Sunday, 2 June 2013

Explaining the 'Ethiopian whose head is like a raisin' hadith MINUS the Christian missionary desperation

There’s a fair few disingenuous Christians (and folk of other faith persuasions) who are erroneously attempting to present the following hadith as racist:

Listen and obey (your chief) even if an Ethiopian whose head is like a raisin were made your chief

Actually, if people stopped to think they would realise this hadith shows the opposite of racism and even destroys racism against our black brothers and sisters. Think about it, the hadith is telling you that you must obey your leader regardless of his colour. From it we derive that there is nothing wrong with black people assuming leadership roles. In the Christian West black people have really struggled against institutional racism and are still struggling against it today, yet here roughly 1400 years ago we have the Prophet of God destroying institutional racism.

The fruit of Islam is black imams, scholars and leaders as well as inter-racial marriages and mixed race children. Do these folk even know that one of the imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah is black. Let me put it to you again, the imam of the holiest place in Islam is black (Sheik Adil Kalbani). It’s through Islam that black people are allowed to flourish and have flourished in the past. Here are a couple of quotes from an interview with the imam:

“Our Islamic history has so many famous black people,” said the imam, as he sat leaning his arm on a cushion in the reception room of his home. “It is not like the West.”

“Any qualified individual, no matter what his color, no matter where from, will have a chance to be a leader, for his good and his country’s good.”


Going back to the hadith, Shadid Lewis (a black American convert to Islam) explains the hadith in the video. The likening to the head as a raisin was descriptive and had no intention of racism. As Shadid Lewis points out, some Afro-hair can appear in the likeness of raisin/s with tight curls. My personal view is that this comment differentiating or specifying  the Ethiopians based on their appearance may have had something to do with the class divide in Ethiopian societies (as well as the societies that had Ethiopians residing therein).

We know Ethiopia was a kingdom at that time so there would have been a class divide - the lower class Ethiopians may have had their hair in a certain style that was likened to a raisin. Another interesting point, Shadid also points out that the Hadith mentions Ethiopians and not black people specifically.

However, the main idea one comes away with once thinking about the hadith and all the excellent work Prophet Muhammad did to fight discrimination against black people is that there was no racist intent in the comment at all and it is a comment that opposes racism.

We have a statement (the hadith) which is destroying institutional racism yet mischievous Islamophobes (many of which are Christian missionaries desperate to prevent black Christians from converting to Islam) have disingenuously presented it as a racist hadith.

Perhaps the negative and deceptive spin these two Christian missionaries put on to this hadith reflects some sort of anti-black prejudice on THEIR part!

Anybody with any sort of scholarship and/or insight into Islam will know Prophet Muhammad was not racist. Sadly the two Christians (David Wood and Sam Shamoun) in this video have no regard for scholarship and accuracy here:

From Prophet Muhammad we realise racism is 'ignorance'.

Muslims believe there were black Prophets (in fact Prophets of every skin colour) as Allah (God) sent warners to every nation.

Prophet Muhammad had many black friends (who are loved in Islam), approved marriages between Black and Arab, the first muezzin (caller to prayer - which is a very important and honourable role in Islam) was indeed a black man (Bilal) and the Prophet's nurse was Abyssinian (Umm Aymen)

Did Paul have any such relationships with black people? Did Mark, Matthew, Luke and John ever meet a black person never mind befriend and love them (like Prophet Muhammad did)?

From the New Testament, The Ethiopian eunuch seems to be the first black person to become a Christian - at the hands of Philip [Acts 8:26-40]. There are very few details about this man. In fact Philip disappears after the Ethiopian's baptism.

For me, this is another sign that Prophet Muhammad (p) is indeed the Last Messenger of God. Surely the last Messenger of God would have had such fine teachings concerning race and relations with black people especially since they are indeed generally the most victimised when it comes to race in the history of mankind.

Also see the post on the Christian claim of seeing a black woman in your dream means an epidemic


Anonymous said...

The white Christian guy in the video says he called black ppl raisin heads is a liar. It's not calling black ppl raisin heads. That white guy saying that sounds racist

Anonymous said...

Can you please name some prominent black people in saudi arabia or afghanistan or sudan or egypt or any of the gulf states or yemen or mali or pakistan or any islamic country ?. Even in countries like nigeria blacks are only prominent because they are 90% or more of the population. By the way what is the arabic word for a black person ? is it raisin head? or something else ?.

Yahya Snow said...


I don't reside in any of those countries you mention but the imam of Makkah is a black man. He is very famous and well respected.

Read the blog post for more information on him.

Also look up Abu Ameena Bilal Philips, he is based in Qatar and is well recognised and respected. He is of Jamaican origin

The word for black person would be similar to that in English. Aswad (the colour black). Rajul Aswad (black man) or sha7's Aswad (black person). Not raisin head. Don't let the lies on the internet fool you.



Anonymous said...

Asalaama Alaykum.
I hope I don't offend you, but you seem slightly misinformed regarding the subject yourself. You post the hadith and then a video of an African American as if to justify the alleged racism in the hadith by presenting a black person to explain it. Do you realise how that makes your argument look. Not only do you distance yourself from the supposed "black" people but you class them in a different category to yourself by doing this.
You did make a good point regarding that the hadith indeed pointed to an "Ethiopian" and not all "black" people, as indeed many of the Arabs during the prophets time were black skinned including his adopted son Zaid.
There is definitely a distinction in Ethiopian classes. It is most likely that the Ethiopians sold into slavery were referred to as raisin heads, and not the ruling classes who actually conquered southern Arabia. Indeed to this day many groups among the south Sudanese and Ethiopia adopt strange scars, ornaments and head wrapping practices from an early age. This makes the individual develop a strangely shaped head, or a smaller than average size
“Black" people being victimised in most of human history makes no sense. Maybe you mean in recent history? As there are indeed evidences to prove that the first man Adam was dark skinned. The word Adam itself means someone from Earth or black mud as stated in the Quran. However that's beside the point, as the matter at hand here is that race is a recent phenomenon and actually has no basis in science or even most of human history.
Where does black begin and where does black end and go into brown and brown into white. Would modern day Arabs be all the same or indeed are they the same as the ancient Arabs. The answer to that is a resounding NO! Racial identity changes every few decades. If we brought the Sahaba and the prophets back to life, some would be considered black in the context it is used today. Prophet Musa was described as having curly hair and brown skin. Would he be considered black? Indeed if most of the Arabs at the time of the prophet were dark skinned, when they called someone white does it mean white in the sense of a European with white skin?

Would an aboriginal in Australia be considered black in Europe? Probably yes. Would that same Aboriginal be considered black in Nigeria, probably not? Also is modern day America the same as ancient native America from say 600 years ago? Would a dark skinned Arab Egyptian be considered black in Uganda? Probably not, would that same Egyptian be considered black in Germany? Probably yes.
In some parts of Russia they refer to people from the Caucus Mountains as being black and they often get attacked and killed by racist skinhead Russians. Are the people from the Caucus mountains black in the sense a Kenyan is black?

Do you see where I am getting at? When we discuss race and skin colour too many Muslims get sucked into the fallacy without stepping back and thinking for themselves if it actually makes sense.
Do you know how many ancestors every single modern human has? Well it is in the millions. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that you are descended from someone you would consider black, or the blackest of black whatever that might be in your mind, and maybe not even too many generations ago.
Racism should be considered a problem for all of us, as it indeed is, as we all have ancestors of every colour we think we know.
May the blessings of Allah be upon our messenger Muhammad (pbuh) and may Allah bless each and every Muslim. Anything I wrote that was correct was form Allah and anything misleading was from Shaitan.

The Riz said...

You know, I never saw this hadith as racist. The idea that comes into my mind when raisins are mentioned are 'wrinkles' - that is the distinguishing characteristic about them. It seems to me, Allah (swt) knows best, that it is simply talking about a man very advanced in age; meaning, do not turn your back in obedience just because he is a very old man.

But all of this has to do with husn udh-dhun - those people who have a good opinion of the Prophet (pbuh) will see goodness and wisdom in it, those with diseased hearts or preconceptions, will likely have their notions confirmed. And maybe that is how they are in life, always looking to nitpick the worst interpretations of people's words.