Was Muhammed a white man with “blackophobia”?

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As of July 1, 2020, African Americans represented 13.4 % of the total population of the USA. But approximately 24% of all Muslims in the USA are African Americans. This means that African Americans are nearly 100% overrepresented among Muslims. It would seem that the conclusion is not inappropriate that Islam must have a special attraction for African Americans.

If so, I cannot help but finding this rather odd, since Muhammed was probably white and had an aversion against everything black and since Islam did not only play a major role in the history of international slave trade but is also the only world religion that still endorses slavery, if only implicitly.

If you believe that my assertions are untrue, read the following explanations that are all based on accepted Hadith texts, the Hadith being the accepted stories about the life of the Prophet. I am providing the narrator, i.e., the person who reported the fact, and the reference. i.e., the Hadith source, where the text can be found. If you doubt the correctness of the English translation I am using, I can provide the Arabic text.

Here are some examples for “Muhammed was a white man”:

Narrator: Jurairi:

“I said to Abu Tufail: Did you see Allah’s messenger? He said: Yes, he had a white handsome face.”

Ref.: Sahih Muslim 2340a, book 43, Hadith 129

Narrator: Anas bin Malik:

“While we were sitting with the Prophet in the mosque, a man came riding on a camel. He made his camel kneel down in the mosque, tied its forelegs and then said: Who amongst you is Muhammad? At that time, the Prophet was sitting amongst us (his companions) leaning on his arm. We replied: This white man leaning on his arm.”

Ref.: Sahih al Bukhari 63, book 3, Hadith 5

Narrator: Abu Juhaifa:

“I saw Allah’s messenger that he had white complexion and some white hair…”

Sahih Muslim 2343a, Book 43, Hadith 139

Narrator: Anas bin Malik:

“The Prophet never raised his hands for any invocation except for that of istisqa; and he used to raise them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible.

Ref.: Hadith No. 1751, 1752, Vol. 2 and Hadith No. 4323, vol. 5, and Hadith No. 6383, Vol. 8

Narrator: Abdullah bin Malik ibn Bujainah:

“When the Prohet prostrated, he spread his arms out so that the whiteness of his armpits was visible.”

Ref.: Sahih Muslim, 495a, Book 4, Hadith 267

Narrator: Jafar bin Rabi

“When the messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) prostrated, he spread out his arms so that the whiteness of his armpits was visible.”

Ref.: Sahih Muslim 495b, Book 4, Hadith 268

Narrator: Maimuna, one of Muhammed’s wives

“When the messenger of Allah prostrated himself, he spread his arms, i.e., he separated them so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible from behind …”

Ref.: Sahih Muslim 497a, Book 4, Hadith 270

Narrator: Awn bin Abi Juhaifah

“The Prophet came out wearing a red hullah. It is as if I can see the whiteness of his shins.

Ref.: 1119, 249-(503)

Narrator: Ismail bin Abi Khalid

“I heard Abi Juhaifa saying, ‘I saw the Prophet, and Al Hasan bin Ali resembled him.’ I said to Abu Juhaifa: Describe him for me. He said: He was white, and his beard was black with some white hair.”

Ref.: Sahih al Bukhari 3544, Book 61, Hadith 53

These quotes from the Hadith make it seem rather probable that the Prophet was indeed a white man. If you wonder how that would be possible, just consider that the Germanic Vandals conquered the North African coast from Gibraltar to Tunis in 429, i.e., 141 years before Muhammad was born. Their kingdom lasted 104 years until it was destroyed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian Iin 534 AD. This means that for over one hundred years there was a significant white population in North Africa with enough time to migrate to Arabia. Possibly, Muhammed, who was born in Mecca on August 29, 570 AD, enough time to have Germanic (Vandal) ancestors and for them to migrate from Tunis to Mecca. Of course, we do not know for certain, but if true, it would explain some of the Prophet’s cruelty and aggressiveness.

If he was white, he also seems to have disliked the color black. Here are some passages from the Hadiths that indicate that Muhammed had a problem with “black”.

Narrator: Jabir

“Abu Quhafa was brought on the Day of Conquest of Makkah, and his hair and beard were white like the Thaghamah. The Messenger of Allah said: Change this with something but avoid black.”

Ref.: Sunan an-Nasai 5076, Book 48, Hadith 37

Narrator: Ibn Abbas (quoting the Prophet)

“Some people will dye their hair black like the breasts of pigeons at the end of time, but they will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.”

Ref.: Sunan an Nasai 5075, Book 48, Hadith 36

Narrator: Abu Dharr

“…what feature is there in a black dog which distinguishes it from a red dog and a yellow dog? He said: O son of my brother, I asked the Messenger (Muhammed) as you are asking me, and he said: The black dog is a devil.

Ref.: Sahih Muslim 510a, Book 4, Hadith 299

Narrator: Ishaq

Allah’s Apostle says: ‘Whoever wants to see Satan should look at Nabtal.’ He was a sturdy Black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks.” (Nabtal was a poet. Some historical evidence suggests that he was a Black man, or at least of African descent. According to some sources, he was born in Mecca to a slave mother from Ethiopia and a father of formerly enslaved Black people from Yemen. He was described as having dark skin and long curly hair by some of his contemporaries. F. Deltgen)

Ref.: Ishaq 243

We know from several Islamic sources that Muhammad owned Black slaves and that he frequently bought and sold slaves.

Narrator: Jabir

“A slave came and pledged to the Prophet to emigrate, and the Prophet did not realize that he was a slave. Then his master came looking for him. The Prophet said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two Black slaves.” (I.e.: the Prophet valued two Black slaves as equal to one non-Black slave. F. Deltgen)

Ref.: Sunan al Nasal 4184, Book 49, Hadith 36

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, mentions slaves and slavery in several verses, but does not explicitly endorse or condemn the institution of slavery. It just takes it for granted. Here are some examples:

Quran, Sura 2, verse 177:

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves …” (If freeing slaves was an option for righteousness, it implies that there were slaves. F. Deltgen)

Quran, Sura 4, verse 25:

“And whoever among you cannot [find] the means to marry free, believing women, then [he may marry] from those whom your right hands possess of believing slave girls.”

Quran, Sura 24, verse 32:

“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves.”

Quran, Sura 90, verses 11-13:

“And what can make you know what is the difficult pass? It is the freeing of a slave.”

It is true that Mohammed is reported to have said:

“There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white – except by piety.” (Ref.: Prophet Muhammed’s last sermon, also known as the Farewell Sermon, which he delivered on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, 10 A.H. (632 CE) in the Uranah valley of Mount Arafat, during the Hajj pilgrimage. F. Deltgen)

Nonetheless, the facts do not support the Prophet’s words. The verses I quoted clearly show that the Quran acknowledges the existence of slavery and in particular of black slavery in the Muslim society at the time of its revelation and that it provides some guidelines and regulations for the treatment of slaves, such as giving them rights, freeing them as an act of charity or expiation, and allowing them to marry.

However, the Quran does not explicitly prohibit or abolish slavery as an institution. Some scholars argue that the Quran implicitly encourages the gradual emancipation of slaves by emphasizing their human dignity and equality, and by creating incentives and opportunities for their liberation. Others contend that the Quran permits slavery under certain conditions and circumstances, and that it is a legitimate and lawful practice and institution in Islam.

Small wonder, therefore, that Islam played a key role in the trans-Saharan slave trade that began to blossom in the 8th Century AD, after Islam had spread across all of Northern Africa.

Islam recognized several categories of slaves: prisoners of war, debtors, criminals, and those born into slavery. Islam also allowed the enslavement of non-Muslims, especially those who resisted, opposed Islamic rule, or refused to convert (the “infidels”). The trans-Saharan slave trade mainly involved the enslavement of Black Africans, who were captured or purchased from various regions and ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa, but it also included the enslavement of white Europeans, who were captured or bought from the Mediterranean coast or the Atlantic islands.

I cannot help but wonder why so many African Americans find Islam so attractive. The religion was founded by a man who was apparently white and suffered from some sort of “blackophobia”. And his creed endorsed slavery and slave trade.

Jesus of Nazareth by contrast never said or did anything that could possibly be construed as an aversion against the color black or Black people. He surely was not Black, but he equally surely was also not your typical white Caucasian. Remember: Abraham came from the Sumerian city of Ur and was of Sumerian/Akkadian ethnicity. Jesus is believed to be genetically derived from Abraham. And he never had any slaves, never traded in slaves, and never condoned any form of slavery. Could his religion be a viable alternative to Islam for African Americans?

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