Akhenaten: Prophet of Monotheism?

Aten:  The Original Creator God

The mythology of the Aten, the radiant disk of the sun, is not only unique in Egyptian history, but is also one of the most complex and controversial aspects of Ancient Egypt. This term initially could be applied to any disk, including even the surface of a mirror or the moon. The term was used in the Coffin Texts to denote the sun disk, but in the ‘Story of Sinuhe‘ dating from the Middle Kingdom, the word is used with the determinative for god. In that story, Amenemhat I is described as soaring into the sky and uniting with Aten his creator.  In the New Kingdom, Amenhotep I, becomes in death “united with Aten, coalescing with the one from whom he had come”.

Aten Absorbed into Egyptian Pantheon

Text written during the New Kingdom‘s 18th Dynasty frequently use the term to mean “throne” or “place” of the sun god. The word Aten was written using the hieroglyphic sign for “god” because the Egyptians tended to personify certain expressions. Eventually, the Aten was conceived as a direct manifestation of the sun god.

Amāna- ātpa (Amenhotep III, Amenophis III; “Amun is Satisfied”)- Father of Akhenaten

Prior to Amenhotep IV, the sun disk could be a symbol in which major gods appear and so we find such phrases as “Atum who is in his disk (‘aten’). However, from there it is only a small leap for the disk itself to become a god.

Sole Worship of Creator Aten Revived

A Statue of Akhenaten now in the Egyptian Museum

It was Amenhotep IV who first initiated the appearance of the true god, Aten, by formulating a didactic name for him. Hence, in the early years of Amenhotep IV’s reign, the sun god Re-Horakhty, traditionally depicted with a hawk’s head, became identical to Aten, who was again worshipped as a god, rather than as an object associated with the sun god.

To honor his new god, Amenhotep IV constructed an enormous temple east of the Great Temple of Amun at Karnak during the third year of his reign. The temple included pillared courts with striking colossal statues of the king and at least three sanctuaries, one of which was called the Hwt-benben (‘mansion of the Benben’). This emphasized the relationship between Aten and the sun cult of Heliopolis. The Benben symbolized the primeval mound on which the sun god emerged from Nun to create the universe.

Nefertiti offers the early form of the Aten's cartouches to the divine sun disk

Banning Anthropomorphism & Polytheism

Amenhotep IV, who would change his name to Akhenaten to reflect Aten’s importance, first replaced the state god Amun with his newly interpreted god. The hawk-headed figure of Re-Horakhty-Aten was then abandoned in favor of the iconography of the solar disk, which was now depicted as an orb with a uraeus at its base emitting rays that ended in human hands either left open or holding ankh signs that gave “life” to the nose of both the king and the Great Royal Wife, Nefertiti.

Nefertiti Bust, a 3300-year-old painted limestone bust of the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, believed to have been crafted in 1345 BC by the sculptor Thutmose.

Around the ninth year of of Akhenaten‘s reign, the name of the god Aten was once more changed. Now, all mention of Horakhty and Shu disappeared. Horakhty was replaced by the phrase, “Ruler of the Horizon”. No longer was the hawk form of the god acceptable and this image was definitively replaced with new iconography and a purer form of monotheism was introduced. Now, Aten became “the Living One, Sun, Ruler of the Horizon, who rejoices on the horizon in his name, which is Sunlight, which comes from the disk”.

Akhenaten in an exaggerated formNefertiti in a form less attractive then her Berlin Bust

Left: Akhenaten in an exaggerated form; Right: Nefertiti in a form less attractive then her Berlin Bust.  Both are receiving “life” from the Aten

Aten was now considered the sole, ruling deity and celebrated its own royal jubilees (Sed-festivals).

The concept of the new god was not so much the sun disk, but rather the life giving illumination of the sun. To make this distinction, his name would be more correctly pronounced, “Yati(n)”.

Aten was now the king of kings, needing no goddess as a companion and having no enemies who could threaten him. In effect, this worship of Aten was not a sudden innovation on the part of one king, but the climax of a religious quest among Egyptians for a benign god limitless in power and manifest in all countries and natural phenomena.

After Aten ascended to the top of the pantheon, most of the old gods retained their positions at first, though that would soon change as well. Gods of the dead such as Osiris and Soker were several of the first to vanish from the Egyptian religious front.

Left: The early form of the Aten's cartouches incorporating other forms of the sun god; Right: The later, more restricted form of the Aten's twin royal cartouches

Left: The early form of the Aten’s cartouches incorporating other forms of the sun god.  Right: The later, more restricted form of the Aten’s twin royal cartouches 

Akhenaten‘s new religion, which inaugurated theocracy and systematic monotheism, manifest itself with two central themes surrounding light and the king. It was probably after the god’s final name change that Akhenaten ordered the closure of the temples dedicated to all other gods in Egypt. Not only were these temples closed, but in order to extinguish the memory of these gods as much as possible, a veritable persecution took place. Literal armies of stonemasons were sent out all over the land and even into Nubia, above all else, to hack away the image and name of the god Amun.

However, even the plural form of the word god was avoided, and so other gods were persecuted as well. Yet by this time, the Amarna period had already reached the beginning of its end.

Hijrah / Exodus / Migration

In year six of his reign, Amenhotep IV became weary of Thebes and the old powerful Amun priesthood, and thus founded a new capital city in the desert valley area we now call el-Amarna (ancient Akhetaten) somewhat north of the old capital in Middle Egypt. Amenhotep IV mentions on two stelae that the priests were saying more evil things about him than they did about his father and grandfather, so from this we learn that there must have been a conflict that dated back at least to the reign of Tuthmosis IV. Luckily for the king, however, the priesthood was apparently not strong enough to curb a pharaoh’s inclinations at this point in time.

There, in his new capital of Akhetaten (‘horizon of Aten’), Aten could be worshipped without any consideration of other deities. Thus he built both a Great Aten temple in the city. Outside of Akhetaten, there appears to have also been temples dedicated to Aten at Memphis, at Sesebi in Nubia, and perhaps elsewhere during at least part of Akhenaten‘s reign.

Around the time Akhetaten was founded, Amenhotep IV changed his own birth name from Amenhotep, which may be translated as “Amun is content”, to Akhenaten, meaning “he who is beneficial to the Aten” or “illuminated manifestation of Aten”. Afterwards, the king proceeded to emphasize Aten’s singular nature above all other gods through excessively preferential treatment. Ultimately, he suppressed all other deities.

Tutankhamun was also depicted in the rays of the Aten, with somewhat similar artistic style to his probably father, Akhenaten

Monotheistic Hymn- Revealed Scripture?

But indeed, Akhenaten‘s new creed could be summed up by the formula, “There is no god but Aten, and Akhenaten is his prophet”. The hymn known as the “Sun Hymn of Akhetaten” offers some theological insight into this newly evolved god.  Scholars have noted a similarity between the hymn and Biblical Psalm 104, although the distinct parallels between the two are usually interpreted simply as indications of the common literary heritage of Egypt and Israel.

Head of colossal statue of Akhenaten; Karnak; Aten Temple;

Inscribed in thirteen long lines, the essential part of the poem is a hymn of praise for Aten as the creator and preserver of the world. Within it, there are no allusions to traditional mythical concepts, since the names of other gods are absent. Hence, it should be noted that, unlike other supreme gods of Egypt, Aten did not always absorb the attributes of other gods. His nature was entirely different.

The hymn abounds with descriptions of nature and with the position of the king in the new religion. Irregardless of the existence of a priesthood devoted to Aten, only to Akhenaten had the god revealed itself, and only the king could know the demands and commandments of Aten,

Ahl al-Bayt:  The people of the prophet’s family

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and several children enjoying the glory of Aten

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and several children enjoying the glory of Aten

Mektaten was the second daughter of six born to the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and his Wife Nefertiti.

However, while the hymn seems to provide exclusive rights to the Aten only to the king, his family appears to have been included within this inner circle. The new myths of the religion were filled with the ruler’s family history and it is not surprising that the faithful of the Amarna period prayed in front of private cult stelae that depicted the royal “holy” family.

Resistance to Monotheism

Aten had to be forced on the Egyptian people, and outside of Akhetaten (and really even there) and the official state religion, Aten never replaced all the traditional Egyptian gods. In effect, among the common Egyptians, if anything, the situation created a religious vacuum which was unstable from the beginning. And while it is clear that the elite of Akhetaten certainly paid respect to Aten, there is no real evidence for personal individual worship of the god on the part of the ordinary Egyptians whose only access to the god was through the medium of the king. On the contrary, at even the workers village in eastern Amarna, there has been unearthed numerous amulets of traditional gods, as well as some small private chapels probably dedicated to ancestor worship but showing no traces of the official religion.


A painted ivory relief of a royal child picking grapes. Amarna period, New Kingdom, Egypt

Soon after the death of Akhenaten, his capital was dismantled, as was his religion. Aten was removed from the Egyptian pantheon, and Akhenaten as well as his family and religion, were now the focus of prosecution. Their monuments were destroyed, together with related inscriptions and images. While the Aten did continue to be worshipped for some period after Akhenaten’s death, the god soon fell into obscurity.


  • Akhenaten: King of Egypt, Aldred, Cyril, 1988, Thames and Hudson Ltd, ISBN 0-500-27621-8
  • Amarna Letters, Forbes, Dennis C., 1991, KMT Communications, ISBN 1-879388-03-0
  • Ancient Gods Speak, The: A Guide to Egyptian Religion, Redford, Donald B., 2002, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-515401-0
  • Art and History of Egypt, Carpiceci, Alberto Carlo, 2001, Bonechi, ISBN 88-8029-086-x
  • Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt), Clayton, Peter A., 1994, Thames and Hudson Ltd, ISBN 0-500-05074-0
  • Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, The, Wilkinson, Richard H., 2003, Thames & Hudson, LTD, ISBN 0-500-05120-8
  • Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many, Hornung, Erik, 1971, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-8384-0
  • Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, The, Shaw, Ian; Nicholson, Paul, 1995, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, ISBN 0-8109-3225-3
  • Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, A, Hart, George, 1986, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-05909-7
  • Egyptian Religion, Morenz, Siegfried, 1973, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-8029-9
  • Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Tiradritti, Francesco, Editor, 1999, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., ISBN 0-8109-3276-8
  • Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The, Shaw, Ian, 2000, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-815034-2
  • Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor, Strudwick, Nigel & Helen, 1999, Cornell University Press, ISBN 0 8014 8616 5
  • Tutankhamun (His Tomb and Its Treasures), Edwards, I. E. S., 1977, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., ISBN 0-394-41170-6

Read more: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/aten.htm#ixzz3mbDyOfw5

arya dharma 03

The Buddha: An Islamic Prophet?

Dhul-Kifl Means “Man from Kapil”


The mid-twentieth century scholar, Hamid Abdul Qadir, in hisBuddha the Great: His Life and Philosophy (Arabic: Budha al-Akbar Hayatoh wa Falsaftoh), postulates that the Prophet Dhu’l-Kifl, meaning “the one from Kifl,” mentioned twice in the Quran (Al-Anbiya 85 and Sad 48) as patient and good, refers to Shakyamuni Buddha. Although most scholars identify Dhu’l-Kifl with the Prophet Ezekiel, Qadir explains that “Kifl” is the Arabicized form of Kapila, short for Kapilavastu. Although the truths that Buddha realized under the fig tree are not described as revelation, later great Buddhist masters have received revelations of sacred texts, such as Asanga in fourth century India directly from Maitreya in Tushita, the Heaven Filled with Joy.

In the list of prophets who are specifically mentioned in Islamic sources, there are certain names which do not seem to belong to the prophets of Israel. Many commentators therefore are inclined to believe that they are non-Arab prophets who are included in the list just for the sake of representation of the outer world. For instance, Dhul-Kifl is one name in the list of prophets which is unheard of in the Arab or Semitic references. Some scholars seem to have traced this name to Buddha, who was of Kapeel, which was the capital of a small state situated on the border of India and Nepal. Buddha not only belonged to Kapeel, but was many a time referred to as being ‘Of Kapeel’. This is exactly what is meant by the word ‘Dhul-Kifl’. It should be remembered that the consonant ‘p’ is not present in Arabic, and the nearest one to it is ‘fa’. Hence, Kapeel transliterated into Arabic becomes Kifl.”

Fig Tree is Bodhi Tree of Enlightenment


He also proposes that the Qur’anic mention of the fig tree (At-Tin 1-5) refers to Buddha as well, since he attained to enlightenment at the foot of one. Some scholars accept this theory and, as supportfor this position, point out that the eleventh-century Persian Muslim scholar of Indian history, al-Biruni, referred to Buddha as a Prophet. Others dismiss this last piece of evidence and explain that al-Biruni was merely describing that people in India regarded Buddha as a prophet.


Maitreya means Prophet

Manifestations of Buddha = Coming of Prophets?

Manifestations of Buddha = Coming of Prophets?

Some scholars associate the prophesied future Buddha Maitreya, the Loving or Merciful One, with the Prophet Muhammad as the servant of the Merciful One.

Buddhists as People of the Book

islam swastika

Buddha’s attainment and his teachings of techniques for others to achieve the same are known in Sanskrit as “Dharma,” literally “preventive measures.” They are measures to take and methods to follow in order to avoid causing oneself and others suffering. Starting in the second century BCE, Buddha’s discourses on them that had been transmitted orally up until then were written down in the form of scriptural texts. In present-day Uzbekistan and northern Afghanistan, where the Arabs first encountered Buddhists, the versions of these texts most widely available were in Old Turk and Sogdian translation. In these languages, the word Dharma was translated as nom, a loan word from Greek, meaning “law.”

Buddhist Prostration

Buddhist Prostration

The Quran taught tolerance for the religions of “people of the Book,” which referred to Christianity and Judaism. When the Arabs encountered Buddhism, then although its followers were not strictly “people of the Book,” nevertheless they were granted the same status and rights as the Christians and Jews under their rule. They were allowed to follow their religion, provided the laypeople among them paid a poll-tax. Thus, the legal concept of “People of the Book” seems to have been widened to include those who followed a set of ethical principles of higher authority.

muslim prostration




Come in Alone (by My Bloody Valentine)

COME in alone

you’ll love to let go

and i turn you around

when you’re allready down

ooooh, around

WHY, I don’t need

to believe what you see

to look up and around

you would offer me doubt

to break down


FEEL:  I’m alive

you will see more and why

for i cried over all

and i got through them all

walls, just fall

CAUGHT in a lull?

you’ll love to let go

and i’ll turn you around

when your hope’s feeling drowned,

down, aground


The Pit of Grief: Home of the Scholars who Align Themselves with Political Rulers

Pit Of Grief

“Allah’s Messenger (سيدنا محمد ﺻﻠﯽ الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ ﻋﻠﯿﮧ ﻭﺍٓﻟﮧ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ) said: ‘Seek refuge in Allah against the pit of grief.’ The Companions asked, ‘Allah’s Messenger, what is the pit of grief?’ He replied, ‘It is a river in Hell against which even Hell seeks refuge four hundred times a day.’ They again asked, ‘Allah’s Messenger, who will enter it?’ He remarked, ‘It has been prepared for reciters of the Quran desiring to show off their deeds. The most detestable of the reciters in the sight of Allah are those who frequently visit the rulers (for worldly ends).’” [Ibn Majah – Sahih]

This hadith tells us the punishment prepared for the one who sells religion to secure worldly benefit. There are two acts that reciters of the Quran (i.e. scholars of Islam) are specifically warned against, but that also apply to all other Muslims:
1. Showing off knowledge of Islam or one’s good deeds.
2. Visiting rulers.

The responsibility on the shoulders of one who visits the people in power is great. They must enjoin them to do good, i.e. implement Islam. They must also warn them to refrain from evil, i.e. un-Islamic practices and policies. The reason for being warned against visiting the rulers and political leadership is that in one’s desire to please them many will not be honest in assessing their deeds.

Muslims, especially scholars, who compromise the teachings of Islam, to make it more palatable, lose their religion. Therefore, whatever ‘benefit’ comes at the cost of making well known the true teachings of Islam, is no benefit at all. It will cause the person to burn painfully in Hell for an extremely long time. We must purify our intentions and seek Islam for a better Hereafter and not to show off with it. And we must never use it to gain power, contacts, wealth, or recognition. We must flee from such sins with the speed of one who has mad dogs chasing him/her.

At the time of the Abbasid Khalifa Al-Mansur, Imam Abu Hanifa was offered the position of “Qadhi-ul-Qudaat” (Chief Justice/Judge of the Islamic State). This was a most honoured position at the side of the Khalifa, along with a handsome salary. Imam Abu Hanifa declined to accept the post, fearing to be influenced by the ruler and used as a rubber stamp to endorse his actions whatever they may be. Imam Abu Hanifa preferred to continue selling cloth to earn his living than compromise his Islam.

Al-Mansur was so enraged that he had the Imam thrown into prison. Time and again Imam Abu Hanifa was dragged before Al-Mansur and asked to accept the post of Qadhi-ul-Qudaat. But Imam Abu Hanifa refused every time even though he was starved, flogged and paraded in the market for his defiance. The great Imam eventually died in prison in 150 A.H. (767 CE) rather than serve the ends of the ruler of the day.

Similar was the stance and persecution that our other great Imams such as Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, Malik Ibn Anas and many others faced, because true understanding of Islam does not allow a person to lie about Allah’s religion. Such was the example of our pious predecessors and is the example of a few pious people that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has also blessed our times with. Unfortunately, the majority of scholars today, especially those promoted in the media, have sold their services to the highest bidder, to issue fatwas (religious rulings) and recommendations that serve the purposes of their paymasters.

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The Irrationality of Western Ideology & the Blind Faith of ‘Muslim’ Modernists


The best approach for the rational mind, is to withdraw oneself from the society and time period one inhabits and look at the ideas around oneself for what they are. Many thinkers and philosophers have done this and have written great books whose content mostly remains timeless. The reason for this, is that they have successfully removed themselves from their times and cultures and used their minds to assess the ideas based purely on their evidence and merit, and come to conclusions of truth, no matter how unpopular or odd they seem to their society at the time.

However, the one thing I’ve noticed, is that most people claim to be skeptical only to ideas they don’t like, or which is not in line with the accepted culture or fashion of their times.

Originally posted on Abdullah al Andalusi:

The most important thing for a person who seeks truth is to remain objective and be skeptical of so-called ‘given truths’ – especially ideas that are in fashion in his/her day and age. In every age and time, there were always ideas that were fashionable, accepted as given, and taken for granted that they were true – but later rejected as false – even laughed at.

The best approach for the rational mind, is to withdraw oneself from the society and time period one inhabits and look at the ideas around oneself for what they are. Many thinkers and philosophers have done this and have written great books whose content mostly remains timeless. The reason for this, is that they have successfully removed themselves from their times and cultures and used their minds to assess the ideas based purely on their evidence and merit, and come to conclusions of truth…

View original 2,124 more words

For reference ONLY.  NOT intended to represent an actual historical personage

Muslim Personalities Who Were Black In Early Islamic History

A brother named Dawud Walid is fighting Muslim color prejudice by telling the stories of dark-skinned Islamic heroes.  According to the project’s Facebook page’s ‘About’ section, “This page was started for Black History Month to share blog entries about prominent black figures in the early history of Islam.”

It’s an excellent page.  Go have a look (Facebook page).  Support the book.

I commend the brothers and sisters involved, but I do have one criticism:  They missed all the big fish.  As far as early Muslims go, we don’t have to stick to the tired slave narratives of freed slaves and sons of “black” slave women.  We can start from the top:

The Rightly Guided Caliphs

For reference only. NOT intended to represent a historical personage.


Yousef ibn Al-Zaki ibn Abdel Rahman Abu Al-Hajjaj Al-Mizzi said in his book Tahdheeb Al-Kamaal:

“He (Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RAA) was black-skinned (very adam), tall, thick-bearded, bald, ambidextrous, and he dyed his hair with henna and katim…Zarr ibn Hubaish and others described him this way – they described him as very adam complexioned (black-skinned). This is the way that he was described by most scholars knowledgeable of the biographies and the stories of the people of the past and their news.”

Ibn Saad and al-Hakim have recorded a description of Umar as Abu Miriam Zir, a native of Kufa described him. Zir said:

“I went forth with the people of Madina on a festival day, and I saw Umar walking barefoot. He was advanced in years, bald, of a tawny colour-a left handed man, tall, and towering above the people.”


For illustration purposes ONLY.  NOT intended to represent an actual historical personage.

For illustration purposes ONLY. NOT intended to represent an actual historical personage.

“He was not tall or short. He had a handsome face, a long beard, dark skin, wide shoulders, and he would dye his hair with saffron. He would cap teeth with gold.”

‘Abdullah bin Hazm said: “I saw ‘Uthman, and I never saw a man or woman more beautiful than him.”

as-Sa’ib said: “I saw him dying his beard yellow, and I never saw an old man more handsome than him.”



In his book Tarikh Al-Khulafaa (The History of the Caliphs), Imam Al-Suyuti described Ali ibn Abi Talib as follows:
و كان علي شيخا سمينا أصلع كثير الشعر ربعة إلى القصر عظيم البطن عظيم اللحية جدا قد ملأت ما بين منكبيه بيضاء كأنها قطن آدم شديد الأدمة

Ali was a heavyset, bald, hairy man of average height which leaned toward shortness. He had a large stomach and a large beard which filled all that was between his shoulders. His beard was white as if it was cotton and he was a black-skinned man.

Read more: http://savethetruearabs.proboards.com/thread/4#ixzz3fcTVK69W

* َAl-Hafidh Al-Dhahabi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in his book Taarikh Al-Islaam:

وعن الشعبي قال: رأيت علياً أبيض اللحية، ما رأيت أعظم لحية منه، وفي رأسه زغبات. وقال أبو إسحاق: رأيته يخطب، وعليه إزار ورداء، أنزع، ضخم البطن، أبيض الرأس واللحية. وعن أبي جعفر الباقر قال: كان علي آدم، شديد الأدمة، ثقيل العينين، عظيمهما، وهو إلى القصر أقرب.

* Ibn Jawzi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) in his book Safwat Al-Safwa.

* Al-Balaadhari describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in his book Ansaab Al-Ashraaf:

وكان علي آدم شديد الادمة، ثقيل العينين، ضخم البطن، أصلع ذا عضلات ومناكب، في أذنيه شعر قد خرج من أذنه، وكان إلى القصر أقرب

* Al-Suyuti describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here in Taarikh Al-Khulafaa:

‏‏”‏‏و‏ ‏كان‏‏ ‏علي‏ (بن‏ ‏ابي‏ ‏طالب )‏شيخا‏،‏ ‏سمينا،‏ ‏‏أ‏صلع،‏‏ ‏كثير‏ ‏الشعر،‏ ‏ربعة‏ ‏الى‏ ‏القصر،‏ ‏عظيم‏ ‏البطن،‏ ‏عظيم‏ ‏اللحية‏ ‏جدا،‏ ‏قد‏ ‏ملأت‏ ‏ما‏ ‏بين‏ ‏منكبيه،‏ ‏بيضاء‏ ‏كأنها‏ ‏قطن،‏ ‏آدم‏ ‏شديد‏ ‏الأدمة‏”‏.‏

* Ibn Abdel Barr describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

وسئل أبو جعفر محمد بن علي بن الحسين عن صفة علي رضي الله عنه فقال: كان رجلاً آدم شديد الأدمة، مقبل العينين عظيمهما ذا بطن
أصلع ربعة إلى القصر لا يخضب

* Ahmed ibn ‘Amru ibn Al-Dahhaak Abu Bakr Al-Shaibaani describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib (RAA) as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

ومن ذكر علي بن أبي طالب
ابن عَبْد المطلب بن هاشم بن عَبْد مناف بن قصي بن مرة بن كعب بن لؤي يكنى أبا الحسن رَضِيَ الله تعالى عنه واسم أبي طالب عَبْد مناف بن عَبْد المطلب واسم عَبْد المطلب شيبة بن هاشم واسم هاشم عَمْرو بن عب مناف واسم عَبْد مناف المغيرة بن قصي واسم قصي زيد بن كلاب بن مرة بن كعب بن لؤي وكان آدم شديد الأدمة ثقيل العينين عظيمها وقد قالوا أعمش ذا بطن سمنا أصلع دون الربعة عظيم اللحية رضوان الله عليه

* Al-‘Allaama Mohamed ibn Talha Al-Shaafa’ie describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

كان عليه السلام آدم شديد الادمة، ظاهرة السمرة، عظيم العينين، أقرب إلى القصر من الطول لم يتجاوز حد الاعتدال في ذلك، ذا بطن كثير الشعر، عريض اللحية، أصلع أبيض الرأس واللحية

* Al-Safadi describes Ali ibn Abi Taalib as shadid al-udma (black-skinned) here:

وكان رضي الله عنه رجلاً آدم شديد الأدمة ثقيل العينين عظيمهما، ذا بطن أصلع ربعة إلى القصر لا يخضب

Ibn Asaakir says in Taarikh Dimisq:

وقال زهير بْن معاوية : كَانَ علي يكنى أبا قاسم ، وكان رجلًا آدم شديد الأدمة ، ثقيل العينين عظيمهما ، ذا بطن ، أصلع ، وهو إلى قصر أقرب ، وكان أبيض الرأس واللحية ،

Zuhair ibn Muawia said:  “Ali had the kunya Abu Qaasim and he was shadid al-udma (black-skinned) with big, heavy eyes, a big belly, bald, leaned toward shortness, and he had white hair and a white beard.”

The Companions (Sahaaba) in General


Only one got painted the right color

Most of the people living in Arabia were Arabs, the original Arabs (as opposed the the Arab diaspora of Arabized مُستَعرَب peoples) were related to Sub-Saharan Africans in appearance and every other way.  So, in general, it’s safe to assume that any Arab Sahaaba was “black” unless sound traditions prove otherwise.*

Conclusion:  Islam is neither colorblind nor racist.  It’s real.


Color does matter.  It does exist.  If not, it would not have been mentioned in the Qur-an.  If not, it would not have been mentioned in the ahadith.  It’s a perfectly valid subject, and like every subject, it must constantly be revisited, “dusted off” as it were, to prevent misconceptions from creeping in.  Think about it, if there were valid conversations about skin color all along, would there be so much racism in the Ummah now?


*Read below for descriptions of the Pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabs:

Bertram Thomas, historian and former Prime Minister of Muscat and Oman, reported in his work ‘The Arabs’:
“The original inhabitants of Arabia…were not the familiar Arabs of our time but a very much darker people.  A proto-negroid belt of mankind stretched across the ancient world from Africa to Malaya.  This belt…(gave) rise to the Hamitic peoples of Africa, to the Dravidian peoples of India, and to an intermediate dark people inhabiting the Arabian peninsula.  In the course of time two big migrations of fair-skinned peoples came from the north…to break through and transform the dark belt of man beyond India (and) to drive a wedge between India and Africa…The more virile invaders overcame the dark-skinned peoples, absorbing most of them, driving others southwards…The cultural condition of the newcomers is unknown.  It is unlikely that they were more than wild hordes of adventurous hunters.”

Modern dark-skinned descendants of ancient Arabians like the Qarra and Mahra of Oman told colonial observers they originated in Africa.

“(Regarding) [t]he origin of the Arab race…
the first certain fact on which to base our investigations is the ancient and undoubted division of the Arab race into two branches, the ‘Arab’ or pure; and the ‘Mostareb’ or adscititions…
A second fact is, that everything in pro-Islamitic literature and record…concurs in representing the first settlement of the ‘pure’ Arabs as made on the extreme south-western point of the peninsula, near Aden, and then spreading northward and eastward…
A third is the name Himyar, or ‘dusky’…a circumstance pointing, like the former, to African origin.
A fourth is the Himyaritic language…(The preserved words) are African in character, often in identity. Indeed, the dialect commonly used along the south-eastern coast hardly differs from that used by the (Somali) Africans on the opposite shore…
Fifthly, it is remarkable that where the grammar of the Arabic, now spoken by the ‘pure’ Arabs, differs from that of the north, it approaches to or coincides with the Abyssinian…
Sixthly, the pre-Islamitic institutions of Yemen and its allied provinces-its monarchies, courts, armies, and serfs-bear a marked resemblance to the historical Africo-Egyptian type, even to modern Abyssinian.
Seventhly, the physical conformation of the pure-blooded Arab inhabitants of Yemen, Hadramaut, Oman, and the adjoining districts-the shape and size of head, the slenderness of the lower limbs, the comparative scantiness of hair, and other particulars-point in an African rather than an Asiatic direction.
Eighthly, the general habits  of the people,-given to sedentary rather than nomad occupations, fond of village life, of society, of dance and music; good cultivators of the soil, tolerable traders, moderate artisans, but averse to pastoral pursuits-have much more in common with those of the inhabitants of the African than with those of the western Asiatic continent.
Lastly, the extreme facility of marriage which exists in all classes of the southern Arabs with the African races; the fecundity of such unions; and the slightness or even absence of any caste feeling between the dusky ‘pure’ Arab and the still darker native of modern Africa…may be regarded as pointing in the direction of a community of origin.”
(The Encyclopedia Britanica [9th Edition; 1:245-46 s.v. Arabia) (http://blackarabia.blogspot.com/2011/09/were-black-arabs-who-founded-islam.html)
The dark-skinned South Arabian today is short and “extremely round-headed (brachycephalic)” but he was no doubt originally much taller and dolichocephalic (long-headed) like the so-called Hamites of East Africa.
In the 13th century CE the Muslim traveler Ibn al-Mujāwir described the Mahra as “tall, handsome folk” in his Tārīkh al-mustabsir, 271.1.17 and early pre-Christian skulls found in Hadramawt were markedly dolichocephalic.
It has been suggested that the ‘definite change’ in the racial constitution of the people of Hadramawt resulted from the invasion and inbreeding of brachycephalic whites such as Armenoids or Persians.
Henry Field suggested that Arabia’s current ethnography is the result of the mixing of two distinct basal stocks: The dolichocephalic (long-headed), dark-skinned Mediteranean/Eur-African and the brachycephalic (round-headed) fair-skinned Armenoid. See his “Ancient and Modern Inhabitants of Arabia,” The Open Court 46 (1932): 854 [art.=847-869].

Dolichocephalic (

Armenoid Kurd with Brachycephalic (

These findings are corroborated by Persian sources describing their first impression of their Arab Muslim conquerors.

“When Fredon (mythical hero) came, they (the black people) fled from the lands of Iran and settled on the coast of the sea. Now, through the invasion of the Arabs, they (the Zing-i-Siak posht (i.e. the black skinned negroes)) are again diffused through the country of Iran.”

(Bundahishn (Creation of the Origins)- A Zoroastrian text)

[Note: in these last sentences allusion is made to the Blackness of both the original inhabitants of Iran, and of the Arabs.]

iranian women

You’re saying that the real Arabs are Black?!  What do these historians know anyway?  They’re not Arab or Muslim.  They’re colonialists and Orientalists out to distort Islamic history.

True.  Who better to ask than the Arabs themselves?  How did the Arab historians, grammarians, linguists and pre-Islamic poets describe themselves?  Let’s see:

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

(Ibn Manzur [Lisan al-arab IV: 209, 210]) http://blackarabia.blogspot.com/2011/09/in-islam-does-color-of-prophets-matter.html

Couldn't many

Couldn’t many “white” people be more accurately described as “red”?

Al-Mubarrad (d. 898), the leading figure in the Basran grammatical tradition, claimed: “The Arabs used to take pride in their brown and black complexion (al-sumra wa al-sawād) and they had a distaste for a white and fair complexion (al-umra wa al-shaqra), and they used to say that such was the complexion of the non-Arabs.”

Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd, Shar nahj al-balāghah, V:56.http://www.blackarabia.blogspot.com/2013/04/his-daddy-was-black-his-momma-was-black.html

Lisan El-Arab (an old Arabic dictionary) mentions Shamar’s explanation of the hadiths that say that the prophet Mohamed (pbuh) said that he was sent to the blacks and the reds. Shamar explains the hadiths as follows:

قال شمر: يعنـي العرب والعجم والغالب علـى أَلوان العرب السُّمرة والأُدْمَة وعلـى أَلوان العجم البـياض والـحمرة،

“He means (by the blacks and the reds) the Arabs and the non-Arabs and the complexion of most Arabs is brown and jet-black and the complexion of most non-Arabs is white and red.”

Hmm...  Let's think about that.

Hmm… Let’s think about that.

Shams El-Din Mohamed ibn Ahmed ibn Othman El-Dhahabi (died1374 A.D.) explains the hadith that mentions that a man was “red-skinned as if he was one of the slaves” as follows:

يريد ألقائل أنه في لون ألموالي ألذين سبوا من نصارى ألشام وألروم و ألعجم

“The speaker means that the man was the color of the slaves who were captured from the Christians of Syria and from the Romans and the Persians.”

Thus, it was common for the Arabs of the past to describe a light-skinned person as having the color of the slaves. This is a known fact.   Ibn Mandhor (1232-1311 A.D.) says in his book Lisan El-Arab:

سبوطة الشعر هي الغالبة علـى شعور العجم من الروم والفرس. و جُعودة الشعر هي الغالبة علـى شعور العرب

“Non-kinky hair is the kind of hair that most non-Arabs like the Romans and Persians have while kinky hair is the kind of hair that most Arabs have.”

lank hair

Lank hair

true arabs 2

Kinky Hair

The Arabs of the past also used the word green to mean black. El-Fadl ibn El-Abbas ibn ‘Utba El-Lahabi said:

وأَنا الأَخْضَرُ، من يَعْرِفُنـي؟ أَخْضَرُ الـجِلْدَةِ فـي بـيتِ العَرَبْ

I am the green one. Who knows me? My skin is green. I am from the family of the Arabs.

Bronze is a copper alloy (combination of copper and tin) and when exposed to air and moisture, it will develop a greenish layer of build-up on its dark brown surface.  Hence the association of green with dark-brown skin.

Bronze is a copper alloy (combination of copper and tin) and when exposed to air and moisture, it will develop a greenish layer of build-up on its dark brown surface. Hence the association of green with dark-brown skin.

Ibn Mandhor, the author of Lisan El-Arab says this about the verse:

يقول: أَنا خالص لأَن أَلوان العرب السمرة

He says that he is a pure Arab because the color of the Arabs is brown (dark).”

In Lisan El-Arab, Ibn Mandhor also quotes the author of El-Tahdhib, Saad El-Din Masud ibn Umar El-Taftaazaani (1312-1389 A.D.) as saying the following about the verse:

فـي هذا البـيت قولان: أَحدهما أَنه أَراد أَسود الـجلدة؛ قال: قاله أَبو طالب النـحوي، وقـيل: أَراد أَنه من خالص العرب وصميمهم لأَن الغالب علـى أَلوان العرب الأُدْمَةُ،

There are two sayings about this verse. One is that he meant that he had black skin. This is what Abu Talib El-Nahwi said. It is also said that he meant that he is a pure unmixed Arab because most Arabs are black-skinned.”

Abdella ibn Berry (1106-1187 A.D.), the “King of the Grammarians” as he was called, said the following about the verse:

قال ابن بري: نسب الـجوهري هذا البـيت للهبـي، وهو الفضل بن العباس بن عُتْبَةَ بن أَبـي لَهَبٍ، وأَراد بالـخضرة سمرة لونه، وإِنما يريد بذلك خـلوص نسبه وأَنه عربـي مـحض، لأَن العرب تصف أَلوانها بالسواد وتصف أَلوان العجم بالـحمرة. وفـي الـحديث: بُعثت إِلـى الأَحمر والأَسود؛ وهذا الـمعنى بعينه هو الذي أَراده مسكين الدارمي فـي قوله أَنا مسكِينٌ لـمن يَعْرِفُنـي، لَوْنِـي السُّمْرَةُ أَلوانُ العَرَبْ

“El-Jawhari attributed this verse to El-Lahabi and he is El-Fadl ibn El-Abbas ibn ‘Utba ibn Abi Lahab and he meant by green the brownness (darkness) of his complexion and he meant by that the purity of his genealogy and that he was an unmixed Arab because the Arabs describe their color as black and they describe the color of the non-Arabs as red. Like the hadith says, ‘I was sent to the red and the black. And this is exactly what Miskeen El-Darimi meant when he said: ‘I am Miskeen, for those who know me. My color is brown (dark), the color of the Arabs’”.

Ibn Mandhor says in his book Lisan El-Arab:

والعرب إِذا قالوا: فلان أَبـيض وفلانة بـيضاء فمعناه الكرم فـي الأَخلاق لا لون الـخـلقة، وإِذا قالوا: فلان أَحمر وفلانة حمراء عنوا بـياض اللون؛

“When the Arabs said that a man or a woman was ‘white’, they meant that the person was honorable. They weren’t talking about his/her complexion. When they (the Arabs) said that a man or a woman was ‘red’, they meant that his/her complexion was white.

The famous, old Arabic dictionary Lisan El Arab also quotes the author of El-Tahdhib, Saad El-Din Masud ibn Umar El-Taftaazaani (1312-1389 A.D.) as saying:

التهذيب: إِذا قالت العرب فلان أَبْـيَضُ وفلانة بَـيْضاء فالـمعنى نَقاء العِرْض من الدنَس والعيوب… لا يريدون به بَـياضَ اللون ولكنهم يريدون الـمدح بالكرم ونَقاءِ العِرْض من العيوب، وإِذا قالوا: فلان أَبْـيَض الوجه وفلانة بَـيْضاءُ الوجه أَرادوا نقاءَ اللون من الكَلَفِ والسوادِ الشائن

“When the Arabs said that a man or a woman was white, they meant that the person had a faultless honor…they didn’t mean white skin. What they meant by this was to praise the person for his/her generosity and faultless honor. When they said that a man or woman had a white face, they meant that the person had a complexion free of blemishes and free of an unattractive blackness.”


images (1)

Muslim Girls Design New Islamic Sports Gear

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Girls in stylish athletic wear walk the runway as the sounds of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry blare from speakers. The crowd claps and cheers as the young models strike poses with basketballs, lacrosse sticks and boxing gloves. Finally, the big reveal: the Lady Warriors community traveling basketball team takes the stage in their cardinal red uniforms. This is no ordinary fashion show. The models are East African, primarily Muslim girls living in Minnesota who designed their own culturally sensitive sportswear that lets them move freely without worrying about tripping on a long, flowing dress or having a head scarf come undone at a crucial point. “The girls for years have been telling us, ‘We would like clothing. We would like clothing,’” said Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the two-year project. The uniforms’ roots stretch back further, to the day in 2008 when then-college student Fatimah Hussein founded a girls-only sports program that now includes the Lady Warriors and began claiming gym time at a community center in the heart of Minneapolis’ Somali neighborhood. The girls quickly learned that traditional dress and basketball don’t mix well, said Thul, who was a volunteer research consultant to the program. The answer, Thul said, was a functional yet modest uniform “so they could do that between-the-legs dribble, make that three-pointer, and not have clothing be a barrier.” She worked with Hussein, girls from her sports league, the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the university, coaches and community members on the project. Sertac Sehlikoglu, a social anthropologist working on leisure, sports and the Muslim communities at the University of Cambridge, noted that Iran has been developing culturally appropriate female sportswear for years. She agreed with the Minnesota project’s organizers that the girls’ designs could catch on in other cities with large Muslim populations. The U.S. “has been an important actor in triggering global trends, if not leading them, and thus I believe that would have a positive impact,” Sehlikoglu said in an email. Starting in 2013, the girls attended female sporting events to see how uniforms worked. University designers helped the girls get their ideas on paper. The project culminated in the fashion show this June at the university. The girls came up with two designs. One teal-and-black uniform with stripes — good for all sports including swimming — features leggings and a knee-length tunic. Both the everyday active wear and the basketball team’s bright red outfit include a tight black headpiece. Arms, legs, hair and neck are all covered. Style was important, said Amira Ali, 12, who helped with the design. “I want to look good,” she said. ___ Online: Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports: http://www.girlswinmn.com ___ Follow Jeff Baenen on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeffBaenen Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. http://thegrio.com/2015/07/04/uniforms-muslim-girls-basketball/