Friday, February 17, 2012

Muhammad: The Black-skinned Prophet of Black Arabia

By Wesley Muhammad, PhD

Al-Tirmidhī (d. 279/892) in his Jami’ al-Ṣāḥī reports on the authority of the famous Companion of the Prophet, Anas b. Malik:

“The Messenger of Allah was of medium stature, neither tall nor short, [with] a beautiful, dark brown-complexioned body (ḥasan al-jism asmar al-lawn). His hair was neither curly nor completely straight and when he walked he leant forward.” (VI:69 no. 1754)

Ibn Manzur reports in his Lisān al-arab (s.v. سمر IV:376) that

al-sumra [is] a degree between white (al-bayād) and black (al-aswad), and it is that in the context of human complexions, camels, etc.”
Abyad/bayad (white)

Asmar/sumra (brown)

Aswad/sawad (black)

According to Ibn Athīr, al-sumra’s ‘blackness’ predominates over its ‘whiteness’ (al-sumra alladhī yaghlibu sawāduhu alā bayādihi), and al-Taftāzānī (d. 792/1390) reports in his al-Tahdhīd:

al-sumra…is a color inclining to a faint blackness (sawadin khafiyin), as in the description of the Prophet: he was brown complexioned (kāna asmar al-lawn)…”

Asmar/sumra is thus a shade of black. Linguistic scholar Abū Mansūr al-Tha’labī (d. 427/1036), enumerating the different “classifications of human blackness (fī tartīb sawād al-insān),” explains:

“if his maximum [blackness] (alāhu) is less than sawad (black), then he is asmar (brown). If his blackness is greater with yellow enhancing it then he is aṣham. If his blackness exceeds al-sumra then he is ādam. If it exceeds that, then it is asḥam. If his blackness is intense, then he is adlam. [Fiqh al-lugha, 82]

This suggests a hierarchy of intensifying blackness: asmar / sumra  →   sawad/ādam    →  aṣham   asḥam adlam. It also implies that, while at the bottom of the hierarchy, asmar / sumra still falls within the category ‘black’. The Prophet Muhammad, according to a number of reports, was asmar.


  1. A Brief Look Back: (Slave Trade)

    It is important to refer to some history regarding the role of Islam in Africa:

    The Mohammadan religion also had participated in the suppression of slave trade. About six years before, the Sharif of Mecca had sent a letter to the King of Fulas for circulation through all these 'Mandingo' tribes, strictly prohibiting the selling of slaves -- and which latter was also promulgated among the Yorubas, Fulanis and other neighboring tribes. The slave traffic was declared to be contrary to the teachings of Muhammad (On whom Be Peace) which pronounce the most fearful denunciations of Allah's wrath in the world hereafter against those who persist in the traffic with the European nations. (Sierra Leone Studies, pgs. 18-19, Vol. No. XXI, 939)

    Here we see that a religious authority of Islam at that time, the Sharif of Mecca, actually and officially wrote letters to the West-African tribes, particularly the Muslim tribes, instructing them that the slave trade was strictly prohibited according to the religion of Islam, and that anyone participating in it would have 'Allah's wrath in the world hereafter.'
    But, while the religious authority on Islam at that time condemned the slave trade, the highest religious authority of Christianity -- the Pope -- officially approved of and sanctioned the slave trade. This is recorded in Lady Southern's book, The Gambia, on page 50:
    On the other side of the reckoning there is, however, the fact that the advent of the Portuguese was a calamity for Africa. It was Prince Henry's men who first brought back slaves from Africa to Europe, in the first instance from Morocco and later from West Coast. The first Negroes brought to Europe were presented to the Pope, who set his seal of approval on the traffic in human souls as being a means of saving souls. Thus the foundations were laid of the trade that brought untold sufferings to hundreds of thousands of men and women, deprived them of their birthright, depopulated West Africa and perpetrated a crime amongst humanity... (The Gambia, page 50)

    1. No such Pope said slavery was Good for anyone .And the Sharif you quote was in 1916 .Well after America ended slavery in Our Civil War.I Do not believe a word he has written to say A Pope said that. at all.
      Show me A true Christian Who fosters slavery.We have Moses as and example of the horrors.
      However,Calling for sex slavery. And raping children is in the 7th century Muslim book.and Koran .Read your Holy Bible.for the Truth the muslims take sex slaves and are told to kill All non Muslim infidels.
      .Which they have followed with their black hearts to this day ..

  2. The (Holy Quran):
    It is not virtuous that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but the virtuous is the one who is devoted (with gratitude) to Allah, and the Final-Period, and the cosmic-forces and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and to SET SLAVES FREE and keeps up devotional meditation and gives regular charity to nourish their souls and community with (beauty) & (goodness); and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the one who is patient, (calm) & (enduring) in a goodly manner while in the situation of distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who fulfill their duty of guarding against evil and doing (virtuous-loving) deeds to keep their innate (good) pure innocent virtuous nature clean. (2:177)

  3. Excellent Article Dr. Wesley Muhammad!

  4. please post this for me @frank Ntiti on Facebook. Thank you.

  5. A violent ,black, illiterate pedophile ...That's who Muslims follow ...

  6. After reading the comments of Beautiful and Sharon I will side with Beautiful because Beautiful not only well represented the name she carries here but her expression was reflective of a soul devoted to THE ONE & ONLY SUPREME BEING, most naturally and majestically called by HIS MOST MAGNIFICENT NAME; i.e., ALLAH.

  7. If muhamed was and all sahaba and all arabs were black please tell me why it's so sinificant that Bilal was the first black person to make adhan and why it's so significant that Islam abolished slavery and everyone knows Arabs used to take black slaves until Islam stopped it. Whoever made this site is an insecure about his skin color so he tried to twist historical facts. What's next Allah is gonna be black too?

    1. Allah is black and every religion on the planet comes from the blackness this planet was black many years before the Caucasian in fact if you know your history it says you can’t be white unless you have North African in you but before this it only said African then they change it every culture comes from black they just killed them off Russia Europa Kalifia California before the Middle East was conquered this is dna science which doesn’t lie due your history

  8. Arabs before islam took white slaves too