Nabtal Ibn Haarith

There have been many claims about how the Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon compared the devil to a ‘black man’ . These claims are based upon a report that have gone virtually unexplained and or unchallenged.
Let us first, look at the report :
Al Qurtoby may Allah have mercy upon him mentions in his explanation of the Quran. In his explanation, he uses the term ADAM:
Ibn Ishaaq said, ” Nabtal was a stocky man with unkempt hair on his head and his beard was unkempt too, he was ADAM in complexion with red eyes and reddish black cheeks. He was a deformed creation.” And he(Nabtal) is whom the Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon said, ”Whoever would like to see the devil should look at Nabtal.”
قاله ابن إسحاق . وكان نبتل رجلا جسيما ثائر شعر الرأس واللحية ، آدم أحمر العينين أسفع الخدين مشوه الخلقة ، وهو الذي قال فيه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : من أراد أن ينظر إلى الشيطان فلينظر إلى نبتل بن الحارث .

In Ansaab Al Ashraaf Chapter 1 page 275
”Nabtal Ibn Haarith is he who the Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon said, ”Whoever would like to see the devil should look at Nabtal. And he was very black in complexion with unkempt hairy and stocky”
جملمنأنسابالأشرافج 1 ص 275
نبتل بْن الحارث الَّذِي قَالَ رَسُول اللَّه صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «من أحبّ أن ينظر إلى شيطان، فلينظر إلى نبتل  وكان أدلم ثائر الشعر جسيمً،
We don’t have to even look at the authenticity of the report to see what it actually entails;
First of all, the term ”black” didn’t exist in the same the way it existed in the past until white racist elites (not all white people are racist) introduced this term to mean that black people are nothing but negative and lowly. They also referred it to Africans and even more specifically, Negro with variants in between who are ‘black’ and African but not Negro.  So it is important to note that when the word black was used by the Arabs to describe someone’s physical appearance, IT DIDN’T mean Negro. or African or lowly or anything negative!
In order for Arabic words to be understood properly, they must be understood according to how the Arabs of the past understood them.
In other words, modern understandings shouldn’t be freely used with ancient terms until the ancient terms are actually understood!
Secondly, Nabtal Ibn Haarith was an Arab and he was jet black in complexion, so if one insists on making the claim that the Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon enslaved ”black people” then they would have to explain this very point. The scholars of the past agreed that the Arabs were a black people!
His lineage is as follows:
Nabtal son of AlHaarith son of Qais son of Zaid son of Dhaya’h son of Zaid son of Malik son of Awf son of Amroo son of Awf son of Al Ansaary son of Al Aws
نَبْتَل بن الحارث بن قيس بن زيد بن ضبيعة بن زيد بن مالك بن عوف بن عمرو بن عوف الأنصاريّ الأوسيّ.

Abu Ubaid Al Qaasim Ibn Salaam explains this in his book Ghareeb Al Hadeeth, Chapter 4 page 388

And his saying Al Hamraa( The reds which means the whites) – It means the non Arabs and the clients (the red slaves and the red people that embraced Islam ) they were named that because the most predominant colours of the Arabs are Al Sumurah and Al Udmah and the most predominant colours of the non Arab is white and red and this is like the saying of the people : If you wanted to mention mankind then you’d say the reds and the blacks. So the reds are all of those that are overwhelmed with whiteness and the blacks are those who are overwhelmed with Al Udmah (blackness) . 

غريبالحديثلابنسلامرحمهالله الجزء  ج٤  ص٣٨٨

قولهالحمراء – يعنيالعجموالموالي،سموابذلك لأنالغالبعلىألوانالعربالسمرةوالأدمة، والغالبعلىألوانالعجمالبياضوالحمرة وهذاكقولالناس: إنأردتأنتذكربنيآدمفقلتأحمرهم وأسودهم، فأحمرهمكلمنغلبعليهالبياض، وأسودهممنغلبتعليهالأدمة.


The scholars have explained that the term Adlam meant  Shadeed Al Udmah (very black ) and tall.

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 Adlam and he is As Shadeed Al Udmah”

 قالابنالسكيتفيكتابالافاظ   ص١٥٢١٥٣

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


In Tadheeb Al Lugghah Al Azhari may Allah have mercy upon him mentions :

Al Layth said that Adlam is from the jet black skinned tall men

تهذيب اللغة

قال الليث: الأدْلَمُ من الرجال الطويل الأسود


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

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

سيرأعلامالنبلاء  ج٢  ص١٦٨

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

Read more


Thirdly, If one wants to claim that Nabtal looked like the devil because of his jet black complexion then they would have to explain why the Prophet‘s may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him family had the same complexions as Nabtal.

Ibn Asaakir narrates in Taarikh Dimasq, Chapter 2 , page 12 that the Prophet’s cousin Ali Ibn Abu Taalib was jet black:
وقال زهير بْن معاوية : كَانَ علي يكنى أبا قاسم ، وكان رجلًا آدمشديدالأدمة ، ثقيل العينين عظيمهما ، ذا بطن ، أصلع ، وهو إلى قصر أقرب ، وكان أبيض الرأس واللحية

The darkness of the colour Adlam is equivalent to the blackness of charcoal:

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

‘‘Mohammed was Adam Shadeed Al Udama , Adlam and he was nicknamed father of Black coal because of his Udmah. Abu Ja’far called him charcoal.”

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

Mohammed Al Nafs Al Zaky was the great great great grandson of the Prophet sullahu alayhi wa salam, Ali may Allah be pleased upon him. This would mean that the Prophet’s sullahu alayhi wa salam own family would have looked like the devil based upon this erroneous claim!


They would also have to explain why the Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon companions had the same complexions as him.

Umar Bin Al Khataab may Allah be pleased with him

Ibn Birr said in his book Al Istiyaab fee Mariftu Al Ishaab Chapter 3 page 1146

” Zir ibn Habaysh and other than him recorded that Umar was Adam Shadeed Al Udmah and most of the scholars of the days of the people and their biographies and their news knew that.”

 قال ابن بر في كتابه الاستیعاب فی معرفة الأصحاب ، ج 3 ص

 ذكره زر بن حبيش وغيره بأنه كان آدم شديد الأدمة وهو الأكثر عند أهل العلم بأيام الناس وسيرهم وأخبارهم


Even more importantly, they would also have to explain why the Holy Prophet Moses may Allah’s peace be upon him was described to have been as black as Nabtal. The Prophet may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him respected Holy Prophet Moses may Allah’s peace be upon him to very high level!

In Musnad Ahmed Ibn Habal , Chapter 50 page 488

The Messenger of Allah may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said, And the description of Moses may peace be upon him : ” And I saw Moses intensely black skinned”

The words used here are Asham Adam which in another example which shows us how Adam and intense blackness are related.

مسندأحمدبنحنبلج 50 ص 488

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم في وصفه لموسى عليه السلام: “و رأيت موسى أسحم آدم”. رواه أحمد وغيره وصححه الأرناؤوط

Ibn Mandhor narrates in Lisaan Al Arab:

As Sahm wal Suhaam wal Sahmah is black and Al Layth said that As Sahmah is black like the blackness of the crow.

 قالابنمنظورفيكتابهلسانالعرب

السَّحَمُ والسُّحام والسُّحْمَةُ السواد وقالالليثالسّحْمَةُسوادكلونالغراب


Saheeh Al Bukhaari Book 65, Hadith 4638

A man from the Jews, was slapped on his face, came to the Prophet may allah’s peace and blessing be upon him and said, “O Muhammad! A man from your companions from the Ansar has slapped me on my face!” The Prophet may allah’s peace and blessing be upon him said, “Call him.” When they called him, the Prophet may allah’s peace and blessing be upon him said, “Why did you slap him?” He said, “O Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him ! While I was passing by the Jews, I heard him saying, ‘By Him Who CHOSE Moses above the human beings,’ I said, ‘Even above Muhammad?’ I became angry and slapped him on the face.” The Prophet may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him said, “DO NOT GIVE ME SUPERIORITY OVER THE OTHER PROPHETS, for on the Day of Resurrection the people will become unconscious and I will be the first to regain consciousness. Then I will see Moses holding one of the legs of the Throne. I will not know whether he has come to his senses before me or that the shock he had received at the Mountain, was sufficient for him.”

صحيح البخاري ٤٦٣٨

حَدَّثَنَامُحَمَّدُبْنُيُوسُفَ،حَدَّثَنَاسُفْيَانُ،عَنْعَمْرِوبْنِيَحْيَىالْمَازِنِيِّ،عَنْأَبِيهِ،عَنْأَبِيسَعِيدٍالْخُدْرِيِّـرضىاللهعنهـقَالَجَاءَرَجُلٌمِنَالْيَهُودِإِلَىالنَّبِيِّصلىاللهعليهوسلمقَدْلُطِمَوَجْهُهُوَقَالَيَامُحَمَّدُإِنَّرَجُلاًمِنْأَصْحَابِكَمِنَالأَنْصَارِلَطَمَوَجْهِي‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ ادْعُوهُ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَدَعَوْهُقَالَ ‏”‏ لِمَلَطَمْتَوَجْهَهُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالَيَارَسُولَاللَّهِ،إِنِّيمَرَرْتُبِالْيَهُودِفَسَمِعْتُهُيَقُولُوَالَّذِياصْطَفَىمُوسَىعَلَىالْبَشَرِ‏.‏ فَقُلْتُوَعَلَىمُحَمَّدٍوَأَخَذَتْنِيغَضْبَةٌفَلَطَمْتُهُ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ لاَتُخَيِّرُونِيمِنْبَيْنِالأَنْبِيَاءِ،فَإِنَّالنَّاسَيَصْعَقُونَيَوْمَالْقِيَامَةِفَأَكُونُأَوَّلَمَنْيُفِيقُ،فَإِذَاأَنَابِمُوسَىآخِذٌبِقَائِمَةٍمِنْقَوَائِمِالْعَرْشِ،فَلاَأَدْرِيأَفَاقَقَبْلِيأَمْجُزِيَبِصَعْقَةِالطُّورِ ‏”‏‏.‏

As previously mentioned , Al Layth said that Adlam means tall and jet black which clearly shows that he understood the words Adlam and Asham to mean the same thing, which is obvious since we already know that Asham means as black as a crow!

In Tadheeb Al Lugghah Al Azhari may Allah have mercy upon him mentions :

Al Layth said that Adlam is from the jet black skinned tall men

تهذيب اللغة

قال الليث: الأدْلَمُ من الرجال الطويل الأسود


Nabtal was an unattractive man:

Al Qurtobi also mentions that he was a deformed creation ie he was unattractive but this clearly had nothing to do with his complexion and therefore, there is no need to believe that مشوه الخلقة meant other than anything other than negative. If we are to assume that Nabtal was ugly because he was ”black”, then we would have to assume that most of the Arabs were unattractive too , including Prophets and companions of Prophets.

One of many other examples is in the narrations about Mohammed Ibn Maslamah, the Knight of the Prophet Mohammed may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, who was jet black in complexion and described as being the most handsome of the Arabs  

Seera A’ lam Al Nubala , The Sahaabah may Allah be pleased with them all Chapter 2 Page 372

Ibn Yunus said , Mohammed was present in the take over of Egypt and he was one of the men who climbed over the fort with Zubair. Ibaaya Ibn Rifa’h said , Mohammed Ibn Maslamah was jet black  and very tall.”

سيرأعلامالنبلاء  الصحابةرضواناللهعليهم  ج 2   ص  372  

قال ابن يونس : شهد محمد فتح مصر ، وكان فيمن طلع الحصن مع الزبير . قال عباية بن رفاعة : كانمحمدبنمسلمةأسودطويلاعظيما

Sahih Muslim 1801:

………You are the most handsome of the Arabs; should we pledge our women to you?

صحيحمسلم١٨٠١

 قَالَأَنْتَأَجْمَلُالْعَرَبِأَنَرْهَنُكَنِسَاءَنَا

As we know, the colour Adam is blackness in humans and therefore it is inconceivable to think that someone with an Adam complexion wouldn’t have been considered to be black today, especially if he had hair that was kinky, no matter how kinky it was.

The great scholar Al Thaa’labi said in his book Fiqqatu Luggha wa Al Arabiyyah,Page 348.

”The colour Adam is black(ness) in humans and white(ness)in camels.”

 قال ابو منصور الثعالبي في كتابه فقة اللغة  ص ٣٤٨

الادم من الناس السود و من الابل الابيض

فقة اللغة و سر العربية

ابو منصور الثعالبي


Jesus may Allah have mercy upon him was described as being Adam coloured and extremely beautiful Adam complexion

Sahih Al Bukhari , 169 , Book 1, Hadith 333

Abdullah Ibn Umar said,  the Messenger of Allah may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him  said one day between two people was the Dajjal . So he said,” Verily Allah the Blessed and All Mighty is not blind of one eye. Verily, the Masih al-Dajjal is blind in his right eye , like a grape that is swollen, and the Messenger of Allah may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him said: I was shown a vision in my dream  that near the Ka’bah was a an Adam(dark brown to jet black)  complexioned, the best of the Adam (dark brown to jet black)  that you can ever see, his locks of hair were falling on his shoulders. His hair was slightly kinky, and water trickled down from his head. He was placing his bands on the shoulders of two people while circumambulating the Ka’bah. I said: Who is he? They replied: Al-Masih son of Mary. And I saw behind him a man with very kinky hair, blind in his right eye who resembled Ibn Qatan immensely . He was making a circuit around the Ka’bah by placing both his hands on the shoulders of two people. I said: Who is he? They said; It is al-Masih al-Dajjal”

Note: Kinky hair only appears slightly kinky when it was wet. When kinky hair gets wet, it becomes heavier,looser and it drops.

صحيحالبخاريج١حديث ٣٣٣

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ إِسْحَاقَ الْمُسَيَّبِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَنَسٌ، – يَعْنِي ابْنَ عِيَاضٍ – عَنْ مُوسَى، – وَهُوَ ابْنُ عُقْبَةَ – عَنْ نَافِعٍ، قَالَ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عُمَرَ ذَكَرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمًا بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَىِ النَّاسِ الْمَسِيحَ الدَّجَّالَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى لَيْسَ بِأَعْوَرَ أَلاَ إِنَّ الْمَسِيحَ الدَّجَّالَ أَعْوَرُ عَيْنِ الْيُمْنَى كَأَنَّ عَيْنَهُ عِنَبَةٌ طَافِيَةٌ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَرَانِي اللَّيْلَةَ فِي الْمَنَامِ عِنْدَ الْكَعْبَةِ فَإِذَا رَجُلٌ آدَمُ كَأَحْسَنِ مَا تَرَى مِنْ أُدْمِ الرِّجَالِ تَضْرِبُ لِمَّتُهُ بَيْنَ مَنْكِبَيْهِ رَجِلُ الشَّعَرِ يَقْطُرُ رَأْسُهُ مَاءً ‏.‏ وَاضِعًا يَدَيْهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبَىْ رَجُلَيْنِ وَهُوَ بَيْنَهُمَا يَطُوفُ بِالْبَيْتِ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ هَذَا فَقَالُوا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ‏.‏ وَرَأَيْتُ وَرَاءَهُ رَجُلاً جَعْدًا قَطَطًا أَعْوَرَ عَيْنِ الْيُمْنَى كَأَشْبَهِ مَنْ رَأَيْتُ مِنَ النَّاسِ بِابْنِ قَطَنٍ وَاضِعًا يَدَيْهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبَىْ رَجُلَيْنِ يَطُوفُ بِالْبَيْتِ فَقُلْتُ مَنْ هَذَا قَالُوا هَذَا الْمَسِيحُ الدَّجَّالُ ‏”‏

 ConclusionAnyone with common sense would understand that, Nabtal’s complexion had no relationship to him resembling the devil, but rather it was related to the fact that he was unattractive in appearance and character. Not every ‘black person’ is attractive and neither is every ‘white person’ attractive. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

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