The following narration has been translated by many and spread in a very irresponsible way and at first glance it could appear to promote white supremacy or racism but the Arabic language is very rich with metaphors so when it is translated into English it must be translated with caution and explanations.
The common mis-translation for this that we see on many websites is as follows:
“Abu Darda reported that the Holy Prophet said: Allah created Adam when he created him (sic). Then He stroke (sic) his right shoulder and took out a white race as if they were seeds, and He stroke (sic) his left shoulder and took out a black race as if they were coals. Then He said to those who were in his right side: Towards paradise and I don’t care. He said to those who were on his left shoulder: Towards Hell and I don’t care.
There is no such thing as a single black race to the Arabs and in fact this was a social construct developed by racist Europeans.
The correct translation is:
وعن أبي الدرداء رضي الله عنه ، عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قال : ( خلق الله آدم حين خلقه ، فضرب كتفه اليمنى ، فأخرج ذرية بيضاء كأنهم الذر ، وضرب كتفه اليسرى فأخرج ذرية سوداء كأنهم الحمم ، فقال للذي في يمينه : إلى الجنة ، ولا أبالي ، وقال للذي في كتفه اليسرى : إلى النار ، ولا أبالي ) . رواه أحمد
“Abu Darda reported that the Holy Prophet said: Allah created Adam when he created him. Then He stroke his right shoulder and took out a white( bright) offspring as if they were seeds, and He stroke his left shoulder and took out a (black) gloomy offspring as if they were coals. Then He said to those who were in his right side: Towards paradise and I don’t care. He said to those who were on his left shoulder: Towards Hell and I don’t care.
We find other verses in the Quran in which the word black is used in reference to the a type of blackness related to evil and or despair and not skin complexion
And Allah the most high’s words
“When news 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 NOT meant Black that is the opposite of white. And it is a metaphor used for the despair of having a girl ” And the Arabs say for everything that is disliked , his face has blackened with despair and sadness these are the words of Zijaaj.”
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
We also have clear narrations that tell us that Allah doesn’t judge us according to our skin complexions
Saheeh Muslim Book 45, Hadith 42
Verily Allah does not look at your physical appearance and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.
42 صحيح مسلم كتاب 45 حديث
وعنْ أبي هريرةَ عبدِ الرحمنِ بنِ صخرٍ قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ الله، إنَّ الله لا ينْظُرُ إِلى أجْسَامِكُمْ ، ولا إِلى صُوَرِكمْ ، وَلَكن ينْظُرُ إلى قُلُوبِكمْ .
If we use the rational that those without knowledge use, this would mean that the Arabs are also destined to go to hell too because they were as black as ‘black people’ today and even REFERRED TO THEMSELVES AS BLACKS!
Saheeh Muslim book of Governance narration 1733
Who were the reds and who were the blacks and why?
Ibn Yaeesh explains the meaning of the narration in which the Prophet mohammed said that he was sent to every red and black in his book Sharh Al Mufassal page 48
The meaning of Al Aswad (The black) is because the majority of ( the Arabs ) are brown and jet black in colour.
و ذكر ابن يعيش في كتابه شرح المفصل ص ٤٨
المراد الاسود لان غالب عليم السمرة والسواد
Read more about the red and the black here
Abu Ubaid Al Qaasim Ibn Salaam gives further clarification 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) .
غريب الحديث لابن سلام رحمه الله الجزء ج ٤ ص ٣٨٨
قوله: الحمراء – يعني العجم والموالي، سموا بذلك لأن الغالب على ألوان العرب السمرة والأدمة، والغالب على ألوان العجم البياض والحمرة وهذا كقول الناس: إن أردت أن تذكر بني آدم فقلت: أحمرهم وأسودهم، فأحمرهم كل من غلب عليه البياض، وأسودهم من غلبت عليه الأدمة.
And in Saheeh Muslim book of Leadership narration 1733 without the name of the noble (jet) black man Sa’d Ibn Ubaadah may Allah have mercy upon him’s name
I heard the Messenger of Allah may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him say: Whomsoever from you is appointed by us to a position of authority and he conceals from us an amount as small as needle or even smaller than that, it would be considered to be embezzlement and will bring it forward on the Day of Judgment. The narrator says: A (jet) black skinned man Mujaahid said it was Sa’d Ibn Ubaadah from the Ansar stood up it is as if I can see him right now and said: Messenger of Allah, take back from me your assignment. He said: What has happened to you? The man said: I have heard you say so and so. He said: I say that now: Whosoever from you is appointed by us to a position of authority, he should declare everything, big or small, and whatever he is given therefrom he should take, and he should restrain himself from taking that which is forbidden.
مسند احمد ج ٤ ص ١٩١
حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي مرتين ثنا يحيى بن سعيد عن إسماعيل بن خالد قال حدثني قيس عن عدي بن عميرة الكندي قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم : يا أيها الناس من عمل منكم لنا على عمل فكتمنا منه مخيطا فما فوقه فهو غل يأتي به يوم القيامة قال فقام رجل من الأنصار أسود قال مجالد هو سعد بن عبادة كأني انظر إليه قال يا رسول الله أقبل عني عملك فقال وما ذاك قال سمعتك تقول كذا وكذا قال وأنا أقول ذلك الآن من استعملناه على عمل فليجئ بقليله وكثيره فما أوتي منه أخذه وما نهى عنه انتهى
تعليق شعيب الأرنؤوط : إسناده صحيح على شرط مسلم
This noble woman may Allah have mercy upon her would also be destined for hell too if we use the rational of the ignorant the same word black or اسود is used here too.
No one will challenge that Bilal may Allah be pleased with him was very black skinned
”Whoever saw Bilal would say he is Adam Shadeed Al Udmah ( jet black )”
ابن سعد كتاب طبقات الكبرى ج ٣ ص ٢٢٠
عن مكحول قال : حدثني من رأى بلالا رجلا آدم ، شديد الأدمة ، نحيفا ، طوالا
Still unsure? What does Adam Shadeed Al Udmah mean( the words used to describe the complexion of Bilal)?
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
Sahih al-Bukhari 1149
At the time of the Fajr prayer the Prophet may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him questioned Bilal, “Tell me about the best deed you did after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal replied, “I did nothing worth mentioning except that whenever I performed ablution in the day or at night, I prayed after that ablution as much as was written for me.”
حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ نَصْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي حَيَّانَ، عَنْ أَبِي زُرْعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لِبِلاَلٍ عِنْدَ صَلاَةِ الْفَجْرِ “ يَا بِلاَلُ حَدِّثْنِي بِأَرْجَى عَمَلٍ عَمِلْتَهُ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ، فَإِنِّي سَمِعْتُ دَفَّ نَعْلَيْكَ بَيْنَ يَدَىَّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ ”. قَالَ مَا عَمِلْتُ عَمَلاً أَرْجَى عِنْدِي أَنِّي لَمْ أَتَطَهَّرْ طُهُورًا فِي سَاعَةِ لَيْلٍ أَوْ نَهَارٍ إِلاَّ صَلَّيْتُ بِذَلِكَ الطُّهُورِ مَا كُتِبَ لِي أَنْ أُصَلِّيَ. قَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ دَفَّ نَعْلَيْكَ يَعْنِي تَحْرِيكَ.
Lets compare the description of Bilal radi Allahu anhu to
Ali Ibn Abi Talib,radi Allahu anhu the beloved cousin of the prophet sullahu alayhi wa Salaam and a member of Ahlu Al bait:
Umar bin Al Khataab ,radi Allahu anhu
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.”……
Al Waqdy has recorded from hadith Aasim Ibn Abdullah on the authority of Saalim bn Abdullah Ibn Umar about his father , he said: Verily Al Udmah came to them from before his maternal uncles of Bani Ma’dhoon and Umar was white in colour and he did not marry to full fill his desires but rather he married when he wanted children. and Aasim Ibn Abdullah’s hadith is not needed nor is the hadith of Al Waqdy .
And Al Waqdy determined that the Sumaratu and Udamah of Umar bin Al Khattab came from eating oil in the year of famine, And this narration is rejected. And what is most correct in this issue , and Allah knows best is the narration of Sufyan Al Thawry on the authority of Aasim bin Buhdalah on the authority of Zir bin Habaysh who said, ” I saw Umar and he was Adam Shadeed Al Udmah
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
قد ذكر الواقدي من حديث عاصم بن عبيد الله عن سالم بن عبد الله بن عمر عن أبيه قال : إنما جاءتنا الأدمة من قبل أخوالي بني مظعون وكان أبيض لا يتزوج لشهوة إلا لطلب الولد وعاصم بن عبيد الله لا يحتج بحديثه ولا بحديث الواقدي
….وزعم الواقدي أن سمرة عمر وأدمته إنما جاءت من أكله الزيت عام الرمادة . وهذا منكر من القول . وأصح ما في هذا الباب والله أعلم حديث سفيان الثوري عن عاصم بن بهدلة عن زر بن حبيش قال : رأيت عمر شديد الأدمة
Many of the ARAB companions were described the same was as being JET BLACK. Read more about the term ADAM SHADEED AL UDMAH here
How black is black?
By Ibn Hazm may Allah have mercy upon him understood Shadeed al Sumurah to mean as black as tar :
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 Sumurah.’’
قال ابن حزم الاندلسي في كتابه مجوهرات انساب العرب صفحة ٤٥
”والحسن، كان يلقب أبا الزفت لشدة سمرته
Who was Al Hassan?
Al Hassan was the great grandson of Ali Ibn Ali Taalib which mans he was from Ahlu Bait (The most honourable members of the family of the Prophet Mohammed sullahu alayhi wa salaam)
Again if we follow the rhetoric of the ignorant, he too would be heading for the hellfire!
Abu Bakr used to say, “Please Muhammad by doing good to his family.”
رواه البخاري 3751
حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ مَعِينٍ، وَصَدَقَةُ، قَالاَ أَخْبَرَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، عَنْ شُعْبَةَ، عَنْ وَاقِدِ بْنِ مُحَمَّدٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ ارْقُبُوا مُحَمَّدًا صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ.