ASWAD : اسود


ADAM : ادم ADAM SHADEED AL UDMAH : ادم شديد الادمة ADLAM : ادلم ASWAD : اسود ASMAR : اسمر ASHAM : اسحم GREEN : اخضر WHITE : ابيض RED : احمر – اشقر

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Jet Black ‏ ‏‏ ‏ ‏‏أسود

As mentioned before, the arabic language is very concise and particular. Therefore it must be understood the way the Arabs understood the language when it was pure and unadulterated in it’s usage unlike how it is understood today.

When the Arabs gave specific descriptions said someone was black, they meant that he was jet black in colour. Similar how it would be used today when we give specific descriptions of people.

When arabs said that someone was from the blacks it meant that he or she was brown or black and all of the shades of black.

The Arabs used the term “jet black” أسود , the term Adam or “Shadeed Al Udma (very Adam)” شديد‏‏ ‏الأدمة ‏ , the word green الأخضر , the word Adlam ادلم and even the word Asham أسحم interchangeably to describe a very, very dark complexion, so dark that they often compared it to the night, charcoal and even like the blackness of a crow. Equally As Sumurah or Asmar and Shadeed Al Sumurah can also be used to describe someone with a jet black skinned complexion.

 

 

Imaam Al Alaamah Al Dhahabi says in his book Seera A’laam Al Nubalaa Chapter 2 page 168

‘They say Aswad (jet black) and this means whoever is covered in blackness. They say (jet )black or Shadeed Al Udmah.”

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سير أعلام النبلاء ج٢ ص ١٦٨

قالوا اسود و كذا كل من غلب عليه السواد قالوا اسود او شديد الادمة

Al Waafy Bil Wafyaat Chapter 16 Page 165

”And they were called Green because of their blackness and the Arabs named black , green and Malik was Shadeed Al Udmah”

الوافي بالوفيات – ج 16 – سهل – عبثر

وسُمُوا الخضر لسوادهم، والعرب تسمي الأسود أخضر؛ وكان مالك شديد الأذمَة

Read more about Adam Shadeed Al Udmah here

 

Ibn Sakeet tell us in his book Kitaab Al Al Faadh ( pages 152-153 ) that

”They say from the black men he is As Shadeed Al Udmah and from them is the Adlam and he is As Shadeed Al Udmah”

قال ابن السكيت في كتاب الافاظ ص ١٥٢ – ١٥٣

وقالوا من الرجال الأسود وهو الشديد الأدمة…ومنهم الأدلم وهو الشديد الأدمة


Imam Al Tabari gives a description of Mohammed Al Nafs Al Zaky in his book Tarikh Al Tabary(تاريخ الطبري), page 562.

‘‘Mohammed was Adam Shadeed Al Udama , Adlam and he was nicknamed father of Black coal because of his Udmah (blackness). Abu Ja’far used to call him charcoal.”

 

كان محمد آدم شديد الأدمة، أدلم جسيما عظيما، وكان يلقب القاري من أدمته، حتى كان أبو جعفر يدعوه محمما


Abu al-Fadl `Iyad Ibn Amr Ibn Musa ibn `Iyad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdillah ibn Musa ibn `Iyad al-Yahsubi al-Sabti Qaady Abu Fadl I’yaad Ibn Musa Ibn I’yaad said in his book Mashariq al-Anwar `ala Sahih al-Athar:

”In some of the explanations of the narrations and in some books, Ashaam means intensely black

(Seen Haa Meem) The saying if it (the baby) comes and it is Asham meaning intensely black. Harbi said it is the that which is the colour of the crow.”

للقاضي أبو الفضل عياض بن موسى بن عياض اليحصبي السبتي المالكي مثلا ورد في كتابه مشارق الأنوار على صحاح الآثار ج ٢ ص ٤١٠

في شروحات بعض الأحاديث وبعض الكتب بأن أسحم : بمعنى شديد السواد

س ح م ) قوله إن جاءت به أسحم أي أسود شديد السواد قال الحربي هو الذي لونه كلون الغراب)

Ibn Mandhor, the author of Lisan El-Arab narrates in Chapter 4 page 245

On the authority of Al Asmaeey ,” Miskeen Al Dharmi proposed to a young girl from his people, but she disliked him because of his black skin and his lack of wealth. The girl went on and married a wealthier man from the same people. However the man didn’t have a genealogy( pure) like Miskeen’s . One day he passed by the girl and her husband and they sat together and he said to them,

”I am Miskeen for who know’s me?

My colour is Al Sumurah , The colour of the Arabs’

 

لسان العرب ج ٤ ٢٤٥
وعن الأصمعي قال: خطَب مسكينٌ الدَّارمي فتاةً من قومه، فكرِهَتْه لسواد لونه وقلَّة ماله، وتزوَّجَت بعده رجلاً من قومه ذا يسار ليس له مثل نسَبِ مسكين، فمرَّ بِهِما مسكين ذات يوم وتلك المرأة جالسة مع زوجها، فقال:
أنا مسكين لِمَن يعرفني

لَونيَ السُّمرة ألوانُ العَربْ


Al Harby said in his book Ghareeb Al Hadeeth Al Harby Chapter 2, page 1141.

”The saying he is not Adam…… on the authority of Asmaeey … Adam is jet black

قال الحربي في كتابه غريب الحديث الحربي ج٢ ص ١٤١١

قوله ليس بآدم……. عن الاصمعي : الآدم السواد


In Majhooraat Ansaab Al Arab , Ibn Hazm Al Andaloosy on page 45 said,

” And Hassan was nicknamed the Father of Tar because of his intense Sumarah.”

قال ابن حزم الاندلسي في كتابه مجوهرات انساب العرب صفحة ٤٥

”والحسن، كان يلقب أبا الزفت لشدة سمرته


The word Aswad shares the same root word as sayyid meaning lordship/ master.

In the book Kitaab al Majam Diwaan al Adab, chapter 3 page 420, it is explained quite clearly

and asaada or a master boy and asaada a black boy

في كتاب معجم ديوان الادب ج٣ ص٤٢٠

” و أساد أى ولد سيدا و أساد أى ولد أسود اللون”

 

and samadh and blackness of a man and aswad meaning either a master boy was born or a black boy was born.”

”وسمذ و أساد الرجل وأسود بمعنى أى ولد غلاما سيدا وكذلك اذا ولد غلام أسود اللون”

 

Another example of this is the language found in a narration regarding Muawiyya radi Allahu anhu.

 

Al Ahad Wal Mathaany Chapter 1 page 174

On the authority of Ibn Umar may Allah be pleased with him , He said , I have not seen anyone after the messenger of Allah more black than Muawiyah. It was said, And Is it not Abu Bakr? He said , and it is not Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr was better than him, and he was more black than him. It was said , and it was it not Umar. He said, by Allah , Umar was better than him but he was more black than him. It was said, And was it not Uthmaan? He said, By Allah Uthaman was noble but he was more black than him”

 

الآحاد والمثاني لابن أبي عاصم وَمِنْ ذِكْرِ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ أَبِي سُفْيَانَ ج ١ ص ٣٧٩
حَدَّثَنَا هَدِيَّةُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْوَهَّابِ الْمَرْوَزِيُّ، نا يَحْيَى بْنُ يَزِيدَ، نا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ إِسْحَاقَ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: «مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا بَعْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أَسْوَدَ مِنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ» ، قِيلَ: وَلَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ؟ قَالَ: «وَلَا أَبُو بَكْرٍ، قَدْ كَانَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ خَيْرًا مِنْهُ، وَكَانَ أَسْوَدَ مِنْهُ» قِيلَ: وَلَا عُمَرُ؟ قَالَ: «وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ كَانَ عُمَرُ خَيْرًا مِنْهُ وَلَكِنَّهُ كَانَ أَسْوَدَ مِنْهُ» . قِيلَ: وَلَا عُثْمَانُ؟ قَالَ: «وَاللَّهِ إِنْ كَانَ عُثْمَانُ لَسَيِّدًا وَلَكِنَّهُ كَانَ أَسْوَدَ مِنْهُ»

 

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In Arabic there are terms used to describe what we call in English ‘ blacker than black’ or ‘ super black or ” he was so black that he turned blue ” or even mixtures with jet black and other colours like he is ”Red black”. This tells us that not only are there are different grades of Asmar and Adam which are shades of black , but there are also words to describe shades of jet black.

 

Fiqqatu Lughghah, Chapter 13 – The Levels of Blackness in Humans, Page 126 الثعالبي فقة اللغة فصل الثالث عشر في تَرْتِيبِ سَوَادِ الإنْسَانِ

”If there is minimal blackness in a complexion, it is asmar. إذا عَلاَهُ أَدْنَى سَوَادٍ فَهُوَ أسْمَرُ
If it’s blackness is increased with some visible yellow , it is Asham . فإنْ زَادَ سَوَادُهُ مَعَ صُفْرَةٍ تَعْلُوهُ فَهُوَ أَصْحَمُ
If it’s blackness is increased on asmar, it is adam . فإنْ زَادَ سَوَادُهُ عَلَى السُّمْرَةِ فَهُوَ آدَمُ
If it’s blackness is increased on adam , it is asham فإنْ زَادَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ فَهُوَ أَسْحَمُ
If it’s blackness is extreme it is adlam.” فإنِ اشْتَدَّ سَوَادُهُ فَهُوَ أدْلَمُ

 

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Every jet black can still generally considered as black

Ibn Sakeet tell us in his book Kitaab Al Al Faadh ( pages 152-153 ) that

”They say from the black men he is As Shadeed Al Udmah and from them is the Adlam and he is As Shadeed Al Udmah

…. and from them is The Adi’j and he is As Shadeed Al Udmah … and from them is Al Asda and he is As Shadeed Al Udmah ..etc

Al Asamy ” it is said the Adi’j is jet black … and the Al Adi’j is a severe blackness ( blacker than jet black ) of the iris

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قال ابن السكيت في كتاب الافاظ ص ١٥٢ – ١٥٣

وقالوا من الرجال الأسود وهو الشديد الأدمة…ومنهم الأدلم وهو الشديد الأدمة

ومنهم الأدعج وهو الشديد الأدمة…ومنهم الأصدأ وهو الشديد الأدمة…إلخ

الأصمعي يقال رجل أدعج أسود…والدعج شدة سواد الحدقة…إلخ

ويقال للأسود الدحامس…والأدلم

In a more modern scheme we see even more detailed descriptions

In Al Dakherah , Ahmed Idrees Al Qiraafy Shihaab Al Deen ( 626-684 hijri) gives another detailed breakdown of how the Arabs described people using colours (Some of these words are still used today) Chapter 10 Page 426.

في الكتاب الذخيرة قال شهاب الدين أبو العباس أحمد بن أبي العلاء إدريس بن عبد الرحمان بن عبد الله بن يلين الصنهاجي

If he is severely black , it is called Haalik إذا كان الرجل شديد السواد قيل: حالك

If black is mixed with red .It is called: Dhughmaan فإن خالط سواده حمرة قيل: دغمان.

If it is lessened It is called: As haam فإن صفا لونه قيل: أسحم

If it is mixed with yellow It is called: As’ haam فإن خالط السواد صفرة. قيل: أصحم.

If there is darkness it is called: Arbad فإن كدر لونه قيل: أربد

If it is lighter than that it is called: Abyadh فإن صفا عن ذلك قيل : أبيض

If it has less yellow and leans more towards black : It is called Adam فإن رقت الصفرة، ومال إلى السواد قيل: آدمي اللون

If it is lighter than Arbad but darker than Adam it is called : Shadeed AlUdmah فإن كان دون الاربد وفوق الادمة قيل: شديد الادمة،

If it is a fair Udmah : It is said: Shadeed Al Sumaurah. فإن رق من الأدمة . قيل : شديد السمرة

If it is lighter than that . It is called: Asmar . فإن صفا عن ذلك . قيل : أسمر اللون

If it is lighter than that. It is called :light /fair asmar فإن صفا عن ذلك . قيل : رقيق السمرة

If it is lighter and leans towards white and red it is called AsSumaurah with redness on it and it is said a light sumurah with red.

فإن صفا ومال إلى البياض والحمرة . قيل : صافي السمرة تعلوه حمرة . ويقال : رقيق السمرة بحمرة

If it is much lighter it is called fair sumurah and it is not said white because it is leprosy فان صفا لونه جدا قيل صافي السمرة ، ولا يقال : أبيض . لان البياض هو البرص

If it is pure white it is called: AnSah فإن خلص بياضه قيل : انصح

If a persons white is very white . it is called: Ashqar وإن كان في بياضه شقرة . قيل : أشق

If it is even whiter . It is called : Ashkal فإن زاد على ذلك . قيل : أشكل

If there is extra redness with it. It is called: Asqhar فان كان مع ذلك حمرة زائدة . قيل : أشقر

If it has freckles with it. it is called : Anmash . فإن كان مع ذلك نمش ، قيل : أنمش

If it is lighter than that and leans towards yellow without any defect . It is called : AsHab فان صفا لونه ومال إلى الصفرة من غير علة . قيل : أسحب اللون .

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Whoever said that the Prophet was black should be killed has been taken out of context ( Kitaab As Shifaa Page 220)

Qaaady Iyaadh narrated that Ahmed Ibn Abi Suleiman said that the ‘ Whoever said that the Prophet was jet black should be killed’

مَنْ قَالَ: إِنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ أَسْوَدَ، يُقْتَلُ

Although Qaady Iyaad narrated the above said, it did not stop him from mentioning:

“Most of the Arabs have Udmah and they are from the blacks”.

كتاب الشفاء
غالب على الالوان العرب ادمة فهم من السود

It is very important to understand why anyone would say such a thing. The misunderstanding lies in the translation. The key words here are jet black.

In simple English the term black people is used generally when talking about someone who has light or dark skin and particularly those who are PERCEIVED to have African ancestry but when giving a detailed description specific details are required, such as how light or dark the person is. Imagine a criminal investigation in which someone is described as being as black as coal when he or she was actually the colour of caramel. This person would walk away free of charge. Or in marriage, this would be considered deception.

No one would’ve considered Nelson Mandela to be as black as coal nor would they have described him to be, but yet he was a black man! Shades of brown all the way to black are not exclusive to those who are PERCEIVED as people with what we call African today or those who are PERCEIVED as people with African ancestry. One thing that does make ”black people” stand out from others is the texture of their hair, which is most commonly of a wooly nature, although not exclusively so.

 

In Al Faaiq fee Ghareeb AlHadeeth page 444 , Abu AQaasim Mhmood ibn Umar Al Zamkashri ( 467) he says, ”The predominant hair texture type amongst the Arabs is wooly hair and amongst the non Arabs is lank hair.”

الغالب علي العرب جعودة الشعر و علي العجم سبوطته

Read more about the hair type of the Arabs here.


We should not say that the Prophet was jet black but we can say he was from the blacks !

The scholars have unanimously agreed that the Arabs are from the blacks ( Read more ) and ranged in colour in different shades of black and the Prophet Mohammed may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him was an Arab and did not look like the Ajam . On top of that, there are authentic narrations of him Mohammed being described as Asmar.

 

قال: ورواه حميد كما أخبرنا، ثم ساق بإسناده عن يعقوب بن سفيان، حدثني عمرو بن عون وسعيد بن منصور قالا: حدثنا خالد بن عبد الله عن حميد الطويل، عن أنس بن مالك قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أسمر اللون.

الحافظ أبو بكر البزار عن علي، عن خالد بن عبد الله، عن حميد، عن أنس، وحدثناه محمد بن المثنى قال: حدثنا عبد الوهاب قال: حدثنا حميد عن أنس قال: لم يكن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بالطويل ولا بالقصير، وكان إذا مشى تكفأ، وكان أسمر اللون.

قال: ورواه حميد كما أخبرنا، ثم ساق بإسناده عن يعقوب بن سفيان، حدثني عمرو بن عون وسعيد بن منصور قالا: حدثنا خالد بن عبد الله عن حميد الطويل، عن أنس بن مالك قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أسمر اللون.



One thing that does make ”black people” stand out from others is the texture of their hair, which is most commonly of a wooly nature, although not exclusively so.

In Al Faaiq fee Ghareeb Al Hadeeth, Abu AQaasim Mhmood ibn Umar Al Zamkashri ( 467) he said,

”The predominant hair texture type amongst the Arabs is wooly hair and amongst the non Arabs is lank hair.”

الفاءق في غريب الحديث ص ٤٦٧

الغالب علي العرب جعودة الشعر و علي العجم سبوطته

Read more about the hair type of the Arabs here.


Other meanings of black

Sometimes the word blacken be used to mean sadness or distress and this is witnessed in the Quran, as explained by many scholars.

And Allah the most high’s words

“When new comes to one of them, of a female, his face darkens, and he is vexed.”
And Allah the most high’s words “And when news comes to one of them of a girl” this means the news comes to one of them about the birth of a girl.”

Blackening of the face means it changes and it is meant Black that is the opposite of white. And it is a metaphor used for the dispair of having a girl ” And the Arabs say for everything that is disliked , his face has blackened with dispair and sadness these are the words of Zijaaj.”

تفسير القرطبي
محمد بن أحمد الأنصاري القرطبي

قوله تعالى : وإذا بشر أحدهم بالأنثى ظل وجهه مسودا وهو كظيم قوله تعالى : وإذا بشر أحدهم بالأنثى أي أخبر أحدهم بولادة بنت .

ظل وجهه مسودا أي متغيرا ، وليس يريد السواد الذي هو ضد البياض ، وإنما هو كناية عن غمه بالبنت . والعرب تقول لكل من لقي مكروها : قد اسود وجهه غما وحزنا ; قاله الزجاج .

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