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What race were The Prophets?

What race were The Prophets?


Were there any Prophets who were Non-Arab? Like black or Asian?

Salaam alykum,

The Prophet Adam has no race attributed to him. We do not know what he was, nor will we ever know.

What color was Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)? Musa (Moses)? Eisa (Jesus)?

We don’t know, and as far as Islam is concerned, we don’t care, because race is a social construct, and thus where one person’s skin tone may indicate that they are “x” race in one place, it could mean something very different in another. Thus to speculate is highly subjective and problematic.

Furthermore, the resistance to attributing a race to any Prophet outside of what is known, such as Prophet Muhammad being an Arab, but not knowing what he looks like and staying away from depicting him, or any other Prophet, is not rooted in a thought-process analogous to those who say “I don’t see race.”

The aversion is rooted in the Islamic push to avoid imposing human perceptions of beauty, of ideals, of any superficial packaging that detracts from the Message of Islam, to avoid–as much as possible–the human inclination towards valuing things simply by correlations, and when you look at how destructive the depiction of Prophet Eisa (Jesus) has been, the politics of debating what he looked like are deleterious, because they detract from what he preached.

In short, Islam does not place a value on race, as again, race is a human construction subject to time periods, and to involve thespecific Prophets in such a debate would achieve nothing and to speculate on what they would look like is simply that: speculation.

What is clear in The Qur’an is the following:

“Now every community has had an apostle; and only after their apostle has appeared [and delivered his message] is judgment passed on them, in all equity; and never are they wronged.” [10:47] Muhammad Asad

“Verily, We have sent thee with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner: for there never was any community but a warner has [lived and] passed away in its midst.” [35:24] Muhammad Asad

These two ayat (verses) underline that every community on earth has had a Prophet sent to them by God, which would underline that for every group of people, there has been a Prophet.

“And never have We sent forth any apostle otherwise than [with a message] in his own people’s tongue, so that he might make [the truth] clear unto them;” [14:4] Muhammad Asad

This ayah (verse) further underlines the point, specifying that every linguistic group has had an apostle, further providing unambiguous proof that there is tremendous diversity in who God bestows Himself to: i.e. everyone.

“and as [We inspired other] apostles whom We have mentioned to thee ere this, as well as apostles whom We have not mentioned to thee;” [4:164] Muhammad Asad

This ayah is one of the most oft-overlooked ones in the entire Qur’an. It says, without ambiguity, that there are apostles who we do not know, who are not named in The Qur’an, which means that to say that “all Prophets are x, y, or z” is incorrect, because we do not know what those limits or parameters are.

Can they be black? Sure. If we look to the earlier ayat (verses) would it be clear that it is highly likely for there to be black Prophets? It would seem so. Can they be women? Looks like it. Can they be Chinese? Russian? Micronesian? Seems possible.

So, who was a Prophet and who wasn’t, outside of those named by The Qur’an, is simply speculation, but we are to be humbled by the fact that we do not know, and thus, respect others, but not just to tolerate them, but to celebrate our natural human diversity, which is from God:

“Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.” [49:13] Muhammad Asad

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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