Shadeed Al Udmah – Dodgy translations

By now, everyone should know what the true meaning of Adam Shadeed Al Udmah means according to how it was understood by the Arabs themselves and the scholars of the past. You would think that authors of books and people who are supposed to have knowledge would know too but don’t be fooled. The following is a few translations that can be found online by doing a quick google search.
History of Islamic Philosophy: With View of Greek Philosophy and Early ...
By I.M.N. Al-Jubouri
Ali himself said, ‘The Messenger of Allah was sent (on his prophetic mission) on Monday and I accepted Islam on the Wednesday.’ As an old man Ali was stout and a little under average height, with a very tawny complexion, thick hair receding at the front and an extremely full beard that spread across his entire chest

History of Caliphs –Translated from the Original Arabic, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 1881 p.171
Adam Shadid al-Udma”, translated as; “very tawny complexioned” by Major S.H. Jarret

It’s a shame that people have to revert to those who are not recognised Islamic scholars of the past to understand the language, history and culture of the Arabs to get their understandings.
What does very tawny even mean?
The scholars of he past made it very very clear that Adam Shadeed Al Udmah means jet black and that it is of the darkest of complexions that a human can have.
Here is a reminder of what the scholars said Adam Shadeed Al Udmah means :
This phrase is used a countless number of times to describe various companions of the Prophet Mohammed صلى الله عليه و سلم and others such as Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Umar bin Al Khataab , Muadh Ibn Jabal , Abdullah Ibn Masood, Yazeed Ibn Muawiyyah, Fadhl ibn Abbaas Ibn Utabah, Bilal Ibn Rabah may Allah be pleased with them and Musa alayhi Al Salam just to name a few.
Let us look at the colour Adam (ادم) first:

1.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

As you can see, the colour Aadam(آدم ) by itself is very dark and not a light colour which most English speaking translators try to claim without any evidence.

2. Another great scholar called Ibn Sayaadah said, when explaining the meaning of the word Asham(اسحم ) in his book:

Al Hakm Al Muheet Al A’dam , Chapter 3, page 215

‘Al Asham wa Al Suhaam wa Al Sahmah means black(ness) and every black is Asham…. And the two suhaams are shadeed Al Udmah.


المحكم والمحيط الأعظم – ج 3 ص 215

السّحَمُ والسُّحامُ والسُّحْمَةُ: السوَاد وكل أسود أسْحَمُ…والإسْحِمانُ، الشَّديد الأدمة


3. In another section he said السواد شدة الأدمة which translates to ” jet black is an intense Udmah”in other words jet black and Shadeed Al Udmah mean the same thing.

4. 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.”


سير أعلام النبلاء ج٢ ص ١٦٨

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

5. In Kitaab Al Alfaadh by Ibn Sakeet in the Chapter of colours, page 153 he said

‘ … from the the black men , and he is Shadeed al Udmah” in other words and from the people who are (jet) black in complexion they are also called Shadeed Al Udmah.


كتاب الألفاظ ١٥٣

قالوا : و من الرجال الاسود، و هو شديد الادمة


6. Another clear explanation of this can be found in the book called Fiqqatu Al Lughah(فقةاللغة). Chapter 13 , page 126.In this chapter, the scholar explains the levels of blackness in humans.

‘….. and if it (the colour) is darker than (the colour) Adam then it is (called) Asham( refer to point 2).

إذا عَلاَهُ أدنى سَوَاد فهو أسْمَر، فإنْ زاد سَوَادُهُ مَعَ صُفْرَةٍ تعلوه فهو أصْحَمُ، فإن زاد سَوَادُه على السُّمْرَة فهو آدم، فإن زاد على ذلك فهو أسحم، فإن اشتدّ سواده فهو أدلم.


7. The student of Sibaweey was nicknamed Natftweey because his udmah complexion resembled crude oil, which is a jet black colour.

لطائف المعارف ص٤٨

قال الثعالبي لقب نفطويه لدمامته و ادمته تشبيها (له ) بالنفط


8. Ibn Syadah said when given a description , in his book Kitaab Al Mukhassas ( المخصص) Chapter 1 Page 202

”and Aswad ( jet black ) is Shadeed Al Udmah a (jet)black man”

المخصص ج 1 ص202

والسواد شدة الأدمة رجل اسود


9. 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. 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

Without even having to explain what Adlam means it is quite clear as to what shaded Al Udmah meant to Al Tabary.

The great grammarian Ibn Sakeet gives us further clarification 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


10. Al Baladhaari reports in Ansaab Al Ashraaaf Chapter 1 page 505

And when Abdul Malik mentioned Ibn Abi Bakarah, he says, ” The black ( Abi Bakarah) is a master of the people of the East”, and Abdullah Ibn Abi Bakarah was Adam Shadeed Al Udmah ( jet black ) ….

انساب الاشراف ج ١ ص ٥٠٥

وَكَانَ عبد الملك ، إِذَا ذكر ابن أبي بكرة ، يقول : الأسود سيد أهل المشرق ، وَكَانَ عُبَيْد الله آدم شديد الأدمة ، مفلج الثنايا ، طوالا ، أبرج العينين ، ضخم الرأس ، غليظ الوسط.


11.In Ibn Katheer’s Tafseer of the the Quran chapter 2 he narrates,

Mu’awiya said, Call Abdullah bin Mas’adah al Fazari and he was Adam Shadeed Al Udmah Muaywah then he said (to Masa’dah) whiten your progeny with this Roman slave woman.”


تفسيرالقرآنالعظيمج2 – 3آلعمران – 4النسآء ص ٢٤٧

قال حدثني خديج خصى لمعاوية قال قال لي معاوية ادع لي عبد الله بن مسعدة الفزاري فدعوته وكان آدم شديد الأدمة فقال دونك هذه الجارية لجارية رومية بيض بها ولدك

Ibn Katheer narrates about the same sahaaby in another chapter but in a slightly different way . This time he says Aswad Shadeed Al Udmah instead of Adam Shadeed Al Udmah as he did before but in a different context.

Ibn Katheer narrates in his book Tafseer Al Quran Chapter 10:

Abdullah ibn Mas’adah Al Faraazy was Aswad Shadeed Al Udmah

قال عماد الدين أبو الفداء إسماعيل بن كثير في كتابه تفسيرالقرآنالعظيم (تفسير ابن كثير) – ج 10

عبداللهبنمساعدةالفزارىكان أسودشديدالأدمة

Ibn Katheer mentions him again in another book of his and describes the same sahaabah using only the word Aswad

Ibn Katheer says in his book Al Bidaayah wa Al Nihaayah Chapter 8 page 149

And Mu’awiya said, Call Abdullah bin Mas’adah al Fazari the servant of Fatimah the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, for me and he was Aswad. Then he said (to Masa’dah) whiten your progeny with her”


و قال: ثم وهبها لعبد الله بن مسعدة الفزاري مولى فَاطِمَةُ بِنْتُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وكان أسود فقال له: بيض بها ولدك، وهذا من فقه معاوية ونحريه

12. Sometimes the colour Adam alone can be intended to mean Aswad. Both Ibn Hajjar and Asmaaey have testified to this when giving an explanation of one of the ahadith that describe the Prophet Mohammed صلى الله عليه و سلم. In Fathul Baari bi sharh al Bukhari (فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري) Chapter 6 ,page 658 Ibn Hajjar said

؛؛In regards to the part of the hadith ‘ he was not white and not Adam’ …. What it is intended here is to mean he was not intensely white nor was he intensely Adam/ Aswad (jet black)؛؛

ليس بالابيض و لا الادم ليس بصواب…….. لان المراد انه ليس بالابيض الشديد البيضااء و لا بالادم الشديد الادمة


Ghareeb Al hadeeth Al Harby (غريب الحديث الحربي) Chapter 2, page 1141.

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

قوله ليس بآدم……. عن الاصمعي : الآدم السواد

Here is another example of why it is not always necessary to add the intensifier shadeed to describe someone with a jet black complexion.

The Description Of Moses alayhis salaam صفة موسى عليه السلام

13. Sahih al-Bukhari 3438 Book 60, Hadith 109

And as for Musa he was Adam in complexion, a slender build as if he was from the men of Zut.”

وَأَمَّا مُوسَى فَآدَمُ جَسِيمٌ سَبْطٌ كَأَنَّهُ مِنْ رِجَالِ الزُّطِّ ‏”‏‏

Ibn Taymiyyah makes mention of an authentic narration that mentions people of Zut being jet black in colour

Jamea Al Masaail chapter 5 page 78

…..jet black skinned men as if they were from the men of Al Zut

قال ابن تيمية في كتابه جامعالمسائلالحديثيةبدءالخلقوالملائكةوالجنوالأنبياء ج ٥ص٧٨

أخرج ابن مردويه وأبو نعيم في الدلائل عن ابن مسعود قال : خرج رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قبل الهجرة إلى نواحي مكة فخط لي خطا وقال : لا تحدثن شيئا حتى آتيك، ثم قال : لا يهولنك شيء تراه، فتقدم شيئا ثم جلس فإذا رجال سود كأنهم رجال الزط وكانوا كما قال الله تعالى : كادوا يكونون عليه لبدا .

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.


مسند أحمد بن حنبل ج 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.

قال ابن منظور في كتابه لسان العرب

السَّحَمُ والسُّحام والسُّحْمَةُ السواد وقال الليث السّحْمَةُ سواد كلون الغراب

Al Qurtobi said in his book Kitab Al Mufhim Chapter 6 page 721

Wa Al Sahm : (jet) black the plural of Asham and it is Shadeed Al Udmah

قال القرطبي في كتابه المفهم ج 6 ص 501

و السحم السود جمع اسحم و هو شديد الادمة

Tafseer Al Baydhaawy Chapter 3 page 29

Verily (Musa) alayhi Asalaam was Adaam shadeed Al Udmah jet black.

تفسير البيضاوي ج 3 ص 27

روي: انه علي السلام كان ادم شديد الادمة.

14. 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

الوافيبالوفياتج 16 – سهلعبثر

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

In conclusion, Adam Shadeed al Al Udmah means Aswad(jet black). The meaning is clear to the Islamic scholars of language and fiqh, and therefore should be clear to us all.