Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Race and Tribe

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Many passages of the Qur'an and the hadith call for the equality of all peoples in Islam. Yet at the same time, Islamic scriptures contain agitation against the Jews which would be considered today to be anti-Semitism (see Islamic anti-Semitism), and the Arabs and their language are given a superior place in the eyes of Allah and the tradition. Derogatory descriptions of black people, Ethiopians in particular, are found in sahih hadiths. Furthermore, overt racism against black people and Arab supremacism - the latter in the form of doctrine - are found in the works of many highly regarded Islamic scholars. All in all the picture of race, ethnicity, and what may be called "race-relations" is a complicated one in the Islamic tradition.

Anti-racism in scripture

It is important to take note of the verses and hadiths that discourage racism (though as mentioned in the introduction, Islamic anti-Semitism is covered in a separate article).

O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.

The circumstances of revelation (Asbab al-Nuzul) by Al-Wahidi for this verse says that it was revealed when a person derided another's lineage, and when another person made a racist complaint that a black man (Bilal) had been appointed by Muhammad to make the call to prayer.

(O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female") [49:13]. Said Ibn 'Abbas: "This was revealed about Thabit ibn Qays when he made a remark about the man who did not make room for him to sit: 'What, the son of so-and-so [referring to his mother]'. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: 'Who mentioned that woman?' Thabit stood up and said: 'I did, O Messenger of Allah!' The Messenger said to him: 'Look at the faces of those present'. And when he looked, he asked him: 'What do you see?' He said: 'I see white, red and black people'. The Prophet said: 'Well, you are not better than any of them unless it be through [the good practice of] religion and God-fearingness'. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse". Muqatil said: "On the day Mecca was conquered, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, ordered Bilal to climb on the roof of the Ka'bah and perform the call to prayer. 'Attab ibn Asid commented on this: 'Praise be to Allah, that Allah has taken my father to Him and made that he did not see this day'. Al-Harith ibn Hisham said: 'Did Muhammad not find any other caller to prayer except this black raven?' Suhayl ibn 'Amr said: 'Allah willing, he will change him'. Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, said: 'I am not going to make any comment; I am afraid that the Lord of heaven will divulge what I say!' Gabriel, peace be upon him, went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him about what they said. The Prophet summoned them and asked them about what they said and they admitted it. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse warning them against boasting about their lineages and abundance of wealth and against looking down on the poor".

In a hadith graded sahih by al-Albani[1], Muhammad said the following during the farewell pilgrimage (the word translated "righteousness" is taqwa - piety or reliosity):

Abu Nadrah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said during the middle of the day at the end of the pilgrimage,“O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no virtue of an Arab over a foreigner nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?” They said, “The Messenger of Allah has delivered the message.”

In a sahih hadith Muhammad criticizes boasting and reviling based on ancestry, which could be interpreted to apply to tribe and even ethnicity.

Abu Malik al-Ash'ari reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Among my people there are four characteristics belonging to pre-Islamic period which they do not abandon: boasting of high rank, reviling other peoples' genealogies, seeking rain by stars, and walling. And he (further) said: If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, she will be made to stand on the Day of Resurrection wearing a garment of pitch and a chemise of mange.

Unfortunately as we shall see in the following sections, such sentiments are somewhat undermined by some other sahih hadiths where we find prejudice against some Arab groups, and black people are used as negative imagery. In addition, many classical and modern Islamic scholars of high repute are guilty of promoting explicitly racist attitudes.

Race and Tribe in scripture

In the Quran

The purpose of race and tribe

O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.

Chosen lineages

God had chosen [istafa; lit. "taken 'the best' from"[2]] Adam and Noah and the families of Abraham and 'Imran in preference to others. They were descendants of one another; and God hears all and knows everything.


The Arabs of the desert [al-a'raab[3]; the Bedouins] are the worst in Unbelief and hypocrisy, and most fitted to be in ignorance of the command which Allah hath sent down to His Messenger: But Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise.
The desert Arabs [al-a'raab[4]; the Bedouins] say, "We believe." Say, "Ye have no faith; but ye (only) say, 'We have submitted our wills to Allah,' For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."


Remember, O children of Israel, the favours I bestowed on you, and made you exalted among the nations of the world.
And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."
Say: "Shall I point out to you something much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into apes and swine, those who worshipped evil;- these are (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the even path!"
We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you a messenger with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay! They say, "Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve Allah's Word: we need no more)." Nay, Allah's curse is on them for their blasphemy [kufrihim; lit. "their unbelief"]: Little is it they believe. And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith. Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that they deny (the revelation) which Allah has sent down, in insolent envy that Allah of His Grace should send it to any of His servants He pleases: Thus have they drawn on themselves Wrath upon Wrath. And humiliating is the punishment of those who reject Faith. When it is said to them, "Believe in what Allah Hath sent down, "they say, "We believe in what was sent down to us:" yet they reject all besides, even if it be Truth confirming what is with them. Say: "Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe?"
When they dishonoured their pledge We condemned them, and hardened their hearts. So they distort the words of the Scripture out of context, and have forgotten some of what they were warned against. You will always hear of treachery on their part except that of a few. But forbear and forgive them, for God loves those who do good.
O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say "We believe" with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, "If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!" If any one's trial is intended by Allah, thou hast no authority in the least for him against Allah. For such - it is not Allah's will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment. (They are fond of) listening to falsehood, of devouring anything forbidden [trans. Ahmad Ali: "Eavesdropping for telling lies, earning through unlawful means!"]. If they do come to thee, either judge between them, or decline to interfere. If thou decline, they cannot hurt thee in the least. If thou judge, judge in equity between them. For Allah loveth those who judge in equity.
The Jews say: "Allah's hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.
We announced to the children of Israel in the Book: "You will surely create disorder twice in the land, and become exceedingly arrogant."
Say: "O you Jews, if you claim that you are the favourites of God apart from all men, then wish for death, if you speak the truth.

In the hadith and sira

Importance of descent

Narrated Abu Dhar: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "If somebody claims to be the son of any other than his real father knowingly, he but disbelieves in Allah, and if somebody claims to belong to some folk to whom he does not belong, let such a person take his place in the (Hell) Fire."

Racial origins

Narrated Samurah bin Jundab: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Sam was the father of Arabs, Yafith was the father of Romans, and Ham was the father of Ethiopians."
Grade: Da'if (Darussalam)

Racial equality

Abu Nadrah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said in the final days of the pilgimrage: "O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favor of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?"
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Arna’ut
Narrated Abu Hurairah: that the Prophet (ﷺ) said: "People should stop boasting about their fathers who have died, while they are but coals of Hell, or they will be more humiliated with Allah than the dung beetle who rolls dung with his nose. Indeed Allah removed Jahiliyyah from you, and its boasting about lineage. [Indeed a person is either] a pious believer, or a miserable sinner. And people are all the children of Adam, and Adam was [created] from dust."
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

Racial specialization

Narrated Abu Hurairah: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Leadership is among the Quraish, and reasoning and judgment is among the Ansar, and the Adhan is among the Ethiopians, and the trust is among the Al-Azd." meaning Yemen.
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

Superiority of Arabs, Quraysh, and Bani Hashim

Wathila b. al-Asqa' reported: I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Verily Allah granted eminence to Kinana from amongst the descendants of Isma'il, and he granted eminence to the Quraish amongst Kinana, and he granted eminence to Banu Hashim amonsgst the Quraish, and he granted me eminence from the tribe of Banu Hashim.
Narrated Wathilah bin Al-Asqa': that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Indeed Allah has chosen [istafa; lit. "taken 'the best' from"[5]] Isma'il from the children of Ibrahim, and He chose Banu Kinanah from the children of Isma'il, and He chose the Quraish from Banu Kinanah, and He chose Banu Hashim from Quraish, and He chose me from Banu Hashim."
Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)
Narrated Salman: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to me: 'O Salman! Do not detest me and thereby leave your religion.' I said: 'O Messenger of Allah! How could I detest you while Allah guided us by you.' He said: 'You will detest the Arabs and thereby detest me.'"
Grade: Da'if (Darussalam)
Narrated 'Uthman bin 'Affan: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Whoever cheats the Arabs, he will not be included in my intercession, and my love shall not reach him."
Grade: Da'if (Darussalam)
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ismail ibn Abi Hakim that he heard Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz say, "One of the last things that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said was, 'May Allah fight the jews and the christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration. Two deens shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs.'"
Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds. We were the first to respond to the call of the Prophet. We are Allah’s helpers and the viziers of His Messenger. We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in Allah’s Cause. Killing him is a small matter to us.
Ali Ibn Abi Talib, said: Verily the Prophet said: God divided the earth in two halves and placed (me) in the better of the two, then He divided the half in three parts, and I was in the best of them, then He chose the Arabs from among the people, then He chose the Quraysh from among the Arabs, then He chose the children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib from among the Banu Hashim, then he chose me from among the children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, and from them he chose me.[6]
Ibn Sa'd, Vol. 1, p. 12
"A man married a maid-slave who bore him a child. Would that child be free or would he be an owned slave?" "Her child whom she bore from him would be the property of her master according to all the Imams (heads of the four Islamic schools of law) because the child follows the (status) of his mother in freedom or slavery. If the child is not of the race of Arabs, then he is definitely an owned slave according to the scholars, but the scholars disputed (his status) among themselves if he was from the Arabs - whether he must be enslaved or not because when A'isha (Muhammad's wife) had a maid-slave who was an Arab, Muhammad said to A'isha, `Set this maid free because she is from the children of Ishmael.'"
Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 31, pp. 376-377


Narrated Muhammad bin Jubair bin Mut`im: That while he was with a delegation from Quraish to Muawiya, the latter heard the news that `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As said that there would be a king from the tribe of Qahtan. On that Muawiya became angry, got up and then praised Allah as He deserved, and said, "Now then, I have heard that some men amongst you narrate things which are neither in the Holy Book, nor have been told by Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). Those men are the ignorant amongst you. Beware of such hopes as make the people go astray, for I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying, 'Authority of ruling will remain with Quraish, and whoever bears hostility to them, Allah will destroy him as long as they abide by the laws of the religion.' "
Narrated Ibn `Umar: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Authority of ruling will remain with Quraish, even if only two of them remained."
It has been narrarted on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: People are subservient to the Quraish: the Muslims among them being subservient to the Muslims among them, and the disbelievers among the people being subservient to the disbelievers among them.
It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. 'Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: People are the followers of Quraish in good as well as evil
It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. Samura who said: I joined the company of the Prophet (ﷺ) with my father and I heard him say: This Caliphate will not end until there have been twelve Caliphs among them. The narrator said: Then he (the Holy Prophet) said something that I could not follow. I said to my father: What did he say? He said: He has said: All of them will be from the Quraish.
It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. Samura who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: Islam will continue to be triumphant until there have been twelve Caliphs. Then the Prophet (ﷺ) said something which I could not understand. I asked my father: What did he say? He said: He has said that all of them (twelve Caliphs) will be from the Quraish.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "This branch from Quraish will ruin the people." The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) asked, "What do you order us to do (then)?" He said, "I would suggest that the people keep away from them.
Narrated Sa'd: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "Whoever wishes to humiliate the Quraish then Allah will humiliate him."
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)


Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying, "Pride and arrogance are characteristics of the rural bedouins while calmness is found among the owners of sheep. Belief is Yemenite, and wisdom is also Yemenite i.e. the Yemenites are well-known for their true belief and wisdom)." Abu `Abdullah (Al-Bukhari) said, "Yemen was called so because it is situated to the right of the Ka`ba, and Sham was called so because it is situated to the left of the Ka`ba."
Narrated Abi Mas`ud: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "From this side from the east, afflictions will appear. Rudeness and lack of mercy are characteristics of the rural bedouins who are busy with their camels and cows (and pay no attention to religion). Such are the tribes of Rabi`a and Mudar."
Narrated Abu Hurairah: "A man from Banu Fazarah gave a gift to the Prophet (ﷺ) of she-camel from his camels which they had taken at Al-Ghabah. So he reciprocated for it with something in return, but he was upset with it. So I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), upon [this] Minbar saying: 'Indeed one of the men from the Bedouins gave me a gift so I reciprocated for it to the extent of what I had. Then he became very upset with me. By Allah! After my experience with this Bedouin man, I shall not accept a gift from anyone except from a Quraishi, Ansari, Thaqafi, or Dawsi.'"
Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "O Allah bless us in our Sham! O Allah bless us in our Yemen." They said: "And in our Najd [the Najd is the land of the Bedouins]" He said: "O Allah bless us in our Sham! O Allah bless us in our Yemen." They said: "And in our Najd" He said: "Earthquakes are there, and tribulations are there." Or he said: "The horn of Shaitan comes from there."
Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)
Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet said: The testimony of a nomad Arab against a townsman is not allowable.


Narrated 'Aishah: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was sitting and we heard a scream and the voices of children. So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) arose, and it was an Ethiopian woman, prancing around while the children played around her. So he said: 'O 'Aishah, come (and) see.' So I came, and I put my chin upon the shoulder of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and I began to watch her from between his shoulder and his head, and he said to me: 'Have you had enough, have you had enough?'" She said: "So I kept saying: 'No,' to see my status with him. Then 'Umar appeared." She said: "So they dispersed." She said: "So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 'Indeed I see the Shayatin among men and jinn have run from 'Umar.' She said: 'So I returned.'"
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (ﷺ) said to Abu-Dhar, "Listen and obey (your chief) even if he is an Ethiopian with a head like a raisin."


Narrated `Abdullah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "I saw (in a dream) a black woman with unkempt hair going out of Medina and settling at Mahai'a, i.e., Al-Juhfa. I interpreted that as a symbol of epidemic of Medina being transferred to that place (Al-Juhfa).
Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported: There came a slave and pledg- ed allegiance to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) on migration; he (the Holy Prophet) did not know that he was a slave. Then there came his master and demanded him back, whereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me. And he bought him for two black slaves, and he did not afterwards take allegiance from anyone until he had asked him whether he was a slave (or a free man)
I have heard that it was of him that the apostle said, 'Whoever wants to see Satan let him take a look at Nabtal b. al-Harith!' He was a sturdy black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks. He used to come and talk with the Prophet and listen to him. He would carry what he had said to the hypocrites. Nabtal said, 'Muhammad is all ears. If anyone tells him something he believes it.' Allah sent down concerning him: 'To those who annoy the Prophet and say that he is all ears, say, 'Good ears for you.' For those who annoy the Apostle there is a painful punishment."
Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume, ed, Sirat Rasul Allah [The Life of Muhammad], Oxford University Press, p. 243, ISBN 0 19 636033 1, 2004 
He [the prophet] sent Khalid bin al-Walid in Ramadan 8 A.H., to a spot called Nakhlah ‎where there was a goddess called Al-‘Uzza venerated by the Quraish and Kinanah . . . On ‎his return, the Prophet asked him if he had seen anything there, to which Khalid gave a ‎negative answer . . . He went back again and there he saw a black woman, naked with torn ‎hair. Khalid struck her with his sword into two parts. He returned and narrated the story ‎to the Prophet, who then confirmed the fulfillment of the task.‎
Sa’d bin Zaid Al-Ashhali was also sent in the same month and on the same mission to Al-‎Mushallal to destroy an idol, Manat, respected by both Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes. Here ‎also a black woman, naked with messy hair appeared wailing and beating on her chest. ‎Sa’d immediately killed her . . .‎
'Ubaidullah b. Abu Rafi', the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), said: When Haruria (the Khwarij) set out and as he was with 'Ali b. Abu Talib (Allah be pleased with him) they said," There is no command but that of Allah." Upon this 'Ali said: The statement is true but it is intentionally applied (to support) a wrong (cause). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him described their characteristics and I found these characteristics in them. They state the truth with their tongue, but it does not go beyond this part of their bodies (and the narrator pointed towards his throat). The most hateful among the creation of Allah is one black man among them (Khwarij). One of his hand is like the teat of a goat or the nipple of the breast. When 'Ali b. Abu Talib (Allah be pleased with him) killed them, he said: Search (for his dead body). They searched for him, but they did not find it (his dead body). Upon this he said: Go (and search for him). By Allah, neither I have spoken a lie nor has the lie been spoken to me. 'Ali said this twice and thrice. They then found him (the dead body) in a rain. They brought (his dead) body till they placed it before him (Hadrat 'Ali). 'Ubaidullah said: And, I was present at (that place) when this happened and when 'Ali said about them. A person narrated to me from Ibn Hanain that he said: I saw that black man.
Shem, the son of Noah was the father of the Arabs, the Persians, and the Greeks; Ham was the father of the Black Africans; and Japheth was the father of the Turks and of Gog and Magog who were cousins of the Turks. Noah prayed that the prophets and apostles would be descended from Shem and kings would be from Japheth. He prayed that the African’s color would change so that their descendants would be slaves to the Arabs and Turks.
Ham [Africans] begat all those who are black and curly-haired, while Japheth [Turks] begat all those who are full-faced with small eyes, and Shem [Arabs] begat everyone who is handsome of face with beautiful hair. Noah prayed that the hair of Ham’s descendants would not grow beyond their ears, and that whenever his descendants met Shem’s, the latter would enslave them.
It is your folly to fight the Apostle, for Allah’s army is bound to disgrace you. We brought them to the pit. Hell was their meeting place. We collected them there, black slaves, men of no descent.
The black troops and slaves of the Meccans cried out and the Muslims replied, ‘Allah destroy your sight, you impious rascals.’
"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. - Ahmad"
Mishkat, Vol. 3, p. 117. Al-Tirmidhi No. 38, Alim.org (Archived).

Other hierarchies, races, and tribes

Narrated Abu Bakra: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Do you think that the tribes of Juhaina, Muzaina, Aslam and Ghifar are better than the tribes of Bani Tamim, Bani Asad, Bani `Abdullah bin Ghatafan and Bani Amir bin Sasaa?" A man said, "They were unsuccessful and losers." The Prophet (ﷺ) added, "(Yes), they are better than the tribes of Bani Tamim, Bani Asad, Bani `Abdullah bin Ghatafan and Bani Amir bin Sasaa."
Narrated Abu Hurairah (ra): The Prophet (ﷺ) said, (The people of) Aslam, Ghifar and some people of Muzaina and Juhaina or said (some people of Juhaina or Muzaina) are better with Allah or said (on the Day of resurrection) than the tribe of Asad, Tamim, Hawazin and Ghatafan.
Narrated Abu Usaid As-Sa'idi: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "The Best houses of the Ansar are the houses of Banu An-Najjar, then the house of Banu 'Abdul-Ashhal, then Banu Al-Harith bin Al-Khazraj, then Banu Sa'idah. And in all of the houses of the Ansar there is good." So Sa'd said: "I do not see except that the Prophet (ﷺ) has preferred everyone over us." So it was said: "He preferred you over many."
Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)
Narrated Abu Hurairah: that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "The people of Yemen have come to you. They are weaker in heart and softer in understanding, faith is Yemeni and wisdom is Yemeni."
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)
Narrated Abu Hurairah: "The Prophet (ﷺ) said to me: 'Who are you from?' I said: 'From Daws.' He said: 'I did not think there was anyone from Daws in whom there was good.'"
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

Race and Tribe in Islamic law

Kafa'ah ("equivalence") in marriage[7]

Companions' views

‘Umar b. al-Khatṭāb said: “We forbid the private parts of noble women ̣to anyone except their equals.”
Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanani, "Bab al-Akfa [Chapter of Equivalence, no. 10324]", Musannaf, 6, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 152, https://app.turath.io/book/13174 ; translated in Susan A. Spectorsky, Women in Classical Islamic Law, Brill, p. 75, ISBN 978 90 04 17435 1, 2010 

Salaf's views

Kathīr b. Salt said: “A mawlā of ours who married an Arab woman was brought before the Caliph, ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz … and he said, ʿAbū Kathīr’s mawlā has overstepped his limits.’”
Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah, "What was said regarding equivalence in marriage, no. 17701", Musannaf, 4, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 52, https://app.turath.io/book/9944 ; translated in Susan A. Spectorsky, Women in Classical Islamic Law, Brill, p. 75, ISBN 978 90 04 17435 1, 2010 

Classical views

In his Athar, Shaybani quotes the first tradition above [‎“The Quraysh are each other’s equals, and the Arabs are each other’s equals. Among the ‎non-Arabs, whoever has two Muslim parents or grandparents are each other’s equal.”‎] approvingly and adds that if a woman does marry a man who is not her [racial and/or tribal] ‎equal, and her wali [legal male guardian] brings the matter to the qadi [Islamic judge], ‎the qadi ought to separate the couple. . . . Shaybani also notes that Abu Ḥanifa agrees that the qadi separates the couple.”‎
Susan A. Spectorsky, Women in Classical Islamic Law, Brill, pp. 77-78, ISBN 978 90 04 17435 1, 2010 
‎[Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was asked] ‘I have a ‎paternal first cousin who is an Arab. Shall I give her in marriage to a mawla (i.e., a non-‎Arab client)?’ [Ibn Hanbal] said, ‘No.’ The man said, ‘But she is sickly (da’ifa).’ Ahmad said, ‎‎‘Do not give her in marriage (to him).’ [On another occasion, another man asked Ibn ‎Hanbal] about someone who marries off his daughter to a mawla? He (Ibn Hanbal) ‎replied: I would separate them. Then he (Ibn Hanbal) said: An Arab (married to) an Arab ‎‎(is) suitable (kaf’) and Quraysh (married to) Quraysh (is) suitable (kaf’). Then he ‎‎(presumably the interlocuter) asked: What would you think if a Zangi (Negro) married ‎one of the offspring (walad) of Fatima [the daughter of Muhammad]? He (Ibn Hanbal) ‎disapproved of it, and said: that is the doctrine of the Shu’ubiyya [a Persian sect that ‎believed in racial egalitarianism].‎
Nimrod Hurvitz, The Formation of Hanbalism, Routledge, pp. 31-32, ISBN 978-0-415-61641-6, 2002 
If the bride selects a suitor who is not a suitable match for her, the guardian [wali; male legal guardian] is not obliged to marry her to him. If she selects a suitable match but her guardian chooses a different suitor who is also a suitable match, then the man chosen by the guardian takes precedence if the guardian is one who may lawfully compel her to marry (def: m3.13(1)), while the one she selects takes precedence when the guardian may not lawfully compel her to marry (m3.13(2)). [...] m4.2 The following are not suitable matched for one another: (1) a non-Arab man for an Arab woman (O: because of the hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless ‎him and give him peace) said, ‘Allah has chosen the Arabs above others.’‎
Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, "m4.0 A Suitable Match (Kafa'a)", Reliance of the Traveler (Revised Edition ed.), Beltsville: Amana Publications, p. 523, ISBN 978 0 915957 72 9, 1997, http://www.catheyallison.com/Reliance_of_the_Traveller.pdf 

Modern views

The Jurists have stated that among Arabs, a non-Quraishi male is not a match (Kuf) for a Quraishi woman, nor can any person of non-Arab descent be a match for a woman of Arab descent. For example, the Sayyids, whether Siddique or Farooque, Uthmaani or Alawi, or belonging to some other branch can never be matched by any person not sharing their lineage, no matter his profession and family status. The Sayyids are suitable matches for one another, since they share descent from the Quraishi tribe. Thus, marriages between themselves are correct and permitted without any condition as appearing in Durrul Mukhtar:

“And Kafaah in lineage. Thus the Quraysh are suitable matches for one another as are the (other) Arabs suitable matches for one another.”

The ruling relevant to non-Arabs is as follows: ‘An Ajmi (non-Arab) cannot be a match for a woman of Arab descent, no matter that he be an Aalim (religious scholar) or even a Sultan (ruling authority)‘. (Raddul Muhtar p.209 v.4)
It should be remarked here that all non-Arabs are considered a suitable match to each other (and for Arabs without a known and established lineage to one of the original Arab tribes, which is rare, as mentioned by Ibn Abidin) from a fiqhi ["jurisprudential" or "legal"] aspect. It could be so that a boy/girl from a different background altogether is a suitable match, rather than your cousin brother or sister. Students of sacred knowledge have a lot in common and it would be advisable to marry a fellow student from a different caste rather than your first cousin who doesn’t even have a clue what you are studying.

Racial misidentification

Imam Malik

Chapter: Regarding he who ascribed to an Arab or non-Arab the kinship of other than ‎his own people […]‎

I [Sahnun] said: What if he said to an Arab man, ‘Oh Ethiopian!’ or ‘Oh Persian!’ or ‘Oh ‎Roman!’ or ‘Oh Berber!’? Will the hadd [referring to the hadd punishment known as ‎‎hadd al-firyah – that is, the punishment of 80 lashes for slander] be implemented ‎according to Malik?‎

He [Ibn al-Qasim, Imam Malik’s companion for twenty years] said: Yes [the hadd will be ‎implemented].‎

I said: What if he said to a non-Arab [mawla], ‘Oh Persian!’, while he is a Roman? Or he ‎said to a Berber, ‘Oh Ethiopian!’ or ‘Oh Persian!’? Or he said to a Persian, ‘Oh Roman!’ or ‎‎‘Oh Nabatean!’? Will the hadd be implemented in this case according to Imam Malik or ‎not?‎

He said: Malik said: When it is said to a Persian, ‘Oh Roman!’, ‘Oh Ethiopian!’, or ‎something similar, then there is no hadd with regard to this. And it was differed upon ‎about Malik regarding whether or not the one who says to the Roman or Berber, ‘Oh ‎Ethiopian!’ would have the hadd upon him. And I think that there is no hadd upon him ‎‎[the criminal] except if he says to him [the victim], ‘Oh son of a black person!’ while he ‎‎[the victim] is white. If there are among his [the victim’s] forefathers none who are black, ‎then the hadd is implemented. And if he [the criminal] described him [the victim] as an ‎Ethiopian, saying, ‘Oh son of an Ethiopian!’, and he [the victim] was a Berber, then the ‎Ethiopian and the Roman [descriptions] in this case are the same [that is,] if he [the ‎victim] was a Berber – and it [i.e. this ruling] is the best of what I have heard from the ‎speech of Malik. And it [i.e. this ruling] was confirmed with me unless it were said to him ‎‎[the victim], ‘Oh son of a black person!’, for that would be clear slander if there were no ‎black person among his forefathers.‎

I said: What if he said to a Persian or Berber, ‘Oh Arab!’‎ He said: There is no hadd upon him in this case.‎

I said: What if he said to an Arab, ‘Oh Qurayshi!’, or to a man of Mudar [the tribe], ‘Oh ‎Yemeni!’, or said to a man from Yemen, ‘Oh Mudari’‎ He said: I see all of this as the cutting-off of lineage, and I think that it warrants the hadd ‎just as Malik says regarding the cutting-off of lineage [a different hadd punishment than ‎the 80-lashes hadd punishment for slander – i.e. lying about lineage (“cutting off lineage”, ‎or qatt al-nasab) is not necessarily slander (qadhf), while saying someone is the “son ‎of a black person” or describing an Arab as a non-Arab is], because the Arab’s lineage is ‎traced through his forefathers, so whoever attributes him [the Arab] to other than his ‎forefathers has done away with his [the Arab’s] lineage, [and] thus the hadd is upon him. ‎‎[…]‎

I said: And if he said to an Arab, ‘You are not from the Arabs’, will he not suffer the hadd ‎according to Malik?‎ He said: Yes [the criminal will suffer the hadd]. […]‎

Chapter: He said to a man, ‘Oh son of a disabled person!’ or ‘Oh son of a black person!’ ‎‎[…]‎

I said: What if he [the criminal] said to him [the victim], ‘Oh son of a cupper!’ [one who ‎conducts cupping therapy] or, ‘Oh son of a tailor!’‎ He said: Malik said: If he [the victim] is an Arab, then the hadd is implemented unless ‎there is among his [the victim’s] forefathers someone who did that type of work.‎ Malik said: And if he [the victim] is a non-Arab, I hold that he [the criminal] should swear ‎by Allah that he did not intend thereby the cutting-off of lineage, and there is no hadd ‎upon him, and upon him is the tazeer [i.e. some other discretionary punishment ‎decided by the judge – these punishments are not allowed to exceed 40 lashes].‎ I said: why is it [the ruling] differentiated in this [case] between the Arab and the non-‎Arab? ‎ He said: Because they [i.e. cupping and tailoring] are the work of the non-Arabs.‎

I said: And if he [the criminal] said to him [the victim], ‘Oh son of a black person!’‎ He said: The hadd will be implemented upon him according to Malik if he [the victim] ‎was an Arab or a non-Arab unless there is a black person among his forefathers. […]‎

Chapter: Regarding he who said to a white man, ‘Oh son of a black person’ or ‘Oh one ‎blind in an eye!’ […]‎

I said: What about the man who says to an Arab, ‘Oh non-Arab!’ Is he punished with the ‎hadd or not according to Malik?‎ He said: Yes [the criminal is punished with the hadd].‎ I said: What about the man who says to an Arab, ‘Oh slave!’ Is he punished with the hadd ‎or not according to Malik?‎ He said: Yes [the criminal is punished with the hadd].‎

I said: What if he said to a non-Arab, ‘Oh slave!’ - will he be lashed according to the hadd ‎or not according to Malik?‎ He said: I do not remember it [i.e. the ruling] from Malik, but I hold that there is no hadd ‎upon him. […]‎

Chapter: Regarding the one who was slandered and then left Islam

I said: What if I [Sahnun, being a criminal] slandered a man and then that man [the ‎victim] left Islam, thereafter returned to Islam, and then demanded of [i.e. against] me ‎the hadd [that it should be imparted against Sahnun] - Would you smite [i.e. lash] me for ‎him or not?‎ He said: There is no hadd upon his [the revert’s] slanderer [i.e. the criminal].‎

He, Ibn al-Qasim, said: If he [the criminal] slandered him, and then he [the criminal] left ‎Islam, or if he [the criminal] slandered him while he [the criminal] was an apostate ‎‎[murtad], then the hadd would be implemented against him [the criminal] while he ‎‎[the criminal] was an apostate – and if he [the criminal] repented [i.e. returned to Islam], ‎then the hadd would be implemented against him [the criminal] just as well. And if ‎someone [being a criminal] slandered him [the victim] while he [the victim] was an ‎apostate, and then he [the victim] repented, then there would be no hadd upon him [the ‎criminal]. And if someone [being a criminal] slandered him [the victim] before he [the ‎victim] apostatized, and then he [the victim] apostatized, then there is no hadd upon the ‎slanderer [i.e. the criminal] if he [the victim] repents [i.e. returns to Islam] – and indeed ‎this is similar to the case of a man who was slandered with [the accusation of] zina ‎‎[fornication/adultery] but was not taken thus for the hadd [i.e. not punished or ‎prosecuted] until he [the victim] [actually] committed zina [fornication/adultery], for ‎then [also] there is no hadd upon whoever slandered him.‎
Imam Malik; Sahnun; Ibn al-Qasim, "The book of the hudud with regards to adultery and slander", al-Mudawwana, 4, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, pp. 497-502, https://app.turath.io/book/587 
[Qadi Iyad repeats this twice:] Ahmad b. Abi Sulayman, the companion of Sahnun, said, 'Anyone who says that the Prophet was black (aswad) should be killed.'
Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa bi-ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa, 2, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 217, 234, https://app.turath.io/book/1753 ; translated in Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley, ed, (2004), Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad, Scotland, pp. 375, 387, 2004, https://archive.org/details/MuhammadMessengerOfAllahAshShifaOfQadiIyad 

Race and Tribe in Islamic doctrine

Superiority (fadl) of the Arabs

Classical views

The Arabs are more intelligent than those other than themselves and are more capable ‎in delivery and expression . . . verily, what the people of the sunnah are upon is the belief ‎‎(i’tiqaad) that the Arab race is better (afdal) than the Non-Arab race. Whether (the Non-‎Arabs) are Hebrews, Aramaic, Romans, Persians and other than them . . . not simply due to ‎the fact the prophet peace be upon him is from them – even though this is [a point] of ‎superiority – but instead, they themselves are superior within themselves . . . [for] Allah the ‎Most High has designated the Arabs and their language with rulings that are peculiar and ‎unique.
Ibn Taymiyyah, Iqtida Sirat al-Mustaqim, 1, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, pp. 419-461, https://app.turath.io/book/11620 
The Quraysh are each other’s equals, and the Arabs are each other’s equals. Among the ‎non-Arabs, whoever has two Muslim parents or grandparents are each other’s equal.‎
Abu Hanifah quoted in Muhammad al-Shaybani, al-Jami al-Sagheer, pp. 140-141  quoted in Susan A. Spectorsky, Women in Classical Islamic Law, Brill, p. 77, ISBN 978 90 04 17435 1, 2010 
Imam Shafi'i said, "People do not become ignorant and do not disagree except due to their leaving the tongue ‎of the Arabs and their adoption of the tongue of Aristotle‎"
Arabs are of equal standing with each other, and the Quraysh are of equal standing with ‎each other.‎
Ahmad ibn Hanbal quoted in Ibn Hani, "no. 992", Masail Ahmad b. Hanbal, p. 200  quoted in Susan A. Spectorsky, Women in Classical Islamic Law, Brill, p. 78, ISBN 978 90 04 17435 1, 2010 
He (Ibn Hanbal) acknowledged the Arab’s due, and their superiority (fadlaha) and their ‎priority (sabiqataha) and he loved the . . . he (Ibn Hanbal) did not adhere to the doctrine ‎of the Shu’ubiyya ‎[a Persian sect that believed in racial egalitarianism] and the ‎contemptible (among) the mawali [non-Arabs] that disliked the Arabs and did not ‎concede to them their [Arabs] superiority. He (ascribed to) them (Shu’ubiyya) innovation, ‎hypocrisy and controversy.‎
Ibn Abi Ya'la, Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, 1, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 30, https://app.turath.io/book/9543 ; translated in Nimrod Hurvitz, The Formation of Hanbalism, Routledge, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-415-61641-6, 2002 

Modern views

‎[In response to a question regarding Ibn Taymiyyah’s statement:] Do you think, now, that ‎the African people are like the Europeans in their conciousness and intelligence? . . . Do ‎you not prefer the European people over the African people? . . . [likewise,] Allah almighty ‎knows that the Arabs are . . . fit to bear the call [of Islam] and to understand it . . .
‎“Allah choose to send this Sharia to a prophet from the Arab nation . . . [because] they ‎were distinguished from among all nations [in] . . . quality of mind”‎
Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur, Maqasid al-Shari'ah, 3, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, pp. 260-261, https://app.turath.io/book/17094 
Allah chose the Arab for Islam because of their natural and moral characteristics that are ‎unique to them . . . I believe that the nature of the Arabs is mixed in with the religion of ‎Islam . . .‎
Abu Hasan Ali Nadwi (2nd ed.), Beirut, 1389 AH 
In the answer to question no. 115934, we noted that Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah are unanimously agreed that the Arabs are superior to others in terms of descent and lineage, and that regarding the Arabs as superior is in general terms, and does not apply at the individual level. So a non-Arab who is pious and righteous is better than an Arab who falls short in his duties to Allah, may He be exalted.
It is from that which is decided from the sunnah of the prophet that Arabism [urubah; ‎lit. “the quality of being ‎Arabian”[8] is superior over other races. This is because ‎Allah chose Muhammad from the Arabs and made the Quran – which is the eternal ‎message – Arabic. And the Sunnis [lit. “people of the Sunnah”] have agreed upon the ‎superiority of the Arabism over other races and lineages.‎

The superiority of Arabism is a superiority of class [jins] and not individual, for the ‎devout and pious non-Arab is better than the Arab who is negligent about the truth of ‎Allah. Also, the superiority of Arabism is choice from Allah almighty. It is possible that the ‎wisdom behind this is apparent to us, and it is also possible that the wisdom behind this is not apparent to us – except ‎that there‏ ‏are in the Arab those attributes and faults that indicate the face of this ‎preference. […]‎

He [Ibn Taymiyyah], Allah have mercy upon him, said: “That which the Sunnis believe is ‎that the Arab race is superior to the non-Arab race: their Hebrews, Syriacs, Romans, ‎Persians, and others.‎

‎“The Quraysh are the most of superior of the Arabs, the Bani Hashim are the most ‎superior of the Quraysh, and the messenger of Allah is the most superior of the Bani ‎Hashim, for he is the most superior creation as an individual and the most superior ‎among them in lineage.‎

‎“Also, the superiority of the Arab, then the Quraysh, and then the Bani Hashim is not ‎merely due to the existence of the prophet among them – even if this is part of their ‎superiority. Rather, they are superior in and of themselves. Thus, the messenger of Allah ‎is proven to be superior in person and lineage, otherwise circularity is necessitated. […]‎

‎“This is why it has come in a hadith: ‘Love of the Arab is faith [iman], and hatred for ‎them is hypocrisy’. […]‎

‎“And know that the hadiths regarding the superiority of the Quraysh and then the ‎superiority of Bani Hashim are many - this is not the place for listing them - and they ‎indicate this matter as well, for the Quraysh are to the Arabs as the Arabs are to ‎humankind. And this is how the Sharia came. […]‎

‎“The reason for this superiority – and Allah knows best – is what they have been favored ‎with in their intellects, tongues, morals, and deeds, and that is because superiority is ‎either by beneficial knowledge or righteous deeds. Also, knowledge has a basis, and that ‎is the strength of the intellect – that is in memorization and understanding; perfection ‎also, and that is in the power of logic – that is in explanation and expression. And the ‎Arabs are better at understanding than others, better preserved, and more capable of ‎explanation and expression. And their tongue is the most perfect of tongues in ‎explanation, at differentiating different and similar meanings, and combines many ‎meanings in a few words.‎

‎“And as for deed, this is based on morals, which are based on natural instincts in the ‎soul. And their instincts are more obedient to the good than those of others, for they are ‎closest to generosity, gentleness, courage, loyalty, and other such praiseworthy moral ‎traits.” End.‎

Iqtida Sirat al-Mustaqim p. 148-162‎
Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, ed, (May 27th, 2008), "Fatwa 115934: Superiority of the Arab", [فضل العرب], Islam Question & Answer, May 27th, 2008 (archived from the original), https://web.archive.org/web/20201213022432/https://islamqa.info/ar/answers/115934/%D9%81%D8%B6%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8 
The fact that Allah Most High has chosen the Arabs over other nations is affirmed in rigorously authenticated hadiths of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace; related by Bukhari and Muslim in their “Sahih” in the beginning of the chapter of merits, # 5897, on the authority of Wathilah ibn al-Asqa` who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Verily Allah has chosen Kinanah from the son of Isma`il, and He has chosen Quraysh from among Kinanah and He has chosen Hashim from among Quraysh and He has chosen me from the Bani Hashim.’”

So this hadith is a primary text about the preference of Arabs over others and the preference of some Arabs over other Arabs. And this is what the Imams have chosen from the………of their books, and even in individual books such as the book of Qurb about the merit of Arabs, authored by the great Imam al-Hafiz Zayn al-din al-`Iraqi. And it was summarized by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami and others.

Therefore the preference of Arabs over other nations, and the preference of some Arabs over other Arabs is affirmed in the Sacred Law. Allah has even preferred some months over other months and some days and nights of over others, as well as places. So in the same way, Allah Glorious and Exalted is He, has chosen some men over others, such as the prophets over others and even some prophets over other prophets. Muslims should not have any objection to this, because all of this returns to the wisdom of the Most Wise, Glorious is He, who is not asked about what He does, but rather, they are the ones who are asked. So after a Muslim has believed in Allah as his Lord, the Truth, and that there is no God but Him, then he should know that this is from among His matters, Blessed and High is He, and there is nothing but magnificent wisdom in it that we might see or that we might not see. Either way, we are only responsible for submitting to His rule, Glorious is He. And among His rulings is that Arabs are preferred over others and that some Arabs are better than other Arabs, as the above hadith clearly explained. So it is not appropriate for anyone to disagree in this when the proof is perfectly valid.

And there should be no disagreement in what has just preceded nor any disagreement in what appears in the Magnificent Book and in the sunna where we find that the real source of Allah’s preference is God-fearingness (taqwa) which result in the good deeds that people earn and that they are accounted for. So whoever sends forth good for himself, Allah has preferred him over those who have sent forth evil. As for the preference of an Arab over a non-Arab, and the preference of some Arabs over others, this is not a deed that one can earn. Rather, it is a bounty that Allah gives to whom He wills. So he may will something for these people, and there is no objection to your Lord’s rule. This is like the preference of some days over others, because the mind reasons that all days are the same in and of themselves, and there is no distinction that might appear between them. However, the mind can understand why something is better if there is not ……….. So the Sacred law came and affirmed the preference of some over others, and for some of those things there were reasons and wisdoms, such as the preference of the night of Power over others because the Majestic Qur’an was revealed during it. And in some of these things, the wisdom is not apparent to us and so this falls into the chapter of absolute obedience, such as the number of cycles (rak`ahs) in the prayer.

It is obligatory on a Muslim to believe that Arabs are preferred over other nations because there is a proof for it. However, this is not one of the pillars of our religion such that if someone rejected this, they would be considered outside of Islam. But if one does reject this, one has sinned for not believing in it because it is an affirmed matter according to a clear rigorously authenticated hadith. Also, this issue is not something that is commonly known among most Muslims, so for this, one should not hasten to blame one who disagrees with it. It is necessary, rather, to tell him about the issue.

And the fact that Arabs are preferred over others does not mean that a non-Arab can not have a higher merit in the religion than an Arab, because a person earns the good deeds that Allah has recommended we compete for. This is the highest merit of God-fearingness and this will be the basis upon which things are decided in the hereafter. However, the merit of the Arabs will still remain, in terms of their respect and exaltation being higher than others. And from this some hadiths have come to us about the Quraysh being put first for the caliphate before others, such as the hadith in Bukhari (#3500) on the authority of Mu`awiyah, may Allah be well pleased with him who said, ” I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘This matter of government belongs to the Quraysh. Anyone who takes a hostile attitude to them will be thrown on his face, as long as they are true to the faith.” And Bukhari also related (#3501) on the authority of Ibn `Umar from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, that he said, “Government continues to belong to the Quraysh, even if they are (no more than) two.”

So I say that the merit of God-fearingness is what counts, according to the rigorously authenticated hadith, “And he who is slow in doing good deeds, his noble lineage will not quicken him (into entering Paradise).
"Arabs preferred over other nations" (archived)
Shaykh Amjad Rasheed, Ustadha Shazia Ahmad (trans.), SunniPath, Question ID:9427, http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=9427&CATE=1.

Islamic scholars and writers on black people

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was, among other things, an Islamic jurist, Islamic lawyer, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, and hafiz

"Therefore, the Negro nation are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated."[9]
Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, 14th century
"beyond [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings."[9]
Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah

Ibn Sina or Avicenna (980-1037), was, among other things, a Hafiz, Islamic psychologist, Islamic scholar, and Islamic theologian - many said.

[Blacks are] people who are by their very nature slaves.[10]
Quoted in “Blasphemy Before God: The Darkness of Racism In Muslim Culture” by Adam Misbah aI-Haqq

Ibn Qutaybah (828-889), was a renowned Islamic scholar from Kufa, Iraq

They [the Zanj, that is, blacks] are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country. The heat ‎overcrooks them in the womb, and curls their hair.‎
Bernard Lewis, "Ventures in Ethnology", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 43-50, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī (1201-1274), was a Shia Muslim Scholar and Grand Ayatollah

"If (all types of men) are taken, from the first, and one placed after another, like the Negro from Zanzibar, in the Southern-most countries, the Negro does not differ from an animal in anything except the fact that his hands have been lifted from the earth -in no other peculiarity or property - except for what God wished. Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent."[9]
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, Tasawwurat (Rawdat al-taslim):
[The Zanj (African) differ from animals only in that] their two hands are lifted above the ground,... Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj.[10]

Al-Muqaddasi (945/946-1000) was a medieval Muslim geographer

"Of the neighbors of the Bujja, Maqdisi had heard that "there is no marriage among them; the child does not know his father, and they eat people -- but God knows best. As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence."[9]
Al-Muqaddasi (fl. 966), Kitab al-Bad' wah-tarikh, vol.4

Al-Masudi (896-956), was a Muslim historian and geographer, known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs."[11]

"Galen says that merriment dominates the black man because of his defective brain, whence also the weakness of his intelligence."[9]
Al-Masudi, Muruj al-dhahab
‎“[quoting another source in agreement:] Do not intermarry with the sons of Ham [blacks] ‎for they are the distorted among God’s creatures . . .”‎
Bernard Lewis, "Equality and Marriage", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 85-92, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 
[The Zanj have:] black complexion, kinky hair, flat nose[s], thick lips, slender hands and ‎feet, fetid odor, limited intelligence, extreme exuberance, [and] cannibalistic customs.
Alexandre Popovic, The Revolt of African Slaves in Iraq in the 3rd/9th Century, Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, p. 16, 1999 

Ibn al-Faqih (9th century) was a Muslim historian and geographer

"A man of discernment said: The people of Iraq ... do not come out with something between blonde, buff and blanched coloring, such as the infants dropped from the wombs of the women of the Slavs and others of similar light complexion; nor are they overdone in the womb until they are burned, so that the child comes out something between black, murky, malodorous, stinking, and crinkly-haired, with uneven limbs, deficient minds, and depraved passions, such as the Zanj, the Somali, and other blacks who resemble them. The Iraqis are neither half-baked dough nor burned crust but between the two."[9]
Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadani, Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan, 903 AD

Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (973-1048), was an Islamic scholar and polymath

"The Zanj are so uncivilized that they have no notion of a natural death. If a man dies a natural death, they think he was poisoned. Every death is suspicious with them, if a man has not been killed by a weapon."[9]
Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, India, 1030 AD

Hudud al-`Alam is a book dedicated to Abu l-Ḥārith Muḥammad b. Aḥmad, a ruler of the local Farighunid dynasty.

"Their [Zanj] nature is that of wild animals. They are extremely black." "Among themselves [the Sudan] there are people who steal each other's children and sell them to the merchants when the latter arrive."[9]
Hudud al-`Alam, 982 AD
"[inhabitants of sub-Saharan African countries] are people distant from the standards of humanity" "Their nature is that of wild animals..."[9]
Hudud al-`alam, 982 AD
"As regards southern countries, all their inhabitants are black on account of the heat of their climate... Most of them go naked... In all their lands and provinces, gold is found.... They are people distant from the standards of humanity."[9]
Hudud al-`Alam, 982 AD

Al Jahiz (781–869), was a famous Muslim scholar

"Like the crow among mankind are the Zanj [African Blacks] for they are the worst of men and the most vicious of creatures in character and temperament."[9]
Jahiz, Kitab al-Hayawan, vol. 2
"We know that the Zanj (blacks) are the least intelligent and the least discerning of mankind, and the least capable of understanding the consequences of actions."[9]
Jahiz, Kitab al-Bukhala (The Book of Misers)
"They [the Shu`ubiyya] maintain that eloquence is prized by all people at all times - even the Zanj, despite their dimness, their boundless stupidity, their obtuseness, their crude perceptions and their evil dispositions, make long speeches."[9]
Jahiz, Al-Bayan wa`l-tabyin, vol. 3

Ibn Abi Zayd (922–996), was a Maliki scholar from Al-Qayrawan in Tunisia.

It is disliked to trade in the land of the enemy or the land of the blacks. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Travel is a portion of punishment."[12]

al-Ibshihi (1388–1446), Egyptian scholar who wrote an encyclopedia covering Islamic law, theology, mysticism, and some other topics.

Is there anything more vile than black slaves, of less good and more evil than they'? As for ‎the mulatto, if ‎you show kindness to one of them all your life and in every way, he will not ‎be grateful; and it will be as if ‎you had done nothing for him. The better you treat him, the ‎more insolent he will he; the worse you treat ‎him, the more humble and submissive. I have ‎tried this many times, and how well the poet says: ‘If you honor the honorable you possess ‎him / If you honor the ignoble, he will be insolent.’ It is said that when the [black] slave is ‎sated, he fornicates, when he is hungry, he steals. My grandfather ‎on my mother's side ‎used to say: The worst use of money is bringing up slaves, and mulattoes are even ‎worse ‎and wickeder than Zanj, for the mulatto does not know his father, while the Zanji often ‎knows both ‎parents. It is said of the mulatto that he is like a mule, because he is a mongrel. ‎‎. . . Do not trust a mulatto, ‎for there is rarely any good in him‎
Shihab al-Din al-Ibshihi, al-Mustatraf fi Kul Fan Mustatraf, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 328, https://app.turath.io/book/23802 ; translated in Bernard Lewis, "Image and Stereotype", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 92-99, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

Shams al-Dīn Muhammad b. Abī Talib al-Dimashqī (1256-1327), Damascene Imam who wrote on many topics.

The equatorial region is inhabited by communities of blacks who are to be numbered ‎among the savages ‎and beasts. Their complexions and hair are burnt and they are ‎physically and morally deviant. Their ‎brains almost boil from the sun's excessive heat.. . . ‎The human being who dwells there is a crude fellow, with a very black complexion, and ‎burnt hair, unruly, with stinking sweat, ‎and an abnormal constitution, most closely ‎resembling in his moral qualities a savage, or animals.‎
A. Mehren, ed, (1923), Nukhbat al-Dahr fi Ajaib al-Barr wal-Bahr, Leipzig: Harassowitz, pp. 15-17, 1923 ; translated in John Hunwick, West Africa, Islam, and the Arab World, Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, p. 81, 2006 

Ibn Battuta (1304-1369) Muslim scholar and traveler who wrote about his journeys across the world.

‎[Writing about West Africans‎:] When I saw it [their reception gift] I laughed, and was long astonished at their feeble ‎‎intellect and their respect for mean things.‎
Ibn Battuta in J.F.P. Hopkins; Nehemia Levtzion, eds, (1981), Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West African History, Cambridge University Press, p. 298, 1981 

Al-Idrisi (1100-1165), Muslim geographer, writer, scientist, cartographer from Almoravid Spain.

‎[The Zanj, that is, blacks] are in great fear and awe of the Arabs, so much so that when they see an Arab ‎trader or traveler they bow ‎down and treat him with great respect [such that the Arab ‎can] lure them with dates, and lead them from place to place, until they seize them, take ‎them out of the country, and transport them ‎to their own countries . . . [They] lack of ‎knowledge and [have] defective minds . . .‎
Bernard Lewis, "The Discovery of Africa", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 50-54, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

Said al-Andalusi (1029-1070) was an Arab qadhi (Islamic judge) living in al-Andalus, Spain who wrote on the history of science and philosophy.

‎[The southern ‘barbarians’] are more like beasts than like men . . . For those who live furthest to the north between the last of the seven climates and the limits of the inhabited world, the excessive distance of the sun in relation to the zenith line makes the air cold and the atmosphere thick. Their temperaments are therefore frigid, their humors raw, their bellies gross, their color pale, their hair long and lank. Thus they lack keenness of understanding and clarity of intelligence, and are overcome by ignorance and dullness, lack of discernment, and stupidity. Such are the Slavs, the Bulgars, and their neighbors. For those peoples on the other hand who live near and beyond the equinoctial line to the limit of the inhabited world in the south, the long presence of the sun at the zenith makes the air hot and the atmosphere thin. Because of this their temperaments become hot and their humors fiery, their color black and their hair woolly. Thus they lack self-control and steadiness of mind and are overcome by fickleness, foolishness, and ignorance. Such are the blacks, who live at the extremity of the land of Ethiopia, the Nubians, the Zanj and the like. . . . [they are the only people] who diverge from this human ‎order and depart from this rational association are some dwellers in the steppes and ‎inhabitants of the deserts and wilderness, such as the rabble of Bujja, the savages of ‎Ghana, the scum of the Zanj, and their like.
Bernard Lewis, "Ventures in Ethnology", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 43-50, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

Ibn Hazm (994-1064) was an Andalusian polymath who wrote on history, Islamic law, Islamic theology, philosophy, and is especially well regarded for his study of the hadiths.

God has decreed that ‎the most devout is the noblest even if he be a Negress’s bastard, and that the sinner and ‎unbeliever is at the lowest level even if he be the son of prophets.
Bernard Lewis, "Prejudice and Piety, Literature and Law", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 28-37, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

al-Kirmani (996-1021) was a famous Persian Ismaili theologian and philosopher.

In a philosophical work, he dismisses "the Turks, Zanj, Berbers, and their like" as "by their nature" without interest in the pursuit of intellectual knowledge and without desire to understand religious truth.
Bernard Lewis, "In Black and White", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 54-62, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

al-Mutannabi (915-965) was a famous Abbasid court poet from Iraq and one of the most influential poets in the history of Arabic.

‎The slave is no brother to the godly freeman. / even though he be born in the clothes of ‎the free. // Do not buy a slave without buying a stick with him, / for slaves are filthy and ‎scant of good. // I never thought I should live to see the day when a / dog would do me ‎evil and be praised in the bargain, // nor did I imagin that true men would have ceased to ‎exist, / and that the like of the father of bounty, / would still be here, // and that that ‎negro with his pierced camel’s lip / would be obeyed by those cowardly hirelings . . . // . . . ‎Who ever taught the eunuch negro nobility? His / “white” people, or his royal ancestors? ‎‎// or his ear bleeding in the hand of the slave-broker? / or his worth, seeing that for two ‎farthings / he would be rejected? // wretched Kafur is the most deserving of the base / to ‎be excused in regard to every baseness – / and sometimes excusing is a reproach – / and ‎that is because white stallions are incapable / of gentility, so how about black eunuchs?
Bernard Lewis, "In Black and White", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 54-62, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 
‎More stupid than a slave or his mate is he who makes / the slave his master . . . // . . . One ‎who holds you by his word is unlike one who holds / you in his jail – // The morality of the ‎‎[black] slave is bounded by his / stinking pudenda and his teeth. // He does not keep his ‎engagements of today, nor remember / what he said yesterday . . . // . . . Hope for no good ‎from a man over whose head the / slaver’s hand has passed, // And, if you are in doubt ‎about his person or / condition, look to his race. // One who is vile in his coat, was usually ‎vile / in his caul. // He who makes his way beyond his merits, still cannot / get away from ‎his root.
Bernard Lewis, "In Black and White", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 54-62, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

Qadi Iyad (108301149) was one of the most famous Maliki jurists, also an Imam and qadi in Granada under the Almoravid dynasty.

[Qadi Iyad repeats this twice:] Ahmad b. Abi Sulayman, the companion of Sahnun, said, 'Anyone who says that the Prophet was black (aswad) should be killed.'
Qadi Iyad, al-Shifa bi-ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa, 2, al-Maktaba al-Shamila, p. 217, 234, https://app.turath.io/book/1753 ; translated in Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley, ed, (2004), Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad, Scotland, pp. 375, 387, 2004, https://archive.org/details/MuhammadMessengerOfAllahAshShifaOfQadiIyad 

Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani (897-967) was an Arab litterateur, genealogist, poet, and musicologist.

[Retelling an anecdote about "an Arab poet known as al-Sayyid al-Himyari (723-89)":] The Sayyid was my neighbor, and he was very dark. He used to carouse with the young men of the camp, one of whom was as dark as he was, with a thick nose and lips, and a Negroid [muzannajj] appearance. The Sayyid had the foulest smelling armpits of anybody. They were jesting together one day, and the Sayyid said to him: "You are a Zanji in your nose and your lips!" whereat the youth replied to the Sayyid: "And you are a Zanji in your color and armpits!"
Bernard Lewis, "Image and Stereotype", Race and Slavery in the Middle East: A Historical Enquiry, Oxford University Press, pp. 92-99, ISBN 978-0-19-506283-0, 1990 

See Also


  1. Islamqa.info
  2. Lane's Lexicon اصطفاه
  3. See Lane's Lexicon الأعراب and Lane's Lexicon بدوي
  4. See Lane's Lexicon الأعراب and Lane's Lexicon بدوي
  5. Lane's Lexicon اصطفاه
  6. Ibn Sa'd, Abu Abd Allah Muhammad. Kitab al-Tabaqat, vol i. Translated in English by S. Moinul Haq, Kitab Bhavan, 1784, Kalan Mahal, Daraya Ganj, New Delhi, India, 1972, p12.
  7. E. van Donzel; B. Lewis; Ch. Pellat et al., eds, (1997), "Kafa'a", Encyclopaedia of Islam, 4 IRAN-KHA (New Edition [2nd] ed.), Leiden: E.J. Brill, p. 404, ISBN 90 04 05745 5, 1997 
  8. Lane’s Lexicon ‎عروبة‎
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 West Asian views on black Africans during the medieval era
  10. 10.0 10.1 Comparative Digests Racism Arab and European Compared - Nathaniel Turner
  11. Ter-Ghevondyan, Aram N.. Արաբական Ամիրայությունները Բագրատունյաց Հայաստանում (The Arab Emirates in Bagratuni Armenia). Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences. p. 15, 1965. 
  12. The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani/ 43.16 Trading abroad - A Treatise on Maliki Fiqh (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dani by al-Azhari)(310/922 - 386/996)