him- about whom we have a categorical authentic narration telling us he was “not adam”?
Another interesting case is that of Abu al-Hasan Musa al-Kazim (d. 183 A.H.), a revered personally and the Seventh Imam of the Shiites. He has been described as “Black (aswad) in complexion” in ‘Ali bin Hussain bin ‘Utbah’s (d. 828 A.H.) ‘Umdah al-Talib fi Ansab Aali Abi Talib (p.184)
Wesley, as expected, alludes to this. However, again as expected, he fails to mention some important details about this revered personality. In the very same book and on the very same page it is stated about Musa al-Kazim;
وأمه أم ولد يقال لها حميدة المغربية
“And his mother was a slave-woman and she was known as Humayda al-Maghribiyya.”
This is to show that his mother was a slave-woman from al-Maghrib region. Further from al-Fusul al-Muhimmah (p. 222) we learn that she was a Berber.
Thus we know the reason for his black complexion. About Berbers Ibn Kathir (d. 774 A.H.) writes;
فَالنَّاسُ مِنْهُمْ بَرْبَرٌ وحُبُوش وطُمَاطم فِي غَايَةِ السَّوَادِ
“Among mankind there are Berbers, Ethiopians and (some) Barbarians who are very black.”
Tariq Berry refers to Abu al-Hasan Ali a-Rida’s (d. 203 A.H.) black complexion. But this was again due to his mother who was a Nubian slave-woman.
Salahuddin Khalil al-Safdi (d. 764 A.H.) writes about him;
كَانَ أسودَ اللَّوْن لِأَن أمَّه كَانَت سَوْدَاء
“He was black in complexion (aswad al-lawn) because his mother was black.”
After this al-Safdi gives the incident of bathhouse where a soldier pushed ‘Ali al-Rida aside and then said, “Pour water on my head oh black one!”
Besides the fact that his father and grandfather were both born to black-women Abu ja’far Muhammad al-Jawwad (d. 220 A.H. ) was himself son of a Nubian slave-woman, named Sukyana.
Likewise, Ali al-Hadi Abu al-Hasan al-‘Askari (d. 254 A.H.) who has been described as “asmar” in complexion was also a son of slave-woman from al-Maghrib.
It is rather a well established fact that many among the progeny of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib –may Allah be pleased with him- were born to black slave-women so it makes absolutely no sense to mention them in this discussion. As recorded by Ibn Khaldun (d. 808 A.H.), when people asked Nasr bin Shabath al-‘Uqayli to make a pledge of allegiance with someone from the family of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib –may Allah be pleased with him- he replied;
والله لا أبايع أولاد السوداوات
“By Allah, I will not make pledge of allegiance with the children of the black women.”
Besides the killing of argument of the de facto black racist contention of Wesley and Tariq, this fact also serves as a death blow to white racism as we find people from the noblest lineage marrying black women and their children rising to highly esteemed status. Alhamdulillah there is no place for any kind of racism in Islam.
It is very important and interesting to note that while Wesley and Tariq refer to the complexion of so many people from amongst the progeny of the Prophet’s uncles, they do not mention the complexion of Hasan bin ‘Ali, his grandson well known to have resembled the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless them both.
Ibn Sabbagh records the following;
كان الحسن عليه السلام ابيض اللون مشرباً بحمرة
“Hasan –on him be peace- was fair in complexion (abyad al-lawn) with redness imbued (mushraban bi-humrah) in it.”
This is very striking as there is hardly any work with basic information about him, which does not mention that fact of him resembling the Holy Prophet- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Abu Juhayfa, the companion of the Prophet, said;
رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَكَانَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ يُشْبِهُهُ
“I saw the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Hasan bin Ali resembled him.”
Similarly Anas- may Allah be pleased with him- said:
لَمْ يَكُنْ أَحَدٌ أَشْبَهَ بِالنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مِنَ الحَسَنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ
“No one resembled Allah’s Messenger more than Hasan bin Ali.”
We have earlier read the statement of Abu Bakr that Hasan bin ‘Ali resembled the Prophet and he did not resemble the ‘Ali, may Allah bless them all. Here is a similar testimony from none other than Fatima, the mother of Hasan, the wife of ‘Ali and the daughter of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless them all.
Once Fatima –may Allah be pleased with her- while pampering Hasan said in poetic fashion;
بِأَبِي شَبَهُ النَّبِيِّ … لَيْسَ شَبِيهًا بِعَلِيٍّ
“By my father, he resembles the Prophet,
he does not resemble ‘Ali.”
Does it not tell us that ‘Ali did not resemble the Prophet?
This is for our readers to reflect. Tariq and Wesley refer to the complexion of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib who did not resemble the Holy Prophet, while we here show the complexion of Hasan bin ‘Ali who had the closest resemblance with the Holy Prophet- may Allah bless them all. And we know Hasan’s complexion was white imbued with redness. We leave the conclusion on the common sense of the readers.
One wonders if Wesley did not read this all important description while he quoted about other people from the very same book –Ibn Sabbagh’s al-Fusul al-Muhimmah. And if he actually did, why he failed to share it with his readers who are otherwise sadly mistaken to consider him an honest “scholar”?
Al-Dhahbi wrote the following in his work Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala;
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
Now we got to see who translated this statement rightly and who actually played with it.
In our initial exposition of Wesley Muhammad’s lies we translated it as;
“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’.”
First objection to this translation raised by both Wesley and Tariq is about the first phrase;
إِنَّ العَرَبَ إِذَا قَالَتْ: فُلاَنٌ أَبْيَضُ، فَإِنَّهُمْ يُرِيْدُوْنَ الحِنْطِيَّ اللَّوْنِ بِحِلْيَةٍ سَوْدَاءَ
“When Arabs say; So and so is ‘abyad’, they mean a wheatish complexion with slight darkness (hintiy al-lawn bi-hilyatin sawda).”
They have a problem with the word “slight” in the translation above and further that word “hilya” is not represented in the translation.
The fact however is, they are trying to play nasty with the language. Anyone reading the whole statement knows al-Dhahbi is moving from fair to dark, at least in relative terms.
His flows maintains “Abyad” is lighter than “asmar” and “adam” which are both lighter than “shaded al-udma” and “sawad.” While we have already seen “asmar” is a very slight shade of blackness as if the blackness is hidden. So if “asmar” itself signifies “slight blackness” why should anyone cry if the same is put with the word representing the hue even lighter than it?
And as to “hilya” thing, it’s a childish objection for there is never a need to put every word in its parallel in the other language and complexion is all about appearance.
In fact our translation is contextually true and solid, while the translation given by Wesley or Tariq may not be termed as literally wrong but is misleading nevertheless. It is misleading because they are running after the literal and in-isolation meaning of a word as they attempt to make people believe that “abyad” is not much different than “aswad”. Anyone with even a modicum of the understanding of Arabic –in fact of any language as such- will have to laugh his heart out at their stupid assertion.
Second part of the al-Dhahbi’s statement reads;
فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي لَوْنِ أَهْلِ الهِنْدِ، قَالُوا: أَسْمَرُ، وَآدَمُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي سَوَادِ التِّكْرُوْرِ، قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ
In his article that we originally refuted Wesley put this as;
“Like the complexion of the people of India, brown and black (asmar wa ādam), i.e. a clear, refined blackness (sawad al-takrūr).”
He did not translate the wordsقَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ
Now there can be two possibilities about such a translation of the text above.
1- Either zero knowledge of the Arabic language
2- Deceit and dishonesty
Anyone with slightest knowledge of the Arabic knows, it is just impossible to fathom a third possibility, unless we are told, Wesley does his “research” while asleep.
Here for the benefit of the readers we present the original text and Wesley’s initial translation. We shall see his attempted explanation thereafter.
فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي لَوْنِ أَهْلِ الهِنْدِ، قَالُوا: أَسْمَرُ، وَآدَمُ، وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي سَوَادِ التِّكْرُوْرِ،
“Like the complexion of the people of India, brown and black (asmar wa ādam), i.e. a clear, refined blackness (sawad al-takrūr).”
We all must wait and see by any farthest stretch of imagination what reasoning can lead anyone to translate “إِنْ كَانَ” as “like” or “i.e.”
No devil or saint can ever justify this. In his last article, response to our exposition, he says he actually misunderstood “al-takrur” and then pleads, “misreading this word caused a domino effect that caused me to mistranslate that whole sentence” and then reveals something interesting as he says; “Everyone who has struggled with a Classical Arabic text with an obscure word knows how this can happen.”
While it is true that misunderstanding a word can cause a ripple effect on the whole statement but this cannot possibly be the case here. Following is Mr. Wesley’s latest translation of the statement;
“and if they are speaking of the color of the people of India, they say: more or less dark brown (asmar wa ādam). And regarding the blackness of the people of Takrur they say aswad, intensely black …”
One thing to observe here is that this time he was forced to translate the last words of the phrase i.e. قَالُوا: أَسْوَدُ He did not translate these earlier for it would have thrown a spanner into his work. This alone speaks volumes about his “knowledge” and “credibility.”
This is important because the conditional statement that it is, without these words the sentence does not make any sense. Regardless of anything else, the fact that Mr. Wesley has come up with somewhat acceptable translation lately, proves that he was just trying to be smart with his readers, who he knows, have hardly got any access to the original work. This also says why this liar PhD never gives the full Arabic text of the quotes he brings.
Mr. Wesley now tries to justify his lie by alluding to “domino effect”, while we are sure Mr. Wesley can never explain how misunderstanding “al-takrur” made إِنْ كَانَ to mean “like” or “i.e.” we shall wait if any of his fans can do this.
To show people the real face of Wesley, the Liar, let us work a bit more. Following is the latest translation of the second part of al-Dhahbi’s statement by Wesley with his initial understanding of the word “al-takrur” inserted.
“and if they are speaking of the color of the people of India, they say: more or less dark brown (asmar wa ādam). And regarding the refined blackness they say aswad, intensely black …”
Now the above is a lot better than what Wesley initially made of this statement. The element of absurdity in the above is because in his initial translation Wesley did not even translate a sensibly full phrase. Actually his plea that it was only a “domino effect” of misunderstanding a single word is another lie – itself the “domino effect” of his earlier deceitful play with the statement.
As we mentioned earlier even, it is quite evident that Wesley did this to make people believe “asmar” , “adam”, “aswad” a part of the explanation of “abyad.” But he was caught red handed – and all praise be to Allah!
We have already discussed the meaning of “abyad” in detail under a separate heading. Statement of al-Dhahbi must also be seen with the rest of the evidence. It thus, signifies that even a person with wheatish complexion and not just pale wheatish but with a tinge of shade is ALSO called “abyad.”
And even with that slight shade, it remains far from qualifying to be termed as “black” for any common, fair-minded observer. We should neglect the cries of the White and the Black racists. And as al-Dhahbi himself clarified anyone whose complexion is overwhelmingly black, he is referred to as “aswad.”
In his response to our response, Wesley comes up with loads of quotes and much verbosity but hardly anything relevant to the topic at hand. Isn’t it striking to note that in his entire article he only speaks of one hadith, which is termed as odd by the masters of the science of hadith? In fact we have shown that even if accepted, it means exactly what the narrations, that Wesley says were fabricated by Persians, tell us.
We do not need to comment on the red herrings he throws, but just a few words of interest about something this Liar Dr. is too excited about.
The title of the monograph of al-Jahiz (d. 255 A.H.) he refers to is فخر السودان على البيضان “Fakh al-Sudan alaa l-Bidan.” Following are the points to note here;
1- The title, as Wesley puts it, means, “The Boast of the Black Race Over the White”
May we ask, what word has al-Jahiz used for “the White” here? It’s none other than “al-Bidan” of the same root as “abyad” and “bayad”
So what does it means here?
Does it relate to character instead of complexion?
Does it mean the opposite of its first meaning?
Does it mean a shade of blackness?
2- Whom does al-Jahiz quote? Is he quoting some established authority?
3- And the million dollar question is, in his dedicated work on the “Boast of the Black”- in which he does not fail to mention even the prominent of the Tabi’un (Successors) who were black and wherein “they” [the unknown boasting for the Black] even mention Abyssinian emperor for whom the Prophet prayed- is the Prophet –Allah’s blessings and peace upon him- himself counted among the Black? The answer is a big NO!
Even more than a millennium ago, the people boasting loud for the Black had no clue or obsession to somehow count the Prophet among the Black. More than 1400 years after the Prophet some people are remaking the evidence on his complexion.
This must be enough for the people to know Wesley’s “scholarship” is good for nothing. And Tariq is no better.
1- At least eight companions have described the Prophet’s complexion as white imbued with redness (abyad mushrab bi-humrah)
2- The narrations that describe him as “fair/white” or “very fair” prove he was far from being dark in complexion.
3- The very authentic narration from Anas that says he was not white as plaster or like the color of leprosy belies any notion of “abyad” meaning a shade of blackness, for in that case there was no need to deny the far end opposite of blackness.
4- The Arabs used to describe one with white complexion imbued with redness as “asmar.”
5- The narration from Anas (RA) that describes the Prophet’s complexion as “asmar” is odd in wording but actually means the same, “white with reddish imbue” complexion.
6- The narration of Abu Tufail (RA) that mentions fairness (bayad) of Prophet’s face and blackness (sawad) of his hair in one sentence and the narration of ‘Aisha (RA)in which she spoke of the fairness (bayad) of his face and blackness (sawad) of his turban in one breath, show the flimsiness of Wesley’s “addad” (i.e. opposite the first meaning) contention.
7- Almost every single narration that we have quoted kills the assertion that when a person is described as “abyad” it is about his character and not complexion. There are narrations that categorically relate to it “lawn” (complexion) and there are others that simply do not entertain this idea. Such an idea has absolutely no place at least within the scope of this discussion.
8- The fact that some of the greatest scholars have opined that anyone who says the Prophet was black in complexion is, because of denying continuous (mutawatir) reports, just a disbeliever, at least proves beyond all doubt that his complexion was far from being black.
9- An evidence as no less than a rigorously authentic hadith shows a black child can take birth to a couple neither of whom is black or even if there is no one black in the entire family.
10- There is clear evidence that ‘Ali (RA), whose complexion is described as “close to being ‘adam’” did not resemble the Prophet, as even an authentic hadith says the Prophet was NOT “adam” in complexion. Hope Tariq and Wesley will accept the plain truth.
11- Fadl bin ‘Abbas was black in complexion because his grandmother was an Abyssinian. His grandfather and prophet’s uncle, Abu Lahab, was fair-complexioned. It is hoped that Wesley and Tariq will apologize to their readers for using his case with proper research.
12- Ja’far al-Sadiq, Musa al-Kazim, Ali al-Rida and others from the progeny of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) were sons of black slave-women. This fact also upholds the fact that their complexion says absolutely nothing about that of the Holy Prophet. Justice demands both these guys stop referring to these people in this discussion. Let’s hope to find them editing their writings accordingly.
13- Hasan bin ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, who resembled the Prophet the most, his complexion has been described as “white imbued with redness.”
There is a lot more these two guys write. But not a bit of it is related to the Complexion of the Holy Prophet –Allah’s peace and mercy be upon him. What they quote from al-Mubarrad or the complexion of some other companions etc. has hardly anything to do with the topic here. However, various narrations and scholarly comments on those help us see what the truth is. We shall answer those twisting some other time in bits and pieces.
The above lays to rest their falsehood on the complexion of the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him. No doubt consistent and continuous (mutawatir) reports tell us that his complexion was white imbued with redness. All the great scholars have understood the narrations like it. And in this paper all the contentions of Wesley and Tariq related to the topic have been killed, Alhamdulillah.
We hope and wish that both Wesley and Tariq give up their ill contention, follow Islam and simple plain facts mentioned in the authentic sources without any twisting.
We pray this effort comes as guidance to all those dear innocent brothers and sisters who have been deluded away from the real contemporary issues i.e. spiritual and political revival of Islam, in the name of unveiling (read fabricating) the facts.
May Allah, the Almighty, make this a source of guidance and learning for all our readers!
Indeed Allah knows the best!
 Kanzul Ummal, Hadith 18524
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 Tabqat al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, Beirut 1990 vol.1 p.321
 Kanzul Ummal, Hadith 18533
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 Tabaqat al-Kubra, vol.1 p.319
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Also see Ibn Abi al-Hadid, Sharah Nahaj al-Balagha, n.d. vol.13 p.226
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 Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 63
 Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2340
 Tarikh Damishq, No. 705 vol.3 pp.310-311
 Musnad Bazzar Hadith 7789
 Kanzul ‘Ummal, Hadith 18547
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 al-Fusul al-Muhimmah, p.145
 Kashf al-Ghumma fi Ma’rifah al-Aimma, Dar al-Adwa, Beirut n.d. vol.2 p.148
 Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, Mo’assas al-Wafa, Beirut 1983 vol.44 p.137
 Jami’ Tirmidhi, Hadith 2827
 Sahih Bukharii, Hadith 3752
 Musnad Abu Dawud al-Tiyalsi, Hadith 132
 Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 8508
 Tarikh Damishq, vol.13 p.176
 Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 26422.
Tarikh Damishq, vol.13 p.176
al-Bidaya al-Nihaya, vol.8 p.33
 Siyar A’lam al-Nubula, vol.1 p.39 & vol.3 p.448