Was Prophet Muhammad “asmar” in complexion?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

Tariq Berry, the owner of the website savethetruearabs[dot]com, in his bid to “prove” to the world that the real complexion of the Holy Prophet- peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was actually quite darker than what Muslim community has generally known.

In his efforts, one observes, he barely refers to any direct hadith about the Prophet’s complexion except one. All other narrations, he deals only when put as an argument against him.

The sole narration lucky enough to find his attention is ascribed to Anas, the well known companion- may Allah be pleased with him.


1. The narration:
  1.1 An important observation.
2. Reliability of this report: Scholarly Views
  2.1 Al-Iraqi
  2.2 Al-Zarqani
    2.2.1 Report with sahih “isnaad” can be defective
    2.2.2 The report from Anas (RA) is “shaadh”
  2.3 Ibn al-Jawzi
  2.4 Al-Muhib al-Tabari
  2.5 Ibn Hajr.
  2.6 al-Tirmidhi
  2.7 Albani
  2.8 Al-Sayyid al-Hamudah
  2.9 Warning against “Appeal to Emotion”.
3. Did Ibn ‘Abbas also describe the Prophet as “Asmar”?.
4- Reconciling the narrations.
  4.1 Ibn Hajr’s comment
  4.2 Ibn Athir’s comment.
  4.3 al-Baihaqi’s comment [updated]
  4.4. Meaning of "abyad"
5. Conclusion

1. The narration

The narration is given by Imam Tirmidhi (d. 279 A.H.) in both Jami’ al-Tirmidhi and Shama’il al-Muhammadiya.

عَنْ حُمَيْدٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: «كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ رَبْعَةً لَيْسَ بِالطَّوِيلِ وَلَا بِالقَصِيرِ، حَسَنَ الجِسْمِ، أَسْمَرَ اللَّوْنِ، وَكَانَ شَعْرُهُ لَيْسَ بِجَعْدٍ وَلَا سَبْطٍ، إِذَا مَشَى يَتَكَفَّأُ

Narrated from Humayd Al-Tawil that Anas ibn Maalik said: "The Messenger of Allah –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was of medium height, neither very tall nor short. He had a beautiful body; ‘asmar’ complexion and his hair were neither curly nor straight. He walked as though he descended from a height,”[1]

1.1 An important observation

The words of this narration are all proved through other “isnaad” as well except the words “asmar in complexion.” This is not narrated by anyone but Humayd from Anas- may Allah be pleased with him.

This is a very important point to note to understand the comments of scholars especially those of al-Tirmidhi and Albani about the reliability of this report.

2. Reliability of this report

One observes that quite in contrast to Tariq Berry’s emphasis on this narration, scholars do not value it much. Please carefully note the intake of the scholars, given below.

2.1 Al-Iraqi

Ali bin Sultan al-Qari (d. 1014 A.H.) quotes the comment of the well known muhaddith, Hafiz Zainuddin al-Iraqi (d. 806 A.H.) He 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.”[2]

2.2 Al-Zarqani

Referring to al-Iraqi’s comment, Muhammad al-Zarqani (d. 1122 A.H.) writes about this narration:

وَإِنْ صَحَّ إِسْنَادُهَا فَقَدَ أَعَلَّهَا الْحَافِظُ الزَّيْنُ الْعِرَاقِيُّ بِالشُّذُوذِ

“And [even] if ‘isnaad’ is sahih, al-Iraqi has shown its defect of being anomalous (shudhudh).” [3]

There are two important points to note here;

2.2.1 Report with sahih “isnaad” can be defective

Al-Zarqani in no ambiguous words tells us that even though its “isnaad” is sahih, the report is defective. For the rather naïve in hadith sciences this should establish the principle that even if a report’s “isnaad” (chain) is sahih, it can still have a defect (‘illah), making it spurious.

2.2.2 The report from Anas (RA) is “shaadh”

Secondly, al-Zarqani explicitly tells us that al-Iraqi’s comment means the narration is “shaadh” and there is no doubt that “shaadh” is a kind of weak narrations.

Hafiz Ibn Salah (d. 643 A.H.) quotes from al-Shafi’i (d. 204 A.H. )

إِنَّمَا الشَّاذُّ أَنْ يَرْوِيَ الثِّقَةُ حَدِيثًا يُخَالِفُ مَا رَوَى النَّاسُ

“… the anomalous (shaadh) hadith is the one which a reliable transmitter relates and which is in conflict with what other people relate.”[4]

Mark the act that even though narrated by reliable transmitters, when a narration goes against what is reported by others on a subject, it becomes anomalous- dubious.

Having discussed the issue with Tariq Berry in some detail, I know the game he might like to play on the status of “shaadh” narrations using different comments from the scholars like al-Hakim and al-Khalili. But we shall not let him play with the comments of scholars of sunnah to his end. To avoid disturbing the flow of the main arguments I discuss it in the notes below. Please click HERE-[5]

2.3 Ibn al-Jawzi

With the above known, we can easily understand Hafiz Ibn al-Jawzi’s (d. 597 A.H.) intake on this. Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Bajuri al-Shafi’i (d. 1277 A.H.) records the following;

قَالَ بن الْجَوْزِيِّ هَذَا حَدِيثٌ لَا يَصِحُّ وَهُوَ مُخَالِفٌ لِلْأَحَادِيثِ كُلِّهَا

"Ibn al-Jawzi said, this hadith is not sahih, and it is against all the ahadith on this issue."[6]

The same was also quoted by al-Mubarakpuri[7]

Lest one may try to play down this testimony of Ibn al-Jawzi by alluding to comments of scholars that he was too strict in his analysis and at times graded sahih narrations as weak, it must be noted that here, he is simply following the rule given by Imam Shafi’i and accepted by Hafiz Ibn Salah, in fact all the scholars of Hadith. He is giving his reason for rejecting this narration i.e. it contradicts all other narrations on this issue.

And obviously while an excessively strict scrutinizer will reject even some valid narrations, he is generally not expected to spare any genuinely problematic narration. With this in mind, it makes no sense to reject a scholar’s comments merely by saying he was too harsh, when his assertion is based on unanimously recognized principle and is even supported by other scholars.

2.4 Al-Muhib al-Tabari

Another scholar who questioned this report was another well known scholar, al-Muhib al-Tabari (d. 694 A.H.). Discussing various narrations on the topic, Hafiz Ibn Hajr (d. 852 A.H.) after giving this report writes;

وَقَدْ رَدَّ الْمُحِبُّ الطَّبَرِيُّ هَذِهِ الرِّوَايَةَ

“And in fact al-Muhibb al-Tabari contended against this narration …”[8]

This should help Tariq Berry have a deep breath and accept the fact reiterated by one scholar after the other.

2.5 Ibn Hajr

Tariq Berry may like to rush to tell people that Ibn Hajr said the narration is “sahih”. However, the truth is he only said that it is reported;

بِإِسْنَاد صَحِيح

“ .. with sahih isnaad[9]

i.e. its chain of narrators is authentic.

But we have already seen in the comment of al-Zarqani that a narration with “sahih isnaad” may have a defect i.e. “shudhudh” (anomaly). Towards the end we shall see along with authenticity of “isnaad” and a narration must also be free of “shudhudh” to be “sahih”. Merely being “sahih al-isnaad” does not make a narration “sahih” (sound) as such.

2.6 al-Tirmidhi

Imam al-Tirmidhi also records this narration in his al-Jami’ and after giving the narration comments;

حَدِيثُ أَنَسٍ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ غَرِيبٌ مِنْ هَذَا الوَجْهِ مِنْ حَدِيثِ حُمَيْدٍ

“Hadith of Anas is Hasan Sahih Gharib through this chain from the report of Humayd.”[10]

Here the word “gharib” only shows the fact that the report through chain is different than what is generally related. It is strange.

The narration, as such, reaches the status of ‘Hasan Sahih’ because much of it, in fact all but the words “asmar in complexion” is narrated by other companions as well. After giving the report and before the above comment, al-Tirmidhi wrote;

وَفِي البَاب عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، وَالبَرَاءِ، وَأَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، وَابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، وَأَبِي سَعِيدٍ، وَجَابِرٍ، وَوَائِلِ بْنِ حُجْرٍ، وَأُمِّ هَانِئٍ

“Hadith reports are narrated on this issue by Sayyidah ‘Aisha, Bara’, Abu Hurairah, Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id, Jabir, Wa’il bin Hujr and Umm Hani.”

And it known their reports mention everything in this narration except the words “asmar in complexion” and while we are interested in the veracity of these particular words this, rather generalized, comment about the narration does not give the full picture. Shaykh Hasan bin Muhammad bin Haider al-Wa’ili has given detailed references to narrations from all these companions mentioned and one can see not one of them has these words, “asmar in complexion.” See his work “Nuzhah al-Albab fi Qawl al-Tirmidhi ‘wa fil Baab’”, published by Dar Ibn Jawz, Dammam, 1426 A.H. vol.5 pp. 2597-2600

But even al-Tirmidhi added that the narration is “gharib” i.e. strange/rare through this chain and through other scholars’ work we know these particular words are even more “gharib.”

al-Darqutni (d. 305 A.H.) categorized these particular words as “gharib” as I shall show discussing Shaykh Albani’s comment.

Now it is known that sahih in isnaad “gharib” hadith may or may not be acceptable. It is acceptable if it does not go against other reliable narrations on the subject say and this kind is even found in Sahih Bukhari. This is so because it does not become “shaadh”. And it is dubious if it actually goes against what others narrate for in that case it becomes “shaadh”, and this later one is mostly the case. We have already seen such a narration is not worthy of seeking evidence with.

Ibn Salah writes;

إِنَّ الْغَرِيبَ يَنْقَسِمُ إِلَى صَحِيحٍ، كَالْأَفْرَادِ الْمُخَرَّجَةِ فِي الصَّحِيحِ، وَإِلَى غَيْرِ صَحِيحٍ، وَذَلِكَ هُوَ الْغَالِبُ عَلَى الْغَرِيبِ.

“Strange (gharib) hadith is divided into two subcategories of 1) sahih (sound) – like the isolated hadith included in the Sahih,- and 2) the not-sahih (unsound), and these predominate among the strange (gharib) narrations.”[11]

To sum up, al-Tirmidhi’s words “Hasan Sahih” are in consideration of other narrations like this one but none of them mentions the words under consideration. Further he termed the report as “gharib” i.e. strange.

This can only be contended by showing this report from other than Humayd from Anas- may Allah be pleased with him.

2.7 Albani

In his comments to Shama’il al-Muhammadiya we see that Shaykh Albani (d. 1420 A.H.) graded the hadith as “sahih.”

But does this gradation by him, makes the report valid? Far from it! And this for the following reasons;

1- The report from Anas –may Allah be pleased with him- about the physical characteristics without these words is there even in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and other collections.

2- Albani in comment to this narration says;

أخرجه البخاري في صفة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وفي اللباس ومسلم في الفضائل باب صفة شعر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ك 43 ب 26 ح 2338 والترمذي في سننه في اللباس حديث رقم 1754 وفي المناقب برقم 3627 والنسائي في الزينة ومالك في الجامع.

“Bukhari narrated it in the chapter “Characteristics of the Prophet” and the Book of Dress. And Muslim in Book of Merits/ Chapter: Description of Prophet’s hair Hadith 2338 and the author [i.e. al-Tirmidhi] in [Jami’ al-Tirmidhi] Book of Dress, No. 1754 and in the Book of Merits No. 3627, Nasai in the Book of Adoration and [also] Malik.”[12]

Now clearly he has not specifically taken into consideration the words “asmar al-lawn” or even the chain from Humayd through Anas for in Bukhari, Muslim etc. it is not Humayd but Rabi’ah bin ‘Abdul Rahman narrating from Anas- may Allah be pleased with him. Further the words “asmar in complexion” are nowhere in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Nasai or Muwatta. It is thus clear that Shaykh Albani hasn’t considered the particular words in question or the chain.

If someone contends against this then he needs to reconcile Albani’s statement “Bukhari narrated it …” with the facts by showing the particular words and the chain in question in Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Muwatta, Sunan Nasai and even Jami’ Tirmidhi’s Book of Merits (al-Manaqib).

3- While the problem is with the particular words “asmar in complexion” as the rest of the narration is proved through other “isnaad” (chains of narrators) as well, Albani’s gradation of the report as “sahih” cannot stand the more acute observations by other scholars.

Here is further evidence that these words, “asmar in complexion”, are strange and rare. Al-Darqutni said:

قَوْله أسمر اللَّوْن; غَرِيب من حَدِيث حميد عَن أنس وغريب من حَدِيث عبد الْوَهَّاب الثَّقَفِيّ عَنهُ. وَتَابعه على هَذِه اللَّفْظَة خَالِد بن عبد الله الوَاسِطِيّ عَن حميد وَلم يسمعهُ إِلَّا من عَليّ بن مُبشر عَن عبد الحميد عَن ابْن بَيَان عَن خَالِد.

His word, “Asmar in complexion”: It is strange/rare (gharib) through the report Humayd from Anas and [further] it is strange/rare (gharib) through the report of Abdul Wahhab al-Thaqafi from him (Humayd). And he is followed in these words from Khalid bin Abdullah al-Wasiti from Humayd and it is not heard from him (Khalid) except through ‘Ali bin Mubashshar from ‘Abd al-Hamid from Ibn Bayan from Khalid.[13]

Two things to mark here;

1- The problem is with the particular words “asmar in complexion” and the chain through Humayd from Anas.

2- And this report has layers of strangeness (gharaba) in its chain of narrators and the disputed words, “asmar in complexion” are narrated only through this particular chain.

2.8 Al-Sayyid al-Hamudah

And precisely because of the above enumerated points, Shaykh Abu Abdullah Al-Sayyid bin Ahmad Hamudah, makes the following comment to this report in his notes to Shama’il al-Muhammadiya;

صحيح: دون لفظة أسمراللون

“Sahih, except the words ‘asmar in complexion.’”[14]

2.9 Warning against “Appeal to Emotion”

Let me warn my dear readers against yet another gimmick of Tariq Berry on this point. Finding himself exposed, he will most likely start crying about the undoubtedly great stature of Imam al-Tirmidhi and Shaykh Albani, as if I am trying it put that to question. However, the simple plain truth is these great scholars never commented on the status of these particular words i.e. “Asmar in complexion”. This is clear from the fact that al-Tirmidhi said that many other companions also narrated on this issue and we know none of them narrated these words and Albani said it is found in Bukhari, Muslim and other collections as well. There is no denial that other companions also gave the description of Prophet’s physical appearance and reports from Anas are given by Bukhari, Muslims and others as well. But the truth is; the words “asmar in complexion” are not narrated except through this chain and not found in Bukhari and Muslim.

To contend again this and justly refer to comments of al-Tirmidhi, I must reiterate, one has to show these words reported from ‘Aisha, Bara’, Abu Hurairah, Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Sa’id, Jabir, Wa’il bin Hajr and Umm Hani –may Allah be pleased with them all. And to make sense in using Albani’s comment against the scholars quoted above one has to show these words in Bukhari and Muslim.

One important difference between the comments of the scholars who questioned the authority of the words under consideration and those of al-Tirmidhi and Albani must be noted. While these two were merely commenting on the status of loads of narrations including this one, the scholars who criticized the report were actually discussing the details of Prophet’s complexion. Every sane person will understand that a more acute, specific and detailed observations counts.

3. Did Ibn ‘Abbas also describe the Prophet as “Asmar”?

Further Berry or someone else may like to use the statement in a narration involving ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas –may Allah be pleased with him.

In Musnad Ahmad there is a narration that ‘Auf narrates from Yazid al-Farisi in which he describes the Prophet as he saw him in his dream and his description his complexion as;

أَسْمَرُ إِلَى الْبَيَاضِ

"Asmar that tends to be white (abyad)."[15]

As he mentioned this to Ibn ‘Abbas –may Allah be pleased with him- he spoke of how complete his description was.

However this narration does not help Tariq Berry and the likes of him for two reasons;

1- The description “asmar that tends to be white” is different than simply “asmar”

2- Even in this narration, these words are not consistently used.

Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi (d. 942 A.H.) quoting from Ibn Abi Khuthaymah and Abu Na’im gives us the same narration through ‘Auf from Yazid that uses the following words to describe Prophet’s –may Allah blessings be upon him- complexion.

أحمر إلى البياض

“Red (ahmar) leaning towards whiteness (bayad)”[16]

4- Reconciling the narrations

Even if the narration is accepted as such, it still won’t help Tariq Berry, Wesley Muhammad or anyone sharing their contention.

4.1 Ibn Hajr’s comment

Using the different words alternatively used in the report involving Yazid al-Farisi and the comments of Ibn ‘Abbas –may Allah be pleased with him- and understanding of the Arabs Hafiz Ibn Hajr contends “asmar” in these reports means “whiteness imbued with redness”.

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”[17]

You can also find similar comments from other scholars HERE

4.2 Ibn Athir’s comment

Reconciling the narrations using the words “asmar” and “abyad” Ibn Athir (d. 606 A.H.) comments;

ووَجْه الجَمع بينَهُما أَنَّ مَا يَبْرُز إِلَى الشَّمْسِ كَانَ أَسْمَرَ، وَمَا تُوَاريه الثِّياب وتَستُرُه كَانَ أبيضَ

As translated by Tariq Berry it means;

“The way of combining the two/bringing the two together is that the part of his body that was exposed to the sun was asmar complexioned and the part of his body that was covered by clothing was abyad."[18]

Taking “asmar” to mean a shade of blackness, it is not a very sound reconciliation, as we see in the following lines discussing what other scholars said.

4.3 al-Baihaqi’s comment

al-Baihaqi (d. 458 A.H.) reconciles the two descriptions saying;

وَقَدْ نَعَتَهُ بَعْضُ مَنْ نَعَتَهُ بِأَنَّهُ كَانَ مُشْرَبًا حُمْرَةً. وَقَدْ صَدَقَ مَنْ نَعَتَهُ بِذَلِكَ. وَلَكِنْ إِنَّمَا كَانَ الْمُشْرَبُ مِنْهُ حُمْرَةً مَا ضَحَا لِلشَّمْسِ وَالرِّيَاحِ. فَقَدْ كَانَ بَيَاضُهُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ قَدْ أُشْرِبَ حُمْرَةً، وَمَا تَحْتَ الثِّيَابِ فَهُوَ الْأَبْيَضُ الْأَزْهَرُ لَا يَشُكُّ فِيهِ أَحَدٌ مِمَّنْ وَصَفَهُ بِأَنَّهُ أَبْيَضُ أَزْهَرُ، فَعَنَى مَا تَحْتَ الثِّيَابِ فَقَدْ أَصَابَ. وَمَنْ نَعَتَ مَا ضَحَا لِلشَّمْسِ وَالرِّيَاحِ بِأَنَّهُ أَزْهَرُ مُشْرَبٌ حُمْرَةً فَقَدْ أَصَابَ. وَلَوْنُهُ الَّذِي لَا يُشَكُّ فِيهِ الْأَبْيَضُ الْأَزْهَرُ، وَإِنَّمَا الْحُمْرَةُ مِنْ قِبَلِ الشَّمْسِ وَالرِّيَاحِ

“And some have described his complexion as imbued with redness. And whoever described it like that said the truth. But whatever of his complexion was imbued with redness was that which faced the Sun and the wind. For this reason his whiteness (bayaduhu) was imbued with redness. And whatever was covered with clothes was bright white (abyad al-azhar). None who described him has doubted that his complexion was bright white, this is about what is under the garments and it is indeed true. And whoever described what faces the sun and the winds as bright [white] imbued with redness, also said the truth. And beyond all doubt his skin-color was bright white (abyad al-azhar). And redness (humrah) was because of contact with the sunlight and the wind.”[19]

Clearly this explanation is the best one and takes into consideration all the evidences and goes with the common observation.

Mark that al-Baihaqi says not only the Sun but even the wind also was a factor making the uncovered parts of the Prophet’s body appear reddish. And it is known that people who are otherwise very fair skinned, the exposed part of their bodies tend to become red in the Sun and when faced with the wind.

The fact of Sun making a fair-skin look red cannot be disputed with, while interaction with wind does not make one’s skin dark.

So either Ibn Athir is mistaken in his reconciliation or in his statement itself “asmar” refers to a whiteness imbued with redness, as plainly stated by Ibn Hajr and other scholars.

There are a few points to note about the above discussion;

1- Mention of wind along with the Sun as a factor affecting the complexion makes it clear it was not getting dark.

2- The affect of Sun and the wind making one red as clearly stated by al-Baihaqi shows the complexion was originally fair i.e. "abyad" indeed means a fair complexion as generally undertood.

3- To anyone free of de facto non-racist tendencies both Arabs and the Europeans are as such fair complexioned though mutually distinguishable.

4- It is foolish to equate the above with sunburn or anything like that because what companions narrated was the general description and al-Baihaqi also explained the regular description.

4.4 Meaning of “abyad”

Let me take this opportunity to highlight an important point here. The above comment from Hafiz Ibn Hajr shows “abyad” is a color which if devoid of redness becomes “amhaq”. And scholars like Ibn Abdul Barr and Abu Ubaid Qasim bin Salam have explained that “amhaq” is a color of gypsum/plaster and leprosy.

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.”[20]

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)”[21]

This raise a question for Tariq Berry to answer i.e. how “abyad” can be understood as a shade of blackness if it appears like plaster and leprosy when devoid of redness?

5. Conclusion

We have seen that the words in question, “asmar in complexion”, are strange (gharib) as clearly indicated by al-Darqutni and al-Tirmidhi. And not just “gharib” there are even “shaadh” as made clear by al-Iraqi and al-Zarqani. They are “shaadh” according to well known principle that Ibn Salah quotes from al-Shafi’i, the Imam.

And when a report or a part of it becomes “shaadh” it ceases to be a sahih (sound) report. For this the definition of a “Sahih hadith” will help.

Hafiz Ibn Salah writes;

أَمَّا الْحَدِيثُ الصَّحِيحُ: فَهُوَ الْحَدِيثُ الْمُسْنَدُ الَّذِي يَتَّصِلُ إِسْنَادُهُ بِنَقْلِ الْعَدْلِ الضَّابِطِ عَنِ الْعَدْلِ الضَّابِطِ إِلَى مُنْتَهَاهُ، وَلَا يَكُونُ شَاذًّا، وَلَا مُعَلَّلًا.

“The sahih (sound) hadith is a hadith with isnaad, the isnaad of which coheres continuously through the transmission of one upright and accurate person from another up to its origin. The sound hadith can be neither anomalous (shaadh) nor defective (mu’allal),”[22]

This is categorical evidence that these words are strange and not reliable.

The narrations from other companions prove the Prophet’s –may Allah bless him- complexion was “white imbued with redness.” You find their narrations HERE

And further even this report can be reconciled with other narrations because to the Arabs “asmar” also means “white imbued with redness.”

Thus we find that the cult-style “movement” lead by Tariq Berry, who also helps the Nation of Islam people, has no authentic narration to prove their point. These people are just wasting the time and energies of the ummah on these matters. May Allah guide all!

Indeed Allah knows the best!

[The article was last updated on February 19, 2012 10:05 pm GMT]

[1] Jam’I al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1754
Shama’il al-Muhammadiya, Hadith 2

[2] Jama’ al-Wasa’il fi Sharah al-Shama’il, Matba’ al-Sharqiyya vol.1 p.14

[3] Sharah ‘ala Muwatta, Mekteba al-Thaqafa al-Diniya, Cairo, 2004 vol.4 p.441

[4] Muqaddima Ibn Salah, Dar al-Fekr , Beirut 1986 p.76

[5] Tariq Berry refers to comments of scholar’s like al-Hakim and al-Khalili who took the word “shaadh” in rather too general terms. Using those comments in this discussion is not justified. Hafiz Ibn Hajr comments on the usage of the term “shaadh” by al-Khilili, al-Hakim and al-Shafi’i. He wrote:

الحاصل من كلامهم أن الخليلي يسوي بين الشاذ والفرد المطلق، فيلزم على قوله أن يكون [في] الشاذ الصحيح وغير الصحيح، فكلامه أعم، وأخص منه الكلام الحاكم؛ لأنه يقول: إنه تفرد الثقة، فيخرج تفرد غير الثقة فيلزم على قوله أن يكون في الصحيح الشاذ وغير الشاذ، وأخص منه كلام الشافعي، لأنه يقول: إنه تفرد الثقة بمخالفة من هو أرجح منه

"And the gist of their discussion is that al-Khalili equated "shaadh" and solitary report as such. And regarding his comment it is a must that there be among the "shaadh" that which is sahih and that which is not sahih. And his words are too general. And more particular than his is the intake of al-Hakim for he said, "When a reliable narrator is unique." So he left out solitary reporting of the unreliable. And regarding his comment it is a must that there be among the "shaadh" that which is sahih and that which is not sahih. And even more particular (on this issue) is the word of al-Shafi'i as he said, "When a reliable narrator contradicts anyone preferable to him."
(An-Nukat 'Ala Kitab Ibn Salah, Imada al-Bahth al-'Ilmi, Madina al-Munawwara, 1986 vol.2 pp.652-653)

This was about how these scholars at times used the term “shaadh”. However, talking in terms of the situation we have at hand, even al-Khalili did not take a solitary report of a reliable narrator that goes against other multiple reports, a valid evidence.

al-Khalili's intake on this is quoted by Ibn Salah in his work's section of "shaadh" narrations. He quotes al-Khalili as saying;

الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ حُفَّاظُ الْحَدِيثِ أَنَّ الشَّاذَّ مَا لَيْسَ لَهُ إِلَّا إِسْنَادٌ وَاحِدٌ، يَشِذُّ بِذَلِكَ شَيْخٌ ثِقَةً كَانَ أَوْ غَيْرَ ثِقَةٍ. فَمَا كَانَ عَنْ غَيْرِ ثِقَةٍ فَمَتْرُوكٌ لَا يُقْبَلُ، وَمَا كَانَ عَنْ ثِقَةٍ يُتَوَقَّفُ فِيهِ وَلَا يُحْتَجُّ بِهِ.

"The view of the experts in hadith is that the anomalous (shaadh) hadith is one having only a single isnaad which a single teacher, reliable or not, is 'anomalous' (yashidhdhu) in transmitting. An anomalous hadith from an unreliable transmitter is rejected and may not be accepted; one from a reliable transmitter is left in abeyance and may not be cited as a proof."
(Muqaddima Ibn Salah, Dar al-Fekr, Beirut 1986 p.77)

[6] Muwahib al-Ludiniya ‘ala Shama’il Muhammadia, 2001 p.29

[7] Tuhfa al-Ahwazi, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut n.d. vol.10 p.68

[8] Fath al-Bari, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut 1379 A.H. vol.6 p.569

[9] Fath al-Bari, vol.6 p.569

[10] Jami’ al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1754

[11] Muqaddima Ibn Salah pp. 270-271

[12] Mukhtasar Shama’il Muhamadiya, Makteba al-islamiya, Amman, 1985 p.14

[13]Abu al-Fadl al-Maqdisi, Atraf al-Ghara’ib wal Afrad lil-Darqutni, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiya, 1998 vol.2 pp.71-72 Hadith 785

[14] Shama’il al-Nabi, Makteba al-‘Uloom wal Hakam, Egypt, 2008 p.46

[15] Musnad Ahmad, 3410

[16] Subul al-Huda wal Irshad fi Sirat Khayr al-‘Ibad, Ministry of al-Awkaf,, Egypt 1997 vol.2 p.1

[17] Fath al-Bari, Dar al-Ma’rifah, Beirut 1379 A.H. vol.6 p.569

[18] Al-Nihaya fi Gharib al-Hadith, Maktaba’s al-Ilimiyya, Beirut, 1979 vol.2 p.399

[19] Dalail al-Nubuwwah lil-Baihaqi, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah Beirut 1405 A.H. vol.1 pp.212-213

[20] Gharib al-Hadith, Da’ra al-Ma’arif, Hyderbabad, 1964 vol.3 p.27

[21] al-Istizkar, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, Beirut 2000 vol.8 p.327

[22] Muqaddima Ibn Salah pp.11-12

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